Daily 49er

Why Shohei Ohtani’s journey will end and begin in San Diego

Japanese baseball superstar is coming to a city near you.

After+meeting+with+and+hearing+pitches+from+seven+teams%2C+Japanese+sensation+Shohei+Ohtani+is+ready+to+bring+his+two-way+skills+to+Major+League+Baseball.
After meeting with and hearing pitches from seven teams, Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani is ready to bring his two-way skills to Major League Baseball.

After meeting with and hearing pitches from seven teams, Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani is ready to bring his two-way skills to Major League Baseball.

Masterpress | Getty Images

Masterpress | Getty Images

After meeting with and hearing pitches from seven teams, Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani is ready to bring his two-way skills to Major League Baseball.

Advertisement

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One month removed from a theatrical 2017 World Series, and a new kind of drama has taken place in the process that is finding a home in Major League Baseball for Shohei Ohtani. Japan’s 23-year old megastar is ready to bring his unprecedented skills as both a pitcher and hitter to the United States.

In baseball, players separate themselves into two categories of positions based on the skills they possess. Those with strong arms who can throw the ball at high velocities usually focus on developing mechanics to become pitchers whether starting or in relief. On the other hand, prospects with higher overall athletic abilities most often make hitting a priority while also including defensive attributes as part of their training. The average professional today does not do both because they either don’t have both skillsets, or cannot handle the workload and training it takes to perform at a professional level.

The sport has yet to see such a player as Ohtani since the early 20th century. Babe Ruth, arguably the most famous player in the history of the sport, is the most popular comparison to the Japanese phenom. His fastball has been recorded at 102.5 mph while his home runs travel so far, even the Tokyo Dome cannot contain them.

Now, Ohtani is ready to put his game to the test in the major leagues. But before getting started, he must make a decision as to what uniform he will don come opening day in March.

I will do my best to simplify the inner workings of how he will make the transition to the MLB.

The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters “posted” Ohtani on Dec. 1, beginning a 21-day period where MLB teams can present bids to Hokkaido and the 6-foot-4 phenom personally. The Fighters will be guaranteed $20 million from the team who Ohtani decides to play for, while he can be offered a signing bonus maxing at $3.5 million under the MLB’s latest collective bargaining agreement.

The most interesting dynamic of the situation is that contrary to domestic amatuer signing, where a team selects player’s, Ohtani will get to decide his own fate.

All 30 teams in the league had expressed interest in signing him, but only seven made it through the initial “cut” based on his requirements of the organization. The Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres were narrowed down based on Ohtani’s requirements of proximity to the West Coast and a small market that gives him room to experiment with his game at the highest level, as first reported by JP Morosi. The Padres, to me, are the frontrunner of the final seven. This is why…

Familiarity: San Diego employs four Japanese nationals in their front office, including Seiichiro Nakagaki, Ohtani’s trainer with the Fighters in Japan. The others (Hideo Nomo, Takashi Saito and Akinori Otsuka) all came to play professional baseball in the U.S. after successful careers in Japan. The connection they will have (and most likely have already made) with him gives the Padres a huge advantage in catching the young, impressionable star.

Faith: The Padres have already experimented with nurturing a two-way player in Christian Bethancourt starting in 2016. A catcher by trade, San Diego encouraged Bethancourt to put some time in on the pitcher’s mound due to his ability to hurl fastballs in the mid to upper 90s. While he is not currently on the 40-man roster, the interest and desire shown by general manager A.J. Preller and manager Andy Green to work with a two-way player  has to entice Ohtani.

Small(est) market: Much to the frustration of Yankee’s general manager Brian Cashman, New York failed to make the cut because of their location along with the tradition and huge sports market they play in. Most big market teams are in “win-now” mode, and if Ohtani was to struggle with his transition, it’s a possibility he could be demoted to a platoon role or even the minor leagues. Of the seven remaining teams on his list, the Padres are predicted to win the least games by a large margin. This gives him all the breathing room he would need to not only assimilate to the Major Leagues, but also re-invent the two-way player.

Ohtani will make an impact matter where he decides to play. The potential influence he has on the sport as a whole is bigger than anything we have seen in decades. Along with his prowess as a ballplayer, many rave about the personality highlighted by his politeness. Although his deadline is Dec. 22, I believe that because he doesn’t wish to be an inconvenience. Ohtani will choose his path by the end of the week, and it will be with the San Diego Padres.

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




*

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Commentary

    Local recruits can be a solution for the 49ers’ struggles

  • Why Shohei Ohtani’s journey will end and begin in San Diego

    Commentary

    Same story, different day for the men’s basketball team

  • Commentary

    Long Beach State: The powerhouse of volleyball

  • Why Shohei Ohtani’s journey will end and begin in San Diego

    Commentary

    Diversity in coaching has reached a low point in the NBA

  • Why Shohei Ohtani’s journey will end and begin in San Diego

    Commentary

    Big men are needed now, more than ever

  • Why Shohei Ohtani’s journey will end and begin in San Diego

    Commentary

    The 49ers may have found its duo of the future

  • Why Shohei Ohtani’s journey will end and begin in San Diego

    Commentary

    What it’s like to be No. 1

  • Commentary

    Dear, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

  • Why Shohei Ohtani’s journey will end and begin in San Diego

    Commentary

    How the Philadelphia survived the Super Bowl and saved the NFL

  • Why Shohei Ohtani’s journey will end and begin in San Diego

    Commentary

    A troubling season has a bright future ahead of it