Teen pitcher Otani looking to make big jump to majors
If I were Otani, though, I would talk to the Fighters and seriously consider playing in Sapporo in 2013. I would shelve the idea of going to the U.S. until I can prove myself as a top pitcher in the Japanese leagues, then look to move on via posting or free agency, following the likes of Kuwata, Matsuzaka and Darvish.
Who knows where Otani will be next spring if he signs with a major league club?
Probably in some small U.S. rookie league town where he would have to cope with language and cultural barriers. From there, he would have to work his way up through the system, maybe making it to the big leagues in a few years.
If he were to choose Nippon Ham, he could be in the Fighters Okinawa camp from Feb. 1, the center of media and fan attention as was Yuki Saito in 2011.
In April, he could be pitching in front of 42,000 fans at Sapporo Dome, starting a professional career that would eventually lead him to the majors at the peak of his skills at the age of 26 or 27, with plenty of time for a lengthy MLB career.
This kid might have a chance to be a better pitcher if he goes straight to the Minor Leagues, but at the expense of giving up instant fame in his own country. If he stays in Japan his arm will rack up some serious miles with some militaristic Japanese manager calling the shots. In the Minors, his pitch counts will be closely monitored. Daisuke Matsuzaka once pitched eighteen straight innings and ended up with over 250 pitches thrown, not sure if it was in high school or in the pros, in any case, pitchers are used differently in Japan.
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Last edited by Nebo86; 11-04-2012 at 08:41 AM.