Eri Yoshida, age 16, is the first woman drafted by a Japanese pro team. The Kobe 9 Cruise drafted the sidearm knuckleballer to play along side the men. Now, sadly, this is for the Kansai Independent Baseball League, but if she does well, I can see her getting picked for the other leagues.
Japan, being smaller than the US, still has a great number of teams for the size. Nippon Professional Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball, and should be compared to the Major League in the US. NPB has two Leagues, Pacific (Pa) and Central (Se), which are comparable to the American and National Leagues. Since they’re so small, there’s no need to add in Divisions and Leagues, and right now it’s six teams per league, for a total of 12.
The Kansai Independent Baseball League is brand new. They haven’t even played a game yet, but will next year. I’ll have to tune in and see if Yoshida is as good as they say. I have minor qualms about letting a kid play hardball, since she’s still growing (Monica Selles anyone?) but there are the few prodigies who rock it hard.