Murti: 10 Most Intriguing Yankees As Spring Training Opens

Can Cole Live Up To Hype? Can Others Stay Healthy?

Sweeny Murti
February 12, 2020 - 8:35 am
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Here are my 10 most intriguing Yankees at the start of spring training.

1) GERRIT COLE

Gerrit Cole joined the New York Yankees this offseason.
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

This one is pretty obvious. Got the big money, now has to prove he’s worth it. He won’t do that in February or March or even April. But it’s the beginning, and you want to see that he not only looks good now but is also comfortable embracing his new status as the ace of the Yankees.

2) LUIS SEVERINO

Also pretty obvious. 2019 was a lost year for Severino. He has the ability to regain his status as a top pitcher in this game. Now he can do it without the pressure of trying to be the team’s No. 1 guy. Still a lot of potential here, and remember, he doesn’t even turn 26 until next week. For some context as to how much good baseball is potentially still in front Severino: Jacob deGrom made his major league debut when he was one month younger than Severino is now.

3) GIANCARLO STANTON

Just play. Too many injuries last year and not enough time on the field. His 2018 was a disappointment to some, but 38 homers and 100 runs batted in look pretty good in comparison to 2019 when he only played 18 games. Another player who won’t really prove he’s worth it in these early months. But a solid and healthy spring will help get him off on the right foot.

4) AARON JUDGE

Aaron Judge is seen during workouts on Oct. 2, 2018, one day before the 2018 American League wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.
USA TODAY Images

Also needs to play more. Not to the same extent as Stanton, but remember when everybody dreamed about Judge and Stanton hitting 50 home runs apiece? I tried to warn you about that. In two seasons as teammates, they’ve combined to hit 95 home runs. They don’t need to break records, but to see them in the same lineup for 130 or more games would be a good start.

5) GARY SANCHEZ

If you want to reverse the 2019 storyline of the injury-riddled Yankees, it means the star players need to stay on the field, and Sanchez is another one of them. In 2019, Sanchez turned in his second 30-home run season in the last three years and improved on his blocking skills, but he still has been short of putting the whole package of health, offense, and defense together. This is a big year for Sanchez, as he begins to creep closer to free agency and the Yankees begin to consider what they want to look like three years down the road.

6) GLEYBER TORRES

It is hard to expect more from Torres, but the move to shortstop full-time in place of Didi Gregorius is the reason he’s on this list. Torres is a fun player to watch, but he has been prone to some bad spells in the field. Those lapses need to be cleaned up as he moves to the higher leverage position and assumes more of a leadership role in the infield. As for a good start to the regular season? Remember the Yankees open the season in Baltimore.

7) MIGUEL ANDUJAR 

The Yankees' Miguel Andujar celebrates his RBI single during the 13th inning against the White Sox on Aug. 7, 2018, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.
USA TODAY Images

There will be a lot of talk about Andujar trying to gain versatility at first base and the outfield. None of it matters if he doesn’t hit like he did in 2018. And after missing all of last year with a shoulder injury, it’s not a given that he hits right out of the gate. Andujar is a big leaguer for sure, but it might take more than a month of exhibition games to knock the rust off, so a trip to the minors isn’t out of the question if Andujar struggles in Florida.

8) JORDAN MONTGOMERY

The injury to James Paxton opens up a rotation slot that Montgomery should be able to grab. Coming back at the end of last season meant a winter of rest, not rehab. There is a lot to like about seeing Montgomery get a shot at that fifth rotation spot. 

9) DEIVI GARCIA 

A lot would have to go wrong with the rest of the Yankees pitching staff if Garcia were to make this team out of spring training. But this is a great opportunity to see what the Yankees’ top pitching prospect can do in his first major league exhibition games. 

10) THAIRO ESTRADA 

With rosters expanding to 26, the last spot on the team likely goes to the multidimensional Tyler Wade. But Estrada is also a guy who can push for that last spot depending on the rest of the roster construction, so it will be worth seeing how he plays this spring. 

Spring training is finally here. Happy New Year, everyone! Be sure to listen to my reports from Tampa on WFAN all spring.

Follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN.

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