Bomber Bites With Jumping Joe–Time For Austin Romine to Shine
By Joe Vitulli
Austin Romine has been a pseudo prospect within the Yankee system for years. Born into a baseball family, his father, Kevin Romine, played for the Red Sox during the 1980s and his brother Andrew Romine is a second baseman for the Tigers, Romine progressed through the Yankee farm system initially. Romine was drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft and participated in the 2010 Futures Game.
Romine made the majors for a cup of coffee in 2011. He got an extended look in 2013 appearing in 60 games. However, he has been overshadowed by Gary Sanchez, who is considered to be a better prospect for much of Romine’s career. Then last season he was passed on the Yankees internal depth chart by John Ryan Murphy, leaving his future in limbo.
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However, after last night’s trade of Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates, that future just got a whole lot brighter. Romine enters the 2015 season out of options. He will need to stay with the big league club or be forced to pass through waivers. With the dearth of quality catchers around the majors, it is highly unlikely he would be able to pass through waivers and be sent down. This makes him the odds on favorite to land the backup catcher’s spot going into spring training in a few months.
Romine is still only 26 and has not yet been given a real chance in the majors. He has always been known as a good defensive catcher but there have been worries about whether his bat would translate to the big league level. In 167 big league at bats, he has only a .204 average with one home run and eleven RBI. Not exactly numbers to write home about.
But he did show improvement in 2013 when he got an extended look in the majors. He batted .385 in 24 June at bats and .400 in 33 July at bats. He worked studiously with then hitting coach Kevin Long and started to turn things around. Romine will likely never be a great hitter but he should be able to hit enough to not be an automatic out.
Meanwhile, John Ryan Murphy, who is ranked ahead of Romine both defensively and offensively at this point. will likely be caught in a numbers game and start the season at Triple-A where he can play every day. That is, of course, if he is not traded before the season. Along with Shane Greene, Murphy is probably the most tradable asset the Bombers have at the moment.
Romine therefore will get his big chance to play in the majors this spring. Assuming he has a decent spring, he will likely be the Yankees backup when they break camp. The Yankees don’t want to lose him to waivers for nothing and GM Brian Cashman has keep players on the roster for the simple reason that they were out of options before, such as Chris Stewart in 2012. Expect the Yankees to give Romine every chance to win and keep the job in 2015.