Sunday, March 8, 2020

Card Of The Week March 8

Justin of Charm City Autographs has been haunting the various spring training camps in Arizona for the past month or so, picking up autographs.  He sent me a message last week asking me if I'd ever heard of an independent team called Asian Breeze.  He was watching them play the Hanwha Eagles.  I'd never heard of them so I did a little research.  It turns out that they're kind of a traveling tryout camp, not unlike the Arizona Winter League that I saw a few years back in Yuma, Arizona, although the players seem a little more advanced.  The key similarity is that they both charge a fee for the players to participate - it's a way for players who are trying to continue to play to get some visibility.  The team's website brags that it placed 10 of its 24 2019 players on professional rosters. 

I took a look at their roster for this year and was able to figure that two of their players are former NPB players - Takaaki Yokoyama and Keisuke Tsuruta*.  In fact both players were sixth round picks by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles - Yokoyama in 2013 out of Waseda University and Tsuruta in 2016 out of Teikyo University.  Yokoyama was released by the Eagles after 2016 but resigned as an ikusei player for the next two seasons.  He was released for good after 2018 and played for Asian Breeze last year.  He signed with the New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am League last spring but never played for them.  He then spent about a month with the Mexico City Red Devils before signing on as a player-coach with the Fukushima Red Hopes of the Baseball Challenge League.  Tsuruta was also released by the Eagles at the end of 2018 but resigned with the team as an ikusei player.  He was released again at the end of 2019. 

*It helped that Justin had apparently seen an Eagles equipment bag with the uniform number of 61 on it - that turned out to be Tsuruta's bag.

Here are cards of both players when they were with the Eagles:

2016 BBM Eagles #E27

2018 BBM Eagles #E28

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