Yankees’ versatile infield prospect making strong impressions in Spring Training

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
Mar 2, 2024; Sarasota, Florida, USA; New York Yankees infielder Caleb Durbin (87) at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Durbin is one of the most fascinating prospects in the Yankees’ organization, as the infielder was acquired in a deal with the Atlanta Braves that was generally ignored at the time. Overlooked as an undersized hitter who didn’t have much potential, he’s opened plenty of eyes in Spring Training after an excellent season last year between High-A and Double-A, with the cherry on top being his stint in the Arizona Fall League last offseason. Aaron Boone and Brad Ausmus have raved about him, and we talked about some of the changes he made in the organization with Durbin himself over the winter as well.

This is a player who could emerge as an infield option for the Yankees as soon as this season, as Caleb Durbin might be assigned to Triple-A where he would be just a step away from the Bronx.

Caleb Durbin Might Factor Into the Yankees’ Infield Plans

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers
Mar 23, 2024; Lakeland, Florida, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Caleb Durbin (87) bats during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

This wasn’t going to be the year that Caleb Durbin would win a job out of camp, but the Yankees still made him a Non-Roster Invite to Spring Training. Even after his impressive performance and some of the injury questions surrounding DJ LeMahieu, he won’t be rushed to the Major Leagues when he has no experience above the Double-A level. With that being said, the Yankees are certainly impressed with what Durbin has shown in his 14-game sample size, slashing a remarkable .357/.412/.536 with a mere 11.8% strikeout rate.

His feel for contact has always been prevalent as a prospect, but the improvements in the power department have certainly boosted his stock plenty. When the Atlanta Braves drafted Caleb Durbin, they were getting a true underdog, coming from a Division III school at Washington University where only three players have been selected in the MLB Amateur Draft, with Durbin being the only player to make it past High-A. Standing at 5’6, there aren’t many players who excel at that height.

Caleb Durbin isn’t supposed to be here; and yet he stands as one of the most impressive young players at Spring Training for the Yankees, who have a bevy of talented young players. When Gary Phillips of the New York Daily News asked Aaron Boone about a player whom he was most looking forward to seeing at the Spring Breakout Game, he chose Caleb Durbin, giving a glowing review of the young infielder.

“He’s gonna have a big league career. He can really hit. He can run and is a great base-runner. Steals bases. Has some position flexibility. But I think he’s gonna be a player for a long time. I feel like he’s a winning player. Whether we see him at some point this year, I don’t know, but I do feel like he’s got a bright, big league future”

– Aaron Boone

READ MORE: Yankees must address final roster cuts at deep infield position

Syndication: Poughkeepsie Journal Yankees, Caleb Durbin
Hudson Valley Renegades infielder Caleb Durbin during media day on April 5, 2023. Renegades Media Day

Speaking of position flexibility, he’s added corner outfield to his positional repertoire, and he’s shown the ability to excel at second base, third base, and shortstop as well. On the YES Broadcast of the Spring Breakout Game, centerfield was also mentioned as a position he can play, and that could make him a quick riser soon. The Yankees are still searching for a utility infielder to pair with Oswaldo Cabrera, and while Caleb Durbin won’t be that option for Opening Day, he’s someone who could emerge as an option as the season goes on.

With the odds stacked against him, the former 14th-round pick has always overachieved and climbed up mountains that others in his situation wouldn’t have.

“What honestly helps me that I can fall back on is coming from a division three school. I’m playing with a lot of guys that went to bigger schools than me or got drafted out of high school. So I’m in my head behind the curb on that end. So I need to every single day come to the ballpark, I need to kind of have that edge to me to perform every single game, because I know these guys are coming from a little bit bigger schools than me. So I’ve always kind of had that edge to play with like my hair is on fire, and that’s probably not gonna change ever.”

Caleb Durbin

You can read our full conversation with him here, but if he can continue to play with his head on fire and make strides with his game power as he has since donning the pinstripes, he’ll excel. Caleb Durbin isn’t going to become a top-100 prospect, but he can become a valuable player on this team for years to come. His dynamic baserunning, versatile glove, and excellent feel for contact make him any manager’s dream depth piece. With Gleyber Torres hitting free agency after 2024 and DJ LeMahieu getting older, he could have a chance to win a starting job this time next year.

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