Sports

Meet Kyle Higashioka, the Yankees Backup Catcher Who Shreds

When Gary Sanchez went down with an injury, the Yankees turned to the next man on the depth chart. It turns out he really likes Metallica.
April 10, 2017, 9:57pm
When you see the tablature. Photo by Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

First things first: Kyle Higashioka is currently the second catcher on the New York Yankees. He was promoted when Gary Sanchez went down with an injury, and is currently behind Austin Romine on the team's depth chart. Higashioka's backstory is this: he was drafted in the seventh round in 2008 as a high schooler, carried slowly upward through the Yankees farm system via the usual organizational peristalsis and his own quality defense and good attitude, promoted onto the 40-man roster after a late bloom of offensive pop during his age-26 season at Double-A and Triple-A, the subject of a New York Times story highlighting his willingness to learn Japanese so as to better communicate with Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka.

Which is all to say that even if you care a lot about baseball and have a knack for remembering names, you do not necessarily learn who Kyle Higashioka is until you have to. Depending upon how generously you define "having to," this could be a long time. That definition is yours to draw, but I will say this: I am glad to know who Kyle Higashioka is.

This is mostly because Kyle Higashioka belongs to the very narrow class of baseball players who shred. There are and have been other baseball players who make music—on organ, on Cerrato turntables—but many of these fall at various closely bunched points on a spectrum that runs roughly from Barry Zito composing mellow devotional music to Bronson Arroyo engaging in some lite Scott Weiland LARPing; per company policy, I'm not going to talk about Scott Spiezio's work with Sandfrog and would appreciate you never asking me about it again. But Higashioka's Instagram is a treasure trove of something very different.

It goes on like this: Higashioka lacing into bombastic guitar solos while Dante Bichette Jr. and Lane Adams affectionately roast him in the comments.

Does this matter? To be honest, it does not really matter very much. But it is not every day that you discover a baseball player for the first time. If that player happens to be prone to gratuitous legato runs, all the better. Every deployment of the whammy-bar strikes a blow against baseball's thick vanilla same-ness. Every little bit helps.