Since it has been slow lately, and I was getting a little bored by the usual Zito trade talk, I thought I'd report on a one of the few NPB stars looking to make the jump to the MLB within the next year (or two).
In this case, here is Hirotoshi Ishii.
Ishii is a solid left-handed closer playing for the Yakult Swallows. Here are his vitals:
Sep. 14, 1977 AGE 28
HEIGHT 5-10 WEIGHT 176 lbs
Ishii has been simply SOLID out of the pen the past couple years, and wants to make the jump to the MLB. The only problem here, is that the owner of the Swallows will not let him until 2007 (even though Ishii claims he was "promised" a chance to play in the MLB if he had another good season).
2002 Yakult Swallows 6- 2, 5 SV, 1.51 ERA
89.2 IP, 109 K.
2003 Yakult Swallows 6- 1, 1 SV, 1.99 ERA
45.1 IP, 61 K.
2004 Yakult Swallows 4- 2, 5 SV, 2.05 ERA
52.2 IP, 69 K
2005 Yakult Swallows 4- 3 37 SV, 1.95 ERA
73.2 IP, 91 K
It is reported that the Red Sox currently have strong interest and have been scouting Ishii. Teams will be able to "bid" on Ishii for the 2007 season via posting.
Ishii dominates right-handed batters, and last season held 193 BF to .181 AVG, 35 hits, 75 Ks, and just 10 BB.
I feel Ishii would be a solid addition to the A's bullpen, adding a considerable amount of depth, especially since he is a left handed pitcher who can close (this is, in the case that Flores doesn't work out). I would never think of the A's bidding for a top Japanese ball player in the past, but with the acquisition of Loiza, seemingly something of this nature doesn't seem impossible now.
*It should also be noted Ishii had some minor injuries in '03 and '04, limiting his IP, but not his performance.
Also Japan Pro Baseball Guide 2005. (http://www.japanball.com/book.htm)
Anyways, hope you all are well.