As a deep freeze hits most of the country, many baby Bombers have been playing baseball down in various winter leagues throughout the warm weather of the Caribbean. Here is an update on some of the New York Yankees’ best performing youngsters.
Garcia, 28, may be one of the Yankees’ oldest prospects, but has made significant progress since joining the minor league system in 2012. Most recently, he spent time with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. This winter though, he has been playing with Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League.
In 53 games, Garcia is batting .325 with eight home runs and 39 RBI. The one thing that can be a bit worrisome is that he has struck out 30 times, and has only been walked seven times. One can easily wonder if Garcia is a free-swinger, or just has less-than-perfect plate discipline.
Whatever the case is, Garcia has shown this winter that he at least deserves to be looked at in Spring Training. While he will more than likely begin the season back in Triple-A, his age and performance could either warrant him a trade to a team that could use him, or an eventual call-up to the Bronx.
This winter has been the debut of Wheeler in the Yankees’ system, as prior to this, he has been in both the Milwaukee Brewers’ and Baltimore Orioles’ systems since 2007. He is playing for Algodoneros de Guasave of the Mexican Winter League.
In 63 games, Wheeler has an average of .268 with 11 home runs and 41 RBI. Throughout his time in various minor league systems, Wheeler has never been a player who hits for average – his usefulness comes in his power numbers. As a third basemen, it will be interesting to see if the Yankees give him an extended look in Spring Training as a utility player – especially if Alex Rodriguez is suspended.
Yankees fans should be familiar with Almonte by now, as he has spent time with the big league squad. In the injury-filled 2013 season for the Yankees, Almonte was given some opportunities to play the outfield. As a .236/.274/.302 slash line tells us, he struggled in the 34 games he spent in the major leagues.
However, while playing for Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League, he is batting .316 with four home runs and 20 RBI. His slash line also looks much more attractive at .316/.343/.454. It’s easy to say that the type of play in that league is nowhere near what it is in MLB, but his numbers definitely look promising. Expect him to be in the mix for a roster spot right out of Spring Training.
Surprisingly, many Yankee pitchers playing Winter ball haven’t put up any noteworthy numbers. In fact, the best pitchers that the Yankees currently have playing in the Caribbean might very well be Pat Venditte, who is 1-0 with a 4.82 ERA in 10 games. Although he is very young and hasn’t played above Double-A, fans might also want to watch for Manny Barreda, who is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in eight games.
Expect to see many of players currently playing in the various winter leagues to get looked at during Spring Training.