There could be several Japanese players worth drafting that jump to MLB in 2007. This always is an iffy propsition, particularly if you're not in a mixed league. But I've had good success doing this in my leagues that allow this. I drafted Ichiro, H. Matsui and T Iguchi as rookies.
I read a lot of info on players who might be interested in coming to MLB. A good site to check out is Jim Albright's site, http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/analy ... ght35.html
, where each year he lists the top players in the Japan leagues that have indicated a desired to go to MLB. Since his article, Johjima has, of course, signed w Seattle, and Nishiguchi and Kokubo have re-signed w their Japanese clubs.
But, Japanese players are locked up for 9 years before they are eligible for free agency, and I never have known where there is a reliable source that indicates when each player becomes eligible. You can look up their career stats to see how long they've played, but you cant necessarily tell how much service time they've accumulated toward their 9-year requirement. There is the posting system where their club allows MLB teams to bid on them before they become free agents. But for all the talk about posting, I think only a couple Japanese players have ever been acquired by a MLB team thru the posting system (Ichiro and, I think, some pitcher).
I'm sure you've heard of Daisuke Matsuzaka, probably the best pitcher in Japan. I dont think he's eligible for free agency until 2009. He could be posted before then, but if I were his club, I wouldnt post him until at least right before the last year of his contract (2008) and not even then if his club was considered a serious contender. So, I would think that 2007 would be the year to draft him in a roto league. Altho I might draft him this year, and keep him stashed for couple years. I really think this guy is the real deal. He's only 24 y/o. I think he'll be better than any Japanese pitcher we've seen so far.
Players that may become available in 2007 are Nobuhiko Matsunaka (1B) (perhaps the best hitter in Japan), Kosuke Fukudome (OF). Akinori Iwamura (3B) and Yoshinobu Takahashi (OF). The first 3 I dont think are FAs until 2008; Takahashi I think is a FA inn 2007. Actually, as indicated by Albright's article, Tomonori Maeda (OF) is a free agent now. His stats look good but I havent heard of any MLB team showing interest. Maybe he's not interested in coming over. Also, Hirotoshi Ishii (a closer) wants to come to MLB and is trying to get his team to post him. So far, they havent. Also, Koji Uehara, another top pitcher, has long wanted to come to MLB but his team refuses to post him. I think he will be a FA in 2008, so next year probably is the year to draft him.
So, this year probably the only Japanese player I would possibly target in a 'rookie' draft would be Matsuzaka (the pitcher). Altho if I received some info that Matsunaka (the hitter) were still interested in MLB, I'd jump on him. In a deep draft, I might take flyers on Fukudome and Iwamura also. Maybe Nishiguchi also, who will be a FA again next year. For 2007, I will keep an eye on Uehara.