Ever since the Baby Bombers came up to the big leagues, Yankee fans have gotten used to seeing young players flourish on their roster. So many prospects they've called up have gotten the job done on the big stage. Some have become All-Stars, while others become solid role players.
The list of young stars stretches on; Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Gleyber Torres, Dellin Betances. All near the top of their game, and none over 27 years old. What the Yankees and their fans have to realize, though, is that those players represent the cream of the crop. On this Thanksgiving, we should all be thankful for those prospect success stores, because not everyone pans out.
Take the tale of Greg Bird. Bird has had a long and frustrating stint with the Yankees. As bad as he seemed at times, there were other times where you did see the legit talent in Bird. Who could forget the home run off of Andrew Miller in the 2017 playoffs? Or his scorching summer during his rookie 2015 season? Yankee fans probably thought they had their first baseman of the future at various points during Bird’s tenure.
And yet, it is now November 2019, and Greg Bird is a free agent after the Yankees released him last week. He appeared in just 10 games last season, and has managed a feeble 80 OPS+ across the past three years.
At times, scouts viewed Bird as the best pure hitter of this young group, but unfortunately, he could never get out of the rehab facility. Bird represents a case that fans simply aren’t accustomed during this era of Yankees baseball. He had ability and prospect pedigree, and just didn’t pan out.
Chance Adams is looking like another prime example of this phenomenon. Adams was ranked as one of the top Yankees pitching prospects over the past few seasons. He has made a single start and a handful relief appearances in the big leagues to this point, but he has not amounted to anything. In 16 appearances over two seasons, his ERA is at 8.18. His ERA has ballooned near five in Triple-A each of the past two years. He doesn’t really profile as big-league material at this point.
Over the next five or so years, the Yankees will have another crop of young talent attempt to claw their way up to the Bronx. Those players include recent draft picks Anthony Seigler and Anthony Volpe. Star international prospect Jasson Dominguez will hopefully be knocking on the MLB’s door in a few years. Maybe even next season we’ll get to see guys like Deivi Garcia or, finally, Estevan Florial.
Given the Yankees’ remarkable success during virtually every period of the franchise’s history, fans understandably have high expectations. Expectations of prospects are also high given the success the Baby Bombers have had. All that said, players like Bird have to give fans and the team pause. Not every talented player clicks.
On this Thanksgiving, be thankful for family and friends, and in baseball terms, be thankful for this exciting group of young players, as well as the coaching staff that’s helped them mature at the big-league level. Remember that it’s not a given that such young players will pan out. The Yankees have an elite group of homegrown talent, but it should not be taken for granted.