As spring training winds down, beat writer Chad Jennings recently spoke to Mark Newman, the Yankees vice president of player development, about a few prospects. He touched on some injury reports and potential assignments to begin the season.
Tyler Austin: Recovering from a wrist injury, Austin took part in a simulated game and will soon play in a full game. He's expected to primarily play right field, but the Yankees want him to spend time at third to improve his versatility. It's good to see him ready to play in games after spending so long fighting with a bone bruise.
Greg Bird: After an amazing 2013 season, Bird will not be healthy enough to break camp with the Tampa Yankees. He has been shut down with a lower back injury, something that led to his transition from a catcher to a first baseman in the first place. It doesn't sound too serious, but it's enough to keep him in camp for at least a little while.
Anderson Feliz: The Yankees second baseman has not played this spring because of a strained flexor muscle in his elbow. This is the second elbow injury he has suffered after he underwent surgery last season, though, as Newman says, "this is different." The 21-year-old right-handed batter played for the High-A Tampa Yankees in 2013 before going down for the year.
Slade Heathcott: After undergoing offseason knee surgery, Heathcott has still not played in a game this spring. According to Newman, he's been taking batting practice and has started running, but he won't be ready for Opening Day. He's not expected to miss too much time, but that's not exactly encouraging from a top prospect.
Ty Hensley: 2012 first-round pick Ty Hensley hasn't been able to pitch because of hernia surgery he underwent this past season. Newman expects him to be another three or four weeks before he can throw again. That means he won't be breaking camp with any minor league team and we still have to wait another month or two before he returns to minor league games.
Ronnier Mustelier: He didn't get an invitation to spring training, but it's not likely he would have been able to play even if he did. The Man Named Musty suffered a hamstring injury after playing in Mexico and the Dominican Republic during the winter. The injury wasn't exactly why he didn't get an invitation, so the Yankees still don't see much in him anymore.
Jose Ramirez: On his way back from another oblique injury, Ramirez is playing catch, but has yet to pitch in a game. In an effort to keep him healthy, the Yankees will move him to the bullpen, where they think he can move quickly and be very effective.
Nik Turley: After feeling tightness in his throwing arm, Turley has still not pitched in minor league camp. Right now it's unknown how long he will be out. It didn't seem too serious at the time, but maybe it's something to start worrying about? We'll see.
Abiatal Avelino: The system's top shortstop will start the season out in Low-A Charleston after he spent 2013 in rookie ball and Staten Island.
Ian Clarkin: The 2013 first-round pick will play for Low-A Charleston at some point in the season, but he will likely start off the year in extended spring training to build up some innings. After only pitching in five rookie-ball innings, this is very aggressive for a draftee out of high school. Newman appears to be impressed by him, so maybe he's more advanced than we think. It will certainly be interesting to watch.
Eric Jagielo: The Yankees' first pick in 2013 might start the season at High-A Tampa, even if Dante Bichette is still there. It's clear that they don't value Bichette that much anymore, so Jagielo will move through the system whether he's in his way or not.
Aaron Judge: The other first-round pick will likely start the season in Low-A Charleston, but Newman said they considered starting him out in High-A. To me, that would have been rather aggressive for him. I see him as more of a project than someone who should shoot through the system. They need to unlock his power before they can expect him to move up.
Bryan Mitchell: After spending time in big league camp, he will remain in Double-A after pitching three games there in 2013.
Tyler Wade: He will remain in extended spring training before he returns to Short Season Staten Island. It's unfortunate that he's stuck behind Avelino because both are very talent shortstop prospects.