Today, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced that they did reach an agreement with the 23-year old pitcher from Japan. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that back in August, Shumpei Yoshikawa will receive a signing bonus of $650K in an agreement. This move seems to have violated the norms of player movement between Japan and MLB.
Furthermore, Yoshikawa went undrafted by the NPB out of high school, but he did catch onto a team in Japan’s industrial league, which helped grow his stock into a prospect to potentially land on an NPB roster. There’s a debate as to whether the Diamondbacks violated protocol, or whether they simply made a savvy move and caught other MLB teams napping. Honestly, I think the Diamondbacks caught other teams napping.
After all, his ceiling for potential earnings is higher in the US if he is able to reach and go over his ceiling. Technically, he is not the first player to make such a decision to forgo as Piecoro reports. Kaito Yuki (16-year old pitcher) bypassed high school entirely to sign with the Kansas City Royals. It stands to reason that if this type of trend continues, and Japanese amateurs continue to be enticed by the earning potential of leaving for American baseball at a young age, it could have an impact on the quality of play in Nippon Professional Baseball.
Finally, according to scouts from the MLB, Yoshikawa stands at 6’1″ and owns a three-pitch arsenal that includes a splitter, slider, and fastball. His fastball averages in the low-90’s. After watching some tape on the young Japanese pitcher, he has the potential to be a “back-of-the-rotation” in the MLB.