Although he hasn't signed (and let's all hope he goes to the Blue Jays), Yu Darvish should be a priority on draft day. He is an outstanding pitcher who will most likely be underrated because of the players before him. Everyone saw what happened with Daisuke in Boston and Kei Igawa in New York. High profile signings that were not worth the investment, due to injury and ineffectiveness. Yet Darvish, is much different than both of these pitchers. He is much more talented, much healthier and much more likely to succeed in Major League Baseball.
NPB baseball is often considered to be on the same level as AAA baseball here in North America. It's not a perfect comparison but they are relatively equal in skill levels. So how does Darvish compare? If you saw a pitcher in his early 20's dominating AAA baseball to the tune of an ERA under 2, an FIP under 2, 200+ strikeouts in just 25 starts all while having a walk rate smaller than the average pitcher, how exactly would you feel about this player as a prospect?
Let's put it in perspective. Matt Moore, considered to be the consensus top pitching prospect in all of baseball dominated AAA ball to the tune of a 1.37 ERA and 2.02 FIP. However, this was only in 52 innings, and while his stops at other levels were not quite as dominant, he still pitched to a 2.50 FIP. Where exactly would you draft Matt Moore? How do you think Matt Moore will perform in baseball this season?
Darvish managed to dominate his AAA level competition for seven consecutive seasons to numbers that Matt Moore couldn't even touch in his 52 innings of work. Matt Moore has the age advantage over Darvish, but at 20 years old, Darvish was posting the same quality stats he is now against the same competition. Daisuke was a league average pitcher in his age 21 season in Japan. It wasn't until later on that he became so dominant.
One of the biggest differences between Darvish and those before him is health. At this point, Daisuke's arm is shredded. He threw over 200 pitches on various occasions throughout his career causing extreme stress on his arm, something that Darvish has not done. While his mechanics are far from perfect, the injury concern isn't a factor like it was with Daisuke.
Stuff wise, it's no contest. Darvish has the ability to throw seven pitches, and they include a 1 seam fastball, a two seam fastball, a slurve, a cutter, a changeup, a curveball and a splitter. That's seven pitches he can go to at any point in time. He sits in the 92-93 MPH range with his fastball, but can dial it up to 97 MPH, while Daisuke sat in the low 90's permanently. Apart from their race and league, Daisuke and Darvish are not similar in any way.
If people are willing to make the Daisuke comparison skill wise for Darvish, let them. It just means a bigger discount for you at the draft table. He could conceivably put up over 200 innings pitched, 200 strikeouts, and an ERA under 3 in his first full season in the big leagues assuming he signs. He is that good. Don't let him slide because of those before him, draft him early and with confidence.