Gosuke Katoh

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Gosuke John Katoh (加藤 豪将)

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Biographical Information[edit]

When Gosuke Katoh was named as one of the 28 players to make the Opening Day roster of the Toronto Blue Jays before the start of the 2022 season, one could forgive any fans who thought he was a veteran of Nippon Pro Baseball whose signing by the Jays had somehow gone under the radar. In fact, while he is of Japanese background and spent a few years in the country as a youngster, he was born and attended high school in the U.S. and was a 27-year-old veteran of eight minor league seasons, whose rise to the Show was still a surprise to just about everyone. He had signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays on December 16th the previous winter, while the 2021-2022 lockout had shut down all major league transactions, and it's fair to say no one paid this any attention at the time as he was expected to be a roster filler in either AA or AAA.

Katoh was originally drafted in the second round of the 2013 amateur draft by the New York Yankees, out of Rancho Bernardo High School in Mountain View, CA. He began his professional career that same year by batting .310/.402/.522 in 50 games for the GCL Yankees 1. However, he stalled after that promising start, as his batting averages over the next three years were .222, .239 and .229, not good for a hitter without much power. He still drew a fair number of walks and stole some bases, with a high of 20 with the Charleston RiverDogs in 2014, but it was not what the Yankees had been expecting when they had drafted him. He finally showed some promise again in 2017, when he hit .293/.376/.440 for the Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League. He had been almost exclusively a second baseman until then, but the Yankees began grooming him as a potential utility player, giving him time at first base, third base and shortstop in addition to his normal position.

Just when it looked like he had managed to get his career back on track, he hit another roadblock in his first season in AA in 2018, with the Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League. He fell back to .229/.327/.335 in 118 games with 5 homers and 35 RBIs. He was still a utility player, but now was looked at as an organisational soldier, the type of player who typically fills a bench role in AA and AA by being able to play multiple positions and hold his own with the bat, but not considered as a prospect in any shape or form. That was his role in 2019, when he split time between Trenton and the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He improved to .267/.362/.401 in 113 games. He was then forced into inactivity when the Coronavirus pandemic shut down the minors in 2020, and became a free agent after the season. He managed to latch on with the San Diego Padres who assigned him to the AAA El Paso Chihuahuas in 2021. He had probably his best season as a professional there, batting .306/.388/.474 in 114 games, with 27 doubles and 8 homers, scoring 62 runs and driving in 42. He again played all over the field, adding significant time in the outfield to his toolkit.

In spring training with the Blue Jays in 2022, he was in direct competition with major league veteran Greg Bird, another left-handed hitter, but one with a completely different profile as a power threat with limited defensive value. Both played well in the spring, but Katoh's ability to play multiple positions won out in the end and Bird was released at his own demand when he failed to make the team, signing with the New York Yankees, while Katoh headed north to Toronto. He made hs debut on April 9th as a pinch-runner against the Texas Rangers. However, following the game, he was sent down to the AAA Buffalo Bisons to make room on the roster for OF Bradley Zimmer. He was called back to Toronto on April 14th when Teoscar Hernández went on the injured list. He made his first start on April 21st, at second base against the Boston Red Sox. In his first career plate appearance, he drew a lead-off walk in the 3rd inning against Tanner Houck and came around to score, then grounded out in his only other plate appearance before being replaced by pinch-hitter Santiago Espinal in the 7th inning. He recorded his first career hit on April 27th, a double off Michael Wacha of the Boston Red Sox. He was sent down to AAA on May 2nd when the Jays had to trim their roster from 28 to 26 players. He was then designated for assignment on May 4th when the Jays added P Casey Lawrence to the 40-man roster.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Julia Kreuz: "'I've been through everything': Katoh records first MLB hit", mlb.com, April 28, 2022. [1]
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith: "Gosuke Katoh finally gets his shot at major leagues with Blue Jays", Sportsnet.ca, April 4, 2022. [2]

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