Hideaki Wakui (涌井 秀章)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 187 lb.
- High School Yokohama High School
Wakui was a member of the Japanese team that won Silver in the 2004 World Junior Championship, going 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA. After graduating Yokohama High School in 2005, he was picked in the first round of the draft by the Seibu Lions. He was just 1-6 with a 7.32 ERA in a miserable rookie season. He was 12-8 with a 3.24 ERA in 2006 as Seibu's #2 starter behind Matsuzaka. He was 4th in the Pacific League in innings (178), tied fellow youngsters Tomoya Yagi and Yu Darvish for 5th in wins, tied Kazumi Saito for third in complete games (8) and tied Tsuyoshi Wada for 7th in strikeouts (136). Wakui was chosen to the NPB All-Star team for their series against the MLB All-Stars.
When Matsuzaka left Japan, Wakui became the Seibu ace. He did a fine job in his second season with the Lions, going 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA. He was 8th in the PL in ERA but led in innings (213) and wins. He also led in hits allowed (199), was second in complete games (11, one behind Darvish) and was 7th with 141 strikeouts. He joined the Japanese national team for the 2007 Asian Championship and dazzled in his one outing, giving up one hit, no walks and no runs in six innings against the Philippines, with 7 strikeouts.
Wakui was 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA for Japan in the 2008 Olympics, getting half their wins. He allowed only 6 hits and struck out 13 in 13 2/3 IP. He faced the minimum 21 batters in a 7-inning shutout against the Chinese national team and got the win over the Taiwan national team. In the semifinals, he was on the mound for the final 2 runs in a 6-2 loss to South Korea but one was an inherited runner left by Hitoki Iwase and both were due to an error by G.G. Sato. He tied Suk-min Yoon, Norge Vera, Hyun-jin Ryu and Jonder Martínez for the most wins in Beijing. His 12 K's in the round-robin tied Seung Song for second, trailing Chris Begg by two and Yoshihisa Naruse by one.
Wakui faded to 10-11, 3.90 in 2008. He tied for third in the league in losses, was 5th in innings (173), was 3rd in hits allowed (173), tied for 5th in the complete games (5), was 5th in walks (51), was 10th in strikeouts (122) and was second in wild pitches (11). He had a 1-1, 2.76 record in the 2008 Japan Series with 18 strikeouts in 16 1/3 IP. In game one, he outdueled Koji Uehara 2-1, allowing only one hit and one unearned run in eight innings. In game five, he gave up just two hits and one run in the first six innings but then gave up five hits in a row and lost the game. Seibu went on to take the title. In the 2008 Asia Series, he fanned 10 in 6 2/3 shutout innings in a 1-0 win over the Uni-President Lions.
The young right-hander had a big year in 2009, going 16-6 with a 2.30 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 211 2/3 IP. He held opponents to a .215 batting average. He finished second in the PL in ERA (behind Yu Darvish), led in innings, led in wins, led in complete games (11), led in shutouts (4) and was second in strikeouts (5 behind Toshiya Sugiuchi). A lone negative was 76 walks, second to Kazuki Kondo. He won the Sawamura Award as the best pitcher in Japan. He lost out the Best Nine in the PL to Darvish, who also took home MVP honors.