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NPB Roundup 1/14: Ryoji Aikawa to sign with the Swallows?

by on Jan.14, 2009 @ 8:28 pm, under NPB

Sports Hochi is reporting that Ryoji Aikawa has decided to join the Yakult Swallows. Aikawa did not receive ANY offers during his quest to go to the Majors. In the end, I think this will work out best for Aikawa. I'm not sure that he would have had much success in the Majors anyway. Better he play for the Swallows than toil away on the bench or in the minors in the States.

The Swallows have apparently prepared to give Aikawa the number 2. Contract information is not yet available.

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I briefly mentioned that the NPB wants to hold an open house for amateur players in a blog post yesterday, and now there's a headline over at Nikkan Sports that reads: "Stopping Yu-chan from going to the Majors - a move towards a 12 team open house."

Yu-chan refers to one of Japan's top pitching prospects, Yuuki Saito. There are some that are worried he may opt to go to the Majors after college and this open house concept is supposed to be another step towards keeping him (and others like him) in Japan.

These open houses will most likely function similar to job fairs where job seekers can go and learn more about companies they have an interest in. The hope here is that by holding such an event, NPB teams will be able to state their case to amatuer players and keep them from going to the Majors right away, a la Junichi Tazawa.

The three amateur organizations also appear to agree that these open houses could help keep players from going to the Majors immediately, but they are concerned about the timing -- the NPB wants to hold this event before players declare their intent and the three amateur organizations (well, mostly the college organization) want to wait until after players declare their intent.

So at this point, the three amateur organizations are mulling things over and a decision will likely be made a some point soon. The Giants are already saying that they would like to hold on of these events sometime in March, so I would think a decision would be made before then. Other teams have also mentioned preparing to hold events sometime in October or November for next year's draft.