Yankees: 3 unexpected standouts from NYY’s first spring games

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The New York Yankees have mostly started the regulars thus far in their solid spring training, and haven’t exactly launched many hidden gems to the stratosphere (shoutout to Hard Hittin’ Chris Gittens, though).

Despite a few downs during the early contests, even the most callous and unimpressed Yankees fans have to be satisfied with the efforts of their likely starters.

Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez have generally socked gappers with high velocity or found the right holes with their bloops. Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber threw three dominant innings between them, without a blemish.

And Chad Green’s looked great in simulated games…we assume? We don’t know.

So, who from the scrap heap has impressed us the most? Which NRIs might actually have a chance at making the roster?

Who’s prepared to hold down the middle of the bullpen unexpectedly?

Which reliever’s dared to try out a new pitch, and has actually had success with it thus far (we see you, Nick Nelson)?

Look no further than this trio — all featuring varying degrees of pedigree — who’ve stood out early in camp.

And apologies to Albert Abreu, who pitched his way off this list Thursday afternoon in Clearwater, but did pick up an extra minor league option and has hit 100 this spring out of nowhere. An impactful spring for sure, but not a particularly effective one on the mound.

These three unexpected Yankees have impressed us at spring training.

Feb 26, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Jay Bruce (30) smiles during spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Jay Bruce

Hey, is there any chance Jay Bruce can make the team alongside Derek Dietrich? Asking for a guy who already knows that won’t happen.

In two spring starts, Bruce is a hefty 3-for-4 with a double. Just as importantly, he opened his first game of the slate in left field, backing into the wall for an impressive (though awkward) catch…then started his second contest under the lights at first base.

Yeah, that’s a decent indicator that the team isn’t ruling out bringing Bruce north.

Will the Yankees put Jay Bruce on the Opening Day roster?

After all, the Yankees could use someone they believe in to man first base on days when Luke Voit needs a little time off to tend to his foot stuff. And though Mike Tauchman outwardly professed that he has some collegiate experience at the position, he also noted that the Yanks haven’t spoken to him about absorbing that duty yet.

Tauchman’s fellow Mike, Ford, also backslid significantly in 2020, seemingly losing the bat-to-ball skills that made him a 2019 standout overnight.

It seems possible, at least, that the team prefers Bruce to Tauchman for his increased power and lessened redundancy, but the 33-year-old is going to have to really hit to end up on the 26-man come April. So far, so good in that department.