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Japanese Baseball Star Commits to Stanford University


Japanese Baseball Star Commits to Stanford University

In a surprising turn of events, Japanese high school baseball prodigy Rintaro Sasaki has made the decision to forgo the NPB draft and commit to playing baseball at Stanford University. Standing at an impressive 6 feet tall and weighing 250 pounds, Sasaki was projected to be the top pick in the NPB draft before his unexpected decision.

Sasaki, who is only 17 years old, has already made quite a name for himself in the world of Japanese high school baseball. He holds the record for the most home runs hit in Japanese high school history, with an astounding 140 home runs to his name. His talent and potential have drawn comparisons to MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani, who also attended the same high school and was coached by Sasaki’s father, Hiroshi Sasaki.

This decision by Sasaki is relatively unprecedented, as most Japanese players who aspire to play in the major leagues choose to follow a different path. Last year, Rikuu Nishida, another Japanese player, was selected in the 11th round of the MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox. Nishida, however, first played at Mt. Hood Community College in Oregon before transferring to Oregon University. While Nishida’s path was unique, Sasaki’s decision to play college baseball in the U.S. could potentially expedite his journey to the major leagues.

If Sasaki had chosen to enter the NPB draft, he would have needed permission from his Japanese club to be “posted,” a system that allows NPB players to be signed by MLB teams. This process requires players to have at least nine years of service time in the NPB before they can freely sign with MLB teams. By playing college baseball at Stanford University, Sasaki could be eligible for the MLB Draft as early as 2027, giving him a quicker entry into the MLB system.

Another factor that may have influenced Sasaki’s decision is the limitation on bonuses for international amateur players in the MLB. If he had chosen to sign with an MLB team as an amateur free agent, his bonus would have been limited by the international bonus pool caps. However, by going through the college baseball route, Sasaki could potentially receive a higher signing bonus, especially if he is drafted in the top two rounds.

With his commitment to Stanford University, Sasaki has set himself up for an exciting future in baseball. While he won’t achieve free agency after three years of college baseball, his path to the major leagues will be expedited, and he could potentially earn a higher signing bonus. Baseball enthusiasts around the world will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on Sasaki’s journey and eagerly anticipating his future success.

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