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Japanese slugger Kotaro Kiyomiya elects to turn professional

September 22, 2017 GMT
In this Sept. 9, 2017 photo, Japan's Kotaro Kiyomiya watches the flight of his solo home-run against Canada in the fifth inning of their second round game at the U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada. Japanese high school baseball standout Kiyomiya, 18, said on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, he has decided to turn pro rather than attend university. Kiyomiya, who holds the unofficial record of 111 home runs during his high school career, impressed pro scouts in both Japan and Major League Baseball with his powerful swing. (Takumi Sato/Kyodo News via AP)
In this Sept. 9, 2017 photo, Japan's Kotaro Kiyomiya watches the flight of his solo home-run against Canada in the fifth inning of their second round game at the U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada. Japanese high school baseball standout Kiyomiya, 18, said on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, he has decided to turn pro rather than attend university. Kiyomiya, who holds the unofficial record of 111 home runs during his high school career, impressed pro scouts in both Japan and Major League Baseball with his powerful swing. (Takumi Sato/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese high school baseball standout Kotaro Kiyomiya said on Friday he had decided to turn pro rather than attend university.

Kiyomiya, who holds the unofficial record of 111 home runs during his high school career, has impressed pro scouts in Japan and in Major League Baseball with his powerful swing.

The 18-year-old Waseda Jitsugyo High School senior has drawn comparisons to former New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui. Kiyomiya bats left, stands 6 feet (184 centimeters) and weighs 222 pounds (101 kilograms).

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“I have decided to try for the next challenge knowing how tough it is to be a pro,” Kiyomiya said. “I want to clear each hurdle that comes before me. I hope to join a team that will help me develop as a player,”

Japan’s amateur draft will be held on Oct. 26.

Had Kiyomiya attended a Japanese university and graduated, he would not be eligible for Nippon Professional Baseball’s amateur draft until autumn 2021 and could not begin playing pro ball until the following spring.