Former major leaguers in Japan – Pitchers

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In case you missed it, I ran down the hitters on Wednesday.

D.J. Houlton – 5-3, 2.13 ERA, 62/21 K/BB in 76 IP

Houlton ranks third in the Pacific League in ERA behind Masahiro Tanaka
and Yu Darvish. The 29-year-old was a swingman last year in his first
season in Japan. He had a 4.18 ERA in 28 innings out of the pen for the
Dodgers in 2007, but former GM Paul DePodesta was likely his biggest
backer in the organization and the new regime didn’t think he had much
to offer.

Colby Lewis – 4-3, 3.34 ERA, 69/5 K/BB in 59 1/3 IP

Lewis is off last year’s pace, as he went 15-8 with a 2.68 ERA and a
183/27 K/BB ratio in 178 innings in his first season with the Carp.
Still, there would likely be several teams interested if he opted to
return to the majors.

Mike Schultz – 2-0, 1 Sv, 1.17 ERA, 32/6 K/BB in 30 2/3 IP

Schultz’s major league experience consists of one inning with the
Diamondbacks in 2007. He was a fringe relief prospect for several years
before finding himself in Japan.

Marc Kroon – 0-1, 11 Sv, 1.13 ERA, 27/12 K/BB in 24 IP

Kroon’s outstanding fastball never made him a successful major
leaguer, as he gave up 23 runs and walked 26 in 26 2/3 innings in parts
of four seasons before leaving for Japan in 2005. He’s since saved 136
games as one of Japan’s premier closers.

Darrell Rasner – 3-4, 6.62 ERA, 34/16 K/BB in 51 2/3 IP

Rasner was the top pitcher to jump to Japan over the winter, with
the Yankees reportedly receiving $1 million for his rights. The move,
though, hasn’t worked out Rakuten so far.

Kazuhisa Ishii – 3-5, 5.33 ERA, 63/25 K/BB in 54 IP

The now 35-year-old Ishii has seen his ERA increase every season
since returning to Japan, going from 3.44 to 2006 to 4.14 in 2007 and
4.32 last year (he did switch from the non-DH league to the DH league
after 2007, so he was probably better in 2008 than the previous year).

Brian Falkenborg – 3-0, 1 Sv, 0.92 ERA, 35/2 K/B in 29 1/3 IP

Falkenborg had seen major league action in each of the last five
seasons, but since he never could establish himself, he opted to go to
Japan prior to this year. It seems likely to pay off, as he’s been one
of the country’s best relievers so far.

Others

Justin Germano – 2-0, 1.46 ERA, 2/0 K/BB in 12 1/3 IP
Ryan Glynn – 2-8, 5.05 ERA, 31/22 K/BB in 62 1/3 IP
Dicky Gonzalez – 6-1, 2.11 ERA, 33/4 K/BB in 55 1/3 IP
Seth Greisinger – 6-4, 4.26 ERA, 47/10 K/BB in 76 IP
Kameron Loe – 0-4, 6.33 ERA, 18/12 K/BB in 27 IP
Brian Sweeney – 2-3, 5.94 ERA, 28/21 K/BB in 53 IP
Les Walrond – 3-6, 3.72 ERA, 56/30 K/BB in 65 1/3 IP
John Wasdin – 2-2, 5.04 ERA, 10/11 K/BB in 30 1/3 IP

Scott Atchison – 3-2, 0 Sv, 2.91 ERA, 32/10 K/BB in 34 IP
Ricky Barrett – 0-1, 0 Sv, 5.40 ERA, 3/8 K/BB in 8 1/3 IP
Scott Dohmann – 0-0, 0 Sv, 17.28 ERA, 4/7 K/BB in 8 1/3 IP
Alex Graman – 0-2, 3 Sv, 5.40 ERA, 1/2 K/BB in 5 IP
Marcus Gwyn – 1-1, 1 Sv, 2.70 ERA, 22/11 K/BB in 23 1/3 IP
Jon Leicester – 0-1, 0 Sv, 4.32 ERA, 10/4 K/BB in 8 1/3 IP
Masao Kida – 3-3, 0 Sv, 5.67 ERA, 19/14 K/BB in 33 1/3 IP
Satoru Komiyama – 1-0, 0 Sv, 10.13 ERA, 7/1 K/BB in 13 1/3 IP
Michael Nakamura – 1-1, 0 Sv, 7.04 ERA, 12/7 K/BB in 15 1/3 IP
Tom Mastny – 0-2, 0 Sv, 4.14 ERA, 24/15 K/BB in 37 IP
Maximo Nelson – 0-2, 1 Sv, 3.81 ERA, 23/10 K/BB in 26 IP
Nelson Payano – 0-0, 0 Sv, 1.74 ERA, 13/7 K/BB in 10 1/3 IP
Brian Sikorski – 4-2, 1 Sv, 1.40 ERA, 30/8 K/BB in 25 2/3 IP
Kazuhito Tadano – 2-2, 0 Sv, 7.71 ERA, 8/7 K/BB in 21 IP
Ryan Vogelsong – 0-3, 0 Sv, 6.84 ERA, 33/10 K/BB in 25 IP
Jeff Williams – 1-1, 0 Sv, 3.28 ERA, 33/14 K/BB in 24 2/3 IP

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.