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Published on Sep 3, 2013
Masahiro Tanaka, who turns 25 in November, has cemented his status as the best pitcher in Japan since Yu Darvish left and has age on his side. Though Japan used him sporadically at the World Baseball Classic in March, Tanaka ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the WBC among players not under contract to a major league team. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Tanaka throws a low-90s fastball that can touch 96 mph. Even though Tanaka can reach the mid-90s, his fastball is the pitch that gives some scouts pause because it comes in on a flat plane, making it more hittable than the velocity might suggest. Tanaka has two secondary pitches that have earned grades of 60 or better on the 20-80 scouting scale, including a 70 splitter with late downward action to keep hitters off his fastball. His low- to mid-80s slider is another plus weapon, while he'll mix in a curveball as well.