The day all Halo fans have been waiting for since December finally arrived when Shohei Ohtani took the mound on Saturday for his first appearance as a LA Angel. The Japanese phenom wasn’t perfect, but there were definitely some positive takeaways.
Shohei Ohtani has had his every move watched since he signed with the Halos. Everyone and their mother was speculating on when he would pitch or hit, how often he would hit, and if he should start in the big leagues or minors. However, as Spring Training games have begun, we have also be gaining answers to our questions.
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When Shohei Ohtani took the mound Saturday afternoon, the time for speculation was done as we all just watched the #1 prospect in baseball pitch for the first time in his American career. Ohtani was not dominant over the course of his 31 pitches. However, he showed flashes of true ace potential, and that’s all the Angels could have hoped for.
While it is true that only 17 of Ohtani’s 31 pitches were strikes, he showed the ability to be the guy a clubhouse can depend on to win games. His control was definitely an issue, one that he has dealt with all throughout Spring Training.
While he did miss pitches, including an elevated fastball that ended up over the fence, Ohtani’s movement of his pitches was sensational. It is hard to put into words just how unique his movements was. His splitter is a fastball that plummets after the batter decides to swing. His curveball is Clayton Kershaw-esque and he has a slider that gives Max Scherzer a run for his money.
The pitch he struggled with most was his fastball. While he gave up a home run on one, he often missed the strike zone completely as well. It clocked in around 93-97 MPH, which shows good signs for his health after a UCL scare shortly after his signing with the Angels.
Overall, Halo fans should not be discouraged by his outing. He showed he has the stuff to compete as an MLB starter. While 2018 might prove to be a year of learning and adjustments, Shohei Ohtani is still the Halos most promising prospect since Mike Trout.
Ohtani is set to make his debut at designated hitter “early next week”, according to manager Mike Scioscia.