Ex-MLB Player Calls Red Sox’s Masataka Yoshida ‘Japanese Juan Soto’

'Its time for him to take on a new challenge'

by

December 8, 2022

Questions now loom regarding the expectations of newly signed Boston Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

On Wednesday, the Red Sox added the free-agent Japanese outfielder on a reported five-year deal worth $90 million, which marked the first big splash the organization had made in the offseason — and also included a $15.4 million posting fee to the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball.

While the frame of reference for Yoshida is extremely vague for those who don’t follow Japanese professional baseball, one former major leaguer had a glowing review for the new Red Sox outfielder.

Adam Jones, who previously spent 14 seasons in the MLB and made five All-Star appearances, spent a season with the Buffaloes and was formerly a teammate of Yoshida in Japan. The now 37-year-old retired outfielder didn’t just issue kind words about Yoshida, Jones went as far as to provide one extremely noteworthy comparison to a superstar player.

“I say he’s like the Japanese Juan Soto,” Jones told Will Sammon of The Athletic in November. “He can hit the ball to all fields, all speeds. Like Juan Soto, he hits everything — and walks; and doesn’t swing outside of the zone.”

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Jones also revealed that Yoshida would often bounce questions off the former Silver Slugger Award winner. Questions that would be purely baseball-related with Yoshida primarily focused on what to expect from competition on the field.

“He asked a lot of questions about Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole,” Jones said. “He asked a lot about these guys that throw hard, and I tried to give him the best answers I could. He just always wanted to know.”

During his most recent campaign with the Buffaloes in 2022, Yoshida — as he’s known for — displayed some stellar plate discipline. Through his 508 total at-bats, the 29-year-old drew a career-high 80 walks and struck out just 41 times. Yoshida also hit .335/.561/.447 with 21 home runs, 28 doubles and 88 RBIs in 119 games played.

“He’s ready for it,” Jones said. “I don’t think Japan is a challenge for him anymore. He’s hitting .350. It’s like a guy in Triple-A hitting .350 and he gets called up. It’s not a challenge for him anymore. So I think it’s time for him to take on a new challenge. And Major League Baseball sure as hell is the greatest challenge.”

Jones isn’t the only former MLB player to have spoken about Yoshida in such high regard.

Former pitcher Colin Rea and ex-outfielder Joe McCarthy each shared a similar sentiment, and like Jones, had a first-hand view of Yoshida while spending time in Japan.

Thumbnail photo via Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports Images
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