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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 5/5/23

Yanks look ahead to challenge at Trop; Jones a breakout name?; Bauers reflects on comeback homer; Lange among improved MLB pitching prospects; Curry talks Duque

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Tyler Schank/Getty Images

New York Post | Mark W. Sanchez: Yesterday, the Yankees got to breathe on an offday for just the second time in about the span of a month. But now they have to contend with MLB’s best team thus far: the 26-6 Rays, who as Aaron Boone points out, have done basically everything well in 2023. They’re clobbering opponents while also limiting the opposing damage on offense, and their pitchers are probably licking their lips at getting to face the Yankees’ lineup in its current depleted state — especially at home in the Trop. | Jonathan Mayo: Don’t click away because the headline focuses on another prospect; this is a mailbag article with Mayo from MLB Pipeline. One of the questions asked was: “Do you see Spencer Jones as a potential breakthrough star in the minors this year for the Yanks?”

Mayo responded with his thoughts at the end of the article and expressed confidence in the 2022 first-round pick’s power and hinted that he could be a Top 100 prospect soon. The main issue, as expected, is whether the 6-foot-6 outfielder will be able to refine his approach at the plate and cut down on his strikeouts to at least a tolerable level.

WFAN | Ryan Chichester: Any win is a good one, but Wednesday was an especially sweet one for Yankees newcomer Jake Bauers. The former Top 100 prospect got to actually hit in his “mulligan” Yankees debut following an injury-shortened cameo last Saturday, and he went deep for his first MLB homer since September 19, 2021. After spending all of 2022 in the minors, the 27-year-old echoed rookie Anthony Volpe by saying that it felt like he “blacked out” while running around the bases on the blast. Here’s hoping that the Triple-A slugger has more bombs in his bat in the meantime, as the Yankees’ offense could really use a surprising boost like the kind that Bauers might provide.

Baseball America | Geoff Pontes: This one’s behind a paywall, so apologies if you can’t read it but this is why we’ve stuffed the news with several other nuggets today. If you are subscribed to BA, then allow me to point you to this rundown of 10 MLB pitching prospects who have demonstrated a serious improvement in command early in 2023. Low-A Tampa Tarpons pitcher Justin Lange is mentioned in the batch, as his fastball, high-80s cutter, and “sweepy slider” have really caught some eyes (like Andrés’).

New York Times | Jack Curry: Yes, it’s Curry in the Times, and no, you haven’t entered a time warp! Well, that’s only sort of true. It’s a bit of cross-promotion for his new book about the 1998 Yankees but instead of a true excerpt, Curry discusses one of the most interesting characters: Orlando “El Duque” Hernández. With quotes from Jorge Posada, David Cone, Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Brian Cashman, and the man himself, it’s a great look back at what made him so unflappable and charismatic in that incredible season.

MLB Trade Rumors | Darragh McDonald: Catcher Robinson Chirinos has announced his retirement. An 11-year MLB veteran whose professional career dates all the way back to June 2000 when the Cubs signed him out of Venezuela, Chirinos came up with the Rays in 2011, spent the majority of his career with the Rangers, and went to the World Series with the 2019 Astros. He contended for the Yankees’ backup catcher role in spring training 2021 and ultimately reported to Triple-A Scranton, where he played 13 games before the Cubs brought him back in a major league role. Chirinos got back to The Show for one more season with the O’s in 2022 and has now hung up his gear for good.