Top Eagles rookie Matsui sparkles

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KURASHIKI, Japan, March 5 (19:41) Kyodo

Rakuten Eagles' top draft pick Yuki Matsui threw five scoreless
innings on Wednesday in a 5-2 preseason exhibition win over the Lotte
Marines in Okayama Prefecture.

The 18-year-old Matsui, who was selected by five teams in the
first round of the 2013 autumn's amateur draft and went to the Eagles
in a draft-day lottery, allowed four hits and a walk, while striking
out six.

"I think holding them scoreless was a good way of appealing for
a spot on the roster," said the 1.74-meter Matsui, who was pitching
his second game of the spring.

The lefty located his fastball on the outside corner for strikes
and followed that up with sharp breaking stuff. With two outs and two
on in the fourth, he got out of the inning when Kei Hosoya swung and
missed at a changeup for strike three.

"He's got some velocity for a guy that small. All his pitches
were good," said Lotte's Ikuhiro Kiyota. "Being able to throw his
changeup for strikes is going to make it tough."

Because he got through the first four innings with fewer pitches
than expected, Matsui's start was extended to five innings. The
outing drew praise from taciturn pitching coach Yoshinori Sato.

"I want to have him in our starting six from the start of the
season," Sato said.

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