Cyclone Touches Down in Okinawa

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Updated: April 22, 2016

Shiba Taguchi, Ryukyu Sports News

Naha, OkinawaJune 26, 2023: The Shisa announced today that they have made a deal with the Reno Zephyrs that will send right handed starting pitcher Félix ‘Cyclone’ Maese to Okinawa in exchange for cash and the Shisa’s round one draft pick in 2024. Maese (pronounced mah-AY-say) had been with Reno for the previous three seasons, and before that he pitched for Bakersfield for six seasons, including the Bears’ championship runs in 2016 and 2017. A three-time all-star, Maese has a PEBA career ERA of 3.02, with 1117 strikeouts in 1545 2/3 innings pitched.

While a shoulder injury cut short Maese’s 2022 campaign, coming back from that injury in 2023, Maese has shown no drop off in velocity, as he continues to hit 96 on the gun with his fastball. Maese’s primary pitches are a four seam fastball and a split finger fastball. The splitter Maese throws at two different speeds, bearing down for swinging strikes, and pulling the string for an effective off-speed breaking ball. His secondary pitches include a changeup and a more seldom used knuckle curve.

A native of Paradise, Nevada, Maese was drafted by Bakersfield with the nineteenth overall pick in 2010. He made his major league debut for the Bears in 2014 at the age of 22 and became a full time starter for Bakersfield in 2016, posting a 17-6 record and 2.44 ERA in 30 starts. While not a physically imposing figure on the mound, standing at just 5’11”, Maese thrives on the big stage, with an all-time post season record of 9-2 in fourteen starts, and a 1.53 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 105 2/3 innings pitched.

Sources in Reno say that the Shisa are not only getting an effective and canny pitcher, but a quality human being in Cyclone Maese. A true leader who not only embraces the ace’s mantle, Maese is also a keen student of the game. Okinawa brass are hoping that his calm and steady presence will lift a pitching staff that has been floundering up to this point. Wedding a competent rotation to an already pretty good offensive club could turn things around for the Shisa.

Make no mistake, Cyclone Maese comes to an Okinawa team that is in need of pitching help. So far on the season, Shisa starters are posting a collective 4.38 ERA, 11th best in the league. The front office has addressed an area of need with the acquisition of Maese, but it remains to be seen whether it will be enough to lift the Shisa (37-40) into contention. Okinawa is currently in third place in the division, a rather daunting 14 games behind leader Shin Seiki. They are also eight games back in the wild card race. Playing catch up is never easy, and the Shisa have a lot of catching up to do if they want to contend in 2023.

In the immediate future, Maese appears set to make his Okinawa debut at Shisa Stadium against his old team, Bakersfield, on Tuesday, the second game of a three game series. The Bears are 45-31 and are leading the Desert Hills division by a half game over the Borealis. Cyclone will face a Bears lineup that currently ranks fourth in the SL in runs scored (360) and second in home runs (90). It will be his first time facing Bakersfield in 2023.