Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dodgers have interest in Japanese phenom Shohei Otani, acquisition unlikely

I haven't been this excited about an 18-year-old prospect since, well, Corey Seager. But Shohei Otani has a chance to be an incredible prospect -- and the Dodgers are interested in him.

I'm not going to lie: I had no idea who this kid was before Friday. Thankfully, Mike Petriello and Chad Moriyama kicked all kinds of ass breaking down the kid and what it would take to get him.

From Petriello:
"As you can imagine from an 18-year-old high school kid from the Pacific Rim, there’s not a whole lot of actual scouting out there on him, and I’d be lying to you if I said that I’d heard of him before a few hours ago. Still, 18, touching triple digits. It’s enticing, to say the least.

But let’s clarify what this is and isn’t. This isn’t Daisuke Matsuzaka, who cost the Red Sox a $51.1m posting fee in 2006. This isn’t Yu Darvish, for whom the Rangers paid $51.7m last year. And he’s not Hiroki Kuroda or Takashi Saito, who came to the Dodgers with no posting fee at all. Per the rules of NBP, the major professional Japanese league, players are bound to their teams for nine years after being drafted. If they ask to play in the United States, a team may “post” them, accepting the largest blind bid from a MLB team in order to allow the player to move. In the cases of Kuroda & Saito, they had put in their nine years (or more) and didn’t come to the States until their 30s.

For Otani, it’s a little different. He’s not yet been drafted by NBP, so he’s not technically subject to the nine year rule. However, it’s excessively rare for a high school player to skip Japanese ball and go right to America. In fact, the only player I can find who has done that is Junichi Tazawa, who’s pitched in 46 games for Boston around Tommy John surgery since making his debut in 2009. (And, now that I look at it, he was outstanding this year, with a 45/5 K/BB in 44 innings.) But Tazawa’s case is unique as well, since he went undrafted by NBP out of high school and spent several seasons pitching for an unaffiliated team in Japan."
From Moriyama:
"It’s unlikely that the primary obstacle here will end up being money. Otani’s decision will likely revolve around his willingness to leave home for a foreign land as a teenager, his ability to deal with becoming a trailblazer and breaking tradition, and perhaps most importantly, the ramifications his decision will have on the relationship between him and the NPB, the MLB and the NPB, and the Dodgers and the NPB.

Unlike Korea and Taiwan, who inexplicably (IMO) let MLB teams pilfer their amateur talent, the NPB still has a handshake agreement in place with the MLB regarding their amateur players. And while I don’t have an inside track on how this all shakes out, given Otani’s immense talent, if he decides he wants to sign overseas, the strength of that agreement will be put to the test."
There aren't many 18-year-olds who legitimately touch 100 MPH on the gun. Otani already possesses a major league body at 6'4, 190 pounds. He would be a hell of a get for the Dodgers.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers can't use their incredible monetary advantage to land Otani, so it really depends if he wants to go against the grain of the NPB.

Here's some video of the phenom.

The Dodgers have done quite well on the international market this season. Everyone knows about Yasiel Puig, but the Dodgers also inked Mexican lefty Julio Urias, who was considered to be a top prospect on the international market. Adding Otani would be -- at this point -- unbelievable.

We'll see what happens, but I'm not exactly penciling him in on my Dodgers' prospect list anytime soon.

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