The Yankees currently only have four spring training games remaining, many argue that you should not put much stock into Spring Training statistics and I tend to agree.
After all, Greg Bird who had an OPS of .479 in the month of April last season had an OPS of 1.654 through 51 spring at-bats a year ago. Masahiro Tanaka, who gave up seven earned runs on Opening Day vs Tampa Bay last season did not allow a run across 18.2 innings last spring.
With that said, what is the best platform for young players/prospects to get noticed at the major league level? SPRING TRAINING.
Let’s take a look at six Yankees who spent all season or a part of their season in the minors in 2017 and how they have fared so far this spring.
Spring Stats: .160 BA / .490 OBP – 25 AB, 4 Hits, 2 Doubles, 3 BB, 7K.
Since the Yankees top prospect was named the Arizona Fall League MVP in 2016, the hype around Gleyber Torres has been at an all-time high. Last spring, he showed that the hype is real as he batted .448 and had an OPS of 1.400 before tearing his UCL in his left elbow sliding into home plate.
Fully recovered after Tommy John surgery, Gleyber is back and is looking to find his groove. His current spring performance has allowed Brian Cashman to make an easy decision on where to start him this season. Gleyber will be on the opening day roster in Scranton. The big benefit here: the Yankees will gain an extra year of control on their most prized possession.
Spring Stats: .231 BA / .333 OBP – 26 AB, 6 Hits, 3 Triples, 2 SB, 4 BB, 10K.
Estevan Florial has raw talent. Just take a look at his team-leading three triples this spring and his ability to run the bases. At the age of 19, he played in Tampa and Charleston and showed that he could be a five-tool player. Now at age 20, it seems like the next logical step is to play him in Trenton. Expect Florial to be “untouchable” when trade talks/negotiations start to take place in 2018.
Spring Stats: .313 BA / .452 OBP – 32 AB, 10 Hits, 2 Doubles, 2 SB, 8 BB, 8 K.
Tyler Wade is a guy that Aaron Boone has raved about multiple times over the last month. He has surpassed his 2017 regular season hit total (9) in 26 less at-bats this spring. He has been showing what he can do when playing on a consistent basis but with Neil Walker likely being the opening day second baseman, Wade will need to make an impact when his name is called.
Spring Stats: .262 BA / .916 OPS – 42 AB, 11 Hits, 2 Doubles, 4 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 1 BB, 10 K.
Miguel Andujar was optioned to Triple-A just 24 hours ago, but it is not a result of his spring performance. There is no rush here and with the signings of Drury and Walker, it is evident that Andujar was never in the mix to be the Yankees opening day third baseman. He needs to continue to swing the bat and will focus on his patience at the plate. His best opportunity to do those two things is in Scranton.
Spring Stats: .233 BA / 1.010 OPS – 30 AB, 7 Hits, 4 HR’s, 5 BB, 7 K.
Yankee fans are rooting for Tyler Austin and have been since his Major League debut. After all, he did go back to back with Aaron Judge in his first major league at-bat in a time where the Yankees turned the page and began to invest in youth.
Injuries limited his productivity last year but the pop in his bat continues to have him on the fringe of the major league roster. At age 26, how much of a ceiling does Tyler Austin have? Is his career .236 BA across 136 major league plate appearances indicative of the type of player he is? These are questions that the Yankees and their fans have.
Spring Stats: .179 BA / 1.002 OPS – 28 AB, 5 Hits, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 9 BB, 12 K.
It has been an interesting spring for Billy McKinney. 4 of his 5 hits this Spring have come from the long ball and while he leads the Yankees in the HR’s (along with Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, and Miguel Andujar), he also leads the team in strikeouts. McKinney has struck out in 43% of his at-bats and is behind both Adam Lind and Tyler Austin as the backup first baseman.
Some of these players will have just one more week to impress. After that, it’s game-time for all of them whether it be in Tampa, Charleston, Trenton, Scranton or the BRONX.