The Yankees made two more cuts Tuesday, sending the presumed third-string catcher Kyle Higashioka and No. 1 prospect infielder Gleyber Torres to minor league camp. Each player is on the 40-man roster, so the team used an option year on each player.
Higashioka impressed with the bat this spring. But, it was not enough to take the backup catcher job away from Austin Romine, who has shown a similarly hot bat. Higashioka hit .333/.444/.467 in nine games before his demotion. As the third catcher on the 40-man, he’s only an injury away from coming back to the big leagues. He made a nine-game cameo last season when Gary Sánchez went down with a bicep injury, going hitless in 20 plate appearances. Higashioka, barring any injuries of his own, will be the starting catcher at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Torres struggled at the plate in his return from Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow. Many expected Torres to run away with the second base job, but the rust that comes with missing an entire half a season reared its ugly head. That resulted in a slash-line of .160/.250/.240 in 11 games. Torres also looked like he was trying to do too much both at the plate and in the field, where he had some miscues typical of a player trying too hard.
Plus, the Yankees gain an extra year of control over Torres if he remains in the minor leagues for at least 16 days. I think the Yankees would have demoted Torres for those 16 days regardless of his performance in the spring. One extra year of control over a player MLB Pipeline says “has the tools to be a star” could make a ton of difference in the future. In the minors, Torres will likely continue his rotation of playing at third base, shortstop and second base.