I’ve been fortunate to have been granted access to Yankees Spring Training this year, and it’s given me a different take on how the minor leaguers that are invited to Spring Training games are treated by the media. That said, the media will only write about those top prospects like Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez that will draw clicks and ad revenue, so they have reason to treat minor leaguers that way. But we like to discuss the lesser-known players here; we’ve been writing about many of the players noted here since they’ve been signed. After all, who knows if some 2022 UDFA that no one’s talking about now (except us, of course) will become the next Kyle Higashioka playing for the United States in the WBC in a few years.
In this article, I’ll go around the horn and pick 10 prospects (8 position players and 2 pitchers) that are exceeding expectations this year (and some you’ve probably heard a lot of). Today, we’ll discuss the 1-5 positions.
Starting Pitcher: RHP Deivi Garcia
Deivi has looked like a completely different pitcher this Spring compared to what we’ve seen the past few years. He threw a 6.89 ERA between AA Somerset and AAA SWB last year with a WHIP of 1.44 but has thrown a 2.45 ERA this Spring with a WHIP of 1.09 in 7.1 IP. Obviously, it’s a small sample size compared to what he’ll throw in the regular season, but everything in Spring Training is a small sample size.
We can compare his recent performances to his last outing of 2021, which is the last one with StatCast data. Garcia is showing a little bit of a lower arm slot, almost to a ¾ slot. This is the direction that the Yankees are leaning towards because they’re saying there’s research showing that when throwing side-arm or nearly side-arm, there’s less strain on the arm (leaning towards less chance of TJS or other injury). This slot is also conducive to throwing the Yankees’ whirly pitch, or sweeper as StatCast shows. Garcia’s velo is also up a touch on his four-seamer, with that pitch topping 97 MPH vs. a previous high of 93.6.
That said, Garcia also had a successful Spring in 2022, but was not as successful during the regular season so only time will tell if any improvements have been made in the offseason.
Reliever: RHP Ron Marinaccio
A fan favorite having grown up locally in Toms River, NJ, Marinaccio has only allowed a hit, and has hit and walked a batter in 3.1 innings of work so far this Spring. Marinaccio held a 2.05 ERA with the Yankees last year in 44 IP, before leaving a game in October due to injury.
His changeup and slider both have considerably more vertical break compared to last season, and his arm slot has changed very slightly higher compared to last season. Marinaccio’s performance isn’t as much of a concern as Garcia’s, but small changes could have huge ramifications during the regular season.
Catcher: Carlos Narvaez
Narvaez was the biggest surprise to be named as a non-roster invitee given he’s only gotten up to High-A ball, but choosing him ended up being the right thing given the injuries to Josh Breaux and Austin Wells. Fortunately for Narvaez, he has a greater OBP and slugging percentage than MLB Plantium Glove recipient Jose Trevino (.167/.389/.667/1.056 for Narvaez compared to .267/.353/.467/.820 for Trevino) in a similar span. While Trevino has only hit 1 home run, the grand slam in the Spring home opener, Narvaez has 2 homers: a solo shot and a 2-run blast.
Now that Trevino is also out briefly to an injury and Higashioka and Team USA moving on in the WBC, Narvaez and AAA catcher Rodolfo Duran will see more playing time. Duran is the better blocker, but Narvaez has shown that he has the better bat between the two.
First Baseman: Andres Chaparro
If you followed the AA Somerset Patriots at any point last year, Andres Chaparro’s performance this Spring should be no surprise to you. The surprise should be how much he’s trimmed down since last year which should help his agility and speed. Chaparro didn’t seem to lose any muscle however since he’s been absolutely cranking out the home runs. As of publishing date, 4 of Chaparro’s 9 hits have been home runs, and he’s driven in 11 runs on those 9 hits.
Chaparro is also taking a few more pitches per plate appearance which could be a part of his success, but he’s been progressively turning out more quality at-bats over time. There was a time in 2021 where he was batting just over the Mendoza line and had struck out in nearly 1/3 of his plate appearances. Chaparro missed most of last June and July last year but came back better than ever, posting his best full month slash line to date last August: .324/.383/.608/.991. Chaparro is a better defender at first base, although he’s spent nearly triple the time at third compared to first.
Second Baseman: Jesus Bastidas
Bastidas is another prospect that really burst onto some radars last year after winning an MiLB Gold Glove. Bastidas is a defense-first prospect, but still has a decent bat considering the level he was at last year. Bastidas had a slash line of .240/.323/.427/.750 in 111 games with AA Somerset in 2022, but has a considerably weaker stat line for Spring Training. Bastidas has driven in 7 runs on 3 hits in 23 plate appearances this Spring and has only struck out 4 times.
The Yankees have played him at 2B, SS and 3B in MLB Spring Training and aside from being perfect in 35 total chances and 55 innings, he’s also turned 6 double plays.
You must be logged in to post a comment.