Backup Catcher: Austin Romine vs. Kyle Higashioka
Following the 2016 season, after slashing .276/.337/.511 with 21 homers between Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Kyle Higashioka needed protection from the Rule-5 Draft and was added to the 40-man roster.
That means that the 26-year old may start his rookie campaign in the Bronx following this year’s spring training.
Always showing superb defense behind the plate, Higashioka made strides with his bat by making sure his ninth season in the farm system was the best.
Will the seventh round pick of the 2008 June Amateur Draft take over as the starting catcher? I think we all know the answer to that (it’s no).
Yet, a solid camp by the righty can put some pressure on Austin Romine for that second catcher’s spot.
Prediction: Austin Romine
Sure, Higashioka impressed and has always carried a valuable toolset, but Romine is simply out of options — meaning he must clear waivers before being sent to the minors.
In 2016, New York’s second-round pick out of the 2007 draft slashed .242/.269/.382 but only made one error in 355.1 total innings behind the plate.
Plus, the RailRiders could use a starting catcher while Higashioka, presuming he keeps his stock up, could be used for a valuable trade chip or even a serviceable call-up by September.