Gosuke Katoh's background has helped define him and in many ways given him the vision to rise through the Yankees organization.With Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the infielder has been trying to establish solid footing. He's bounced back and forth between the RailRiders and Double-A Trenton.
Gosuke Katoh's background has helped define him and in many ways given him the vision to rise through the Yankees organization.
With Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the infielder has been trying to establish solid footing. He's bounced back and forth between the RailRiders and Double-A Trenton.
"At first, I used to really stress over it," he said. "But I've been a professional baseball player long enough that I know what I have to do to get to the next level."
He said he leans on his determination and tapping into resources that include Ichiro Suzuki.
When Katoh moved from Japan to the United States in 2000, it basically coincided with Ichiro's arrival to play in the Major Leagues. Katoh was playing close attention.
"That's how I grew to love baseball," he said.
The Yankees selected Katoh in the second round of the 2013 Draft. By then, Ichiro played for New York. Shortly after the Draft, the Yanks were on a road trip in Anaheim, where Katoh took batting practice with the team and established a bond with Ichiro. He's spent a week in Japan for offseason workouts with his hero, returning each year.
"I kind of dove into his workout," Katoh said.
Katoh was born in California, but spent three years as a youth in Japan when his father worked for Sony. The family moved to San Diego but makes an annual trip to Japan, so the roots run deep.
"I only speak to [my parents] in Japanese in the house and to my sister in Japanese … It means a lot to me for people to see a Triple-A baseball player and learn my story," he said.
Katoh is trying to piece together what works best for him during his first taste of Triple-A. He calls it "a chess game."
The 24-year-old initially was groomed as a second baseman, but he's also been playing shortstop and third base and even spent a game in left field.
"I've always been confident in my game and that all this is preparing me for the big leagues," Katoh said. "I feel like I've made great strides.'
RailRiders manager Jay Bell has been with Katoh for three seasons, in some ways rising through the organization together.
"I've watched him and I trust him," Bell said. "He prepares well, that's one of the things I like about him. He has to learn to control the ups and downs."
Bell said he recognizes progress for Katoh but also points out that consistency is going to be one of the keys.
"He has been on that shuttle," the former Major League infielder said. "The league is catching up to him and he has to make that adjustment."
There have been thrilling moments, such as his first RailRiders hit. It was a go-ahead, three-run homer against Buffalo in his sixth Triple-A at-bat.
Katoh said he can't worry about which Minor League jersey he's wearing, as long as he shows he can help at every level.
"For me, it really doesn't matter where I play," he said. "I have to produce wherever I go."
In briefNo double trouble:
Gwinnett Stripers outfielder Travis Demeritte
has reached the 20-double mark for the fourth year in a row, meaning every stint while in full-season leagues. He had an International League-leading 21 doubles through June 20, just one shy of his 2018 total with Double-A Mississippi. Selected by the Rangers in the first round of the 2014 Draft, he was traded to Atlanta in July 2016.One throw at a time:
Pitcher José De León
has spent more than a month with Durham as part of an extended rehabilitation assignment as he returns from Tommy John surgery. He's worked up to a four-inning stint among his first seven starts. "From Day 1, I told myself I wasn't going to get too much ahead of myself," De Leon said. "It's the rehab process. Soon enough, it's going to be just the process."Long ball specials:
Toledo catcher Jake Rogers
hit six homers in slightly more than a month since joining the team from Double-A Erie. He did so in 24 games after homering five times in 27 Eastern League contests. More than a third of his hits with the Mud Hens have been homers.
Bob Sutton is a contributor to MiLB.com.