CPBL Foreign Players Updates Volume #118

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Rakuten Monkeys News: Elih Villanueva

At the end of January, rumours began to circulate that the Monkeys had secured the negotiation rights of Elih Villanueva from the Chinatrust Brothers. On February 8, the Rakuten Monkeys made it official by announcing the signing of right-hander Elih Villanueva for the 2020 season.

33-year-old Elih Villanueva had previously pitched two seasons for the Chinatrust Brothers from 2018 to 2019. On both seasons, he started as the fourth backup player and received his first-team call-up during the mid-season.

In 2018, Elih Villanueva was a bit shaky on the mound, but whenever his job is on the line, he always managed to get a passable performance to avoid the axe. He made it to the end of the season with a 5.11 ERA, 1.54 WHIP over 61.2 innings. It is also worth mentioning during that time, he pitched a no-hitter against the Lamigo Monkeys.

The following year, Elih Villanueva once again returned to the Brothers’ organisation as their fourth backup player. He started his 2019 CPBL season in the farm team and eventually received his call-up in June.

Villanueva struggled during his first month on the first-team and was considered to be the next in line for the chopping board. However, he found his grove and started to perform. He lowered his ERA from 6.11 to 2.92 over the next three months.

At the end of the 2019 CPBL season, Elih Villanueva wound up posting a solid 2.92 ERA, 1.21 WHIP over 117 innings. Should he pitched enough innings, he could have a shot at ERA title.

Notes: The Brothers originally signed Elih Villanueva back in 2016. However, he sustained an injury during spring training and was released before the opening day.

Further Readings

Foreign players come and goes, therefore we compiled a foreign players tracker to keep track of all the foreign players signing for the 2020 CPBL season.


  1. Does it look like either the Monkeys or the Uni-Lions will sign a fourth foreign pitcher, or does it look the line-ups are set for the start of 2020 season?

  2. 2017 was the best year for foreign pitchers in the last few years. The 2020 Class looks better on paper, but we’ll what kind of seasons they have. It’s an old group, so somebody is going to get hurt. How many will likely determine whether CPBL teams feel the bigger salaries this year are worth it.

    • Right now the teams here are tying to find the perfect balance point of “age-experience-salary” when it come to foreign players.


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