Yankees’ young infield prospect could emerge as depth option in 2024

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Hudson Valley Renegades infielder Caleb Durbin during media day on April 5, 2023. Renegades Media Day

When the New York Yankees traded Lucas Luetge to the Atlanta Braves, they were lucky to get anything in return at all, as they had designated the reliable veteran for assignment, which meant any team could claim him for free. The two sides would work a deal out, and in the trade, infielder Caleb Durbin would be one of two players headed to New York. A small infielder drafted out of a Division III college, he wasn’t viewed as a notable return but rather as another body for the organization to round out their MiLB depth.

Instead, he’d rake in his first season with the Yankees, and as a non-roster invite to Spring Training, he has a chance to open some eyes and force himself into the infield conversation for the Major League team.

Yankees Could See Big Sophomore Year From Caleb Durbin

Caleb Durbin wasn’t supposed to be in this position; in fact, it’s a massive success that he even reached the professional level at all. Only six players were drafted from Division III schools in each of the last three MLB Drafts, less than 1% of all players selected in the draft (614). With the Atlanta Braves, Durbin struggled to do much at the plate, posting a 103 wRC+ in his time with that organization but struggling mightily in High-A. After his trade to the Yankees, he would quickly get to work with their hitting coaches on a new approach at the plate.

“I don’t have a ton of swing and miss in my game, so I don’t have to worry about actually hitting the ball. So when I simplify it to just trying to pick my good pitches, see the ball in the zone, and then not cheating myself with my swing and really putting a good, full intent swing on it, when I kind of simplify it to that, it kind of just clicked for me at some point this season.”

– Caleb Durbin

READ MORE: The Yankees Have Something Special in Prospect Caleb Durbin: ‘I’ve always had that edge’

Developing game power is something that seemed impossible for Durbin because of his smaller stature, standing in at just 5’6, but when you look at his frame, he’s pretty muscular. The power took some time to develop, but we really saw it stand out in the Arizona Fall League, where he was able to get the ball in the air more and do more damage at the plate as a result.


The key metrics to look at here are the strikeout rate and isolated power, as he maintained his excellent ability to generate contact while seeing a massive improvement in his game power. This came from a shift towards lifting the ball in the air more, and if he can continue that trend going forward, he could fly up prospect boards heading into the 2024 campaign.

Some of the skills he has that can help a team outside of his bat include his defensive versatility, and he told us at Fireside Yankees that he might even learn some corner outfield to provide more utility. Naturally a shortstop, he picked up third base upon being drafted and has really held his own around the infield wherever he’s been needed.

Defense is something that Caleb Durbin takes pride in, constantly working on his skills with the glove and making strides as he’s taken on new challenges on the baseball diamond. Another area of his game that he takes pride in is his speed, swiping 21 bases in 23 attempts in the Arizona Fall League and he stole 36 bases in 44 attempts at the Minor League level, which meant he stole 57 bases in just 92 games, a ridiculous number even if it’s easier to steal bases in those leagues relative to the Major Leagues.

As a non-roster invite, he’ll be sharing the spotlight with some of the best prospects in the Yankees’ top prospects, including Spencer Jones and Chase Hampton, with whom he was teammates during the season. The storyline that most will follow (and understandably so) pertains to Juan Soto, the big splash of the offseason for the Yankees. Caleb Durbin isn’t going to be the main attraction at Spring Training, but he’s thrived as an underdog throughout his entire career.

“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 has been counted out, overlooked, and passed over time and time again in his professional career, but he’ll get a shot to prove he’s more than a fun story in Spring Training and impress the Yankees’ brass.

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