The New York Yankees farm system has not been held in high regard the last few seasons. It’s been since major league bust Jesus Montero that the Yankees have had an elite prospect to boast about. The front office sat down, did their homework and in last season’s MLB June Amateur Draft, they knocked one out of the park. They made a huge splash with the big three first round picks in Eric Jagielo, Ian Clarkin and Aaron Judge. The rest of the draft class was rated the third best overall in baseball according to Baseball America.
Gosuke Katoh was the Yankees second round pick in that draft. As a second baseman coming straight out of high school, this pick surprised a lot of people. Katoh was once thought to be a shortstop, however, his weak arm stuck him at second base throughout his high school years. He was a solid player, who based his game on his childhood hero, Ichiro Suzuki, yet was still not even ranked in the top 150 potential draft picks. The Yankees must have seen something special when they grabbed him 66th overall.
His debut season could not have gone better with the Gulf Coast Yankees in the Rookie League. The 6’2”, 180 pound, left-handed hitting 18-year-old was everything they thought he would be. He was making good contact and appeared to be becoming an Ichiro-type of player, mixing in a contact, slap-hitting style with some sneaky pop off the bat. He finished his rookie season batting .310, with six home runs, 25 RBI, and 28 runs scored, while getting on base at a .402 clip.
This season, the dreaded second year, the 19-year-old Katoh hit the sophomore slump. He was hovering around the Mendoza Line until mid-June. After stringing together a few multi-hit games, Katoh started to get his groove back. He went on a 15-game hitting streak in late June, that lasted into July. While he is coming around, he has developed a very un-Ichiro habit, as his strikeout rate is rather alarming for someone known for his ability to put the ball in play. Katoh has struck out 109 times in just 297 at-bats.
Katoh is still considered a top 15 prospect in the Yankees’ system. One must temper expectations and remember that the Yankees aimed high on an undeveloped high schooler. He has quick feet and is a stout defender. The older he gets, the stronger he gets, and he may one day be able to shift to shortstop. Katoh can consider this season a learning season, and be ready to turn a big corner in 2015. The future is bright for this Baby Bomber.