Tigers pass on Junichi Tazawa

In an effort to maintain the relationships in the Pacific Rim that the organization has been cultivating recently, the Tigers are going to pass on Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa is the amateur Japanese player who is going to skip the Japanese professional leagues and try and jump right to the US.

Tazawa is being courted by a number of teams, and the Tigers sent scout Dick Egan to see him earlier and another scout (presumably Pacific Rim coordinator Kevin Hooker) to visit again in recent weeks. But Jon Paul Morosi caught up with Al Avila and Avila had this to say:

“We have invested much time and resources the last two years building our staff and rebuilding our good relationships in Japan and in other Asian countries in order to be players in those markets for years to come,” Avila said in an e-mail to the Free Press.

You see, there’s this gentleman’s agreement that the respective countries wouldn’t harvest each others amateur talent and Avila is going to honor that.

Chao Ting Tang - cr Roger DeWitt
Chao Ting Tang - cr Roger DeWitt

I fully admit that I don’t have a grasp on the relationships at play here, but I’d think that part of the point of increasing the presence would be to scout – largely amateur – players. Maybe it is, but not just in Japan. The Tigers did sign Chao Ting Tang from Taiwan last season. And they have a new scouting coordinator for the region. But I still don’t understand the apprehension about ruffling the feathers of the Japanese professional leagues.

That said I’m not upset that they are passing on Tazawa. I was intrigued early on, but his price is higher than I expected it would be. He’s likely to be paid similar to a top draft pick, and there is at least one scouting report that isn’t necessarily glowing. It calls into question his velocity and stamina.

A reliever worth targeting

Junichi Tazawa is an amateur reliever from Japan. He’s decided to skip Japanese professional baseball and come stateside.

Tazawa is younger than the typical Japanese import, because he’s not waiting the 9 years required for international free agency as a pro player. He’s 22 and features a low 90’s fastball, a 12-6 curve and a shuuto (kind of like a screwball it moves in on righties). That repertoire led to a a 56K:4BB ratio in 54 innings.

The advantage of pursuing Tazawa, is that he wouldn’t require any compensation beyond the contract. There’s no players to trade. There’s no draft picks floating away (like with Juan Cruz – is he worth a first round pick?). And he’s young.