Japan’s top-ranked high school baseball player Rintaro Sasaki chooses Stanford over NPB league

Rintaro Sasaki
Credit: Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Prior to this week, baseball star Rintaro Sasaki was widely projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NPB Draft. That was, until Tuesday, when Sasaki, the top-ranked high school baseball player in Japan, signed a letter of intent to play for the Stanford Cardinal instead.

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While many may not be familiar with Sasaki’s name, you’re about to learn more about Sasaki’s game.

Who is Rintaro Sasaki?

rintaro sasaki
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Rintaro Sasaki is a 17-year-old first baseman who measures 6 feet and 250 pounds and holds a Japanese high school record with 140 home runs. Sasaki attended the same high school (Hanamaki-Higashi High) as Shohei Ohtani, where Rintaro’s father coaches.

Had Sasaki stayed in Japan, he wouldn’t have been eligible for the MLB until 2030, but now that he’s coming stateside, he’ll have a chance to enter the 2027 MLB Draft class.

Another option for Sasaki would have been to simply try and sign with an MLB team as an amateur free agent, but teams can only offer so much money, thanks to being restricted by their international signing bonus pool being capped.

Now, if Sasaki can prove he’s good enough to be drafted in the top two rounds, he’ll have no trouble earning a larger signing bonus on his first MLB contract than he would have had he signed with a team as a free agent.

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