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Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani to sign with MLB team

Otani will be the first Japanese player to sign directly with an MLB club.

Chung Sung-Jun

Right-handed pitcher Shohei Oteni has decided to forgo the Japanese amateur draft and take his chances with Major League Baseball instead, reports the Associated Press:

The 18-year-old Otani said, "I think I will start in the minor leagues but I want to challenge in the majors. It's been my dream since entering high school."

Otani was expected to go in the first round of Thursday's amateur draft in Japan.

The young flame-thrower -- who has been scouted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, among others -- will become the first Japanese player ever to sign directly with an MLB club without any professional playing time in Japan. Otani will be subject to the international spending limits of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, so several teams -- like the Yankees -- will likely be out of the running for the right-hander because they have spent most of their allotted funds for this year.

The 6'4", 190-lb Otani regularly hits 99-100mph with his fastball, though his command is said to need work.