NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Craig Brazell packed up his Joe Bauman Award and headed East this week, agreeing to a deal with the Seibu Lions of the Japanese Pacific League.
Brazell, who led the Minor Leagues with 39 home runs this season while playing for Double-A Wichita (seven) and Triple-A Omaha (32), also led the Minor Leagues in total bases with 326. He was third with 77 extra-base hits and 171 hits overall, but could not find a regular spot in a Major League lineup.
The 27-year-old first baseman/designated hitter did get a callup to Kansas City in September and had a hit in four at-bats over five games. But it was his first Major League action since he appeared in 24 games with the Mets in 2004.
Brazell will get a chance to play regularly with Seibu, the team that produced Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kaz Matsui. The Alabama native is a career .284 hitter with 162 homers in 950 Minor League games.
"I felt like it was a good opportunity, hard to turn down," Brazell said. "It'll be fun. I'm looking forward to it actually."
Brazell's move parallels that of his Bauman Award predecessor, Kevin Witt, who hit 36 homers and drove in 99 runs in 2006 for Triple-A Durham. After being removed from Tampa Bay's 40-man roster following the season, the former Major Leaguer signed with the Tohku Rakuten Golden Eagles.