Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stuck in the System: The Austin Romine Story

If you were to look at the top 10 prospects lists at the top of this blog you would notice something quite unique about the Yankee system, it is full of catchers.  Out of the top 10, three of them are catchers.  This is a rare luxury that the Yankees have especially since they have just signed Russell Martin who is having a wonderful season so far in the Bronx.  

So with three talented catchers in the system they can not all make it to the big leagues.  This is the problem for Austin Romine.  Although he is touted to be the best defensive catcher in the Yankees by Baseball America, of the top 3 catchers in the system he is the worst hitter.  Now this is not to say he is a bad hitter. Right now he is playing for the AA Trenton Thunder.  His season line is a .274 average with 3 HR and 20 RBIs, which is very respectable for a catcher.  However, when you compare this to Jesus Montero it is not quite as impressive.  He is hitting over .330 for the AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees.

This has been the struggle for Austin his entire career.  Ever since being drafted in the second round of the MLB draft in 2007 out of high school he has always been that other catcher since Montero was signed in 2006.  Then to make matters worse for Romine the Yankees spent $3 million in 2009 to sign another top catching prospect from South America.  This was Gary Sanchez.  Who is currently struggling at the plate in A Charleston but is touted to have a bat similar to Montero's. 

This all puts Romine in a very tough spot.  For now even though he has proven himself at AA Trenton there is no room for him to move.  Since the AAA spot is taken by Montero and in the majors Martin looks like he isn't giving up the catching spot this season.  So for Romine he is now stuck waiting at AA.  So what should be done about this?  When looking at this I think the Yankees can get good value by trading Romine.  He is touted as a very solid all around catcher.  He is supposed to have a rocket arm and can hit very reasonably for a catcher.  Therefore with catcher not a problem in the minor league system and a need for SP and some hitting in the Bronx and trade of Romine seems like a viable option.  Now I unfortunately have not heard any rumblings about a trade involving him but could definitely see his name being thrown around as the trading deadline comes closer.  

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