Masao Morinaka (森中 聖雄)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 9", Weight 176 lb.
Morinaka struck out 19 Musashi University batters one game to tie a league record. Overall, he had 21 wins and a 1.86 ERA in college. In the 1996 Olympics, he pitched four games for Japan. He went 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 9 2/3 IP. He led Japan in ERA, .78 ahead of Masahiko Mori, and was second in strikeouts (four behind Jutaro Kimura). His loss came in a strong effort, as he held eventual champion Cuba to two runs in four innings; he took the loss in a 10-inning game when Mori replaced him with men aboard and gave up the losing blow to Miguel Caldés. In the Gold Medal game, he allowed Cuba's 11th run in a 13-9 loss.
The Yokohama BayStars took Morinaka in the second round of the 1996 draft. He was 0-4 with a 7.94 ERA, .307 opponent average, 19 walks in 22 2/3 IP and 2.03 WHIP in an atrocious rookie year in 1997. In 1998, he tossed 4 2/3 shutout innings, with one hit and three walks. He went 6-2 with two saves, a 2.16 ERA, .193 opponent average and 1.00 WHIP in a superb 1999. Only closer Kazuhiro Sasaki had a better ERA for the '99 BayStars; fellow 1996 Olympian Takeo Kawamura was 3rd at 3.00.
Morinaka made a career-high 53 appearances in 2000 and remained sharp (6-2, 2 Sv again, 2.38 ERA, .181 opponent average, .81 WHIP, 64 K in 64 1/3 IP). He was 7th in the Central League in games pitched. He faded to 3-2, 5.23 with a .288 opponent average in 2001. In 2002, he went 2-5 with a 4.85 ERA. In his final season, 2003, he gave up four homers and eight runs in 11 innings.
Overall, Morinaka was 17-15 with 4 saves and a 3.97 ERA in 189 NPB games. He struck out 193 in 244 2/3 IP and allowed a .236 opponent average and 1.22 WHIP.
He later served as a batting practice pitcher.