Rintaro Sasaki: “I’m referring to Barry Bonds’ hitting style. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Rintaro Sasaki: “I’m referring to Barry Bonds’ hitting style.

Hanamaki Higashi, a super first-year student from Hanamaki Higashi, a new monster from Rikeiwa, has been selected to participate in next spring's "Senbatsu" tournament. Professional scouts are amazed by this large slugger who stands 183 cm tall and weighs 117 kg.

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He has hit 47 home runs in just over six months since entering high school. Rintaro Sasaki, a freshman first baseman for Hanamaki Higashi, is mass-producing home runs at a pace faster than Kotaro Kiyomiya (Hokkaido Nippon-Ham), who hit a total of 111 home runs during his time at Waseda Jitsugyo, the most in his high school career.

Rintaro Sasaki, a freshman first baseman for Hanamaki Higashi, struck a gut-wrenching pose after winning the Tohoku Fall Tournament on October 26. The origin of his name is said to be the childhood name of Kaishu Katsu.

He is a thoroughbred whose father is Hiroshi Sasaki, the coach of the school who coached Yusei Kikuchi and Shohei Ohtani. I interviewed him directly after a game at the Tohoku autumn tournament, which confirmed his participation in next spring’s Senbatsu.

“Of course, I admire Yusei and Shohei. I’m very far away from them now, but they are big goals of mine, so I want to work hard to get even one step closer to them. I always try to take a full swing when I’m up to bat. Since I’m playing baseball here at Hanamaki Higashi, I’m always thinking about contributing to the team.

He is 183cm tall and weighs 117kg. He stands 183 cm tall and weighs 117 kg. If you go to a baseball stadium, it’s really easy to find this 16-year-old with an extraordinary physique. He uses an upper-arm swing, which is common among strong hitters in both the East and West, to get to the ball, but what is remarkable is his swing speed. He has been studying the swing of Barry Bonds, who hit a record 762 home runs in his career, by watching his swing on YouTube.

“I’m referring to his timing. I think it’s a form that suits me.

Although he only hit a home run in the first game of the Tohoku tournament, he hit a game-winning double in the final against Seikogakuin.

The Meiji Jingu Tournament, which starts on November 20th, will be Sasaki’s first time on the national stage.

He said, “My style is to get into a favorable count by identifying high fastballs and low breaking balls. I’ve been improving my ability to hit the ball out of the park, so I’ve been hitting more home runs from summer to fall. I want to do well against good pitchers (at the Jingu Tournament).”

However, it was questionable how Hanamaki Higashi was able to record 47 hits in six months, when many prefectures have banned external games due to the Covid-19 disaster. Sasaki himself told us how it works.

“I count the home runs in the red-and-white games (within the team).

To begin with, the definition of how to count home runs in high school is vague, but Kiyomiya’s record does not include red-and-white games. If we want to expect him to set a new record, we should only count his hits in external games and official games. While the media was excited about the appearance of the new monster, a professional baseball scout who was visiting the Tohoku tournament was calm.

“He has the ability to send a loose ball far away from a high school player. However, he is currently unable to handle the fastballs and sharp breaking balls of high-level pitchers. His defense and base running are also still immature. Of course, he’s only a freshman, so I think he has a lot of room to grow.

What numerical goals has your father, Hiroshi Sasaki, given you?

“No, not really. I don’t focus on the number of home runs, but rather on how I can improve my skills. I’m not even conscious of Kiyomiya’s record.

First of all, the stage at Jingu, where the top pitchers gather, will test whether he is a monster or not.

With his imposing physique of 183 cm and 117 kg, he swings the bat with all his might, and has already been entrusted with batting third despite being a freshman.
Manager Hiroshi Sasaki (top right) looks at his eldest son, who is attracting a lot of attention. In the future, he will need to learn how to handle left-handed pitchers, how to hit inside and outside pitches, and how to play defense.

From the November 12, 2021 issue of FRIDAY

  • Reporting and writing Yuji Yanagawa, nonfiction writer PHOTO Takaki Matsuhashi

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