Patrick at NPB Tracker passes along a report saying that righthander Ryota Igarashi has met service time requirements and will qualify for international free agency this offseason. The hard throwing 30-yr old has a 1.48 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP in 24.1 IP of relief for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Igarashi missed all of 2007 due to Tommy John surgery but pitched well in his return last season. He has closed in the past.
Patrick profiled Igarashi last month, saying that he would be his choice for the top free agent coming out of Japan this offseason. At 98.75 mph, Igarashi holds the record for the fastest pitch thrown by a Japanese pitcher in a NPB game.