Welcome to the Sho

Not since the great Babe Ruth has there been a two-way baseball player capable of performing at an elite level with both their pitching and hitting. Sure, we’ve seen pitchers who could get a hold of one and hitters who could throw in the nineties, but it was nothing like The Babe. It seemed impossible that we would ever see a player of that magnitude again, until a Japanese phenom came overseas to showcase his skills on the biggest baseball stage in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Sho.

Shohei Ohtani is arguably the most exciting baseball prospect to ever come out of Japan, where he is hailed by the locals as the “Japanese Babe Ruth.” While those praises are astronomically high, Ohtani definitely fit the bill in his home country, where he was an ace pitcher with elite stuff and an excellent hitting outfielder with plus power. It wasn’t much of a shock when every MLB team was clamoring for his services when he was posted by his Japanese team and became a free agent.

Ultimately, it was the Los Angeles Angels who made the best sales pitch and won the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. From there, it was only a matter of time before he would appear in his first major league game. The biggest question though was how the Angels would handle their new star prospect. Ohtani would only sign with a team that could guarantee him the opportunity to both pitch and hit full-time at the major league level, so how were the Angels going to fulfill that promise?

During Spring Training, Ohtani was used as a starting pitcher and a designated hitter, where he performed very poorly on both sides of the ball. In fact, he performed so poorly that people were speculating whether or not he should be sent to minors for more seasoning. Ultimately, the Angels broke camp with their two-way prospect on the 25-man roster. Every game would now matter and the pressure was on for Ohtani to start performing at the high level everyone was hoping for.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia named Ohtani as his number-four starting pitcher and part-time DH, where he would be platooned with the great Albert Pujols. He would end up winning his first career start as a pitcher on April 1, where he went six solid innings, allowing three runs, and striking out six. It was last night’s game against the Cleveland Indians where he had his first multi-hit game, which included his first career home run. Earlier today, Ohtani faced off against reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, where he made a big statement in front of an energized Angels crowd.

While it’s still very early, this kid definitely looks like the real deal. His stuff when he pitched looked electric and the plus power we all heard so much about is very real. Ideally, the Angels would be smart to keep using him in his current role. Assuming he’s healthy, Shohei Ohtani is a guy who could eventually pitch 30 starts and bat in 100 or more games. Angels fans are beyond excited, and have every reason to be. The Ohtani-Trout era is officially underway.


Photo: Kelley L. Cox – USA Today Sports

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