Five Biggest Takeaways From the Yankees' Player Pool for Summer Camp
Baseball is coming back and we've got rosters to prove it.
Ahead of Major League Baseball's return this week – with the commencement of Summer Camp for all 30 big-league clubs – the Yankees unveiled its player pool consisting of 58 players on Sunday night.
So, what does it all mean? Well, New York can add two more players to fill up the allotted 60-man roster. That active roster will need to shrink down to 30, however, prior to Opening Day (COVID-19 permitting). Two subsequent cuts will be made as the season progresses down the road.
In the meantime, here are five of the biggest takeaways we can grasp from the names the Yankees listed this weekend.
Overall, not too many surprises
All in all, the player pool New York revealed had few surprises. From the regulars down to the budding prospects, there's a sensible mix of starters, depth and those included for developmental purposes.
Remember, not everyone listed on this roster will necessarily appear in a Yankees uniform this summer. There will be Taxi Squad (of a maximum of three players including one backstop) traveling with the team on road trips, while the remaining ballplayers will be working out at an alternative training site.
Other clubs elected to include several top prospects, even those that were selected in the MLB Draft and subsequently signed within the last few weeks. New York for the most part went with more established prospects, many of which had showcased their potential at Spring Training several months ago.
On the outside looking in are the Bombers' three-man MLB Draft class, nine undrafted free agent signings and the club's top prospect Jasson Dominguez. A slew of top pitching prospects got the nod as well as outfielder Estevan Florial (New York's sixth-rated prospect per MLB Pipeline).
Perhaps the biggest shock was the addition of veteran infielder Matt Duffy, who agreed to a minor league deal with the Yankees just days ago.
Right-handed pitchers to spare
Speaking of top pitching prospects, the Yankees have plenty of 'em.
Five of New York's top 10 prospects, including Clarke Schmidt and Deivi García, will be on the Yankees roster this summer. That's just a fraction of the overall presence right-handed pitching has in the Yankees' system. In fact, 13 of New York's top 30 prospects (in MLB Pipeline's rankings) are right-handed pitchers – it's arguably the organization's strongest position.
The Yankees' depth at right-handed pitcher doesn't stop there. Of the 33 pitchers listed in the Bombers' player pool, 26 are righties. When you factor out certain staples of this club's pitching rotation (Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman, J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery and James Paxton) only two lefties remain (Luis Avilán and Tyler Lyons).
This is just another reminder that the Yankees as a whole don't have too many southpaws. Only one lefty is among New York's top 30 prospects (T.J. Sikemma).
Defensive experiment is officially in play
Remember four months ago when Miguel Andújar was first taking fly balls in the outfield? It was one of the biggest stories of the spring before injuries began to pop up across the diamond.
That experiment, to expand Andújar's versatility and find more ways to fit his bat into the lineup, is now complete. The 25-year-old – entering his fourth season at the big-league level after playing in just 12 games due to injury a year ago – was listed under the "Infielders/Outfielders" category.
Not only does that mean Andújar will be an option for skipper Aaron Boone in the outfield, but he's still considered an asset at third base (and potentially first base as well).
How this factors into the lineup that Boone will fill out each day remains to be seen. Gio Urshela is still the starting third baseman and with the star-studded group of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks using MLB's extended hiatus to get healthy and return to game shape, there's a logjam of talented outfielders in the Bombers' clubhouse.
Either way, in preparing for an unprecedented season where anything can happen, Andújar's ability to play multiple positions will only help the coaching staff make decisions with the starting lineup and substitutions late in games.
Spring Training performances still carry weight
Were you on the Rosell Herrera bandwagon in early-March before the novel coronavirus pandemic forced a suspension of Spring Training?
The utilityman was legitimately one of the Yankees best players across its slate of Grapefruit League games. Not only did he have 10 base knocks this spring – tied for the team lead with DJ LeMahieu – but he led the club in batting average (.400) across 25 at-bats.
The same goes for Kyle Holder, a shortstop who made several eye-popping snags at shortstop, and veteran backstop Chris Iannetta who matched Herrera's average with just five fewer at-bats.
Again, heading into this second installment of training camp, there's plenty of uncertainty. With the virus looming in the background and an ever-present hazard of injury, don't overlook the names listed in this roster's second tier from having an impact at one point or another this summer.
Healthy roster on paper is...
For the Yankees, putting together a healthy roster seemed impossible earlier this spring. Several key contributors were poised to miss Opening Day and in some cases an extended period of time to start the regular season had the pandemic never postponed baseball's schedule.
Now, New York's roster appears to be set. Beyond Luis Severino – who was bound to miss the entirety of this campaign regardless of the coronavirus – all assets are ready to report this week and begin three weeks of workouts prior to Game 1 on July 23.
Answers about Judge's health will surely be confirmed this week. We can all gage his status based off whether or not the slugger participates in batting practice and drills in the outfield. In an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated just days ago, Judge explained that the extended hiatus has allowed him and his teammates "to get healthy."
That said, rather than starting the 2020 season with multiple key contributors on the sidelines, only one or two will be unavailable when New York takes the field late next month. Factor in Gerrit Cole at the helm of the rotation and the club that came two wins away from a World Series bid last fall is ready to do some damage.
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