The Yankees starting outfield is set, but there’s a legitimate competition to find a right-handed hitter who can play off the bench. The candidates range from big league veterans on minor league deals to young prospects trying to get noticed. It’s not wonder the Yankees invited a bunch of guys to camp.
Three of these players will play everyday in the big league outfield. The question is, will one of the others make the team in a reserve role?
Switch hitter slugged .487 in Double-A last season. Have to think he’s ticketed for right field in Triple-A. Could be a sleeper for the big league team.
A left-handed hitter and generally a left fielder — though he can play center — Flores is a legitimate prospect with a .362 career on-base percentage. Should open the season in Double-A.
The only decision is whether he’s the regular center fielder or left fielder. Oh, and whether he hits at the top or the bottom of the order.
Could move to left field this season. Probably no longer a No. 2 hitter.
Extremely toolsy, Mesa is a right-handed hitter with the speed and defensive ability to be an excellent fourth outfielder. Can he hit well enough to win the job this spring?
Signed to a two-year deal to be the Yankees regular right fielder. Trying to build on a strong second half.
MINOR LEAGUE FREE AGENTS
Three right-handed outfielders, at least one of whom has a very good chance of making the team.
The veteran is coming off two years of injuries and disappointing numbers. Trying to win a job as a platoon outfielder, and his chances went up after Russ Canzler was DFA.
Released by the Indians, Neal has a handful of big league at-bats to his credit, but he spent most of last year in Double-A. Was once fairly highly touted.
Now 34 years old, the former Yankees prospect is trying to win a platoon job as either a corner outfielder or designated hitter. Power numbers have slipped in recent years.
Technically Abe Almonte was signed as a minor league free agent, but he came up through the organization, so I have a hard time counting him that way. Of this group, Mustelier is the only one locked into a Triple-A spot.
Brought his prospect status back from the dead with a strong Double-A season that included 30 steals. Mostly a center fielder.
One of the Yankees top prospects. Got all the way to Double-A last year, though he could open this season back in High-A. Elite young hitter.
Easily overlooked, the Yankees are high on the 27-year-old Cuban who can play all three outfield positions and has a solid right-handed bat. Hit .288/.325/.492 after a late promotion to Double-A last year.
If he stays healthy, he could be in the big leagues next year.
Another Cuban outfielder. Has played mostly left field (and third base) and has hit .324/.378/.497 through two seasons in the U.S.
Primarily a third baseman until last year when he moved to the outfield corners. Struggled after a mid-season promotion to Double-A. Should return to that level.
COULD SEE TIME AT THE POSITION
There are a good number of outfielders who can handle the infield corners, but there aren’t many infielders who are real go-to options in the outfield. These might be two exceptions.
The Yankees could give him a few innings in the outfield to get him ready for a super utility role. If the Yankees carry only one true outfield reserve (a bench of — let’s say — Nunez, Stewart, Diaz and Nix) then Nix might legitimately need to fill in as an outfielder from time to time.
Still listed as an infielder, but he saw considerable time in left field both last season and during the winter.
Associated Press photo