Predicting 2017 for the Yankees’ Sophomores
Torreyes finally earned substantial playing time last year with the Yankees. Torreyes was originally signed by the Cincinnati Reds as an international free agent in 2010. He then bounced around three more organizations, before the Dodgers traded him to the Yankees with Tyler Olson in exchange for Rob Segedin. Torreyes appeared in 72 games, slashing .258/.305/.374. There are not high expectations for Torreyes going into the season, as Headley is returning as the everyday third baseman. It is unlikely that Torreyes goes on a torrid tear, but do not be surprised to see an improvement, as he gets the chance to work with hitting coach Alan Cockrell more.
Chad Green stepped into 2016 and contributed in different ways for the Yankees. He started eight games and recorded a save, while accumulating a 4.73 ERA over 45.2 innings. The Detroit Tigers drafted Chad Green in the 11th round of the 2013 draft, and traded him to the Yankees in 2015 along with Luis Cessa (see below) for Justin Wilson. Green hurt his elbow in September, and did not pitch again for the rest of the year. If Green is fully healthy, the Yankees should expect him to continue to develop and serve as a spot starter/reliable bullpen arm for the 2017 season.
Luis Cessa, acquired in the Chad Green trade, played an important part in 2016. Cessa appeared in 17 total games, (starting nine of them) while earning a 4.35 ERA. Originally signed by the New York Mets in 2008, Cessa remained in their farm system until he was part of the package deal for Yoenis Cespedes. Cessa, like Green, should continue to develop in his second season and become a stronger bullpen option for Joe Girardi.
Rob Refsnyder is a name that many Yankee fans are familiar with. Drafted in the fifth round in 2012, Refsnyder sped through the Yankees’ farm system and reached AAA in just two years. However, the Yankees had Stephen Drew as their everyday second baseman in 2015 (for some reason), which left Refsnyder in the minors. Drew played horrendously, batting .187 during his time as a Yankee, and still ranks as one of Brian Cashman’s worst decisions. Last year, Refsnyder appeared in 58 games, seeing time at first base, second base, left field, and right field while hitting .250. Refsnyder will likely serve as the utility man for the Yankees, so expect to see him often at a variety of positions. It is unlikely that Refsnyder overtakes Castro or Gardner for a starting role this season. However, Refsnyder will continue to improve, and likely force the Yankees to start him.
Tyler Austin’s significant moment came on August 13, when he hit a home run off Matt Andriese in his first major league at-bat. He showed flashes of power, hitting five home runs in 31 games last season. Unfortunately, Austin suffered a broken foot, and likely will not see action until after Opening Day. However, Austin has a very promising future with the Yankees. If he can earn more playing time than Chris Carter once he returns, he will play a significant role going forward with the organization. Expect to see Tyler Austin around for a long time.
Luis Severino, formerly the top prospect in the Yankees’ organization, is an interesting case. As a prospect, fans hoped he would become their bona fide ace and carry them back to prominence. Last year, Severino struggled — finishing with a 5.83 ERA. However, there are positives to this story. Severino is only 22 years old, and possesses a 97 mph fastball. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild is a veteran of the industry and knows how to help young pitchers. Severino will likely require more patience than some of the other Baby Bombers, but in a few years will become a recognized name around the baseball world.
Aaron Judge exploded out of the gate last season. I remember watching his first at-bat, and just thinking “wow” as the ball sailed over the fence. However, Judge did not finish strong — pitchers quickly realized that a 6’7 hitter has a very large strike zone. Judge struck out in over 44% of his at-bats, and finished with a .179 batting average. Judge is a physical monster, but has to adapt his game to his frame. Do not be surprised to see Judge in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season as he attempts to develop into a complete hitter.
Gary Sanchez provided something last year that none of the other aforementioned rookies did — hope. Sanchez absolutely tore up the major leagues, smashing 20 home runs in record time. The Kraken finally got playing time, after spending over six years with six different minor league times. The Yankees signed Sanchez when he was a 17-year-old kid, and it paid off in a major way. Gary Sanchez is going to become one of baseball’s best catchers, and that time will be here before you know it.
· Aaron Judge gets demoted to AAA ball at least once.
· Gary Sanchez does not repeat his outstanding performance from 2016, and instead experiences a sophomore slump, spending more time at DH than the Yankees intended.
· Luis Severino finds his form, as a reliever.
· The Yankees sell at the deadline again, trading Brett Gardner and Chase Headley for a few mid-level prospects, but finish with a worse record.