In his latest post at NPB Tracker, Patrick Newman fills us in on two Japanese pitchers who could find their way into MLB before long.
Hiroyuki Kobayashi, the soon-to-be 32-year-old closer for the Chiba Lotte Marines, has already qualified for international free agency, and is reportedly ready to jump across the pond. Newman says that this isn't the first time Kobayashi has hinted at making the move either, and speculates that the Giants could be a fit. In 12 innings this year, he's struck out 16 and allowed just five hits and three walks.
The 20-year-old Hirokazu Sawamura is the better prospect of the two, reportedly hitting 97 with his fastball. The Giants and Mets have had scouts in attendance during his recent starts for Chuo University, and one opined that it would "be a waste for him to stay in Japan." A quote from February suggests that Sawamura is leaning towards staying in Japan, but the lure of a payday similar to Junichi Tazawa's could be tough to pass up.