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Tampa Bay Rays Sign Japanese P Naoyuki Uwasawa

 Leif Skodnick  |    Jan 12th, 2024 10:28am EST

A general view of Tropicana Field during a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago White Sox on April 21, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

Japanese right-handed pitcher Naoyuki Uwasawa signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays and is invited to major league camp at spring training, the team announced on Thursday. 


Uwasawa, 29, was born in Matsudo, Chiba, Japan, and has played 11 seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters from 2013-23. 

Uwasawa was picked in the sixth round of the 2011 NPB Draft by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and played three minor league seasons before making his debut with their NPB team on April 2, 2014. 

Uwasawa was named an All-Star in 2018, 2021 and 2023. 

Last season, Uwasawa started in 24 games and posted a 9-9 record, throwing 170 innings with a 2.96 ERA and two complete game shutouts. Uwasawa allowed 152 hits, 56 earned runs, 14 home runs, 41 walks, 124 strikeouts, and a 1.135 WHIP. 

The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters finished in last place of the Pacific League during the 2023 season at 60-82-1. 

According to Darragh McDonald of MLBTradeRumors.com, “Uwasawa’s fastball topped out at 90.8 mph last season.” 

In 2022, Uwasawa went 8-9 in 23 starts, posting a 3.38 ERA and throwing 152 innings with three complete games, allowing 129 hits, 57 earned runs, 15 home runs, 50 walks, 127 strikeouts, and a 1.178 WHIP. 

During his 11 seasons in the minor leagues and with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, Uwasawa has lifetime record of 78-80 with a 3.42 ERA, throwing 1,367.1 innings in 225 games with 15 complete games and six shutouts allowing 1,215 hits, 520 earned runs, 115 home runs, 448 walks, 1,094 strikeouts, and a 1.216 WHIP. 

The Rays projected starting pitching rotation coming out of spring training prior to the start of the 2024 regular season consists of Zach Eflin, Zack Littell, Aaron Civale, Ryan Pepiot and Taj Bradley for manager Kevin Cash. 

The Rays will play their first game of spring training against the Atlanta Braves on Feb. 24 at home at 1:05 p.m. EST at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla.

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Leif Skodnick