At least one New York Yankees executive had high praise for 24-year-old catcher Austin Romine—enough to think that the prospect may be the odds-on favorite for the everyday catching job heading into spring training.
“He’s a plus, plus defender,” Newman said. “He can really play the position.”
Romine is coming back from back surgery that limited him to just 120 plate appearances at three levels in 2012. He played nine games for the Yankees’ affiliate in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, five for the High-A Tampa Yankees and 17 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Romine hit .243/.333/.408 with four homers and 15 RBI. That came after a .279/.343/.368 line with six homers and 48 RBI Double-A Trenton and S/W-B in 2011 before the back injury.
Romine wasn’t terribly impressive during Arizona Fall League action this year, hitting .222/.286/.342 with six RBI in 63 at-bats, but he did draw 12 walks.
Despite those numbers, Newman said the Yankees were fine with how he swung the bat and continued to rave about the receiving skills Romine showed in Arizona.
Particularly given that free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski is reportedly off the market after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers, Romine figures to go to spring training in a three-way battle with veteran incumbents Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli for the first crack to replace Russell Martin behind the dish.