It is rare for a Japanese player to bypass Nippon Professional Baseball and head stateside. It is unheard of for a high school player to bypass the NPB Draft because they want to head to college in the United States. However, that is exactly what Rintaro Sasaki is planning on doing.
According to Yahoo Japan, Sasaki did not submit his application for the NPB Draft. Instead, he is looking to head stateside for college, although he is unsure which school he will attend. Yahoo Japan stated that he had toured the facilities several universities and major league teams, specifically mentioning Vanderbilt as one of those institutions he visited.
Rintaro Sasaki taking unusual step in baseball journey
Sasaki would have been an early pick in the NPB Draft. He has been called the Japanese Prince Fielder due to his body type and immense power. His 140 homers are a Japanese high school record, a feat that is even more impressive considering that high school baseball is a pastime of its own in Japan. Legends are made on those diamonds, especially in the Koshien tournament.
Now, Sasaki is looking to forge his own path. He is doing something that has never been done before, bypassing the NPB for college in America. It is a tremendous gamble – on one hand, he could improve his stock and earn a larger bonus in the draft. On the other, if he struggles, he could miss out on millions. Sasaki would have been a highly sought after international prospect if he just declared his intention to head to a major league organization.
Instead, he has other plans. Sasaki could be looking beyond baseball as well, aiming to get as good of an education possible. His skill on the diamond could open up doors beyond the game as well. It is always good to have a fallback plan.
Rintaro Sasaki is bypassing the NPB Draft to head to college in the United States. He is forging his own path in the baseball world.