Possible MLB Returnees

» 13 January 2009 » In nichibei, npb »

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked on NY Baseball Digest Radio if there were any foreign players in Japan who could potentially make an MLB comeback, a la Cecil Fielder. I drew a blank. Given a little time to think it over though, I came up with a couple of candidates:

  • Colby Lewis, SP, Hiroshima Carp: took over for Hiroki Kuroda as Hiroshima’s ace, going 15-8 with a 2.68 era in 2008. Under contract for 2009.
  • Alex Graman, RP, Saitama Seibu Lions: former Yankee has been lights-out since the Lions put him in the bullpen. Under contract for 2009.
  • Craig Brazell, 1B, former Saitama Seibu Lions: cut loose after one year with the Lions, Brazell struck out too much in Japan and had a poor on-base performance, but did slug 27 home runs. I can see him playing AAA this year in an org that’s thin at 1b, and getting a shot if he performs well.
  • Tyrone Woods, 1B, former Chunichi Dragons: cut loose after the ’08 season, coming off six consecutive 35+ HR seasons. He’s a real longshot to play in MLB in 2009, given that he’s 40 and plenty of MLB veterans are out of work this offseason, but then again Daryle Ward spent all of 2008 on the roster of a team that won 97 games.

Though not to the extent of Fielder, Hector Carrasco, Lee Stevens, and Darrell May are a couple examples of guys who enjoyed some big league success after playing in Japan. Fielder’s 1991 Detroit Tigers teammate Bill Gullickson played two seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, where he became good friends with feature major leaguer Masumi Kuwata. They were so close, in fact, that Gullickson gave one of his children the middle name “Kuwata”. 


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  1. Patrick
    John Brooks
    15/01/2009 at 4:41 pm Permalink

    Brazell has signed a minor league contract with an invite to the Orioles spring training camp. Baltimore is weak at first, but I can’t see how he make the team when they plan on going to camp with 13 pitchers. Plus Salazar is probably ahead of him and the O’s are looking at Wigginton. At best, Brazell is organizational depth, and if lucky will see time maybe in September.

  2. Patrick
    15/01/2009 at 5:10 pm Permalink

    You’re probably right, but I look at a guy like Jack Cust as an example for Brazell. Of course, the problem with Brazell is that he’s never walked much at any level. If he learns some patience and puts up his usual AAA numbers the O’s might have something.

  3. Patrick
    John Brooks
    16/01/2009 at 7:37 am Permalink

    Yeah, if he could learn some patience he be a nice steal for Baltimore and would be very cheap and under team control for a while. The power is there with Brazell but the walks need to follow. Maybe some time in camp and in the minors can work on lowering the strikeouts. All the same I wish Brazell the best.


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