Top 10 Most Interesting Yankees in 2020: Kyle Higashioka
By Mike Whiteman
As a part of Start Spreading the News’ top 10 list of “players we are most excited to see what they do” in 2020, let’s take a quick look at Kyle Higashioka…
I’m excited about Kyle Higashioka’s 2020 season. Yes, really!
Higashioka is slated to play a significant role on 2020 – that of backup catcher.
Now on the surface that doesn’t look to be the most crucial of positions, especially in light of the Yankees’ star power, but remember that his predecessor at the position, Austin Romine, basically put together a full season’s work backing up Gary Sanchez in 2018 and 2019. So, it’s likely that he’ll get an opportunity to impact the team. In limited work as basically the Yanks’ third catcher since 2018, “Higgy” has made fans in Yankee brain trust, with manager Aaron Boone stating that he’s an “elite catcher” and is impressed with his power at the plate.
The 30-year old has paid his dues. He was drafted by the Yankees after high school graduation in 2008. He struggled in his first five seasons in the minors, then missed much of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with Tommy John surgery and a broken thumb. After a mediocre 2015 season, he busted out in 2016, blasting 21 homers and batting .276. Higashioka attributed the boost at the plate to two things: health and work on his swing. He saw time in the majors in each of the past three seasons, and has shown pop (six homers in 56 games) enough to compliment his defensive skills that he is seen as capable of the backup catcher’s position.
Throughout the COVID induced shutdown, Higashioka has reported to the NY Post what he’s done to keep in shape. Here’s the last article before reporting for “Summer Camp”.
Higashioka looks to be a great story on a number of levels. I’ll be watching with interest to see if he can continue with the improvement to his game. What an inspirational story of grit and perseverance to see that in his thirteenth year as a professional baseball player, most of that time in the minor leagues, he makes the Yankees’ Opening Day roster.
I’ll be rooting for him.