Big things are expected from outfielder Masataka Yoshida this year, as the Boston Red Sox took the risk and signed him to a multi-year deal.
In a year in which they lost Xander Bogaerts, Nate Eovaldi, JD Martinez, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, and other important contributors, Yoshida will be part of a new wave of talent in charge of helping the franchise stay competitive.
The newly-extended Rafael Devers, Yoshida, young guys like Triston Casas, Tanner Houck and Brayan Bello, and a few veterans represent the new-look Sox.
Yoshida showed a pretty solid swing in his first at-bat of spring training on Friday.
Working against a southpaw, the lefty-hitting Yoshida sent a screaming liner to the warning track in left field, near the Green Monster, that found a glove but plated a run via sacrifice fly.
“Masataka Yoshida puts a good swing on this sac fly in his first AB in a Red Sox uniform,” Boston Sports Gordo tweeted.
Masataka Yoshida puts a good swing on this sac fly in his first AB in a Red Sox uniform
— Boston Sports Gordo (@BOSSportsGordo) February 24, 2023
Yoshida is one of those players who is extremely difficult to strike out.
In 2022 in Japan, with the Orix Buffaloes, he slashed .336/.449/.559 with 21 home runs and a 1.007 OPS.
The most impressive part of it all was his 82 walks against just 42 (!) strikeouts.
Stolen bases are not really part of his game, but his incredible contact skills (.326 lifetime average in seven seasons in the NPB) and immaculate plate discipline make him very similar to the Cleveland Guardians’ Steven Kwan, but with more power (and worse defense/baserunning).
Yoshida looks like the perfect leadoff hitter for the Red Sox, provided he can adjust to big league velocity.NEXT: Red Sox Celebrate The Start Of Spring Training Games