The Yankees have some roster spots that have not been filled for 2019, which leaves a few players with much to prove this spring.
Spring Training is a time for growth and development. It’s a time where veterans work on perfectly an imperfectible craft and young players work to prove themselves. This piece is about the latter and we will look at the three members of the New York Yankees roster with the most to prove this Spring Training.
An obvious candidate and arguably the man with the most to prove is Greg Bird. Greg Bird was dubbed the future of Yankee first basemen. And in his cameo appearance at the end of the 2015 season, Greg seemed destined for greatness. Yankee fans fawned at the idea of Bird hitting 30 plus homers into the short right field porch seats and driving in 100 plus RBI’s a season and doing so all from the customary “best hitter” position of third in the lineup.
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However, since that cameo, Bird has failed to stay consistently on the field, let alone consistent at the plate. The emergence of Luke Voit has placed Bird as the second fiddle in the battle for First. But with the slight edge in defensive value and being a left-handed bat, Greg can take hold of the first base job with a strong and (even more importantly) healthy Spring. Greg Bird has put together strong Spring Training’s before won’t wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities. But it will all come down to staying healthy if Bird is to reclaim his nest.
Clint Frazier/Tyler Wade
Much like the battle for First, when it comes to the final spot on the 25-man roster, both Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade are fighting for survival. Both men have had little taste of the Major Leagues over the past couple seasons. However, for neither man was the impression very good. Hence why they are on this list. Both players have the ability (if given the right opportunity) to blossom into talented Major Leaguers. The two men bring differing levels of skill and talent to what is a pretty set Yankees lineup in 2019.
Clint Frazier brings his “legendary” bat speed and a reckless abandon that can fire up the Bronx faithful akin to that of the Warrior, Paul O’Neill. Then you have the ultra-versatile Tyler Wade. The man, the Yankees, have groomed to be their version of Ben Zobrist, with less power and more speed. Given the fact that the Yanks will already have four outfielders on the team opening day, Frazier is fighting an uphill battle. Yankee manager Aaron Boone said so himself that Frazier will likely start in Triple-A, barring an unforeseen injury. But a poor Spring out of Wade and a strong showing by Frazier may change the narrative. Both men will have to step up and grab hold of the final 25th spot on the roster.
Troy Tulowitzki was once one of the top five players in Major League Baseball. However, injuries had seemingly sapped Tulo of all that once made him special And for much of the last two seasons as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Tulo hasn’t even stepped on the field. This lead to Toronto releasing the five-time All-Star. This then brings us to how Tulo ended up in Yankees Camp this Spring. Troy Tulowitzki could have signed on to play anywhere. Because with the Blue Jays footing the bill (minus the Major League minimum) he is a relatively no cost addition.
Adding Tulowitzki is a no-risk signing for all ballclubs no matter in a large market or a small market. But Tulo picked the New York Yankees. Tulowitzki grew up idolizing Derek Jeter, and it’s because of Jeter that Tulo wore the number two. That may not be an option in the Bronx but Troy will man the same plot of real estate that Derek once occupied. Much like Greg Bird, Troy has a lot to prove to everyone that has counted him out and if you don’t believe that is on his mind all you have to do is take one look at his reaction following his first at-bat in Spring Training to know that the man is playing with a chip on his shoulder.
He still has a fire in his soul to prove he still has what it takes to be a Major League ballplayer.