Yasuhiro Ichiba of Meiji University, who accepted money from pro baseball clubs in violation of draft eligibility rules, has accepted an offer by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to acquire him in a pre-draft arrangement, Takahiro Beppu, former general manager of the university’s baseball team, said Monday.
Ichiba has already delivered his intent to join Rakuten, becoming the first player the Internet shopping mall operator Rakuten Inc. will acquire for its Sendai-based baseball team to be launched next season.
He will submit documents Tuesday to the baseball commissioner’s office to secure the arrangement.
“The main factor in selecting him (Ichiba) is that we know he will be an invaluable asset to the team. We’re very happy,” said Rakuten club official Jun Yoneda.
Beppu, Ichiba’s career guidance counselor, said he appreciated the offer despite the uproar caused over the last few weeks by Ichiba due to the scandal.
“He was given the highest evaluation. He caused a lot of problems but I’m glad he was able to determine the next step in his career,” Beppu said.
Beppu said last week that Ichiba would make a final decision on the offer before Wednesday’s deadline for pre-draft arrangements allowing pro baseball clubs to pick a limited number of top amateur prospects in free competition — a week prior to the Nov. 17 amateur draft.
Ichiba, 22, said to be the No. 1 right-hander among university baseball players, quit the Meiji University team this summer after it became known he received money from the Yomiuri Giants. It was later revealed that he received money from the Yokohama BayStars and the Hanshin Tigers as well.
Several teams were interested in acquiring Ichiba, but Rakuten is the only team that expressed the intention to obtain him in a pre-draft arrangement.
Bryant back to Kansai
KOBE (Kyodo) Former Kintetsu Buffaloes player Ralph Bryant has been hired as a batting coach for the new team to be formed through the merger with the Orix BlueWave, baseball sources said Monday.
Bryant, 43, joined the Buffaloes led by then-skipper Akira Ogi midseason in 1988. He hit 49 homers to capture the home-run title and helped guide Kintetsu to the league title in 1989.
The former Los Angeles Dodgers player won the home-run title three times and the RBI crown once during his eight years in Japan.
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