Tag Archive > Kazuhiro Takeoka

More on Minor Leaguers

» 05 April 2009 » In international baseball » Comments Off

Here’s more on some of the minor leaguers that I was following in the offseason:

  • Kazuhiro Takeoka -> training in Arizona, hoping to catch on with a team as the season progresses. 
  • Takateru Iyono -> didn’t catch on with an MLB organization; signed with the Brother Elephants of Taiwan.
  • Tatsuya Ozeki -> flunked his audition with the Rockies, back in Japan blogging.
  • Michinao Yamamura -> looks like he was in camp with the independent Calgary Vipers; not sure if he made the team.
  • Koichi Misawa -> Unknown; all I could find was that he won’t be back with Northern League’s RailCats in 2009.
  • Yosuke Kawaguchi -> this guy wasn’t on my radar at all, but two seperate readers pointed out that he’s signed with the Yuma Scorpions of the independent Golden League (thanks to readers Dave and Patrick P for the tip).

All these guys, with the exception of Misawa, played in NPB last season.

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MLB Teams Looking To Asia

» 26 March 2009 » In mlb prospects » 2 Comments

Scouting Asia has become a full-time operation for a number of MLB teams. Here are a few that I expect to see watching Japan this season.

Note that I haven’t included the most obvious teams here; by now it isn’t a surprise if the Red Sox, Dodgers or Mets are in the mix for a Japanese player. Nor is it meant to be an exhaustive list; there’s always room for surprises.

Texas Rangers: Pacific Rim scout Jim Colborn’s name shows up in the Japanese media fairly frequently. Colborn coached in Japan in the early 90’s and has Kazuo Fukumori and Yukinaga Maeda. He was last seen scouting a couple of pitchers from Hosei University. Texas also had the top dollar offer for Junichi Tazawa but were rebuffed for Boston.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays set up a Pacific Rim department last offseason, headed up by former Nippon Ham Fighter Rob Ducey. They also signed lefthanders Ken Takahashi and Shigeki Noguchi to minor league deals over the offseason, though Noguchi failed his physical. The linked report indicates they’ll be looking for more central pieces as the department ramps up.

San Francisco Giants: Not much to go on here, but Asia scout John Cox’s name has shown up in the media a couple of times. I can’t think of a notable Japanese/NPB signing the Giants have made (unless we count Masashi Murakami) so we’ll see if they make one this year.

New York Yankees: Gene Michael made a trip to Japan last year, reportedly to watch Yu Darvish. I expect that they’ll continue to monitor top guys like Darvish and Norichika Aoki as longer-term prospects, but not be hunting for bargains or middling players.

Atlanta Braves: Signed Kenshin Kawakami and Yoshinori Yamarin last season, and also made a strong bid for Tazawa. Atlanta has also signed minor league-level amateurs such as Ryohei Shimabukuro and Kazuhiro Takeoka in the past.

I’ll have a list of guys they might be competing for within a week or so.

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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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Update on Minor Leaguers

» 09 February 2009 » In nichibei » 1 Comment

Things are progressing slowly for the ex-NPB farmhands who are looking minor league deals in America, but there is some news:

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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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Braves and Twins Japan Notes

» 01 December 2008 » In mlb prospects, nichibei » 2 Comments

A couple of very minor but interesting notes on the Braves and Twins (but mostly Braves) to share today…

  • I wrote a little bit about Yoshinori Yamarin, a high school pitcher who went undrafted, back in October. This Sports Hochi article from Nov 11 says that the Twins had met with him and Braves were planning to. According to Hochi, Yamarin worked out for Lotte and others, and despite his strong desires to play professionally in Japan, went undrafted. He’s reportedly hit 92 mph on the gun as an 18 year-old, and might be an interesting project. This is the kind of guy that stands to lose the most from the Tazawa ban
  • Sofbank cut pitcher Kazuhiro Takeoka earlier in the week, which never would have caught my attention except the Sponichi article said that he “might return to the Braves“. I had never heard of him. Turns out that Takeoka played in the Braves system between 2000-2003, reaching AAA in ’02 and ’03. At 33 he’s not an MLB prospect, but an interesting organizational arm. He’s hoping to talk to the Braves and get a decision made by year’s end.

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