The rise of ‘shohei’ Ohtani: The craze sweeping New York

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

Tokyo (CNN) — He’s a little guy, and he’s in the middle of playing in the hottest MLB market, New York.

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a steady stream of fans pouring into MLB’s offices in Manhattan, sporting Japan’s native son Shohei Ohtani’s moniker above their seat belts.

‘To Shohei’s fans, he’s always been an MVP’

They’ve tried to make themselves known in a bubbly, Tokyo-ese way.

“TOO-AOH-OHA,” they cry out in unison.

“SHAKIRA!” (I want to find him) one little girl says aloud.

“SHEAKE,” goes the chant of his beloved baseball team, the Nippon Ham Fighters.

For “Shohei’s fans,” he’s always been an MVP.

So how exactly does one get to this point?

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Last year, FanGraphs named him the third best prospect in baseball behind Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton

During last month’s draft, Ohtani attracted more than 100 teams in the first round (above, from left, Giants president Larry Baer, Indians president Chris Antonetti, Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall, Twins owner Jim Pohlad, Phillies CEO Matt Klentak, Rays executive VP Chaim Bloom, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, Royals GM Dayton Moore, Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski, Angels GM Billy Eppler, Angels manager Mike Scioscia, Marlins CEO Derek Jeter and Cubs President Theo Epstein) — a clear sign he’s the best available talent for the top available MLB team.

Since then, Ohtani has already started a beer company, Ohtani Sudoku Company (a strict collaboration with Ueno Brewing, no less), and attended a Cubs-Twins game.

“I couldn’t get a ticket because I don’t drink,” he joked of his first exhibition game, according to the Miami Herald.

This week, Ohtani kicked off the fourth season of his campaign — his Japanese “Kobe” — at the World Baseball Classic.

His team, the Pacific League champion Nippon Ham Fighters, is up against Japan’s, with the winner taking the trophy.

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