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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 1/27/23

Three Yankees on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list as Volpe is fifth; Wells wants to stick at catcher; Yanks’ offseason leaves them with two question marks; King vows to be ready for Opening Day

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MLB: All Star-Futures Game Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Pipeline | Jonathan Mayo: The wait is over: MLB Pipeline published its top 100 prospects list, and there are several Yankees on it. Shortstop Anthony Volpe, the first 20-50 player in minor league ball since Andruw Jones in 1995, is number five.

His scouting report is glowing but points out one important question mark: defense. “Volpe’s work ethic and instincts continue to allow him to get the most out of his physical ability. His solid speed and aggressive nature on the bases led to 50 steals in 57 attempts last season. The lone question is whether his finely tuned internal clock can help him stay at shortstop with average range and arm strength (albeit with a quick release) that may be better suited for second base.”

Outfielder Jasson Domínguez is 47th, and Peraza is 52nd.

The Athletic | Chris Kirschner: For quite some time now, a portion of the fan base and even some experts have been forecasting a position change in Austin Wells’ future. They don’t expect him to remain a long-term catcher. The player, however, insists that he “wants to be an All-Star catcher” and wants to prove the doubters wrong.

“It’s basically been that (way) since before I got drafted,” Wells told the Athletic (subscription required). “There’s always been that doubt and there’s still that doubt. I feel like continuing to prove that I can play the position at a higher level is the goal, and not necessarily because of what other people say but because I want to be the catcher of the New York Yankees.

Wells hit 20 home runs in three minor league stops in 2022. He reached Double-A and excelled there with a 129 wRC+.

NY Post | Jon Heyman: The Yankees brought in improvements in several parts of the roster, but “unfinished business” in two specific positions leaves them with a few question marks as we head to the 2023 season. A hectic start to the offseason has stalled out of late thanks to other players finding new homes and the market constricting, and now the Yankees are mostly looking internally to see if there will be some shakeups to the lineup.

Heyman explains how the Yankees’ failure to upgrade the roster at shortstop and left field pave the way for some spring training battles. He notes that while Aaron Hicks and Isiah Kiner-Falefa enter as the favorites to hold onto their roles, the lead is slim and in particular Oswald Peraza has a good chance of winning the shortstop job.

The Athletic | Brendan Kuty: To this point, it has been believed that valuable right-handed reliever Michael King wouldn’t be ready for the start of the season and could miss a few weeks of the 2023 campaign. The pitcher himself, however, told Kuty that he anticipates being ready for Opening Day. King missed the final two and a half months of the 2022 season due to a fractured right elbow. He broke out with a 2.29 ERA with a 33.2 strikeout percentage and is one of the most important relievers on the roster.