Do Yankees have their own Dustin Pedroia heating up at Double-A?

Boston Red Sox Spring Training
Boston Red Sox Spring Training / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Maybe the Yankees' future middle infield is set. Maybe it's Anthony Volpe at shortstop with Oswald Peraza at second, with DJ LeMahieu being able to hold down regular reps at third as he ages. Maybe.

Or ... maybe ... there's a possibility that there's room at second base for a player who goes against the archetype. Someone who doesn't possess 20-homer power, but also doesn't need it. Someone who collects all the Little Things, heats them up and turns them into a hearty stew. Someone who sounds a lot like the primary Yankees tormentor of 2006-2016.

Be honest. You hated Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, but you also envied him. How does one man stay so relentless without physical tools? How does that big, uppercut swing swat so many singles and doubles without ever being solved? Why can't I sneak a damn fastball past this man?!

If the Yankees play their cards right, they just might be able to lay claim to a Pedroia-inspired hustle specimen of their own. Obtained in the Lucas Luetge trade, 5'6" middle infielder Caleb Durbin is a Division III player selected out of Washington University in St. Louis in the 14th round of the 2021 draft.

He doesn't strike out. He doesn't get caught stealing (26 stolen bags in 30 attempts). He just hits. And his power's improving.

Is Yankees prospect Caleb Durbin the next Dustin Pedroia?

Durbin may never hit for enough power to be a big-league regular, but he's certainly working on it. He's drilled a single home run through 42 games of the 2023 season, but his OPS remains over .800, buoyed by an .861 stint with the Hudson Valley Renegades before being promoted.

The strikeout rate might be the most jarringly impressive element of his game. He's whiffed just 11 times in his first 152 at-bats, with just two of those coming in 74 at-bats since being promoted to Double-A. When he was profiled last week by minor-league baseball writer Matt Kardos, his 1.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio was the second-best in the game.

The Pedroia comparisons aren't our way of rationalizing his success. They're Durbin's way of life; Pedroia, along with another hated Yankees rival, fostered his growth:

"I still look at [Jose] Altuve and [Ozzie] Albies. Playing in the Braves system, I got to hear him [Albies] talk a few times and being around him. I try to model my game around [Dustin] Pedroia – the intensity aspect and just the laser focus and being even keel but intense at the same time. Obviously, the size is there, too. I try to model my game after him too, for sure."

Caleb Durbin

The power wasn't a given for Pedey, either. Though he socked 13 homers in his second professional season, he hit just five in 111 games at Triple-A Pawtucket before being promoted for good in 2007.

Some Red Sox are detestable. Some can turn you green with ̶I̶r̶i̶s̶h̶ ̶p̶r̶i̶d̶e̶ ̶ envy. Pedroia was that kind of baseball player, an engine who powered several champions and a future manager to boot. Durbin's journey towards the upper minors feels like it could represent the start of a similar professional underdog story. Hopefully, the Yankees are the ones to give him an earnest shot.