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Japan’s Tazawa impresses major league scouts

OSAKA, Japan -- Major league prospect Junichi Tazawa enhanced his prospects of playing professional baseball in the United States by throwing a complete-game shutout Friday in the quarterfinals of Japan’s corporate league baseball championships.

With several major league scouts looking on, Tazawa gave up four hits while striking out 10 and walking none as Nippon Oil defeated Hitachi 4-0 at the Osaka Dome.

It was Tazawa’s second straight win in the tournament, helping Nippon Oil reach Saturday’s semifinals.

The 22-year-old right-hander has drawn interest from several major league teams including the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians.

Tazawa, whose fastball reaches 97 mph (155 kph), asked Japan’s professional teams not to select him in November’s amateur draft so that he can pursue a career in the U. S.

No rule prevents American teams from pursuing Japanese amateurs, although current stars such as Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners and Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox first made names for themselves playing in Japan’s pro leagues.

Players in Japan’s professional leagues must wait nine seasons before becoming free agents. Kazuhito Tadano and Mac Suzuki are the only Japanese players to have played in the major leagues without playing Japanese professional baseball first.

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