Junichi Tazawa is not yet a household name, but he might soon very well be. Boston Red Sox offered this 22 year old Japanese pitcher a $6 Million contract. No big deal right - Ichiro, Daisuke, Johjima, Matsui all had major contracts with their respective MLB team. Here comes the catch - this player is only 22 years old as he requested not to be drafted by a Japanese team so he can sign with a MLB team immediately. Unlike Ichiro, Matsui and friends, that were proven stars overseas before they were offered a hefty contract by MLB teams. Tazawa is still young and he can very well be the next Matt Garza or the next Érik Bédard (who ultimately was a bust).
Nomo, Daisuke, and all the Japanese pitchers paved the way for this young man to have a chance to sign with a MLB team before showcasing his skills in Japan. So far the Japanese pitchers (and also players) that have made the transition from Japan to North America has been very smooth. These players have taken the league by storm and represented Japan well with their stardom in MLB. The track record they have laid down ultimately paved the way for Tazawa to be considered by teams.
Who knows how this will pan out. Not every Japanese player is the next Daisuke or Okajima - the Red Sox is taking a chance with him, but one thing we do know is that Tazawa will be in good hands learning from Daisuke and Okajima. I think this is the beginning of a trend with touted oversea rookies being scouted by MLB before turning pro in their respective countries.