(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)
To say Austin Romine was the surprise offensive star of the game yesterday would be more than appropriate. He's swung the bat horribly since being called up and even after yesterday's big game his season batting line still stands at just .193/.212/.277 (.215 wOBA). Yet there he was, getting his second start behind the plate in 3 days and going 3-4 with a pair of doubles and a run scored. Add in his 1-3 day with another double, run scored, and RBI on Tuesday and it was a nice little series for Romine, who's quietly putting up a very good month in July in incredibly limited playing time. He's still at just 87 total PA for the season, but a quick peak at Romine's monthly splits shows that he might be putting some things together.
For the month, Romine is hitting .333/.364/.524 in 22 PA with 4 2B, 4 R, and a pair of RBI. His .887 July OPS is close to double the .478 he posted in 24 June PA, which was close to double the .287 he posted in 37 May appearances. Despite seeing a decrease in playing time since his call up, Romine has seen his production at the plate go up and his K rate go down (32.4% in May to 18.2% in July). And in what was probably a moment he'll cherish for the rest of his career, Romine actually drew his first Major League walk this month.
It hasn't been all dinking and dunking balls into shallow gaps this month either. Romine has a strong LD rate in July and his 7th inning double yesterday was a legit laser over the center fielder's head, the type of contact we haven't come close to seeing from him since he came up. He looks more comfortable at the plate, the results are passing the eye test, and all the numbers (small sample sizes be damned) indicate a player trending in the right direction. This is good news.
His warts are still very present. He hasn't shown a lick of real HR power yet, he has no footspeed whatsoever, and he still strikes out too much for somebody who doesn't work or hit for power. But there's no denying that Romine has started to come around this month and hopefully Joe takes notice and gives him some more playing time. Romine was always expected to be a strong defensive catcher at this level and he's been that when he's been out there. If that offensive ceiling is starting to rise a bit for him now, the Yankees should want to see how high it goes. Hell, they need to see how high it goes. Even if he's not the next Jorge, if he's better than Chris Stewart that's a start.