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South Side Sit-Down: Rikuu Nishida

The speedy Sox 11th-rounder opens up about his move to the United States, his professional ambitions, and his favorite anime

Rikuu Nishida crouches down in the batter’s box, assessing the pitcher and the flow of the game before taking his swings
| Rikuu Nishida

If you’ve been paying attention to the White Sox 2023 draft class and the newly re-tooled minor league system, then there’s a good chance that you’ve seen the following clip.

To those who haven’t, prepare to meet future South Side sparkplug Rikuu Nishida.

The White Sox selected Nishida in the 11th round (No. 329 overall) of the 2023 MLB Draft out of the University of Oregon. He became just the fifth Japanese player in major league history to start his career in American professional baseball through the amateur draft. Originally from Osaka, Japan, Nishida gained draft eligibility as a college student-athlete studying abroad in the United States. His path exempted him from the more arduous and traditional posting system implemented by the NPB, Japan’s premier baseball authority. It allowed him to pursue his goals of studying business and learning the English language.

While attending the University of Oregon, Nishida produced a stellar .312/.395/.443 slash line with 25 stolen bases in just 63 games. He even flashed decent power numbers for his diminutive profile, mashing five longballs to go along with 16 doubles while playing stellar defense at second base and in right field. These skills, when combined with his intangible leadership qualities, encouraged the White Sox to use their 11th-round pick on the young Osaka native.

Nishida’s post-draft debut in the White Sox organization began with the briefest possible stint in rookie ball. In only one game for the ACL White Sox, Nishida collected his first hit in professional ball, stole his first base, and notched his first run. Evidently, that was all the seasoning 22-year-old Nishida would need in the ACL. The very next day, he was promoted to Class-A Kannapolis, where he continued his trend of being up to the challenge of stateside baseball. In his first game as a Cannon Baller, Rikuu went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, a stolen base, and a run to accompany his first Gatorade shower in professional ball.

Despite his successes in baseball to this point, there was a time when Nishida considered hanging up the cleats to pursue a life in business, the same life his father led. Poetically, his father’s insistence persuaded Nishida to continue his athletic career in America. And while his career in American baseball is on the upswing, his entrepreneurial drive remains as strong as ever. Rikuu recently started his own company devoted to helping other Japanese student-athletes trudge along the same path he chose to take to arrive in America.

Salina Rae Silver caught up with the young prospect and newly minted business owner for a South Side Sox exclusive interview conducted with assistance from American-born Japanese translator Alicia Cooper.

The untranslated interview will be available at the end of the article out of consideration and respect for our friends out East.


SRS: Mr. Nishida, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, and welcome to the organization! Could you describe your decision to leave your native Japan to pursue college and baseball in America?

RN: The main reason I came to America was to learn English so I could become a business owner while still continuing to play baseball, which I love!

SRS: You were still NCAA eligible when you were drafted by the White Sox. What went into your decision to sign instead of playing another year of college baseball?

RN: My ultimate goal was to become an entrepreneur anyway, so I didn’t think I’d need to go back to college and graduate to achieve that.

SRS: You sure have a passion for business!

RN: Being a business owner has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little kid! I even started my own company recently.

SRS: You’re now a company owner, and you previously were vice-captain of the Tohoku High School baseball team during your playing days in Japan. Players at Oregon had nothing but good things to say about you as a teammate, as well. Do you feel like leadership is a quality you possess and can bring to a major league team like the White Sox?

RN: I think there are many types of leaders, and I think I have a strong sense of ownership, so I think I can be a leader in that area.

SRS: That’s music to Sox fans’ ears! Let’s switch gears to on-the-field performance. After only one game in rookie ball, you were promoted to Low-A Kannapolis. How did it feel to get your first hit in Kannapolis, and are you excited to move up a level so quickly?

RN: Ever since I was in Japan, surprises like this have been happening to me all the time, so every day is very interesting for me. [As for the hit], I don’t think much about it. It’s just my first hit in Single-A. I’m more excited about my first hit in rookie ball than my first hit in Single-A.

SRS: You have a rather unique batting stance. Can you describe your approach as a hitter? What goes through your mind the moment you enter the batter’s box and crouch down to survey the field?

RN: [When in my stance], I consider the score difference, what inning it is, the flow of the game, the current situation, the pitcher’s characteristics, his pitch types, and my own condition.

SRS: Some prospect evaluators have said you were the best pure defensive player in the 2023 draft. Is your defense something you take a lot of pride in?

RN: I am confident in my infield defense, but I am not yet proud of it. It will be important for me to challenge myself in the outfield, too, if I want to prolong my professional baseball career.

SRS: You’ve played second base, third base, center field, and right field in college, as well as both of your games in the Sox organization in center. With so many to choose from, what’s your favorite position to play on defense?

