17-year-old Japanese phenom Rintaro Sasaki to play college baseball in US

17-year-old Japanese phenom Rintaro Sasaki to play college baseball in US
via Yakyu Cosmopolitan
Bryan Ke
October 11, 2023
Japanese high school baseball phenom Rintaro Sasaki has reportedly decided to forego his shot at Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) to play for college baseball in the United States.
Key details: Multiple reports coming from Japan noted that Sasaki, a 17-year-old student at Hanamaki-Higashi High School in Iwate Prefecture, Japan, did not submit his registration for the upcoming NPB draft and has instead decided to attend an American college to play collegiate baseball, according to multiple reports coming from Japan.
Citing Japanese media reports, ESPN noted that Sasaki is eyeing Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, as his top early pick for a school.
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Details to note: Sasaki is currently coached by his father, Hiroshi, at Hanamaki-Higashi High School, which was the same high school MLB two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani attended in Japan. Hiroshi also reportedly coached the younger Ohtani during his high school baseball career.
A top prospect: With a record 140 home runs during his high school baseball career, Sasaki is reportedly Japan’s consensus top prospect and the No. 1 overall pick in the NPB. Sasaki’s home run record shattered that of previous holder Kotaro Kiyomiya, who set the bar at 111. Kiyomiya was picked as the first overall during the 2017 NPB draft. 
The 6-foot, 250-pound high school baseball star also boasts a 70 “raw power” grade on the 20-80 scouting scale. Sasaki’s score on the scale could translate to over 30 home runs in a major league season.
Fast-tracking his career: With his unprecedented decision to head straight for an American university, Sasaki could expedite his professional baseball career by a few years, becoming eligible for an MLB draft in 2027 at the earliest if he signs up with a four-year school, The Athletic explained.
If Sasaki continued in the NPB, he would have to wait until his Japanese baseball club decides to post him for MLB. He would also need to have nine years of service in NPB before becoming eligible to sign up with an MLB team.
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