Patrick Teale

Here's a scouting report on Scranton & Trenton catcher Kyle Higashioka.

The Yankees drafted catcher Kyle Higashioka in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of Edison High School in California. Widely regarded as one of the more advanced defensive players, the Yankees had been waiting for his bat to develop since his selection and that patience paid off in a big way with a breakout season last year.

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

Batting and Power. For years 'Higgy' was an offensive enigma.  He had everything in place to be a high-average hitter; great patience, advanced pitch recognition and plate discipline, a short and compact stroke, and a tangible center to opposite field approach, and yet he would annually struggle to hit above .250.  He also had [and still has] excellent gap power and burgeoning average or better home run power potential, and yet he never hit double-digit home runs until his breakout season last year.  Some small tweaks to his swing and a return to health [he missed most of 2013 and 2014 with Tommy John surgery], as well as finding that work balance defensively and offensively, allowed his batting potential to finally reach the surface and become the impact hitter he always showed signs of being.  Some critics may point to his lone great 2016 offensive outburst as the aberration when in actuality everything about his offensive tools suggest last season should the be the standard offensive season expected.  He has impact batting potential and a flare for consistency.

Base Running and Speed. Like most catchers he isn't speedy at all but he is extremely intelligent and shows a bit more nimbleness and agility than most backstops.  He won't be an asset stealing bases -- maybe just one or two here and there -- but he won't be a liability running station to station either so in that regard he is better than most at the position.

Defense. 'Higgy' has widely been known for his defensive prowess behind the plate for many years now and a big reason why is his enormous mental makeup.  In very much coach-like fashion he knows exactly where to be in every situation, knows where his teammates should be, and has excellent anticipation too.  So while the arm strength is more on the average side of things -- the only downside physically to his defensive game -- he makes up for it with one of the quicker exchanges and releases around, and his throws are consistently accurate.  A born leader, he excels at receiving, blocking balls, and perhaps his greatest strength is building a rapport and working with his pitchers.  He has Gold Glove potential in nearly every phase of the defensive game.

Projection. We've been touting Higashioka as one of the better all-around catching prospects in the game for many years now, it just took a while for the entire game to materialize and mature.  Catchers normally take longer than most prospects to develop anyway and it's because of the need to learn how to balance the work needed on both sides of the ball.  A defense-first position like catcher, he's never had an issue on that side of the ball.  For years he already had the kind of defensive game that projected him safely as an eventual big league backup catcher at minimum, somebody who could carve out a Drew Butera-like big league career even if the bat didn't come around. However, boasting a David Wright-like offensive approach even in his younger days, he just needed to get healthy and build up some confidence to become the same consistent force offensively that he was defensively.  Should he remain healthy going forward he has the offensive talent to hit anywhere in the middle third of a big league lineup eventually and defensively he's the kind of player you want back there everyday.  Seasons like he had in 2016 are not only not far-fetched but should be there for the taking if given ample playing time.

ETA. 2017. Higashioka has been big league ready defensively for a number of years now.  And with no pressure to perform offensively with Gary Sanchez around he could easily slot in as the Yankees' backup catcher in a moment's notice should the need arise.

Year Team AVG AB 2B HR RBI R BB SO SB OBP SLG OPS
2016 Scranton .250 148 9 10 30 24 12 31 0 .306 .514 .820
2016 Trenton .293 222 15 11 51 31 26 42 0 .355 .509 .864
2015 Scranton .176 17 1 0 0 2 0 4 0 .176 .235 .412
2015 Tampa .254 307 18 5 36 25 22 49 0 .305 .375 .680
2014 Tampa .231 26 3 1 2 5 4 4 0 .323 .462 .784
2014 GCL Yankees .217 23 1 0 1 3 3 7 0 .296 .261 .557
2013 Trenton .320 25 3 1 5 1 0 5 0 .320 .560 .880
2012 Trenton .087 23 0 0 2 1 2 8 0 .154 .087 .241
2012 Tampa .185 124 5 6 21 13 10 34 1 .243 .371 .614
2011 Tampa .238 164 10 4 16 21 14 22 1 .300 .372 .672
2011 Charleston .223 130 6 4 13 14 9 19 0 .280 .362 .641
2010 Charleston .225 320 18 6 24 35 31 64 0 .303 .338 .640
2009 Staten Island .253 217 11 2 32 24 26 31 0 .333 .332 .665
2008 GCL Yankees .261 46 1 1 3 5 2 8 0 .300 .348 .648

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