Tuesday, November 04, 2008


He is a 22 year old Japanese baseball player, who asked (demanded) the 12 pro teams in Japan not to draft him so he could sign with a Major League club. They didn't draft him, and now he'll be a free agent.

He plays for Eneos, a semi-pro team in Japan's corporate league. Believe it or not, getting stats from this unaffiliated Japanese minor league has proved somewhat difficult for me. But I do know Tazawa was the MVP of the Annual National Intercity Nonpro Baseball Championship, throwing 28.1 innings in 5 games (3 starts, 2 relief appearances), with 36 Ks, 3 walks, and a 1.28 ERA.

He has a decent fastball (88 to 93), with "so-so" command. He's got a nice arsenal of breaking pitches, namely a fork and a curve, which he uses to get hitters out.

Here's a good video of two innings in which he dominates his opponents. Again, these are semi-pro Japanese hitters he's up against, but it does look like he has quality stuff. Underneath the video are some metric conversions for the pitch speeds.

120 km/h = 75 mph
125 hm/h = 78 mph
130 km/h = 81 mph
135 km/h = 84 mph
140 km/h = 87 mph
145 km/h = 90 mph
150 km/h = 93 mph

The guy's still a prospect. He's not going to come over here and start games in the Majors right away. The Sox are one of many teams reportedly interested in him. The others include San Francisco, Seattle, the Yankees, the Cubs, Atlanta, Florida, and Detroit.

There are claims that the Red Sox are the frontrunners to sign Tazawa. In which case, he might get a Major League deal, but start in AA Portland, or AAA Pawtucket. Again, he's essentially the same as a prospect graduating college.

In the big picture, Tazawa refusing to be drafted is a major change in the way things work in Japanese baseball. The status-quo had been that Japanese players were all drafted by Japanese teams. They could then move on to the Majors via free agency, or after an MLB team paid a posting fee to their Japanese club (like the Sox did with Daisuke).

But skipping over the Japanese league altogether might become a new trend with top prospects. That could have dramatic repercussions on the landscape of the sport in Asia.

Boston herald
Japanese Baseball Players.com
Some message board on SimCentral.net
eForecourt.com MPH to KPH converter