Tag Archive > Alfonso Soriano

NPB Bullet Points: Mulhern, MLB Scouts, Rakuten Fireworks

» 13 July 2011 » In nichibei, npb » 6 Comments

Today’s news and notes from around Japan, with a focus on scouting and player personnel.

  • Daily Sports reports that Seibu is working on signing Ryan Mulhern out of the Mexican League. I had never heard of Mulhern before yesterday, but he’s spent the last two seasons in indy ball and Mexico, and prior to that it looks like he’d mostly been an organizational player. It’s great to see this kind of player get a shot and I wish him the best of luck.
  • Chunichi Sports points out that Ryan Vogelsong is the third non-Japanese player with NPB experience to make an MLB All-Star team. The other two? Cecil Fielder and Alfonso Soriano.
  • Wladimir Balentien’s contract with Yakult includes language that prevents him from moving to another NPB team after the season. Said someone familiar with the situation: “Discussion about foreign players leaving the team or not ended with Chang-Yong Lim last offseason. New players acquired since then have contractual provisions against moving domestically.”
  • Sponichi reports that the Rays, Indians, Astros and Angels had scouts at Hisashi Iwakuma’s most recent rehab start.
  • Hanshin is reportedly looking to acquire Korean slugger Dae-Ho Lee this offseason.
  • The “Big 3” college pitchers – Tomoyuki Sugano, Takahiro Fujioka and Yusuke Nomura – have all disavowed interest in skipping NPB in favor of MLB. The trio had been attracting attention from MLB scouts.
  • MLB scouts from three un-named teams watched Shoji Yoshimoto, who Nikkan Sports called “the Darvish of Shimomachi Shitamachi.”
  • Rakuten will feature fireworks displays after all 13 of it’s home games in August. As an added promotion, 20 families will get to watch the fireworks from the field.
  • In more Rakuten news, the Eagles ni-gun team has it’s own ustream.tv channel. Unfortunately the angle they shoot the games from is almost unwatchable.
  • And now for something completely different: Lotte has stadium and uniform advertising for Nexon this season. I never know what Nexon does, but I happened to find out from this English-language article on Techcrunch.

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Foreign Player Additions: Randolph, Soriano

» 29 July 2009 » In npb » 6 Comments

Couple of player acquisitions to pass on here…

With the player acquisition deadline nearing (July 31 JST), we should see one or two other acquisitions.

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The New Era: Hiroshima Toyo Carp

» 28 March 2009 » In sports business » Comments Off on The New Era: Hiroshima Toyo Carp

Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium begins its history with the 2009 season. An interesting attempt to not only use the company name, but the slogan associated with the brand name. This makes you wonder if, in the  future, stadiums will have names like NIKE Just Do It Stadium or McDonalds I’m Lovin It Stadium. Fans are able to get a quick glimpse of the stadium with a 360 degree panorama movie on the stadium’s website. The Hiroshima Toyo Carp in the 2009 season look to market their new stadium with ballpark tour opportunities and holding a grand opening event prior to the start of the season.

The Toyo Carp is known for its globalized vision as they were the first Japanese baseball team to establish a baseball academy outside of Japan which started in the Dominican Republic in 1990. The most famous graduate from the academy is current Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano. The Toyo Carp are utilizing the academy in a unique way starting from this year where a Hiroshima City University student will have the opportunity to participate in a six month internship opportunity to experience and learn from a different culture. In 2004, the Toyo Carp also has established a pitching academy in Guandong, China.

The team’s presence on the web has been expanding with a local television station RCC operating a website, RCC Carp Internet Stadium where in-game updates are available with opportunities for fans to interact with others by chatting and asking questions to each other. A mobile website for the Carp has been established for fans to receive updates on their cells regarding their favorite team as well.

The Toyo Carp is a unique team, as they are owned by the city, which is different from the other eleven teams in the NPB. The team entered the Central league to revive the city from the aftermath of World War II. Even though Mazda has become the principal shareholder of the team, they are not associated with the operations and the Toyo Carp is known as a city-owned team of Hiroshima. When their operations were struggling financially in the 1950’s, the community developed a donation project to set up barrels in multiple areas around the stadium to call out for donations, which worked out effectively with the support from the community.

Now the team contributes to activities around the city by organizing a project called P3 Hiroshima; involving the Toyo Carp, Sanfrecce Hiroshima (J-League team), and the symphony orchestra of Hiroshima. The P3 Hiroshima emphisizes on giving Pride, Passion, and Prospects to the city. Some of the activities include the organizations inviting children to their events, professional athletes visiting local schools, and the organization being involved with charities. Toyo Carp will look to give back to the city even more with their brand new stadium in the 2009 season.

