Two weeks is still quite early in spring training, especially when you're trying to see which ones might be the best fit for an open spot on the major league team. There aren't that many spots for players in camp to fill on the Yankees since most of the roles are firmly held onto by a veteran or player being paid far too much money to be forced out. Still, there are a few chances for players in camp to work their way onto the Yankees' Opening Day roster with an impressive showing in spring training. We are here to attempt to measure where they stand on a weekly basis and how they stack up to their competition.
This post will focus on only the hitters, while Jason's subsequent post will cover where the pitchers stand in their quest to make the team. We graded out where each of the players stand with the following legend:
Keep in mind that all spring training players are not created equal. Some can bat 1.000 and still won't have a spot on the team while another could pick up one hit before the team heads north and would still have a spot on the Opening Day roster. The reality of each player's situation is taken into consideration in their ranking.
Francisco Cervelli's hot spring so far seems to have him firmly in the driver's seat in the race to be Brian McCann's backup, but he's also being scouted by other teams that may want the Yankees to unload a bit of their catching depth. If the Yankees are, indeed, willing to part with Cervelli, his two home runs on Wednesday can only help boost whatever they might be able to bring back in return. The fact of the matter is that there doesn't seem like a place for five catchers on the 40-man roster all season and the Yankees have to find ways to boost their infield if they have the chance.
Another competition that has been full of guys hitting as well as anyone can hope is the battle for the open utility infielder role. Dean Anna, Yangervis Solarte, and Scott Sizemore are all vying for a spot on the team with minor league candidates like Jose Pirela also having an extremely strong showing two weeks in. Solarte has been the best hitter in camp to this point and Pirela has done nothing but hit all offseason. Versatility on the diamond from both players can only help their chances. Anna has the luxury of already having a spot on the 40-man roster, which goes a long way when the Yankees have shown real reluctance in the past to ditch a player in favor of clearing room.
Ichiro Suzuki is likely slated to be the fifth outfielder when the team heads north, but nothing about his spring so far has shown that he's really earned the spot. Outfielders like Zoilo Almonte and Adonis Garcia have played well in camp to this point, but it seems unlikely that either one would be able to play well enough to wrestle a near-guaranteed spot away from the veteran. There's always the unlikely chance that the Yankees find a team in need of an outfielder that is willing to take Ichiro off their hands, but it sounds like they have been trying to unload him for a while without any luck so far.
The Yankees made another round of cuts on Wednesday with Slade Heathcott and Gary Sanchez being assigned to minor league camp. Sanchez wasn't going to start with McCann in place and Heathcott hadn't been able to make it into a game so far this spring while continuing to recover from offseason knee surgery. Tyler Austin has also been kept out of spring training games to this point with an injury to his wrist, but it sounds like he is progressing toward being able to get on the field at some point soon.
Which players do you think have played well enough to improve their chances of making the team since spring training began? Can any of the hot-hitting newcomers manage to hit well enough to take a job from a veteran favorite?