Japanese power-hitting prodigy to play college baseball at Stanford

February 14th, 2024

It’s official: Power-hitting Japanese phenom Rintaro Sasaki is headed stateside.

Sasaki, a student at Hanamaki Higashi High School -- the alma mater of Shohei Ohtani and Yusei Kikuchi, among other stars -- signed his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Stanford University, beginning with the 2025 season. After three collegiate seasons, Sasaki will be eligible for the MLB Draft.

Dubbed the "Japanese Prince Fielder" by the popular English-language NPB channel Yakyu Cosmopolitan, Sasaki obliterated Japan’s high school home run record with an astounding 140 dingers. He posted a .413/.514/.808 slash line during his career at Hanamaki Higashi, walking twice as much as he struck out. Sasaki was projected to be the first overall pick in the coming NPB draft before signing with the Cardinal.

Sasaki joins a Stanford program that reached the past three Men’s College World Series and has produced dozens of Major Leaguers, including Jack McDowell, Bob Boone and Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Mussina. Nico Hoerner, Tommy Edman and Cal Quantrill are among the active players who are Cardinal alumni.