The way Junichi Tazawa is climbing through the Red Sox minor league system already this summer, seeing him toe the rubber at Fenway by season's end is a very good possibility.
The 23-year-old rookie righty from Japan has been dominating the Eastern League as a member of the Portland Sea Dogs. By notching eight wins and a 2.79 ERA (both second in the league) in the first half of the season, Tazawa received an invite to both the All-Stars Futures Game in St. Louis and the Double-A All-Star Game.
"I'm happy to be moving up here. I know the guys who are working with me also, Bates, Wagner, we were teammates, and the guys who were with me in big league camp. I know these guys, so I am very happy," Tazawa told projo.com on Monday, through an interpreter.
Junichi won't be eased into the rotation. Manager Ron Johnson has him slotted to pitch Tuesday at Buffalo.
"I'm very excited. He's going to pitch tomorrow in Buffalo, and I think we'll just push everybody back in the rotation." Johnson said. "A lot of people are very excited about this."
The highly-touted prospect, whom the Sox spent $3.3 million (over three years) on this offseason, will be re-united with his Double-A battery mate Mark Wagner, who is also now with the PawSox.
"His command, his pitching, and the way he goes about pitching. He goes right after hitters. He has four great pitches that he can throw at any time, and that's always a fun partner to work with," Wagner said.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Yokohama native is 9-5 with a 2.57 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 98 innings pitched and has held right-handed hitters to a staggering .182 BA in 18 games started this season. In his last 10 starts, Tazawa is sporting a 5-2 record and a 2.14 ERA.