In this morning’s Pinch Hitter post, Bill looked at the bigger picture. And with prospects, there’s always a bigger picture. A young player has long-term value as a future big leaguer, and he has immediate value as a trade chip. It’s up to the organization to decide which value is greater.
But with spring training barely two weeks away, the big picture isn’t all that matters. In the short term, the Yankees have to make some decisions about their depth. They need to get a look at some of their upper-level prospects and decide who might be able to help them this season.
A few players worth watching this spring…
When he’s healthy, Adams has an intriguing bat for a second baseman (and experience at third base to suggest a possible utility role). Injuries have slowed his progress considerably, and right now Corban Joseph is probably ahead of Adams on the depth chart, but Adams is considered the more dynamic prospect. With a spot on the 40-man, he’ll be in big league camp assuming he’s healthy enough to play.
He’s no longer on the 40-man roster, but you can bet Curtis will be invited to big league camp. With Chris Dickerson and Justin Maxwell out of options, and Greg Golson out of the organization, the Yankees upper-level outfield depth centers on Curtis and a pair of minor league free agents. Girardi seems to trust the players he knows, and he knows Curtis. If he proves he’s past the shoulder injury that cost him last season, Curtis could stay in the picture for a call-up during the season.
The Yankees have more starting pitchers than they know what to do with, so guys like Phelps, D.J. Mitchell and Adam Warren won’t be competing for rotation spots this spring. What they’ll be fighting for is the attention of the big league coaching staff. The Yankees should have a deep Triple-A rotation, and despite the fact Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos are the biggest names, Mitchell, Phelps and Warren have the most upper-level experience (and Mitchell and Phelps have 40-man spots). If the Yankees need to call up a starter at some point, they might just remember a strong showing in camp.
Given a chance to play his way onto the New York roster last spring, Romine — just like Jesus Montero — struggled in big league camp. This year, he’s coming in as more than a prospect. He has some big league experience, and Joe Girardi seems to already trust his glove. Can he play his way into a backup role? Can he kick start a season that re-establishes himself as a future big league regular? With Montero gone, Romine’s won’t be overshadowed this spring.
Of course. The slugging first baseman has never been more interesting. Given the Yankees lack of an everyday designated hitter, Vazquez could legitimately hit his way into roster contention. There are clearly concerns about his strikeout rate, and there’s really no telling whether such an all-or-nothing bat will play at the big league level, but there’s no doubt about the power. If the Yankees don’t trade for a bat or find a free agent hitter at a reasonable cost, Vazquez could be a wild card alternative.