Tyler Wade is a great guy to talk to. Honest with answers to questions. Introspective about his play and what he needs to do to establish himself and advance in the Yankees system.
And having just turn 21 this past Nov. 23, the Murieta, Calif., native is still young, He has time to improve.
On the other hand, with fellow shortstops Jorge Mateo and Abitatal Avelino, who have shown better ability at the plate, and Thairo Estrada, another position-mate who is a year younger and poised for his first full-season action after playing well at Staten Island in 2015, Wade is in a bit of a tough spot.
And don’t forget 2015 first round draft pick Kyle Holder, another shortstop.
Wade faces a critical season in 2016. A fourth-round selection by the Yankees in the 2013 draft. he will return to Double-A Trenton this season and hope to get his game back together. Wade, who admitted he was pressing both offensively and defensively, must show he can be effective both at-bat and in the field at the Double-A level starting next spring.
“I was pressing,” Wade, who played 29 games with Trenton in 2015, said “I’m thinking a lot more about my game, looking to smooth things out in the field.
“That is my goal as long as I am in Trenton.”
When Wade is at his best, as he was at Charleston in 2014, when he batted .272 (138-for-507) and showed evidence of being a smooth fielder with athleticism while taking advantage of an injury to Avelino. He stepped up offensively with 24 doubles and 51 RBIs in 129 games. He committed 20 errors, certainly not an outlandish amount for a 19-year-old in the South Atlantic League,
His 2015 season was uneven. In 98 games at Class-A Advanced Tampa, he batted .280 (103-for-368), with some questioning why an earlier promotion to Trenton was not in order. In yet another case, defensive play was overlooked as he piled up 24 errors in those 98 games.
That may have been due to pressing, as Wade admitted, but, in 29 games with the Thunder, he appeared overmatched by Eastern League pitching, batting just .204 (23-for-113) and striking out 24 times. In addition, in 28 starts at shortstop for the Thunder, he committed seven errors.
Wade deserves another chance at Trenton because, to be honest, it is not easy for a 20-year-old in the Eastern League, facing some pitchers with big-league experience and dealing with the difference in the speed of the game. If a player is scuffling defensively, as Wade was in 2015, the transition to Double-A is that much tougher.
Given the Yankees system’s shortstop depth, Wade must take a step forward in 2016 as he did in 2014 at Charleston. He also can’t make an error every four games. He also must hold his own at the plate, which is expected, since he had a taste of Double-A in 2015.
His challenges are major. In addition to working on his own game, Mateo, Avelino, Estrada and Holder are on his tail. There is a chance Mateo could reach Trenton in mid-2016. Does Wade establish himself, or does he move to second base or become part of a trade?
He is the master of his Yankees future.