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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Five questions with Kyle Higashioka

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Mar 13, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Class-A catcher Kyle Higashioka was the youngest guy in camp this spring. He’s less than half Mariano Rivera’s age, and he only got a handful of at-bats before being reassigned to the minor league complex this afternoon. He’s a long way from New York, but how many 19-year-old kids have ever had a locker four feet from Derek Jeter? I did this Q&A several weeks ago but kept holding off on posting it. It might take a few years, but I hope you start hearing more about him down the line. Good guy with a good head on his shoulders, respectful and polite without being overwhelmed or intimidated.

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When did you find out you were coming to big league camp?
Higashioka: I think I got called at the end of January. It was just really exciting. I kind of had a suspicion that I was going because the farm director, the vice president of the team, left a message on my phone rather than (assistant director of baseball operations) Eric Schmitt. When Mark Newman leaves a message on your phone, usually it’s a pretty big deal.

What’s the experience been like?
Higashioka: It’s almost like you’re playing in the big leagues. It’s like you get that taste. Once I go back, I’m just going to have even more hunger to get back here.

Have you been able to pick up anything from Jorge Posada?
Higashioka: The older guys like Posada and Rivera and Cervelli, they always help out, give us tips if we’re screwing up. They’re willing to help us out, which I think is great. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can here, and having them around is definitely great… Sometimes just hanging around practicing with all the big dogs, sometimes makes you better without even knowing it. You want to perform at their level, so you automatically elevate your game so that you can compete with them. I think this is definitely going to make me better.

What’s your background? What led you to this point?
Higashioka: I’m from Huntington Beach, California. I got drafted in the seventh round. This was actually one of the teams I really wanted to play for, and it ended up just working out. I came up and played in the GCL for three weeks or so after I signed. Last year I played in Staten Island. I thought I did alright. I could have put up some better numbers, but for the most part, I did an alright job. Getting the invite to big league camp, that was a big thing.

You’re in an organization that’s very deep at catcher. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Higashioka: I feel that we push each other. It’s not to the point where we’re really worrying about one another. We know that we just need to do our own thing and we can’t really control what happens as far as the organization goes. If one of us is going to get traded or who’s first in line, we can’t control that. We just work on making each of ourselves better every day and try to be the best player we can be.

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51 Responses to “Five questions with Kyle Higashioka”

  1. CR9 March 13th, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    That’s sad. Thoughts and prayers to Westmoreland and family.

    A couple of questions though, from reading the MLB.com article.

    How did Westmoreland become the 27 overall MLB prospect for MLB.com?

    He has never gone above A ball.

    “He’s sort of the classic five-tool player” is a quote from the article.

    I really cannot think of any right now, but how many white guys in the last few years have even been true 5 tool players?

  2. m March 13th, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Nice! Thanks, Chad!

  3. m March 13th, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Bret,

    When you catch up. What makes you think that Phil can’t win the 5th starter job?

  4. Bret the Hitman March 13th, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    m,

    Let’s just say I think he has a better chance than Joba but if Aceves continues to nail down all the criteria Eiland laid down then they wouldn’t hesitate to start Hughes in AAA to give him a little extra time on the changeup. Obviously they’re concerned about it because they’re forcing him to throw it.

    Look, whatever happens, I trust Girardi’s judgment. I’ve always felt his biggest asset is his ability to read pitchers and sort out pitching talent. I think he’s a mastermind when it comes to pitching talent evaluation. I think the difference between me an most fans following ST right now is that I believe Aceves has been named as a potential starter for legitimate reasons. He has a real shot. His inclusion in the competition is not just for show.

  5. whatever March 13th, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Damon hurt the Yanks bad today, the Yanks are already regretting not paying him.. meanwhile, Granderson is still looking like a bust in spring training.

  6. Chad Jennings March 13th, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    “I really cannot think of any right now, but how many white guys in the last few years have even been true 5 tool players?”

    Grady Sizemore. Josh Hamilton. More recently, Colby Rasmus. I don’t remember whether Rocco Baldelli had that label, but he might have. Brandon Wood was kind of a five-tool guy when he was younger, but he lost some of the speed as he got older and bigger. I don’t think Troy Tulowitzki ever had quite the speed for a five-tool label, but he would have been pretty close.

