The Orioles have seen Yu Darvish, the highly-decorated, 24-year-old Japanese pitcher, throw about 30 times in person over the past three years and they would have at least “kicked the tires” on the Japanese starter if he planned on coming to the major leagues for the 2011 season. However, that has become a moot point as Darvish said earlier this week that he will stay in Japan at least for one more year.
His announcement further weakens an already poor free agent starting pitching market. It, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the Orioles won’t be involved with other Japanese players this offseason.
Orioles Director of Player Development, John Stockstill, who has done pretty much all of the organization’s scouting in Japan over the past couple of years, said that there are between “five and eight” Japanese players who would draw at least some interest from the Orioles if they were made available.
Stockstill wouldn’t offer specific names. That is apparently deeply frowned on before it is determined whether the players will be made available by their respective Japanese teams. But one guy that is drawing a lot of attention from several teams, including the Orioles, is shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima.
The Orioles have seen the Seibu Lions’ infielder play several times, including in September when Stockstill went to Japan for about two weeks to scout some players that are on the team’s radar.
“I went over and looked at 10 to 12 players, just to get another look,” Stockstill said. “We’re ready and prepared for virtually every player that might be available.”