The signing of right-handed starting pitcher Yu Darvish is not based on the first report filed to the Texas Rangers by Jim Colborn, the organization's director of Pacific Rim operations.
"My initial reaction was, 'This pitcher is overrated. He's not the pitcher who will be a top of the rotation pitcher in the major leagues.' That report was probably three or four years ago," Colborn recalled. "My initial impression was negative, which I kind of like as a scout because then he has to prove to you that it wasn't a warranted impression."
Colborn first watched Darvish pitch in 2006, but he watched him more frequently beginning in 2008. Colborn has been to "maybe 10 games" Darvish has pitched. Colborn shared his insight as a guest in the first episode of Rangers Magazine, Season 2 on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM (10-11 a.m. Saturdays).
Colborn pitched 11 major-league seasons -- he threw a no-hitter vs. the Rangers in 1977 while with the Kansas City Royals). He was a pitching coach in the majors for seven seasons, a pitching coach for Orix Blue Wave in the Japanese Pacific Coast league for four seasons, and he was the Seattle Mariners' director of Pacific Rim scouting when they signed Ichiro Suzuki. Colborn's scouting reports of Darvish evolved partially thanks to watching how Darvish pitched in the World Baseball Classic in 2009.
"You're looking for intangibles with the pitchers. You can easily time their speed, look at the sharpness of their breaking ball, you can see how the batters react, but what you really want to see is how they perform in tight situations," Colborn said about Darvish, who has become "nails" in those tense moments of a game.
From tense game situations to the Texas furnace, many fans wonder how Darvish will handle the Texas heat.
"A lot of people don't realize that besides carrying a radar gun, I also carry a portable sauna and what we do is have pitchers throw a bullpen in the sauna," Colborn joked. "You can't answer every question, but all indications are the guy is an off-the-charts athlete in terms of training and conscientious about his physical condition. Those are the kind of pitchers or athletes that we look for. There's always that worry, but I think he'll end up being one of harder workers, harder-training pitchers on the Rangers' staff."
During Rangers Magazine, Colborn also talked about getting to know Darvish and the people around him, who else deserves credit in scouting Darvish, his affinity for working in Japan, the anxiety that comes with the signing of Darvish, and the impression of the Rangers in Japan. Listen to the podcast.
Follow Bryan Dolgin on Twtter @RangersRadioBD