“It feels like you are properly controlling the {World Baseball Classic (WBC) official ball}.”

Right-handed pitcher Roki Sasaki (22, Chiba Lotte Marines), who is called the all-time rookie of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), is receiving a lot of attention as he recorded a maximum speed of 156km per hour from his first bullpen pitch this year.

Japanese local media ‘Sankei Sports’ wrote about Sasaki on the 3rd. Sasaki made his first bullpen pitch of the year on Ishigaki Island on the 2nd. He immediately used an unfamiliar match ball in preparation for the WBC, which was approaching next month, but showed an explosive impact as if he had adapted to some extent. He threw a total of 49 pitches, including 29 fastballs, 11 sliders and 20 breaking balls, including 9 forkballs. His highest speed was 156 km.

After pitching in the bullpen, Sasaki said, “I’m conscious of finishing quickly (about getting in shape) because the WBC is in March. It feels like I am properly controlling (the WBC official ball),” he said.

Sasaki is called Japan’s greatest talent ever. He was the youngest (20 years and 5 months) in NPB history to complete a perfect game. It is not just a mere record. Although his age is small, his skills are not pushed even when competing with top players.

In the first year of the first team (2021), Sasaki drew attention by recording an average ERA of 2.27 and 68 strikeouts with 3 wins, 2 losses and 63⅓ innings. After a while, he succeeded in winning the national team.

As time goes by, his talent shines brighter and he is showing a steep growth trend. In November of last year, Sasaki struggled to adapt to the WBC official ball in the national team evaluation match and could hardly score zero points. The WBC official ball is the same as the 스포츠토토 Major League ball, but it takes time to get used to as it is more slippery than the NPB official ball.

After that, Sasaki did not let go of the official ball. And after 3 months, I entered the final stage of adaptation. He said to himself, “(The senses) got used to it more than last November. The breaking ball is a passing score. I am throwing with a good sense,” he explained.

In addition to Sasaki, the Japanese national team plans to build a high-quality starting lineup with Japan’s leading major leaguers Yu Darvish (37, San Diego Padres), Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels), and Yoshinobu Yamamoto (25, Orix Buffaloes). If Sasaki raises his senses as much as expected, Japan is expected to gain more momentum.

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