Scouting Yankees Prospect #42:Kyle Higashioka

The Yankees drafted catcher Kyle Higashioka in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of Edison High School in California. Since that time the Yankees have been waiting for his bat to develop into the consistent force that his defensive game has already become.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Kyle Higashioka
Position: Catcher
DOB: April 20, 1990
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"In Tampa I started slow," he said. "I thought I was starting to get it back together about the time I got sent down and then once I got sent down I probably put up the best numbers that I put up in pro ball so far for the first month and a half or so, and then I got hurt and started going downhill from there.

"There's positive and negatives to take from last year. I know I'm capable of putting up good numbers, I just need to do that on a consistent basis for the entire season."

His mid-season demotion to low-A Charleston did come at a somewhat surprising time too after he had just hit for extra-bases in three consecutive games for Tampa, including two straight home run games, before being sent to Charleston.

He then went on to hit .269 with five more doubles and three more home runs over his first 20 games back with Charleston before an injured shoulder caused him to play sporadically over the course of the remainder of the season.

"I had a span where I was hitting for average and power," he continued. "Now I know I can do that but I need to sustain that for an entire year. I thought I was catching pretty well until I got hurt but that seems to be a constant for me, it's the offense that isn't consistent.

"I know I need to keep working on my swing, try to be more consistent, try to square up more balls. I need to keep getting better every year."

Higashioka hasn't had his confidence shaken at all despite hitting just .231 and .225 respectively over the past two seasons. Rather, he uses it as inspiration to work that much harder.

"It's always a work in progress," he said of his bat. "When you're not doing well you're always trying ways to change to make it better. I think I found something that was working for me. It was going well, I just needed to be more consistent with it and be able to sustain that for a long period of time.

"I've been studying a ton of videos this offseason. I think if I use that where I'm constantly studying my swing on video I can change the bad [things]."

It's that kind of rare work ethic and attention to small details that has allowed him to become an organizational favorite among team officials and coaches, and it's why those same folks believe his breakout season is coming soon.

"I think so this year," he opined. "When I used to look at my swing and compare it to big leaguers there was a huge discrepancy as far as mechanics and this offseason I've really been trying to buckle down, and basically get my swing to look like theirs. Obviously if those guys are swinging in the big leagues a certain way and I'm not than there's an issue."

Higashioka, who says he's already slimmed a couple of percentage points this offseason off of his body fat from a year ago, believes not swinging down so much with his plane is the biggest tweak needed going forward.

"Maybe instead of a lot of those foul tips that go back, those wind up being line drives, hard fly balls and line drives. I think this is going to be good. It's going to prepare me to have a good year.

"I feel like I can be a lot better. Defense has always been one of my strengths. Even with that though I can get better – there's always little stuff that we work on receiving and things to cut down by one-hundreth of a second on a throw to second base – there's always something to work on defensively.

"Offensively it's just a matter of being consistent. There's been times where I've put up good numbers but those times need to be prolonged. I can't just hit well for a couple of months or a half of a season, I have to hit well the entire year."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2011 Tampa .238 164 10 4 16 21 1 14 22 .300 .372
2011 Charleston .223 130 6 4 13 14 0 9 19 .280 .362
2010 Charleston .225 320 18 6 24 35 0 31 64 .303 .338
2009 Staten Island .253 217 11 2 32 24 0 26 31 .333 .332
2008 GCL Yankees .261 46 1 1 3 5 0 2 8 .300 .348


Batting and Power. Higashioka is an offensive enigma; he hardly ever strikes out [just 144 strikeouts in 877 career at-bats] and he has shown good power [46 doubles and 17 home runs], but yet he has hit just .236 in his career thus far. With plus plate discipline, average to above average power potential, and employing a short and compact swing, he is a much better hitter than he has proven thus far. He just needs to do it over the course of an entire season.

Base Running and Speed. Like most catchers he is not fleet of foot and won't be much of an impact in the running game, but he is somewhat nimble for his position and is a very smart base runner who won't cost his team on the bases.

Defense. Higashioka is a plus defensive in nearly every way except arm strength but he makes up for that average arm with an extremely quick release and very accurate throws in Brett Gardner-like fashion. His makeup is off the charts too. In a lot of ways he is like having an extra coach on the field, especially with the way he handles a pitching staff and in-game calling. He is a great leader, adept at blocking balls and framing pitches, etc. He literally doesn't have a defensive weakness to his game.

Projection. Higashioka's excellent all-around defensive game and off-the-charts intangibles are more than enough to safely project him as a future big league catcher someday, especially with his ability to hit for power too. A true student of the game, he not only watches video to better his game but he has taught himself Spanish over the years so he can work easier with his Latin American pitchers. It's that kind of attitude that an organization would love to slot into a starting role and Higashioka has that kind of upside, especially when given his plus plate discipline belying his lack of offensive success thus far. For now he projects as a big league backup catcher but don't be surprised if he breaks out sometime soon and grabs an eventual starting catching job long-term.

