Top International Free Agents

October 31st, 2014

Hardball Talk listed the top free agents for 2015. On that list were seven international players who have yet to appear in the major leagues but could make an impact after their signing. Absent from this list were Japanese players Chihiro Kaneko, Kenta Maeda and Takashi Toritani. Also not here is recent Cuban departure Andy Ibanez, who is considered a more promising second baseman than Jose Fernandez.

3. Yosmani Tomas (Cuba) - Only Max Scherzer and Jon Lester are rated higher. Yosmani is rated higher than Hanley Ramirez and James Shields. Many expect a Yasiel Puig or Jorge Soler clone as far as physical abilities. At 21 years of age he never showed the power of a Yoenis Cespedes or Jose Abreu, but that power should appear as he matures. He will lack the defensive abilities of Puig and Soler and limited to left field, but if the power plays that should not be a problem.

19. Jose Fernandez (Cuba) - A second baseman without much power. He could hit in the .280s and the question will be how well he will play defense in the major leagues. He does not hit for power to play a corner.

22. Jung-Ho Kang (Korea) - The Nexen Heroes are in the playoffs so it would be premature for them to announce his posting, but it is rumored he will be posted. He is a shortstop that hit 40 homers in the regular season while adding two in the playoffs. Some say he might not have the defensive tools to play in the majors, but he appears to have the power to play a corner and may have the athletic ability to play second. His 40 homeruns power in the KBO could translate to 20 plus in the majors.

32. Kwang-Hyun Kim (Korea) - The Wyverns have announced they will post Kim. When he was young the two hottest pitchers in the KBO were Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kim. Kim had injuries that stalled his career, even impacting his ability to impress in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He had a nice year in the KBO this year in a hitter crazy year where ERAs below 4.00 were rare. Kim finished with a 3.47 ERA. As a lefty he will attract some suitors.

38. Hector Oliva (Cuba) - He was one of the better players in Cuba before an injury forced him to sit out a season. He played last year but was used mostly at DH and did not put up the offensive numbers he has in the past. He is pushing 30 so he still could have a few years left but paying a large salary for his limited production would be a mistake.

69. Misael Siverio (Cuba) - pitching has been soft in Cuba and Siverio was not one of the top pitchers in the Nacional Series. He might be effective for a year or two with his different arm slots and array of pitches that fail to light up the radar. That would be a change of pace from the usual 95 mile per hour fastballs hitters are becoming used to seeing.

127. Yozzem Cuesta (Cuba) - Minor league fodder. He did not have an impact in the Nacional Series. He plays first base but the minor leagues are filled with players who play first base who carry more power than Cuesta.

Matsuzaka a Future Hawk

October 31st, 2014

The Japan champion Softbank Hawks have offered Daisuke Matsuzake a four year contract estimated at about $3.5 million. The best he will get in the major leagues is a one year minor league contract. If the offer is true his days as a major league pitcher could be done. It would be difficult to turn down that kind of money from a winning franchise.

Daisuke has won 56 games as a major leaguer with an ERA of 4.50. Not necessarily the Hall of Fame numbers you would have expected after his 18-3, 2.90 ERA for the 2008 season, his second in the majors. An arm injury attributed to his pitching Japan to the World Baseball Classic championship resulted in six poor to average seasons after that. His 3.89 ERA last year was the second best season of his major league career, though he pitched mostly in relief.

In Japan he would have an opportunity to build on his 108-60, 2.95 ERA, something major league fans only saw one season of that kind of production. He tended to show more control in Japan, especially in his later years, walking less than three hitters per nine innings. In the major leagues his walk rate never got below 3.5, even hitting five walks per nine innings in his 2008 season.

Kang Homer Allows Heroes to Advance

October 31st, 2014

Jung-Ho Kang hit his second homerun in two days and Min-Sung Kim drove in seven runs as the Nexen Heroes routed the LG Twins 12-2 to advance to the championship series to play the three time KBO champs the Samsung Lions. The seven RBIs is a new KBO post season record. The Ho-Ho duo of Park and Kang combined for six hits, each scoring three times batting in front of the RBI machine Kim.

Kang drove in the first of his three runs with an RBI single in the first inning. Kim hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the first of his seven runs to give the Heroes an early 2-0 lead.

The Twins would make it close scoring single runs in the third and fourth innings. Seong-Hoon Jeong drove in the first run with a double in the third inning. Byung-Kyu Lee tied the game up with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth.

The fifth inning would begin the rout by the Heroes. After his struggles in the first inning Jae-Kuk Ryu appeared to have found a groove, shutting out the Heroes for the next three innings and striking out the first two hitters he faced in the fifth. After two singles Kim got the big hit with a three run homer to give the Heroes a 5-2 lead.

