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Shohei Otani News and Notes: October 22, 2012

by on Oct.22, 2012 @ 1:52 pm, under High School

[If you are looking for more Otani information, be sure to check the Shohei Otani tag]

Updates on Shohei Otani from October 22:

Nikkan Sports

What's to come for Otani:

If Otani is selected in the upcoming draft, the team that selects him has an exclusivity window that lasts through to March 31, 2013.  There are no specific rules that bar foreign teams from signing players during the exclusivity window.

If Otani is not selected, he is allowed to negotiate with MLB teams.  However, if he signs with an MLB team, he will not be allowed to return to the NPB until three years after he returns to Japan.  NOTE: the rule is two years for college or amateur players and three years for high school players.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/22/2012 @ 7:13am


Otani is currently thinking of signing with one of the three teams that visited him in Japan: the Dodgers, Rangers, or Red Sox.  When asked about other teams, he replied, "I have heard that other teams are interested, but right now I think I want to select from the three [that visited me]."

Hanamaki Higashi manager Hiroshi Sasaki also informed the media he spoke to the New York Yankees.  All told, up to eight MLB teams may be interested in Otani.  The Dodgers are currently considered the front-runners because they have been keeping an eye on him since his first year.

Source: Nikkan Sports 10/22/2012 @ 7:14am


Some reactions from NPB teams

Tsunekazu Momoi (Yomiuri Giants, President) is concerned and feels the league needs to continue discussing the rules.  "If we do nothing, we are no match [for the MLB].  I think we need to have a discussion about  the current rules."  Yomiuiri has not mentioned Otani as a number one pick.

Ryohei Sato (CL Chairman/Chunichi Dragons, Team Rep) does not want people to use this as a loophole to sign with NPB teams they want to play for.  Not specifically referring to Otani.  Chunichi has not mentioned Otani as a number one pick.

Hajime Matsuda (Hiroshima Carp, Owner) was disappointed at the decision.  He feels the high schooler could just have easily spent time in Japan before heading to the Majors.  Hiroshima was reportedly on their list of possible number one picks.

Shigeru Takada (Yokohama Bay Stars, GM) will respect Otani's decision and will not select him during the draft.  He was one of four candidates the team was considering for their number one pick.

Masao Yamada (Nippon Ham Fighters, GM) was not surprised by the decision.  He was told that Otani felt strongly about playing the Majors from scouts.  They do not plan on selecting him during the draft, especially after losing their first pick from last year.

Haruhiko Suzuki (Seibu Lions, Team Director) is not sure what the team will do.  Otani is reportedly in their list of candidates for number one pick.

Shigeru Ishiwata (Softbank Hawks, Head of Team Development) was disappointed.  He considered Otani to be a Darvish type pitcher.  Wanted to see him play in Japan first.  Was reportedly in their list of first round draft pick candidates.

Senichi Hoshino (Rakuten Eagles, Manager) said the team needed to take Otani off their list of first round picks.  Also said he thought the penalty should be bumped up to five years instead of the current three.  His reasoning: extending the penalty should not hurt a player that goes to the US because if they succeed they have no reason to return to Japan in the near future and making the penalty stiffer will also make players understand how much harder they will have to work.  Ultimately, he feels something needs to be done, otherwise the MLB will end up taking all their good players.  Yasuyuki Kato (Rakuten Eagles, Director) wishes Otani luck.

Source: Nikkan Sorts 10/22/2012


Parts of Otani's press conference from Sunday (parts not included in previous post):

What made your feelings for the MLB strong?

My feelings [to play in the US] have been strong.  They got stronger when I got to high school.

Did the 18U tournament have an effect?

When I saw players performing at a higher level than me, I felt I did not want to be beaten by them.  I did take that into consideration.

What kind of player do you want to become?

I got the urge to play baseball after watching NPB and MLB players, so I would now like to become that player.  I wanted to be like Yusei [Kikuchi] and [Yu] Darvish.  I do not want to be beaten by those players either.

Do you want to pitch in the Majors?

My feelings for being a pitcher were very strong and that has not changed.

