Rumors have swirled for weeks that mountainous slugger Japhet Amador may be heading to Japan for the 2016 season. While Mexico City Red Devils president Roberto Mansur claims he has not heard from any Japanese teams inquiring about the 6'4" Amador, who plays for the Diablos during the summer, Puro Beisbol columnist Fernando Ballasteros has named at least one team that may be interested in the 310-pounder.
The Rakuten Golden Eagles are Japan's newest team, debuting in 2005 after the Pacific League's Orix BlueWave and Kintestu Buffaloes merged and left the circuit with five teams. The Eagles, whose first GM, Marty Kuehnert, became the first American to run a Japanese team, got off to a predictably horrible start by winning just 38 of 136 games their first year. The Sendai-based team improved until finally winning the Japan Series by beating the Yomiuri Giants in 2013. Among players who've worn Rakuten's red-and-gold togs are Dodgers pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, Yankees hurler Masahiro Tanaka and Mexican products Luis Alfonso Garcia (in 2011-12) and Agustin Murillo (in 2015).
Ballasteros said that while Amador's tendency to be overweight and fielding difficulties at first base would be issues in Japan, he has hit a combined 55 homers this year between Mexico City and his winter team, the Jalisco Charros, and hitting for both average and power is the hardest thing to do in baseball at any level anywhere.
The 28-year-old Mulege native has already won the Mexican League MVP and is a legitimate contender for the same honors in the Mexican Pacific League. Ballasteros added that while he has searched online and not found any player who won the MVP in both leagues within the same 12-month period, a reader told him the legendary Hector Espino did the double for Tampico of the LMB in 1975 and Hermosillo of the LMP for 1975-76.