When the Little League World Series was just getting underway, we shone a spotlight on the Japanese team’s top (or at least most eye-catching) player, Kotaro Kiyomiya. The immediate reason Kiyomiya jumps out at you: size. He’s 6 feet tall and weighs 206 pounds. On a field of 12- and 13-year-olds, that kind of figure stands out.
But the more important reason Kiyomiya’s impossible to miss is his skill set. On the mound, his fastball tops out at around 80 miles per hour (equivalent pitch speed in MLB terms, i.e. from a 60-foot, 6-inch mound distance: 104 MPH). Needless to say, the number of tweens who can throw a ball that fast is minuscule (and the results can be terrifying). As far as what he can do at the plate: Kiyomiya said he hit 60 home runs in 50 Little League games leading up to the LLWS. Would we get a glimpse of that power in Williamsport? Today against Panama, Kiyomiya made sure the answer would be yes:
“Ooooohhhhhh, mercy!” Is there anything else to say to that, really? And it was a good point, about how high that homer traveled – it went so high, in fact, that looking at the replay, it appeared Kiyomiya actually got under it a bit. If there exists any possibility he actually could have hit that ball better, we can’t lie: that would actually be somewhat frightening to us. If the pitch had been just a bit lower, Kiyomiya’s shot might have cleared 300 feet. Turns out pitching to him isn’t much less scary than hitting against him.