TORONTO – The less-than-illustrious list of Japanese-born players to suit up for the Toronto Blue Jays runs from Micheal Nakamura in 2004 to Nori Aoki this year, bookending the service of Tomo Ohka, Ryota Igarashi and enduring fan favourite Munenori Kawasaki. Left-hander Ken Takahashi, the only player signed directly from the Land of The Rising Sun, on a minor-league deal at that, made it through a month of spring training before he was released. A revered pantheon of franchise heroes it is not.
To be fair, it’s not surprising given that Japan and Asia were largely ignored by the Blue Jays up until 2013, when the highly respected Dan Evans took over as the team’s head of Pacific Rim operations. Even with his wide network of contacts and relentless work in the region, one man can only establish so much of a foothold, especially with the club’s scouting resources almost solely directed to the far more fertile player pools in Latin America internationally and on the amateur side in North America.
All of which brings us to the present and the tantalizing possibility of Shohei Otani, the pitching/slugging Japanese sensation the Nippon Ham Fighters have reportedly agreed to …read more
Source:: Sportsnet.ca – Sport