Monday, January 13, 2014

The Yankees' season will be remembered as the season of injuries. The injury bug permeated the entire Yankee system, not even Brian Cashman was safe. These injuries led to a sub-par season for the major league squad and created much doubt in their minor league season. By looking at Baseball America’s (BA) 2013 top 10 Yankees list, we see just how big of hit the system took.                                                                                                                                                Five of the Yankees top ten prospects were injured at some during the season or were coming off a 2012 injury: Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, Jose Campos, and Angelo Gumbs. Two of the Yankees top ten prospects didn’t even play last season: Ty Hensley, and Manny Banuelos. Furthermore both Brett Marshall and Rafael DePuala struggled at points last season.

While all these players could rebound their struggles and the fact that the Yankees had three first round draft picks has led to a much different top ten lists. In this series we will profile the new BA organizational top 10 list, starting from the bottom of the list.

10.  Gosuke Katoh, 2B:

The Yankees selected second-baseman Gosuke Katoh in the second round of the 2013 MLB Draft, and paid him full slot. Katoh was born in Japan but raised in California. Kotah’s selection surprised many pundits, but so far his performance has silenced his critics. Due to a surprising display of power Katoh outperformed all other 2013 Yankee draft picks in his debut and may be regarded as one of their most promising young prospects.

Vital Statistics:

Born: Oct. 8, 1994. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180.                                                                         Drafted: HS—San Diego, 2013 (2nd round).                                                                                      2013 Stats: BA/OBP/SLG/WOBA/WRC+: .310/.402/.522/.434/171


The initial reaction to Katoh’s selection was very mixed. Some felt that he was an overdraft in the second round. He was rated as the 189th best prospect by BA coming into the draft and was drafted with the 66th pick. Kotah’s biggest critic may have been Keith Law, who referenced Kotah’s small frame, and stated that he would have been better off going to college. However BA was much kinder to Kotah writing that Kotah generates enough strength from his forearms to have near average power. Kotah’s surprising pop in his last high school season help his stock skyrocket on draft day.

2013 Performance:

Kotah signed very quickly and spent his first year one of the Yankees Gulf Coast teams. He tore through the league in his first season. He led the league in homeruns (6) and OPS (.924). Of course it should be noted that Short Season league stats aren’t the strongest indicators of future success—see Dante Bichette Jr.—but leading the league in those categories at his age is still a big deal. To put his performance into perspective he arguably outperformed Austin Meadows and JP Crawford in the GCL. His big season received national attention as he was ranked 15th on BA’s GCL top 20 list. Kotah's season also caught the attention of Marc Hulet who wrote that Kotah “showed an advanced bat by hitting .310 with strong plate discipline and surprising pop”.

Scouting Report:

Kotah has plus speed, is a good defender at second, and is a patient contact hitter. Katoh modeled his game after his idol Ichiro Suzuki and Robinson Cano. This combination has led to a player that has gap power and who prides himself on being a smooth defender. However, unlike his idols Katoh does not have a great arm, which is why he wasn’t a shortstop in high school. Kotah’s arm strength is believed to be his only weakness on defense.

On offense his biggest question mark is his power. In his first year he has shown good power, but may only project to have gap-to-gap power at higher levels. However with his speed that would still allow him to be a dangerous hitter. Additionally he may be able to take advantage of the short porch in right field.


In a pre-draft article Anthony Boyer, of the Crawfish Boxes, claimed that Kotah’s ceiling is similar to Luis Castillo’s and his floor resembles that of Jose Lind’s. As of now his entire package seems to resemble the Tigers number two prospect Devon Travis, as he has plus speed, and a good feel for second-base, makes good contact but still has questions surrounding his power.

2014 Level:

According to Ben Badler, the Yankees may try to play Katoh at short. While this move would carry no risk it may affect his development path. That’s because he would need a good amount of reps to learn the position. The easiest way to get those reps is to learn the position in extended spring training. This would probably mean he begins the year at Staten Island.

Additionally Kotah will have trouble beating out the several shortstop prospects in the system, as the position is too crowded as it is. The Yankees would need to find reps for Abiatal Avelino, Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada and Kotah. That’s four players for two teams, as they are all too good to go back to the GCL, and probably not ready for high A. The best option may be to let Wade or Estrada learn second and split the reps between those two positions in a certain level. If he stays at second no one would blocking him from playing in Charleston.


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