This article is part of our Baseball Draft Kit series.
This year's international class is headlined by Kenta Maeda, formerly of Japan's Hiroshima Carp. The inevitable comparisons to his most immediate predecessors Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka are a bit unfair, as Darvish and Tanaka were in some ways historically unprecedented. Maeda probably isn't MLB ace material, but he's a worthy prospect in his own right.
Maeda built up his resume by piling up several years of steady performances. Since his first full season in Hiroshima's rotation in 2009, Maeda has never thrown fewer than 175 innings in a season. Since his second full season, he's never posted an ERA higher than 2.60, and he has a 2.39 mark for his career. Over the last six years, his K/9 rate has never exceeded 8.1 and never fallen below 7.3, and his BB/9 rate has steadily hovered around 1.9. Maeda's success has come from limiting hits, and more recently, keeping the ball in the park. His home runs allowed total has fallen from 22 in 2009 to just five in 2015. Look for that number to regress some against MLB competition.
His arsenal of pitches is solid, but not quite eye-popping. Maeda's fastball sits from 89-92 mph with some movement, and it reaches 94 mph on occasion. His featured breaking pitch is his slider, of which he throws two varieties: a traditional slider and a tighter, more cutter-ish version. He'll also mix in an improving changeup and a curveball. Provided he can command all his pitches with the MLB ball,