Shohei Ohtani made his second Spring Training start on the mound on Friday, this time coming in a “B” game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Rather than throw in the Angels MLB game, Ohtani made a start against the Brewers minor leaguers in a controlled environment where the Angels could closely monitor right-handed pitcher.
Courtesy of NPB News via YouTube, Ohtani’s full 52-pitch performance is available for the public to see. The results, scouting-wise and numbers-wise, were incredible. In 2 2/3 innings, Ohtani recorded all eight of his outs via the strikeout, walked no batters and allowed two runs on four hits. For the second straight outing, Ohtani worked exclusively from the stretch.
Ohtani landed 67.3 percent of his pitches for strikes and generated 10 swing-and-misses, four via his fastball, five from his slider and one from his split-finger fastball. Two of the four hits against Ohtani were softly hit, with one bouncing just over the mound and the other squeaking past the third baseman for a double. The one well-squared up baseball came from Keston Hiura, Baseball America’s 47th best prospect, who roped an Ohtani fastball to the left-center field gap.
Ohtani leaned heavily on his fastball, using that pitch 53.85 percent of the time while throwing 64.29 percent of those pitches for strikes. Ohtani was extremely comfortable moving his fastball around, generally staying in the lower quadrant of the strike zone but willing to throw high heat to generate whiffs. The pitch sat comfortably in the 92-97 mph range and had serious late action.
Ohtani’s favorite secondary pitch was his slider, which he utilized 32.7 percent of the time and had outstanding success with. He landed 14 of 17 sliders for strikes, generated three of his strikeouts from the pitch and had no problem throwing it to both left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters. The pitch sat in the 76-81 mph range, while Ohtani showed a preternatural ability to change speeds on it and throw it exactly where he wanted it.
Ohtani’s split-finger fastball, which is considered by many to be his second-best pitch, was only used four times in the game. One of those pitches led to a strikeout while the other three missed the zone by a good margin. The lack of split-fingers didn’t appear to be due to distrust of the pitch but rather due to Ohtani’s game-plan of heavy fastball and slider usage.
Ohtani’s curveball, which has been utilized as a change-of-pace pitch in the past, was only used three times but the pitch had big success. Ohtani froze two batters with the pitch, leading to strikeouts against one left-handed batter and one right-handed batter. The pitch sat in the 70-71 mph range, with Ohtani showing an impressive feel for spinning the pitch.
The 23-year-old Ohtani showcased why there has been so much hype about his arrival to MLB. Ohtani shows an uncanny ability to get the maximum amount out of every pitch while also being able to command his stuff. Using an extreme drop-and-drive technique, Ohtani generates lots of energy from his lower half and his elite arm strength finishes off his explosive delivery. His elite athleticism plays a big role in Ohtani being able to throw four high-quality pitches and stay around the zone.
While it was just a Spring Training start against a “B” team, Ohtani flashed two plus-plus pitches (fastball and slider) while he flashed plus on his split-finger fastball and curveball. He comfortably threw strikes with three of his four pitches, commanded all four quadrants of the zone and made everything look relatively easy in the process. It’s early in the process for Shohei Ohtani but he is showing all of the ingredients to be a frontline MLB starter.
*Special thanks to NPB News for the footage of the game