Paul Oseguera Update
Last October I wrote a piece about one of my favorite players, former San Francisco Giants’ farmhand Paul Oseguera, who traveled through the Independent-A Atlantic League and the Mexican Summer League before getting an opportunity (and some real money) from the Softbank Hawks of Japan’s NPB last year. He went 3-1 in six late season starts with the Hawks and posted a nifty 2.00 ERA in 36 innings pitched, which earned him a return trip to Japan this January (Spring Training starts early in the NPB).
The latest on Oseguera is that he’s going to be starting the 2014 season with the Hawks’ Ni-gun (minor league) team after a rough spring (his ERA in Spring Training games appears to be around 6.00).
The Hawks are one of NPB’s three wealthy teams, and they loaded up on foreign stars over the off-season. Right now, it looks like Dae Ho Lee, Jason Standridge, Brian Wolfe and Dennis Sarfate will receive the Hawks’ four foreign player roster spots to start the 2014 season.
Standridge, Wolfe and Sarfate are all pitchers who will be 33 or older in 2014. However, all three pitched extremely well in the NPB in 2013, so one of them will probably have to get hurt for a roster spot to open up for Oseguera. Lee is the Hawks’ big money signing of the off-season, so he’s also keeping his roster spot unless he gets hurt.
NPB teams have no limit on the number of foreign players in their organization, and Oseguera will have plenty of competition on the Ni-gun team even if a major league roster spot opens up. Mu-young Kim is a 28 year old South Korean right-hander who posted a 2.60 ERA (but only 3.48 last year) in 62.1 total innings pitched for the Hawks over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Edison Barrios is a 25 year old Venezuelan right-hander who pitched pretty well in limited playing time last year split between the minor league and major league levels.
The Hawks also have a couple of foreign position players who will presumably start the season in Ni-gun, Taiwanese infielder Tu-Hsuan Lee and former Mexican League and (briefly) major league 1Bman Barbaro Canizares. Lee, who is 26 this year, may have been injured part of last season, but he otherwise looks like a player ready to play at NPB’s top level. Canizares is a 34 year old Cuban who hit .374 with a 1.099 OPS in the Mexican League last summer (he finished sixth and fourth, respectively, in these categories — the Mexican League is a great place to hit).
In short, Oseguera will have to be both good and lucky to pitch for the Hawks again in 2014.