Shohei Otani Ready to Challenge MLB after post-Next Season
You remember a young ballplayer who hurled and slugged his team into national stardom this year? Right, that's him - Shohei Otani of the Nippon Ham Fighters. The team trounced the equally hard-fighting Hiroshima Toyo Carp in this year's baseball national championships.
Otani, the rarest of hurlers/sluggers in baseball in the recent seasons, is given a "go" at challenging MLB after the next season. He says he appreciates his team letting him crack at his long-time dream.
Prior to the year's draft, Shohei Otani, 3rd year in high school, expressed his wish to someday challenge MLB and the NHF, who had won the bargaining rights, promised him a push if and when he decided to play in the major league - to win his favor.
On December 5, the NHF raised the issue while bargaining the next year's contract and openly consented Otani's attempt to challenge MLB after the next season.
The NHF owner Toshimasa Shimada commented:
"We have assessed Otani's remarkable potentials both in hitting and batting and thought we should sit down and talk about his future."
"A single ball team's ego aside, we consider what is best for Otani and for Japan's baseball at large."
"So, we have concluded to let him go when he feels ready to. Otani understood what we have in mind. He made no reference to when".
Most MLB ball teams are aware of Otani's potentials, some having followed him up since his high school days through the four years with the NHF. The Cubs' Theo Nathan Epstein highly evaluates Otani's gift in hitting and pitching, while the Dodgers' general manager admits his team lists Otani high up in the list of targets.
The US media reportedly compare Otani to Babe Ruth who had hit 71 home runs and pitched 94 winning games in his entire career. Well, well. There sure is something to look forward to. (Nathan Shiga)