Japan’s teenage prodigy Rintaro Sasaki played his first game on U.S. soil on Tuesday. Appearing for the Trenton Thunder against the Frederick Keys in the MLB Draft League, his first hit in the country was a two-run homer to right field in the third. Quite a way for the Japanese teenager to introduce himself to audiences in the States. Returning to the dugout, he was then given the silent treatment from his teammates before they started jumping on him in celebration. In addition to his home run, Sasaki also hit an RBI single in the sixth inning. It came off his bat at 105.7 mph. 

Who is Rintaro Sasaki? 

Sasaki, 19, is going down a different route to other Japanese players. Big names like Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui and Shohei Ohtani first established themselves in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) before heading out to the States. Sasaki had enough belief in himself to leave his homeland at the age of 18. After graduating from Iwate Prefecture’s Hanamaki Higashi High School in March, he enrolled at Stanford University in April. The youngster hit 140 home runs (including in practice games) for Hanamaki Higashi, which is believed to be an all-time high school record in Japan.  

Ohtani and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Yusei Kikuchi went to the same school. They were both coached by Sasaki’s father. The teenager spoke to the two MLB players before making up his mind about going to the States. After Sasaki confirmed his intentions, David Esquer, the head coach of the Stanford Cardinal baseball team, said: “He may be the most high-profile international prospect to play college baseball in the United States in a long time.” Sasaki will join the school’s baseball program for the 2025 season. 

Related Posts