The Scrap Heap: Huang, Vechionacci, Soriano, Others
Each offseason, NPB teams release a raft of players. I’ve combed through the list and picked out a few guys that could have some upside ahead of them.
- Chih-Lung Huang – There were MLB clubs interested in Huang when he signed with Yomiuri out of Taiwan in 2009, but he preferred Japan. The Giants seemed bullish on him when he reached ichi-gun in 2010, but cooled off this year. His stuff wasn’t as advertised but at age 22 he may still have some upside.
- Marcos Vechionacci — Vechionacci signed an ikusei contract with Hanshin last offseason, then hit .255/.359/.436 in 128 ni-gun plate appearances. That line sounds alright to me, but I guess Hanshin’s management didn’t agree. I would guess he’ll wind up back in 2A or 3A.
- Dioni Soriano – Soriano is a graduate of the Hiroshima Carp Dominican Academy, and bounced around China and Japan’s independent Island League before signing with the mothership in 2009. He has shown more success than anyone else on this list, throwing a shutout against Hanshin near the end of 2010. Soriano has a good arm, but throwing strikes has tended to be an issue for him. At age 29 (on December 30) he’s not a spring chicken by baseball standards, be he likely still has a few decent years in front of him.
- Wilfreiser Guerrero — Another product of the Carp’s Dominican Academy. Admittedly I know next to nothing about Guerrero, other that than he walked a lot of guys at ni-gun. I’ve included him on this list based on the observation that MLB clubs turned former Academy-sei players Ramon Ramirez and Esmailyn Caridad into Major Leaguers pretty quickly.
- Wirfin Obispo — I’ve written quite a bit about Obi-chan, calling his very good 2009 season a “small triumph for player development” and lauding Nippon Ham acquiring him from Yomiuri as one of my two favorite trades of last offseason. Obispo made Nippon Ham’s opening day roster in 2011, but was lit up in the first week and banished to ni-gun, where he was unimpressive for the rest of the season. At his best in 2009, he had a 93+ mph fastball and hard slider. Obispo is playing Winter Ball this year in hopes of catching on with an MLB club.
As far as I know, none of these players has signed for 2012 yet.