Yoshinobu Yamamoto is receiving the highest attention ever among a 25-year-old rookie pitcher in the history of the U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB).꽁머니
Yamamoto threw a bullpen at the Dodgers’ camp at Glendale Camelback Ranch in Arizona on the 12th (Korea time). It was the second pitch of this camp following the 10th. Dodgers is the first of the 30 teams to enter spring camp ahead of the “Seoul Opening Series” with the San Diego Padres on March 20-21.
Japan’s Nikkan Sports reported that “50 people, including pitchers, coaches, and team officials, watched Yamakoto’s second bullpen pitch.” MLB.COM also said, “Dozens of people, including Shohei Otani, General Manager Brandon Gomes, and manager Dave Roberts, watched closely.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers also posted a picture of Ohtani watching Yamamoto’s pitch from behind, along with a word on the club’s SNS (social network service) saying, “All eyes are on Yamamoto.”
Interest in Yamamoto is natural. He signed a 12-year contract worth a total of 325 million U.S. dollars with the Dodgers this offseason. It is the highest guaranteed amount by a pitcher in history.
From 2021 to 2023, Yamamoto was Japan’s best pitcher who monopolized the four-time NPB pitcher list (multiple wins, ERA, strikeout, winning percentage) Sawamura Award (Best Pitcher Award) and the Pacific League Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the third consecutive year. His overall NPB record is 70-29 with a 32-hold ERA of 1.82 in 172 games.
The Dodgers will not be able to enter the opening entry in 2024 due to rehabilitation of Ohtani, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler. Buehler is expected to join early in the season, but Kershaw is expected to play at the end of the season and Ohtani is expected to play as a pitcher from next season. Yamamoto, who has a high price tag, should take the role of ace beyond the starting lineup.
Yamamoto, who started pitching in the bullpen after receiving a lot of attention, threw a total of 34 pitches in a mix of various pitches on the day.
Roberts highly praised Yamamoto for his hidden intention in all of his pitches. This means that he planned and threw various pitches, not just throws. “We talked after pitching with the bullpen, but he showed satisfaction. That kind of confidence was impressive,” Roberts said.