There was a time when Shintaro Fujinami had been considered one of the top pitching prospects in Japan.
He had been right there with Shohei Ohtani in terms of potential, expected to be one of the top pitchers in Nippon Professional Baseball in short order. While he had an excellent start to his career, a case of the yips and questionable treatment by coaching left Fujinami a shell of the player he once was.
Shintaro Fujinami ultimate wild card for MLB teams
It is a testament to his hard work and dedication that he has been able to work his way back into being a productive arm in Japan. Now, after a career that has seen many ups and downs, Fujinami is being posted, making him eligible for any interested MLB teams.
Fujinami could be considered one of the biggest wild cards available. He still has occasional lapses with his command, but also has a fastball that reaches triple digits to go along with a solid slider and splitter. The pure stuff is there, but it is fair to wonder what type of role he would have stateside.
It is also worth noting that the Hanshin Tigers did not appear to be entirely convinced with Fujinami either. He has spent parts of each year since 2017 in the minors, with the Tigers seemingly happy to have him as a depth option. Teams could be concerned about how he would handle the majors given his issues in NPB.
Ultimately, Fujinami may best be served in a relief role if a team does bring him over. His impressive fastball would play up in the bullpen while his command issues would not be as much of a concern. It may be a disappointing path for a pitcher who was once considered to be as impressive of a pitching prospect as Ohtani, but it is also a role that he could find success in.
Shintaro Fujinami is reportedly set to be posted. He is going to be one of the most fascinating players in MLB free agency this offseason.