Let’s check in on a few notes from the international market:
- Major League Baseball’s intentions for an international draft have provoked strong reactions not only from the trainers who work with young players in Latin America, but also from team-affiliated scouts. As Ben Badler of Baseball America reported recently, those trainers have planned to boycott an upcoming Dominican showcase being staged by the league. And scouts — including one international director — are in support, Badler adds. Players who skip the workout likely won’t find their market hindered, Badler suggests, as scouts can still see them through other avenues. The league did send down a group of league representatives to discuss the matter with several trainers, but didn’t seem to make significant headway. Badler does note that the delegation confirmed MLB’s intentions to pursue a draft, though additional details on the proposal were not forthcoming.
- Korean star Jae-gyun Hwang is heading stateside as he attempts to launch a major league career, as Yoo Jee-ho of Yonhap News reports. Hwang, who has played with the KBO’s Lotte Giants since 2010 but is now a free agent, says he expects to return to Korea in early December and declined to commit to pursuing a big league opportunity. Expectations remain that he intends to push for a chance at the game’s highest level. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted last week, Hwang’s improved plate discipline seems to make him a more appealing target for major league organizations, though it’s still not clear whether there’s a view among scouts that he is ready to follow some of his countrymen in successfully transitioning from the KBO to MLB.
- In a rarity for Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, a foreigner has been tabbed with the Sawamura Award as the league’s top hurler. Southpaw Kris Johnson, who pitches for the Hiroshima Carp, received the nod for his overall excellence. While he didn’t meet some of the typically-required benchmarks for the award — as this Kyodo News article explains in detail — it seems that he stood out as the NPB’s best overall pitcher. Johnson, 32, has indeed been immensely productive since heading to Japan before the 2015 campaign. Though he had never been valued highly enough to receive much of a major league opportunity, Johnson has posted 430 1/3 innings of 1.99 ERA ball — albeit with just 6.9 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 — since crossing the Pacific.