It’s unlikely that both Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte will be with the Yankees when the regular season begins on April 1st, but both infielders have caused the big club to notice them with their play this spring. Anna has hit a solid .375 (6-16) with 4 walks. Solarte has had an unfathomably hot start to his season, hitting .611/.650/.944 (11-18) with 2 home runs, 6 RBI, and has only struck out twice.
Though neither player will have a starting job with the Yankees when the season opens, they have positioned themselves for future consideration.
The Yankees have already announced that Brian Roberts will be the starting second baseman on Opening Day and have made it clear that the plan at third base is to have a platoon with Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez. Of course Derek Jeter will play shortstop and Mark Teixeira will be the first base. The question becomes, who will back them up?
Derek Jeter will turn 40-years-old in June and has already announced that 2014 will be his final season. It is still unknown how his ankle will hold up over the course of the season. Though Brendan Ryan is the apparent backup option, he doesn’t provide much offensive production at all. If the Yankees want a better hitting backup at any point during the year, both Solarte and Anna can play shortstop. Though Solarte is better in the field as his range factor/game in 20 games at shortstop in 2013 was 4.25 (0.12 points above the Major League average).
At second base, Brian Roberts is about as fragile as anyone and hasn’t had a healthy season since 2009. On top of all the injuries, he’s now 36-years-old and the amount of baseball he has left in him is unknown. There is no reason to believe things will change for the better in 2014, so the Yankees will need a fill-in. Both Anna and Solarte had their best fielding percentages and range factor/game at second base in 2013.
Solarte hit .276/.323/.403 with a career high 12 home runs, 31 doubles, 39 walks, and 75 RBI (another career high) at Triple-A Round Rock in 2013.
Anna had a sensational 2013 for Triple-A Tuscon, batting .331/.410/.482 with 9 home runs, 38 doubles, 5 triples, 61 walks, and 73 RBI.
Both played in the Pacific Coast League last season.