Tag Archive > Wilfreiser Guerrero

Changes for 2012: Hiroshima Carp

» 28 January 2012 » In npb » 4 Comments

Coming: Kam Mickolio, Nick Stavinoha, Yusuke Nomura (1st round draft pick)

Going: Gio Alvarado, Mike Schultz, Dioni Soriano, Kiyoshi Toyoda, Wilfreiser Guerrero, Masaki Hayashi, Chad Tracy

Staying: Bryan Bullington, Brian Barden, Dennis Sarfate, Kenta Kurihara

The key offseason move for Hiroshima was the one that didn’t happen. For the second straight winter, the Carp failed to lure its former ace, Hiroki Kuroda, back from his successful Major League tenure. Had Kuroda returned, Hiroshima would have opened camp with a good shot at having the best rotation in Japan. Even without Kuroda though, Hiroshima’s rotation has some solid pieces to work with. Kenta Maeda and Bryan Bullington are strong at the top, second-year man Yuya Fukui showed proimsed in 2011, and perhaps rookie Yusuke Nomura and sophmore Kyohei Nakamura will join the mix. Veteran Kan Ohtake showed signs of life toward the end of last season, and 24 year-old lefty Yuki Saito should return from the back injuries that sidelined him for all of 2011. Kuroda would have been a great addition to this group, taking the pressure of the younger guys and the injury returnees.

At the plate, Hiroshima suffered a severe power shortage in 2011, hitting a league-low 52 home runs. To that end if Nick Stavinoha can establish himself and slug .450, it will be a huge addition. The retention of Brian Barden is a sound move, as he hit a respectable .280/.368/.371 over half a season last year. Simply getting a full season out of him at third base, which has been a hole since Takahiro Arai departed, will be a plus and if he can find some pop, all the better. We’ll see about the rest of the lineup once the open-sen season opens.

So while their approach is contingent on the younger players maturing and contributing, Hiroshima seems to be headed in the right direction.

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The Scrap Heap: Huang, Vechionacci, Soriano, Others

» 14 December 2011 » In mlb prospects, npb » Comments Off

Each offseason, NPB teams release a raft of players. I’ve combed through the list and picked out a few guys that could have some upside ahead of them.

  • Chih-Lung Huang — There were MLB clubs interested in Huang when he signed with Yomiuri out of Taiwan in 2009, but he preferred Japan. The Giants seemed bullish on him when he reached ichi-gun in 2010, but cooled off this year. His stuff wasn’t as advertised but at age 22 he may still have some upside.
  • Marcos Vechionacci — Vechionacci signed an ikusei contract with Hanshin last offseason, then hit .255/.359/.436 in 128 ni-gun plate appearances. That line sounds alright to me, but I guess Hanshin’s management didn’t agree. I would guess he’ll wind up back in 2A or 3A.
  • Dioni Soriano – Soriano is a graduate of the Hiroshima Carp Dominican Academy, and bounced around China and Japan’s independent Island League before signing with the mothership in 2009. He has shown more success than anyone else on this list, throwing a shutout against Hanshin near the end of 2010. Soriano has a good arm, but throwing strikes has tended to be an issue for him. At age 29 (on December 30) he’s not a spring chicken by baseball standards, be he likely still has a few decent years in front of him.
  • Wilfreiser Guerrero — Another product of the Carp’s Dominican Academy. Admittedly I know next to nothing about Guerrero, other that than he walked a lot of guys at ni-gun. I’ve included him on this list based on the observation that MLB clubs turned former Academy-sei players Ramon Ramirez and Esmailyn Caridad into Major Leaguers pretty quickly.
  • Wirfin Obispo — I’ve written quite a bit about Obi-chan, calling his very good 2009 season a “small triumph for player development” and lauding Nippon Ham acquiring him from Yomiuri as one of my two favorite trades of last offseason. Obispo made Nippon Ham’s opening day roster in 2011, but was lit up in the first week and banished to ni-gun, where he was unimpressive for the rest of the season. At his best in 2009, he had a 93+ mph fastball and hard slider. Obispo is playing Winter Ball this year in hopes of catching on with an MLB club.

As far as I know, none of these players has signed for 2012 yet.

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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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