By Michael Bower
Gosuke Katoh says he will go about Thursday like it is any other school day. But the Rancho Bernardo High senior is hoping it is a day unlike any other.
Katoh, a speedy, smooth-fielding second baseman with premium bat speed, is expected to be taken in the 2013 MLB Draft, which begins with the first round Thursday and ends Saturday. Some insiders have him going as early as the fourth round.
“A lot of people have been saying Round 4 or Round 5,” said Katoh, who put together a spectacular regular season with a .468 average, 31 RBIs, nine home runs and a team-high 44 hits. “But I really have no expectations. Where I go is where I go. It will not determine whether or not I am a good baseball player. I hope I go high so I can go a different path and try to go straight to pro ball instead of college.”
Pro teams have to like to hear that. Katoh, the Palomar League Player of the Year, already has a scholarship to UCLA and signability always plays a factor in how high a team is willing to draft a high school player.
Both of Katoh’s parents went to UCLA, but he said the final decision on signing a pro contract versus attending college will be his.
“I talked with my dad and mom and all they want is for me to be happy in the long run, and they obviously bring in some input,” Katoh said. “But in the end, it will be my decision and I will have to own up to it.”
“College is a really good option and I love UCLA and the coaching staff and everything,” he added. “But if the draft takes me to (rookie ball), I will just go.”
The San Diego Padres have been around plenty scouting Katoh and you have to think Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane, a former player under Broncos’ coach Sam Blalock, has heard plenty about the left-handed hitter.
One question mark for scouts about Katoh, who stands 6-feet, 2-inches tall and weighs 180-pounds, has been his size. But his above-average bat speed has quieted some of those critics.
“They definitely want me to get bigger, but I think my size plays big on the field,” Katoh said. “Especially with my hitting, because I tend to focus on quick bat speed for power rather than size for power. Scouts see that and they see my bat speed dictates my power. So, they want me to get bigger and get my arm stronger, but that will happen if I sign with a team.”
And that has been the dream ever since Katoh picked up a bat and glove.
“I am definitely excited because playing pro ball has been my dream my entire life,” he said. “The draft really isn’t the end of my career. It is probably the beginning of it. If I decide to sign a contract, then the road to play the big leagues starts and that isn’t as easy as people might think.”
Rancho Bernardo’s Parker Bugg also has a chance to be selected in the draft. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound right-handed pitcher saw his season cut short due to a stress fracture in his foot.
Bugg, who signed a scholarship to Louisiana State University, pitched with the fracture for most of the year not knowing he had it and was still able to put up a 0.90 ERA with 39 strikeouts over 39 innings.
Former Broncos’ star Williams to be drafted:
Trevor Williams, a 2010 graduate of Rancho Bernardo High and current star at Arizona State, will be taken in the MLB Draft.
Williams, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound right-handed pitcher, was recently placed at No. 74 on Baseball America’s list of the top 500 prospects in the nation.
Williams throws in the mid 90s and could go as early as the first round. He posted a 4.17 ERA with 77 strikeouts and only 23 walks.
James Dykstra, another 2010 graduate of Rancho Bernardo, could also be selected in the draft.
Dykstra surprisingly went undrafted last year, but the right-handed pitcher had a solid season for Cal State San Marcos.
If there is a former or current local baseball player that has the possibility of being selected, please send information to sports editor Michael Bower at Sports@pomeradonews.com.