Alaska Baseball

Outfielder Kan Taguchi helps Anchorage Glacier Pilots start strong in season-opening win over Bucs

The two-time defending Top of the World Series champion Anchorage Glacier Pilots opened their 2023 campaign for a third straight Alaska Baseball League title in front a lively crowd at Mulcahy Stadium on Monday night and defeated in-town rival Anchorage Bucs 7-2.

“It’s good to be back out here,” Glacier Pilots head coach Dave Serrano said. ”It’s good to be back in Anchorage and be around this team. I’m excited about what the prospects are for this group.”

While it marked the team’s first game since defeating the Mat-Su Miners in the 2022 championship game last summer, it was the first live action that outfielder Kan Taguchi experienced in almost a year and a half since he was in high school back home in Japan.

Taguchi suffered a torn right labrum and bicep tendon at the start of his freshman year at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix that essentially cost him the entire season. Coming to the ABL to recoup those precious lost repetitions through summer ball made sense.

“Obviously I didn’t get as many at-bats, so I need to get my reps and I thought this would be a great opportunity to get my reps in and just grind it out,” Taguchi said.

One of his college coaches pointed him in the direction of the ABL as a place to continue his development now that he’s recovered.

“He had an unfortunate injury early on and now he gets to play and get a lot of at-bats,” Serrano said. “His skills are gonna continue to develop just like a lot of guys on this team that are going to get opportunities that they may not have gotten a lot of at their respective university.”


After being out of commission for six or seven months while he recovered from his injury setback, Taguchi wasted no time knocking off the rust in his first time back out on a field for a game.

He recorded a hit and scored a pair of runs, including the first one of the game for the Pilots on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the opening inning.

“This was my first game since high school,” Taguchi said “I think I did pretty well. I’m happy with myself because I drew three walks, (scored) two runs and a knock too.”

From the Land of the Rising Sun to the Last Frontier

The rising sophomore was born and raised in Nishinomiya, Japan, and graduated from Canadian Academy in Kobe before moving to Arizona for college last August.

Taguchi paved his own way to playing college baseball in the United States after he sent a video of some of his game film to former Grand Canyon head coach Andy Stankiewicz, who is now a head coach in the Pac-12 at the University of Southern California.

“He told me that he likes what he sees and to come out for a tryout,” he said. “I went for a tryout my junior year in high school and got recruited from there.”

While his first year in college wasn’t his first time coming to America, he was excited to play ball and be part of the Antelopes’ team. But the injury last fall put a damper on that enthusiasm.

“It kind of bummed me out but it’s OK, honestly, because I just had to take it one step at a time,” Taguchi said.

Even though he hasn’t struggled in making the transition from playing baseball in the U.S. compared to Japan, he said there are still plenty of differences.

“I feel like Japan’s a bit more small ball and over there it’s way more about discipline,” Taguchi said. “Out here, you get to have more fun, so I like it out here.”

He’s glad he decided to come play in the ABL and while he’s in the Last Frontier, he plans to go hiking, take in the sights and scenery and, hopefully, go fishing.

“I hear fishing is really big here,” Taguchi said. “I also like to game a lot and play other sports too.”

Pilots looking ahead after setting a strong tone

As good as the Pilots looked in their first time out, they’re still an incomplete roster with more talent and pitching reinforcements on the way.

“We don’t have all our guys here yet, especially on the mound,” Serrano said. “We have five or six more guys that are not here due to (college) regionals or due to the fact that they’re in quarter systems schools and won’t be here until the middle of June.”

Serrano believes summer league ball is all about the continued development and maturation of players like Taguchi looking to improve their game. He thinks that this year’s team has a lot of good players.

“My philosophy is if you throw a lot of strikes, you’re going to give your team a chance to win,” Serrano said. “I like what the guys did tonight. It sets the tone for all summer long. If we can do that and get the offense we did today, then we have a chance to be a special team.”

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.