Continuing our look at what the Yankees are working with heading into the 2015 draft, today's post looks at the corner infield depth within the minors. The Yankees have players locked into multi-year deals at the corner infield spot at the big league level for at least the next couple years with Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley. Two of their top 10 prospects also happen to play first base and third base, respectively. Whether they eventually force their way into the big leagues or end up as eventual trade bait remains to be seen.
There isn't a lot in the way of corner infield prospects at Triple-A for the Yankees with Kyle Roller and Cole Figueroa getting most of the reps at first and third for the RailRiders. Roller has shown some impressive power, but his concerning strikeout totals and advanced age keep him from being seen as a real long term option. His defense is also no better than the guy you stick at first base because he can't really hack it anywhere else. Figueroa is more about the glove than the bat, but he's closing in on 28 years old next month. He's just stash away organizational depth.
Double-A is where the potential and hopeful future lies at the corner infield spots. Greg Bird at first base and Eric Jagielo at third base represent the Yankees' current best chances of replacing Teixeira and Headley with a homegrown product. Bird's impressive bat has him ranked among the top 3 in the system, appearing on most Top 50 lists from this offseason. His lefty swing is perfect for Yankee Stadium, and his patience at the plate is already fantastic. The issue with Bird has been a balky back that caused him to move from behind the plate to first base in the first place. He's currently on the disabled list with a shoulder strain but should be working toward a return fairly soon. If he can stay healthy and keep hitting the way he has, he should be Teixeira's replacement in two years. Jagielo was regarded as a fast mover when he was drafted out of Notre Dame in 2013. Questions about his defense and ability to stick at third base haven't evaporated, but he has been very impressive with the bat so far this season at Double-A. He leads the Eastern League in home runs, which is an impressive feat when playing half your games at spacious Arm & Hammer Park.
Mike Ford and Matt Snyder man first base for High-A Tampa. Miguel Andujar is Tampa's regular third baseman. Andujar has received a lot of praise for his ceiling, but his error total last year with the RiverDogs was a bit alarming. He's second on the team so far in 2015 with 13 errors behind only Tyler Wade. Snyder has been Tampa's best hitter so far with a .371/.468/.494 batting line in 24 games. Ford has also hit well for himself after a strong season a year ago. Only Andujar can match the prospect status of a Bird or Jagielo, and even then he's not as far up the lists as his Double-A counterparts.
Charleston has Connor Spencer at first base and Allen Valerio at third base. Spencer is, by far, the most promising of the two. Through 36 games this season Spencer is batting .289/.395/.339. He has yet to hit a home run in his career as a professional, but he hit very well in half a season last year with the Staten Island Yankees. In addition to Valerio, Renzo Martini has also played some third base for the RiverDogs, though he has also had similarly uninspiring results to this point.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest hope at corner infield depth lies at Double-A. That's where a large chunk of the team's top prospects are being held right now. There is a lot of reason to be hopeful about Jagielo's brilliant start to 2015 and the near-universal praise that Bird has received from nearly anyone who is willing to hand it out. The path for Bird to make the majors is wide open with Teixeira's contract expiring in the not-too-distant future. Jagielo might have a bit harder of a road with Headley in the way and questions about his defense looming, but he'll be playing somewhere before long if he keeps hitting the way he has to this point.