Yanagita was a first-round pick out of Hiroshima Keizai University by the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in the 2010 NPB Amateur draft. In his four full seasons at the big league level in Japan he has established himself as one of the league’s top young players, as well as an ambassador for the Japanese game. As a five-tool player, he brings an above-average hit tool and plus defensive ability in center field, to go along with his plus raw power. Yuki is off to a bit of a slow start in 2016, slashing .237/.423/.398 in 26 games just a year after after winning the Pacific League MVP award in 2015 (.363/.469/.631).
It’s not all bad news for Yanagita, though. His team is still in first place, he sports an exceptional 29/19 BB/K ratio with nine of his 22 hits have going for extra bases (seven doubles and two home runs). It’s still early, and Yanagita’s track record the past few seasons suggests that it’s only a matter of time before the average and power numbers begin to climb. He plays with a lot of energy and has the tools to stick in center field going forward, however he does have three errors this season after making four in all of 2015. Personally, I think it’s far to early to for the Hawks to panic, as Yanagita is too talented of a player not to eventually find his rhythm.