Shintaro Fujinami has left the building, and has signed with the Athletics, which makes sense because he has potential to have some value but his he’s a high risk — and therefore low-cost option.
I typically write profiles of pitchers’ stuff when they’re headed to the States, but didn’t in his case, so a blog post will have to do.
Fujinami was a marquee amateur who was swarmed by the media as a rookie, and the one or two times I spoke with him came after his career took a sharp downturn. By that time, I found him to be humble and friendly.
I don’t know a lot about him and can’t say anything about his character or makeup as a player, although the following notes might be of interest.
- He ostensibly learned the basics of strength and weight training, rest and nutrition from Yu Darvish five or six years ago, but whatever he learned does not appear to have had any major impact on his physique.
- Fujinami was banished to the minors in the spring of 2021 for repeatedly being late to practice.
In his first three seasons, Fujinami threw a lot of different pitches, and was among Japan’s best at getting batters to swing at pitches outside the zone, according to Delta Graphs. For one reason or another, his overall success has closely tracked that part of his game.
Last year, he was a three-pitch pitcher, fastball, split and cutter, although Delta Graphs calls that one a slider. It was his first-pitch alternate because guys go up there looking fastball till they get two strikes, and he both missed bats with it and got called strikes, bringing batters closer to that two-strike split.
It’s not a great splitter compared to the others thrown in NPB, but that’s a pretty high bar. It will be better than most of the ones MLB hitters he see, and with the slicker ball it should be nasty enough.
The big question for Fujinami, like most NPB pitchers, is whether he can get the life and accuracy on his fastball he’ll need in MLB.