Breakout Performances from New York Yankees' First Two Weeks of Spring Training
Spring training is where fans and the upper management can get familiarized with some of their teams' lesser known talent. The New York Yankees have received a ton of production from such players this spring.
It'll probably be awhile before we see any of these guys crack the 25-man roster, though there is an outside shot that one or two will find their name on the final roster this season. It all depends on how long they can stay hot.
The real test will be later on in the spring. As the spring schedule progresses, major league hitters and pitchers stay in games longer. If the young unknowns can take advantage of their opportunities when they arise, they'll definitely impress manager Joe Girardi and his coaching staff.
It's been just two weeks, however, and these are the numbers that are already popping out of the box scores. Keep an eye out for the following players until the team breaks camp and heads to Houston to take on the Astros on Tuesday, April 1.
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Some guys just didn't make the cut for the top five. That being said, their efforts are worth noting.
Cesar Cabral, LHP
Cesar Cabral has been nearly flawless this spring. In 4.1 innings, he's allowed just two walks and a hit while striking out four. Opponents are hitting .077 against him. His relative lack of innings pitched is what kept him out of the top five.
Yoshinori Tateyama, RHP
Reliever Yoshinori Tateyama has been even more dominant over 4.1 innings. The right-hander from Osaka, Japan has allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out five. Unfortunately for him, Tateyama really has no shot at making the team out of camp.
Jose Gil, C
Sure, it's only been seven at-bats, but Jose Gil has hit well. He has three hits and one walk over that span, resulting in a line of .429/.500/.429. Given the fact that he had no hits in 10 at-bats last spring, his 2014 production has come as a bit of a surprise.
Dean Anna, 2B
Dean Anna has lived up to the hype through 14 spring at-bats. He's hitting .357/.500/.357 with five hits, one RBI and a stolen base. Given the fact that he led the Pacific Coast League in hitting last season with a .331 average, the Yankees might be relying on him later on in the season if Brian Roberts gets injured.
Yangervis Solarte, 2B/SS
9 G, 17 AB, 10 H, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO, .588/.632/.941, 1.573 OPS
Yangervis Solarte has been the best hitter in camp thus far. Yes, that's right. He has been better than Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and everyone else.
The 26-year-old has been raking early on. Despite coming into camp as a minor league journeyman who had previously spent time with the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers, Solarte has thrust his name into the discussion for the utility infielder's role.
Brendan Ryan is essentially guaranteed a spot given the contract he signed this winter, so the final spot will come down to the likes of Eduardo Nunez, Scott Sizemore and Solarte.
Sizemore has also performed well, picking up two hits (one double) in five at-bats. That is far too small a sample size for him to make the roster, though. Solarte, on the other hand, is clearly on fire at the plate.
It will probably take some really poor performances from here on out by Nunez and Sizemore for Solarte to beat them out, but I don't think anybody would be surprised if it happened.
Adonis Garcia, CF
10 G, 16 AB, 7 H, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 3 SO, 2 SB, .438/.438/.500, .938 OPS
Adonis Garcia, 28, only has two years of professional experience in the United States. Before signing with the Yankees, he posted relatively strong numbers in Cuba.
After posting mediocre numbers in the minors over the past two years, Garcia has turned it on this spring. He doesn't have a ton of power, nor does he have any extraordinary physical tools. Standing just 5'7", Garcia really doesn't have a particularly high ceiling.
Couple in the fact that he's already 28 years old and has virtually no chance at cracking the 25-man roster, and Garcia has the look of a lifetime minor leaguer.
That doesn't make his spring production any less impressive, however. Now is a good time to start making a name for himself, and maybe this is a sign of big things to come from him in 2014.
Jose Pirela, 2B
10 G, 16 AB, 7 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SO, .438/.438/.688, 1.125 OPS
You might be able to throw yet another name into the fire behind Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte should Brian Roberts go down with some sort of injury in 2014—something that has happened to him each of the past four seasons.
Jose Pirela, 24, has flashed power and the ability to cover the strike zone this spring, though that's really nothing new for the second baseman. In seven career seasons in the minors, Pirela owns a line of .267/.337/.381 with 35 homers.
He also has good speed, evidenced by his 35 career triples and 95 career steals.
Pirela made it up to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre for five games last season, picking up seven hits in 23 at-bats. He probably needs a little more seasoning before getting the call to the bigs, but there's a chance he competes with Solarte and Anna for the full-time second base job in 2015.
For now, that's what Pirela should be focusing on.
Chris Leroux, RHP
4 G, 6.0 IP, 1 SV, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 SO, .190 AVG, 0.67 WHIP
Chris Leroux was signed this winter as a non-roster invitee to potentially compete for a final bullpen spot, and he has done well thus far. What makes the 29-year-old appealing to the Yankees is that he has some professional experience. Michael Axisa of River Ave Blues breaks it down:
Leroux, 29, spent last year with the Yakult Swallows in Japan, pitching poorly (26 runs in 22 innings with a 14/11 K/BB) before a shoulder injury ended his season. He dominated in winter ball (2.76 ERA and 16/3 K/BB in 16.1 innings) and spent the 2011-12 seasons as an up-and-down arm with the Pirates.
This is the first spring training of his career in which he hasn't performed terribly. He pitched to a 2.08 ERA through 4.1 innings in 2010 in the then-Florida Marlins camp, but that was a very small sample size. He has posted an ERA of at least 4.91 in every other year (disregarding his first spring camp, in which he posted one scoreless inning).
Even if he doesn't make the team out of camp, Leroux will remain an option in the minors for the Yankees. I have a feeling there will be a ton of bullpen shuffling early on. Jose Ramirez, Robert Coello, Mark Montgomery, Vidal Nuno and others will likely all be getting their calls at some point this year.
Fred Lewis, LHP
4 G, 4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 SO, .133 AVG, 0.69 WHIP
Fred Lewis doesn't have a huge sample size compared to some of the other pitchers in camp, but the lefty reliever is making a name for himself. Chad Jennings of The LoHud Yankees Blog reports that he has already caught the attention of Joe Girardi: "He’s a guy that you’re not going to worry about putting him against right-handers...he gets a lot of ground balls."
The 27-year-old has been in the Yankees system since 2010, his first as a minor leaguer. He made it to Triple-A for the first time last season, though he made just one scoreless appearance while there. If he doesn't make the Yankees, that's likely where he'll end up.
The chances of him making the bullpen aren't great, but the fact that he has already impressed Girardi is worth noting. Girardi loves going to his bullpen, and having confidence in guys early on in spring training is something that he'll remember as the season goes on.
Plus, Matt Thornton will likely need another left-hander in the bullpen to spell him from time to time. Vidal Nuno and Cesar Cabral will also be competing for that spot, but Lewis might already have the upper hand.