Most Disappointing New York Yankees Players in Spring Training so Far

Kenny DeJohn@@kennydejohnAnalyst IIIMarch 18, 2014

Most Disappointing New York Yankees Players in Spring Training so Far

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    There has been much to like over the first several weeks of spring training for the New York Yankees, but there have also been some performances that have been incredibly disappointing.

    The point of spring camp is to get started on the right foot for the regular season. Sure, it takes some guys a little while to get back in the swing of things, but even then it's hard to explain some of these slow starts.

    Sample sizes are often the first argument made against spring training numbers. To that I say, the numbers indicate a trend. If a player's slump extends long enough, it might be impossible for him to get his numbers back to where they should be.

    I don't care how small a three-inning sample size is. If the pitcher had trouble getting outs and allowed 10 hits in those three innings (as a reliever that pitches an inning a game), something just isn't right.

    The following five players have, in my opinion, been the most disappointing Yankees in camp.

John Ryan Murphy, C

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    The Yankees wanted to showcase their catchers this spring in an effort to gain some interest in their wealth of backstops. Unfortunately, really none of them (outside of Francisco Cervelli) have performed very well.

    John Ryan Murphy falls into that category. Over 24 at-bats, he is hitting just .083/.120/.208 with one home run and five RBI. Overall, he has collected just two hits.

    Murphy was considered to be in contention for the reserve job when camp began. It's safe to say that, barring an injury to somebody ahead of him on the depth chart, Murphy will begin the year in Triple-A.

    The problem is that Austin Romine will likely also begin the year there. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle that situation. They can't put one down to play in Double-A because that's where top prospect Gary Sanchez is. Eventually, he'll also be in Triple-A.

    This isn't a bad problem to have, as quality catching prospects don't come around very often. I still expect the Yankees to make some kind of trade with one of Romine or Murphy before the season starts.

    Their value has gone down significantly, though. Especially Murphy's.

Peter O'Brien, C

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Peter O'Brien is another Yankees catching prospect that few people know about.

    He has played just two years of professional baseball and owns a career line of .266/.321/.498. He isn't the most reliable at the plate, but you can do far worse than that triple-slash line.

    Actually, he has proven this spring that you can do far worse.

    In 15 at-bats, O'Brien has yet to record a hit. He walked once and scored a run, but the most disappointing thing is that he has struck out nine times in those 15 at-bats.


    O'Brien has never played past High-A ball in Tampa, so expect him to head back to Single-A this year to earn some more experience. He hit 22 homers and drove in 96 last year split between Single-A and High-A, so he has potential.

    He just needs more experience in the pros.

Derek Jeter, SS

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    Arnulfo Franco/Associated Press

    I'm really not worried about Derek Jeter's spring training failures, but there are definitely some fans out there that will point to his struggles in camp as a reason why he won't succeed in 2014.

    In 30 at-bats, Jeter is hitting just .133/.212/.167 with three walks, four hits and eight strikeouts. His timing simply isn't there.

    And that's understandable. Jeter hardly played in 2013 after multiple injuries to his leg and ankle, and they say timing in the box is one of the last things to come back.

    Luckily for Jeter, he doesn't need to perform well in the spring. He'll be entrenched at the shortstop position as long as he's healthy. He appears healthy right now, and that's the most important takeaway from the spring.

    Fans looking for a resurgent Jeter in his last season will just have to wait until the team breaks camp and heads to Houston. It would be Jeter-esque for him to finish off his career on a high note.

    He doesn't need spring numbers to prove that.

Robert Coello, RHP

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Robert Coello is the pitcher I briefly alluded to in the introduction of this slideshow.

    In three innings of work as a reliever, Coello has allowed 13 runs (11 earned) on nine hits, four walks and two hit batsmen. He clearly isn't comfortable on the mound right now.

    Coello was signed in January with a chance to compete for a spot in a bullpen that had plenty of holes to fill. There still are a few holes to patch up, but Coello likely won't be part of the solution—at least for now.

    Look for him to spend part of the season in the minors before the Yankees even think about giving him a call. He needs to get comfortable and work on that control. Issuing six free passes in three innings is not what you want to see from a reliever (or any pitcher, for that matter), and allowing nine hits presumably means that he is working behind in counts.

    Three innings isn't a ton of work for a pitcher in the spring, but it's obvious that something is wrong here. This is where sample sizes can be thrown out the window. There's a trend with Coello, and it's not a positive one.

Preston Claiborne, RHP

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Preston Claiborne presumably has a spot locked down in the bullpen, but he hasn't done so based on spring performance. Manager Joe Girardi will hope for the Claiborne of 2013.

    The 26-year-old right-hander has allowed 10 hits in 5.2 innings. He hasn't walked anybody and has struck out five, but the fact that he has been so hittable this spring is a cause for concern. His WHIP of 1.76 is extraordinarily high.

    The law of averages would suggest that Claiborne will eventually go through a dominant stretch to even out his numbers, but I'm not entirely convinced. He allowed 51 hits in 50.2 innings in the bigs last season.

    That's obviously far better, but he still allowed more than a hit per inning (though, barely). Claiborne doesn't rely on dominance. He is a hittable pitcher that relies on weak contact. When hitters are squaring him up, however, there's really not much that the defense can do behind him.

    He needs to get in a rhythm before camp breaks. In a weak bullpen, he will be relied upon heavily by Girardi.

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