Shohei Otani, the fire-balling high school Japanese pitching phenom, has opted for a career in the MLB, according to the Associated Press.
Otani, a 6-foot-4 right-hander who has thrown a fastball between 99 and 100 mph, has been scouted by several major league teams including the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox.
The 18-year-old Otani said “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.”
Otani was expected to go in the first round of Thursday’s amateur draft in Japan.
If he signs with a major league team, Otani would become the first potential top draft pick to make the direct jump from a Japanese high school to the U.S.
The AP has the Dodgers in a competition with the Red Sox.
I wrote about Otani in detail a couple weeks ago, and at that time, the Dodgers were described as “front-runners” for his services, according to the Japanese media. The significant issues back then primarily revolved around his willingness to do exactly what he just did, so now that he’s made his decision, his path to the Dodgers has gotten a lot clearer.
Any fan of the team has to hope he chooses the Dodgers, as it would be impossible to overpay him due to international budget restraints, and it’s not every day that one has the chance to add a high-90s high school arm to the system.