Shohei Ohtani

Date: 06/08/16
Position: RHP
Age: 22
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 200
B/T: L/R
Acquisition Period: 1st Rd., 2012 NPB Draft (Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters)
School: Hanamaki Higashi H.S.

NPB Prospect Profile

Shohei Ohtani has not only been raking at the plate in the month of June, but in his start on June 5th vs the Yomiuri Giants threw a FB clocked at 163kph, or 101mph. That broke Marc Kroon’s record of 162 kph (approx 100mph) for the highest velocity recorded in an NPB game. This was at the Tokyo Dome and their stadium gun is inconsistent at best, so this should be taken with a grain of salt. However, Ohtani has topped 100mph on scouts guns a number of times over the years, so my guess is that he has done this a couple times before. Velo aside, he has been much better in recent starts and continues to rake at the plate. He now sits at 91K’s through 78 and 1/3 innings pitched and has lowered his ERA to 2.97. He looks to have a rhythm he was not showing earlier in the year and is sitting at 95-99 with the FB, consistently locating his Splitter in the mid to upper 80’s and his big Curveball in the upper 70’s. Thats about a 15-20mph difference off the FB with two secondary pitches that he has arm speed with, not simply flipping up there every so often. Add in the fact that he is dialing up 100-101 when he needs it and it is safe to say he’s feeling pretty good now. On the offensive side it is more of the same. Two weeks ago he became the first pitcher in the history of the DH rule to start the game and hit for himself. Ohtani has in effect forced Nippon Ham to plug him into the lineup as often as possible. He is hitting .343 with a 1.116 OPS with a 1.6:1 K:BB ratio through 121 plate appearances (needs 68 more PA’s to qualify for batting title; would be 2nd to Kakunaka at .351); so he is swinging and missing some, but is inflicting some serious damage when he does make contact. Needless to say, the league is starting to get the picture and soon enough will stop pitching to him altogether, but the 16 walks go to show that the plate discipline is improving and it won’t be so easy as to just let him get himself out.

All in all, it’s a long season and those that think this kid can produce offensively AND pitch atop a big league rotation remain in the minority. Personally, I see a little bit of an uphill bat path and with such long levers has to open up early to get to even average velocity inside. He has above average power the other way and to the middle of the field, but he has some length to the swing and the better velo in could give him fits. That said, this kid is making believers out of non-believers every time out and if we are still seeing these types of numbers come October, it will be a hard idea not to take seriously.