Yeah, this post is dedicated to all the people that told me Ohtani would never amount to nothing, to all the people who called me crazy for my enthusiasm, when I was just trying to inform my readers, and all the prospectors in the struggle. You know what I’m saying? And it’s all good Grey-be, Grey-be. It was all a Dream, I watched NPB games on the TV screen, upper-90’s velo, nasty split, mechanics clean. Worried about hanging breaking balls. Every spring training start he got mauled. I let the hype pop, until the hype dropped. Smoking weed in the draft room, laughing as lesser Perts talk. Way back when the humidor was supposed to cutback. Enough of that…
Okay, so obviously I’m excited about Ohtani, I’ve been writing about him for two years, and yesterday he made his debut. It’s was glorious, actually glorious is a little strong, it was more good. But I’ll take good. Here’s what I saw on Sunday.
Scouting Report: Due to my extensive writing on Ohtani, it seems only right to go back to my Angels preview from a month or so back for scouting info. Here’s what I said there, “The man, the myth, the legend, quite literally. I’m not that comfortable ranking Ohtani amongst a bunch of prospects, but technically he’s under his rookie limits, and is just 23. We should all be well aware of the type of talent Ohtani is, particularly as a pitcher. He possesses a fastball that sits mid to upper-90’s with the ability to bang triple digits. There have been a lot of reports knocking the fastball for being straight, but the velocity should be enough to miss bats. His split-finger, or what he calls his forkball is a nasty pitch, with the ability to get swings and misses, and hit his spots when needed. I love his forkball. The rest of his pitching arsenal is comprised of a slider that flashes plus, a curveball, and a changeup. At the plate Ohtani is a power hitter, hitting .322 with 22 homers, and a 1.004 OPS DHing on his off-days from pitching in 2016. He offers 60 grade power with 60 grade speed, and an average hit tool. If it all clicks on both sides of the ball Ohtani could be fantastic. I’m skeptical of him reaching his somewhat mythical ceiling due to some of the injury concerns that have popped up over the last 18 months. He was limited to just 5 starts and 65 games as a hitter in 2017 due to an ankle injury. News of a grade 1 sprain in his right elbow was revealed a few days after signing. Trepidation aside, this is an elite talent, perhaps generational. Also, here’s Grey’s Shohei Ohtani fantasy.” BTW Grey has poor hygiene.
Stats: 3 batters faced, no hits, no runs, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 14 pitches.
Summary: Ohtani started Marcus Semien off with a FB at 96, followed by a slider at 82, for a swinging strike, before setting him up with a splitter outside the zone for a swinging strike three.
Gets a swinging strike on a high 98 MPH fastball from Jed Lowrie. Worked Lowrie up in the zone with upper-90’s velocity before inducing a pop-up with a fastball. Pops 100 on the first pitch to Olson, followed by a splitter for a strike, before getting a swinging strike from Olson on a nasty splitter to end the inning.
Stats: 6 batters faced, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 HR, 1 K, 0 BB, 19 pitches.
Summary: Inning starts off with Ohtani getting up on Khris Davis 0-2 before dropping a nasty slider high in the zone for a swinging strike three.
Next batter Matt Joyce hit a 98 MPH fastball middle-middle for the first hit off Ohtani, the next batter Stephen Piscotty got down 1-2 before hitting a low 100 MPH fastball to right. Nice piece of hitting by Piscotty. The next batter Matt Chapman falls behind 0-1 before hitting a low slider on the outer part of the plate out to deep left for a three run homer.
Ohtani then settled down to end the inning on back to back groundouts.
Stats: 3 batters faced, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 K, 0 BB, 12 pitches.
Summary: A nice bounce-back inning after the three run shot in the third, Ohtani gets back to back ground outs from Semien and Lowrie, before striking out Matt Olson on two consecutive 99 MPH fastballs he couldn’t touch, before dropping that nasty splitter again.
Stats: 4 batters faced, 0 hits, 0 runs , 1 K, 1 BB, 23 pitches.
Summary: Another strong inning from Ohtani as he starts the inning with a popup from Khris Davis, before issuing a walk to Matt Joyce, which he followed up with a fly out to Piscotty, before getting Matt Chapman on a swinging strike three to end the inning. Nibbled a little more this inning, and does have a tendency to overthrow.
Stats: 3 batters faced, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 K, 0 BB, 16 pitches.
Summary: 3 up and 3 down, as Ohtani gets a flyout from Jonathan Lucroy, followed by a groundout from Boog Powell, before getting Marcus Semien to strikeout swinging to end the inning. This splitter is nasty!
Stats: 3 batters faced, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 K, 0 BB, 12 pitches
Final Line: 96 Pitches, 63 Strikes, 18 swinging strikes, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 HR, 1 BB, 6 Ks, Win, Gamescore: 59
Conclusion: In closing it was a very strong debut from Ohtani, as he mixed speeds and changed eye-levels effectively. He was pretty much fastball, slider, splitter today, with each pitch showing good feel. The splitter is devastating, and was consistently a put out pitch. His slider was landing high and low in the zone, as was his fastball. He generated mostly groundballs, which with the Angels infield defense is a very good match. Velocity sat 97-99 mostly, bottoming out at 96, and topping out at 100, which he hit multiple times. His average fastball velocity was 97.8 MPH, which is harder than Noah Syndergaard’s average velocity in his debut. The splitter generated 5 of his 18 swinging strikes.
Based on some of the command issues with the fastball and slider, he might struggle against more patient lineups, but when he does miss, it’s rarely in the zone. Conclusion… Ohhh, dat boy good!