Here's a developing story: a couple of weeks ago, a baseball source indicated to me that Dominican prospect Rafael Depaula is considering starting his professional career with a Japanese club. Depaula is considered a top prospect, but the rub is that he's currently barred from signing with an MLB club due to irregularities found in his age investigation.
Depaula, 17, is a righthanded pitcher who compliments a mid-90's fastball with a change up and slider. A brief video of him shows clean mechanics, and a commentor at River Ave Blues was kind enough to hand-translate a Spanish-language article about him (or you can check out the machine-translation). I asked Ben Badler about Depaula's status as a prospect, and he confirmed to me that he would command a healthy bonus even if turned out to be older than 17.
So is Japan a viable option for Depaula? Aside from the foreign player limit hurdle (which is significant) I don't see why not. The Hiroshima Carp have certainly brought a number of guys over from their Dominican Academy, and we've seen the Giants have some success developing Wirfin Obispo. Yakult also occasionally bring young players over from Brazil, though we have yet to see any of them really stick with the top team. And we do see NPB teams go toe-to-toe with MLB clubs over top amateur talent from Taiwan.
This story has the potential to become an interesting counter-point to the Yusei Kikuchi situation. We'll keep an eye on it.