Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Kotaro Kiyomiya eager to make impact after agreeing to join Fighters

Kyodo

High school slugger Kotaro Kiyomiya, the most sought-after player in last month’s amateur draft, agreed on Thursday to join the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, who won his negotiating rights in a seven-way draft-day lottery.

The 184-cm, 102-kg Kiyomiya hit 111 home runs as a high schooler — a total touted as an unofficial Japan record. The first baseman has agreed to a contract reportedly worth ¥15 million (roughly $133,000) with a ¥100 million signing bonus and incentives worth ¥50 million — the maximum NPB allows for first-year players.

“I want to be a player who is loved by various people,” Kiyomiya told a news conference. “My goal is for people to say, ‘I want to be like Kiyomiya.’ “

“Step by step, the realization that I’m becoming a pro ballplayer is sinking in. I’ll do my best to meet expectations placed on me from the first year.”