Mar 5, 2014; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Yangervis Solarte (89) singles during the fourth inning Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Shane Spencers of Spring Training

Remember him? Shane Spencer? 1998 September and October? It’s fine if you don’t. Spencer was a 28th round pick in 1990, and made his major league debut in 1998, at the age of 26 after several seasons toiling in the Yanks’ farm system. Spencer absolutely exploded, hitting 10 homers in 27 games, with a .373 average. He seemed poised for a great career, especially after winning the World Series that season. Sadly, he never was able to repeat that greatness, never batting above .282 (he still won two more titles over six more seasons, though).

Multiple players have started March hotter than Texas in the summer. The chances that most of them are making the team? Very slim. With only twenty-five roster slots, and only half of those for offense, maybe one person will start the season in the Bronx. Here are a few candidates for a potential spot. Of course, there are several other players, but I am just focusing on three of them.

Feb 25, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Yangervis Solarte (89) is congratulated by teammates after he scored a run during the fourth inning against the Florida State Seminoles at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yangervis Solarte-The strongest player so far. As of March 10, Solarte was batting .588 with 10 hits and 6 RBI. Plus, what makes him more enticing is his position flexibility; he can play second base, outfield, and third base. His story compares to Spencer’s, as Solarte was signed as a free agent out of Venezuela in 2006 at age 18, and at 26, has not yet made his big league debut. If he continues his scorching spring, it would be very difficult for the Yankees to option him down to Triple-A, or lower. But Yaisel Puig hit .517 before the 2013 season, and failed to begin his season in Los Angeles. With that said, Yangervis Solarte definitively deserves a roster spot.

Jose Pirela- Pirela is an up-and-coming middle infielder. He has good speed, with 19 swipes in Trenton last season. His power is decent, with 10 homers in 2013, and one this Spring Training. He is a respectable hitter, yet his .438 average is surely an aberration to his career mark of .267. However, the 24-year-old Pirela probably won’t make the Yankees at first. With Derek Jeter, Brendan Ryan, Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Eduardo Nunez, and maybe Solarte in New York, the infield becomes very crowded. Most importantly, Pirela has showcased his talents to the team, and know they have a potential starter at shortstop once Jeter retires.

Dean Anna- Another super-utility guy like Solarte. A 26th round pick out of Ball State in ’08, Anna had played in the San Diego Padres system at nearly every possible stop. He peaked last season, batting .331 with 38 doubles at Triple-A Tucson. He doesn’t strike out much, and has a propensity for walks. So far, his 2014 has been solid, with a .357 average and four walks in 18 plate appearances. Yet, his strikeouts are high, at 5 so far. The sample size is really small, as an 0-for-5 slump drops his average by 94 points. However, the team seems to think highly of Anna, and is a dark horse candidate to snatch spot #25.

Hopefully these guys aren’t just “flash in the pan” players and continue producing, but there is still a good ten games until Opening Day, and they have to keep their performances up. Either way, all of the athletes are exciting to watch, and will eventually make their way to the Show.

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Tags: Dean Anna Jose Pirela New York Yankees News Prospects Spring Training Yangervis Solarte

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