Shohei Otani, an 18-year-old right-hander, was expected to be one of the top picks in Thursday’s Nippon Professional Baseball Draft. But he has suddenly decided to take a different route.
According to the AP, via NBCSports.com, Otani “will pursue a career in Major League Baseball instead of turning professional in Japan.” He has already caught the attention of scouts from several major league teams, including the Red Sox and the Dodgers.
The 6-foot-4 starting pitching prospect will naturally draw comparisons this winter to the Rangers’ Yu Darvish, but he actually throws harder. Otani was clocked this summer between 99 and 100 mph, though his command reportedly needs work.
“I think I will start in the minor leagues but I want to challenge in the majors,” Otani told the Japanese media on Sunday. “It’s been my dream since entering high school.” He would be the first player to ever jump from a Japanese high school to the professional ranks in the United States.
A doubleheader between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers this week is being postponed to allow more time for additional COVID-19 testing.
MLB opted to postpone Thursday’s doubleheader to continue additional testing while players and staff are quarantined before the team returns to play. More details about the Cardinals’ resumption of play will be announced later this week.
The Cardinals had a series against Pittsburgh set to start on Monday postponed after a weekend series against the Cubs was scrapped due to three positive coronavirus tests.
St. Louis had two more players and a staff member test positive for the virus on Friday and have had eight positive players overall, including star catcher Yadier Molina.
There have now been 29 games postponed by Major League Baseball because of coronavirus concerns. The Cardinals have not played since July 30 and have had 15 games scrapped.
Miami and Philadelphia each had seven games postponed earlier and have returned to the field since the disruptions.
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