Tag Archive > Katsuhiko Maekawa

Maekawa Released

» 05 August 2009 » In mlb prospects » Comments Off

Looks like the Cardinals have cut bait on lefty Katsuhiko Maekawa. Maekawa was ineffective in 39 3A innings, walking 32 batters against 33 strikeouts.

The Cards pulled Maekawa off the scrap heap after an uninspiring career in Japan and problems with the law.

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Spring Debuts

» 28 February 2009 » In mlb, mlb prospects » Comments Off

Another MLB-centric post here. Several of Japan’s recent baseball exports have already made their exhibition debuts for their MLB clubs. Here’s a rundown:

  • Koji Uehara started for the Orioles today, going scoreless two innings, and allowing a hit and a walk while striking out three. 
  • Kenshin Kawakami got the start for the Braves, and also went two scoreless, allowing a hit, and struck out one. 
  • Sanspo has pics of both Uehara and Kawakami.
  • Junichi Tazawa pitched one inning against Boston College, getting three outs on four pitches, all fastballs. “I wanted to throw a breaking pitch,” commented Tazawa.
  • Ken Kadokura pitched an inning in relief in the Cubs Feb 25 game agains the Dodgers. “Looking back on today’s debut game, I was just happy to be there,” said Kadokura.
  • Katsuhiko Maekawa hasn’t appeared in a game yet as far as I know, but he’s impressed so far in the Cardinals camp. According to Sanpo, the Cards have five spots open on their pitching staff and Maekawa is an option. I’ll believe it when I see it.

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Minor Leaguers Going Overseas This Offseason

» 19 February 2009 » In mlb prospects » 4 Comments

This offseason, we’ve seen a large number of released NPB players announce an intent to pursue contracts with MLB organizations. I’m not sure if this is a record, but it’s the most I can recall. I’m not including Junichi Tazawa and Ken Takahashi in this list, because Takahashi turned down NPB offers, and Tazawa would have been drafted. All of these guys were either released by their NPB teams, or in the case of Yamarin, not drafted.

  • Shigeki Noguchi -> agreed with Blue Jays, failed physical
  • Ken Kadokura -> Cubs
  • Kazuhiro Takeoka -> Unsigned (Braves?)
  • Katsuhiko Maekawa -> Cardinals
  • Takateru Iyono -> Unsigned
  • Tatsuya Ozeki -> trying out with the Rockies in March
  • Ryohei Tanaka -> Orioles
  • Michinao Yamamura -> Unsigned (Golden League?)
  • Koichi Misawa -> Unsigned (played in the Northern League in ’08)
  • Yoshinori Yamarin -> Braves
  • Itsuki Shoda -> Sinon Bulls (Taiwan)

Five Players are still unsigned, which doesn’t surprise me, but I can see Yamamura and Iyono getting a shot as they’re still in their 20’s. Takeoka has worked out twice for the Braves and played AAA ball, so he might a chance too.

Notable MLB returnees:

  • Jeremy Powell -> Pirates
  • Jason Standridge -> Marlins
  • Craig Brazell -> Orioles
  • Winston Abreu -> Rays

Without a doubt, all of the players listed above obvious face big uphill battles to making it to the majors. But the fact that they are getting a chance indicates either a heightened respect for the level of talent in Japan, or a greater need to find low-cost, low-risk players through non-traditional channels. There will be 22 Japanese players in 14 big league camps this spring.

Reasons not to write these guys off just yet: Tomo Ohka, Takashi Saito, Hector Carrasco, Buddy Carlyle, Brian Shouse and  Pedro Feliciano. Saito looked like he was on the downside of his career when he came over, and none of the other guys had lasting success at the top level in Japan. All have been at least useful MLB players.

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Yet Another Minor Leaguer to Attempt a Move to MLB

» 11 January 2009 » In mlb prospects » 1 Comment

Former SoftBank Hawks pitcher Michinao Yamamura is the latest released NPB minor leaguer to announce he’s taking a shot at signing on with an American organization. He’ll be flying to Arizona on the 25th to spend 4 days playing winter league games and trying out. “My agent is talking to a number of teams about a minor league contract. Ever since I threw in international games in college, going overseas has been a dream,” said the righthander. Yamamura, 30, has made 25 appearances at the top level in Japan, going 2-2 with a 3.58 era in 27 2/3 innings.

I can’t remember ever hearing about this many released  minor leaguers attempting to move to MLB organizations in a single offseason. Perhaps I’m paying more attention this year.

So far, I’ve come across:

All of these players have been released by their NPB organizations. With the exception of Kadokura, Noguchi, and Maekawa, none of them spent that much time at the top level in Japan. Even if they are signed, most of these guys are more likely to be organizational players rather than actual MLB prospects, but it’s still an interesting trend.

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Cardinals Sign Japanese Pitcher

» 19 December 2008 » In mlb prospects » 4 Comments

Nope, not Kenshin Kawakami, Koji Uehara or Takashi Saito. Sponichi is reporting that the Cardinals signed for Kintetsu Buffaloe Katsuhiko Maekawa to a minor league deal. You might remember that Maekawa lost his job in Japan over a drunk driving hit and run driving incident (and not pitching very well), played in the Domican Winter League, signed a deal with the Nationals, and then finally couldn’t get a US work visa. He never actually played in the Nats’ system, hopefully he’ll get a shot with the Cards.

Maekawa is in the Venezuelan Winter League this year where he’s put up pretty unimpressive numbers: 0-2, 6.39 era in 4 appearances.

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