There are a few positions in the New York Yankees‘ system where every single signing merits coverage, simply because of the potential implications of uncovering a gem.
Catcher is, undoubtedly, one of those positions, especially entering the much-maligned Gary Sánchez’s walk year.
If a minor-league catcher breaks out, it changes the calculation for Kyle Higashioka’s potential backup next year, especially if he possesses the defensive attributes that Sánchez does not. Even if they do not break out, odds are high they’ll be involved in the 2022 season due to injury overload, Rob Brantly-style.
All of this is to say … the Yankees snagged another one late Sunday night, giving us the best early Christmas gift possible: an actual transaction of the minor-league (aka legal) variety!
Defensive-minded 23-year-old former Philadelphia Phillies catching prospect Rodolfo Duran, who hit once upon a time back in 2018, is now a Yankee, and will presumably start in the upper minors of the Bombers system after reaching Triple-A at the tail end of 2021.
Perhaps Double-A Somerset, though manager Julio Mosquera has departed to become the Chicago White Sox catching coordinator. Unfortunate, because that would’ve been a helpful pairing.
New York Yankees sign minor-league catcher Rodolfo Duran from Phillies system.
We give the Phils Joe Girardi, Didi Gregorius, Kevin Long, and Ronald Torreyes, they hand us Rodolfo Duran. Feels like a fair trade, yeah.
Duran, who ranked 20th on the Phillies’ MLB Pipeline top 30 prospects list entering 2020 (ok!), has exactly one representatively solid season to his name. Back in 2018 at Single-A Lakewood, he busted out and smashed 18 homers in 88 games with an even .800 OPS. Since then? While his defense has reportedly stayed top notch, 12 balls have left the yard in 101 games, as he’s posted OPS marks of .643 and .640.
Perhaps the Yankees liked what they’ve seen down in LIDOM recently, where plenty of their prospects and vets (shoutout to Aaron Hicks) have been spinning their wheels during this winter shutdown. Duran, too, has been down there cracking triples for Estrellas Orientales, alongside Felix Pie and Christian Bethancourt.
Duran is certainly a wild card, and the Yankees have already brought Brantly back to be the next man up as soon as either Sánchez or Higashioka experiences a setback.
At the very least, though, a defensive catcher is exactly what Yankee fans ordered to keep the hot stove surprisingly warm.