Is Travis Ishikawa Next to NPB?
Also in the news today, Travis Ishikawa has requested his release by the Orioles unless they promote him to the major league club, as his contract expressly provides. The 29 year old 1Bman and pinch hitter is currently batting .316/.413/.525 for the AAA Norfolk Tides; he’s currently got the sixth highest on-base percentage in the International League and the 7th highest OPS.
Ishikawa looks an awful lot like Kila Ka’aihue, who just signed with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Japan’s NPB. They are the same age this year, and both are left-handed hitting 1Bmen.
Ishikawa has had more success at the major league level than Ka’aihue and thus there is a reasonable chance that a major league team will want him as a back-up and pinch hitter. If not, there’s always Japan.
Ishikawa is a fourth generation Japanese American on his father’s side (his mother is of European ancestry), and one would think that might create some interest on Travis’ part for playing in Japan. One would also think he’d be popular in Japan as a foreigner with Japanese ancestry and that he’d have particular value as such to an NPB team. On the other hand, Travis and his wife Rochelle reportedly have three young children, which may well make him reluctant to play abroad.