The New York Yankees belong to Gary Sanchez so what happens when the Yankees catcher heads to the disabled list with a biceps strain just five games into the season? You suck it up, you plug Austin Romine into the starting job and you call up the forever youthful Kyle Higashioka. By now many of you have heard of Higashioka by now but for those who haven’t here is a short post covering what to expect from the new Yankees backup catcher.
Higashioka is a persevering little bugger, he is. Higashioka was drafted way back in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB First Year Players Draft and until the 2016 season has been constantly overlooked and passed over by the New York Yankees organization. A career minor leaguer Higashioka opened eyes last year adding power to an already impressive defensive and game calling regiment. Higashioka always had Romine and Sanchez ahead of him on the depth charts and always had Luis Torrens ahead of him on the scale of projectability but that all changed in 2016 when Higashioka hit 21 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A earning him a spot on the Yankees 40 man roster.
Higashioka turns 27-years old this month so whether he is just a late bloomer or if his injury history and tweaks to his batting approach are to blame for his emergence remains to be seen but as long as there are Josh Donaldson’s in the world I am not going to be the one to count him out. Even if Higashioka never hits 20 home runs again in a season he more than makes up for that with a strong throwing arm and great defensive and pitch framing skills behind the dish. Even if he hit .220 he could save more runs than he could potentially drive in making him a valuable and underrated player in the clubhouse and on the field.
I have to say I am like a kid in the candy store when I see prospects that I have followed seemingly forever finally make it to the Major Leagues and with Higasioka it’s no different. I’m rooting for you Kyle, make us all proud!