Kyle Higashioka was drafted by the New York Yankees in the seventh round of the 2008 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. After signing with the Yankees for $500,000 and spending six seasons with the club, Kyle decided to re-sign with the organization as a minor league free agent on November 18, 2015.
The Huntington Beach, California native made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Yankees (Rookie). In 18 games, Higashioka batted .261 with five runs scored, a double, home run, and three RBI’s.
The Edison High School (California) graduate spent the entire season in Staten Island (Single-A – Short Season) batting .253 with 24 runs scored, 11 doubles, two homers, and 32 RBI’s. He appeared in 60 games and caught 25.3% of potential base stealers.
Higgy earned another promotion, this time to the Charleston RiverDogs (Single-A). He spent the entire season in the low country, slashing .225/.303/.338 at the plate and threw out 27-of-83 potential base stealers.
The 6’1” backstop began the season with the Tampa Yankees (Single A – Advanced) but was demoted back to Charleston mid-season. He combined to hit .231 with 16 doubles, eight home runs, and 29 RBI’s in 82 games.
Combined with the Tampa Yankees and Trenton Thunder (Double-A) he hit .170 with five doubles, six home runs, and 23 RBI’s in 147 at bats. Kyle appeared in just 29 games as a catcher and threw out an astonishing 44.1% of would-be base stealers.
Higashioka was limited to just seven games with Trenton, he batted .320 in 25 at bats.
In another injury-plagued season, Higgy was limited to playing in 17 games for the Gulf Coast League Yankees and Tampa Yankees. He batted .224 in just 49 at-bats.
Following the season, he appeared in six games for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. In 22 at-bats, Higgy batted .409 with four runs scored, three doubles, a home run, and two RBI’s.
The 202-pound righthander combined to hit .250 for Trenton and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A) in a huge bounce-back season. Kyle hit five home runs, 19 doubles, two triples, and collected 37 RBI’s.
Pinstriped Prospects very own Josh Sabo writes, “Kyle began his season of redemption with the AA Trenton Thunder, where he played 63 games. In those 63 games, he put up the following offensive stats: .355 OBP, .509 SLG, .216 ISO, .380 wOBA, and a 136 wRC+…Higashioka was able to prove his doubters wrong by playing just as well after his promotion to AAA. In 39 games in AAA, Kyle put up the following numbers: .306 OBP, .514 SLG, .264 ISO, .361 wOBA, and a 131 wRC+.
Overall, Higashioka had one of the best seasons of any Yankee prospect; his 21 homers tied him for first in the Yankees system, and his .847 OPS would’ve ranked 5th in the system for players playing above A-ball.
Higashioka’s dominating season help jump-start his career earned him a spot on
the Yankees 40-man roster.”
Higgy made is major league debut and appeared in 9 games for the Yankees. Although he did not record his first hit, he reached base twice out of 18 at-bats.
Despite the MLB debut, Kyle’s breakout 2016 campaign was followed up by another injury-plagued season. He slashed .264/.316/.453 with two home runs, four doubles, and 11 RBI’s in just 14 games (53 at-bats) for Scranton.
In two rehab stints, Higashioka hit .800 in two games for the Pulaski Yankees (Rookie) and .438 in five games for Staten Island.