Ontario Blue Jays pitcher Kansai Sugimoto is hoping to make a name for himself in baseball after making the move from Japan to Canada.
The 18-year-old is determined to take this opportunity playing in a completely new environment to further sharpen his skills to continue towards his goal of playing in the MLB.
Sugimoto is no stranger to the game with baseball being one of the most popular sports in Japan.
This is where he first developed his sound, controlled techniques and elite athleticism growing up.
“He is one of the most athletic, fluent with his body, and mobile athletes I’ve ever worked with,” said Conner Morro, Ontario Blue Jays strength and conditioning coach, in an interview on Friday. “He’s your typical Japanese player where all his actions are nice and smooth and everything’s controlled, everything’s in sync.”
Sugimoto believes that Japanese and Canadian baseball are different from each other, and already has a preference of where he likes to play.
“Japanese baseball is really strict,” he said in an interview on Friday. “(In Canada), I can play baseball freely, and I can do whatever I want. I like this style more.”
The Japanese native further describes the transition from playing baseball in two different countries with unique cultures.
“Yeah, it wasn’t that hard. I like baseball,” he said. “It was more fun to like, adapt to the environment.”
This passion for the game shows in Sugimoto’s positive mindset and bubbly personality.
Morro agreed, speaking on the effect he has on the people around him, both on and off the field.
“He’s a really fun kid, all the guys from the Toronto area love him, he brings a different element to the locker room,” Morro said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look tired in my life just because he’s happy to be here and he’s happy to be training with the best baseball players in Canada and the coaches.
“He’s a little bit of a spark plug, always smiling, happy, super respectful to his teammates and coaches.”
The journey to where he is was not easy for Sugimoto, as he didn’t always have a strong belief in himself and his talent.
“I asked my dad (if I could) quit baseball one time,” he said. “But he convinced me to keep doing work, be patient. Today we get bigger.”
Sugimoto said he has gained confidence and knows he’s headed in the right direction with all the support from his family, peers, and coaches.
The current Mississauga resident is headed to Arizona in August to play for Yavapai College, taking the next step in his baseball career.