If the New York Yankees could somehow replicate the production and quality that Houston Astros infielder José Altuve displays, they would strike gold. Fortunately, one of their young prospects currently in Double-A, Caleb Durbin, has been compared to the World Series winner and perennial All-Star.
The Yankees Might Have Something in Caleb Durbin
At 23, Durbin played 47 games this past season with Somerset, hitting .291 with a .361 OBP, and .440 slugging rate, including four homers, 17 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases. He posted a 4.6% strikeout rate and a 6.2% walk rate with a 122 wRC+. However, at 5-foot-6, he just put together a dominant Fall League performance. He stole 21 bases on 23 attempts, finishing with a 1.044 OPS.
An Altuve-scale second baseman, Durbin led the AFL with 21 steals in 23 attempts. He also posted a 1.044 OPS, good for sixth-best in the league. He even delivered a trio of home runs to go with nine doubles and a triple in 99 plate appearances. He recorded twice as many walks as strikeouts. Durbin was arguably the most dynamic offensive performer in the AFL.
Of course, Durbin has a long way to go before he can be considered a talent as phenomenal as Altuve, but he has similar traits given his smaller size and athletic profile. After all, a strikeout rate of 4.6% is almost unheard of, prompting the Yankees to potentially move them to the Triple-A level next year if not trade him at his highest value.
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Improving His Air-Time
One area that Durbin is trying to improve is hitting the ball in the air, which would boost his home run numbers. Having hit only four this past season, getting a bit more loft would go a long way toward supporting the Yankees’ mantra of elevating the ball. Despite that, he still managed a .440 slugging rate, showcasing that despite being shorter, he has plenty of power to utilize.
At 23, Durbin is certainly heading toward the older group of minor league players, but he’s only had two real seasons in the minor leagues, so he’s making good time and should be ready to make an MLB debut within the next two years. Of course, he needs to continue developing and showcasing growth, but his plate discipline is arguably elite, and the Yankees certainly need more of that.