ARIZONA (TR) – The Arizona Diamondbacks last month agreed to a deal with 23-year-old amateur right-hander Shumpei Yoshikawa, the second such pitcher to bolt Japan for MLB this summer.
The deal for the Osaka Prefecture-born pitcher, who throws a 92 mph fastball, includes a signing bonus of 650,000 dollars, according to site Azcentral.com.
Yoshikawa, formerly a player for Panasonic in an industrial league, will be the first amateur since Junichi Tazawa, who signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2008, to skip playing for a Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) team in favor of joining an MLB club.
The signing of Yoshikawa is the second notable acquisition of an amateur pitcher from Japan by an MLB club this year. In July, the Kansas City Royals inked Kaito Yuki, a 16-year-old middle school student, also from Osaka, to a minor-league deal. The terms include a signing bonus of 322,500 dollars, according to AP.
Yuki will bypass playing baseball in high school in Japan. “I wanted to play in the United States as soon as possible, rather than playing high school ball at Koshien Stadium (at the annual tournament),” Yuki said in statement released by the Royals.
The next player from Japan to go to MLB might not be an amateur. John Morosi, writing at MLB.com, says that multiple executives expect 27-year-old Yusei Kikuchi, a left-hander for NPB’s Seibu Lions, to be available later this year through the posting system.
In 2017, Kikuchi went 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA. This year, his ERA has ballooned to 3.07, but the hurler has been hampered by a stiff left shoulder.