- Full name Kenta Maeda
- Born 04/11/1988 in Osaka, Japan
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 185 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School PL Gakuen
- Debut 04/06/2016
Top 100 Rankings
In Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka, two electric pitchers have effectively made the transition from Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball to starters at the front of a major league rotation in recent years. Maeda doesn't match their pure stuff or ceiling, but he has been one of the premier pitchers in NPB, having won his second Sawamura Award (the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young) in 2015 after winning his first one in 2010. With a slender frame and a full overhand windup, Maeda pitches with his fastball at 88-93 mph and can touch 94. He doesn't overpower hitters, relying more on his fastball command and mixing his location and sequencing. He leans heavily on his slider, a slightly above-average pitch that got swings-and-misses for him in Japan, though major league hitters will be less apt to chase and whiff at that offering, and are more likely to make him pay when he hangs the slider. Maeda didn't throw his changeup much in Japan, and when he did it was often a firm, below-average pitch. Yet when Maeda pitched in the Premier 12 tournament in November, he had toyed with his grip and started flashing a plus changeup in the low-to-mid 80s with lively sink and fade. Maeda also throws an average curveball he will sprinkle in to give hitters another look. While many scouts consider Maeda to be a No. 4 starter, if he can carry over the above-average changeup he showed at the Premier 12, he might end up as a No. 3.