The Panthers are releasing Japanese submariner Daisuke Yasui this week to make room for a new import pitcher, also from Japan.
The 23-year-old incoming pitcher, not yet named by the team, was picked up from the same agent who sent the Panthers Marcos Reyna, Matt Robertson and Keith Kandel. The former third-round draft pick of the Yomiuri Giants is expected to sign a contract Thursday.
Because IBL teams are limited to four import players, Yasui was the odd man out as a specialty reliever who was only seeing limited innings. The side-arm style pitcher has given up five hits and three runs in 6.1 innings of work for Kitchener this season.
Meanwhile, general manager Scott Ballantyne says he’s also signed former Ontario Terrier Tanner Nivins, the Woodstock-raised outfielder who spent four years with the Stony Brook University Seawolves. That was the team who were the Cinderella story of U.S. college ball in 2012, advancing all the way to the college world series.
Nivins played 54 games for the Seawolves this season, batting .238 with one home run and 27 runs batted in. He ended his university career as Stony Brook’s all-time leader in games played (226), sixth in total hits (214) and fifth in RBI (144).
Reliever Matt Brennan has also been dropped by the Panthers. The former pitcher for the London Rippers of the professional independent Frontier League threw only one inning for the Panthers – giving up two runs and two walks in a short outing in London.
Brennan told the team afterward his arm still isn’t where it should be after an injury last year, and isn’t likely to be ready this season.
“He called me to say his arm still hasn’t responded from that game, and he doesn’t want to go and keep taking up a spot,” the GM said. “We’re hoping he can do some rehab and have him for next season.”
Ballantyne said he’s asked other IBL teams if they have a spot for Yasui, and hopes he gets picked up. The reliever was a serviceable pitcher, but wasn’t doing anything spectacular enough to warrant using one of the team’s coveted import spots on him.
And the new Japanese pitcher has such potential to be an impact player that the team couldn't afford to pass him up, he said.
“It’s not so much what (Yasui) did or didn’t do, it’s when we bring an import player in, we expect that person to be a difference maker for us,” Ballantyne said. “It’s not that Dice-K wasn’t successful in getting batters out. It’s that he was being used in situations where we could use a regular, non-import reliever.”