Kansai Sugimoto is working tirelessly on perfecting his pitches with the Ontario Blue Jays so he can achieve his dream of competing in the major leagues like his idol Shohei Ohtani.
He admires the Japanese-born star and often finds himself moulding his game after the Los Angeles Angels pitcher, though he does not also hit like the double-threat.
“I just want to be like him,” said Sugimoto, in an interview on Friday. “And I practice every day (to be like him),”
Sugimoto was born in Kyoto, but moved to Mississauga as a child and now pitches in the U-18 division of the Canadian Premier Baseball League.
The right-hander focuses on the mechanics involved with the big leaguer and is working to emulate that into his own pitching techniques.
Connor Morro, Director of Player Development of the Ontario Blue Jays, credits Sugimoto for his positive mentality towards the development of his game.
“He’s a really fun kid, all the guys from the Toronto area love him,” said Morro, on a video call. “He brings a different element to the locker room, he’s a little bit of a spark-plug, always smiling and always happy and super respectful to his teammates and coaches.”
Sugimoto is most proud of his four-seam fastball and has worked extensively with Morro to strengthen his arm in order to increase the speed of his pitch, which comes in at 95 miles per hour.
He has built up his arsenal to be a three-pitch threat including a curveball, changeup, and fastball, with the option to add a splitter to his list to have a true four-pitch lineup.
Sugimoto is in the midst of completing a mandatory English test as he awaits approval to be a part of the pitching roster of Yavapai College, in Prescott, Ariz.
He is joining with the goal of beating other top colleges in the state and win the championship of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
“Right now, Yavapai is not the best (school) in Arizona. There are two more better schools than them, so I want to beat them and become a champion,” he said.
He is set to attend Yavapai College in August, 2022.