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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 5/18/22

Gleyber’s improved defense is not going unnoticed; Waldichuk makes a jump; Yankees continue to win when they mash home runs; Gallo addresses the boos; A feel-good story for the ages.

MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Yankees Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports | Brendan Kuty: Coming into this season, Gleyber Torres looked lost at the plate and in the field, and he didn’t really help his own cause when he got off to a slow start at the dish after back-to-back down years. While it’s been clear over the last little while that his bat appears to be coming around again, he’s also impressing his teammates in another, perhaps unexpected way: with his defense. He made a huge play in Monday night’s 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles that was lauded by manager Aaron Boone as the “play of the game,” and his teammates are taking note of his improvements on the defensive side of the ball. It’s still early, but Gleyber’s development in the field might be a narrative to pay attention to over the course of the season. | Brendan Kuty: We’re double dipping on Brendan Kuty content here, but for good reason: the Yankees have promoted top pitching prospect Ken Waldichuk to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre! In 28.2 innings pitched for Somerset this season, the lefty has fanned a ridiculous 46 batters next to just 10 walks en route to a 1.26 ERA and 2.31 FIP. Armed with a dynamite fastball and a couple breaking balls, Waldichuk is one of the most intriguing pitching prospects in the organization, and it’s going to be exciting to see how far he can climb this season. | Bryan Hoch: By now, everyone knows that offense in baseball is in serious jeopardy. Batting averages are at career lows, and the deadened ball has been messing with some hitters. Luckily for us fans, the Yankees employ some particularly large human beings who are capable of hammering the baseball, and that’s exactly what they’ve been doing all season long. Even Jose Trevino got in on the fun on Monday night, a win that encapsulated everything this team hopes to accomplish this season. The Yankees have set a torrid pace for themselves in the early going, and a big reason for their early success is their propensity for dingers. Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton all find themselves near the top (or, in Judge’s case, at the top) of the league-wide home run leaderboard, and it appears that Josh Donaldson and Joey Gallo’s power bats are starting to come around too. If they’re able to keep hitting the ball like this, the sky is the limit. | Randy Miller: Despite turning it on at the plate over the last couple weeks, Joey Gallo’s Yankees tenure has not gone the way he nor the organization expected. As a result of his struggles at the plate, he gets booed. A lot. In a pre-game discussion, Gallo addressed the strikeouts, the boos, the analytics, his approach to hitting, and his lack of contact hitting, suggesting that he’d love to be able to make contact like DJ LeMahieu but has to play to his strengths, not someone else’s. He also talked about his own personal development, the fact that he tries to make adjustments at the plate every single year, the shift, and more in this genuinely frank and open discussion.

ESPN | Ryan Hockensmith: We all need a little feel good story every now and again, right? Back in March, 11-year-old baseball fan and aspiring card collector Elyjah Blankenberg, nicknamed “DJ” by his baseball coach for his ability to play all over the field and hit every pitch that comes his way, lost his binder full of signed baseball cards at a Yankees spring training game. Twitter, sometimes not the worst place on the internet, got a hold of Elyjah’s story, courtesy of a heartfelt post from his mother, and the story began to spread like wildfire on social media. Now, nearly two full months later, Elyjah has received so much assorted sports memorabilia from strangers on the internet that he was able to redecorate his entire room with it. The prized possession amongst his new collection? A DJ LeMahieu baseball card and a baseball signed by the machine himself.