When looking for talent to bolster their major baseball league squad, the St. Louis Cardinals have never been hesitant to travel to Korea and Japan.
Some notable players who joined the Cardinals from the Nippon Professional Baseball League or the Korean Baseball Organization include So Taguchi, Seung Hwan, Miles Mikolas, Aaron Brooks, Drew VerHagen, and Kwang Hyun Kim.
To sign Won-Bin Cho, a high school outfielder from Korea and the Cardinals’ 20th-ranked prospect, in January 2021, the team even reached into the high school ranks.
There are a number of international players who could have an impact on the Cardinals’ squad for the upcoming season when the offseason begins.
Here is a list of some potentially important players who have already declared their plan to play in the MLB in 2023 or have expressed a willingness to look into their alternatives.
The Softbank Hawks, who play in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka, are led by the 29-year-old right-handed starter, one of their most accomplished athletes.
Senga, who was selected by the Hawks in the 2012 draught, has pitched in three all-star games, captured five Japan Series championships, and led the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA on two occasions. He also helped Team Japan win a gold medal in the 2020 Olympics, and he’ll probably be a key player on their 2023 World Baseball Classic roster.
The list of suitable baseball players
Senga would be able to sign with any club without being compelled to negotiate with the team that won the offer because he is eligible for international free agency and wouldn’t need to be posted. In order to be eligible for free agency when it starts, he has already submitted the required papers.
The pitch mix used by Senga, which includes a fastball that can reach speeds of 95–97 mph and is supplemented by a slider and a forkball, seems to adapt well to the major leagues.
After spending four mediocre seasons in the MLB from 2014 to 2018, Wisconsin native Rucinski, 34, left the country to play for the NC Dinos of the KBO. The righty has established himself as one of the Korean League’s most formidable pitchers, a strikeout king, and regained some calmness since joining the Dinos.
Rucinski has a league-high 657 strikeouts over the course of his four seasons while walking fewer than 4.1% of the time, compiling a 53-36 record and a 3.06 ERA. Prior to 2022, he inked a $2 million contract, the second-highest salary ever paid to an outsider in the league. He was instrumental in the Dinos 2020 KBO Championship, for which he received a fantastic sword, and he is now expected to return home with a salary.
One of the most intriguing baseball figures in Japan is Shintaro Fujinami, who is already scheduled to be posted. He was formerly regarded as a top pitching prospect, but since 2017, his stock has dropped. His pure stuff is some of the greatest in the world, and he is currently one of Japan’s more dependable bullpen pitchers.
Leading his Orix Buffalo to victory in the 2022 Japan Series, Yoshida distinguished himself with a huge walk-off home run in Game 5. The outfielder, who is 29 years old, has now stated categorically that he intends to move to the West and play in the MLB in 2019.
Eric Jokisch was one of the players who caught ESPN broadcasters’ attention when the KBO was the first league to resume play after the 2020 coronavirus epidemic postponed the 2020 baseball seasons internationally. The starter, a Northwestern alumnus who previously played for the Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, and Oakland A’s before moving abroad, has made 30 or more starts in each of his four seasons with the Kiwoom Warriors and has pitched to an ERA under three over his last three seasons.
Miles Mikolas’ former colleague Sugano played for the Yomiuri Giants, the most renowned team in Japan. Sugano is in the later stages of his career but has been as reliable as they come. The 33-year-old righty was posted following the 2021 season, despite not yet publicly declaring his desire to do so. He ultimately made the decision not to leave Yomiuri despite being chased by the Giants, Mets, and Blue Jays.
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