Photo: ©WBSC

LOS ANGELES — Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, who began his international path in the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2012 (under the last name Otani), has selected the Los Angeles Angels as the next team he will play for, transferring from the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. The decision of the WBSC 2015 Player of the Year ignited headlines around the baseball world.

“While there has been much speculation about what would drive Shohei’s decision, what mattered to him most wasn’t market size, time zone or league but that he felt a true bond with the Angels,” Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, said in a statement. “He sees this as the best environment to develop and reach the next level and attain his career goals.”

Angels General Manager Billy Eppler confirmed that Ohtani will join Garret Richards at the top of the Angels starting rotation and that he will play as a part time designated hitter. Albert Pujols is projected to play more first base in 2018, in order to create at-bats for Ohtani.

“I’m not going to dive into specifics,” Eppler was quoted via mlb.com. “The most important participant in the plan is going to be Shohei. It’s going to be how he is accustomed to developing and how he is accustomed to his own workload management.”

Ohtani has represented the Samurai Japan National Team in 2012, 2014 (Japan vs MLB Series), 2015 (WBSC Premier12) and 2016 (Japan-Mexico-Netherlands Pre-World Baseball Classic 2017).