ETA. 2014. Higashioka should open up the 2012 season back in high-A Tampa and some subsequent time in Double-A later in the season seems quite possible too.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Kyle Higashioka
\r\nPosition: Catcher
\r\nDOB: April 20, 1990
\r\nHeight: 6'1\"
\r\nWeight: 190
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\n\"In Tampa I started slow,\" he said. \"I thought I was starting to get it back together about the time I got sent down and then once I got sent down I probably put up the best numbers that I put up in pro ball so far for the first month and a half or so, and then I got hurt and started going downhill from there.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's positive and negatives to take from last year. I know I'm capable of putting up good numbers, I just need to do that on a consistent basis for the entire season.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis mid-season demotion to low-A Charleston did come at a somewhat surprising time too after he had just hit for extra-bases in three consecutive games for Tampa, including two straight home run games, before being sent to Charleston.
\r\n
\r\nHe then went on to hit .269 with five more doubles and three more home runs over his first 20 games back with Charleston before an injured shoulder caused him to play sporadically over the course of the remainder of the season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I had a span where I was hitting for average and power,\" he continued. \"Now I know I can do that but I need to sustain that for an entire year. I thought I was catching pretty well until I got hurt but that seems to be a constant for me, it's the offense that isn't consistent.
\r\n
\r\n\"I know I need to keep working on my swing, try to be more consistent, try to square up more balls. I need to keep getting better every year.\"
\r\n
\r\nHigashioka hasn't had his confidence shaken at all despite hitting just .231 and .225 respectively over the past two seasons. Rather, he uses it as inspiration to work that much harder.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's always a work in progress,\" he said of his bat. \"When you're not doing well you're always trying ways to change to make it better. I think I found something that was working for me. It was going well, I just needed to be more consistent with it and be able to sustain that for a long period of time.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've been studying a ton of videos this offseason. I think if I use that where I'm constantly studying my swing on video I can change the bad [things].\"
\r\n
\r\nIt's that kind of rare work ethic and attention to small details that has allowed him to become an organizational favorite among team officials and coaches, and it's why those same folks believe his breakout season is coming soon.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think so this year,\" he opined. \"When I used to look at my swing and compare it to big leaguers there was a huge discrepancy as far as mechanics and this offseason I've really been trying to buckle down, and basically get my swing to look like theirs. Obviously if those guys are swinging in the big leagues a certain way and I'm not than there's an issue.\"
\r\n
\r\nHigashioka, who says he's already slimmed a couple of percentage points this offseason off of his body fat from a year ago, believes not swinging down so much with his plane is the biggest tweak needed going forward.
\r\n
\r\n\"Maybe instead of a lot of those foul tips that go back, those wind up being line drives, hard fly balls and line drives. I think this is going to be good. It's going to prepare me to have a good year.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel like I can be a lot better. Defense has always been one of my strengths. Even with that though I can get better – there's always little stuff that we work on receiving and things to cut down by one-hundreth of a second on a throw to second base – there's always something to work on defensively.
\r\n
\r\n\"Offensively it's just a matter of being consistent. There's been times where I've put up good numbers but those times need to be prolonged. I can't just hit well for a couple of months or a half of a season, I have to hit well the entire year.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

Year

\r\n

Team

\r\n

AVG

\r\n

AB

\r\n

2B

\r\n

HR

\r\n

RBI

\r\n

R

\r\n

SB

\r\n

BB

\r\n

SO

\r\n

OBP

\r\n

SLG

\r\n 2011\r\n Tampa\r\n .238\r\n 164\r\n 10\r\n 4\r\n 16\r\n 21\r\n 1\r\n 14\r\n 22\r\n .300\r\n .372
\r\n 2011\r\n Charleston\r\n .223\r\n 130\r\n 6\r\n 4\r\n 13\r\n 14\r\n 0\r\n 9\r\n 19\r\n .280\r\n .362
\r\n 2010\r\n Charleston\r\n .225\r\n 320\r\n 18\r\n 6\r\n 24\r\n 35\r\n 0\r\n 31\r\n 64\r\n .303\r\n .338
\r\n 2009\r\n Staten Island\r\n .253\r\n 217\r\n 11\r\n 2\r\n 32\r\n 24\r\n 0\r\n 26\r\n 31\r\n .333\r\n .332
\r\n 2008\r\n GCL Yankees\r\n .261\r\n 46\r\n 1\r\n 1\r\n 3\r\n 5\r\n 0\r\n 2\r\n 8\r\n .300\r\n .348

\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power. Higashioka is an offensive enigma; he hardly ever strikes out [just 144 strikeouts in 877 career at-bats] and he has shown good power [46 doubles and 17 home runs], but yet he has hit just .236 in his career thus far. With plus plate discipline, average to above average power potential, and employing a short and compact swing, he is a much better hitter than he has proven thus far. He just needs to do it over the course of an entire season.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed. Like most catchers he is not fleet of foot and won't be much of an impact in the running game, but he is somewhat nimble for his position and is a very smart base runner who won't cost his team on the bases.
\r\n
\r\nDefense. Higashioka is a plus defensive in nearly every way except arm strength but he makes up for that average arm with an extremely quick release and very accurate throws in Brett Gardner-like fashion. His makeup is off the charts too. In a lot of ways he is like having an extra coach on the field, especially with the way he handles a pitching staff and in-game calling. He is a great leader, adept at blocking balls and framing pitches, etc. He literally doesn't have a defensive weakness to his game.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Higashioka's excellent all-around defensive game and off-the-charts intangibles are more than enough to safely project him as a future big league catcher someday, especially with his ability to hit for power too. A true student of the game, he not only watches video to better his game but he has taught himself Spanish over the years so he can work easier with his Latin American pitchers. It's that kind of attitude that an organization would love to slot into a starting role and Higashioka has that kind of upside, especially when given his plus plate discipline belying his lack of offensive success thus far. For now he projects as a big league backup catcher but don't be surprised if he breaks out sometime soon and grabs an eventual starting catching job long-term.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2014. Higashioka should open up the 2012 season back in high-A Tampa and some subsequent time in Double-A later in the season seems quite possible too.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

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