After Otani Who Else from Japan

Shohei Otani has announced his intentions to play major league baseball. The Nippon Ham Fighters have agreed to post him. The only impediment to him playing in the United States is the Major League Players Association, who have some objections to the Nippon Ham Fighters getting a greater pot of gold than the player. They were to meet with Otani to discuss his posting soon.

Who else from Japan is ready to jump ship? There is Hideaki Wakui, who is eligible to be an international free agent. He is not restricted to a cap like Otani since he has been playing in the NPB for 13 years and is past age 25. Unfortunately, he is a couple inches shorter than Otani with a fastball that hits the low 90s, the equivalent of a changeup for Otani. But he does have command and an assortment of pitches.

He started his career with the Seibu Lions and then moved to the Lotte Marines in 2014. Last year he was 5-11 with an underwhelming 3.99 ERA. He gave up 20 homeruns, one less than his career high in 2010. His best years appear to be 2007 to 2009 when he pitched for Seibu. He wants to pitch in the major leagues but he may have to settle for a down sized contract. He will turn 32 next year.

The most interesting pitcher is Yusei Kikuchi, who was voted to the Pacific League Gold Glove team this year after putting up a 16-6, 1.97 ERA with 217 whiffs in 187 innings. He was Otani before Otani, declaring he did not want to be drafted after high school because he wished to play in the major leagues. There was pressure put on him to recant and he eventually submitted his paper work to make him eligible for the draft. Yusei took a few years develop. Last year was a break out season for him.

He may not throw as hard as Otani, but his fastball hits 95. As a lefthanded pitcher his small frame (6′0″) is not too much of a concern. He does have a few more years left in the NPB before becoming a international free agent. The Lions would have to post him to make him major league eligible and there have been no discussions on that this year. The Lions may want to see him replicate his performance next year to increase his posting value.

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