the FWST's Jeff Wilson has some unexpected questions about domestic/international scouting and player development for JD in one of his all-too-brief blog segments. Check it out.
Also, NPBT has a note up about TX checking out Darvish's latest start. This is not uncommon for TX's small Pacific Rim staff. What is interesting is simply the fact that Darvish is unlikely to get posted this off-season. So unless there is more than meets the eye here, TX is just doing its due diligence with him as they do each year, preparing for a time when he might be posted, and if he'll be worth the high price tag (the posting fee plus a long-term contract).
I haven't kept track of any possible college or HS players who might opt out of the October 31 NPB draft but they will likely make their declarations public by early October. The last 2 years there were only 2 players who contemplated opting out so there is usually not much news on that front: Tunichi Tazawa opted out of the draft in 2008, an amateur player in their Industrial League (like the independent leagues stateside); HS pitcher Yusei Kikuchi opted into the 2009 draft.
If TX is serious about about improving it's Pacific Rim scouting operations, then it must develop a greater scouting presence in Korea and to a much lesser extent Taiwan. Jim Colborn and his staff have made zero significant signings since he has been on board (Winter 2007). TK Ahn has been a complete bust, pitching less than 10 innings since he signed for 275k in September 2008. He has mainly been on the DL and walking people, apparently developing a case of the yipps. I would be surprised to see him in the system next year unless accompanied by a personal physician and psychologist. The only other Korean in the system is YH Nam and he is a loogy at best and signed during the first half of 2007 before Colborn came on board.
The Cubs are king in Korea so it would seem to take a very substantial commitment to compete with them in that market. As Japan's amateur market it essentially closed, Korea is the only reliable feeder for Pacific Rim talent and TX has yet to show any interest in it. The consensus about the amateur talent in Taiwan seems to be that it is not very good and I have only read of one instance where TX was said to have made an offer in this market and it was to a reliever out of college who chose not to sign. Just based on my own ad hoc observations, the best players in that market are the occasional, very athletic up-the-middle players (CF, 2b, SS) and an elite pitcher here and there (say every 4-5 years). So it is a market that might not payoff on any institutional investment even in the long term compared to the 3 largest intl. amateur markets at present: Dominican, Venezuelan, Korean.
The prospect of the start of an international draft in 2012 (one that I would imagine Japan would not participate in) makes the greater elaboration of any additional scouting presence in the PR amateur market a bit unlikely however for most clubs including TX.