Although Austin Romine appears to have the backup catching position locked up, could Kyle Higashioka make the New York Yankees 25-man roster?
Last season, Austin Romine won the New York Yankees’ backup catcher’s position behind former starter Brian McCann.
This season, it appears Romine will enter Spring Training as the de facto backup catcher to Gary Sanchez. However, Triple-A catcher Kyle Higashioka could give Romine a run for his money.
On the first day of Grapefruit League games, Higashioka hit an absolute bomb for a home run. Did I mention it was also in his first at-bat of the Spring?
While one game in Spring Training isn’t enough to declare Higashioka should make the Yankees roster, his numbers in the minors could defend his case.
Higashioka hit 21 homers and drove in 81 runs between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The home runs and RBIs earned Higashioka a spot on the Yankees 40-man roster.
Higashioka knows he has something to prove to the Yankees, which is why his actions are implying: ‘Hey, don’t only pay attention to Austin Romine. Pay attention to me!’
It’s obvious Romine isn’t the only backup catcher on the roster, but the Yankees are paying more attention to him because he is out of minor league options. That was the reason the Yankees kept Romine on the Major League roster for the 2016 season, even with the addition of Sanchez and the demotion to McCann.
There’s also the fact Higashioka hasn’t played enough games in Triple-A. Higashioka only played in 44 career games with Scranton and spent a bulk of his time in Trenton. The Yankees usually don’t like to rush their prospects through the system, especially if they are hitters. That’s why the Yankees are starting left fielder Clint Frazier in Triple-A versus him making the club in April.
Higashioka has put on a show so far — despite it only being one game. But as of right now, it’s hard to imagine Higashioka starting the season with the New York Yankees. The situation could change if either Sanchez or Romine gets hurt, which would open the door to a Higashioka call up.
Even if Higashioka isn’t added to the 25-man roster, it’s important he plays well in Spring Training. The front office will remember what he did during the Spring. And should the need arise, they won’t hesitate to call Higashioka so he can make a bus trip to New York City.