John Antonoff/Chicago Sun-Times

Higgins may be a few days away from breaking camp with the Cubs as the team’s backup catcher.

MESA, Ariz. – Sometimes opportunity comes when you least expect it and for Cubs’ catcher PJ Higgins, that opportunity may be around the corner. Higgins, 27, has gotten rave reviews from around Cubs camp this spring as he’s had more opportunities to show what he can do.

Higgins may not have gotten many looks during a typical spring, but following Austin Romine’s right knee sprain, the Cubs’ backstop is inching closer to having a spot on the Opening Day roster.

“I think there’s a lot to like about PJ,” manager David Ross said. “He makes good contact. I love his ability to run a game behind the plate. We’ve thrown a couple of scouting reports at him already and he’s done a really good job the other night catching and handling that. … The work ethic and the care of the guy is off the charts, as well. So there’s a lot to appreciate from him.”

If there was a position where the Cubs could sustain an injury and have the depth to weather the storm, it’s the catcher position. While Willson Contreras is the everyday guy behind the plate, having quality depth can give the Cubs peace of mind and provide development for players like Higgins and prospect Miguel Amaya.

Higgins was drafted in the 12th round of the 2015 MLB Draft and has performed well during his brief minor-league career with the Cubs. During his last full season in 2019, Higgins slashed .281/.349/.416 with 10 home runs between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.

The Cubs’ backstop hasn’t only caught the coaching staff’s attention, but of the pitching staff. While he’s in camp as a non-roster invitee, the starters have relied on him to get them through outings during camp.

“PJ Higgins, wow. I mean we can sit for a whole day and talk about PJ Higgins,” Adbert Alzolay said with a smile. “Both him and Justin Steele, we’ve been together for pretty much our entire minor league careers, playing in the same team, living together. So I’m pretty happy for him. I’m pretty pumped up for him and he’s having a really, really good spring training. So I’m happy for him.”

While Higgins’ ability behind the plate is what will ultimately decide if he makes the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, his versatility makes him an even more attractive option for Ross off the bench. In addition to catching, Higgins has played both second and third base this spring and is considered an above-average third baseman within the organization.

Depending on how Ross decides to design his bench, Higgins is someone who can provide an at-bat late in games, especially with no universal designated hitter and National League rules returning in 2021.

“I love the fact that you’ve got somebody that could potentially play third or move around,” Ross said. “I mean he’s got great hands. He’s probably one of the better if you’ve listened to the people around and player development one of the better third baseman we have in the organization just as far as reliability on defense.”


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