PHOENIX -- The D-backs signed Japanese right-hander Shumpei Yoshikawa to a Minor League contract, and he began working out Monday with the rest of the organization's Instructional League team at Salt River Fields.The 23-year-old is the first Japanese pitcher signed out of Japan's Industrial League since Junichi Tazawa inked a
PHOENIX -- The D-backs signed Japanese right-hander Shumpei Yoshikawa to a Minor League contract, and he began working out Monday with the rest of the organization's Instructional League team at Salt River Fields.
The 23-year-old is the first Japanese pitcher signed out of Japan's Industrial League since Junichi Tazawa inked a deal with the Red Sox on Dec. 4, 2008.
Most Japanese players come to the United States after having played in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. Yoshikawa was passed over by NPB twice, but was expected to be drafted in the league's upcoming draft before instead signing with the D-backs for $650,000.
"I always had a desire to play baseball at the highest level and this opportunity arose, so naturally it was a pretty easy decision," Yoshikawa said through an interpreter. "I knew the Diamondbacks were one of the younger teams focusing a lot on player development. Also them being in Arizona with the warm weather was very appealing."
D-backs director of Pacific operations Mack Hayashi initially discovered Yoshikawa. Hayashi also played a key role in the D-backs' signing of Japanese right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano to a two-year contract this past offseason.
Hirano was a key part of the D-backs' bullpen this year. Yoshikawa, meanwhile, is still a little ways away from the big leagues.
"He's obviously very projectable," D-backs assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye said. "We see him as a starting pitcher -- three pitches. He's got a plus-plus changeup, which we believe is an out pitch at the Major League level, low-90s fastball, throws a pretty good slider and has a little curveball, too. He's a guy that we feel can go out and compete right away in the Minor Leagues here."
Injury update: Souza
Right fielder Steven Souza Jr. was out of the lineup on Monday after leaving Sunday's game early due to a lower back spasm.
Souza said he hoped to be able to play again before the end of the season.
Talking to Buddy
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo spoke with Rockies manager Bud Black on Sunday when the Rockies were in town to let him know that even though the D-backs were eliminated from the postseason race they would make sure to put a competitive team on the field in the three-game series with the Dodgers.
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt and left fielder David Peralta were out of Monday's lineup, as Lovullo felt they had carried a large burden this year and needed a mental break.
"I just said, 'You're going to see some different names in there,'" Lovullo said he told Black. "'Just know we're not throwing any part of the game away. We're trying to win every single game.'"
Arizona BBWAA hands out D-backs awards
The Arizona chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America handed out its annual awards on Monday.
Goldschmidt was named the team's Most Valuable Player, Patrick Corbin won Pitcher of the Year, Hirano was Rookie of the Year and Daniel Descalso won the Good Guy Award.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.