The 2017 MLB Draft was nearly a month ago, but the Los Angeles Angels are still making moves that will impact the franchise for years to come. One of those moves came on Friday, when the Angels signed a pair of Japanese hurlers to professional contracts. The Angels signed pitcher Shohei Ohtani to a contract worth $3.3 million, with the first $1.3 million coming in the form of a signing bonus. Ohtani was one of the top players in the 2017 NPB draft, and was the first MLB team to sign him. The Angels could have ended up with a bonafide ace for the price of a typical mid-round draft pick.

Ohtani’s home run – one of the highlights of the 2018 season – marked just the fourth time in MLB history that two players had hit home runs in the same inning. It was also just the second time that a pair of players both hit home runs in the same inning, joining the second and third instances of that happening (twice by Babe Ruth).

I mean no disrespect to John Rahm or Allison Felix, who deserved the attention on Sunday, but reading about them and then digging through the boxing screens to learn more about Shohei Ohtani’s performance is a mistake.

Ohtani himself is a reason to watch Major League Baseball, a sport that desperately needs a reason to watch it. Most Americans won’t get to see the Los Angeles Angels’ versatile star until the week of the All-Star Game, but they’ll enjoy what they see.

Shohei Ohtani had a good month last week

Shohei Ohtani has already set a career home run record with more than half of the 2021 season to go. | Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Ohtani has had an important week. And maybe he’s just making his way to the surface. Here’s his weekly review:

  • Tuesday 15. June: He hit a home run against the Oakland A’s.
  • Wednesday, 16. June: He hit a home run against Ace.
  • Thursday 17. June: Played six innings and allowed one earned run in the win over the Detroit Tigers.
  • Friday, 18. June: He hit two home runs against the Tigers.
  • Saturday, 19. June: He hit a home run against the Tigers.
  • Sunday 20. June: He hit a home run against the Tigers.

For the week, he hit .296 with nine RBIs. With six home runs in six days, Ohtani is tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who leads the league with 23 home runs.

This season, Ohtani is hitting .272 with 54 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 67 games. This complements his work in the field. Ohtani is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 10 starts and has pitched five or more innings in seven of his last eight games. He had two games with 10 strikeouts and allowed just 33 hits in 53 1/3 innings.

In short, there’s rarely a dull moment when the 26-year-old from Oshu, Japan, is in the lineup or on the field.

Shohei Ohtani might do something special at theMLB All-Star Game

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Baseball historians, fans and media drew comparisons to Babe Ruth shortly after Ohtani arrived from Japan in 2018. Arm problems, other injuries and a pandemic ended his previous three seasons, but the baseball world finally saw the real Ohtani. His 23 home runs are already a career high, and he still has more than half the season left and a good chance to make as many as 25 starts as a pitcher.

Ruth was responsible for the first home run in the All-Star Game, hit in the first game in 1934. He also participated in the 1935 off-season classic, but only as a hitter.

This fact opens up the opportunity for Ohtani to do something Bambino has never done before: hit and pitch in the same All-Star Game. There were other pitchers who hit in the All-Star Games, but none of them had Ochtani’s skills. While unlikely, the possibility that he has a double cap hit would make the 2021 All-Star Game over 13. July in Denver to make it more interesting for fans.

Young sensation does not make any difference

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Whether or not he earns a spot on the All-Star Game roster, Ohtani will be swinging the bat in Denver. Midway through last week, Ohtani announced on Instagram that he would be attending the Home Run Derby at Coors Field the night before the practice game.

The MLB has yet to announce the full list of eight participants. According to ESPN, Ohtani became the first Japanese-born player and the first to make at least one start as a pitcher.

Although this event can be described as historical, it is not entirely new. Ohtani competed in the Nippon Professional Baseball Home Run Derby and won.

Former MLB players worry about disrupting their swing when they hit on so many pitches in a row, but Ohtani doesn’t see that as a problem.

I just want to take it as a normal BP, I don’t want to overdo it, he told ESPN. The All-Star Game is the next day, and there’s a chance I’ll be there. Plus, we still have the whole second half of the season to go, so I’m not going to try and get too excited about Derby.

All statistics are from Baseball Reference.

COMPARED TO: Shohei Ohtani benefits from new MLB rule change

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