And the Tryouts Begin

» 18 October 2010 » In nichibei, npb »

With the season over for more than half the teams now, we’re seeing the tryouts begin. Lots of outside-the-boxing going on here:

  • Orix is looking at Venezuelans Luis Rodriguez and Victor Garate, both of whom have MLB experience. Garate is a 25 year-old lefty who has done well in 2A, but only reached 3A in 2010. Rodriguez is a 30 year-old infielder who bounced between the Majors and Minors between 2005-09, and spent last season on the White Sox’ 3A team. Orix had four Venezuelans on their roster last year, but management commented that it’s just a coincidence.
  • Rakuten brought in long-time US-based Indy Leaguer Travis Garcia for a tryout, but passed on signing him. Garcia has had some success in Indy ball but it’s not clear that he was active in 2010.
  • Yokohama brought in four pitchers for tryouts: 2A righty Clayton Hamilton and Indy Leaguers Jeff Ridgway, Brandon Mann, and Joseph Newby. Yokohama has had a hard time fielding a respectable pitching staff over the last several years, but I don’t think they’ll find the answer here. The pitchers in this batch are mostly in their late 20’s and haven’t had much success in the upper minors.
  • Hanshin worked out Venezuelan pitcher Robert Zarate a couple weeks ago. Zarate has three years of rookie ball experience under his belt, and pitched last year in the Independent BC League.

Of the guys listed in this post, only Rodriguez is a typical 4A type. We’ll see if any of them actually winds up signing contracts, but it looks like a trend of at least considering less-established players is emerging. The recent low-budget success of guys like Tony Blanco, Wirfin Obispo, Brett Harper and Francisco Caraballo have  shown that sometimes these kinds of moves can work out.

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  1. Patrick
    John Brooks
    18/10/2010 at 12:53 am Permalink

    The recent low-budget success of guys like Tony Blanco, Wirfin Obispo, Brett Harper and Francisco Caraballo have shown that sometimes these kinds of moves can work out.

    You know what I think would encourage more of these signings is if they alloted an extra roster spot where they wouldnt count against the foreign limit. Then in many cases a lot of them bounce from ni-gun to ichi-gun, where in ni-gun there’s no limit to foreign players. Though using the Obispo case and other Caribbean/Dominican/Venezuelan players w/o professional baseball experience(indy leagues, minors, or MLB) the NPB should be able to make room for one open spot.

    Also based on Blanco’s and Harper’s professional baseball record in the States, Blanco made the majors for a cup of coffee, I wouldnt include neither in my list. Though I’m sure the player’s association throw a fit if a rule like this was implemented.

  2. Patrick
    18/10/2010 at 4:23 pm Permalink

    What I would love to see is a rule stating players do not count towards the foreign limit if the Japanese team was the first team to sign them professionally. I think it would really encourage international scouting in Latin American and other Asian countries.

  3. Patrick
    18/10/2010 at 6:27 pm Permalink

    I don’t understand this “push” for international “free agents” in the comment section. First of all, the fact that those amateurs are called FAs shows that the current draft doesn’t work. (I am not, by any means, advocating for an authoritarian, be-all and end-all “world draft” dictated solely by the MLB.) Just because that’s how things currently are in the MLB doesn’t mean that the NPB should follow suit. Especially when it is something as questionable as the concept of international free agents.

    Secondly, the main reason the foreign limit was put in effect in the first place is to foster the growth of domestic players. If you are a fan of international baseball, you don’t want teams like Team Italy in WBC. They are (almost) all Americans. (Heck, doesn’t Major League Soccer have the similar rule?) In reality, this day and age, untapped players potentially available to NPB teams are unlikely to be unseat Japanese players. That’s not my concern. My concern is the possibility of NPB teams being on the other side of tapping other countries’ resources. I am particularly thinking of Taiwan. (I know it’s a mess there, but still.) Do not do things that you don’t want others to do to you.

  4. Patrick
    18/10/2010 at 9:53 pm Permalink

    It’s a bit of a moot point since none of these guys are amateurs. Obispo wasn’t even an amateur. Dioni Soriano, who was in the Carp Academy, played professionally in China and Japanese Indy leagues. The only recent amateur signing I can think of not from Taiwan is Noel Urena.

  5. Patrick
    18/10/2010 at 10:24 pm Permalink


    I wasn’t necessarily talking about real, specific signings. By the way, what’s Noel Ureña got to do with Taiwan?

  6. Patrick
    18/10/2010 at 11:03 pm Permalink

    I was making the point that even these guys, who lack experience in the upper minors have professional experience and wouldn’t be affected by the proposed idea. It’s rare that we see NPB teams sign true amateurs outside the draft from anywhere other than Taiwan. Urena is the only recent example I can think of.

    I used to think it would be a good idea to loosen the restrictions on foreign players who sign with NPB teams as amateurs, but I’ve kind of changed my mind on that. There is no organization limit, so they can compete for playing time at the ni-gun level. If signing and developing younger foreign players proves to be a better way to acquire talent, more NPB teams will do it regardless of roster limitations. Ultimately what I want to see is a more competitive, exciting NPB.

  7. Patrick
    21/10/2010 at 11:35 pm Permalink

    Chris Shelton would be good player to go after seeing as the guy did have cup of coffee with Detroit and Seattle and is good minor league players that could do good in Japan… Bryan LeHair is player that is worth getting…

    Thought can you update me on how Randy Messanger season went?? Big fan of his….