Q&A: ‘Iolani outfielder Shane Sasaki

'Iolani's Shane Sasaki said there were eight to 10 teams interested in him before Tampa Bay made him the 99th overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft. Photo by Kat Wade/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

‘Iolani’s hit machine is a phenomenon, a result of reps and development.

The process has been simple and certainly not easy. Shane Sasaki and his teammates haven’t stopped since reaching the state semifinals in 2018. Swings in the batting cage. Reps in the weight room. No rest for the weary.

Sasaki is batting .591 with three homers, 13 RBIs and nine runs scored during ‘Iolani’s 6-0 run to start the ILH season. Last year, he was a Star-Advertiser All-State second-team outfielder. Sasaki chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Friday.

He was also featured in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which you can read here.

Shane Sasaki
‘Iolani baseball

Q&A / Favorites
Athlete: Mookie Betts.
He’s a similar athlete to me and he did bowling, and I did bowling, as well. My high score is 260-something. I was on varsity (bowling) until last year. I like his rhythm. I like how slow he works. He’s not rushed with his swing and has really good bat control.

Team: Boston Red Sox.
I really liked Hanley Ramirez.

Favorite food at home
My mom’s chicken katsu curry. I just come home and it’s out there. She makes a lot of good things.

Favorite food eating out
Gen Korean BBQ House.

I draw here and there. I drew baseball (scenes) when I was young, but it takes a lot of time.

Infinity Wars. I’m a Marvel fan.

TV show
Friends. My mom (Robin) likes Friends. I used to watch it with her. She has a huge season set (on DVD).

Video game
Apex. It’s kind of like Fortnite. We play Apex or 2K. That’s one of my rituals. The day before a game, I’ll play at night. I started playing and we’ve been winning. Kyler Mento, my teammate, plays it a lot, too.

Music artist
YBN Cordae. My favorite song by him is ‘Kung Fu.’

Miss Frith. She teaches entrepreneurship. I had her class in eighth grade. She likes baseball, too, and she likes the Yankees. We always talk smack.

GPA: 2.9.

Trigonometry. I love math. I like formulas, and when the formulas are explained. Like in Pre-Cal. Math comes easy for me. My dad’s good at math. He’s an electrical contractor.

It is what it is. My hitting coach, Colin Tanabe, used to say it to me.

What mom says that you can’t forget
Do your homework. I hear that every day.

What dad (Keith) says that you can’t forget
Go 110 percent.

What your coaches say
Figure it out. This wasn’t to me, but I can’t un-forget it. Micah Miyahira was batting, he looked at a pitch down the middle. And coach said, ‘Figure it out.’ Next pitch, Micah hit a home run.

How does baseball affect your life?
I really love baseball, so everything I do, I’d sacrifice anything for baseball. I’m hitting, hit the weight room. I have a cage in my back yard. My dad set it up himself around three years ago.

Elementary and middle schools
I went to Kipapa Elementary and Mililani Middle. I repeated sixth grade and I came here. I was late born.

Youth teams
I played in Shetland (PAL) League when I was 5. Then Pinto, then Mustang, Bronco. I played with X Factor for a long time. (My teammates included Saint Louis’) Matthew Saelua, Hunter Peneueta. We won states for Cal Ripken and we traveled to Bakersfield. Then I played on the ‘Iolani team for Babe Ruth. For two years we won and went to Fowler. I think it’s in Utah. I played for the San Diego Hustle last summer. The year before I stayed with a host family. Last summer I stayed with my sister and drove myself to practice.

What’s something that would surprise you?
My high score in bowling is 260-something. It was at Hickam or Fort Shafter.

Bucket list destinations
I want to go to Japan again. It was a baseball trip. We played three games and we stayed in Niigata. It was interesting because we had host families. They really took care of me. When I left, I had a whole bag of omiyage. I want to go back just for fun. They have good food, too. I’d want to go to Boston for Fenway Park. I want a ball signed by David Ortiz.

The history of your name
My middle name is Isao. I never really asked my parents about it. My first name, they just liked the sound of it. When I went to Japan, they have the same name as us. I asked what it meant, but I totally forget.

Shout out to my family and all my friends.

‘Iolani baseball
We’re just competitive people, so we’re always wanting to have competition. We just compete against each other. We’ve been together for so long, we’ve got a lot of experience at how to keep the motivation going, keep driving and pushing through. You can get carried away when you look far ahead. We just like to look at the next task at hand, just focus on the next game.

Building power
It’s definitely been this (school) year. We didn’t ask each other. It’s something everyone wants to do by themselves. We were all working out individually in the summer. We came back in the fall. We had time only after school or before school.

Protein shakes
I like a GNC drink called Mass Tech. I drink the chocolate one. When I was drinking two shakes a day, one jug would be done in three weeks. My end goal, I want to be 190 (pounds).

The future
It’s kind of early. The draft is in June. I would want to play professional right after high school. I’m going to Cal Poly. My parents want whatever I want to do. As long as I’m happy, they’re happy with my decision.


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