From the Field: Shohei Otani, of/p, Nippon Ham

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By now you should have heard the name Shohei Otani.

Currently playing for the Nippon Ham Fighters of NPB, the 22 year old might be the biggest prospect in baseball…and is going to be very, very rich when he is posted to the MLB in 2017 or 2018.

He has a high 90’s fastball that topps out at 101 – breaking NPB’s all-time speed record. He has pinpoint accuracy over the entire plate. He is also armed with a devastating 80’s splitter that can strike out a player from both sides. He also has a curve, and is working on improving both his slider and cutter.

That is a great collection of pitches, and you would be hard pressed to design a better pitching prospect.  That said…Japanese pitchers don’t really have a great record here in the states. So time will tell.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9
2013 18 -9.8 Nippon Ham JPPL Fgn 3 0 4.23 13 11 0 0 61.2 57 30 29 4 33 46 8 1.459 8.3 0.6 4.8 6.7
2014 19 -8.6 Nippon Ham JPPL Fgn 11 4 2.61 24 24 3 2 155.1 125 50 45 7 57 179 4 1.172 7.2 0.4 3.3 10.4
2015 20 -7.6 Nippon Ham JPPL Fgn 15 5 2.24 22 22 5 3 160.2 100 40 40 7 46 196 3 0.909 5.6 0.4 2.6 11.0
2016 21 Nippon Ham JPPL Fgn 10 4 1.86 21 20 4 1 140.0 89 33 29 4 45 174 8 0.957 5.7 0.3 2.9 11.2
All Levels (4 Seasons) 39 13 2.49 80 77 12 6 517.2 371 153 143 22 181 595 23 1.066 6.5 0.4 3.1 10.3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/14/2016.

 

And if you think that he may have some sort of foundational issues due to his age….forget about it. His mechanics, delivery, and athleticism are all flawless.

And then there is the bat.

This season Otani hit .322/.416/.588 with 22 HR. He walked 54 times (to 98 K). He flashes plus raw power, can take a walk, and can spray the ball to any field.

I think the “Japanese Babe Ruth” comparisons are a little premature…look at his 2015 season…but there is something their that both scouts are digging on hard.

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
2013 18 -10.4 Nippon Ham JPPL Fgn 77 204 189 14 45 15 1 3 20 4 1 12 64 .238 .284 .376 .660 71 3 1 0 2 0
2014 19 -9.3 Nippon Ham JPPL Fgn 87 234 212 32 58 17 1 10 31 1 0 21 48 .274 .338 .505 .842 107 4 0 0 1 0
2015 20 -8.4 Nippon Ham JPPL Fgn 70 119 109 15 22 4 0 5 17 1 0 8 43 .202 .252 .376 .628 41 1 0 0 2 1
2016 21 Nippon Ham JPPL Fgn 104 382 323 65 104 18 1 22 67 7 2 54 98 .322 .416 .588 1.004 190 7 1 0 4 2
All Levels (4 Seasons) 338 939 833 126 229 54 3 40 135 13 3 95 253 .275 .347 .491 .838 409 15 2 0 9 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/14/2016.

 

He is a very real prospect, and some rich team (see: Dodgers, Yankees, maybe the Mariners) are going to make him a very rich player. I think I would probably want him to be with a National League team so he can still deploy his bat, but if I was an American League club I would invest totally in his arm, and tell him he can bat all he wants in interleague games.

I was able to get him this week here in the states:

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He signed, but did not seem like he was really digging it. He was mostly one per, though one guy did get two balls done. I have a feeling he is going to be very tough when he comes to the states.

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