Tag Archive > Yoshinori Yamarin

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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Braves Sign Yamarin

» 25 January 2009 » In mlb prospects » 5 Comments

The story of Yoshinori Yamarin, which I followed a bit around draft time last year, has come to a conclusion with the young pitcher signing a minor league contract with the Braves. Sanspo has the details in Japanese, complete with a picture of him in a Braves hat that appears to be two sizes too small. Yamarin went unselected in last October’s NPB draft, but reportedly reaches 92 with his fastball, and has some projectability at 6″1, 187. He’s certainly not nearly as polished as Junichi Tazawa, and will begin his Braves career in an instructional league in Australia.

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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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Draft Storylines: Results

» 30 October 2008 » In npb draft » 4 Comments

The draft has come and gone, and thanks to a late night in the office I got to follow it live a little bit. I’m not going to write up the whole thing, because Deanna has already done an excellent job of that. Instead, let’s take a quick look at where the guys I’ve written about landed:

Hisayoshi Chono: Backed off his demand to be selected by the Giants at the last minute; was subsequently selected by the Chiba Lotte Marines. We’ll see if he signs.

Yi-Jie Hsiao: Selected by Hanshin with their first round pick. Hsiao was actually Hanshin’s third “first” choice, but they lost out on their first two.

Krissada Shirakura: Not selected. It’s on to the industrial leagues, or perhaps a pro league outside of Japan for Shirakura.

Son-Hyon Shin: Taken by Hiroshima in the fourth round.

Rafael Fernandez: As expected, snagged by Yakult with an instructional player pick.

Yoshinori Yamarin: Not selected, even as an instructional player. Will he sign a minor league deal with the Braves?

Hayato Doue: Drafted with Softbank’s final instructional round pick.

Junichi Tazawa: NPB teams respected his wishes not to be drafted. I thought someone might take a flier on him with a late-round pick, but it didn’t happen.

One unfortunate result of the draft is that the excellent Draft de Anbo site is down. The site slowed down to a crawl during the draft, so I guess they violated their host’s traffic policies. The site is still down, but I hope to see it back soon.

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Draft Storylines: Yamarin, Doue

» 27 October 2008 » In npb draft » 1 Comment

A couple of notes on the upcoming draft to pass along…

  • Yoshinori Yamarin is an 18-year old pitcher who wants to go pro in Japan, but has a move across the Pacific in his sites should he not be drafted. And if he isn’t drafted, the Braves are said to be ready to move to sign him. Yamarin is a lanky 6’1, 176 lbs, and has done well in pre-draft workouts. He’s reportedly hit 91 mph with his fastball, and also throws a slider. It doesn’t seem like he’s among the elite group of pitching prospects in this year’s draft, but given the potential of losing him to an MLB organization I wonder if an NPB team will select him just based on potential. 
  • Remember Hayato Doue? He was the Shikoku Island League catcher who nearly signed a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox last off-season, only to have his visa application denied. He wound up going back to the Island League and having a decent season for the Kagawa Olive Guynors. SoftBank has him shortlisted for a pick as an instructional player. It seems like it would be a good move; the Hawks have been weak behind the plate since Kenji Johjima left.

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