Yankees Working to Increase Versatility of Young Crop of Shortstops
The New York Yankees have begun working some of their vaunted group of shortstop prospects at new positions this offseason to increase their versatility.
One of the clear strengths of the New York Yankees farm system is the collection of talented young shortstops they’ve accumulated. According to MLB Pipeline, six of the club’s top 30 prospects play the position, with another few right on the edge of consideration for that list.
Of course, current starting shortstop Didi Gregorius is still just 26 years old, has another three years of team control remaining, and is coming off of a career year. It seems unlikely there will be a job opening at short in the immediate future.
It makes sense then that the Yankees would at least toy with the idea of moving some of their top shortstop prospects off the position. Yes, they are more valuable assets if they stay at short, but the closer they get to the majors, the more necessary it will become to increase their versatility to get them into the lineup.
General manager Brian Cashman addressed this issue during his end of season press conference Wednesday, telling reporters, “We’re trying to diversify. We have a lot of shortstops.”
One of the most notable developments is that the team’s number three prospect according to MLB.com, 21-year-old Jorge Mateo, has been trying out center field in the Fall Instructional League. Mateo also saw some action at second base for the first time as a professional this season, getting 40 starts at the keystone for the High-A Tampa Yankees.
Cashman cautioned that the position switch was not necessarily permanent, but the team was exploring their options.
"It’s been something that’s been part of the evaluation process with him from the beginning. He’s a shortstop, but you can always move him to center depending on the rest of your roster. We’re just wanting to see where it’s in our best interest to have him as we move forward, how he responds and what it looks like. That’s all we’re doing."
Mateo certainly has the raw speed to be an asset center, although the club’s outfield picture is no less crowded than shortstop.
Two more of the Yankees top shortstop prospects will try out new positions this month in the Arizona Fall League. Cashman confirmed that 19-year-old Gleyber Torres, who will be the AFL’s youngest player this year, will see some time at second base. Torres has just one professional appearance at second in his young career.
Next: Yankees Could Look to Arizona for Pitching Help
21-year-old Tyler Wade, coming off a solid season for Double-A Trenton, will reportedly play some outfield during the upcoming Fall League. Wade is probably the closest to the big leagues of the three and already has considerable experience at both middle infield spots. He also likely has the lowest ceiling, so the club may be increasing his versatility to increase his value as a utility option.