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Changes in the Draft System

Discussion in the Pro Yakyu History forum
Changes in the Draft System
What follows is a translation from the FAQ, Japanese Basball section, maintained by Shin'ichiro Nishizaki and translated by Joshua A. Reyer (a.k.a. CFiJ). While this may be a Frequently Asked Question on the Japanese baseball news group, I thought it more fitting for the history section.

1965 - 1966 (Register of Names and Lottery System)

Each team creates a list of up to 30 names and submits it to the Commissioner's Office. Each team lists it's first pick and if two or more teams select the same player, lots are drawn. Those who lose the lottery must select the next player on their list of names. When each team has selected one player, the first round is over. The second round begins with the lowest ranked teams picking first, and the next round begins with the top ranked teams picking first.


In 1966, there were two drafts.
  1. The first draft (September) was for Industrial League players and high school students who would not participate in the fall National Athletic Meet.

  2. The second draft was for high schoolers who participated in the National Athletic Meet, and college players.

1967 - 1977 (Draft Order Lottery System)

All teams decide selection order via lottery, reversing the order after the 12th team picks. After 1974, up to 6 players were selected per team.

1978 - 1990 (Lottery System)

Each team submits their desired players one at a time. If two or more teams pick the same player, they draw lots. Otherwise, teams make selections with lowest ranked teams going first. Until 1980 there was a limit of 4 players, from 1981 to 1990 the limit was 6 players.

1991 - 1992 (Lottery System/Snaking Draft Order)

Up until the 4th round, the same as previous years. After the fifth round, the order "snakes," with the team picking last in the previous round picking first, each team picking up to 10 names.

1993 - 2000 ("Reverse Draft"/Lottery System/Snaking Selection Order)

By prior arrangement between team and draftee, a team's top two picks may be decided before the draft, during which the draftee (industrial league or college players only) declares the team he will play for. If two teams pick the same player, the player's desire is given first priority, followed by draft order.

High school students may not make prior arrangements and are drafted as in previous years. After 1995, discussing plans with some high school players is possible, but there is no "reverse draft".

Third round picks and below are drafted in order of previous season's rankings, with the order "snaking." Until 1994, each team could draft up to 10 players. After 1995 it was 8 players. After 1999, in principle the number is 8 players, but if a team has not drafted 8 players and the total sum of drafted players is less than 97, than up to 10 players may be drafted by one team.

2001 (Free Signing Option/Lottery System/Snaking Selection Order)

Before the draft, a team can opt to sign up to two Industrial League or college players. Depending on how many of their two free signing options they use, a team's draft order changes. A team that signs two players before the draft may not pick until the fourth round. Teams that sign just one player before the draft, and only teams that sign just one player, pick in the second round. Teams that do not sign any players before the draft pick in the first round, skip the second, and pick again in the third and following rounds. Teams that pick the same player in the first round draw lots. Draft order in the second and third rounds goes from last place team to first, but snakes after the third round.


  • On January 24, 1973, NPB and the Industrial Leagues came to the mutual understanding that the pro teams would not sign any player until two years after his initial registration in the Industrial Leagues. After 1977, it would become three years after high school graduation.

  • After 1991, the subject of the draft became "players who have not signed contracts with any team and who are or have been enrolled in a Japanese school."

  • After 1993, "players whose nationality is Japanese, regardless of time in Japanese schools" were also made subject to the draft.

  • In 1995, the limitation "teams may not draft new players who have at any time been employed by the drafting team" was added. This meant that teams could no longer hire prospects as support staff in order to draft them later. There were a number of examples of this in the past, and famous recent ones include Tsutomu Itoh (drafted No. 1 by Seibu in 1981), Makoto Satoh (No. 2 by Nippon Ham in 1982), Shin Nakagomi (No. 1 by Hanshin in 1988), and Yasuaki Taihoh (No. 2 by Chunichi).

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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