Well, the Swallows reported on Thursday that they’ve basically filled three of those slots with a pair of out-of-contract players and another from the independent ‘Baseball Challenge League’.
Kenta Abe (RHP) played for Osaka Kintetsu/Orix before moving to the Tigers for the 2008 season. He had his best year in 2008 when he pitched 51.2 innings over 32 appearances and ended the season with a 2.96 ERA.
However, he hasn’t made a single top top appearance for Hanshin over the past two seasons.
Keisuke Mizuta (INF) played with Abe on the Hanshin Tigers before he got released at the end of last season. He was picked up by the Dragons and appeared in 14 games this season for the top team. In his 19 at-bats, Mizuta hit .133/.235/.133.
Mizuta has been traded around quite a bit recently. He was with Saitama until July 11, 2009 when he was traded to Hanshin for pitcher Taiyo Fujita.
After the 2010 season he was traded to the Chunichi Dragons for Ryota Arai. And he was released on Nov. 11th by the Dragons.
He has a little bit of pace and a decent arm and range. From what I’ve gathered he can play both the infield and outfield, so it looks like we’ve picked up an experienced utility player who is unproven at the plate.
Itsuki Shoda (LHP) is an interesting find. He was Pacific League Rookie of the Year back in 2002 (Nippon Ham). He was later traded to Hanshin (wow, all three of these guys played for Hanshin) but spent most of his time on the farm team. He hasn’t played very well since then though save for 2009-10 when he played for Taiwan’s Sinon Bulls.
At the beginning of 2011 he was at the Boston Red Sox spring camp, but was told to go home by the end of it. He has since been keeping busy with the Niigata Albirex Baseball Club. It will be interesting to see how the southpaw curveball-thrower fares under Araki’s care.