Winter Spring is coming.
It is almost time for baseball to return, and like in recent years, the Yankees have plenty of questions heading into spring training this season. The new wave of promising prospects will make their first appearances in Yankee uniforms (unfortunately, they will be forced to don the disgusting new pinstripe-brimmed caps) soon. We will all be standing by paying close (probably way too close) attention to what kind of first impressions the Baby Bombers provide for Joe Girardi and the Yankees’ coaching staff.
The most prominent story arch of the spring will be what it usually is, only it may carry some extra weight with fans this time around: which promising youngster will have us the most excited about the regular season to come? After an unforgettable 2016, Yankees fans everywhere are excited to see Gary Sanchez swing a bat again. Sanchez cooled down as the 2016 season came to a close, but the hype over the young catcher certainly did not.
Sure, there will be those who panic if Sanchez doesn’t arrive in Florida hitting bombs every other at bat, and there will be those who throw a parade if he does go on a hitting tear that is reminiscent of this past August. That’s spring training for you. Me, I look forward to just seeing Sanchez in action again.
Many eyes will also be drawn towards Greg Bird and Aaron Judge, and playing close attention to how they look in spring training. Bird is coming off major surgery and should be treated with patience. Despite missing all of last season, first base is his position to lose. Like Sanchez, it will be great to see him back on the field playing alongside the rest of the promising prospects that have Yankees Universe buzzing.
Bird and Tyler Austin will be sharing reps at first base, while Judge will be looking to solidify his right field spot over Aaron Hicks. Spring training is usually a time of overreaction and premature conclusions, but even I must admit that I am curious to see how Judge is handling breaking balls when the tarp comes off the field for the first time this spring.
Other young newcomers that won’t be on the roster come April but are still going to be garnering plenty of attention are Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, both who highlight the non-roster invites to spring training this season. Torres, one of the top-ranked prospects in baseball, is sure to be a reason to watch some baseball this March, as the 20-year-old gets his first taste of major league pitching. Justus Sheffield, James Kaprielian and Chance Adams also received invites, and Jorge Mateo will be there as part of the 40-man roster. The youngsters will offer Yankee fans their first glimpse of what the team received as a result of their summer fire sale.
Onto the pitcher’s mound, which is currently littered with question marks. Luis Severino will begin his journey back to being a reliable starter, and close attention will be paid to the development of his changeup. Severino pitched well in spring training last season, and we all know how that turned out, so I will be trying to keep my emotions in check regardless. Still, with much of the rotation still to be determined, it will be an intriguing story line to follow.
What I will be keeping in mind this spring is the fact that the purpose of these game are to prepare and shake off the rust. Nothing that happens in March can be seen as the ultimate truth. It will be fun to watch such an exciting group of young players with tremendous potential, but with emphasis on the word young. Still, it’s baseball again, so I’m pumped up.