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The state of the shortstop position in the Yankees’ organization

Two prominent top prospects are starting to hit their stride in the high minors, but others are having a hard time getting going after roughly a month of baseball.

MLB: MAR 18 Spring Training - Yankees at Pirates Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Yankees, infamously, elected to pass on the five big free agent shortstops during the offseason. Whether it was because of their high price tags, the team’s faith in their internal options, or a little bit of both remains to be seen, but they brought in Isiah Kiner-Falefa via trade, plugged him as the starter and never looked back.

A big part of their decision, of course, was the presence of some premier blue chip talent at the shortstop position within the organization. After the first month of the 2022 campaign, the overall state of the position is probably better than imagined after missing out on the five high-profile targets, although it could certainly be better. Let’s check on the internal options available throughout the system, including the major leagues, and how are they doing so far in the 2022 season.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa (MLB)

The Yankees’ starting shortstop has been analyzed at length: he is not an offensive star by any means, but he’s combined a solid glove with slightly above-average offense (so far). He is slashing .295/.329/.372 with a 108 wRC+, better than what was expected of him, and he has achieved career-highs in several metrics to this point.

Whether or not he can maintain a similar level over the course of the season is to be determined, but his good performances have bought the Yankees some development time for Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, and other shortstops in the system.

Oswald Peraza (Triple-A)

If we look at the season numbers, Peraza is not off to a particularly promising start in Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. He is slashing .219/.296/.356 with a 78 wRC+ in 81 plate appearances, with a couple of home runs and five stolen bases.

Now, if we dig a little deeper, we may find out he is starting to get on a rhythm at the plate. Since April 28, a span of six games, he is hitting .375/.423/.583 with a dinger, two doubles, and a 1.006 OPS.

Peraza needs to string together more games like this, as the Yankees need a much bigger sample of Triple-A success to deem him ready to contribute in MLB.

Oswaldo Cabrera (Triple-A)

While Cabrera has played most of his games at second base with 11, he has also appeared seven times as a shortstop in Triple-A this season and is a member of the organizational depth chart as a realistic option there.

He has really struggled so far, though. He has 86 plate appearances and has struck out in 30.2 percent of them. He has a home run, but also boasts a disappointing .192/.259/.359 line and a 64 wRC+. He has one hit in his last 20 trips to the plate. Overall, he is yet to come close to the form that put him on the map last year, in which he hit 29 round-trippers between Double-A and Triple-A.

Anthony Volpe (Double-A)

The Yankees’ number one prospect, like Peraza, seems to be starting to figure things out as of late. Since April 23, he is slashing .235/.378/.412 with an 8/8 BB/K ratio, a 123 wRC+, and a .790 OPS. He has a homer and five stolen bases over that span.

For the season as a whole, he is slashing .187/.333/.373 with three homers and 10 stolen bases. Overall, his numbers are a slight disappointment considering the otherworldly expectations he set last year, but the jump from the low minors to Double-A is significant. If he closes the year at a similar level to the one he displayed last year, it will be a win for the Yankees, but it may take him some time to get there.

Trey Sweeney (High-A)

Sweeney, the Hudson Valley Renegades’ starting shortstop, is known for his bat rather than his glove. He is thriving at the plate, with a .250/.339/.539 line, four doubles, a triple, three homers, and a solid .878 OPS in 13 games and 48 plate appearances.

His 130 wRC+ is right in line with the 133 mark he achieved last year with the Tampa Tarpons, so he has adjusted to the level smoothly. He has three doubles and a homer in his last four games, and could be a fast-riser if he keeps this up.

Alexander Vargas (Low-A)

Vargas, the Tampa Tarpons shortstop, is off to a horrid start, with a .171/.225/.293 line and a .517 OPS. His 51 wRC+ is not what you want, but at least the two home runs and five stolen bases are a nice silver lining.

He has a lot of work to do if he wants to keep developing. He has shown some signs of life in his last two games, though, with three hits (including a home run and a double) and two walks with no strikeouts.