Shohei Ohtani, the most talked about player of the major league offseason, has found his new home, deciding to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. But the flamethrowing slugger remains baseball's international man of mystery, having kept his lips tight about what makes him tick as he prepares to make the jump to The Show.

While there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding the two-way Japanese phenom, here's what we do know about Ohtani from his formative years and five-season career with Nippon Professional Baseball's Nippon Ham Fighters:


Ohtani's parents were athletes, his father a corporate league baseball player, his mother a badminton player. He went to the same high school as hard-throwing lefty Yusei Kikuchi attended, Hanamaki Higashi in Iwate Prefecture. Kikuchi wanted to go to the majors straight out of school, but was drafted by six teams in the first round and signed with the Pacific League's Seibu Lions.

One of Ohtani's goals as a freshman, when he began as an outfielder before transitioning to the mound, was to be drafted by eight teams. Among the numerous goals spelled out on an 81-square grid included throwing a fastball 160 kph (99.4 mph).

The chart divided his goals into eight categories: physical strength, mental strength, character, fortune, breaking pitches, speed, late movement and control -- all four of the skill categories devoted to pitching. In August 2011 despite being hurt, Ohtani tied current New York Yankee Masahiro Tanaka's speed record for a sophomore at the summer national high school championships by throwing 150 kph; as a senior, he became the first Japanese amateur to hit 160 kph.

Like Kikuchi, Ohtani intended to sign with a major league team out of high school, announcing it two days before the NPB draft. Because of that, only the Fighters nominated him in the first round -- and managed to persuade him to stay in Japan, promising him "a short cut to the majors."


Age: 23... Birthdate: July 5, 1994... Height: 193cm... Weight: 92kg... Throws: Right... Bats: Left... Hometown: Oshu, Iwate Prefecture... High School: Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate)... Favorite school subject: History... Walk-up songs: Do or Die (Afrojack)/Wrapped Up (Olly Murs Feat. Travie Macoy)... Titles: 2015 - Wins, ERA, Winning Percentage, Best Nine (Pitcher); 2016 - Pacific League MVP, Best Nine (Pitcher, DH)

This included working to develop him as both a hitter and a pitcher, and giving him the No. 11 formerly worn by Yu Darvish. The team also laid out the dismal success rates of Japanese players who bolted stateside without establishing themselves in NPB first.

Rookie ball

In his first spring training in 2013, Ohtani took ground balls in the infield with his right arm behind his back to prevent it from injury. On March 29, he made his first team debut, starting in right field and had two hits and an RBI. Ohtani struck out in his first at-bat, but was so impressed by the quality of Lions ace Takayuki Kishi's pitches that in his last press conference in Japan on Nov. 11, 2017, he recalled it as his most memorable at-bat.

On May 23 at Sapporo Dome, Ohtani allowed two runs in five innings in his mound debut, an interleague game against that year's Central League champions, the Yakult Swallows. His walk-up music that year was "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis & The News.

On July 10, Ohtani hit his first home run as a professional. That season, Tanaka went 24-0 for the Pacific League champion Rakuten Eagles. Against Tanaka, who would sign with the Yankees that winter, Ohtani went 0-11 with six strikeouts, walked once and was hit by a pitch.

Ohtani played 54 games in the outfield as a rookie. His seven assists tied him for third in the PL, although none of the other outfielders with seven or more assists played fewer than 101 games.

He batted .238 with three home runs in 189 at-bats, but was the sixth 18-year-old in NPB history with 15 doubles in a season. On the mound, Ohtani went 3-0 with a 4.23 ERA in 61-2/3 innings and started 11 games.


Ohtani went 11-4 in 24 games on the mound with 11 home runs in 212 at-bats in his sophormore season, becoming the first player in a top-flight league to win 10 games and hit 10 homers since Babe Ruth in 1918.

Although Ohtani went 15-5 in 2015 with a PL-best 2.24 ERA, winning his first Best Nine award, small physical setbacks -- mostly leg cramps -- often prevented him from batting between starts. He batted just .202 in 109 at-bats with five home runs.

That winter, during several weeks of strength workouts with former Fighters ace Yu Darvish, Ohtani added 8 kg of muscle to his frame.

The Breakthrough

In 2016, Ohtani recorded his second "Ruth season," going 10-4 and hitting 22 home runs in 323 at-bats.

On May 29, with Ohtani batting .342, his team abandoned the designated hitter so he could pitch and hit. He allowed a run in seven innings, while going 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. On July 3, Otani started on the road against the league-leading SoftBank Hawks; he led off the game with a home run, threw eight shutout innings and scored both runs in a 2-0 victory.

Blisters prevented him from pitching between July 24 and Sept. 7 but not hitting. During the All-Star Games, Ohtani won the home run derby before Game 1 and was the Game 2 MVP.

As the Fighters' most productive hitter, Ohtani's pitching return was pushed back, but set a Japan speed record on Sept. 13 of 164 kph (101.9 mph). He started the playoff-clincher as designated hitter and after his team came from behind, Ohtani took the mound to earn the only save of his career, while touching 165 kph (102.5 mph) on the gun.

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That summer, the Tokyo Baseball Writers Club changed its rules for voting on the annual Best Nine Awards to allow a voter to vote for the same player in two positions, provided one was pitcher. Ohtani was named PL MVP and the first player to win two Best Nine Awards, at pitcher and DH.

Ohtani rolled his right ankle during the Japan Series while running the bases. This started a chain of events that would wipe out much of his 2017 season after he reinjured it playing for the national team against Mexico and the Netherlands in November, when he raised eyebrows by hitting into the ceiling at Tokyo Dome.

Ohtani's ankle prevented him from pitching that winter and spring. When the season started, he was ordered not to run all out or step on a base with the injured ankle. On April 8, however, Ohtani tore his left hamstring while trying to beat out an infield single and was sidelined for 2-1/2 months.

Ohtani pitched in just five games in 2017, but the last was a 10-strikeout, complete game shutout.