Tsubasa Aizawa (會澤 翼) (Atsu)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 176 lb.
- High School Mito Tandai Fuzoku High School
Tsubasa Aizawa is a catcher in Nippon Pro Baseball.
Aizawa hit 35 home runs in high school. The Hiroshima Carp drafted him in the third round of the 2006 high school draft; they had taken Kenta Maeda in the first round and nobody the next. In his first minor league plate appearance, he came up with two outs in the 9th with a perfect game by Kazuki Kondo one out from completion. Kondo got two strikes on Aizawa, then plunked him to blow the bid. Aizawa dislocated his shoulder in spring training in 2008 and missed the season following surgery.
Tsubasa made it to NPB in 2009 and got his first hit off Hayato Terahara. He finished the season 6 for 28 with a double, three runs, three RBI and eight strikeouts. In the minors, he had hit .337/.409/.580 and fielded .996 to win Western League Most Outstanding Player. In 2010, he hit .170/.200/.245 in 32 games, with 16 whiffs in 53 at-bats. He got his first career homer, taking Tomoyuki Kubota deep on September 5. He was the third-string catcher behind Yoshiyuki Ishihara and Yoshikazu Kura.
Aizawa made the Japanese national team 2010 Intercontinental Cup roster. He came up big against the second-place Netherlands. With two outs and two strikes in the 9th and two on, down 1-0, he doubled off Dennis Neuman to drive in Masashi Nohara and Tetsuya Tani to go up 2-1. The Netherlands failed to score in the bottom of the 9th. He wound up at .308/.333/.538 in four games, splitting the catching with Yuhei Nakamura. Japan finished 5th.
Aizawa hit .179/.207/.214 in 29 plate appearances in 2011 and married his high school sweetheart. He batted .197/.243/.242 in 28 games in 2012 and missed time after being hit in the eye by a Shun Yamaguchi fastball. He had his fourth straight sub-Mendoza Line performance in 2013 (.188/.235/.344 in 68 PA).
With Ishihara struggling in 2014, though (he finished at .192), Aizawa became the starter in mid-July and did very well - .307/.367/.525 in 67 games. He was one of four catchers for Samurai Japan against All-Europe in a 2015 series. In game 1, a 4-3 Japan win, he replaced Motohiro Shima at catcher, drew a walk from Jose Escalona and Yoshihiro Maru pinch-ran for him. In game 2, a 6-2 upset loss, he replaced Hikaru Ito and struck out versus Leslie Nacar and flew out against Luke Sommer before Shima took over.
Aizawa remained the Carp's starter in 2015. He made the 2015 NPB All-Star Games roster for the Central League, not bad for a guy who had been riding the pine until halfway through the prior summer. In game 1, he replaced Nakamura (his 2010 Intercontinental Cup teammate) in a sixth-inning double switch, taking Yoshitomo Tsutsugo's lineup spot. He flew out against Yuito Mori in his lone at-bat in a 8-6 CL win over the Pacific League. In game 2, a 8-3 win, he homered off Brandon Dickson in the third for the game's first run. He lined out against Ken Togame in the 4th, grounded out versus Tatsushi Masuda in the 6th and grounded out against Tomomi Takahashi in the 8th. He was still named game MVP for his earlier dinger.