    Usually every player who gets the five-tool label is not quite overwhelming in one area or another. Is Derek Jeter a five-tool player? He doesn’t have overwhelming power or speed, but he has some of both, and he shows both at the major league level. B.J. Upton is kind of a five-tool player, but his glove was terrible at shortstop and he hasn’t hit for a great average in the big leagues. Austin Jackson is sometimes called a five-tool player despite having shown very little power and a huge tendency to strikeout.

    White, black or whatever, there aren’t many true five-tool players, period.

  7. Nick in SF in Larkspur March 13th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    My little nephew clued me in about a 7-tool player:

    http://tinyurl.com/yz7ozuh

  8. Erica - always OPPC March 13th, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Nick in SF in Larkspur
    March 13th, 2010 at 10:21 pm
    My little nephew clued me in about a 7-tool player:

    http://tinyurl.com/yz7ozuh

    **************

    Careful- sounds like he is going to turn into a future know it all LoHud poster!

  9. blake March 13th, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    “I think the difference between me an most fans following ST right now is that I believe Aceves has been named as a potential starter for legitimate reasons. He has a real shot. His inclusion in the competition is not just for show.”

    I think he has a shot but I don’t think thats what the Yankees would prefer to happen and would require both Hughes and Joba making it crystal clear that neither is ready.

    Aceves was great in the role he was in last year and the Yankees want to look to the future with the 5th spot. The competition is to push all 5 guys to their best and to possibly showcase Gaudin or Mitre for trade possibilities IMO.

  10. Bronx Jeers March 13th, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Kind of an odd little discussion in here.

    Go White Power?

  11. Betsy - Romine wasn't built in a day March 13th, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Bret,even if Phil would end up putting up a higher ERA than Aceves, it would have been worth it for me. The Yankees have to decide whether they are interested at all in developing their own pitching. If they’re not, than Cashman has been a hypocrite all along. If they’re not, then only ST stats will count and Ace will have a great shot at it. Fortunately, I don’t believe any of this.

    Chad, great stuff; I love these 5 questions. Any chance you do one with Austin Romine?

  12. blake March 13th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    “I really cannot think of any right now, but how many white guys in the last few years have even been true 5 tool players?”

    easy, Brett Gardner.

  13. pistol pete March 13th, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Mitre should be the no 5 pitcher and I think they should pitch him in rotation rather than skip no 5 everytime in April. It’ll help him since he’s a sinkerball pitcher who will be worse if gets too much time and it’ll take innings off the big 4 that will pay dividends in October. Gaudin would make a nice long man which is really valuable early if starters have a bad game. Ace is perfect for 2-3 innings from the 5th to the 7th and the eigth belongs to Hughes. Joba needs to go down and start over, stop making excuses and realize he’s barely a shadow of the guy that came up as a rookie. He needs to work on getting in shape, improving his velocity and regaining the snap on his slider. Now let’s see if the Yankees play fair or are trapped in their own sell job on Joba. Wonder where Mitre would be if his era was 27.

  14. CR9 March 13th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Brett Gardner, LOL

    You’re absolutely right, Chad. There are not that many, period. The only ones that come to mind are actually Alex and maybe Jeter.

    On the major league level, Rasmus only stole 3 bases, Hamilton does not really steal. I guess Hamilton has speed, but his injuries have slowed him down.

    Sizemore is definitely 5 tools when healthy, but he is part African American.

    My point in the question was, when I looked at a picture of Westmoreland, he strikes me as nothing more than David Murphy. Murphy is a decent player, but not special like Sizemore.

  15. Pat M. March 13th, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Nick in SF…..Great game at the Garden…

  16. m March 13th, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    test

  17. m March 13th, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Bret,

    This is my 4th attempt. LoHud bot is being a meanie today.

    So, I’m going use bullet points because I’m tired of retyping.

    -I think Phil wins the job outright
    -I think there’s a possibility of the Yankees sending him to Scranton if they don’t need him right off the bat so they can use his spot on a reliever.
    -The Yankees may have already put their cards on the table with Joba & Phil because Phil said that Scranton hasn’t been ruled out.
    -I love Aceves, and think he’ll be way more efficient and possibly more effective than the other 20%.
    -But I don’t think they’re going to give someone the job only to yank it if and when Joba gets his fastball control back or Phil masters his changeup (like you imply he needs to)
    -Because…he doesn’t need to master it. Just get it good enough to use as a show-me pitch.

