‘Pitcher conversion → 154 km → Elbow surgery’ Japanese mixed-race high school student, throws 1 inning and signs an SD minor contract

 A player who knocked on the major league stage as a high school student without going through Nippon Professional Baseball appeared. 

Japanese media ‘Nikkan Sports’ said on the 13th, ‘Brian Balzer of Ibaraki Prefectural Sculpture Academy has signed a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres. He conducted a press conference inside the school,’ it reported. 

As the name suggests, Balzer is a mixed race player with an American father and a Japanese mother. After moving to New Jersey, USA at the age of 5, he started playing baseball in the 1st grade of elementary school and moved to Japan again in the 4th grade. And he leaves for America again to challenge himself. Coincidentally, Darvish, who recently signed a six-year, $108 million contract extension with San Diego, is also of mixed Japanese-Iranian blood.  스포츠토토

Balzer, who is 182cm 81kg tall and right-handed, originally played as an infielder. He turned to pitcher in the fall of 2021, when he was a sophomore in high school, and caught the eye by throwing fastballs of up to 154 km. However, he underwent Tommy John surgery for an elbow injury last year and only pitched one inning. He also submitted an application for the Nippon Professional Baseball draft, but it did not lead to his joining the pros.

He is still in need of rehabilitation, but he challenges the American stage with a minor league contract. Balzer said at his press conference, “My favorite saying from his father is, ‘He who enjoys it most is strong’. He admired the way Shohei Ohtani played happily,” he said, “I am also playing happily on that stage.”

“It is not easy to call in the major leagues. It is a more difficult stage than Japan. However, I made up my mind to succeed in a difficult place and replied that I would go right away,” he said. “I have no regrets. As long as I go to America, I will become the best pitcher in the world.” 

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