The New York Yankees have plugged up a hole at second base with the signings of Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts, but these are one year solutions. Kelly Johnson may work for a second year, but unless something drastic changes in his abilities he shouldn’t be in a starting role for more than this year. So what can the Yankees do to alleviate their middle infield dilemma? Yes, actually develop talent from within. Though not known for their farm system, the Yankees have two options at second base that may make it to the major league level in the next couple years.
Angelo Gumbs is a 21 year old prospect drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft. Gumbs is a strong prospect with a great scouting report, but he still needs to be able to put it all together on the field. He has a strong arm that may translate him into a future shortstop if need be. Additionally, he is a quick runner with great instinct for hurrying out of the box. Statistically, he took a step backwards in 2013, hitting .213 with a .969 fielding percentage. He has a sub .300 career obp and averaged a strikeout a game last year. While it may sound like Gumbs is struggling at the single A level, the Yankees have put him through a lot of changes, mainly moving him to second base from shortstop and the outfield, that will take time for him to adjust to. Patience at the plate will come with maturity, and his undeniable speed will carry him through to higher levels of competition.
The other Yankee prospect I am very excited about is Gosuke Katoh. Katoh was drafted in the second round in 2013 by the Yankees straight out of high school in California. He’s a skinny 6’2″ player with an arm built for second base. Katoh is the definition of raw talent. He hasn’t grown into himself, yet his defensive skills at second base look as natural as a ten year vet. Defensively, I would have no problem with him starting at the big league level as early as this year. On the offensive side, he hit a stellar .310 in his first season in the Gulf Coast league. While we need to see how his hitting holds up as he moves up the minor league levels, he has clearly established himself as a serious potential everyday second baseman for the big club. 2014 will answer a lot of questions about Katoh. Expect to see him move quickly from A to AA to AAA.
In the last decade, the Yankees have depleted their farm system and used it as trade pieces, rather than as a place to develop potential starts to join the pinstripes. However, the Yankees now have not one, but two serious candidates to solidify a position that has just been vacated by the league’s best second baseman. Two or three years from now, we may be looking at the Yankees farm system actually producing the way we saw in the mid 90s.