By Robert Fulton
Let’s take a look at how the month of June went for Rancho Bernardo High School baseball standout Gosuke Katoh.
The 18-year-old graduated from high school, got drafted by the New York Yankees, signed a contract in the high six figures, hit a home run in his first game as a professional baseball player, took batting practice with the big league club and met his idol.
Last week, Gosuke signed with the New York Yankees for a reported bonus of $845,700 and started playing for the team’s Gulf Coast League rookie ball affiliate.
When the New York Yankees selected Gosuke in the second round, pick 66 overall, of the Major League Baseball Draft, the RBHS star did not expect to be picked that high. The teenager watched the June 6 draft on television with his family at home.
“I wasn’t really expecting to go that high,” Gosuke said. “I was just kind of watching the draft as an outsider, just as a spectator. I didn’t really want to have friends over because if I didn’t get drafted, there would have been quite a disappointment. It was just my family. It was a special moment.”
After signing his contract, the second baseman has gotten off to a fast start, hitting home runs in his first two games of rookie ball.
New York’s Gulf Coast League affiliate is based in Tampa Bay, Florida. Gosuke is one of many young men trying to live the dream of playing big league baseball, but the facility is also where established players go to rehab. Gosuke has seen or met the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson.
“Off the field they’re just normal human beings that just love baseball,” Gosuke said by phone from his Tampa hotel. “They just love to have fun, they joke around.”
Gosuke was born to Japanese parents in Mountain View, California, and spent his early years in Japan before moving to Rancho Bernardo in 2000. Like many with Japanese roots, superstar Ichiro Suzuki is his favorite player.
Shortly after the team drafted him, Gosuke quickly learned of the perks of being in the pinstripe circle. During a recent Yankee series to face the Angels in Anaheim, the team invited Gosuke and his father to attend a game. Gosuke took batting practice, visited the locker room and fielded grounders. He also got to meet Suzuki, New York’s rightfielder.
“He just told me to keep working hard because he knows how hard the minor league experience is, and to just keep the goal in mind at all times no matter how bad you’re doing on the field or the results,” Gosuke said. “He said that one day he wants to play with me at Yankee stadium.”
In addition to chatting with Suzuki, Gosuke also met other Yankees such as Mark Teixeira and legend Mariano Rivera. Gosuke joked with Yankee all-star second baseman Robinson Cano.
“I just told him that I was coming for his spot,” Gosuke said.
Gosuke will have to work hard in the minors to make regular appearances in major league stadiums, but his experience in Anaheim was priceless.