Just because it's the offseason doesn't mean there isn't baseball being played. Unfortunately, we can't watch any of it, but we can gaze upon the box scores and drool (or choke). The Dominican Winter League has come to an end so we can now look back on how the Yankees performed while we have been all cooped up and shivering.
Zoilo Almonte led the way among all Yankees playing this winter. In 174 at-bats, he hit an impressive .316/.343/.454 with four home runs and 20 RBI. He managed to steal six bases while getting caught only twice. He hit well overall, but he struggled with his patience, striking out 36 times against only six walks. On top of that he committed four errors in the field. It's nice to see Almonte go on a solid tear this winter, but the strikeout problems might be the most telling.
2014 Outlook: Now that the Yankees have signed Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, there won't be much expected from Almonte. The 2014 outfield, as of right now, will consist of Ellsbury, Beltran, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Alfonso Soriano. If something changes, Almonte could compete for a spot in spring training. He'll start in Triple-A if he isn't moved to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
The newest addition to the Yankee system, Dean Anna only got into nine games while the Padres were trading him. He hit .235/.316/.294 with two RBI in 34 at-bats. He also struck out seven times against four walks and he committed two errors in the field. Seeing how utterly useless their minor league call ups were, it made sense for the Yankees to add someone who can play everywhere and hit decently enough.
2014 Outlook: The Yankees acquired Anna as a potential utility player on the major league roster or for solid depth in Triple-A. With the coming roster crunch he could get designated for assignment or he could be kept in Triple-A in case of an emergency. Either way, it's unlikely that they would give a 27-year-old career minor leaguer a spot on the team straight out of camp.
The guy who might find his spot on the roster in jeopardy thanks to the addition of Anna, Eduardo Nunez, got into only five games this offseason. He collected three singles in 20 at-bats and still managed to commit an error.
2014 Outlook: The Yankees seem to be done with Nunez on the heels of another disappointing season. Brian Cashman finally admitted he is likely more of a utility infielder than anything else, but his offense doesn't make up for his lack of defense. It's possible that he gets designated for assignment soon, but will probably just be stashed in the minors until someone gets injured.
The Yankees' top prospect, Gary Sanchez, didn't get much playing time as he only played in a total of 12 games. In 28 at-bats he hit a mere .179/.258/.214 with two RBI and no home runs while striking out nine times and walking three times. It would have been nice to see what Sanchez could have done if he was given the chance to reach 100 at-bats.
2014 Outlook: Given the long line of catchers in front of him, Sanchez will start the season in Double-A. Now that the Yankees have Brian McCann, they won't have to rush their top prospect, who is still only just 21 years old. He has plenty of time to work out his defense and adapt to the upper levels of the minors before he needs to show himself in the big leagues.
After a roller coaster season, Francisco Rondon only got to pitch in two games over the winter. He gave up three hits and three walks while striking out two in 2.1 innings pitched. It would have been nice to get more from him to see if he could continue the success he found in 2013 after he failed as a starter and was designated for assignment.
2014 Outlook: Prior to the signing of Matt Thornton, it looked like Rondon and Cesar Cabral were the two most likely in-house candidates to compete for a job as the left-handed specialist out of the Yankee bullpen. Now Rondon could remain in Double-A with Cabral waiting in Triple-A just in case.
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