    Totally off topic, but why does Albert Pujols look like his rookie card picture? Dude dropped a lot of mass.

  18. trisha - OPPC member who sees, hears, and knows all. 28 is on its way!!!!! March 13th, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Betsy it may be that Phil is ready for the position. But if for any reason he is not and you had to make a choice would you rather have him in the rotation and possibly set up for failure or would you rather have him in AAA perfecting his stuff?

    I think what Brett, I and a few others are saying is that what we don’t want to happen is for Phil or Joba to get the 5th starter position because of some artificial stricture that says if they are not in it, then they will never start for the Yankees.

    If anything that happened that neither one made the 5th starter position IMO that would hardly indicate anything about Cashman; it would indicate something about the level of readiness at which the organization see Joba and Phil. I would much rather see one or both in AAA than to see them jerked around again. I truly believe that the Yankees are going to set up things in such a way that they are going to set up both Phil and Joba to succeed – because that’s really what matters, not that fans think they should be in certain roles this fall.

    Pat M, I might pose the same question to you. I believe I am totally in the same camp as you in Besty regarding Phil, but I think the difference is that I am willing to wait in order to see him have the greatest chance of success if that is necessary. I don’t feel threatened in the least if he doesn’t make the rotation this season – not saying he won’t. But I will be sad for him if he makes it because some ridiculous unwritten rule says it has to be that way in order to appease people, and then he bombs and is removed from the rotation.

    I want Phil there this season only if his skills are such that he is ready to be there. And SJ saying that he’s ready to be there isn’t exactly the kind of proof I’m talking about. If his stuff isn’t ready, then I’d rather let him continue to perfect it in AAA.

    If Ace keeps up what he is doing, he would be my choice unless Phil ends up ST in a good place.

    That remains to be seen. Unlike others here who don’t seem to care whether or not Phil is ready to start and want him in there “just because” I care more about him having permanent success. The guy is too great a guy and he has too much to offer to be prematurely put into a role – unless he is ready for it. No, the Yankees are not going to put someone into the 5th slot to learn on the job. Let’s not kid ourselves.

    All of that said, we have a few weeks to go to find out where everyone shakes out.

    I think Jerkface’s chart is just about on target at this point in time.

  19. Pat M. March 13th, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    m, I saw that your Rainbows had their way with The Men of Troy last night 8-2…..Very good points you just made…Well thought out

  20. Tarheelyank March 13th, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    CR9

    Just curious why “white 5 tool player” and not 5 tool player. Also you mention Alex and Jeter, but than go on to say no to Sizemore because he’s “part African American”.

    I am with Bronx Jeers kind of odd discussion.

  21. trisha - OPPC member who sees, hears, and knows all. 28 is on its way!!!!! March 13th, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    pistol pete, that’s an interesting take also.

    No eventuality will surprise me on this one. I believe the Yankees will do what gives the team the greatest chance at success. And what more should we ask than that? They can put Minnie Mouse in there for all I care, as long as she can get the job done. (She has a nasty slider)

  22. bru March 13th, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    juston upton

  23. Tarheelyank March 13th, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Trisha

    I saw your reply a few threads back. Thanks.

  24. CR9 March 13th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    I am caucasian, so it’s nothing racist.

    The reason why I asked white, was because I was sitting here trying to think of some and I could not think of any.

    Have there been any superstar 5 star white guys over the past decade?

    I thought of some in the past few minutes, maybe Braun, Werth, even possibly Jason Bay (I do not see Bay as a superstar, though)

  25. Pat M. March 14th, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Tricia, It’s not only this season, it’s the seasons that lie ahead….As I stated earlier , it’s a very good possibility that both Pettite & Vasquez are gone next season…That leaves CC & AJ,and that leaves the 2011 offseason looking far thinner than what we have now….Either Hughes or Joba ( ? ) really has to stepup as a stater this season….The future is really now…Otherwise you’re looking at filling 3 rotation spots in 2011 rather than just 1…..The preference has to be that Young Master Hughes’s time has finally arrived….The Rivera factor means that the pen needs to be deeper than ever before…Hence Joba / Robertson to solidify the back end of the pen…..

