Fujinami was the #1b to Ohtani’s #1a in the 2012 NPB draft. Sporting a similar lanky, athletic build and power arm, Fujinami was actually seen as more advanced than Ohtani at the time. He had better FB command and far superior seondary. While it is safe to say that Ohtani has passed him with regards to strength of stuff, Fujinami has enjoyed considerable success thus far in his young career. In 2015 he posted a career high 223 K’s in 199 innings and a career best 7.3 Hits/9 and has never dropped below 8.2 K’s/9 in his short three plus year professional career. Fujinami’s plus FB does tend to be fairly flat with run and occasional late tail. His 6’5″ frame however provides him with ample angle and allows him to really drive it down in the zone. He has the ability to get very good extension when hes right and can be very effective pounding the pitch in on left handed hitters. However, consistency of FB command has been an issue. He tends to open the front side very early and it causes his arm to drag and results in a good number of pitches either leakin back over the plate or losing them up and away. His Slider has the makings of a plus pitch, and I think it eventually will be, but similar command issues there limit the present effectiveness. So far in 2016, his walks have been about the same as last year, but his hits allowed have shot up and his strikeouts are down (8.1 H/9 from 7.3 H/9 and 8.1 SO/9 from 10.0 SO/9 respectively). He has always worked with deep counts and has leaned on his stuff to overpower NPB hitters and battle back from the bad counts. In two looks this year, he has not been as lucky and is seeing more mistakes over the plate get hit. Also the disappearance of the changeup/forkball that I has seen in his first couple seasons makes it tougher for him to keep hitters off of the fastball and hard Slider. Fujinami is still a very good athlete and I believe he will find some consistency as he matures; the open front side and hook/wrap in the arm action are of mild concern, but he should be able to repeat well enough to get to fringe average command. He was not able to find much feel for anything in his last start on the road vs the Chiba Lotte Marines and exited early after taking a line-drive off his pitching hand. X-rays were negative and he should make his next start. Fujinami is still five years away from international free agency, but look for posting talk to pick up on him next year with a possible post after the 2018 season. Check out my full report on Fujinami here.