First on BravesCenter: Braves Sign Japanese Star

The Braves have made a huge splash with the signing of one of Japan's top high school stars. Bill Shanks has the exclusive details.

The Atlanta Braves have signed Takumi Hamaoka, one of the top high school hitters in Japan to a contract.

Hamaoka is an 18-year-old outfielder from Osaka that throws right-handed and hits from the left side of the plate. He was signed by Phil Dale, the Braves Eastern Rim Coordinator.

"Takumi is a left-handed hitter with power and an average to plus arm in the outfield," Dale says. "He made a big commitment to pass us Japanese baseball for U.S. Baseball. He came to an open tryout when he was fifteen years old. That's when we first noticed him. His signing attracted huge media attention in Japan with every television and newspaper covering his signing. He's 6'1" and 185 pounds and he has a chance to get real strong in the U.S."

Dale reports the Hamaoka will report to Orlando for Extended Spring Training in early April. The Braves will then decide whether he will remain in the states and play in the Gulf Coast League this summer.

Bill Shanks can be reached at

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