When the Yankees reassigned their top two prospects to minor league camp on Sunday, Austin Romine was the other guy. Overshadowed by Jesus Montero, Romine has quietly become another of the top catching prospects in baseball. That’s why this Q&A started with a question I never thought I’d ask a guy who won his league’s MVP award last season.
Do you think your offense is sometimes overlooked? People tend to make a big deal of the fact that you’re the guy here who can handle the position defensively.
Romine: I do, I think my hitting gets overlooked a little bit, but how can it not behind Montero? That guy’s a freak at the plate. But I like to think that I take a lot of pride in my hitting. Every year I set the bar. I want to hit .300. I want to hit a little bit more home runs, have a little bit more RBIs. I do take a lot of pride in my hitting, and I want them to think a little bit higher of me. I can hit, and I’m going out to do it every year.
Is it a good or a bad thing knowing that Jesus gets so much of the attention?
Romine: I don’t mind it at all. I’ve always been under the radar and I prefer that. I don’t need anything of the focus. I don’t mind it, but I’m a humble guy. I don’t need cameras and stuff in my face. Just stay under the radar, do my work, work hard, and I’ll get a shot hopefully. And when I do I’ll be ready. I’ve been under the radar for three years already.
In an organization that has so much catching, do you sense that as long as you do your thing, it’s going to work out?
Romine: Exactly. It’s pretty spaced out. We’ve got a lot of good young catchers, from an organization that a couple of years ago had nothing to having a lot right now. There’s nothing you can do. If you don’t do well, then obviously they’re going to pass you and it’s going to take care of itself. All I can do is keep going out and doing the same thing I do every year. Put up good numbers. Handle the staff. Get wins for the team. That’s all I’m really worried about, winning and getting better every year, and I think I have.
What were you able to take from big league camp?
Romine: Just work ethic. These guys show you what it takes to get there and stay there. When they get here they don’t just shut it down and coast because they know that there are 120 kids across the street who want their job. There are a lot of veterans in here who have many years of experience, and they still work harder than anybody I know. It instills that work ethic in you that you still have to work hard, even when you get there.
Do you look at the future? Posada has one year left in his contract, and that seems to line up pretty perfectly for you.
Romine: It’s hard not to think about it when you’ve got eight thousand people telling you the exact same thing you just said. It’s hard not to, but when you start thinking about the future, you’re not really in the present, and I like to live in the present. This pitch. This second. This minute. You have to focus on that day because something could happen, God forbid, and that could be your last game. Then you have to sit there and wonder if you gave it your best, or if you were just waiting for something to happen in the future. I don’t want to be that guy waiting for something to happen.