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Ohtani lands on Top 10 OF Prospects list

Two-way star also listed as No. 1 right-handed pitching prospect
MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani sparked one of the most fascinating free-agent pursuits in recent memory this offseason after he announced that he would be leaving his native Japan and coming to the Majors in 2018.

Ohtani, known as the Babe Ruth of Japan because of his prowess as both a right-handed pitcher and left-handed slugger, immediately drew interest from nearly every MLB team, setting off a wild courtship that captivated the baseball world. In December, the 23-year-old surprised many by choosing to sign with the Angels for $2.315 million, giving the club the type of high-ceiling prospect that its farm system had long lacked.

ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani sparked one of the most fascinating free-agent pursuits in recent memory this offseason after he announced that he would be leaving his native Japan and coming to the Majors in 2018.

Ohtani, known as the Babe Ruth of Japan because of his prowess as both a right-handed pitcher and left-handed slugger, immediately drew interest from nearly every MLB team, setting off a wild courtship that captivated the baseball world. In December, the 23-year-old surprised many by choosing to sign with the Angels for $2.315 million, giving the club the type of high-ceiling prospect that its farm system had long lacked.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Ohtani will enter this season as the No. 1 right-handed pitching prospect and the No. 4 outfield prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and he should be ready to make an immediate impact for the Angels, who plan on allowing him to pursue his goal of becoming a two-way player in the Majors.

"I think with Shohei, what we're projecting him to do is going to be very unique and it could be something that's extraordinary," manager Mike Scioscia said recently. "So we're going to take it one step at a time."

In 2016, his last full season in Japan, Ohtani went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA and 174 strikeouts over 140 innings while hitting .322/.416/.588 with 22 home runs in 104 games. He sat out most of the 2017 season with an ankle injury that required surgery in October.

Ohtani's most significant contributions seem likely to come in the rotation, as he has the potential to give the Angels another top-of-the-rotation arm to pair with Garrett Richards. His fastball hums in the upper 90s and has been clocked as high as 102.5 mph -- the fastest recorded pitch in Japanese history. His arsenal also includes a diving splitter and a hard slider, as well as a curveball and changeup.

While scouts are mixed on Ohtani's long-term future as a hitter, he possesses incredible raw power and gained renown for his ability to launch tape-measure home runs in Japan. Despite his inclusion in the outfield prospect rankings, the Angels do not expect to use Ohtani as an outfielder this season and will instead plan on inserting him into their lineup as a part-time designated hitter.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels