Tag Archive > Shigeki Noguchi

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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Noguchi’s Contract Cancelled

» 18 February 2009 » In mlb prospects » 1 Comment

Shigeki Noguchi’s agreed-upon contract with the Blue Jays will not be completed. According to Sports Hochi, Noguchi’s physical turned up irregularities in his left (throwing) elbow, and he’s already returned to Japan. Noguchi had been training in Florida in advance of the Blue Jays’ minor league camp opening.

Noguchi wants to continue his career, but said earlier in the offseason that he’d retire if he didn’t get a chance to pitch in the US or Japan. Noguchi failed an audition with Rakuten last autumn.

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Jays Agree with Noguchi

» 11 February 2009 » In mlb prospects » 3 Comments

Sports Hochi is reporting that Toronto has agreed to terms with another Japanese lefty, former Yomiuri Giant Shigeki Noguchi. Noguchi was once one of the best pitchers in Japan, taking the 1999 Sawamura Award and MVP with 19 wins for the Central League Champion Chunichi Dragons. He’s never recovered his old form since missing most of 2002 with an injury, and didn’t pitch at the top level at all in 2008. 

Noguchi gets a minor league contract and will take part in the minor league camp, and start the season in AA or AAA. Definitely a low risk acquisition for the Jays.

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Offseason Changes: Yomiuri Giants

» 02 February 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

Coming: Micheal Nakamura, Takahito Kudoh, Dicky Gonzales, Edgardo Alfonzo (maybe), Levi Romero (maybe)

Going: Koji Uehara, Makoto Kosaka, Takayuki Shimizu, Tomohiro Nioka, Masanori Hayashi, Ken Kadokura, Shigeki Noguchi

Staying: Marc Kroon, Sung-Yeop Lee, Alex Ramirez, Seth Greisinger

Trending: upward

Synopsis: Uehara is the only guy they will notice is gone, and Nakamura will mostly balance out his loss. Strong group of foreign players will be back in 2009. Of the departures, only Hayashi is under 30.

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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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On The Comeback Trail

» 27 December 2008 » In mlb prospects, nichibei » 1 Comment

Akinori Otsuka is in the news again. He’s planning to work out in front of all 30 MLB teams in Arizona next month. Padres GM Kevin Towers was quoted in Sports Hochi last week as saying he’d like to sign Otsuka if his elbow is okay. Otsuka was one of the best relievers in NPB history and had four solid MLB seasons, so unless his arm is about to fall off I’m guessing he’ll got a shot somewhere. It’s actually a little surprising that no one signed him for last season; he could have been had for a cheap two-year deal where he could have spent the first year rehabbing under team supervision. I guess no one wanted to take that kind of chance on his health. Otsuka (I believe) still has a residence in San Diego, so the Padres would be a logical destination. I threw out the idea a couple of weeks ago that he could sign with Seattle, as he has a good relationship with Don Wakamatsu from their days in Texas.

In other comeback news, Yomiuri Giants castaways Ken Kadokura and Shigeki Noguchi both worked out for a Cubs representative on Dec 23. Sports Hochi thinks that Kadokura has a shot at signing with the Chicago. Last we heard, Kadokura had an offer from SK in the Korean League, but now he’s saying that he wants to play in America. Noguchi, who failed a tryout with Rakuten last month, will retire if he doesn’t get a chance to play with an American organization. So far neither player has heard back from the Cubs.

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NPB Bullet Points: Bullpen Edition

» 28 November 2008 » In nichibei » Comments Off

Couple of news items from the world of relief pitching to pass along today…

  • Rakuten is expected to announce the acquisition of Phillies AAA righty Matt Childers in the next couple of days. Looks like Childers pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in 2008, and had decent numbers.
  • Nippon Ham will look to recover a little bullpen depth with the signing Oakland AAA lefty Ryan Wing. Wing is coming off a solid season in his first try at AAA. At 26, he likely still has some upside left.
  • Add lefty Shigeki Noguchi to the list of guys eyeing a move to the States. Noguchi was one of the best pitchers in Japan from 1998-2001, but hasn’t been the same guy since. He was cut by the Giants after the Japan Series, and Rakuten passed after working him out earlier in the month. His best days are behind him, but if Yukinaga Maeda can get a chance to pitch in AAA, Noguchi should be able to.

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