JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Syracuse Chiefs 1B Josh Whitesell is leaving the team mid-season to play for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

Whitesell, who batted cleanup for the Chiefs (AAA/Washington Nationals) and led the team with 34 RBIs and 29 walks, reportedly will be paid 30-million yen for the remainder of the Swallows’ season, or roughly $327,000. He will be competing for the first-base slot with Jamie D’Antona, like Whitesell a former Arizona Diamondback:

Quickly skimming through Whitesell’s Wikipedia profile reveals some similarities between D’Antona and Whitesell. They are both tall, 28-year-old first basemen that made their Major League debut in 2008 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2009, D’Antona signed with the Swallows, while Whitesell bounced between AAA and the Major Leagues. Whitesell put up some impressive numbers in AAA, but failed to replicate those results in the Majors. After the 2009 season, Whitesell was not resigned by the Diamondbacks, and he signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals.

Earlier today (6/7/2010), a Chiefs spokesman told Jewish Baseball News that Whitesell had signed a contract with the Swallows but that it would require approval by Major League Baseball.

Whitesell’s departure marks a loss not only for the Chiefs but Jewish baseball fans in the U.S. His strong performance this season made him a somewhat likely candidate to join the Nationals when the team’s roster expands from 25 players to 40.

On the other hand, iif Whitesell performs well for the Swallows, his odds of landing a Major League job next season may improve.

# # #