Last year it was Yu Darvish. In previous years it has been Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzka. This year there is one pitcher from the Japanese talent pool who will draw attention from major league teams. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers have all sent out representatives to Japan to try court 18-year-old high school phenom Shohei Otani.
Aside from the Dodgers, Red Sox, Orioles and Rangers, Otani is being purused by all of the teams in Nippon Baseball.
Otani is 6’4” and has been reported as bolstering a fastball clocked between 99-100 mph. What makes Otani even more attractive to MLB teams is the fact that there will not be a posting fee for talking to Otani since he is not under contract by any of the Japanese league’s teams.
Otani is going to make bigger headlines once the hot stove starts to heat up in November and then in the middle of December. MLB teams should be worried about a flamethrower like Otani. It does not sound like he has the type of pitching that Darvish offers or that Matsuzaka offered when he was first with the Red Sox.
Otani, if brought over to the States, will need some work to develop other pitches other than a blistering fastball. You do not want to invest the kind of money the New York Yankees did with Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu and get a dud. Otani will need to adjust to major league batting and need to keep his arm healthy if he is going to have any success in the Majors.
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