Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Texas signs NPB pitcher

Texas signs NPB RH sidearmer Yoshinori Tateyama to a 1 year deal with 2 option years of some sort per multiple sources. As a member of the Nippon-Ham Fighters, maybe he's our secret "in" to a future Yu Darvish signing! He is only 5-10/170 and will turn 35 at the end of the year. He had the best SO rate of his career in 2010 at age 34 after but wasn't much of a SO pitcher in previous years. Hopefully TX has more success with him than they did with Kazuo Fukumori.

Tateyama looks like a specialist of some sort at this stage of his career though he closed some games in 2003 and began 2007 as a starter but missed most of the year due to injury (7gs/41ip) Patrick Newman at NPBT had this to say about him, which was not much:

Righty reliever Yoshinori Tateyama is planning to exercise his right to global free agency this offseason and make a move to MLB. I don’t think I’ve seen him pitch (if I have, he didn’t leave much of an impression), but he’ll be 35 on December 26, and had a 1.80, 59 strikeouts and 11 walks in 55 innings this year. He throws from a low three-quarters position, and is primarily a fastball/slider pitcher.

I wonder if TX is just taking a look-see on another guy with a deceptive arm angle who doesn't throw hard? Taking a look at NPBT's pitch f/x he's mainly a 2-pitch guy (fastball and slider-like pitch) who often pitches backwards, tossing his slider more than 50% of the time, which probably won't play well in the states unless it is a plus pitch. His velo range is anywhere from 84-91 but generally sits in the 86-88 range with his fastball and 70-73 with his slider. He might also mix in a changeup(?-69-70), shuuto (?-84-86), and/or sinker(?-80-82) pitches (and a really slow pitch at the low 60's). A note in wikipedia suggests that he throws a screwball(forkball) vs lefties so as usual the pitch f/x data might be suspect. It should also be noted that he only pitched back-to-back days about 6 times per season over the last 2 years and averaged a little less than 1 inning per appearance in 2010. Could he be the odd RH lefty specialist? (Probably not as TR Sullivan notes his success vs RHP: "Opposing right-handers hit just .186 (26-140).")

Here are a few links to his outings last year:


Kevin Goldstein adds this note per one scout, who says he throws a CB and has a decent changeup. We'll have to see what Yoshinori says he throws during ST it would seem:

Scout on #Rangers Tateyama: 86-91, sidearm w/ life, tons of strikes cmd/control, solid curveball & change. Everything moves, good deception

UPDATE2 (from durrett or Andro)
Tateyama throws sinker, curveball and changeup. JD says breaking ball and sinker are two best.

Yoshinori has signed a split contract so that should indicate that he is not a front-runner to make the staff. He likely ends up in AAA to provide depth for the team. He could supplant someone like Nippert especially if TX elects to keep Harrison and Kirkman in AAA as starters. Harrison has one option left I think, which is useful given his continued inconsistency.


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