Shohei Otani, the 22-year-old rising star known in baseball circles as the “Japanese Babe Ruth,” has a right ankle injury that will prevent him from playing for his country in the World Baseball Classic, according to the Tokyo Sports Press.
The report said Hideki Kuriyama, Otani’s manager on the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, announced the news Tuesday.
Otani’s absence surely will disappoint MLB scouts hoping to catch a glimpse of his two-way talent against big league competition.
The 6-3 right-hander, whose fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, went 10-4 as a starting pitcher for the Fighters in 2016, striking out 11.2 batters per nine innings with a 1.86 ERA, but he does plenty of damage at the plate as well. He also batted .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs.
Otani’s unique dual threat capabilities should make for an impressive bidding war when he makes the jump to MLB, which could come as soon as 2018.
But baseball fans won’t get their sneak peak during the March 6–22 tournament as anticipated.