Nippon Professional Baseball’s Orix Buffaloes and Japan National Baseball Team ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, 25, are officially making a bid for Major League Baseball (MLB).
After the conclusion of the Japan Series on Friday, the Orix organization approved Yamamoto’s entry into the MLB through the posting system (a closed competitive bidding process).
Yamamoto is a right-handed pitcher who has become a staple of Japanese baseball.
He became the first pitcher in Nippon Baseball history to win five consecutive pitching titles in 2021 and 2022, and won the Sawamura Award for the best pitcher in Nippon Baseball for three consecutive years.
His regular season record this year is 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA in 23 games, 164 innings pitched, 167 strikeouts.
After starting Game 1 of the Japan Series against the Hanshin Tigers and allowing seven runs in 5⅔ innings, Yamamoto bounced back in Game 6 with nine innings of 138 pitches, nine hits, 14 strikeouts and one run.
Yamamoto’s performance evened the series at three games apiece, but the Oryx fell to Hanshin 1-7 in Game 7 on Friday to finish as runners-up.
Yamamoto has left his mark on the Japanese national baseball team, winning the 2019 Premier 12 gold medal, the 2021 Tokyo Olympics gold medal and the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) title.
In seven seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball, he has a 70-29 record, 897 innings pitched, 932 strikeouts, and a 1.82 ERA.
Yamamoto has a fastball that sits well over 100 miles per hour with a great splitter, and he also has a cut fastball and curveball.
At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, he’s small in stature, but he has great flexibility and is durable enough to avoid injury.
Yamamoto is one of the biggest names in this year’s MLB Store Brigade.
MLB.com ranked Shohei Ohtani first and Yamamoto second in its free agent rankings.
Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes), who, like Yamamoto, is looking to make the big leagues through his posts, was ranked 13th.
“At least eight teams have shown interest in Yamamoto, including the New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, and New York Yankees,” MLB.com reported. 먹튀검증