Yankees Roll into Spring Training Early
As the calendar flipped over to February, a majority of us Yankees fans have begun counting down the days, hours, minutes and even the seconds until players arrive to Spring Training down in sunny Tampa, Florida.
Sure it’s Super Bowl Week, (Let’s Go Broncos!), but a majority of us cannot wait to hear the sound of fastballs hitting leather mitts and the crack of a hard-hit line drive in batting practice.
However, certain players have already made their way down to Florida to begin workouts.
According to the Associated Press, a total of eight New York Yankees have already checked into the teams training facility at George M. Steinbrenner Field to get an early start on spring training.
The list of players includes;
LHP CC Sabathia
The veteran CC Sabathia, who according to Ryan Hatch of NJ.com has already thrown a bullpen from flat ground for Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild. The 35-year old veteran is reportedly ‘light-years’ ahead of his normal workout routine and he’s expected to pitch with a brace around his knee in 2016 like he did over the final month of the 2015 season. Ironically, Sabathia is 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA while using the brace – so hopefully the results carry over.
RHP Luis Severino
Also down in Tampa is rookie phenom Luis Severino, who is expected to start 2016 in the Yankees starting rotation. Last season the 21-year old right hander went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts with the Yankees after getting called up in September. Severino told Dan Martin of the New York Post that he expects to be bigger and better in 2016;
"“I think this year I’ll be better than last year, I’m working on my breaking stuff, and my command is gonna be good. I’m already working harder than I did last year to get ready because I know what I have to do to pitch in the majors.”"
LHP Andrew Miller
After winning the 2015 Mariano Rivera Award as the top reliever in the American League, Andrew Miller is set to start the season as the eighth inning set-up man to the newly acquired Aroldis Chapman. However, it’s unclear whether or not Chapman will miss a portion of the season, as he’s still waiting to hear from commissioner Rob Manfred in lieu of his off-field domestic violence issues, meaning Miller might get some early work as the Yankees closer early on.
RHP Bryan Mitchell
It’s interesting to see Bryan Mitchell in camp this early. In my opinion, the Yankees will probably have Mitchell compete with the $4.1 million dollar man Ivan Nova in Spring Training for the sixth rotation spot/ long-reliever role out of the bullpen. In 2015 Mitchell struggled in his two spot-starts with the Yankees, going 0-2 with a 6.37 ERA before getting smoked in the head by a come-backer off the bat of former Yankee Eduardo Nunez.
Down in the minors in 2015 was a different story for Mitchell, as he pitched to a 5-5 record with a 3.12 ERA in AAA. I’m excited to see what Mitchell brings to the table in Spring Training.
Utility Man Dustin Ackley
Dustin Ackley was the Yankees lone acquisition last season before the MLB Trade deadline, and he is now their most versatile bench player. Ackley can spell a majority of the Yankee veterans when they need and off-day, as he can play first, second and both corner outfield positions. I wouldn’t put it past the Yankees to try him out at third base this spring either. Combine his versatility with his left-handed power bat that should fair well with the short porch in Yankee Stadium and Dustin Ackley can be a deadly weapon for the Yankees off the bench and in pinch-hit situations in 2016. Look for the Yankees to use Dustin Ackley the same way they did Martin Prado a few years back.
Prospects Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge and Mason Williams
It’s unusual to see prospects arrive to camp early, but when you’re two of the organizations top prospects like SS Jorge Mateo and OF Aaron Judge, than you can understand why.
The Yankees are expecting big things from 23-year old Aaron Judge, who is expected to get called up this year by the Yankees if all things go according to plan down in Scranton this season. In 2015 the towering 6-foot-8 Judge smoked 20 home runs across AA Trenton and AAA Scranton, but he still has some work to do before getting the call to the bigs.
Jorge Mateo is still at least two years away from making the Yankees, but his electrifying speed will certainly be on display during Spring Training. Last season the 20-year old shortstop stole a total of 82 baseball, which topped both the minor and major leagues by far.
Next: Black History Month: The Top African-American Ball Players in Yankees History
Mason Williams was called up to the Yankees last June to fill in for an injured Jacoby Ellsbruy and he actually hit a home run in his first big league game. Unfortunately he lasted just eight more games before going down with season-ending shoulder surgery. At 24-years old the clock is starting to click on Williams, and the Yankees bringing in Aaron Hicks doesn’t really help his case very much. It’s crucial that Mason Williams leaves a lasting impression on the Yankees this spring.