TAMPA, FL - MARCH 4: General view of the scoreboard and team logo before the game between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field on March 4, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. The Phillies defeated the Yankees 3-1. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Now that the football thing is out of the way, we can finally focus all our energy on baseball. Spring Training kicks off tomorrow with pitchers and catchers reporting to George M. Steinbrenner Field and position players following on the 24th. The chase for 28 starts now and there is a lot to keep your eye on. Here are just a few of the things I am most excited to watch in camp.
Aka: The Kraken. We saw him briefly in the Bigs last season, and by briefly I mean 2 at bats. He went 0-2 with a strikeout and left me wanting more. With John Ryan Murphy being traded to Minnesota for Aaron Hicks, Sanchez has a very good shot at being Brian McCann‘s backup this year. Between Double-A and Triple-A last year he hit .274/.330/.485 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs in 93 games. Behind the plate he allowed 56 stolen bags with 31 caught stealing, good for a 36% caught stealing percentage. He then proceeded to pretty much own the Arizona Fall League, hitting .295 with 7 homers and 21 RBIs in 22 games. It will be interesting to see if he can adjust to Major League pitchers and base runners. If he can then he is going to do some damage.
Possibly my favorite prospect in the system right now. The 6 foot 7 behemoth tore through Double-A last year earning the bump to Triple-A and a Spring Training invite. His line between the two (.255/.330/.448) doesn’t really jump out at you, but that is due to his struggles in Triple-A. He hit just .224 with 8 homers and 28 RBIs in 61 games for the RailRiders after hitting .284 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs in 63 games for the Thunder. He is already in Tampa working on making the necessary adjustments and says he is not too worried about the struggles. If he can make those adjustments, with Carlos Beltran in the last year of his deal, he is in prime position to be the Yanks right fielder in 2017.
Baseball America’s top prospect in the Yanks farm and considered to be untouchable this offseason in trade talks. I haven’t seen him play much so I am beyond pumped to see this kid in action. Only 20 years old, he is thought by many to be the best shortstop in the organization since Jeter. That includes every shortstop prospect since 1996. He split time last season between Single-A and High-A and boy did he make an impression. In 96 games for Charleston, he hit .268 with a baseball leading 71 stolen bases while getting caught 15 times. When he made the jump to Tampa, he hit .321 and stole 11 more bags good for 82 swiped bags on the year. He turned 48 double plays in the field with a .929 fielding percentage, but did commit 30 errors. He’s still young so he has time to work on the errors and an invite to Spring Training will be a perfect opportunity for him to do just that. Expect him to make the jump to Double-A this season.
Severino got the call at the end of July last year and cemented his place in the rotation. The 21 year old dominated, going 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.203 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 11 games. I’m excited to see him grow in his sophomore season and see if he can handle the grind. Girardi has already said there may be an innings limit put on him, which should help him grow while minimizing risk of injury. With a rotation pretty much full of question marks, Sevy is the one I’m most confident in. And if you ask me, he should have started the Yankees Wild Card game against Houston.
Now that he got through his first year replacing a legend, I’m curious to see him settle into his role with the Yanks. He seemed a bit shaky out of the gate last year, but who wouldn’t be stepping into a position vacated by one of the greatest to ever play the game? The smallest mistake in the field and he would be peppered by Derek Jeter chants. He seemed to settle in and hit a respectable .265 with 9 homers and 56 RBIs. He tied a career high with 13 errors in the field, but those were to be expected with the amount of nerves he was probably feeling. The fans seemed to warm up to him and since doesn’t feel the massive number 2 bearing down on him (as much) he should provide some solid defense. With newly acquired Starlin Castro and Rob Refsnyder possibly platooning at second base, the defense up the middle is going to be fun to watch.
Can I pronounce his last name? No. Am I excited to see the Yankees first round draft pick in action? Better believe it. The 21 year old, 16th overall pick of last year played college ball at UCLA and was considered one of the top prospects in his draft. He was a reliever in his freshman year for the Bruins, pitching in 34 games with a 1.55 ERA and 53 strikeouts. He was converted to a starter for his sophomore year, pitching to a 7-6 record and a 2.29 ERA with 108 strikeouts in 15 starts. In May 2015, he combined with teammate David Berg to throw the first no hitter in UCLA history. He threw the first nine innings and Berg pitched the 10th to complete the no-no.
He already made an appearance at Captain’s Camp and could pop up at Spring Training. There’s nothing set in stone, but it is possible that he may be a guest instructor this year. Bryan Hoch mention on his podcast that he ran into the future Mrs. Jeter in Hawaii and they talked about the possibility. Keep an eye out for any number 2 jerseys out on the field.