LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced the signing of 21-year-old pitcher Kazuki Nishijima and 18-year-old Japanese pitcher Kazuya Takano to minor league contracts. Nishijima becomes the second Japanese college player signed by the Dodgers after Robert Boothe, who was signed in 2007, and Takano becomes the first Japanese high school player signed by the Dodgers. Assistant General Manager, Scouting Logan White made the announcement.
“These two amateur signings from Japan mean a lot to us and I am very excited to bring them into the organization,” said White. “Choosing to play in the United States is not an easy decision for young foreign players to make with the language barrier and cultural differences, but I’m confident that both Nishijima and Takano will succeed in America with the help of our player development staff.”
Left-handed pitcher Nishijima stands 6’1” and 190 pounds. He is currently a senior at Meiji University in Tokyo, Japan, where he became a regular starter his junior year. Meiji won the Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League Fall Tournament last season and Nishijima led the tournament with a 1.13 ERA. In his collegiate career, he is 6-5 in 31 appearances with a 1.91 ERA. While at Yokohama High School, which Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox also attended, his team won the National High School Invitational Tournament in 2006.
Right-handed pitcher Takano is 6’1” and 170 pounds and currently a senior at Buntoku High School in Kumamoto, Japan. He made his high school’s baseball team as a freshman and has been highly evaluated.
“Nishijima is known for his curveball and his consistent arm slot. He locates fastballs on the lower part of the plate and induces a lot of ground balls. Takano has a very smooth delivery and flexibility,” said Dodgers’ Supervisor, Scouting in Japan, Keiichi Kojima. “While they both show enormous talent and can expect bright futures, our first priority for both pitchers is to become physically and mentally acclimated to a new level of baseball.”
“American baseball has been my dream since I was a kid,” said Nishijima. “I will do my best to become a successful pitcher in the Major Leagues.”
“I’ve been working hard to make my dream to become a professional baseball player come true,” said Takano, who turned 18 just a few weeks ago. “I am very thankful to the Dodgers’ organization and I will work even harder to become a big leaguer as soon as possible.”
In 1995, the Dodgers signed right-handed pitcher Hideo Nomo, the second Japanese player to reach the Major Leagues after Masanori Murakami, who pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 1964 and 1965. The club has acquired a total of 10 Japanese players including Hiroki Kuroda, who the Dodgers recently re-signed to a one-year contract.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, pioneers in sport and world culture, have won more games, more pennants, and more World Series than any other club in the National League since moving to Los Angeles. Since the start of the modern era in baseball, the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, combined, have a cumulative attendance of more than 187 million, the highest total in the history of baseball or any other sport.
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