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Shohei Otani To Join The Majors

Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE

The Major League Baseball off-season is going to be a lot more interesting. Shohei Otani is expected to be Nippon Baseball’s top draft pick in Thursday’s draft but the 18-year-old has no desire to play with any Japanese team this season. Otani is expected to sign with a major league team.

Otani told the Japanese media:

“I think I will start in the minor leagues but I want to challenge in the majors. It’s been my dream since entering high school.”

Major League teams should be lining up to grab Otani. Since he will not be with a Japanese league club, there will be no posting fee to try and talk to him. He will be like every other free agent on the list this off-season. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox have already been names as two teams linked to Otani.

Otani is the next biggest stud to come out of Japan. Last year, it was Yu Darvish that grabbed the attention of the major leagues. Darvish signed a deal with the Texas Rangers. In 29 starts he was 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and 221 strikeouts.

Scouts have said that Otani throws harder than Darvish. His fastball has been clocked between 99 and 100 mph. Otani, though, needs more control of his command and since he is only 18, learning at the major league level would help him immensely.

If Otani does officially jump, he will become the first Japanese high school player to jump straight to the major leagues.

Follow Ryan Gaydos on Twitter.