Kang put the game out of reach in the seventh with a two run homerun that scored half of the four runs in the inning. Another three spot in the eighth made it 12-2. Kim roped a bases clearing double in the eighth to drive in all three runs.

Henry Sosa worked six innings to pick up the win.

A Wild Australian Second Day

October 31st, 2014

It is hard to tell what you have after your first couple games, but if you are on the positive end of a 23-6 second day victory after winning your opener 8-3 you are smiling ear to ear. The Adelaide Bite took advantage of 8 walks and 6 errors to rob the Brisbane Bandits of all their pride in their second day of action. The score was 20-0 after four innings. In Cuba that would mean the game is near the end since they have the slaughter rule there.

Mitch Dening hit three homeruns, but all of them after the fourth inning when the game was all but decided. He also drove in four runs, but crossed the plate five times. Ben Lodge smashed a two run homerun, but also drove in five runs. Angus Roeger hit a solo shot.

The Bandits got to play some of their bench players and they came through with homeruns after the game was all but decided. Connor MacDonald hit a solo shot in the sixth and C.J. Beatty hit a two run bomb in the eighth turning the score into one more indicative of a football game than a baseball one.

Craig Stern was not allowed to go a fifth inning to get credit for the win, even though he was pitching a shutout. Josh Tois got the slop victory tossing just one inning.

Justin Staatz could not find an out in the second inning and was gone after giving up seven runs. Jason Kilby walked five hitters in two innings, putting his infielders asleep out on the field to create errors allowing five of his eight runs to be unearned. Lachlan MacDonald pitched to five batters in the fourth, but could not get any of them out, watching two of his pitches find balls sailing over the fence. Not a pretty day if you are a Bandit pitcher.

Heroes One Win from Championship

October 31st, 2014

The Nexen Heroes defeated the LG Twins 6-2 to pull one win away from playing in the championship series. Jung-Ho Kang and Han-Joon Yoo each hit solo homeruns to lead the offense. Jae-Young Oh limited the Twins to just one run on three hits in six innings of work.

Cory Riordan did not have it for the Twins, giving up one of the solo blasts and five runs in just four innings of work. Kang drove in the first run with a solo shot in the second inning over the centerfield wall. Kang is one of two Koreans rumored to be posted to the major leagues this year. Pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim is the other.

The Heroes then tallied four runs off Riordan in the fifth. Doubles by Sung-yeol Lee and Dong-Won Park drove in three runs. Vinny Rottino has not found himself in the lineup too often this year but in his first post season start he smoked a third double to up the ante to 5-0 Heroes.

The Twins scored a run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. They scored their last run in the eighth after a two out single by Jin-Young Lee made the score 6-2. Seung-Lak Son was able to get the last three outs to give the Heroes the win, striking out three of the four outs.

Henry Sosa will pitch for the Heroes in the fourth game. He will go against the Twins Jae-Kuk Ryu.

Australian Baseball League to Start

October 30th, 2014

For those who want to catch up with the teams in the Australian League and how they stack up for the 2014/2015 season you can go to the link below to get a preview. It’ll be the fifth season with 48 games to a season. The Perth Heat have won the ABL every year but one, when the Canberra Cavalry won it a couple years ago, then took the Asian countries by storm by winning the Asian Series.

preview

Hawks Win Nippon Series Against Fighters

October 30th, 2014

Randy Messenger and Tadashi Settsu traded zeroes through six. The Hawk bullpen came on to spell Settsu and continued with the shutout innings. Messenger finally cracked in the eighth, giving up three of his nine hits in the game, Nobuhiro Matsuda driving in the only run with a single.

The game ended in a bit of controversy on the last play. Dennis Sarfate continued to dance with danger while closing for the Hawks, walking three hitters in the ninth to load the bases with one out. Tsuyoshi Nishioka grounded a ball to the first baseman, who threw it home for the second out of the inning. The catcher threw it back to first to get the third out but it hit the baserunner and bounded into right field. The umpire ruled the baserunner out for running inside the baseline for the third out. Confusion changed to massive celebration after the call was made.

Seiichi Uchikawa was voted the MVP for the Series. He had the second single in the eighth inning to advance the go ahead runner to third base.

After the game Takashi Toritani, the shortstop for the Hanshin Tigers expressed his interest as an international free agent to explore possibilities in the major leagues. At 34 years of age and eligible to sign with a major league team in 2012 Toritani chose to stay with the Tigers. In those two years his opportunity to play in the major leagues may have passed. Japanese shortstops do not have a history of success as shortstops in the major leagues and Toritani does not have enough power to play third. He could work out as a utility player. Or he could be using the major leagues as a bargaining chip in an effort to get the Tigers to offer him a more lucrative contract despite his aging years.

