New York Yankees: Two players to watch during this season

New York Yankees, Clarke Schmidt

It’s finally happening. The New York Yankees will take the field in 2020 and be on the quest for ring number 28. Big players such as Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, and Gary Sanchez. The Yankees already have a core group of guys that are the main reason for the team’s success, but there are some under the radar players that could have a dominant year this season.

Clark Schmidt

After just two seasons in the Minor Leagues and undergoing Tommy John surgery, Clark Schmidt has impressed many during his last two outings during the Yankee intrasquad games. Even though hitters aren’t 100% up to speed with pitchers yet, all of his pitches look MLB-ready. He commands his fastball very well and flashes a strong breaking ball.

YES Network broadcaster Michael Kay has extremely high expectations for Schmidt this season: “I’d go with Clarke Schmidt. So far, he’s shown me he can get outs in the big leagues. He’s got something to prove, he carries himself with a chip on his shoulder… and the guy looks like he has three to four big-league pitches… He has shown them a lot, not only in spring training but also in the intrasquad games here… I would give him that reward.”

I believe Schmidt will be called upon early in the season to allow the rotation an extra day of rest. He may also be utilized as an “opener,” the strategy that was used several times last season. He has proved so far that he can get outs against a power lineup so there should be no surprise if Schmidt gets quality innings this season.

Kyle Higashioka

Most people don’t know this, but Kyle Higashioka is the longest-tenured player in the Yankee organization on the roster Major League roster. The Yankees must love Higashioka’s game to keep him for so long, and it’s finally paying off this season. After letting Austin Romine walk to free agency this offseason, Higashioka will be the backup catcher for Gary Sanchez.

Higgy has only played 56 games in the Major Leagues but shows promising talent at the plate and especially behind the dish. “He’s earned this spot, this opportunity,” manager Aaron Boone said about Higashioka’s promotion. “He’s put himself in a really good position to be that guy and I have a lot of confidence in him.”

New York Yankees fans should look forward to watching Higashioka behind the plate when Sanchez has a night off. He’s proven to be an above-average defensive catcher that has a little pop in his swing.