With their third round selection of the 2019 MLB Draft, the Tampa Bay Rays selected 18-year old outfielder Shane Sasaki, who stands at a listed 6’1” but only 160 lbs.
A product of Iolani HS in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sasaki is the top draft prospect from his state and goes to the Rays a couple rounds sooner than anticipated.
In choosing Sasaki, the Rays are again prioritizing speed in this draft, per Baseball America:
Sasaki’s best tool at the moment might be his running ability, which is a 55-grade tool that allows him to cover expansive ground in the outfield when paired with excellent jumps off the bat. He has solid-average arm strength.
Offensively, Sasaki has sneaky pop for how small he is, and scouts think he could get to average power and be an average hitter at the next level. He has a big, aggressive swing that could lead to more whiffs in the future, but it works just fine for him at the moment.
While there’s no obvious plus tool with Sasaki, there’s no real hole in his game either, and that could be enough for a team to try and buy him out of his Cal Poly commitment on Day 2.
The value of this draft selection is $587,400 at slot. With all players drafted on Day 2 with college commitments, the Rays must be pretty confident that the player will sign to take him in the 3-10 range.
You can follow him on twitter here: @shanesasaki23
“Growing up watching Kolten Wong, I was like wow, that’s amazing, he’s going to get drafted and stuff like that. All the past guys before me too and right now in this position it’s a very crazy experience,” said Sasaki.
At the 2018 Perfect Game Sunshine West Showcase, Sasaki was scouted as a prospect with a medium frame with a strong build and square shoulders. He Ran a 6.50 second 60-yard dash. Worked out defensively as a primary outfielder. Smooth paced and clean close to the ball. Funnels out front with soft hands. Long arm circle in back with good arm strength and solid carry to the bag. Throws topping out at 94 miles per hour during workouts. Right handed hitter with an open stance. Quick hands through the zone with present bat speed. Attacks the ball with pop off the barrel. Stays to left center field with approach. Good student as well. Named to the 2018 Sunshine West Showcase Top Prospect List.
“They’re in the weight room at 5:30 (in the morning) almost every day,” ‘Miyahira said. “It’s all on them. They’re getting after it and I’m proud of them, but we’re not done yet. We have goals to accomplish and we have to go and get it.”
Sasaki downed two protein shakes every day and hit the weight room diligently.
“The whole team, all the seniors, we put in work trying to pick up as much weight as we can before the season started,” said Sasaki, who stands 6 feet tall. “Just from last year, I gained 20 pounds. I’m 170-ish. We all picked up weight.”
The goal, he added, wasn’t just to bulk up.
“My speed is my game, so I work a lot on fast-twitch muscles. It’s different for each guy. I do a lot of leg work, more reps than heavy. I do squats, RDLs, single-leg RDLs,” he said, referring to Romanian deadlifts.
You can read an additional Q&A with Sasaki here.