Yomiuri Giants land high school slugger Asano as No. 1 draft pick

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shogo Asano, chosen as the No.1 pick by the Yomiuri Giants, smiles at a press conference in Takamatsu on Thursday.

The Yomiuri Giants won the negotiating rights to highly touted high school outfielder Shogo Asano in a lottery at the Nippon Professional Baseball amateur draft on Thursday.

Asano, who hit 68 homers during his career at Kagawa Prefecture’s Takamatsu Shogyo High School, was selected in the first round by both the Giants and Hanshin Tigers. Giants manager Tatsunori Hara then pulled the winning slip from the lottery box.

Asano attracted attention when he hit three home runs at the 104th National High School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium this summer, including two in consecutive at-bats. Relatively short at 1.71 meters, he relies on his athleticism, combining power with speed that clocks 5.9 seconds in the 50 meters. The Giants had decided to make him their No. 1 pick as far back as Sept. 28.

In a rare occurrence, nine of the 12 teams had announced their intended first-round picks prior to the draft. Eight of the 12 succeeded in landing the player they wanted without competition from another team.

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters won the rights to pitcher-outfielder Kota Yazawa of Nippon Sports Science University, who is looking to emulate major league star Shohei Ohtani as a two-way player. The Yokohama DeNA BayStars selected Osaka Toin High School catcher Shion Matsuo, who hit five home runs at Koshien.

Hard-throwing Rikkyo University right-hander Kosei Shoji went to the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles, who won his rights in a lottery with the Chiba Lotte Marines.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shogo Asano celebrates his selection as a No. 1 draft pick with Takamatsu Shogyo High School teammates and classmates in Takamatsu on Thursday.