Sunday, May 2, 2021


There has to be a reason that Gerrit Cole chose Kyle Higashioka as his catcher. And why teammates want to work with him. Oh, and why the lineup without him is empty. Higgy is making a big impact on the 2021 Yankees and quickly becoming a fan favorite. And guess what? He's not just a catcher.

Kye Higashioka looks to put the person he is working with first, fostering and maintaining those key relationships with his pitchers. To communicate with former Yankee pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, he began learning Japanese. To communicate with Spanish-speaking Yankees such as Aroldis Chapman and Gary Sanchez, he learned Spanish. And to blow off steam and have a life outside of baseball, he plays guitar and has picked up surfing. Why is this all-important? Kyle Higashioka is proving that in order to excel at baseball or any sport, you have to willing to put in whatever it takes and be a well-rounded individual to be at your best for your teammates. 

Just before the 2021 season Podcaster Tony Cappuccilli of Barrell Proof Sports Podcast had Higgy on his show. Cappuccilli also happens to be Kyle's high school baseball coach. The exchange provides some interesting insights into Higgy's ability to make adjustments to his weightlifting regiments to stay competitive with the bigger players out there being drafted by the Yankees at 18. This has helped his hitting along with being able to pivot as needed to be relevant and communicative with his pitchers. He shared that taking Spanish in high school enabled him to have conversations with other players who were Spanish and that immersion helped his language acquisition which enabled him to make stronger relationships with his team.

"It kind of endears yourself a little bit to the guys who speak Spanish cause it is like they know you are putting in an effort to learn their culture and to be accommodating," said Higashioka. Higgy stated that the Yankees appreciate guys who work hard and are productive which is likely why the catcher has stayed with the same organization for 13-years. 

And the proof is in the pudding. The Yankees are 6-2 when Higgy starts over Sanchez behind the plate. With Sanchez, the Yankees are 5-12. "Higashioka not only offers the Yankees’ pitchers a better receiver behind the plate — he is among the top two in framing in the game — but he is hitting. In 12 games this season, Higashioka has four homers. He’s slashing .276/.364/.759. He’s driven in six runs in 33 plate appearances. Showing signs of improvement, Higashioka has already drawn four walks — half as many as his career total coming into this season over 204 plate appearances," reported The New York Daily News. 

You have to root for guys like Higgy. He is out there giving everything he has to be a better player, from staying physically fit to building relationships with his team and the individual players who he plays next to day after day. Good for you, Higgy. Hard work pays off and you are one of the good guys who is reaping the benefits. 

--Suzie Pinstripe
BYB Managing Editor
Twitter: @suzieprof

1 comment:

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