Austin Romine Earning More Playing Time Behind the Plate for New York Yankees
Austin Romine is slowly emerging as a potential candidate for the starting catching job next season for the New York Yankees. Since the All-Star break Romine has posted a .406/.474/.563 batting line, going 16-for-40 over that period. As Jack Curry noted on Twitter, Romine was hitting just .132 on July 10th but has since boosted his average to .231 on the season as of the seventh inning of the second game of Tuesday’s double-header.
Romine always had a little prospect shine to him, a shine needed some polish after back problems crept into the picture and cost him all of last season. At one point, Romine was in most Top 10 Yankee prospect lists but was quickly overshadowed by Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez. However, Romine was always thought to be the best option to stay at catcher in the future, something Sanchez might still do if his defense improves. However, Romine is now showing what made him a player the Yankees wanted to keep.
Production hasn’t exactly been the watchword for the Yankees behind the plate this season. Francisco Cervelli was the starting catcher early this season and hit .269/.377/.500 in 17 games before an elbow injury put him on the shelf and a PED suspension ended his season. Chris Stewart took over as the de facto starting catcher and has hit .230/.305/.301 in 85 games. Stewart, however, should not prevent Joe Girardi from playing Romine more as the season begins to wind down and the Yankees need to win as many games as possible.
Romine’s numbers aren’t much to look at as a whole but he certainly has the most upside of any catcher currently on the 40-man roster and there is nothing he has shown lately that should prevent him from stealing more and more starts from Stewart.
Next season, it looks like Romine and J.R. Murphy, who is currently having a fine season at Triple-A, could be the leading candidates for the starting catcher’s job.