With just 17 days to go until Opening Day, the Yankees made another round of cuts on Monday to trim their roster down to 50 players. Seven players were sent down to minor league camp including five of the top prospects in the farm system.
The list is headlined by OF Estevan Florial who was optioned to Double-A Trenton where he will likely start the season after spending the last two years mostly at High-A ball in Tampa. In 2018 Florial was the Yankees top-ranked prospect in the system by MLB Pipeline, but after a second straight injury-plagued campaign in 2019, he fell to sixth in the rankings to begin 2020.
He hit .237 with eight home runs and 38 RBI in just 74 games a season ago and this spring he hit .176 with a home run in 17 at-bats. The Yanks still have high hopes for Florial because of his athleticism and all-around skill set but he’s going to need to stay healthy and start producing better numbers if he’s ever going to become a starter in their outfield for years to come.
Joining Florial at Double-A camp is 24-year-old Albert Abreu, another former top prospect who’s fallen down the rankings since the 2018 season. He was third on the list back then but now he’s 11th. The Yanks had big expectations for Abreu when they acquired him in the Brian McCann trade but injuries have halted his progression and he still hasn’t made it to the Triple-A level in his minor league career.
Brooks Kriske, a right-handed reliever who was added to the 40-man roster this offseason was the only roster cut sent to Triple-A Scranton. Non-roster invitee Domingo Acevedo was just sent back to minor league camp according to the Yankees press release. The 26-year-old used to be a top prospect for New York as well but he was released by the organization last August and will face an uphill climb to ever reach the majors again as a Yankee.
Alexander Vizcaino the Yanks seventh-best prospect was also sent back to minor league camp while Luis Gil (5th) and Luis Medina (10th) were both optioned to Single-A Tampa. All three youngsters have electric arms and this season will be a big one for them as they try to earn a promotion to the upper levels of the system.
None of the players who were demoted on Monday had any real chance of making the Yankees Opening Day roster to begin with. Most of them are still a year or two away from impacting the club at the major league level and this spring was really just an opportunity for them to impress the coaching staff with the time they were given.
The Yankees have another 24 cuts to make before they set their 26-man roster for Opening Day. There are 17 non-roster invitees still holding on, but outside of LHP Tyler Lyons and spring training standout Rossell Herrera I can’t see any of them making the roster. Chris Iannetta could if Gary Sanchez’s back doesn’t heal over the next two weeks, but the Yanks seem confident he’ll return to the lineup on Friday.
Most of the top prospects have already been optioned back to the minors but right-handers Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia, and Mike King are all still competing for the final spot in the starting rotation.
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It’s still highly unlikely Schmidt or Garcia will make the team out of camp, but King is still in the mix even though Jonathan Loaisiga is probably the favorite as of today.