Drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft, Josh Breaux has put up strong offensive numbers early in his Yankees career. He will be looking to come back strong in 2021 after being sidelined along with his fellow minor leaguers for all of 2020. Josh recently took the time to talk with Pinstripe Alley about his career and what he has been doing to stay ready.
Once the minor league season was cancelled, Breaux was able to participate with the Eastern Reyes del Tigre in the Independent Constellation Energy League in Texas. Breaux joined the team managed by long-time major league pitching coach Dave Eiland.
“My agent set that up, he thought it would be good for me to get some swings and AB’s.”
He received positive feedback from the Yankees’ coaching and player development staff when he presented them with the idea.
“They were really supportive” but they also told Breaux “if you’ve had enough then that’s fine, but go in there and get as much out of it as you can, so that’s pretty much what I did.”
Leaving the league after just playing in just five games, he has found a quality training facility with around 30 professional baseball players training in one location.
“The whole time everyone was shut down we were going live almost every single day… so that was good.”
The group included at times NL rookie-of-the-year runner-up Alec Bohm who trained at the facility for a period of time. Breaux previously played alongside Bohm in the 2017 Cape Cod League after his freshman year at McLennan Community College. He was drafted in the 36th round of the draft that year but it was easy to pass on the Houston Astros late round flyer.
“I had talked to my family and my agent and we decided that wasn’t the best move for me, and I honestly wanted to go back to McLennan for another year to mature some more and improve as a player, so there was no hesitation there.”
Forgoing his first professional opportunity, Breaux arrived in Cape Cod League and was instantly surrounded by some very talented teammates. In addition to Bohm, he was playing alongside Trevor Larnach, who was drafted in the first round by the Twins, and Adley Rutschman, who would go on to be the number one overall pick in 2019.
“I honestly had no idea what I was getting into. I thought it was just going to be regular baseball, but the first month there I learned pretty quickly that I couldn’t just swing at any pitch they threw… it was definitely good being around that level of competition and those players made me better.”
Leaning on players with more experience against top level competition, Breaux was able learn quickly to improve against the strong pitching he saw on the Cape.
“100% especially Bohm and Trevor Larnach those guy helped me with my approach at the plate.”
The work he put in on the Cape and over the rest of the offseason paid dividends the next season when he returned to McLennan Community College. Breaux put up outstanding power numbers while improving behind the plate and was rated as one of the top-100 draft prospect in 2018. Despite his preference to play in the field Breaux also garnered attention by his ability to throw in upper 90’s when on the mound. He was committed to the University of Arkansas, but it was an easy decision to turn pro when the Yankees took him in the second round,
“After I was drafted no, I did not have any hesitation.”
More exciting to Breaux was how the Yankees approached him in their first conversation following the draft.
“The first thing the Yankees said to me when they drafted me was that “the only time I’m going to be stepping on the mound is for a mound visit.” “I was super excited to hear that.”
The Yankees took Breaux in the second round after the took another catcher, Anthony Seigler with their first pick of the draft. Breaux was not bothered in any way by the Yankees taking another catcher in the same draft.
“I didn’t really think twice about it, because we are not really competing against each other. We are trying to get better as individual players… Seigler’s a really good dude, I’m happy he got picked where he did, he’s my buddy and its been fun so far.”
In 2019, both Seigler and Breaux caught a rotation full of top Yankees prospects while playing for Low-A Charleston. Luis Gil, Alexander Vizcaino, Luis Medina and Roansy Contreras were mainstays in the Charleston rotation for most of the year and are all now on the Yankees 40-man roster and among their highest-rated pitching prospects.
“You look up and they have 10 strikeouts every game, you think oh definitely these guys are going to be in a big-league rotation in the next two years. It was so much fun to catch those guys, their stuff is on par with any big leaguer.”
He has continued to work on improving his catching, working with Tanner Swanson and minor league catching coach Aaron Gershenfeld.
“Those two guys have really helped my catching so far. With this new stance we are doing, with the one knee down, as a bigger catcher I really like it. They have really helped me with my catching so far. I’m going to continue to listen to what they have to say and keep trying to get better.”
When asked about the biggest things he has to improve, Breaux sees room on both sides of the ball.
“Mainly just catching, and cleaning up some stuff with my catching. That is the kind of stuff that will come with the more games I catch. Another big thing for me is my plate discipline, not just swinging at anything they throw, controlling the zone, leveraging counts.”
Josh Breaux will likely start 2021 with High-A Hudson Valley or possibly with Double-A Somerset. He is one of the best power bats in the Yankee system and has made strides with his catching. A strong season could put Breaux in position to contribute to the Yankees as early as 2022.