The 2015 season featured an interesting batch of players migrate from Asia to MLB – a mid-tier Japanese starter, a couple of Korean hitters, an American who reinvented himself in Japan – but there is an emerging crop of players in Japan who are a bit further down the road.
Here are RotoWire's Top-10 Japanese prospects:
1. Shohei Ohtani, SP, Nippon Ham Fighters, age 21
If you have not seen Ohtani yet, make a point to do so. Ohtani is arguably the best MLB pitching prospect Japan has ever produced, and he's spent the offseason training with the other man with a legitimate stake to that title, Yu Darvish. Ohtani is the hardest throwing pitcher Japan has ever produced, regularly hitting 100 mph on the gun; he also mixes in a slider, splitter, changeup, and curve, all of which are getting better. Ohtani has improved in each of his three professional seasons, culminating in a line of 15-5, 2.24 ERA, 160.2 IP, 196:46 K:BB in 2015. And if a dominant pitching line isn't enough, he's also a good hitter. If he takes another step forward in 2016, MLB scouts and general managers will be jumping out of their seats for his services. Eventually posting to MLB is part of Ohtani's deal with Nippon Ham, so he will probably arrive in North America after two or three more seasons in Japan.
2. Shintaro Fujinami, SP, Hanshin Tigers, age 21
Right behind Ohtani on the prospect list is his