Da Bum Does it Again

October 30th, 2014

After the Giants took a 3-2 lead with a run in the fourth Bruce Bochy did not waste much time in bringing in Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner had tossed a 117 pitch shutout on Sunday, giving him three days rest as he came on in relief of Jeremy Affeldt in the fifth. He gave up a leadoff single to Omar Infante, then retired the next 14 Royal hitters. Alex Gordon hit a two out single in the bottom of the ninth and advanced to third when the ball skipped past Gregor Blanco for a two base error. Not a problem. Bumgarner retired Salvador Perez on a foul out to Sandoval to complete their third world championship in five years.

In total Bumgarner worked a post season record breaking 52 innings. That is almost an extra quarter season of pitching. He threw another 68 pitches to win the MVP of the Series. His career World Series ERA is a microscopic 0.25. The three World Series wins will go down as one of the greatest performances in post season history.

The Giants struck first off Jeremy Guthrie in the top of the second, loading the bases with no outs after a hit batsman and two singles. Two sacrifice flies gave the Giants an early 2-0 lead.

Tim Hudson, who was appearing in his first World Series gave it right back in the bottom frame. The Royals racked him up for three hits, including an RBI double by Alex Gordon and a sacrifice fly by Omar Infante to tie it up. A single by Alcides Escobar finished the day for Hudson, bringing on Jeremy Affeldt to retire Nori Aoki for the third out. Affeldt would pitch until the fifth, enticing the Royals to hit into two double plays after putting the leadoff hitter on.

In the fourth Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence went back to back with singles. A fly ball by Brandon Belt that moved Sandoval to third ended the day for Guthrie. Michael Morse greeted Kelvin Herrera with an RBI single to give the Giants a 3-2 lead. The rest is history.

Pablo Sandoval finished the day 3 for 3 with two runs scored. The three hits gave him 12 for the post season, breaking the record for hits during one post season that was shared by four players at 11.

Czech Republic 21 and Under World Cup Roster

October 29th, 2014

Mister Baseball has provided the 24 man roster for the Czech Republic for the 21 and Under World Cup roster that will be played in Taiwan in November. The roster is below:

Pitchers: Brabec Matěj (Technika Brno), Červenka Marek (Kotlářka Praha), Ercoli Lukáš (Kotlářka Praha), Minařík Marek (Pittsburgh Pirates / Kotlářka Praha), Novák Jan (Baltimore Orioles / Kotlářka Praha), Ondra Tomáš (Arrows Ostrava), Satoria Ondřej (Arrows Ostrava), Sobotka Michal (Draci Brno), Tomek Jan (Arrows Ostrava), Vítek Dan (Eagles Praha)

Catchers: Červenka Martin (Cleveland Indians / Kotlářka Praha), Mužík Martin (Sokol Hluboká), Vykoukal Michael (Arrows Ostrava)

Infielders: Chroust Přemek (Draci Brno), Juněc Tomáš (Arrows Ostrava), Ondráček Jakub (Hroši Brno), Síla Petr (University of Arkansas-Little Rock / Kotlářka Praha), Smola Filip (Kotlářka Praha), Zýma Michael (Eagles Praha)

Outfielders: Aubrecht Ivan (Kotlářka Praha), Hajtmar Adam (Draci Brno), Sázavský Richard (Technika Brno)

Nakamura with the Walk Off Puts Hawks One Win Away

October 29th, 2014

With two outs in the bottom of the tenth Akira Nakamura slugged a three run homer off Hanshin Tiger closer Seung-Hwan Oh. Nakamura was the second hitter Oh had faced in the inning. He had retired his first batter with a pop up to second.

The Hawks scored early, lighting up the scoreboard with two runs in the opening frame after a 2-run single from Nobuhiro Matsuda. Minoru Iwata settled down after that, shutting the Hawk bats out for the next six plus innings. The Hawks did not have a pitcher work more than three innings.

The Tigers tied the game in the top of the third. Kenichi Nakata could not find the plate, walking three straight hitters for the second time in the game. The first time he was able to strand the runners after striking out Kosuke Fukudome to end the inning. Matt Murton drove in the first run with a fly ball to center. Fukudome drove in the second run with a single.

The Tigers had an opportunity to take the lead in the tenth inning after singles from Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Takashi Toritani to put runners on first and third with one out. Dennis Sarfate was able to get Mauro Gomez to ground into a double play to stall that inning.