  26. trisha - OPPC member who sees, hears, and knows all. 28 is on its way!!!!! March 14th, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Pat M a good reason not to get too attached to your expectations for any player is because they can end up where IPK ended up. It’s good, IMO, to wait and watch and adjust your expectations accordingly. Give a realistic as*essment of what you think of his progress once he’s gotten his work in, and you’ll probably be on target with where he will be going. You can’t ask more of yourself than that.

    JMO. The best thing that can happen for all of us is for Phil and Joba to end up where they can truly have the best chance of success. And of course that’s the best that can happen for them to. Where that is remains to be seen.

    ********

    I actually love the lack of unanimity here when it comes to posters giving their opinion. I read a post that says that Phil should get the starter position and then a few posts later, someone is saying it should be Ace. Then I read that Joba should get it because of what he has been put through on pitch count – and then a few posts later someone is campaigning for Mitre.

    I love this forum.

  27. Jerkface March 14th, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Werth and Bay aren’t superstars. A white superstar: Teixeira, Roger Clemens, Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley.

    Chase Utley is a 5 tool player.

    Hits for Average
    Hits for Power
    Plays Defense
    Steals bases
    Has a strong arm

  28. CR9 March 14th, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Jerkface

    White 5 tool superstar. Werth was one last year iirc.

    And yes, Utley is a great example.

  29. Jerkface March 14th, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Tricia, It’s not only this season, it’s the seasons that lie ahead….As I stated earlier , it’s a very good possibility that both Pettite & Vasquez are gone next season…That leaves CC & AJ,and that leaves the 2011 offseason looking far thinner than what we have now….Either Hughes or Joba ( ? ) really has to stepup as a stater this season….The future is really now…Otherwise you’re looking at filling 3 rotation spots in 2011 rather than just 1…..The preference has to be that Young Master Hughes’s time has finally arrived….The Rivera factor means that the pen needs to be deeper than ever before…Hence Joba / Robertson to solidify the back end of the pen…..

    2011 rotation is going to look like this:

    CC
    AJ
    Hughes
    Aceves/Joba
    Cliff Lee/Vazquez/Webb/Pettitte

  30. trisha - OPPC member who sees, hears, and knows all. 28 is on its way!!!!! March 14th, 2010 at 12:12 am

    Pat M – I don’t care about 2011 or any other year. The Yankees can go out and get pitchers, we all know that. The only thing I care about is that Phil Hughes is not set up to fail. As long as that doesn’t happen, then it’s all good to me.

  31. Jerkface March 14th, 2010 at 12:13 am

    CR9,

    Werth doesn’t really hit for average, and I wouldn’t call him a superstar. He had a really good year, but not the kind of sustained success in a big market that makes one a superstar.

    He is a 4.5 tool player probably, because he can hit for average (.298 one year) but for the most part is near .260 more than .300.

  32. CR9 March 14th, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Jerkface

    I did not know that. Thanks for the correction.

  33. trisha - OPPC member who sees, hears, and knows all. 28 is on its way!!!!! March 14th, 2010 at 12:17 am

    That should have gone to jerkface, not Pat M.

    Good luck to the Yanks in making whatever decisions they need to make. I think I’ll let them worry and get myself some shuteye.

    :)

    Night all.

  34. m March 14th, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Pat M,

    I should’ve tried for double or nothing when we were down 2-0. :P

    Right now it’s 1-0 Trojans, top of the 5th.

  35. Carl March 14th, 2010 at 12:39 am

    What a boring fight that was.

  36. pistol pete March 14th, 2010 at 1:25 am

    I just can’t help myself, this leftfield competition is more than I can stand. Golson checks in at 183, gardner up to 176, Hoffman makes his push with a 1 for 4 and is now 150, Winn gets a deserved day off and stands at 083, Thames slips to 065. Is this a joke or what. Since when does a crew of imposters make one Johnny Damon. Did you see Johnny today, 2 for 4 took Mitre deep, Cashman’s going to be sorry he deceided to goo with this motly group. These guys stink and have no power, what the hell was Cashman thinking.

  37. Pat M. March 14th, 2010 at 1:38 am

    PISTOL PETE, You’re back to shooting air balls…..March 13th is really just a tad too early to start flipping out about Johnny Damon and the corp of player that Cashman has assembled…..Actually I was hoping Matt Holliday was going to be had for a 4-5 year deal at 16 million per……Curtis Granderson will more than outshine Damon’s departure…It’s Nick Johnson at DH and how he spells Matsui in that role….Some here think it’s the other way around, and maybe it’ll prove to be…….Winn and Thames will be excellent in their roles……Thames of the bench as a RH power stick is most welcomed….

