Last night, the Yankees lost Starlin Castro to a right hamstring strain. He suffered the injury while running out a groundball down the first base line. While the severity of the injury remains to be seen, losing Castro for any period of time hurts. Over 313 plate appearances, the Yankees second baseman has hit .313/.348/.486 with 12 home runs. That works out to a potent 121 wRC+. Those numbers will be tough to replace.
In lieu of Castro’s injury, the Yankees called up utilityman Tyler Wade from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Wade, the team’s 11th best prospect per MLB.com, will make his major league debut. While he doesn’t come with the same gravitas as Gleyber Torres, Wade’s a good prospect. He figures to add a level of excitement to the roster by virtue of his status as a homegrown player, the latest arrival in the parade of Baby Bombers.
What makes Wade interesting, however, is that his game profiles differently than other recent farm system graduates. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and, to a lesser extent, Tyler Austin are known for their power. Wade’s calling card, however, is versatility and speed. Much of his value is bound up in his ability to play a number of different positions. While it’s safe to assume he would take over duties at the keystone, he could also play shortstop, the outfield, and third base. He gives the team a number of possibilities in terms of defense.
As for the offense, some of Wade’s most significant contributions come on the basepaths. In 70 games with the RailRiders this season, he’s stolen 24 bases. Last season, he swiped 27 bags across 133 games. Wade could add speed to a lineup that has grown one-dimensional over the last two months. Brett Gardner traded stolen bases for home runs, and Jacoby Ellsbury missed significant time with injury. A legitimate speed threat could go a long way to diversify the Yankees’ offensive profile.
This is not to say that Wade is without power. He’s hit five home runs this season, tying his career high set last year. His 45.3% groundball rate is the lowest of his career, while his 34.7% fly ball rate is the highest. This indicates he’s hitting the ball with more authority. Plus, he’s nearly five years younger than the average Triple-A player. Even if his power numbers aren’t great, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that will improve.
In a sense, Wade could fill the role that we envisaged for Rob Refsnyder. He’s a super-utilityman with speed and some pop. That’s not a future star, but a very useful player to have on the roster. The Refsnyder experiment didn’t work out largely because he can’t adequately field a single position. That doesn’t seem to be an issue as far Wade is concerned. Yankees fans have clamored for a player of this profile for a few years now. Now might be the best chance to see one stick.
There’s no sugarcoating the Castro injury as the Yankees lost another one of their top hitters. The team will be hard-pressed to replace his offense. That said, the injury opens the door for Wade, an exciting prospect in his own sense. His versatility and speed make him an interesting player, and that budding power leads one to believe there’s plenty of room to grow. A team could do a lot worse than Wade as a replacement.