Kyle Higashioka’s power surge inspired by new Yankee Josh Donaldson

TAMPA — It seems the Yankees’ blockbuster with the Twins did extra for Kyle Higashioka than simply open up extra common enjoying time — it additionally gave him a particular hitting coach.

The commerce that despatched Gary Sanchez to Minnesota landed the Yankees Josh Donaldson, whom Higashioka has modeled his swing after since 2015. So when Donaldson arrived in Yankees camp two weeks in the past, Higashioka sought him out to select his mind about hitting mechanics as a result of they converse the identical language.

“It’s been rewarding, I’d say,” Higashioka mentioned.

So have the early outcomes.

Higashioka drilled his fourth dwelling run in his sixth recreation of the spring on Tuesday at Steinbrenner Field as his power surge continued in a 14-2 win over the Phillies.

Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka (66) hits a two-run home run in the fifth inning against the Phillies during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Kyle Higashioka (66) hits a two-run dwelling run in opposition to the Phillies.
Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports

“He’s got power,” supervisor Aaron Boone mentioned. “He works hard on his hitting and he doesn’t want to just to be known as a great defensive catcher. He wants to do his thing offensively, too.”

If Higashioka can translate that power to the common season — and accomplish that with extra consistency than he has previously — it could be a welcome bonus on high of the worth he already supplies defensively.

In 2015, when Higashioka was in his eighth yr within the Yankees’ farm system and nonetheless solely at High-A, he determined to revamp his swing. Donaldson was on his option to an MVP that yr with the Blue Jays and since he was related in stature to Higashioka, the catcher determined to make use of him for instance.

“The way his body and mechanics work, I was impressed by the amount of power he can generate for being an average-sized major league player,” Higashioka mentioned. “I realized I couldn’t do the huge leg lift and all that. But the underlying principles were the same.”

The new strategy led to a breakout season for Higashioka in 2016, touchdown him within the majors by 2017.

Higashioka has proven spurts of that power in The Bronx — together with hitting 10 homers in 193 at-bats final season — however he can have a chance this season to indicate what he can do with an prolonged function with Sanchez now not round.

“I know he’s relishing that opportunity,” Boone mentioned.

Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) reacts after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Pirates during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) reacts after hitting a house run.
Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports

Now 7-for-15 this spring, Higashioka can also be benefiting from having Donaldson just a few lockers away from him within the Yankees clubhouse.

Higashioka mentioned he had not spoken to Donaldson about swing mechanics earlier than they have been teammates — particularly not final season, when Donaldson referred to as out Gerrit Cole for his use of sticky substances.

“Because of the whole, you know, I wasn’t supposed to say hi to him or anything at the plate,” Higashioka mentioned. “But I think we’re past that.”

And if Higashioka’s swing goes astray throughout the season, he’ll have a teammate to assist get him again on monitor.

“The approach is where he really excels,” Higashioka mentioned. “There’s not many guys within the recreation that take into consideration the at-bat in the way in which that he does and about choosing and selecting instances to do injury. He’s simply so good mentally about hitting that it’s simply such a fantastic asset to have.

“Just having him around is going to be good for me.”

Additional reporting by Dan Martin

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