Right-hander Tatsuya Oishi was the hottest property on Thursday at Nippon Professional Baseball's annual amateur draft.
The Saitama Seibu Lions won the negotiating rights to the Waseda University right-hander in a lottery after six teams named him as their first-round selection.
"We wanted him because he was this year's best pitcher," said Lions skipper Hisanobu Watanabe, who won a lottery pick last year for high school lefty Yusei Kikuchi.
"It's not just his speed. He [Oishi] has tremendous stuff. He's been used primarily as a reliever, but he's still pitched long innings and I think he's tough enough to be a starter."
The rights to Waseda teammate Yuki Saito, chosen by four teams, went to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
"Obviously, he made a big impression four years ago in high school," said team president Junichi Fujii, who walked up to pick the lot after manager Masataka Nashida begged off.
The 22-year-old Saito, who entered university after becoming a household name for his exploits at the national summer high school championship, won 31 league games in his college career.
The Yomiuri Giants were the only team to go after Chuo University right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura, while the Chunichi Dragons were also unopposed in the first round, selecting the draft's top lefty, Yudai Ono of Kyoto's Bukkyo University.
Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said the hard-throwing Sawamura was an ideal match for his team.
"From our standpoint, we wanted him, and I believe the player himself is keen to join our team," Hara said. "He's an orthodox type, uses his whole body.
"It was our wish to go unopposed, and I'm extremely happy that's how it turned out."
Of the eight teams that named either Oishi or Saito as their first pick but failed in the lottery, two went after Hachinohe University lefty Takahiro Shiomi and two clubs tried for Tokai University outfielder Shota Ishimine. Shiomi was taken in a lottery by new Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles manager Senichi Hoshino, while the Chiba Lotte Marines collected the rights to the first outfielder to go in the draft.
The first round was dominated by six university pitchers, three of them from Waseda; Oishi, Saito and right-hander Yuya Fukui, selected as an alternate by the Hiroshima Carp.
Right-hander Kota Suta of JFE Steel Eastern Japan and lefty Daiki Enokida of Tokyo Gas were the round's two corporate leaguers.
Three high schoolers were taken as alternates. Catcher Ayatsugu Yamashita was selected by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks; shortstop Tetsuto Yamada, won in a second-alternate lottery by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows; while the Orix Buffaloes, who lost three lottery picks, took outfielder Shunta Goto as the last man in the first round.
Ogino to miss Series
Rookie Marines outfielder Takashi Ogino, who was 25-3 as a base stealer and hit .326 in 46 games this season before being hurt, was left off Chiba Lotte's roster for the Japan Series on Thursday.