Texas Rangers: Shohei Otani

Nippon-Ham Fighters draft Shohei Otani

October, 25, 2012
Shohei Otani, the 18-year-old right-handed pitcher that announced Sunday that he intends to come to the United States to begin his minor-league career with the hopes of making the big leagues, was drafted by the Nippon-Ham Fighters on Thursday.

It's not surprising that a NPB team would take him and the Nippon-Ham Fighters, the team that Yu Darvish played for prior to joining the Texas Rangers last offseason, did so with the first pick in today's draft.

"My feelings haven't changed," Otani told the media, as quoted in an Associated Press story. "I'm grateful that they appreciate me, but it doesn't change my desire to play in America."

The Rangers are one of three teams that met with Otani and have scouted him extensively. But there are several more teams interested in the 18-year-old, who has a fastball in the upper 90s. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox have also been linked to Otani.

UPDATE: The Fighters would like to sign Otani, but by drafting him, it doesn't mean he has to wait until the end of March to decide which MLB organization he wants to join. It does mean no other team in Japan can sign him before the end of March but the Fighters. But Otani says he's going to play for an MLB organization.

As we've noted earlier, Patrick Newman does a great job covering the NPB and has information on Otani on his website here.

Club interested in young Japanese pitcher

October, 22, 2012
Just one year removed from all of the offseason fanfare of acquiring Yu Darvish, the Texas Rangers are in the mix for another Japanese pitcher. But this one is a lot younger -- 18 years old -- and is involved in a much different process to get to the big leagues than Darvish was in 2011.

Shohei Otani, a right-handed pitcher listed as 6-foot-4 in various reports, announced Sunday that he is going to sign with a big league organization instead of remaining in Japan to play. Reports note that Otani has met with three clubs (the Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers) and has been contacted by a handful of others, though he appears to be leaning toward signing with one of the three.

"I think I will start in the minor leagues, but I want to challenge in the majors," Otani told a group of reporters in Japan, including the Associated Press. "It's been my dream since entering high school."

One scout said Otani throws around 97 mph and can touch higher than that, is "very athletic," but doesn't have the polish that Darvish did when he was that age. Still, he's considered a prospect with a high ceiling and the idea of acquiring him through the international signing pool money rather than an expensive bidding process has club's interested.

Unlike Darvish, who played in the Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB), Otani wouldn't be posted. He can sign as a free agent and then work his way through the minor league system here. The Rangers have met with him, sending a small contingent of folks that helped bring Darvish to the United States nearly a year ago.

Otani is not expected to do anything until after the NPB draft, which is Thursday. Each MLB team has $2.9 million they can use to sign international players, so we'll see how much each team has to spend and what they're willing to pay Otani.

Oh, and apparently he threw 99 mph in a high school game (there's some video here too).

If you want to know more about him and his scouting report, check out this blog written by Patrick Newman (NPB Tracker). Here's part of what's written there by someone who follows baseball in Japan.

I first found out about Otani about a year ago, when Yakyu Kozoh had a story on potential successors to Yu Darvish. Otani caught my eye because he graded a perfect 5/5 “Darvishes” and, at 17, he was the youngest pitcher profiled. Every tall, young righty elicits some kind of comparison to Darvish from the Japanese media, so Otani is not unique in that regard. What is a little more unique is that in terms of physique and ability, the comparison stands up reasonably well. At 193 cm (6’4) and 86 kg (189 lbs), Otani measures similarly to Darvish, though a little shorter and perhaps a little heavier than Darvish was at 18. Otani also has a similarly live arm, though with a little more velocity and a lot less polish than Darvish exhibited as a high schooler.
Read the rest here.



Yu Darvish
9 2.92 159 126
BAA. Beltre .322
HRA. Beltre 14
RBIA. Beltre 53
RA. Beltre 52
OPSA. Beltre .880
ERAY. Darvish 2.92
SOY. Darvish 159