MLB prepares for impact of Otani
Shohei Otani is only 23 years old, but he is already turning heads in Major League Baseball from 6,303 miles away. Otani is an outfielder and pitcher for the Nippon-Ham Fighters baseball team in the Pacific League of Japanese professional baseball.
Otani, who is 6-foot-4, weighs 215 pounds, and is from the Oshu, Iwate Prefecture of Japan has been called the "hybrid of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry," according to USA Today.
“He has that allure, it grabs your attention. When you see a guy hit a ball 500 feet, and throw a ball 100-mph, it’s a pretty unique skill set and he can run, too," Seattle Mariners General Manger Jerry Dipoto told USA Today. Dipoto has scouted Otani in Japan.
Otani is capable of winning 20 games as a starter pitcher or hitting 30 homers as an outfielder, becoming Major League Baseball's best marketing tool since Bo Jackson, according to USA Today.
“I know this, whoever get him is getting one heck of a talent. He’s not only impressive as a ballplayer, he’s got the humility of a utility player," Dipoto said.
Otani has played five professional years in Japan. He is also on the verge of coming to U.S. as soon as his team is able to post him.
General mangers and executives are taking a big risk by paying the $20 million posting fee that Otani will require, but they hope he will be a perennial All-Star, according to USA Today.
Otani has a 2.52 ERA in 82 starts and three relief appearances in Japan, striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings; he also has an offensive slash line of .286/.358/.500.
"I would love to see him come over, it would be pretty incredible. I know as a manager, Tito would love him. I really can’t wait to see it. I just don’t want to see it in our division. Not unless he’s coming to us," said Mike Chernoff, General Manager for the Cleveland Indians.