Munetaka Murakami has done something that only one Japanese-born player has previously done in a professional baseball league: hit 50 home runs in a season. He joined Hideki Matsui to become only the second Japanese-born player to reach this milestone. This is an impressive feat given that Murakami is just 22 years old.
It seems that Murakami has a very bright future ahead of him in the game of baseball. Getting to the 50 home run mark in a single season at the age of 22 is impressive no matter what league it is. Hideki Matsui didn't accomplish this until he was 28.
Munetaka Murakami was drafted in the first round by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, Yomiuri Giants, and the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2017. These teams play in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. The Swallows won the lottery to sign him.
In 2018, Murakami bounced between the minor league team and the professional club. He was voted into Japan's version of the minor league All-Star Game. In June of that year, he was awarded the league's MVP.
Murakami debuted for the main team on September 16, 2018, and hit a home run during his first at-bat. It seemed fitting for him to have introduced himself with a home run. He struggled at the plate and was sent back down to end his season with the farm team. At the end of the season, he was named league MVP and Rookie of the Year.
"Munetaka Murakami this season" - mikey
Munetaka Murakami's breakout year was 2019. He became the youngest Swallows player ever to start in the home opener at the age of 19. He was voted into the All-Star Game that year and participated in the Home Run Derby. He was also the only Swallows player to appear in all 143 games.
There's no denying how great a season Murakami is having. He has a higher batting average than anyone in Major League Baseball. He has MLB fans hoping their respective teams' front office has taken notice of the young Japanese star.
When will Munetaka Murakami come to the MLB?
There's no clear timetable on when Munetaka Murakami will come over to the states to try his luck in the MLB. Under MLB's international free agency rules, he won't be able to earn close to what he's worth. We will have to wait a couple more seasons to see if the Japanese slugger will venture to America.