Catching prospect Kyle Higashioka will be making his fifth appearance as a non-roster invitee at the New York Yankees 2015 Spring Training, after a scorching performance in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .409 with a .682 SLG in 6 games after missing nearly a year due to Tommy John surgery.
Higashioka has been in the Yankees system since 2008, when he was drafted in the 7th round out of Edison High School in California. He is already 24 years of age, and has never been a top prospect within the organization. That hasn’t stopped his instructors and teammates from raving about his makeup.
He has never played above the AA level, and unfortunately, he is unlikely to as a member of the Yankees organization, so long as Luis Torrens, Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine, and John Ryan Murphy are waiting in line behind Brian McCann, who is firmly entrenched at the catching position for the major league club for the next couple of years.
Higashioka will really have to tear the cover off the ball in Spring Training if he wants to open some eyes, as he is not as young as some of the top Yankee catching prospects, and has a career .229 BA in seven minor league seasons. However, he is considered an excellent defensive catcher with a 31% career CS rate, and is a calming presence behind the plate.
During Spring Training, this is a valued trait, and he can take over in the later innings of exhibition games to work with younger pitchers who may be nervous about making a good impression.
Essentially, Higashioka is in camp not because he has a chance to help the major league club, but because he is a talented and smart catcher who brings stability and professionalism during a time when so many players are trying to prove themselves. Watching him help the Yankees in camp this season should be a pleasant experience, and hopefully he can continue to develop his bat at AA this season as he backs up Gary Sanchez.
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