The New York Yankees are a few weeks away from reporting to spring training. What surprises may be in store in Tampa?
Baseball is right around the corner as the New York Yankees are just a few short weeks from reporting to spring training in Tampa, Florida. The Yankees roster doesn’t have too many question marks entering 2020, but there are still some jobs to be won and players needing to prove themselves in Spring Training.
Will anyone standout? Could someone surprise Yankee universe with a breakout Spring Training? Here are five bold predictions.
1. Mike Ford Rakes His Way Onto Opening Day Roster
With MLB expanding their rosters to 26 but limiting the number of pitchers to 13, an extra bench player has a chance to earn the Yankees’ final roster spot.
Mike Ford is a perfect candidate to fill that void with the Yankees.
The left-handed first basemen hit 12 home runs in 137 at-bats last season as a rookie with a slash line of .259/.350/.909.
He even slugged a walk-off home run over the Oakland A’s to cap one of the Yankees’ biggest comeback victories of the season.
While Luke Voit will almost surely be the Bombers opening day first basemen, Ford has a chance to fight for that spot and, at the least, make the roster as the backup.
I see him doing just that with a big spring training at the plate that will it impossible for Aaron Boone to leave Ford off the roster.
2. Clint Fraizer Doesn’t Make Cut
Time is running out for Clint Fraizer in New York. Fraizer has been riding the Scranton Express the last three seasons and, in 2019, showed improvement at the plate but struggled mightily in the field.
This spring, Fraizer has a golden opportunity to make the roster as a fourth outfielder with Aaron Hicks recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Though with Mike Tauchman, who’s an above-average defender and had an outstanding year at the plate in 2019, I don’t expect the former top prospect to get the job.
3. Michael King Emerges As Real Fifth Starter/Bullpen Option
Perhaps the most important job up for grabs this spring is the fifth starter role. While J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery are heavy favorites to win the job, don’t count out 24-year old Michael King.
King was injured for much of 2019 but did make his MLB debut in the regular season’s final weekend as he pitched two scoreless innings against the Texas Rangers.
In 2018, King made 11 starts at Double-A Trenton and posted a 6-2 record with a 2.09 ERA to earn a promotion to Scranton. At the Triple-A level, he posted a 1.15 ERA in six appearances, including four starts.
King’s impressive minor league numbers stand out, and with a big spring could find himself on the Yankees roster either in the bullpen or as the fifth starter.