Name: Gosuke Katoh
Position: Second Base
DOB: October 8, 1994
Batting and Power. Katoh has some major hitter-ish traits in corner, most notably his already stellar big league approach, including supreme plate patience and advanced pitch recognition, some of the best around at any level. He also is quite adept at using the whole field too when he's going right offensively. However, while those are top-shelf traits that should give him a lot of tangible success, ironically they're also his downfall too. He is so selective at the plate that he often times gets himself consistently into bad counts in very quick fashion and then has to fight his way back into a hitter's count. Throw in a longer swing that has been nearly completely revamped over the past calendar year as a designed plan to get his load quicker and his bat through the zone faster, while his approach is the model for all high-average hitters, swing-wise he has gone through a major overhaul. He has shown in spurts the ability to be much shorter to the ball and more aggressive earlier in counts. Doing that more consistently would allow him to optimally utlize his big league approach and average power potential.
Base Running and Speed. Katoh's passiveness is not just limited to the batter's box, he can be a little gun-shy on the base paths too. In fairness he has been more aggressive swiping bases over the past couple of years but considering he is a natural above average to plus runner, one who has posted 60-yard dash times in 6.3 seconds before, he still hasn't really scratched the surface of his running potential either. Part of it could be his inability to consistently get on base at a high clip -- he works so hard to get on base that he doesn't want to run his team out of scoring chances -- and the other part is he's still learning the nuances of reading pitchers' moves. Still, he has the ability to eventually be a 30-plus stolen base threat each year running-wise once he gets his offensive game totally in gear.
Defense. The former high school shortstop has the physical tools to be an above average defender or better in due time, showing above average arm strength for a second baseman and the type of speed to have great range too. Just like he is with his swing and his base running, however, he is still trying to learn the nuances of the position and find his confidence in the field. The ability is there to be a difference-maker defensively, it just may take a bit more time for it to materialize.
Projection. Katoh has the foundation in place to be a difference-making player on both sides of the ball; plus speed, plus defensive potential, superb plate patience, average or better power potential, and impeccable makeup. In a lot of ways he compares somewhat favorably to current St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong; they both have similar traits. However, the two biggest areas of concern that are currently preventing him from tapping his immense potential are inconsistent swing mechanics and resulting checkered confidence. Success breeds more success and more confidence in the game of baseball and Katoh really hasn't experienced much of it in the long-season leagues yet, and that not only causes doubt to seep in but also a constant state of flux in a never-ending attempt to shake things up. More than anything Katoh needs to get a roll with the bat, get his confidence going, and take things from there. Being more aggressive earlier in counts could go a long way towards doing that and allow him to fulfill his potential as a big league starting second baseman.
ETA. 2019. Katoh salvaged his 2015 campaign with a strong showing in short-season Pulaski but as good as he was he still needs to prove he can handle the low-A level. There is a strong chance that he could find his way back to the South Atlantic League in 2016 for a third straight season but he has the kind of tools that could allow him to make up for lost time when and if he begins to find some success.