LAVERTON - Melbourne has bolstered its pitching rotation with the signing of Japanese prospects, Yuta Nakazaki and Hirotaka Koishi of the Saitama Seibu Lions.
The left-arm hurlers will be joined in the Australian Baseball League by Lions development catcher Shota Nakata, 22.
It's the second year the Lions, who play in Nippon Professional Baseball's (NPB) Pacific League, have re-assigned prospects to the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces.
Koishi featured in nine games for a 1-1 record with a 4.03 earned run average in 2012.
The 25-year-old completed 22 innings of work. He fanned seven while giving away 10 runs.
Meanwhile, Nakazaki played in 13 minor league games last season, striking out 17 in 22 innings of work with a 4.09 earned run average.
Aces manager, Phil Dale, said the Lions brought consistency on the mound.
"It's hard to find guys (during the northern offseason) who can throw solid innings consistently," Dale said.
Dale said the Lions' return follows the success of 2011-12 import, Yusei Kikuchi, in the second half of the NPB season.
Kikuchi finished the season with a 4-1 record and a 3.10 earned run average. He threw 81 innings across 14 games, striking out 57.
"I spoke to Seibu recently and they were very happy with his development. They're very keen to send more players... It's a great sign because they've chosen to send players here instead of the winter league competition in Taiwan.
Aces general manager, Windsor Knox, welcomed the young Lions.
"We began this partnership with the Seibu Lions last season and they were impressed with the way we conducted business on and off the field. We continue to strengthen our international ties for the franchise and will look to expand as the league continues to grow."
The Japanese contingent arrives in Melbourne in time for Opening Weekend, November 9-11, against the Adelaide Bite.
The Aces have already inked Carlo Testa (Kansas City Royals), Zachary Arneson (New York Yankees), Josh Davies, Darryl George, Adam Blackley, Scott Wearne, Andy Mann and Dan McGrath for the 2012-13 season.