TEMPE, Ariz. -- After what was a promising 13-year career playing Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, Hiroyuki Kobayashi is not sure why he spent the 2012 season in Japan's Industrial League.
The 34-year old right-hander played in the NPB from 1998 to 2011 and posted a 3.53 ERA. In 2011, Kobayashi's ERA was a solid 3.00 and he struck out 45 batters in 39 innings.
While the NBP clubs did not see enough out of Kobayashi to advance him past the Industrial League in 2012, the Angels like what they have been seeing in 2013.
"I think his arm stroke looks good," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's got a little bit more life than people might have seen or we saw on video. And he's got a nasty split. We'll see."
Through a translator, Kobayashi said he throws a slider, split-finger fastball and a forkball.
Kobayashi -- who has dreamed of playing in the United States since 2001 -- was familiar with the Angels organization and surprised when they called to invite him to Spring Training. Kobayashi was signed to a Minor League contract in early February.
"I was very surprised with the Angels," Kobayashi said. "I've been a big fan of the Angels because their games [were] broadcast a lot when they had [Hideki] Matsui."
General Manager Jerry Dipoto scouted and signed Kobayashi after receiving a call from his agent saying the pitcher was looking for a chance to pitch in the United States.
"I thought a lot about him when I saw him in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and that really was the last time I saw him," Dipoto said. "He was very good, he's got an outstanding changeup, he's got a very good split-finger pitch and it's a different look than what we can provide in our bullpen. If it just so happens that he finds a spot on our team, then we all walk away very happy."