TAMPA – The odds of J.C. Escarra making the Yankees’ Opening Day roster are slim to none. But make no mistake: the catcher is living out a childhood dream.

A 28-year-old non-roster invitee with zero major league experience, Escarra grew up a fan of the team that he now plays for. He has his father to thank for that, as the dad devoted himself to the Yankees after immigrating from Cuba and moving to Yonkers in the late 1980s.

Escarra’s pop ventured to the Miami area after 15 years in New York, but he passed along his passion for the pinstripes. Coincidentally, that move put Escarra in touch with a fellow future Yankee.

“That’s my boy,” Escarra told the Daily News of Opening Day starter Nestor Cortes, a fellow Cuban resident of Hialeah, Florida. The two began playing baseball together as young children, and they reunited in the Yankees’ locker room at George M. Steinbrenner Field before Escarra was reassigned to minor league camp on March 6.

“We know each other real well,” said Cortes, who added that the two frequently played on the same teams before attending different high schools.

Escarra never caught Cortes growing up, as he didn’t become a backstop until his freshman year of college at Florida International in 2014. Still, the Yankees’ catching coaches asked Cortes about Escarra before the receiver inked a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp in January.

“The catching guys were like, ‘Hey, what do you think about J.C.?’” Cortes recalled. “I’m like, ‘Dude, J.C.’s, as far as I can remember, a great person to talk to. Super, super social. Super reachable.’ I want to say he’s coachable, too, because as far as I can remember from being kids, he was good with that. So I was happy for him.”

Escarra didn’t know about Cortes’ glowing recommendation, but he appreciated it when told. After a nomadic journey, he’s thankful to be playing with the Yankees.

Drafted in the 15th round by the Orioles in 2017, Escarra has never made it higher than Triple-A. He hasn’t suited up for an affiliated team since 2021, and he’s since played in numerous foreign and independent leagues.

That includes the American Association, Atlantic League, Puerto Rican Winter League, Mexican League, Mexican Pacific Winter League and an appearance in the 2023-24 Caribbean Series. He also recently played in an All-Star game in the Dominican Republic.

“I’ve played everywhere,” Escarra said, insisting that those experiences made him a better ballplayer and more mature person. “I started from the bottom, so I’m excited to be here and for this opportunity.”

Escarra totaled 93 games between the Mexican League, Mexican Pacific Winter League and Puerto Rican Winter League last year. He hit .267/.362/.422 with nine home runs and 45 RBI.

A lefty swinger, Escarra said he’s got some power. Cortes concurred, noting “when we were younger, he did have a big bat.”

Escarra showed it off on Saturday, pulling a two-run homer in the eighth inning of a win over the Blue Jays. The blast proved decisive in the 10-9 exhibition victory.

J.C. Escarra 2-run blast, Yankees back on top 10-9.#YANKSonYES pic.twitter.com/2w4NpQZc9t— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 16, 2024

In addition to some thump, Escarra is also versatile. While primarily a catcher, he’s played first base, third base and corner outfield. The Yankees have used him at first a few times this spring.

A lot will have to break in Escarra’s favor if he wants to debut in pinstripes this season, but he believes his flexibility could come in handy if the Yankees have to tap into their depth.

“My main position’s catcher,” Escarra said, but “I think that makes me valuable. “[I’ll do] whatever the Yankees need me to do.”