Scouting Yankees Prospect #25:Kyle Higashioka

The Yankees drafted catcher Kyle Higashioka in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of Edison High School in California. A seemingly firm commitment to play for the University of California caused him to slip in the draft and he signed too late to get much playing time this past season, but he did quickly impress with his solid overall game.

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

"I think it's gone pretty well," Higashioka said of his transition to the professional game. "I was swinging the bat pretty well and it wasn't really any different competition than I'm used to playing against.

"It wasn't overpowering and it wasn't that big of an adjustment for me to make. I'm real excited for next season, I can't wait for Spring Training."

He hit .261 in just 18 games for the Gulf Coast League Yankees, but while he showed a potent bat and an advanced defensive game behind the scenes, it was his mature approach and mental makeup that already has team officials excited.

"Higgy came right in totally not intimidated and was productive right out of the gate," said GCL Yankees manager Jody Reed. "Really the only thing Higgy needed to do was just learn the game as every new player does.

"We basically just spent our time teaching him the game of baseball: situations, how to handle pitchers, what pitches to throw - basically knowledge stuff.

"He was one you didn't have to build up his confidence or get him going, he just came in raring to go and took right to it."

Known for his bat control and ability to hit for average, the lone question mark offensively for him was how his power would develop and he quickly showed he has some pop.

"I think my power is coming along pretty well actually," said Higashioka. "I showed some power during Instructs and during the season, but there's still a lot of room for me to get stronger and that's what I'm trying to do right here in the offseason."

An intense player when it comes to bettering himself, he admits to working out more than originally prescribed to him by the Yankees this offseason in an effort to increase his overall strength.

Taking pride in his defensive game too, however, he has also set forth the goal of becoming fluent in Spanish before reporting to his first Spring Training.

"Call a game, control a game from behind the plate," he listed as one of his greatest strengths. "Receiving, blocking, and during the season my catch-and-throw wasn't great but during Instructs and the Dominican I started throwing guys out.

"I probably threw out half of the guys trying to steal on me so I was pleased with that. The ability to call a game and do as much as I can to help my team win - I always feel when I'm behind the plate I play a big part in helping our team win.

"Managing a pitching staff, calling pitches, it plays a big part in the fate of a whole team. I feel like that's one of the things I'm strongest at. I feel like I can really help the team win."

Not passive by any means and certainly one to take a proactive approach in becoming the absolute best player he can be, Higashioka believes in setting high goals and working his tail off to achieve them.

"I want to hit over .300," he said of his goals for his first full season next year. "I want to manage the pitching staff just as well as I have been and even better, and I want to try to throw out 40-50% of the runners.

"I want to set high goals for myself so I'll be pushing myself to reach them. I don't want to set easy goals for myself because there would be no point in really setting them."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2008 GCL Yankees .261 46 1 1 3 5 0 2 8 .300 .348


Batting and Power. While he is very intense off the field in his approach to his own development, he takes on a much more laid-back and patient persona when stepping into the batter's box. His hitting mechanics are both sound and quiet, showing little wasted movement and very good bat speed. He also has a keen knowledge of the strike zone, he is willing to take pitches, and he uses his center-to-right field approach to spray liners from gap to gap. He is pretty strong already and he showed some good power during the Instructional League this offseason, but he also has room to add some more strength over the coming years. He doesn't have heart of the order type of power but he could develop into a solid double-digit home run hitter.

Base Running and Speed. Higashioka isn't the normal slow-footed catcher in the traditional sense, but he doesn't project to be much of a factor on the base paths either. He should be good for some head's up situational base-running and a handful of stolen bases each year.

Defense. Higashioka is an extremely sound defensive catcher already, a great sign considering he is still a teenager. He is solid at both blocking balls in the dirt and receiving the ball. And while his arm strength isn't up to par with some of the other catchers in the farm system - it's good, not great - he does have one of the quicker releases and he is accurate with his throws. Where he really shines is in his ability to call games and work with pitchers, especially with how quickly he can build a rapport with his pitching staff. He earns their trust and his take-charge attitude has an impact on the game.

Projection. Higashioka's maturity is the foundation of his entire game. Despite being so young, he already acts like a true professional and that is what separates merely talented prospects from the ones who make it. He has been practicing with his Rosetta Stone software that he purchased so he can become fluent in Spanish and able to work with the Latin American pitchers better - that's how serious he takes getting better. Throw in the fact he is solid in all phases of the game too, he has all of the physical and mental tools to be a big league starting catcher. He often gets compared to Oakland A's catcher Kurt Suzuki, perhaps because both are Japanese Americans at the catcher's position, but both have similar builds, solid overall games, and with home run power being the only real question mark in their games.

ETA. 2012. Higashioka should open up the 2009 season as at least half of the Charleston catching tandem and he seems like a safe bet to be on a one level per year track through the minor leagues.

