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Nippon Ham rookie Kotaro Kiyomiya to open spring camp with top team

Kyodo

No. 1 draft pick Kotaro Kiyomiya will start his professional career on the top team when the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters open spring camp in Arizona next month, the Pacific League club said Wednesday.

The 18-year-old rookie was named in the list of 42 Fighters players who will hold a portion of their spring training at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ facility in Scottsdale, while 26 farm-team players will remain in Japan and set up camp in Okinawa.

Manager Hideki Kuriyama and his team will train in Arizona for two weeks starting Feb. 1, then move to Okinawa for the Feb. 17-23 period. They start competitive play with a practice game against South Korea’s KT Wiz on Feb. 10.

Kiyomiya was the most sought-after player in last October’s amateur draft after hitting 111 home runs as a high school player — a total touted as an unofficial Japan record.

The 2016 Japan Series champions posted two-way star Shohei Ohtani in the offseason and will receive a $20 million fee from the Los Angeles Angels for their negotiation rights.