Mariners Chasing Japanese Amateur

Not a real wealth of information out there, but:

Junichi Tazawa received visits from Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers scouts Monday, with both teams formally expressing interest in acquiring the highly touted amateur fastballer.
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Tazawa met with major league scouts for the first time since he asked to be passed over by 12 Japanese clubs in last month's draft when he spoke to the Seattle Mariners and the Atlanta Braves two weeks ago.

Tazawa's a 22 year old righty, and from what I can tell, he throws up to four different pitches:

1) a fastball in the low- to mid-90s, possibly with a bit of run to it

2) a tumbling split-finger

3) a big 12-6 curve

4) a slider

As a pretty highly-touted amateur, he's not yet a finished product, but he'd come over as an intriguing prospect that some consider to be on par with that of a North American first-rounder. He also wouldn't require a posting fee. However, it's not like he'd be an easy land; there's a lot of competition, and Mark Shapiro expects the bidding to reach or exceed $7m. The Braves have already offered him a Major League contract, for whatever that's worth. He's not coming over for pennies.

It's the right idea, though. If the Mariners are committed to a rebuilding process, international free agents look especially appealing, and they won't find many easier ways to improve their standing as an organization than by throwing some money (of which they have more than enough) at maybe the best arm on the foreign market. I mean, Jarrod Washburn's set to earn $10.35m next season. If Zduriencik can unload him on someone else, then there's your Tazawa money right there. What's the harm? It's not every day you stumble across a 22 year old free agent with an above-average repertoire and a starter's endurance.

Tazawa will be free to sign after he's done participating in a tournament, which is scheduled to end on the 24th. Video after the jump.

 

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