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Rintaro Sasaki Homers In MLB Draft League Debut With Trenton Thunder

 Julian Guilarte - World Baseball Network  |    Jun 12th, 2024 7:11am EDT

Stanford-bound Japanese first baseman Rintaro Sasaki joined the Trenton Thunder of the MLB Draft League on June 10 and made an instant impact, hitting a monster home run on June 11 against the Frederick Keys. 

The left-handed hitting Sasaki, 19, pulled a ball well over the right field wall on an 0-2 count against Grant Richars. He got a 90.7 mph fastball low and inside and didn’t miss it, hitting it 352 feet with an exit velocity of 99.7 mph.

The news of his deal with the Trenton Thunder was announced on the club’s X account on June 10.

Sasaki also pulled an RBI single at 105.7 moh to right field in the sixth against relief pitcher Joe Zhu. Sasaki was 2-for-5 with a home run, three RBI, and a walk in his Thunder debut. and led the Trenton Thunder to an 11-1 victory over the Frederick Keys. 

Trenton Thunder manager described Sasaki’s debut as “exciting and “electric” after the game on June 11 to MLB.com reporter Melanie Martinez-Lopez. 

“I knew something special was going to happen, so I actually turned around and told the guys, ‘I want to admire this,’ then next thing you know, he drops the head [of the bat] and he clears,” Thunder manager Adonis Smith told Martinez-Lopez. “It was magical.”

MLB Draft League commissioner Sean Campbell commented on the addition of Sasaki in a press release on June 10.

“If we could give him that opportunity and environment to come to us, continue to get work defensively, continue to get at-bats, face high-level pitching, swing a wood bat, it would all be beneficial to the kid,” Campbell told MLB.com. “I think like that was the more immediate approach, it was just, what’s in the best interest of Rintaro’s development.”

Sasaki committed to Stanford on February 13 after he decided to forgo last year’s NPB Draft. He would’ve most likely been the top pick in the NPB Draft.  Sasaki is the most significant Japanese prospect to skip the NPB Draft in favor of playing college baseball. 

The six-foot 250 pounds Sasaki played at Hanamaki Higashi High School and set a Japanese record with 140 home runs. Sasaki has walked twice as many times as he has struck out and had a career high school batting average of .413, with a .514 on-base percentage and .808 slugging percentage.

The Trenton Thunder (2-5) will play the Frederick Keys (2-5) on June 12 at 7 p.m. EDT in Neymo Field at Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick, Md.

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Julian Guilarte - World Baseball Network