Tetsuto Yamada - Another Japanese Player to Watch

He will turn 23 this July. Teams could use a mixture of his power and speed. Last year Tetsuto Yamada hit .324 with 29 homeruns for the Yakult Swallows. He drove in 89 runs and stole 15 bases in twenty attempts. This year he is hitting .303 with 14 homeruns, 12 stolen bases and 38 RBIs.

The Swallows made Yamada a first round pick in the 2010 draft. In 2012 he made his NPB debut with 11 hits in 49 at bats. In his second year he played 93 games but fell just short of 400 plate appearances, hitting just .283 with three homeruns.

The last two years he has broken out. Last year he hit six homeruns leading off a game. This year he has hit four. He is now the second youngest player in NPB history to hit ten leadoff homeruns. Only a player by the name of Hayato Sakamoto was younger when he blasted his ten leadoff homeruns. Sakamoto currently plays for the Giants.

Yamada is a long way away from becoming an international free agent. It would be a surprise the Swallows would post him for the $20 million fee. They would probably wait until he was a year away from becoming a free agent. In 144 game season it is difficult to be a 30/30 player but Yamada is on course to fall just short of those numbers. One hot streak could change all that.

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