It often times doesn’t go according to plan and in the case of the New York Yankees and their youth-rich roster of prospects, the “your time is coming soon” approach is being aggressively challenged by the players that the plan is attached to.
This spring the Yankees have played great baseball, and Spring Training wins/loss records don’t matter, but their production and impressive spring training record has opened some eyes around the league.
And while the Yankees have always been known for leaning on their veteran leaders it’s their youngsters, the “players of tomorrow”, who are wreaking havoc on the diamond and at the plate. It’s the youngsters carrying the Yanks to victory and it’s the young prospects that are forcing the franchise’s hand.
Gleybor Torres, who is expected to start the season in Double-A Trenton, has continued his hot play since winning the Arizona Fall League MVP. Torres, 20, has had an impressive spring and with the team not 100% sold on the long-term viability of Starlin Castro, Torres could be called up this season, especially if he tears through Double-A and Triple-A afterwards.
Another reality that the Yankees are facing is that the deal they handed Jacoby Ellsbury a few years ago in free agency may go down as the worst in franchise history. Given how active the Yankees have been in free agency and how often they have signed a top level free agent to a massive deal, that says a lot.
But the fact is Ellsbury is getting older, is a constant health concern, is vastly over paid and has dramatically underperformed.
To make matters worse for Ellsbury there is Jorge Mateo waiting in the wings. Mateo is mostly an infielder and could threaten the job security of Castro and Didi Gregorious, but the Yankees have worked him center field too.
If Ellsbury continues to disappoint, Mateo could be one of the first players the team pushes up into the starting rotation of outfielders.
And speaking of outfield, Clint Frazier is another name to keep an eye on because, like Mateo, he could threaten the job security of outfielders such as Ellsbury. Frazier should be a name to watch especially if the Yankees finally pull the trigger on trading away Brett Gardner, which they have been rumored to be close to doing for the past few years.
A longshot to be called up is Justus Sheffield, the left handed pitcher that general manager Brian Cashman ensured was a part of the Andrew Miller trade last year.
“Wherever I start, that is where I will start, but the goal obviously at the end of the year is to be up higher than the level I was at,” Sheffield said. “The overall goal is to make it to the big leagues.”
Sheffield only made Class A last year but with uncertainty surrounding the Yankee rotation he could see a fast rise through the minors and be in line to make an impact in 2018.
If James Kaprielian can stay healthy, he is a strong candidate to be called up to the rotation this season. Other names to watch include Jordan Montgomery and Chance Adams.
While the Yankees plan of waiting until tomorrow may not be going according to plan, the strong play from so many prospects is a good problem to have and the future is not only exciting, but it’s bright in the Bronx.