Eri Yoshida Update July 2013
Professional baseball’s only woman, Eri Yoshida is still pitching for the Maui Na Koa Ikaika of the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball this summer, where she has pitched parts of 2011 and 2012. The Pacific Association is a four-team circuit and is probably just about the lowest level of professional baseball in North America, although the league’s leaders this year look to have significant past minor league experience (although mostly in the low minors and Indy-A leagues) and include at least one former major leaguer in Chris Waters.
Eri has made seven starts for Maui this year and is currently 1-3 with a 6.59 ERA and a pitching line of 28.2 IP, 26 hits, three HRs and 17 walks allowed and only seven Ks. She’s pitched pretty well in three of her starts but has been pretty well hammered in the other four.
Eri is still hard to hit squarely, with fewer hits allowed than innings pitched and only eight extra base hits surrendered so far this year. However, she still has trouble throwing strikes, and she doesn’t strike anyone out even at this low level. Her run average is more than a run and a half higher than her ERA, which reflects the large numbers of base runners she allows, her inability to strike anyone out and the Pacific Association’s likely poor defensive play.
Yoshida isn’t pitching as well as she did in the same league last year, when she went 4-6 with a 5.56 ERA, but her decline may reflect the fact that the Pacific Association as a whole is better this season than it was a year ago, possibly due to the addition of more and/or better minor league veterans.
At any rate, Eri Yoshida hasn’t figured out Pacific Association hitters yet, so it still looks like it’ll be a awhile before she develops into anything more than a novelty, if she ever does. Still working in Eri’s favor, though, are the facts that she remains extremely young — she’s still only 21 years old — and will likely remain a valuable box office draw to an Independent-A team even if she is not particularly effective. That could buy her professional career some time to improve her knuckleball over the next couple of seasons.
In fact, it seems likely that Yoshida’s career will outlast the Pacific Association, which does not look like a particularly stable organization. Aside from the fact that it fields only four teams, it must have significant travel costs with two teams in Northern California and the other two teams on different Hawaiian Islands.