The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters maintained their status as the mavericks of Nippon Professional Baseball's amateur draft on Thursday, when they selected high school pitcher Shohei Otani in the first round, despite his expressed desire to pursue a deal with a major league team.

Last year, the Fighters used their first-round pick on Tokai University pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano, who proved as good as his word when he said he would sign with no club other than the Yomiuri Giants. The Giants, managed by Sugano's uncle, Tatsunori Hara, was the only team to draft the right-hander this season after he sat out the entire 2012 campaign.

Otani, a hard-throwing 193-cm right-hander from Iwate Prefecture's Hanamaki Higashi High School who has already met with three major league teams and announced his decision to pass on NPB on Sunday, is now in the sights of Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama.