Tag Archive > Rafael Depaula

Japan & The Dominican Republic

» 02 February 2010 » In international baseball » 6 Comments

Last week, after Jorge Arangure broke the news that Dominican prospect Rafael DePaula’s MLB signing ban had been lifted, I exchanged a few “tweets” with Jorge and Keith Law, centered around my post about DePaula’s consideration of Japan last summer. Sometimes 140 characters isn’t enough.
@keithlaw: @npbtracker I’m not sure why no suspended player has tried Japan, or even Italy or Holland. Go make some coin and keep playing for scouts.

Practically speaking, it doesn’t make sense for NPB teams to sign suspended prospects, assuming that they are a) not ready to contribute at the top level in Japan and b) only willing to sign short-term contracts. I was bullish on DePaula trying Japan last summer — with the caveat that he’d be willing to make a long-term commitment (looking back, I wasn’t clear enough about this in my post). Certainly a number of Taiwanese players, and some Dominicans have signed with Japanese teams as amateurs and done well.

Holland’s Honkbal Hoofdklasse is really a semi-pro league, and each team is only allowed one non-EU citizen roster spot (for more check out this post), so that seems like a little more of a longshot. I remember reading about some Dominican prospects trying to play in Taiwan, but I couldn’t find anything on that. Maybe a knowledgeable NPB Tracker reader will know something about that.

@jorgearangure: @npbtracker do you know how much Japanese teams scout the DR these days?

5:00 PM Jan 27th from TweetDeck in reply to npbtracker

The Carp have an Academy in the Dominican, from which they recently brought a couple of players to Japan. Pitcher Wilfreiser Guerrero was in the Carp’s Academy in 2007, followed by two years of independent ball in Japan, and has now joined the Carp as an ikusei (development) player. Dioni Soriano, another pitcher, joined the Carp last season after following a similar pattern. Hiroshima also added two pitchers as “practice” players this offseason: Juan Javier (22) and Jose Lauriano (20)*. Javier initially lied about his age and identity, claiming to be 16.

The Chunichi Dragons don’t have a Dominican academy, but scout the Winter League heavily and have signed quite a few players over the last few years, including four this offseason.  Unlike the Carp, as far as I know Chunichi has only signed players with at least some professional experience with MLB organizations. They do take younger guys without much upper-level minor league experience though.

Beyond that, the SoftBank Hawks showed some interest last offseason about finding an independent Dominican baseball academy to establish ties with, but I never read anything about it beyond the initial report. The Yomiuri Giants have had some success developing Wirfin Obispo, who signed as a 22 year-old and put up a solid showing last year in his first real test at the top level. Yomiuri has an academy in China but not in the Dominican.

Up to this point, the main international market Japanese teams recruit amateur talent from is Taiwan (Chen Wei-Yin, Chang Chih-Chia). My opinion is that if NPB is going to miss out on top Japanese talent, like Junichi Tazawa, the best way to stay competitive would be to sign more talented amateur players as international free agents. NPB teams will never be in the mix for the Michel Ynoa-class prospects, but could reasonably compete for players in the $300k-$500k bonus range.

*Note: I guessed the spellings of Javier’s and Lauriano’s names, as I only had them available in katakana.

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Top Dominican Prospect Reportedly Considering Japan

» 30 September 2009 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 1 Comment

Here’s a developing story: a couple of weeks ago, a baseball source indicated to me that Dominican prospect Rafael Depaula is considering starting his professional career with a Japanese club. Depaula is considered a top prospect, but the rub is that he’s currently barred from signing with an MLB club due to irregularities found in his age investigation.

Depaula, 17, is a righthanded pitcher who compliments a mid-90’s fastball with a change up and slider. A brief video of him shows clean mechanics, and a commentor at River Ave Blues was kind enough to hand-translate a Spanish-language article about him (or you can check out the machine-translation). I asked Ben Badler about Depaula’s status as a prospect, and he confirmed to me that he would command a healthy bonus even if turned out to be older than 17.

So is Japan a viable option for Depaula? Aside from the foreign player limit hurdle (which is significant) I don’t see why not. The Hiroshima Carp have certainly brought a number of guys over from their Dominican Academy, and we’ve seen the Giants have some success developing Wirfin Obispo. Yakult also occasionally bring young players over from Brazil, though we have yet to see any of them really stick with the top team. And we do see NPB teams go toe-to-toe with MLB clubs over top amateur talent from Taiwan.

This story has the potential to become an interesting counter-point to the Yusei Kikuchi situation. We’ll keep an eye on it.

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