The "Japanese Prince Fielder" will be available to the Cubs much sooner than expected

Hitting home runs as an amateur is difficult, so anytime you see a 17-year old with 140 career home runs it has to grab your attention.

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The game of baseball is getting more and more intriguing with every season as players find ways to play within the rules that already exist and attempt to maximize their earning potential within them.

Players like Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who the Chicago Cubs were quickly priced out of, waited long enough to earn a $325 million dollar contract, but it sounds like Roki Sasaki will follow in the footsteps of Shohei Ohtani and spurn that larger payday in order to get to the highest level of competition as quickly as possible.

Players under the age of 25 or with less than six years of service in the NPB are considered International Free Agents and have their earnings restricted by the bonus pool that each team receives.

That being said, Rintaro Sasaki (no relation to the aforementioned Roki Sasaki) chose option C.

The player that is being referred to as the “Japanese Prince Fielder,” is finishing his senior year of high school in Japan and has committed to play college baseball at Stanford University. 

As a high schooler, he broke Japan’s national record for home runs in high school with 140 while slashing .413/.514/.808. He would likely have been the number one overall draft pick in the NPB had he stayed in Japan but rather than being ineligible to come to the States on a mega deal until after the 2031 season this move will make him draft-eligible as early as 2027.

It will be fascinating to see this situation play out to see if this becomes the norm with top high school players in Japan or if it’s just a one-time thing, but if Sasaki can come hit homers in the US in the same way he did in Japan, he could be a trendsetter and one the Cubs will want to target in the 2027 draft even if he is defensively limited.

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