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Over 20 Scouts Watch Darvish

» 13 March 2009 » In mlb prospects, npb » 6 Comments

According to multiple Japanese sources, over 20 scouts from more than 10 teams gathered to watch Japan’s exhibition game against the Cubs, with the center of attention obviously being Yu Darvish. Darvish didn’t disappoint, holding the Cubs scoreless in his two innings of work. Nikkan Sports adds that he hit 96mph on the gun, or about 155kmph. His fastest recorded pitch in NPB is 154kmph so he might have dialled it up a little bit for the Cubs. He also threw his two-seam fastball and slider, but no word on whether his curveball has made an appearance. 

I didn’t see any of this game. I actually get WGN on my cable system so I’m kicking myself for not knowing whether they aired it or not. Anyway, here are some quotes from people who were there as reported by Nikkan Sports:

Alfonso Soriano: “He’s a good pitcher. His breaking pitches in particular stand out. He’s a tough opponent. He could definitely play in the majors.”

Carlos Zambrano: “He has an aura on the mound. That’s important for a pitcher. He uses his off-speed pitches well, and really knows how to pitch.”

SF Giants Far East Scount John Cox: “We don’t know if he’ll come over via posting or as a free agent, but if he’s interested in the majors we’ll think about acquiring him.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka will reportedly start against Cuba in round two, so we can expect to see Darvish later in the tournament.

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Victor Marte

» 02 March 2009 » In mlb prospects » Comments Off on Victor Marte

Correction, March 15: Marte had actually been with the Royals organization prior to signing with Hiroshima. Thanks to Erik Schullstrom for the info; I wasn’t able to find any information on Marte’s pre-Carp career either in Japanese or English. It is possible that he played under a different name. Either way, I better brush up on my Spanish.

I had been wondering what happened to pitcher Victor Marte after the Carp released him… he’s in camp with the Royals as a non-roster invitee. Looks like he got a minor league deal. 

Marte is a rarity, a Dominican who signed his first pro contract with an NPB team instead of an MLB team. Marte played in the Carp’s Dominican Academy before playing most in the Japanese minor leagues the last few years. Ramon Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano are a couple of Carp Academy alums currently playing in the Majors.

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SoftBank Dominican Academy?

» 06 January 2009 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off on SoftBank Dominican Academy?

Interesting news out of Fukuoka — the SoftBank Hawks have sent team COO Takanori Takeuchi* and head coach Koji Moriwaki on a business trip to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. On the agenda is to watch a handful of Winter League games, and look into creating ties with a baseball academy in the Dominican. Sponichi quotes Takeuchi as saying, “even to if it’s just to stimulate our farm team, we’re considering bringing in Dominican players (as instructional players). If possible we’d like to affiliate with an independent academy “. He added jokingly, “we were given an extra bag to bring back foreign players.” Nishi Nippon adds another quote from Takeuchi: “there are academies that are not affiliated with the majors over there. Going forward we’d like to build cooperative relationships.”

If SoftBank does indeed set something up, it would be the third NPB academy in Latin America. The Hiroshima Carp have an academy in the Dominican, and the Yakult Swallows have one in Brazil. Both have graduated players to the NPB level, but the Carp’s Academy has been particularly successful in that it’s produced MLB players Alfonso Soriano, Timo Perez, Robinson Checo, and Ramon Ramirez. 

*Takeuchi has an eye for talent. He was in the US during the summer trying to convince the Rangers to sell Nelson Cruz’s contract to SoftBank.

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NPB Links in the MLB Playoffs

» 05 October 2008 » In mlb, nichibei » 1 Comment

Fun fact: a Japanese player has appeared in every World Series since 2002, beginning with Tsuyoshi Shinjo with the San Francisco Giants. This year, I’ve noticed a number of NPB connections on the eight MLB playoff teams.

Chicago Cubs

  • Scapegoat Kosuke Fukudome played 10 years for the Chunichi Dragons.
  • Derek Lee’s father, Leon Lee, and uncle, Leron Lee, both played 10+ years in Japan. Derek has said that he would like to finish his career in Japan.
  • Alfonso Soriano came up through the Hiroshima Carp Domican Academy and played briefly in Japan before joining the Yankees.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Pitchers Hiroki Kuroda and Takashi Saito are NPB veterans. 

Philedelphia Phillies

  • Manager Charlie Manual played for the Yakult Swallows and Kintetsu Buffaloes in the late 70’s and early 80’s. 
  • Reserve bat Matt Stairs played for the Chunichi Dragons before sticking with an MLB team.
  • Bench outfielder So Taguchi played for the Orix Blue Wave alongside Ichiro.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Though neither one is on the playoff roster, Gabe Kapler and Joe Dillon both spent part of a season with the Yomiuri Giants.
  • Solomon Torres pitched in Korea before making his MLB comeback.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Man of the hour Akinori Iwamura came over from the Yakult Swallows two years ago.

Chicago White Sox

  • Former Softbank Hawk DJ Carrasco is on the White Sox’ playoff roster.

Boston Red Sox

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima.

LA Angels of Anaheim

  • Anyone know of any?

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