Some very intriguing news for a Sunday morning:
Japanese pitching prospect Shohei Otani announced that he will pursue a career in MLB rather than turn professional in Japan, according to the Associated Press. The Red Sox, Rangers, and Dodgers have all sent representatives to Japan to meet with Otani recently and the Orioles are also said to have interest in the right-hander.
“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,” said the 18-year-old.
Otani, who stands at 6’4″ and weighs 190 pounds, has a strong fastball that has been clocked in the 99-100 mph range. If Otani signs with a major league club, he’ll be the first potential top NPB draft pick to make the direct jump from high school in Japan to the U.S.
You may remember that we took a detailed look into the Otani situation earlier this month, though at the time I thought that it was unlikely that he’d actually decide to go to America because of all the politics involved between MLB & NBP. The Japanese draft is this Thursday, so it’s possible this gets sorted out in the next few days.
The good news here is that though several teams have expressed interest, the Dodgers & Red Sox have often been portrayed as the frontrunners, and remember – thanks to the new CBA, this isn’t just about money any longer. I should hardly need to remind you that a high school pitcher from the other side of the globe is about the least certain investment you can make, but adding more talent to the system, especially when you’re not able to overpay, is never ever a bad thing. As Stan Kasten has repeatedly said that a top priority is adding more international talent, and since we learned that the Dodgers have had an eye on Otani for several years, we should all be very interested to see how this all shakes out.