Source: Sanspo 10/22/2012 @ 5:01am


Eleven TV cameras and about sixty members of the media covered Otani press conference on Sunday. This was after Otani held a final meeting with both his parents and his high school manager.  The meeting started at 2:00pm and lasted about three hours.  Source: Sponichi 10/22/2012 @ 6:00am


Otani's father - "The differences in culture and language.  We were worried about him not being able to speak [English] and how that might affect him mentally.  We wanted him to play in Japan.  But in the end, it was up to him.  We want to support him as much as we can."  Source: Sponichi 10/22/2012 @ 6:00am


Hiroshi Sasaki (Hanamaki Higashi manager) - "It will be fine if [Otani] can make it to the Majors when he is twenty-two or twenty-three.  I want him to do his best for Japan, for Iwate."  Source: Sponichi 10/22/2012 @ 6:00am


While there are no rules barring MLB teams from negotiating with players that have been selected during the draft, they will most likely abide by the rules out of consideration for the NPB.  If Otani is not selected, MLBs team will be able to negotiate with him at any time.  That would also allow him to attend minor league camp in the spring.  Source: Sponichi 10/22/2012 @ 6:00am


Otani could make more money in Japan early on than in the US.  Source: Sponichi 10/22/2012 @ 6:00am


Keiichi Kojima (Dodgers' Far East Scout) - "I think it was a tough decision for a high schooler to make. We want to express our respect and congratulate him for his decision. ... He has not yet decided to come to the Dodgers yet.  I would like to move things forward so that he does."  Source: Sponichi 10/22/2012 @ 7:05am



Masayuki Naito (Japan Student Baseball Association, Head of the Secretariat) feels the NPB and MLB needs to work out rules so that there is a better understanding of what is and is not allowed.  Source: Sponichi 10/22/2012 @ 6:00am

Kiyoshi Nakahata (Yokohama Bay Stars, Manager) - "It is good to have a dream, but [Otani] should have gone through the process beforehand.  He should have built his foundation in Japan and gone to the US when he was ready to play full time. ... He is Japan's treasure.  Players like him do not come around very often. ... I do not know if leaving so quickly will work out to his advantage."  Source: Sponichi 10/22/2012 @ 6:00am

Junsei Atarashi (Yakult Swallows, Manager Director) - "We were somewhat surprised by Otani's decision, but our plans have not changed.  That is why we announced our selection early."  (The Swallows have said they will select Shintaro Fujinami with their pick).

Yoshinari Nagano (Chiba Lotte Marines, Scout) - "I knew that going to the Majors was an option because it was [Otani's] dream.  It cannot be helped."

Yutaka Wada (Hanshin Tigers, Manager) - "Everyone has their own way of thinking.  They have their parents.  I think he considered a lot of things in making his decision."

Hiroshi Moriwaki (Orix Buffaloes, Manager) - "It is [Otani's] life.  I am not in complete agreement, nor am I questioning it.  I think it is great that he is smart and decisive.  There are people that can make decisions and those that cannot.  And I think it is wonderful that he was in a position where he could make a decision.

Source: Sponichi 10/22/2012 @ 6:47am


Parts of Otani's press conference, only questions not covered in previous tranlsations:

What draws you to the MLB?

Great players from every country go there.  I do know want to lose to those players.

In how many years do you picture yourself on an MLB mound?

I want to play in the MLB as soon as possible.  I want to do my best to make it as quickly as possible.

What was the reason why you did not want to go through the NPB first?

I had a dream of going from the very beginning.  I strongly wanted to go when I was still young.

How did you spend you time while making the decision?

It was hard and I struggled with it at times.  I feel relieved now.  I am also happy that I was able to make this decision myself.

Is there a team you want to play for?

I did speak with some teams and I am still not sure which.  Right now, I think I will select from those teams.

What about not being able to play in the NPB for three years after you return to Japan?

I need to be prepared for that when I go.

Source: Sponichi 10/22/2012 @ 6:00am

Daily Sports

Otani was apparently contacted by five other MLB teams, that is in addition to the Dodgers, Rangers, Red Sox, and Yankees.  Source: Daily Sports 10/22/2012


UPDATE @ 7:42pm - NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato spoke to reporters today and said that he thought Otani's decision should be respected.  With regards to changing the rules, he said that NPB teams should focus more on figuring out how to increase their appeal.  Source: Nikkan Sports 10/22/2012