The scout comes through Target Field a couple of times each season, updating his reports on various teams for his American League employer. His latest visit arrived just before the All-Star Game, when talk in the press box was about Shohei Ohtani and his plans to pitch and hit in Denver.
“I’ve been doing this for a couple of decades. I’m in my 60s and have watched thousands of ballplayers,” said the scout, who asked not to be identified critiquing another team’s player. “Shohei Ohtani is the best baseball player I’ve ever seen.”
It’s easy to picture a similarly awe-struck assessment being made in press boxes a century ago, when Babe Ruth was making the transition from one of the game’s premier pitchers to a slugging outfielder who transformed the game. And the comparison, of course, is as obvious as it is incredible.
“I’m really looking forward to facing him. But then again, if I give up a hit, it’s going to be a really big deal in Japan. I’ll have to be sure to get him out this time.”
Ohtani, who came to the United States from his homeland in Japan in 2018, owns a 3.21 ERA, which would rank among the AL’s top 10 with a couple more starts, and 95 strikeouts in 73 innings. His fastball has reached 101 mph, and his 88-mph splitter may be even more unhittable.
Meanwhile, Ohtani (pronounced Show-hay Ow-taa-nee) also…