Ohtani Shohei (29, LA Angels), who played a big role in pitching and played an active role that seemed to come out of a cartoon, was the sole lead in Japan’s 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) championship.
However, there was a ‘supernova’ that received as much attention as that. It is Rocky Sasaki (22, Chiba Lotte) who throws a fiery fastball with a maximum speed of 165km and a forkball that exceeds 150km.
Already catching the attention of the American Major League (MLB), attention is focused on how far he will develop. Darvish Yu (37, San Diego Padres), who directly informed him of the new pitch, was also surprised to see his talent.
On the 30th, Japan’s Nikkan Gendai revealed an anecdote between Darvish and Sasaki during the preparation period for the 2023 WBC, saying, “Sasaki, who started in two games, including the semi-final against Mexico in the WBC, surprised Japanese players.”
According to the media, on the first day of field training in Miyazaki, Japan, Darvish taught Sasaki a sharp, curved slider. Strictly speaking, it was described as a ‘sweeper’ rather than a slider. This pitch has recently become the most popular in MLB. It is a slider type ball with great lateral movement.
Ohtani is also on a winning streak with this type of pitch. The WBC also had fun with this weapon. The ball that struck out Mike Trout, one of the best hitters in the world, after taking the mound as a closer in the bottom of the ninth inning with a one-run lead with the U.S., was also a sweeper that quickly bent outward and ran away.
Sasaki has the best fastball and forkball in NPB, but his slider was relatively weak. That’s why Sasaki received a new weapon from Darvish more actively. The media said, “In the semifinals, he threw a slider that was directly taught by Darvish. The accuracy improved day by day.”
Darvish, who started pitching himself, was also impressed. He praised it, saying, “It’s really great,” and catcher Guy Takuya, who received the ball himself, was also amazed, saying, “I thought there was such a great slider.” 메이저놀이터
Nikkan Gendai said, “There were other pitchers who had been taught by Darvish, but it was extremely difficult to raise them to a level that could be used in a game in a short period of time.” It was about 5 out of 64 pitches, but the strike rate was 100% in all of them.”
Sasaki is as suitable as Ohtani as the protagonist of a hero manga. Even at a young age, he struck out the most in a single game, struck out 13 batters in a row, struck out 52 batters in a row, and became the youngest person to have a perfect game.
The fact that he overcame adversity and grew up is perfect for him to be the main character in another script. After losing his father and grandparents during the Great East Japan Earthquake, he grew up dreaming of becoming a baseball player while living with his mother. It is also unusual for him to turn down offers of admission from prestigious high schools across the country and go to a high school in his area of residence with his middle school classmates.
Although he is in the spotlight in the big leagues, he still has to play more in NPB due to his young age. He is not impatient himself, so there is a prospect in the US that he will enter the US as a free agent (FA) in 2027.