Katoh Working On Getting Shorter

Charleston second baseman Gosuke Katoh entered his first full season with a lot of expectations and, like most young ball players, found out quickly that adjustments are needed. He made a lot of them with the RiverDogs this season and his much stronger second half proved they are beginning to work, but he plans on implementing even more during Instructional League this offseason.

He hit just .221 in the South Atlantic League this season which was considerably lower than his .310 showing in his debut season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees a year ago.

"I think statistically it was pretty rough," Katoh admitted. "I expected a lot more out of myself but the experience was great. I had a great time and I think I learned a lot through the process.

"I think the biggest thing I learned -- mentally I learned a lot. I never really experienced failure to such an extent. I had a lot of hitless streaks and I just mentally figured out how to control myself."

Inside the numbers was just a .190 start to his season through his first 57 low-A games, including a .153 stretch in 24 games during the month of May, but he turned things around as the season went on, hitting a more respectable .251 over his final 64 games and jumping his on-base percentage up to .382 during that time.

"Yeah, at the start of the season I could just tell I wasn't mature enough to take in the failure but by the end of the season I started being mentally more tougher. It's because I learned at such a young age that I can keep this mentality throughout the rest of my career."

An extremely patient hitter -- he finished second in the South Atlantic League in walks with 71 [the league leader had 73 and was four years older] -- what he learned quite quickly was that his advanced plate patience was both a positive and a negative as he also struck out 142 times this season [7th most in the Sally League].

"It worked as a positive for me in the past but just adjusting to different levels you see different pitchers, you see different pitch selections," he said. "In the past I was always patient hitting and pretty much at the top of the lineup I like to see a lot of pitches and work the count a lot.

"I found myself though to be a little passive, a little too passive, so in the middle of the season I started being a lot more aggressive, jumping on a lot of first-pitch fastballs and that kind of worked for me."

Often finding himself behind in counts earlier in the year, attacking strikes earlier in counts as the year went on was perhaps the biggest adjustment the 19-year old made this year.

"There were a lot of minor adjustments made but that probably was the biggest thing," he reiterated. "The strikeouts came, not because I was looking for walks, but because I was trying to work the count a little bit because that's pretty much the type of hitter I am.

"I like to see a lot of pitches. It did kind of work against me but we'll see what happens from here. I don't really like jumping on first-pitch fastballs but being aggressive definitely helped in the second half."

He admits his confidence wavered a tad in the beginning of the season when the results were not there but as he began to become mentally tougher and altered his ultra-patient approach some with each passing day that his confidence came back. Still, he realizes the season a whole was not what he wanted and he also found some other minor adjustments that are needed going forward.

"This year in Instructs my objective is to be shorter to the ball," he said. "I used to tuck my hands behind my back a little bit and that kind of created a longer swing which I kind of got away with not only last year [in the GCL] but all throughout high school pretty much.

"Facing a lot of guys who throw mid to upper-90s with movement, I've never really seen it before, it made me realize how long my swing was and to keep moving forward from here I need to shorten up a little bit."

He began tinkering with a shorter swing during the second half in Charleston but never really got an opportunity to implement it in games but the plan is to start doing so during Instructional League games.

"Yeah in Charleston in a little bit but when it came to game times my mind was in game mode so I didn't really have a chance to go deep in making that adjustment. But here [at Instructs] I'm getting a lot of one on one instruction.

"In the games here I can tinker with some stuff and not really worry about winning or losing here. I'm definitely looking forward to the next couple of weeks here at Instructs.

"Last year going to Spring Training my whole mindset was to stay healthy the whole year and pretty much be able to play 120-130 games without getting too tired, and I think I did a really good job of that this season. I stayed healthy throughout the year; I played 120 games which I've never done before in a season.

"I think I did pretty well with that. Going into next year I just want to stay consistent with that plan and keep working on my swing because you can never work too much with that. I've got a lot of things to work obviously to get to the big leagues, just staying consistent and short to the ball will really help me with that."

Excited for Instructs, he is confident that his natually patient approach will help him in the long run and that the combination of tweaking his mindset to being a little more aggressive and shortening his swing can turn him into being a more productive player going forward.

"I'd like to think that I'm going to make a big impact in the big leagues [someday], that's always been my goal. I really think I can improve a lot from this past year.

"I think I've improved a lot from my GCL season to this year actually in a lot of different aspects, not just the stats. I really think I matured a lot this year and from now on it's just a lot of hard work and dedication. That's never a problem for me," he concluded.

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