There is word that the Boston Red Sox are currently scouting amateur level pitcher Junichi Tazawa (田沢純一) of the Shin-Nihon Sekiyu Eneos (新日本石油ＥＮＥＯＳ). Tazawa throws a fastball in the 156km/h range (97mph) and would most likely be the most sought after player in the upcoming Amateur Draft in the NPB.
According to some reports, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein has already given the green light to try and sign Tazawa to a contract. During his last start where he struck out 12 batters in 8 innnings while giving up 1 run on 4 hits, scouts from other teams like the Mets and Braves were also present.
Epstein is quoted as saying, "I know how good Japanese pitchers can be after seeing Daisuke and Oki. Teams in the majors are now scouting more Japanese players. We've actually taken a proactive approach in scounting the amateur ranks as well." (Translated from Japanese) The Red Sox currently have their sites set on a handful of amateur level players, but it appears as though they are most impressed with Tazawa, who they are claiming to be the second coming of Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Under current rules governing the Amateur level players, there are no provisions that forbid Major League teams from signing amateur players. Some are saying that it wouldn't be much of a surprise if Tazawa were to join the Red Sox before the October 30th Amateur Draft.
However, there are some grumblings go on within the NPB. Yomiuri Giants owner, Takuo Takihana (滝鼻卓雄), has spoken to the press to voice his displeasure at what the Red Sox are doing. "If the team from the East Coast signs Tazawa, all bets are off. If amateur players can sign with Major League teams, our draft system will fall apart," said Takihana when asked what he thought.
The Giants have not been very pleased about players leaving for the Majors. Last season they tried to keep Kosuke Fukudome from crossing the ocean by offering him a contract.
Takihana further said, "If they break off this gentleman's agreement of staying out of the amateur levels, the NPB should get rid of allowing Japanese players from heading off the Majors. We're even cooperating with the WBC. We'll get Commissioner Kato working on this right away. We can't let the Majors walk all over us."