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Dallas Cowboys Jerseys from a club buried in the standings

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Dallas Cowboys Jerseys from a club buried in the standings
December 07, 2017 07:17AM
Ex-two-way prospects assess Ohtani's future


The baseball world is waiting to see what Shohei Ezekiel Elliott Jersey
Ohtani can do once he finally arrives in Major League Baseball. The 30 clubs in the Majors are also eager to see exactly how he'll do it.

The name Babe Ruth doesn't get thrown around all that much these days when describing a player's ability, but Ohtani's unique two-way starting pitching-and-slugging skillset, impressive athletic build, speed, power, strength and young age (23) have earned him comparisons to the Bambino, at least based on his performance in Nippon Professional Baseball.

The Major Leagues are a slightly different story, of course, but Ohtani is nearing a big league contract and has met with teams to figure out the best fit in rotations and lineups come Opening Day 2018. It's a rare feat to see a player excel on both sides of the ball in the best league on the planet, but Ohtani will have the chance to do exactly that in April.
Ohtani concludes meetings
Ohtani concludes meetings
MLB Tonight breaks down how Shohei Ohtani has
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concluded meeting with MLB teams and could now be deciding on which team to sign with

That doesn't mean it'll be easy.

Recent baseball history has featured its share of big league pitchers who were once great amateur and even professional hitters, and several of them -- including Brooks Kieschnick, John Van Benschoten, Adam Loewen and Rick Ankiel -- spoke to us about the experience.

They described how it came to be that they ended up solely on the mound, which Ohtani, of course, will aim to avoid. They also offered their advice for this ambitious, reportedly wise-beyond-his-years wunderkind who is about to embark on an unforgettable hardball adventure.

Ohtani most likely hasn't sought advice from Kieschnick,
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but it wouldn't be a bad place to start. Kieschnick, as fate would have it, is the last player to pitch and hit at the same time at the Major League level. He did it in 2003 and '04 for the Milwaukee Brewers, and boy, did he ever have a blast.
Kieschnick on Ohtani adjusting
Kieschnick on Ohtani adjusting
Former pitcher Brooks Kieschnick discusses Shohei Ohtani's readiness to handle media pressure and adjust to MLB

"Oh my gosh, I felt like I was back in college," Kieschnick said. "Just go out and have fun playing the game you love."

Kieschnick's two-way story began at the University of Texas, where he played outfield and pitched and dominated, winning the Dick Howser Trophy for national college player of the year twice. He hit 43 home runs in three years as a Longhorn and also shined on the mound, going 16-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 1993. That was


good enough to get him drafted with the 10th overall pick by the Cubs that year.

He made it to the big leagues with the Cubs in 1996, played some outfield and pinch-hit in stints that season and in '97, and then moved on to some Major League time with Cincinnati in 2000 and Colorado in '01. It wasn't until he resurfaced in Milwaukee in '03 that he also became an option for the bullpen.

That season, he homered as a pitcher, pinch-hitter and designated hitter, becoming the first MLB player to accomplish that feat in the same season. He also thrilled teammates and Brewers fans who otherwise weren't seeing much to celebrate from a club buried in the standings.

Now, with the news that Ohtani is on the horizon, Kieschnick's getting a lot of phone calls that are conjuring up a lot of great memories. He's also been thinking about what might eventually happen to Ohtani, since he knows how difficult it is just to play in the Majors in the first place, let alone play both ways. A good number of prognosticators are probably already wagering that Ohtani will eventually focus on one discipline -- and the fact that his fastball hits triple digits would say the smart money's on pitching. Kieschnick can't argue that logic.




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