Shohei Otani drafted by Nippon Ham Fighters

Chung Sung-Jun

18-year-old Japanese right-hander can't negotiate with MLB clubs until March

Shohei Otani is 18 years old and throws a baseball 100 miles per hour, and he says he wants to come to the United States when he finishes high school. Despite Otani saying that he is coming to America, the Nippon Ham Fighters still spent a first-round pick on him in Thursday's Nippon Professional Baseball draft.

The Texas Rangers, along with the Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees are all teams said to be leading the hunt for Otani, due to their aggressive scouting of the 6'4" righty. Since Otani was drafted Thursday, no Major League club can talk to the high schooler from Iwate Prefecture until March.

Adam J. Morris at Lone Star Ball says that Otani is a first-round type talent, and that the Rangers still have plenty of money left under the new limit on yearly spending in international bonuses. Should Otani stick to his plan to sign with a MLB team, the Ham Fighters do not receive a posting fee merely for holding his draft rights.

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