Archive > 26 October 2008

Draft Storylines: Foreign Citizens

» 26 October 2008 » In npb draft » 6 Comments

We’re a few short days away from NPB entry draft, and while much has been written about Junichi Tazawa (by me in particular), there are plenty of stories to write about. I’m going to try and get to a few of ’em over the next couple of days.

This year’s draft is unusual in that it features multiple foreign-born draft-eligible players. All of the players listed below have received their education in Japan and wouldn’t qualify as foreign players under the NPB roster rules.

Yi-Jie Hsiao (Pitcher, Nara Sangyo University, Taiwanese citizen): Known as Ikketsu Sho in Japan, Hsiao is the best prospect on this list. Hsaio came to Japan on his own volition as a 16 year-old, after seeing the Koshien High School Baseball Tournament on TV. Hsiao made two appearances in Koushien before moving on to Nara Sangyo University. After spending his first three years as a reliever, Hsaio came into his own as a starter in his senior season, allowing no earned runs in 34 innings pitched. 

Hsaio reaches about 92 mph with his fastball with good command. TTT of Taiwan Baseball has a brief scouting report on Hsiao, in English. Nippon Ham has expressed an interest in drafting Hsiao. 

Krissada Shirakura (Pitcher, Asia University, Thai citizen): Asia University and Thailand national pitcher Shirakura is one of the more interesting candidates in this year’s draft. Born in Bangkok to a Japanese father and a Thai mother, Shirakura picked up baseball after moving to Japan around the age of 10. Out of admiration for Daisuke Matsuzaka, he chose to pitch in high school.

Shirakura was invited to play for Thailand’s national team in his final year of high school, and has represented his country of birth internationally each year since. He attributes his stamina to playing internationally, and learned a slider and forkball from Cuban opponents. He’s put up pretty good numbers at Asia University, but is considered undersized. I’ve seen him toward the end of projected draft lists for Hanshin and Nippon Ham. 

Shin Son-Hyon (Shortstop, Kyoto International High School, Korean citizen): Like Hsaio, Shin saw the Koshien Tournament on TV, liked what he saw, and decided to go to Japan as an exchange student. It took him about a year to handle daily conversations in Japanese. 

Shin was among 53 players worked out by Hiroshima in September, and the only one that “passed” the tryout, and may take him with a later pick. According to Shukan Baseball, he’s also drawn interest from Korean and American scouts.

Rafael Fernandez (Pitcher, Hakuoh University, Brazillian citizen): Yakult intends to select exchange student Fernandez as an instructional player, which would make him the first Brazillian to be drafted into NPB since Norberto Semanaka in 2003. Fernandez reportedly hits 94 mph on the gun, but has only won two games in his four college seasons. Yakult has a training academy in Brazil, and they might have a diamond in the rough if they can get him to command his stuff.

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Iwase to Remain with Chunichi

» 26 October 2008 » In mlb, npb » 1 Comment

Nothing official has been announced, but it looks like Chunichi Dragons closer Hitoki Iwase will decline to file for free agency and remain the team. Sanspo, Nikkan Sports, Sponichi and several others are all running a nearly identical report in which Iwase comments, “It’s not decided when we’ll talk to the team, but inside there’s practical part of me”.

I wonder if his confidence took a hit after his poor performance in the Olympics. Or maybe he realizes that he’s coming off a sub-par season (by his standards) and doesn’t like what the market will bear for him. Iwase earned a little over $4.3M in 2008, so a move to MLB wouldn’t necessarily have gotten him a big raise. I’d also suggest that Iwase is more valuable to Chunichi than any other team, as the team lost Fukudome last year and is likely to lose Kenshin Kawakami. Keeping Iwase also allows Kazuki Yoshimi to move into the starting rotation full time.

Nothing is official until a contract is signed, but Chunichi is reportedly preparing a multi-year deal for their star closer. Last year they let him choose between a 1-year and 4-year contracts, so it’ll be interesting to see if they show the same flexibility this time around.

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