Rintaro Sasaki, Japanese home-run phenom, commits to play college baseball at Stanford


Teenage Japanese slugger Rintaro Sasaki has signed a letter of intent to play college baseball at Stanford, the school announced on Tuesday night. Sasaki had originally announced his intent to forgo the Nippon Professional Baseball league draft — in which he was the potential No. 1 pick — to head to the United States last October. 

Sasaki will graduate in March and enroll at Stanford for the spring quarter in April.

“We are excited to welcome Rintaro into our Stanford family,” Stanford director of baseball David Esquer said in a program-issued statement. “He may be the most high-profile international prospect to play college baseball in the United States in a long time. His power bat plays right into our style of play, and we look forward to him contributing immediately to help us achieve our goals of competing for and winning national titles.”

Sasaki attended the same high school as Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani. During his prep career, he set a new Japanese high school record by homering 140 times. Here’s what Baseball America’s Peter Flaherty offered on Sasaki last fall:

The younger Sasaki’s calling card is his thunderous raw power which comfortably grades out as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. 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.

The NCAA’s rules prohibit international athletes from receiving money through NIL endeavors. In other words, this move was not outright motivated by short-term financial gains. Sasaki is also not the first Japanese prepster to come play college baseball in the United States. Rikuu Nishida, an 11th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox, played two seasons at a junior college and one at Oregon before turning pro.





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