Rintaro Sasaki, Japan's top high school prospect, will forgo NPB and instead play college baseball in the U.S.

The shadow of Steven Zobac of Cal is seen as he pitches against New Mexico State during an NCAA baseball game on Friday, May 13, 2022 in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Lachlan Cunningham)
Japan's top prospect is expected to play baseball at an American college instead of the country's top baseball league. Rintaro Sasaki didn't submit his name for the Nippon Professional Baseball draft. (AP Photo/Lachlan Cunningham)

Rintaro Sasaki intends to continue his baseball career in the United States. In an unprecedented move, the top high school prospect in Japan did not submit his name for the Nippon Professional Baseball draft.

Because this has never occurred, there is no road map for an elite international prospect to go to a U.S. college and then to Major League Baseball. As Japan's consensus top prospect, the presumption was that Sasaki would be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NPB draft.

However, by forgoing his home country's top baseball league, Sasaki will be eligible for the MLB Draft earlier by bypassing MLB's international amateur rules.

The 6-foot, 250-pound first baseman is Japan's high school leader in home runs (140), and he set the record while playing for his father, Hiroshi, at Hanamaki-Higashi High School. It's the same school at which Shohei Ohtani starred while also playing under Hiroshi.

While Sasaki has not decided on a college yet, he reportedly has Vanderbilt as his top school. The Commodores won the College World Series in 2014 and 2019 and finished as the runners-up in 2021.

According to Baseball America, Sasaki slashed .413/.514/.808 in high school and was walked twice as many times as he struck out.