Seventh-round pick Higashioka ready for full-season ball

After a quick tour through the Yankees fall instructional league, seventh-round pick Kyle Higashioka is heading back to his home in southern California. The team has high hopes for the prep school catcher who, like most high school draftees, is a raw product now. He’ll begin his first full season in pro ball next year, likely starting out at Low-A Charleston, which saw two excellent catching prospects pass through this year in Austin Romine and Jesus Montero. So a once barren system in terms of catching talent is starting to fill out. MLB.com writer Jonathan Mayo has some info on Higashioka up at the official site.

In the quotes department, Higashioka is a lot like catching brother Crash Davis. He comes off as positive, eager, yet unoffensive, which is basically the formula for speaking to the press these days.

“A bunch of people told me how hard it’s going to be once I get into full-season ball,” he said. “I’ll try to get as strong as I can, and keep working on my hitting and catching, maintaining quickness as well as strength. I want to come to Spring Training in really great shape and impress all the coaches and staff, so hopefully they put me in the full-season level.”

“There are certain things that are different in professional baseball that I wasn’t accustomed to,” Higashioka said. “This minicamp helped me adjust to the lifestyle of playing professional baseball.”

Known mostly for his slick defense, he could still be a force with the bat. It’s tough to tell when they’re still 18 years old and not fully developed physically. The Yanks paid $500,000 to keep him away from Cal, so clearly they see something in him. He’ll definitely be one to watch in the 2009 edition of DotF.