Colorado Rockies in the Nippon Professional Baseball League

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I don’t know if you heard, but MLB’s usual spring start has stalled a bit.

Yes, amid the ongoing lockout, one wonders what is the best way to get hold of baseball in the meantime. College ball is an option and the minor leagues are largely untouched, but what about a third option? What if we do what some ex-pro ballplayers do and look abroad?

Japan’s Nippon professional baseball has a long history of the game since its inception in the 1950s and has produced a whole host of great talent (both from Japan and abroad). This list includes several former Rockies, so let’s look back at a few and see how they fared during their time in cherry blossom country.

Tyler Chatwood

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The newest import on our list, Chatwood spent six seasons in height, with conflicting results noted as one of the main anchors of the Rockies rotation. After spending some time with the BoysBlue Jays and Giants, “Chatty” will join former MLB stars Freddy Galvis and Colin Rea Member of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawkswho won Japan series (NPB Championship Series) six of the last eight seasons. Its success is yet to be seen, and adapting to the various differences between MLB and NPB (such as the size of the ball used) will decide how he fares in his new league.

Matt Carasiti

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Colorado Rockies – Game Two

Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Carasiti was Designed by the Rockies in 2012 and kicked out of the bullpen in 2016, Posting a nasty 9.19 ERA in his 15th 23. He made a career 25 13 innings in the major leagues and after spending time in the Rockies and Cubs minor league systems (in which he was much better than in his major league days), the right-hander signed with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows Late 2017. Carasiti has done a solid job in his only season in Japan, playing in 32 games and posting a 7-3 record with three saves along with a 4.18 ERA and 73 Ks in his 94 23 innings of work.

Carasiti would end up returning to MLB like him currently signed with the Giants in a minor league deal.

Willin Rosario

Los Angeles Dodgers versus Colorado Rockies

Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Who hasn’t loved the Baby Bull? Rosario was once the hard-hitting catcher of the future and his 2012 rookie season is still considered one of the best in recent memory. Fourth in Rookie of the Year votinghe led all catchers in MLB with 28 home runs and despite a lackluster defense, he appeared poised to become a breakthrough star for Colorado.

Obviously, things didn’t quite go that way, and Rosario was out of MLB in 2016. after a short stint with the Hanwha Eagles from the Korean Baseball Organization, the Dominican-born catcher signed one One-year contract with the Hanshin Tigers in 2017. In his 75 games, Rosario averaged a .242 with eight home runs. This one year would be in Japan as he would be traveling back to the US for a year Minor league contract with the Minnesota Twinsthen to Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican Leagueand is now ready to join Uni-President Lions of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. What a global adventure!

Ryan Spilborghs

2021 T-Mobile Home Run Derby

I’d bet there are few Rockies fans who don’t appreciate Spilly very much. He also played in Japan after his time in MLB was over as he Signed with the Seibu Lions in 2012. He hit .284 the following season along with eight home runs and 38 RBI to go.

Spilborghs likes to look back about his time abroad and often quotes stories from his time in Japan in his broadcasts. Although he wasn’t there very long, it’s always interesting to hear Spilly talk about his time in Japan.

Matt Murton

Colorado Rockies versus Detroit Tigers

Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Do you remember Matt Murton? It’s okay if you don’t — he only played one season with the Rockies in 2009 and had mediocre success hitting .250/.304/.404 in his 29 games. After being released by Colorado (to make room for Ryan Spilborghs!), he was signed by NPB’s Hanshin Tigers. How did he fare with Hanshin? Well all he did was go and break Ichiro Suzuki’s single-season hits record.

Now it’s true that Murton had more opportunities to do so – Ichiro had set the record in 1994 when NPB seasons consisted of 130 games, while the current roster includes 146 – but the record remains unchanged. And that was only his first season when he finished his stay abroad over 1000 hits and an average of 0.310. Here’s a cool clip of a walk-off home run he hit as part of the Tigers:

With such a rich history, it’s no wonder so many players go to Japan to hone and hone their skills. While we wait for MLB to get its acts together, don’t forget to consider NPB as an alternative if Her season begins later this month. You may see some names you know!

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