After De Glaskoning Twins, Curaçao Neptunus will be the second Dutch hoofdklasse club who will use a pitcher from Japan in 2018. In a press release, the club announced the signing of left-hander Riki Saito.
After pitcher Kevin Kelly unexpectedly decided to join A.S.D. Rimini Pirates from the Italian Serie A, a void needed to be filled. Instead of the United States, Neptunus looked to Japan and found Saito.
According to manager Ronald Jaarsma, the acquisition of Saito is a welcome move by the club since arms were scarce.
The 24-year old Saito played for Tezukayama University. Afterward, he played for several independent teams in Japan and Taiwan. Saito also played for the Asian Islanders, just like Shogo Nakashima of De Glaskoning Twins. This Asian Islanders team played a couple of exhibition games in Taiwan against college teams and industrial league teams. Next to These two Japanese pitchers, this team contained players from Belgium, Finland, Korea, Venezuela and the United States.
According to manager Ronald Jaarsma, a left-handed relief pitcher is ideal for Curaçao Neptunus since the bullpen only contains right-handers.
The Osaka native isn’t quite exactly a flamethrower. His fastball reaches 83 mph but he also masters a slider and a changeup.
Saito will report to Curaçao Neptunus right before the season when the team will play in one of the preparation tournaments that are played in the final weekend before the start of the regular season. The Rotterdam based team acquired the Japanese pitcher with the upcoming European Champions Cup in mind. The tournament will be hosted by Neptunus. Saito will stay for three months so after the ECC he can pitch a few more games in the Dutch hoofdklasse as well.