Former Red Sox scouts say they were close to getting Ohtani in 2012.
The Red Sox reportedly came close to being the first major league team to sign Shohei Ohtani out of high school.
Former Red Sox international scouts Jon Deeble and Eddie Romero visited Ohtani at his high school and spent two years scouting him, according to Boston's radio station WEEI.
"I think from what I understand it would've come down to the Red Sox and the Dodgers," said Deeble to WEEI. "At that point the Dodgers had a very good relationship with him also through someone who was working for them at the time. The Red Sox were definitely one or two to be able to get him, for sure."
The Red Sox scouts got to know the pitcher-hitter's high school coach and parents. Ohtani even gave them a private bullpen session.
Romero watched Ohtani play seven times as an amateur.
"It's the best pitching report that I've ever done," Romero said. "At the time, he was the best pitching prospect I had ever seen. He's got the highest grade I've ever given a pitcher."
When the Red Sox scouts had permission from MLB to meet with Ohtani in 2012 to make their pitch, members of the media were crowded outside of his high school. The scouts presented a video the Red Sox made about their vision of Ohtani's career with Boston. An interpreter was present so Ohtani, his parents and coach could ask questions.
"He was the top guy on our list, overall," Romero said. "We were aggressive with him."
The Dodgers and Rangers also had meetings scheduled with Ohtani.
The two-way player decided in 2012 not to play in MLB but stay home and play for Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan's professional league.
"The day we heard he was staying was tough," Deeble said. "We did everything we possibly could and we were right there to the end."
When Ohtani finally decided to come to MLB after playing for five seasons in Japan, he only met with seven teams. The Red Sox were not one of them.
The Angels signed Ohtani in December, using him as both a hitter and starting pitcher. He's batting .367 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in eight games as a hitter. Ohtani has a 2.08 ERA with 18 strikeouts in two games as a pitcher.