Japanese high school standout Shohei Otani was drafted this morning by the Nippon Ham Fighters, which means he won’t be able to sign with a Major League team until April. Nippon Ham will have exclusive rights to him through March. That said, Otani has told The Associated Press that he still plans to play in America next year. Here’s the AP story.
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese high school pitcher Shohei Otani says he will stick to his plan of joining a team in Major League Baseball despite being selected in the first round of Japanese baseball’s amateur draft.
Otani, who has thrown a fastball 99 and 100 mph, has been scouted by several teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox.
The Nippon Ham Fighters, Yu Darvish’s former team, chose Otani in the first round of Thursday’s draft even though the 6-foot-4 right-hander had already said he plans to pursue a career in the major leagues.
The 18-year-old Otani says “My feelings haven’t changed. I’m grateful that they appreciate me, but it doesn’t change my desire to play in America.”
Associated Press photo via Kyodo News