The Yankees have been hit with an early season barrage of injuries to their young star players. For one bright prospect, he’ll finally get a shot to make a name for himself.
By now, you’ve likely heard that the Yankees have placed arguably, their most important player, Gary Sanchez, on the 10-day disabled list. For those hoping for a quick return to the lineup for The Kraken, Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez missed 18 days last season with the same strained biceps injury.
While losing Sanchez will certainly affect the overall RBI potential of the lineup, it’ll also cause manager Joe Girardi to seriously juggle his batting order.
The small caveat of positive news coming out of this mess is that the Yankees and their fans will get their first glimpse of Kyle Higashioka‘s impressive bat against Major League pitching.
I for one, am a big fan of this 26-year-old California native. Yes, he’s been a career minor leaguer to-date, but some guys just take longer to develop. Not that numbers down on the farm always translate to big league production (see Aaron Judge) — through both Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, Higashioka hit .276/.337/.511 with 21 home runs and 81 RBI.
Following Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Orioles, Girardi tried to quell any sense of early season panic.
"“It’s [Sanchez’s injury] not what you want to see” Joe Girardi said. “The young kid [Higashioka] is very talented and he’s done some really good things in his short career, but the other guys will get an opportunity now.”More from Yankees NewsAaron Judge puts more pressure on Yankees after being named CaptainCarlos Correa-Giants-Mets bombshell makes Aaron Judge’s return to Yankees even betterDid Yankees troll Jon Heyman with Aaron Judge contract tweet?Matt Carpenter leaving Yankees for massive raise is hard to argue withYankees top prospects butt heads after Giants’ gritty win over Commanders"
In all truth, I was a huge advocate for Higashioka making the team out of spring, when he hit .296/.406/.630 with two homers and three doubles in 20 games.
Though Austin Romine is out of minor league options and therefore would have been subjected to the waiver wire, should the Yankees not have placed him on the 25-man roster — “Higgy” offers much more upside.
Romine is a backup catcher — that’s all he’ll ever be. Romine is very good behind the dish, but severely lacks much plate discipline and therefore is another strikeout prone bat for Girardi to add to the mix.
In the midst of an “interesting” rebuild — where it appears the Yankees are reluctant to at times just play the kids, Romine will get a bulk of the work until Sanchez returns. But this shouldn’t be.
Given the opportunity, Higgy can be a wonderful complement to Sanchez. His defense is only a step below Romine’s — but his bat is far superior. Higgy has all the making of a legit major leaguer — so let him play, Joe!
Maybe just maybe, something good can come out of Sanchez’s injury. Cue the reluctance!