Archive > 01 September 2008

Red Sox (to) Sign Tazawa(?)

» 01 September 2008 » In mlb prospects, nichibei » 14 Comments

Update, Sept 3: For more on Tazawa the pitcher, please see this post.

Update: Simon pointed out that minor detail that I glossed over — that the signing hasn’t happened yet, just that Theo Epstein ok’ed it. I guess my inner hot stove got the better of me. The subject matter of the post is still valid, and I’ve made appropriate tense corrections to reflect the actual situation.

Sponichi is reporting that the Boston Red Sox have signed are looking to sign amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa from Eneos Oil of the Industrial Leagues. Tazawa is a 22 year-old righthander with a fastball that reportedly reaches 97 mph, and is widely considered a top amateur going into this year’s NPB draft. All 12 NPB teams, as well as the Braves and Mets had been watching Tazawa in addition to Boston.

Theo Epstein comments in the article on scouting Japanese amateurs (warning: translation of a translation):

“We know how good Japanese pitchers are through Daisuke (Matsuzaka) and Oki (Hideki Okajima). The time has come when all 30 MLB teams have data on Japanese pitchers, but we’re proactive about data on young players.”

At this point I would like to note that terms of the signing were not included in the article, nor have I seen an official announcement. So hopefully there will be more details to come. It’s possible that The signing isn’t final yet.

This potential signing is likely to cause a stir in NPB. According to the article, there are no clear rules prohibiting MLB teams from signing Japanese amateurs prior to being drafting in NPB, but this is would be the first time that a consensus first round talent could potentially join an MLB team before being drafted. The NPB brass has never been nuts about losing veteran talent to MLB, so we’ll see how they would react to losing a coveted amateur.

This isn’t wouldn’t be Boston’s first amateur signing out of Japan. The signed relief pitching prospect Ryo Kumagai out of college a few years ago, and attempted to sign catcher Hayato Doue from the independant Shikoku Island League earlier this year. Kumagai wound up back in Japan pitching in the amateur industrial leagues pretty quickly, while I believe Doue failed to secure a visa and never made it over.

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