Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Tetsudo Yamada could very well be the most highly touted player out of Japan since Shohei Ohtani. Yamada has impressed fans with his exceptional fielding and hitting abilities. He was drafted at the age of 19 in the first round by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Little did they know, they just drafted Japan’s version of Mike Trout.
Tetsudo’s breakout season happened in 2014 which also happened to be the first year he played a full season. In 143 games, he hit 29 home runs, with 39 doubles and 89 RBI, scored 106 runs, stole 15 bases, and hit .324 with an OPS of .941, impressive. However, the best part of his game is consistency. His power numbers even improved off of his 2014 campaign.
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Looking at Yamada’s defensive numbers, you could easily assume that he is a strictly defensive second baseman. This is why he is drawing comparisons to an infield, Japanese version of Mike Trout. He is nearly perfect at second base with a career FP% of .987, you cannot ask for much more. At his position, he turned 105 double plays in 143 games at the age of 21.
It is very easy to forget about the second baseman's speed. In 2015, 2016, and 2018, he led the NPB in stolen bases. In each of those years, he stole 30 or more bags while getting caught stealing only 10 times in those three years.
It is impressive how he can generate so much power while, only, standing at 5’11” and 168lbs. However, as you know by now, he smashes them far and hard. While many people compare him to Mike Trout, he reminds me of Mookie Betts. They both have very similar bodies, and their swings are similar too. All of this makes for some extremely efficient offensive results.
Keep a close eye on this guy during the offseason. The Swallows are expected to post him for MLB teams, and he is sure to be someone that every team would love on their roster. For now, it is rumored that the Chicago Cubs are the most interested in him. However, the coronavirus has thrown complications into baseball this year, so it will depend on where Tokyo decides to put the posting price. If it is low enough, expect to see Hotaka Yamada in the Major Leagues in 2021.