Shohei Ohtani took the mound for the third time this preseason on Friday, facing off against the Tijuana Toros. After a second outing that showcased the #1 prospect at his best, his third start showed the opposite.
Shohei Ohtani is not a finished product. He is not ready to be an ace, a slugger, or the Halos best player. However, he also does not need to be. Everyone in the Halos’ organization has been emphasizing Ohtani has ways to go before reaching his potential. His path to fulfilling that potential has gotten off to a rocky start though.
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Ohtani took the mound on Friday facing off against the Mexican League’s finest. However, only one batter Ohtani faced has seen significant MLB playing time. In three innings of work, Ohtani threw 64 pitches. Six of those pitches ended with strikeouts, which was about the only good sign from Ohtani today.
His struggles with control of his pitches continued. The Japanese star walked only one batter, but also hit two others. These types of command issues are not a good sign for Ohtani, as he’ll need every pitch to stack up against major league competition. Of the five hits Ohtani gave up, two of them were hit hard. One went over the fence, and kept on going.
His fastball was clocked between 92-95 MPH. This is not a bad number for Ohtani but was also lower than he showed in his first two starts. His breaking balls were the same as usual this time around, as the movement was ridiculous but the location was spotty at times.
After this rough outing, Ohtani has given up 10 runs in six innings. That measures out to a 15.00 ERA. That is unacceptable for a major league pitcher, and if his performances do not improve, the Halos may want to start his season in Triple-A at their Salt Lake affiliate.
At the plate, Ohtani has not been much better with one hit in 11 at-bats.
It is not time to panic about Ohtani. This is not something new for Japanese pitchers who make the jump to the states. However, this start is just a reminder that he is a work in progress, and far from his finished self. Halo fans need to remember that patience is key with any prospect, and even more so with one as special as Ohtani.