The degree of success that infielder Tyler Wade attained at the plate in the Minors last season fell rather short of translating at the Major League level.
Before he debuted with the Yankees on June 27, Wade — a fourth round pick in the 2013 June Amateur Draft — was a .310 hitter (85 games) with Triple-A Scanton/Wilkes-Barre, capable of stretching singles into doubles with his plus-speed and baserunning ability.
However, those attributes suddenly disappeared while he was with the Big League club. He hardly saw playing time, but Wade’s small share of swings were uninspiring, as he finished with a .155 average and .446 OPS in 63 big league plate appearances.
With voids at second and third base, the Yankees will offer Wade several opportunities to stave off top prospects like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar this spring. Compared to last year, Wade’s mentality hasn’t changed, but the 23-year-old rookie hopes his new plate approach will trigger positive results.
Speaking with YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits on Tuesday, Wade explained the offseason adjustments he made to his swing, which involved his hands and stance in the left-handed batter’s box.
“I just moved my hands a little bit, a little higher and opened up my front side,” Wade said. “I just freed up myself, so I feel good right now and I’m excited to put it in the games. This offseason was a long one for me, being able to tweak all that stuff. But it probably took a couple weeks just to get back to feeling normal and all that to get into sync.
“I feel like a completely different hitter. I feel like it’s only going to help myself and the team.”
So, who helped Wade make these alterations?
Some veteran ball player named Albert Pujols, who’s entering 2018 with the Los Angeles Angels just 17 home runs shy of surpassing Hall-of-Famer Ken Griffey Jr. for the fifth-most in Major League history (630).
“We train with the same trainer [in California] and he came up to me one day and we talked and he was like, ‘Hey, you should come hit with me’ and he’s the one that recommended some of the changes in my setup and my swing,” Wade said of Pujols. “So I was very thankful for that opportunity that he gave me and able for me to pick his brain a little bit.
“That’s a Hall of Famer right there who’s texting me that. So it was pretty special and something I’ll always remember.”
Last Sunday, on Feb. 11, YES Network broadcaster David Cone took to Twitter to express his opinion of Wade, writing, “Don’t sleep on Tyler Wade. Just saying.”
“This is a special group we’ve got right now, and having the opportunity to be a part of it and help the team is very exciting,” Wade said.
The Yankees will host the Detroit Tigers in their first spring training game this Friday (1 p.m.) at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.