Rintaro Sasaki, the No. 1 high school prospect in Japan, is opting to play college baseball in the United States instead of entering the Nippon Professional Baseball Draft.
Playing first base, Sasaki is 6 feet tall and 250 pounds, and he hit 140 home runs at Hanamaki Higashi High School.
Huge late night news as 17-year-old Japanese sensation Rintaro Sasaki will forgo the NBP Draft and attend college in the United States. Walloped a Japanese HS record 140 HRs and hit over .400. 6-foot, 250-pound behemoth with top of the scale raw power. pic.twitter.com/48mQrscX3l
— Peter Flaherty III (@PeterGFlaherty) October 10, 2023
According to Farm to Fame on X, he's rumored to be headed to Vanderbilt, which won the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and 2019. It was the College World Series runner-up in 2021.
Japan's No. 1 high school prospect, Rintaro Sasaki, is skipping the NPB Draft and coming straight to the US
The 6'0" 250 lb. 1B set the record for most career high school HR (138)
He is rumored to be heading to Vanderbiltpic.twitter.com/QwWduJgunD
— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) October 10, 2023
What makes Sasaki more appealing is that he set those records at the same high school attended by Los Angeles Angels designated hitter and starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani. Sasaki's coach throughout his high school experience was his father, Hiroshi, who coached Ohtani before he signed with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in the NPB.
In high school, Sasaki, 17, hit .413/.514/.808 and was viewed as the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NPB Draft. Interestingly, he's been walked twice as much as he's struck out.
The other impactful part of this decision is that, in deciding to come to the United States for college, Sasaki will bypass the MLB's international amateur rules and will be eligible for the MLB Draft. In going to college, Sasaki cannot receive an NIL (name/image/likeness) deal due to his international status.
According to Baseball America, his power grades as a 70 on a 20-80 scouting scale.
Here's what Peter Flaherty of Baseball America had to say about the power-hitting lefty:
"While his power is his premier tool, Sasaki also has a knack for consistently finding the barrel and has a great feel to hit. He has plenty of bat speed as well as big time 'buggy whip' in his hands. Sasaki has also shown an advanced approach and has walked twice as many times as he has struck out. Defensively, Sasaki is limited to first base and he fields the position well."
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