For players who are invited to spring training without a guaranteed place on the roster the next four weeks represent their time to impress enough people to earn a job. We got to see the hard work pay off last season when Yangervis Solarte unexpectedly wrestled away the final roster spot from Eduardo Nunez after tearing the cover off the ball all camp long. Can any of the players in camp this year do well enough to follow that same path?
It's hard to use less than a full week's worth of statistics to make any real statements about anyone's chances, but we'll see how things play out over the next four weeks. Brendan Ryan's status for Opening Day is already up in the air, making it possible that one lucky infielder will get a chance they wouldn't have otherwise. Mostly this is just a fun exercise to keep track of how those players who aren't handed a spot do between now and when they are ultimately sent back to minor league camp or reassigned elsewhere.
As always, here is the legend we used.
Keep in mind that all spring training players are not created equal. Some can bat 1.000 and still won't have a spot on the team while another could pick up one hit before the team heads north and would still have a spot on the Opening Day roster. The reality of each player's situation is taken into consideration in their ranking.
The biggest takeaway here is that some of the young prospects have really done well in their first week of big league camp. Aaron Judge obviously had the huge ninth inning home run against the Phillies to tie the game, Greg Bird has shown off his highly touted hitting skills with three extra base hits in just four games, and Rob Refsnyder has reached base in more than half of his trips to the plate. It's been a while since the future has looked so bright, and none of those guys are even that far away from the big league level at this point. Refsnyder could be looking at a starting job later this season if Stephen Drew falters. The bat looks every bit as good as promised so far. Even prospects that have fallen out of favor with fans and the organization like Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott have gotten off to fairly nice starts in camp.
Backup catcher presents the biggest battle of the spring. John Ryan Murphy should get the job and is obviously more qualified for the job, but Austin Romine is out of options and the Yankees always seem hesitant to risk losing a player they aren't able to send down. Hopefully the team does the right thing and allows Murphy to have the job, since I have little doubt that he will out-hit Romine this spring. Still, there's an outside chance the team could send Murphy to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start every day and use Romine on the bench in New York.
Just like last spring training, Brendan Ryan is hurt again and could miss Opening Day. It seems like Jose Pirela would be the favorite to play infield backup in Ryan's absence, and he's gotten off to a hot start in camp to make that probability rise even more. Being on the 40-man roster already certainly gives him a leg up over guys like Nick Noonan if Ryan isn't healed up enough to start the season on time. Ramon Flores and Tyler Austin are two outfield prospects that would likely be among the first to get the call if someone like Carlos Beltran missed time with an injury. Flores has hit well in camp to this point, but won't be able to land the job as the fourth outfielder over Chris Young. Austin has the advantage of being more regarded as a potential big league starter than Flores before his stock kind of dropped due to injuries and some ineffectiveness. It seems as though the wrist injury likely responsible for some of that has finally fully healed after Austin was able to put on a show in the second half of last year. He'll likely be heading to Triple-A to start the year, but he would likely get the call if a starting outfielder is needed in the Bronx for whatever reason.
Do you think anyone in camp has the potential to be this year's Solarte? Which players have the best chance of improving their stock over the next few weeks?