The Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league have submitted right-hander Shintaro Fujinami to Major League Baseball's posting system, they announced Thursday. Fujinami will now have 30 days to negotiate with MLB clubs. Should he reach an agreement with a MLB team, the Hanshin Tigers will receive a compensatory fee derived from his contract's worth. (You can read more about how the posting system and compensatory fees work by clicking here.)
Fujinami, 28, pitched for the Tigers in parts of the last 10 seasons, amassing a 3.17 ERA and a 2.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 252 career appearances. He was once considered a top rival to Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, thanks in part to his impressive arm strength. Indeed, Fujinami's fastball sits in the mid-90s and has been clocked into triple digits. He also throws a splitter and a slider. Here's what Ted Baarda of Sports Info Solutions wrote about him in November:
The splitter was his best strikeout pitch, and his most-used pitch with two strikes, narrowly edging out his fastball in both two-strike usage and strikeouts. In addition to having a solid 34% whiff rate, batters also struggled to do anything with the splitter when it was put in play. His splitters turned into grounders 66% of the time, and batters only managed a 9% hard hit rate versus the pitch.
Fujinami has struggled with control issues throughout his career, issuing more than four walks per nine. As such, it seems more likely than not that MLB teams will view Fujinami as a reliever. Of course, it takes only one team to think of him as a starter for his market to change in a meaningful way.
Fujinami is one of several NPB talents expected to join MLB teams this winter, alongsideand outfielder Masataka Yoshida.