As it is now January, Spring Training is literally right around the corner. Obviously, we’re going to see all the Yankees there, but who are some of the “new” faces we could see in Tampa come February? On the hitting side, there are quite a few.
Behind the dish, the Yankees are pretty much stacked. Even with guys like Gary Sanchez, J.R. Murphy, and Kyle Higashioka very far away, there are still two very exciting catchers we’ll likely see with the big club.
The first is obviously Jesus Montero. This one really goes without saying and there isn’t much of a point explaining why he should be in the Major League camp. He was recently called the best hitter in the minor leagues and has incredible power potential.
Though he’s only reached High-A ball, we could very easily see the California born Austin Romine in the Major League camp. Defensively, he’s solid and he’s also got a good bat with good power potential. The only area that could stand to see a good deal of improvement is his plate discipline. His OBP fell from .344 to .322 in 2009; however, it’s worth noting that his IsoD (OBP minus BA) was .002 points higher in 2009 than it was in 2008 and his walk rate went up from 5.7% to 6.0%. Perhaps some work with Kevin Long and the other big league coaches–and players–could help him improve those numbers even more.
Around the infield, there are three guys we’ll definitely see: Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Russo, and Reegie Cornoa. In 2009, Nunez, along with Ramiro Pena, impressed last year in Major League camp and, for the third straight season, improved his numbers. In his first season with AA Trenton, Nunez hit .322/.349/.433/.782 and added 19 steals. Maybe he’s finally living up to the good numbers he showed as an 18 year-old with Staten Island back in 2005.
Kevin Russo has a chance to be the 2010 version of Ramiro Pena. While he may not be as slick a fielder as Pena, his bat is definitely better. He’s never hit for much power–his SLG is only .403–but he’s shown good on base skills, with a .360 on base percentage and a 7.7% career walk rate. He, along with Cornoa, was recently added to the 40 Man Roster.
Cornoa split time between Trenton and Scranton in 2009, struggling in his time in the International League. Despite that, the Yankees added Reegie to the 40-Man and he’s had an impressive showing in the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting .315 with a .435 OBP and a .482 SLG.
Rounding out the infielders is the powerful Jorge Vazquez. After posting slugging percentages no lower than .605 in the Mexican League from ’05-’08, the Yankees brought Vazquez on for 2010. Upon reaching Trenton, Vazquez absolutely mashed. He posted a .935 OPS in 57 games before an injury stopped his season. The .249 IsoP from the Mexican right hander is hard to ignore, and let’s hope he gets a long look in ST.
The last position player we could see is Colin Curtis. Despite posting a below-.700 OPS between Trenton and Scranton, the Yankees are likely impressed with how well Curtis hit in the Arizona Fall League. He OPS’d 1.203 in his time with the Surprise Rafters and though the AzFL is a notoriously hitter friendly league, those numbers are impressive.
I hope we see all of these guys with the Yankees when they head to camp in Tampa. It’s always nice to see the “little” guys show their stuff against the big guys in Spring Training. If nothing else, they could give us reason to follow their progress in the Minors this year and track them all the way to the Bronx when the time comes. Tune in tomorrow for the pitchers edition!
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