Yankees: Austin Romine Does Not Have A Lock On Backup Catcher


The Yankees Spring Training camp will feature some pretty severe competition at a number of positions (i.e. jobs). One of the most exciting battles will take place to find a backup catcher for Gary Sanchez. While many assume that the job belongs to Austin Romine, that may not necessarily be the case.

Austin Romine will be entering his sixth year wearing a Yankees uniform when the 2017 season begins. Until last season, his role with the team had been – well actually – he didn’t have a role. In 2016 however, he appeared in 62 games and seemed to have carved out a position on the team as a backup catcher.

But Romine didn’t exactly blow anyone away with the offensive numbers he put up hitting .242 with four homers and 26 RBIs in 62 games in his first full season in the Majors.

Interestingly, though, Romine sees improvement in his offensive ability, telling MLB.com recently:

"“I wanted to prove to everybody I can hit,” Romine said. “That was the sole purpose. They know I can catch; that’s why I’ve been here for five years. They need to know I can hit.”"

Either way, you see it, Romine is expected to be challenged by a relative unknown in the organization named Kyle Higashioka, 26, who was a 7th round draft pick by the Yankees eight years ago.

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Since then, Higashioka has bounced around, catching the eye of no one until last season when he split time between AA Trenton and AAA Scranton. 21 home runs and 80 RBI immediately catch your eyes when looking at his stats that also featured a .276 BA and .337 OBP. Oddly, though, he doesn’t make the list of the Yankees Top 30 Prospects.

And although Roto World ranks him behind Romine, the Yankees must see something in him because they moved him to their 40-man roster on November 4, 2016, protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft.

Regardless of who says what about either player,

Austin Romine: Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

these things are decided on the playing field. Both men are expected to get considerable at-bats during the preseason, if not with the big club on a daily basis, then with the traveling split squads that roam the state of Florida every spring.

Gary Sanchez is both young and energetic. He’s expected to catch as many as 135-140 games for the team. It would also not be unusual for the Yankees to carry three catchers, but in all likelihood (knowing Girardi), he’d like to have an extra arm in the bullpen.

Next: Tinkering With The Yankees 2017 Batting Order

So for Yankees fans, the battle between these two guys is yet another story within a story to keep our eyes on once Spring Training begins.