  38. pistol pete March 14th, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Pat M I’d like to have some of what you’re smoking. Don’t embarass yourself by comparing this pile of garbage to Damon. If you want to argue the budget go ahead, but to compare this band of turkeys to Damon is to embarass yourself and Damon. Damon is a winner, he’ll end his career with 3000 hits, and already has 2 rings. He hits in the clutch, hits leftys, no stage is too big. Believe me, he’ll be missed, and the group of Winn Gardner Hoffman Thames and Golson will remind you just how much over and over again, trust me.

  39. m March 14th, 2010 at 3:02 am

    pistol pete,

    And your solution is…?

  40. Carl March 14th, 2010 at 3:12 am

    http://www.nydailynews.com/spo....._list.html

    From River Ave. Now that sucks.

  41. robert March 14th, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Because using ST stats proves everything, pistol pete. You still think Granderson’s a switch-hitter?

  42. betsy (another one) March 14th, 2010 at 3:23 am

    “Damon is a winner…already has 2 rings.”

    He’s not quite the winner that Luis Sojo is, however.

  43. Pat M. March 14th, 2010 at 3:26 am

    Pistol Pete, Shame you weren’t around to talk Johnny Damon into signing the 2 year 14 million dollar offer…….Damon, Matsui, Hinske, Hariston have been replaced by , Granderson, Jognson, Winn & Thames….Is it really a drop off ???? Granderson is a 28 All-Star CF to begin with…..I’m more concerned with the loss of Matsui than anything else

  44. pistol pete March 14th, 2010 at 3:27 am

    m There is no solution until Cashman has to go to the trade market. He will, the Yankees always fix their problems, trouble is it costs prospects and money, probably more than the 1 yr $8m deal JD got. The Damon situation was Cashman calling out Boras. He felt he had space with the ring in his hand and the pocketbook to fix his problems later. Boras and Damon are far from fault here but when his price dropped to 1 yr and he probably would have signed for $6m and it didn’t get done it looks like Cashman just wanted to make a point with Boras. Do you really think Hal wouldn’t have authorized this deal if Cashman pushed for it. If the Yanks weren’t coming off a ring Cashman would have pushed for the deal. By the way I’m not always a Cashman basher, he made a smart move with Granderson and Vazquez and the Park signing may seem small but he pitched real well last year. I just really liked Damon, loved him in the 2 hole, loved him in the playoffs, and always trusted him for tough late game at bats vs rightys or leftys. We’ll get none of that from the collage of leftfieldes Cashman has signed.

  45. Pat M. March 14th, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Check that…28 year old A-Star…..Has GB been here today ?????

  46. Pat M. March 14th, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Pistol. I’m just glad he’s on in the Outfield anymore….I could have lived with 1 year of Damon as a DH and that was a stretch

  47. pistol pete March 14th, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Pat M Trust me when the combo of Winn/Gardner/Thames is batting 240 with an obp of 320 and slugs 375 you’ll forget about Damon’s weak arm and wish he was back with us in left field.

  48. Pat M. March 14th, 2010 at 4:09 am

    Pistol. The 2010 Yanks have the possibility of attaining the same results as the 2009 club….Younger and more versatile…

  49. pistol pete March 14th, 2010 at 4:31 am

    Robert You were the big baseball fan that tried to tell me Granderson wasn’t a switch hitter. I see your in depth knowledge of baseball and where to find the facts has eluded you. Curtis is a switch hitter, if you’ve ever watched him you’d know. Tell me how he hit 28 hr’s last yr left handed and 2 right handed if he’s not a switch hitter. Tell me why it’s Kevin Long’s biggest spring training job to get Curtis to hit more than his 211 lifetime battin avg. If your going to go on this blog at least know your Yankees, to argue this point for weeks is absurd, would someone other than me inform this moron that Curtis is a switch hitter.

  50. Pat M. March 14th, 2010 at 4:37 am

    When do the clocks fall back ???? it shoul dbe an hour earlier now……East Coast asleep at the wheel

  51. Pat M. March 14th, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Spring forward >>>>>>>>>>>

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