MINNEAPOLIS - A nearly two week stretch of high-profile showcase action that started in the San Diego metropolitan area and concluded in downtown Minneapolis proved to be beneficial for prospect Gosuke Katoh.
At the very least, the stretch in mid-June certainly got the Poway, Calif., high-school student in front of some pretty influential people.
Katoh, a top 10 middle-infield prospect (No. 156 overall) who will be a senior at Rancho Bernardo High School in the fall, got his summer started at the Perfect Game Sunshine West Showcase June 9-10 in Chula Vista, Calif. He then joined the best of the best for four days (June 15-18) at the Perfect Game National Showcase here at the downtown Metrodome.
He has already committed to UCLA but will take advantage of any opportunity that gives him a chance to get in front of the MLB scouting community. He especially enjoyed the PG National, which featured 300 of the top prospects in the high school class of 2013 and close to 300 scouts in attendance on any given day.
"It's been great, playing in this environment with all of the top 300 kids in the nation from our class," Katoh said as the PG National neared its completion. "It exceeded my expectations; I was expecting good talent, obviously, and good pitching and good competition, and that's what I saw right here."
Katoh also enjoyed good competition and was able to get in front of some West Coast scouts at the PG Sunshine West about a week-and-a-half earlier. He is known as a standout defensive middle-infielder, but his skills are in no way limited.
At the conclusion of the Sunshine West, Perfect Game's Steve James wrote in a report that Katoh is an "impact player in all phases of the game. Plus actions at 2B, very quick transfers. ... Has good bat speed and swing at the plate. Has juice; 2 homers, a double and triple in games; disruptive on the base paths, great make up."
That reads almost word-for-word like a scouting report Katoh might write about himself. He ran an impressive 6.42 seconds in the 60-yard dash- tied for sixth overall - at the PG National.
"For my game, I think it would be defense and quickness," he said when asked to describe his strengths as a ballplayer. "Hitting, everybody has slumps, but defense and quickness and speed never goes down. It's a big part of my game and I take pride in my quickness and my transfers. That's what I play for."
The PG National was Katoh's ninth Perfect Game event since he first attended the 2010 Perfect Game/EvoShield National Championship in Goodyear, Ariz., as a member of the San Diego Show. He continued to play for head coach Brian Cain and the Show throughout the 2011 season and will continue to do so throughout this summer.
"Brian Cain has really helped me a lot in picking a college and getting me out to these showcases," Katoh said. "I don't think I would be here without him."
The San Diego Show won a pair of PG national tournaments in 2011: the PG WWBA 2011 Grads or 18u National Championship and the PG/EvoShield National Championship (Upper Class). Katoh wasn't with the team for the WWBA 18u tournament in Marietta, Ga., but did play well for the championship squad at the PG/EvoShield Upper class in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"Going to Arizona and winning a (Perfect Game) national tournament was just great," he said.
Katoh is looking at another busy summer. He is in Cary, N.C., this week for the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars, and plans on returning to Marietta with his San Diego Show teammates for both the PG WWBA 2012 Grads or 18u National Championship and the PG WWBA 2013 Grads or 17u National Championship in July.
It's also likely he will be with the Show for the 2012 PG/EvoShield National Championship (Upper Class) in mid-September in Phoenix.
Katoh committed to UCLA after first being contacted by the school's recruiters and coaches at last year's PG National Games-Class of 2013 Showcase in San Diego. He said he was considering other West Coast schools, but once the Bruins offered he didn't hesitate.
"They had been watching me for quite awhile ... and I jumped on the offer because that was really my number one school. It was my definite choice," he said, adding that both of his parents are UCLA alumni. "I wouldn't be here without Perfect Game ... and I definitely wouldn't have committed to UCLA. (The showcases) really help, not only for college, but for the draft coming up. This should hopefully help me out next year."
Katoh was born in the United States, moved to Japan with his parents to live for three years when he was a toddler, and then returned to the U.S. when he started school. He began playing baseball as soon as he was back in the States, and grew up idolizing Seattle Mariners' superstar Ichiro Suzuki.
"All the Japanese baseball players think he's a legend," he said.
Katoh said he doesn't see many other young American kids with Japanese heritage playing baseball, or at least not in the community where he lives.
"I would say that I am the minority, obviously, on the baseball field," he said. "I don't think there are a whole lot of Asians (in the United States) playing baseball at my age or at my level."
And then he offered some advice to any Japanese-American youngster who might be contemplating playing baseball one day.
"I would tell them that even if you're small or even if you're not that tall and you're not that powerful, if you work hard you can be whatever you want to be and achieve your goals," he said.