Weight: 198 lbs.
2009 Age: 34
The Braves' first major league Japanese player is a bit of a mystery. No one knows for sure how well he'll do in Major League Baseball. His curve is said to be as good as Roy Oswalt's and he has a fastball that tops out in the low 90s. However, he still needs to adjust to the American baseball, which is larger and not as tightly wound as the Japanese baseball. It could affect the way his pitches break if he doesn't figure it out.
VERY STRONG START: Kawakami won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1998. He finished third in the league in wins (14), second in ERA (2.57), third in strikeouts (124), second in WHIP (1.08) and tied with the league lead in shutouts (3).
HE HAS BEEN WITH A FEW WINNERS: Kawakami helped the Chunichi Dragons to the Central League title in 1999, 2006, and 2007. The Dragons won the Japan Series title in 2007; it was their first such title in 53 years.
NO-NONI KENSHIN: (If you can stomach my attempt at a horrible pun, continue to read. For those of you who don't get it, continue to read as well.) Kawakami tossed a no-hitter on August 1, 2002 against the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo, striking out 11 batters.
My Outlook: It all depends on whether or not Kawakami adjusts to the American baseball and style of play. If he does, expect him to be an optimal middle-of-the-rotation starter. If he doesn't get used to the American baseball or style of play, he'll become another Kei Igawa. Let's hope it's the former.
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- Ganbate, Kawakami-San!
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