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\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\"I think it's gone pretty well,\" Higashioka said of his transition to the professional game. \"I was swinging the bat pretty well and it wasn't really any different competition than I'm used to playing against.
\r\n
\r\n\"It wasn't overpowering and it wasn't that big of an adjustment for me to make. I'm real excited for next season, I can't wait for Spring Training.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe hit .261 in just 18 games for the Gulf Coast League Yankees, but while he showed a potent bat and an advanced defensive game behind the scenes, it was his mature approach and mental makeup that already has team officials excited.
\r\n
\r\n\"Higgy came right in totally not intimidated and was productive right out of the gate,\" said GCL Yankees manager Jody Reed. \"Really the only thing Higgy needed to do was just learn the game as every new player does.
\r\n
\r\n\"We basically just spent our time teaching him the game of baseball: situations, how to handle pitchers, what pitches to throw - basically knowledge stuff.
\r\n
\r\n\"He was one you didn't have to build up his confidence or get him going, he just came in raring to go and took right to it.\"
\r\n
\r\nKnown for his bat control and ability to hit for average, the lone question mark offensively for him was how his power would develop and he quickly showed he has some pop.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think my power is coming along pretty well actually,\" said Higashioka. \"I showed some power during Instructs and during the season, but there's still a lot of room for me to get stronger and that's what I'm trying to do right here in the offseason.\"
\r\n
\r\nAn intense player when it comes to bettering himself, he admits to working out more than originally prescribed to him by the Yankees this offseason in an effort to increase his overall strength.
\r\n
\r\nTaking pride in his defensive game too, however, he has also set forth the goal of becoming fluent in Spanish before reporting to his first Spring Training.
\r\n
\r\n\"Call a game, control a game from behind the plate,\" he listed as one of his greatest strengths. \"Receiving, blocking, and during the season my catch-and-throw wasn't great but during Instructs and the Dominican I started throwing guys out.
\r\n
\r\n\"I probably threw out half of the guys trying to steal on me so I was pleased with that. The ability to call a game and do as much as I can to help my team win - I always feel when I'm behind the plate I play a big part in helping our team win.
\r\n
\r\n\"Managing a pitching staff, calling pitches, it plays a big part in the fate of a whole team. I feel like that's one of the things I'm strongest at. I feel like I can really help the team win.\"
\r\n
\r\nNot passive by any means and certainly one to take a proactive approach in becoming the absolute best player he can be, Higashioka believes in setting high goals and working his tail off to achieve them.
\r\n
\r\n\"I want to hit over .300,\" he said of his goals for his first full season next year. \"I want to manage the pitching staff just as well as I have been and even better, and I want to try to throw out 40-50% of the runners.
\r\n
\r\n\"I want to set high goals for myself so I'll be pushing myself to reach them. I don't want to set easy goals for myself because there would be no point in really setting them.\"
\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 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. While he is very intense off the field in his approach to his own development, he takes on a much more laid-back and patient persona when stepping into the batter's box. His hitting mechanics are both sound and quiet, showing little wasted movement and very good bat speed. He also has a keen knowledge of the strike zone, he is willing to take pitches, and he uses his center-to-right field approach to spray liners from gap to gap. He is pretty strong already and he showed some good power during the Instructional League this offseason, but he also has room to add some more strength over the coming years. He doesn't have heart of the order type of power but he could develop into a solid double-digit home run hitter.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed. Higashioka isn't the normal slow-footed catcher in the traditional sense, but he doesn't project to be much of a factor on the base paths either. He should be good for some head's up situational base-running and a handful of stolen bases each year.
\r\n
\r\nDefense. Higashioka is an extremely sound defensive catcher already, a great sign considering he is still a teenager. He is solid at both blocking balls in the dirt and receiving the ball. And while his arm strength isn't up to par with some of the other catchers in the farm system - it's good, not great - he does have one of the quicker releases and he is accurate with his throws. Where he really shines is in his ability to call games and work with pitchers, especially with how quickly he can build a rapport with his pitching staff. He earns their trust and his take-charge attitude has an impact on the game.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Higashioka's maturity is the foundation of his entire game. Despite being so young, he already acts like a true professional and that is what separates merely talented prospects from the ones who make it. He has been practicing with his Rosetta Stone software that he purchased so he can become fluent in Spanish and able to work with the Latin American pitchers better - that's how serious he takes getting better. Throw in the fact he is solid in all phases of the game too, he has all of the physical and mental tools to be a big league starting catcher. He often gets compared to Oakland A's catcher Kurt Suzuki, perhaps because both are Japanese Americans at the catcher's position, but both have similar builds, solid overall games, and with home run power being the only real question mark in their games.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2012. Higashioka should open up the 2009 season as at least half of the Charleston catching tandem and he seems like a safe bet to be on a one level per year track through the minor leagues.
\r\n
\r\n

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

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\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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