The "monster" finally made landfall on May 16.

Pitcher Roki Sasaki was Japan's most-hyped rookie in some time when the Chiba Lotte Marines won his rights in the 2019 draft. He didn’t pitch on the top team in 2020, but that didn’t slow the swell of anticipation among baseball fans.

Sasaki was already a known commodity among those who follow high school baseball and NPB draft prospects when he burst into the national consciousness after a scout reportedly clocked his fastball at 163 kph (101 mph) in 2019. The right-hander also showed great velocity in his high school contests, hitting 160 kph during Iwate Prefecture’s summer tournament that same year. When Ofunato High School opted to sit him for the final of that tournament rather than risk his arm, it made national news programs that night. Fans marveled at his potential, MLB teams took notice and Sasaki’s seemingly prodigious talent led to him being dubbed “Reiwa’s Monster.”