Shohei Ohtani is baseball’s top prospect. I don’t really count international signees as prospects, especially when they instantly start in the show, but he’s still listed atop the charts. Touted the Japanese Babe Ruth, Ohtani came over to the states and had very high expectations. The two-way player signed with the Angels with the intention he would hit and pitch for them.
In his 2016 season in Japan, Ohtani hit .322 with 22 HRs, 67 RBI, stole 7 bases, and possessed an OPS of 1.004. He also went 10-4 on the mound with a 2.12 ERA, .957 WHIP and struck out 174 hitters over 140 innings. This is what impressed the scouts so much to begin with. The fact that he can make a huge impact on the game both with the bat and on the mound.
Everyone changed their opinion on Ohtani as they watched him in Spring Training leading into the season. He finished the spring with an ERA of 11.77 (27.00 ERA in two starts against big league hitters) and went 3-for-28 at the plate (.107), including striking out nine times. Major League scouts were saying Ohtani looked lost and had no business making the major league roster and still needed time in the minors to polish his game. The same scouts that were drooling over him while he was in Japan. But of course they’re going to say those things because their takes go with the flow of how people are currently playing. But Ohtani made the major league roster and he is proving that he should be here.
Ohtani started Opening Day as the DH for the Angels. He began his MLB career by hitting a single in his first plate appearance. He proceeded to finish the day 1-for-5 and struck out as well. Not bad at all. You’ll take that one base hit in his first game, especially after seeing how atrocious his spring was.
Ohtani made his first start on the mound this past Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. He pitched 6 solid innings, allowing three runs on three hits, while striking out six and walking one. He looked great in his outing. Fastball velo was in the upper 80’s all game and he showed his buckling breaking pitches. The only hiccup Ohtani had was giving up a three-run home run to Matt Chapman, but other than that he was solid. All of the damage was with just one swing of the bat, so it’s encouraging to see that. Scouts were saying that his pitching is more ready for the MLB than his bat was. And he showed how dynamic he can be when given the ball.
Two days after Ohtani pitched, he returned to the Angels lineup as the DH in the eight hole. Ohtani went 3-for-4 with a home run, two singles and three RBI. He showed his pitching ability and then followed it up with a great day at the dish.
Then what does he do? Hits another home run the next day off the AL Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber. Ever heard of him? Yeah, me too. Ohtani should be rounding the bases with his hand to his ear listening for the shit-talking haters who chirped him all spring to hear what they’re saying now. He’s silenced them.
With a quality start and win under his belt on the mound, mixed with two home runs at the dish, Ohtani is proving he belongs in the MLB. He’s heard a lot of hate from people because of his rough spring training, but it’s looking like Ohtani was just punking us. “SIKE,” – Ohtani, probably.
Shohei Ohtani is definitely one of the most intriguing players to watch in baseball this year. He has my attention as I’m loving the production and hoping he keeps up the electricity and continues to prove he can impact the game both on the mound and at the plate.
It’s Sho Time.