Any general manager with a pulse covets Darvish. Last season, most of which he pitched as a 20-year old, he went 15-5 with a 1.82 earned-run average and 12 complete games. His fastball hits 97 mph, his slider 91, and he throws a curveball, changeup and sinker. With Darvish, it’s a matter of when he asks the Fighters to post him for auction to the highest major-league bidder.
“That,” Iwamoto says, “is a question he can’t answer.”
Checking out some of Darvish's performances on YouTube illustrates the level of command and poise he already possesses as a 20 year-old. His stuff looks to be a notch above Matsuzaka's and apparently will only get higher. An earlier scouting report on Darvish discusses the type of pitcher I've seen and read about over the past couple years:
Japanese baseball’s relevancy has teetered in recent years, and insiders fear that Darvish posting long before his ninth season – after which Japanese players become free agents – might encourage others to do the same.
Certainly there are benefits for Nippon Ham. One American League executive guessed if Darvish posted after this season the fee to negotiate a deal would cost “around $75 million.” Another suggested “it could be even higher.” If the Red Sox paid $51 million for a 26-year-old Matsuzaka, a 22-year-old Darvish could command a 50 percent premium.
“Right now,” Valentine says, “his stuff is probably sharper than Daisuke’s.”
The praise only begins there. Terrmel Sledge, the former Padres outfielder who joined the Fighters this offseason, calls Darvish “one of the five best I’ve ever seen.” Hillman believes Darvish would step in as the No. 1 starter on a majority of major league teams. Kojima thinks Darvish might be the best pitcher in Japanese history.
Darvish throws a low-90s fastball (91-93 mph). At 21 years old, he is 6 foot 5 and under 180 lbs. which means he has the potential to add weight and thereby add velocity.
He throws a plus knuckle curveball along with a sinker, slider, and changeup.
His 2007 season, which earned him the Japanese version of the Cy Young was spectacular:
1.82 ERA, 26 starts, 207 innings pitched, 123 hits, 210 strikeouts, 49 walks and 12 complete games. That works out to a k/bb of 4.29, a batting average against of .170 while averaging 8 innings pitched per start.