Meanwhile in the Far East, the Japanese Central and Pacific leagues are heading down the home stretch. Several ex-Phillies, including a pair from last season's roster, experienced highs and lows this season.
Canadian right-hander Scott Mathieson, who spent 10 seasons in the Phillies' system including three brief stints with the parent club before signing to pitch in Japan this offseason, has helped anchor the bullpen for the Central League-winning Yomiuri Giants. The 28-year-old flamethrower, who underwent multiple Tommy John surgeries while with the Phillies, is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA, including 10 saves and a 46/11 K/BB in 40 innings for the Giants.
However, it's been a struggle for Yomiuri teammate John Bowker, who famously went 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts in 12 games for the Phils late last season. The 29-year-old Triple-A journeyman hit .191/.264/.301 in 203 plate appearances for Yomiuri. It's unclear whether he's still on their roster.
Meanwhile, 2007 fan favorite Tadahito Iguchi has continued his stout play in the fourth year of his second tour of the Pacific League. The 37-year-old second baseman is hitting .258/.346/.384 with 10 homers in a full season with Chiba Lotte.
Other notable North Americans include right-hander and former Phillie Brandon Duckworth (3-1, 3.45 ERA in five starts for Rakuten), 2006 Scranton Wilkes-Barre alum Bobby Scales (.262/.373/.384, 5 homers in 362 PA), Josh "Wrong Spelling of Weitzel" Whitesell, who leads the Pacific League in hitting (.318/.402/.502, 9), Wily Mo Pena (.275/.334/.488, 21 HR), Lastings Milledge (.300/.379/.485, 21 homers) and Wladimir Balentien (.273/.390/.583, 30 home runs). If they're smart, they'll stay in Japan. That's a nice infusion of power for this crop of first-timers, and with numbers like that, they can play forever.