Can Yankees Didi Gregorius Keep Top Prospects in the Minor Leagues?
Yankees GM Brian Cashman has acquired some great players via trade the last few seasons, and shortstop Didi Gregorius should be at the top of that list.
The Yankees center fielder has long been the iconic position for the organization, but after future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter graced shortstop it will never be the same. Playing shortstop for the Yankees will forever be like the moon trying to outshine the sun.
In the attempt to fill Jeter’s shoes, 26-year-old Gregorius has been exactly what New York needed. Gregorius has not been the clutch gene, outspoken team leader Jeter was, but who is? Didi has shown flashes of “number 2” with impressive defensive gems and arm strength all with a big Jeter-esque smile on his face.
Playing shortstop for the Yankees will forever be like the moon trying to outshine the sun
Quick, who lead the Yankees in batting average last season? The only acceptable answer is Didi Gregorius who lead the team with a .276 batting average. Gregorius was only two home runs short of the team lead and tied Starlin Castro for most RBI as well. This was the guy experts said could only play defense and produced little with the bat when he came from Arizona right?
The fact is, Didi has shown lots of pop at the plate the last couple of seasons in the Bronx. There’s no mistaking why Didi changed from an eight or nine hitter to an everyday top half of the lineup batter last year. Moving up in the order contributed to Gregorius raising his slugging percentage, OPS, and lowering his total strikeouts.
Following an exciting year of injecting young talent into the Yankee clubhouse and the overall philosophy in baseball of bringing up raw players sooner, New York should pump the brakes on some of their prospects. Mostly, the interior infielders GM Brian Cashman and the front office have acquired and accumulated.
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Gleyber Torres is mentioned in almost every conversation when discussing the Yankees plans going forward. Torres very well may be the future of the ball club, but it will not be in 2017 or even 2018 if Gregorius has a say. The good news for Didi is that 20-year-old Torres has never played higher than single A and finished with a .270 batting average between Myrtle Beach and Tampa last season.
Another prospect of high value is Jorge Mateo who like his vaunted Tampa Yankees teammate Gleyber Torres, has never played above the single-A level. In 464 plate appearances, last season Mateo batted .254 for Tampa. What Mateo has over Torres, however, is a 40-man roster spot, meaning his movement upward in the organization could come sooner.
Yankee Fans Wanted Pitcher Shane Greene
Remember how upset some Yankee fans were when the team parted ways with pitcher Shane Greene for Didi Gregorius? I hope you remember those individuals so that you can relay to them Greene’s number for Arizona since the trade. Greene debuted with a 6.88 ERA for Arizona in 2015 and followed it up with a 5.82 ERA last season.
Gregorius will not hit free agency until the year 2020 but is arbitration eligible after next season. At $5.1 million per year for a top 10 shortstop in almost every category, it’s safe to say the Yankees got the better of the deal.
Joe Girardi was the first manager to grant Gregorius a full season of over 500+ at bats and Didi did not disappoint. Last season’s 20 home run effort accounted for almost half of his total career home runs. Gregorius has gotten better as playing time increased, and the Yankees need more of Didi, not less.
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The Yankees may have the de facto best minor league stable in baseball, but there’s no need to push out highly productive players at MLB level. Especially players who have shown to progress year after year, all while having to hear about the great prospects in the minors “better than him” and while a monument is being constructed for the last Yankee shortstop in the outfield.