Japan starting pitcher Roki Sasaki Mar 20, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Roki Sasaki (14) delivers a pitch during the first inning against Mexico at LoanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Whatever you were doing at the age of 21, it more than likely didn’t involve throwing 100-plus mph strikes on an international stage.

For Japanese ace, Roki Sasaki, he was doing that and then some on Monday night.

While Japan took on Mexico during the World Baseball Classic semifinals, we all got to see what the hype was all about. Everyone reacted accordingly.

Sasaki came as advertised. He threw consistent fastballs, all of which were measured over 100 mph. An average velocity of 100.5 mph.

Of course, many scouts were in attendance. Those alike described Sasaki’s fastball as something otherworldly.

His age was a big topic of discussion, too. Especially how it compared to what Major League Baseball pitchers did last season.

Sasaki and his teammate, two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, share one big thing in common. They are the only two Japanese pitchers to ever throw a pitch of the same velocity. (102.5 mph)

Sasaki also broke the Japanese high school record with a fastball recorded at 101 mph.


When comparing what he can do to MLB starters, he’s in a very small group of pitchers who have a strikeout that measured at least 102 mph:

His secondary pitches appear to have a high velocity as well, especially his splitter.

Just last year, he threw a perfect game. A 19-STRIKE OUT perfect game when he was just 20 years old.

And it appears he’s also just a really nice guy.

He is human after all, however.

Mexico’s Luis Urías hit a three-run home run in the top of the fourth inning to take the lead.

Sasaki went 9-4 with a 2.02 ERA and 173 strikeouts in 129 1.3 innings (490 batters faced) with the Chiba Lotte Marines in 2022, his first full season playing in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Before you run to the fantasy baseball draft boards, take a breath. There isn’t a specific timeline for him to play in MLB, a dream of his.

It’s possible he doesn’t have a chance to play in the states until the 2027 season when he’s 25. That’s if he waits for the Japanese posting system to lift. If he doesn’t wait, he could be posted for major-league clubs before that.

That’s when MLB negotiations can begin.

Until then …

About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for MLB.com and NBC Sports Bay Area.