Shohei Otani drafted by NPB club, ineligible for MLB until April 2013

Chung Sung-Jun

Otani's MLB aspirations have been temporarily put on hold.

Japanese right-hander Shohei Otani made it known last week he intended to forgo playing Nippon Professional Baseball to try his hand signing with an MLB club. Well, now Otani will have to temporarily put those plans on hold.

The 18-year-old was taken with the first overall pick in the NPB draft Thursday by the Nippon Ham Fighters, per Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker, preventing Otani from signing with an MLB club until April 2013 at the earliest.

The Nippon Ham Fighters have until the end of March to convince Otani to stay in Japan and agree to a contract with the young right-hander. MLB teams are barred from negotiating with Otani between now and then because of an agreement between the NPB and Major League Baseball.

If Nippon cannot reach an agreement with Otani by the beginning of April, he will become an international free agent and thus subject to the new CBA's international spending restrictions for MLB clubs. Otani will become the first Japanese player ever to sign directly with an MLB club out of high school if he does so come April.

The 6'4", 190-lb Otani is reported to have a fastball clocked between 99 and 100 miles per hour.

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