Roki Sasaki may be just 21 years old, but he has already made a dramatic impact upon Japanese baseball history.
He has already been considered the best pitching prospect in Nippon Professional Baseball since Shohei Ohtani. Sasaki lived up to his billing last season, not only firing the fastest pitch of any lefty in league history, but also throwing a perfect game early in the year. He followed that outing with eight perfect innings, being pulled because the game was still tied after the eighth.
Roki Sasaki makes even more history
If his performance for Samurai Japan during their exhibition game is any indication, he is slated for another dominant year. Sasaki fired a 102.5 MPH fastball during that contest, tying Ohtani for what would be the NPB record. He finished his outing by allowing a hit and two walks over three scoreless innings, striking out three batters.
The World Baseball Classic may be Sasaki’s introduction to the American market. However, it would not be fair to consider the tournament as his coming out party. He had already dominated as a rookie last season, posting a 2.02 ERA and a 0.796 WHiP over his 129.1 innings, striking out 173 batters with just 23 walks. There was a period of time when Sasaki was the professional baseball strikeout leader regardless of league. Suffice to say, Sasaki had an impressive showing by any metric.
And he is just getting started. All of that success came when he was just 20 years old. Armed with a pair of plus-plus offerings in his fastball and splitter, Sasaki has the potential to be the best pitcher to come out of Japan in a decade. His career is going to be fascinating to watch.
Roki Sasaki is getting ready to rewrite the record books once again. His 102.5 MPH fastball on Friday is just the beginning.