Tuesday, October 4 2022
Kyle HIgashioka gets high fives from teammates at spring training

Kyle HIgashioka gets high fives from teammates at spring training

When he came on as the Yankees‘ backup catcher, I think we can all agree that Kyle Higashioka was going to be just like Austin Romine: Defense first, maybe a few clutch at-bats and a dinger here and there. It was all about comfortability with the pitching staff and locking things down behind the plate compared to Gary Sanchez‘s skillset.

But after trading away Sanchez to the Minnesota Twins before the start of spring training, Higashioka immediately became the man and fans were wondering what that meant. Do the Yanks really trust him to be an all-around catcher that makes both an offensive and defensive impact?

Well, I think he might have put any worries to bed after what he just showed everyone these past few weeks.

Talk about understanding the assignment. Higashioka led the Yanks’ in home runs, so the power that Sanchez showed (it was in erratic spurts in recent years) might not be missed too much. Seven of his 11 hits in 26 at-bats went over the fence and he totaled 11 RBI.

So Higashioka, who is projected to be in the nine hole most nights, led the Yanks in almost every offensive categories this spring. No one could’ve predicted that.

Yes, I know these stats don’t count, but Yankees fans have to love that Higashioka truly stepped up to the plate (pun absolutely intended). While he’s already been in key spots in his early career — he became Gerrit Cole‘s catcher of choice pretty quickly which made him start postseason games — this is a totally different monster taking over a starting role. But he seems more than ready to get going with the regular season to prove he’s ready for that kind of added pressure.

So that’s why Higashioka is my favorite development from spring, and could become somewhat of an X factor for the Yanks. It’s always been offense or defense since Jorge Posada hung up his cleats — you had to pick and choose which skill set you needed for each game.

Not that I’m comparing Higashioka to one of the best catchers in Yankees history, but you get what I’m saying: Higgy might not make the Yanks trade offensive prowess for defensive ability this season. At least, that’s not what his spring training bat is saying.

This will be one of the big storylines for the 2022 Yankees, and right now, Higashioka is making it a very positive one. We’ll see if it immediately translates to this Opening series against the Red Sox, and more importantly, hold true throughout the 162-game gauntlet.

But one thing’s for sure: Higgy seems determined to make Sanchez an afterthought as he steps into his new starting role.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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