Red Sox

Red Sox reportedly among teams that scouted Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s latest start

The pitching sensation was teammates with Masataka Yoshida for the last six seasons and has dominated Nippon Professional Baseball over the last few years.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto was a standout player for Japan in its run to a World Baseball Classic title in March (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The Red Sox might have their eyes on the next top player to come out of Japan.

Boston was one of eight teams to have a scout in attendance for Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s latest start for the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball, Japanese outlet Hochi News reported.

Yamamoto has been one of the best players in Japanese professional baseball over the last few years. The 24-year-old won the Pacific League MVP the last two seasons, helping the Buffaloes win the Japan Series last year as he also won the Japanese Triple Crown for the second straight year (leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA). As expected, he’s also won the Sawamura Award (the NPB equivalent of the Cy Young Award) in each of the last two seasons.


Yamamoto’s stats have also been absurd. Over the 2021 and 2022 seasons, he went gone 33-10 with a 1.54 ERA in 52 games. He also had a 27.7 percent strikeout rate to go along with a 5.5 percent walk rate over that stretch. For reference, those numbers would rank among the top 10 among all starting pitchers who have pitched enough innings so far this season. He also averaged over seven innings pitched per start over that time, too, via MLB Trade Rumors.

Since he joined the Buffaloes as an 18-year-old in 2017, Yamamoto has gone 67-27 with a 1.82 ERA. He was actually teammates with Masataka Yoshida for six seasons with the Buffaloes, too. He’s 9-3 with a 1.66 ERA this season, striking out 101 hitters and walking just 12 in 92 1/3 innings over 13 games.

While Yamamoto has flat-out dominated the NPB over the last few years, many baseball fans might know him for his performance in the World Baseball Classic this past March. He pitched four shutout innings, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out eight against Australia in his lone start of the tournament. He also pitched 3 1/3 innings of relief in Japan’s semifinal win over Mexico, giving up two runs on three hits, two walks, and three strikeouts.

It’s been speculated for several months that Yamamoto could be posted by the Buffaloes as soon as this upcoming offseason. Pro scouts noted to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman in February that they think Yamamoto “doesn’t have anything left to prove” in Japan as he’s dominated with a five-pitch arsenal. The scouts also mentioned that his fastball travels in the mid-90s and can reach the high 90s in speed, adding that his “splitter and curve are world class.”


One scout told Sherman that he thinks Yamamoto is a “full grade” better than Kodai Senga, the Japanese pitcher the Mets signed this past offseason to a five-year, $75 million this past offseason.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t unfamiliar with signing Japanese players, either. They spent big on Daisuke Matsuzaka ahead of the 2007 season and added Hideki Okajima that same offseason. Yoshida signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Red Sox this past offseason after Boston paid Orix a $15 million posting fee.


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