RN: I’d have to say second base.

Nishida fires a jump-throw from second base while playing for the Oregon Ducks
@GoDucksMoseley / Twitter

SRS: Major League Baseball implemented rule changes designed to encourage aggressiveness on the basepaths. Speed is obviously a big part of your game. How do you feel about the new rules?

RN: I think they’re very convenient for me.

SRS: Let’s talk pop. You hit five home runs and 16 doubles with Oregon in 2023. Do you think people are underestimating your power?

RN: No, because I have no power right now! But I’ll try to turn it on in the future!

SRS: Ichiro famously said, “Chicks who dig home runs aren’t the ones who appeal to me. I think there’s sexiness in infield hits because they require technique. I’d rather impress the chicks with my technique than with my brute strength. Then, every now and then, just to show I can do that, too, I might flirt a little by hitting one out,”

Do you share his opinion on power-hitting?

RN: No, I don’t. Because I want to hit home runs!

SRS: Fair enough! Lastly, on a personal note, do you watch anime or read manga? If so, which ones are your favorites? I’m looking for good anime recommendations!

RN: I love watching One Piece and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure!

SRS: If you’ve seen all of One Piece, I think I admire your patience in real life as much as your patience in the batter’s box!

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Best of luck as you continue to ascend through the ranks of American baseball!


SRS: 西田さん、このインタビューにご協力いただき、誠にありがとうございます。日本を離れ、アメリカで大学進学と野球をする決心をした理由を教えてください。

RN: 最初に来た理由は好きな野球を続けつつ、経営者になるために英語を学ぼうと思ったのがきっかけです

SRS: ドラフト指名を受けたとき、あなたはまだNCAA(全米大学野球連盟)の資格を持っていました。大学野球でもう1年プレーするのではなく、ホワイトソックスと契約したのはなぜですか?

RN: そのうち経営者になるから卒業資格はいらないだろうと思いました。

SRS: あなたは確かにビジネスへの情熱を持っています!

RN: 経営者になることは小さい頃からの夢でした!そして、つい最近その会社を建てることができました

SRS: あなたは現役時代、東北高校野球の副キャプテンを務め、オレゴンではチームメイトから良い評価ばかりを受けていました。リーダーシップはホワイトソックスのようなメジャーリーグで発揮できる資質だと感じていますか?

RN: リーダーにも沢山の種類があると思っていて、私は当事者意識というものが強いと思うのでその分野ではなれると思います

SRS: ルーキーボールでわずか1試合プレーしただけで、Low-Aカナポリスに昇格した。プロ野球で初ヒットを打った気分はどうでしたか?また、これほど早くレベルが上がって興奮していますか?

RN: 日本にいる時から、このような驚きの連続がずっと続いてきているのですごく毎日が面白いです。


SRS: とてもユニークなバッティングスタンスですね。バッターとしてのアプローチについて教えてください。バッターボックスに入った瞬間、どんなことを考えますか?

RN: 点差、イニング、試合の流れ、状況、ピッチャーの特徴、球種、自分の状態を考えています

SRS: 何人かのプロスペクト評価者は、2023年のドラフトであなたが最も才能のあるディフェンス選手だと言いました。あなたの守備はあなたの誇りですか?

RN: 内野守備には自信がありますが、私がプロ野球キャリアを長くするには外野への挑戦も大事になるので、まだ誇りにはなっていません。

SRS: 大学では二塁手、三塁手、中堅手、右翼手としてプレーしてきましたね。守備で好きなポジションはありますか?なぜですか?

RN: 2Bです

SRS: メジャーリーグは走塁での積極性を促すルール改正を実施した。スピードはあなたのプレーの大きな要素です。新しいルールについてどう思いますか?

RN: とても好都合だと思います

SRS: スカウトは、君の一番の特技はコンタクトと走塁だと言っている。しかし、あなたは2023年にオレゴンで5本塁打、16二塁打を放っている。人々はあなたのパワーを過小評価していると思いますか?

RN: 私にはパワーはありません!!!これからつけます!!

SRS: イチローの有名な言葉「ホームランを狙うような奴らに魅力を感じるわけではない。内野安打にはテクニックが必要なのでセクシーさがあると思います。私は腕力よりもテクニックでひよこたちを感動させたいと思っています。それから、時々、私にもそれができることを示すために、1アウトを打って少し浮気するかもしれません。」


RN: しません


SRS: アニメを見たり漫画を読んだりしますか?もしそうなら、どれがお気に入りですか?おすすめのアニメを探しています!

RN: ワンピースとジョジョが好きです

SRS: ワンピースのすべてを見たことがあるなら、バッターボックスでの忍耐力と同じくらい、実生活での忍耐力を賞賛すると思います!


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