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2017 Yankees Season Review: Kyle Higashioka

Injuries and an unfortunate hitless run overshadow Higashioka’s first run in the majors.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

In some ways, 2017 marks the peak of Kyle Higashioka’s baseball career. In his 10th season in the Yankees organization, he finally made it to the major leagues. Fresh off a solid 2016, he was the player called upon to be the backup catcher while Gary Sanchez spent time on the disabled list in April and May. Higashioka wasn’t a random September call-up. Yes, it was because of an injury, but he was still someone the Yankees put on the 25-man roster. He ended up playing nine major league games total.

What happened in those nine major league games is another story. When Sanchez was activated from the DL, Higashioka was sent back to Triple-A and left with zero hits in 18 at-bats. He currently sits at fourth in the all-time list of most at-bats with zero hits. Higashioka sits five at-bats behind the all-time leader, Larry Littleton.

To be fair to his time in the majors, he did draw two walks, and reached on errors twice. In particular, that second error came in a game against the Blue Jays. It might have been ruled a hit by a more forgiving scorer.

His time in the minors didn’t exactly go much better. Besides the major league stint, Higashioka’s minor league playing time was limited due to injury. Just a couple days after returning to Triple-A, he was placed on the disabled list.

He returned in early June, but after playing seven games in two weeks, Higashioka was placed on the DL once again. He wouldn’t reappear until August, and only played eight games across the remainder of the season. The majority of those eight games were rehab stints with Staten Island and Pulaski.

His minor league numbers for the season are pretty solid. It was only 21 games, however, and a lot them were him destroying players way younger than him during those rehab appearances in Staten Island and Pulaski.

Kyle Higashioka may never get another chance to stop that hit-less streak, at least with the Yankees. As of right now, he’s probably the third-string catcher in the organization. There’s still plenty of offseason to go and for that to change, but Sanchez isn’t going anywhere, and Austin Romine appears to entrenched as the backup.

That’s not to say Higashioka will never play in the majors. He’s still 27. There’s time. He’s probably not as bad a hitter as his 0-20 record is, so maybe even the Yankees decided he’s an improvement as backup catcher. Beyond that, there’s 29 other teams who could see something in him.

It might not have gone how he wanted, but 2017 was the year Kyle Higashioka became a Major League Baseball player.