The Saitama Seibu Lions announced that they signed P Deunte Heath on Thursday. This is the first foreign signing by the team since last December.
Heath, 32, was with the Hiroshima Carp from 2014-2015. He appeared in seven games for 2014 and recorded a 3-0 record with a 2.38 ERA as a starter. Heath spent the 2015 season out of the bullpen in 43 games where he had four saves and a 3-6 record with a 2.36 ERA. His strikeout per nine clip was 10.7 when as a reliever.
Most recently, Heath has been in Japan's independent BC League, where he played with the Toyama Thunderbirds. He was part of a combined no-hitter last month.
In his major league career, Heath played a total of eight games combined with the Chicago White Sox from 2012-2013./ He had a combined ERA of 10.24 in a total of 9.2 innings. He also spent the last two years in the Mexican League and a Venezuelan Winter League.
Senior Director Hisanobu "Nabe-Q" Watanabe stated that the Lions needed pitching reinforcements as the team has struggled in the bullpen. The Lions also liked his versatility where Heath could go as a starter or reliever if needed.
In an exit interview with the Thunderbirds, Heath confirmed that he is ready to take any role as a pitcher whether it's starting or in relief. Through seven games with Toyama, he did not allow a run and already recorded four saves and one win. He has a fastball that can top around 153 km/HR (95 mph).
The Lions bullpen is highly dependent on Katsunori Hirai, Shota Takekuma and Tatsushi Masuda if the team has a lead. Everyone else has struggled or has been mediocre to earn meaningful innings.
With the signing of Heath, the Lions have 67 players on their 70-man roster. Two spots are left open to possibly promote ikusei players OF Wataru Takagi and C Masato Saito. If the Lions feel they need more depth, one roster spot is still open.
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