Ichinoseki Lands in Belgium

» 30 March 2010 » In international baseball »

Remember Shota Ichinoseki, the Aomori University pitcher who looked overseas as a fallback plan to not being drafted? He’s re-emerged after landing a deal to play in Belgium for the Namur Angels.

According to Sports Hochi, Ichinoseki had an MLB tryout last Autumn, but failed. He wound up in Belgium in a Web 2.0 kind of way: an agent his college manager knew posted video of him throwing to a website, and Namur saw it and asked for more video. The team liked what it saw and signed him.

I know very little about Belgium’s baseball league, but its level of play is reputedly lower than the leagues in Italy and the Netherlands. Another fun fact is that Leon Boyd played there prior to getting his Dutch passport and joining the Honkbal Hoofdklasse. Mister Baseball has a brief recap of Namur’s 2009 season here.

Ichinoseki says his goal is to return to Japan and play in NPB. He’s well off the beaten Industrial League / Independent League path, so whatever he winds up he’ll have taken a unique route.


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  1. Patrick
    30/03/2010 at 6:52 pm Permalink

    Nice Leon Boyd catch! Since there’s now precedence of Belgium => Netherlands => MLB organization path, maybe Ichinose will follow that or forge a new path to NPB.

  2. Patrick
    30/03/2010 at 9:42 pm Permalink

    Actually, I caught that during last year’s WBC. Boyd had the advantage of the WBC exposure, of course. I’m actually very interested to see how another Canadian, Ryan Murphy does in Taiwan. Murphy is following a similar path: Indy ball in Canada => Netherlands and Australia => Taiwan.

    And another thought on Ichinoseki. Belgium’s season ends in July, so if he does ok he might be able to come back to Japan and play Indy ball, or play in short season ball in the US. I wish him the best.

  3. Patrick
    30/03/2010 at 10:25 pm Permalink

    Which language is the more dominant in Belgium baseball? Is it French because of its Canadian connection or Dutch because of the Netherlands’ position in Europe?

  4. Patrick
    30/03/2010 at 10:47 pm Permalink

    That’s not a question I can answer, but I would think that English would suffice in either Belgium or the Netherlands. I’ve visited both countries (well, Brussels and Amsterdam) and was impressed at the English ability of the people in both, especially in Amsterdam. Belgium seems to bridge the gap between French and Dutch a bit. The people speak French, but a lot of the street names and stuff kind of look Dutch.

  5. Patrick
    John Brooks
    31/03/2010 at 8:45 am Permalink

    Ryan Murphy does in Taiwan.

    Murphy was released after one game. [Link]

  6. Patrick
    31/03/2010 at 7:29 pm Permalink

    The answer to the language question in Belgium depends on geography. Dutch is spoken in the northern region of Flanders. (Belgian Dutch is also known as Flemish.) French is spoken in the southern region of Wallonia, where the Namur Angels play.

    Though Brussels is officially bilingual, French is the dominant language. The city used to be Dutch-speaking only many centuries ago, which I can only assume explains the Dutch-sounding street names and stuff Patrick referred to.