Category: Independent Leagues

[1/12/2017] Ken Kato to join Niigata front office

The BC League’s Niigata Albirex Baseball Club announced today that former Yomiuri Giant Ken Kato will be join their front office. A press conference is scheduled for January 16.

Source: Niigata announcement, Sponichi 1/12/2017


[1/9/2017] Kochi Fighting Dogs reach agreement with Manny Ramirez

The Shikoku Island League’s Kochi Fighting Dogs announced today that they reached an agreement with forty-four-year-old Manny Ramirez. Officials from the team met Ramirez near Miami, Florida on January 9. The two sides are still discussing his arrival schedule and contract length.

Also, YouTuber qoonin posted an interview with Ramirez. The interview is primarily in Spanish with Japanese subtitles. You can view the footage by clicking here. Below is a summary:

  • Why he decided to come out of retire – after spending time in the Dominican Republic, he started feeling the urge to play again.
  • When he seriously started thinking about a comeback – he started swinging the bat and started taking some batting practice in 2016. He felt he was in good condition and talked it over with his wife. He started thinking about a comeback in the fall. He decided to attempt a comeback because his wife also supported him.
  • Why he agreed to play for an independent league team in Japan – he received offers from teams in other countries, but picked Japan because of his interest in Japanese culture. He also said he liked the Japanese approach to baseball.
  • Would he accept an offer from an NPB team – he said yes and that he would use the opportunity to show everyone that he can still play.

Source: Kochi announcement, Kochi Facebook announcement

[UPDATE 1/10 @ 11:34pm]

Ramirez’s contract might be good for just the first-half of the season (about three months). The end of the contract should fall right around the end of July, which also coincides with the NPB signing deadline (July 31).

Source: Nikkan Sports 1/10/2017

[UPDATE 1/11 @ 9:46pm]

Ramirez found out the team was holding tryouts through online sources like Facebook and reached out to the team through Zak Colby in November. The team did not know how serious he was at first because communications were a bit slow at first, but things started rolling in December and the two sides started talking about a contract.

Source: ZakZak 1/11/2017


[1/6/2017] Akira Iwamoto to play for BC League’s Fukui

The Fukui Miracle Elephants announced today that they reached an agreement Akira Iwamoto. The twenty-two-year-old was released by the Hanshin Tigers in October last year and attended the twelve team tryouts in November.

Source: Fukui announcementNikkan Sports 11/6/2017


[12/22/2016] Kei Igawa still not done

Hyogo Blue Sandars announced today that they signed thirty-seven-year-old Kei Igawa to a practice player contract, effective December 15. He was assigned the uniform number 29.

Igawa was released by the Orix Buffaloes after the 2015 season. He spent this year working out with Hyogo. He agreed to sign a practice player contract because he still wants to play. His goal next year is to sign a standard contract with Hyogo and pitch a full season.

Source: Hyogo announcement, Sponichi 12/22/2016, Daily Sports 12/22/2016, Nikkan Sports 12/22/2016, Tokyo Sports 12/22/2016

[UPDATE 12/23 @ 10:01pm]

A few more details on Igawa’s current status and contract.

Hyogo is part of the Baseball First League. Aside from some exceptions, players do not receive a salary, regardless of the type of contract they sign. Igawa will not be receiving a salary.

Igawa is not quite 100 percent healthy. He has some issues with his calf and lower back, but can still throw around 140km/h.

Source: Tokyo Sports 12/23/2016


[12/2/2016] Manny Ramirez talking to Island League’s Kochi

According to a report by Nikkan Sports, Manny Ramirez is interested in playing baseball in Japan. The Shikoku Island League’s Kochi Fighting Dogs are currently talking to Ramirez’s agent about a possible contract.

It all started on November 11 when his agent and a Kochi player (infielder from overseas) approached the Fighting Dogs and asked if they might be interested in Ramirez. Kochi is open to the idea of signing the forty-four-year-old as a player, not a coach.

Source: Nikkan Sports 12/2/2016, Nikkan Sports 12/2/2016


[12/2/2016] BC League to implement age limit

The BC League is planning to implement an age limit beginning in 2018. Teams will only be able to carry up to five players over twenty-six years of age on their roster. The league believes anyone over twenty-six no longer has a serious chance because players selected during the NPB draft are about twenty-three-years-old.

Source: Chunichi Sports 11/30/2016


BC League 2016 Season

Final season standings, post-season results, titles, and awards for the BC League’s 2016 season.



[11/15/2016] Kodai Sakurai joins Shiga United coaching staff

The BC League’s Shiga United Baseball Club announced on November 15 that they added former Hanshin Kodai Sakurai to their staff as a batting coach.

Source: Shiga United announcement


[7/22/2016] Island League: Kosuke Tomita signs with Kagawa

The Kagawa Olive Guyners announced that they reached an agreement with former Yokohama Bay Star Kosuke Tomita on July 22. He was assigned the uniform number 13.

Tomita played for Kawagawa in 2011, before he was selected by the Bay Stars in the Ikusei draft in 2011. He is hoping for another chance to play in the NPB.

Source: Kagawa announcement, Nikkan Sports 7/22/2016


[6/28/2016] BC League to add two more teams in 2017

The Route Inn BC League announced on June 28 that they formally approved the addition of two associate members, Tochigi and Shiga, to their league for the 2017 season.

New Teams

Tochigi: name to be decided
Representative: Masahiko Kogo, CEO of Agekke Corporation

Shiga: Shiga United Baseball Club
Representative: Shinya Suzuki, CEO of Shiga United, Inc.

Additional details will be released as they become available.

Source: BC League announcement