Yankees prospect Caleb Durbin -- all 5'6" of him -- shined at High-A Hudson Valley and repeated his success at Double-A Somerset this summer, shrugging off an injury to finish the season with a .304 average and .822 OPS across two levels.
While Durbin doesn't have a prototypical "top prospect" body, he certainly does have the type of never-say-die attitude that breeds success in a cutthroat industry. He showed the Yankees enough this past season to force their hand in sending him to the Arizona Fall League.
The AFL, a showcase for top prospects, would either expose Durbin as a one-trick, all-contact/no-pop pony or further his journey up the ladder to the big leagues. Neither party wanted to see him falter, but Durbin -- predictably -- came out of the gate firing to silence any existing haters, whether they be real or imaginary.
Thanks to Bryce Harper, all of America has recently seen the power of a manufactured shoulder chip. And, though 44 plate appearances, Durbin has motivated himself, once again, to the top of the league. A 2-for-4 day on Tuesday brought his AFL OPS to 1.066, with six extra-base hits, six stolen bags, and only three strikeouts.
This guy. This guy is the perfect complement to the Yankees' current ethos.
Yankees 5'6" prospect Caleb Durbin shines in Arizona Fall League
Durbin's strikeout rate could easily be his defining feature if he didn't hit so damned much, something the Yankees were banking on when they raided the Braves' farm system for Lucas Luetge this past offseason. Reliever Indigo Diaz was supposed to be the highlight-reel snag of that offseason trade, and while he found some early success, he ended the season with a 4.26 ERA, 1.64 WHIP and Tommy John surgery, performed in August.
Around the same time Diaz went down, Durbin was in the midst of an extended rehab of a non-contact injury, but it's safe to say his calling card survived. In 69 games during the minor-league regular season, Durbin struck out just 18 times (9 at each level of the minors). That means his three -- count 'em, THREE -- whiffs in AFL play is actually a tick higher pace. Clearly, the rigors of being in a top prospect showcase are beginning to catch up to him.
If all Durbin did was slap the ball around and take first base, those strikeout totals would be impressive enough. But his .464 OBP at Hudson Valley, moderate extra-base pop, and .800+ OPS marks at both levels tell an even more impactful story.
Hopefully, Durbin's Arizona stint helps convince the Yankees he's closer to Dustin Pedroia than Eguy Rosario, and represents the beginning of a real chance for the youngster. We missed Ronald Torreyes so much these past few years that we didn't even think to look in our own backyard for another one. Imagine that.