Ah, yes. Every fan’s dream until it actually happens: a depth chart filled entirely with homegrown prospects.
It’s an incredible vision, one that mostly dominates the minds of fans whose teams are extremely far away from contention.
So why is it happening to New York Yankees fans, now? Unfettered access to prospect profiles has significantly altered the fandom.
Sure, it feels good to know your future is secure and help is on the way. Still, if given the chance to obtain a 27-year-old All-Star instead of holding out hope for three different 22-year-olds’ physical development, give me the established All-Star every time.
Though position players are easier to project than pitching prospects — arms go bust at an astounding rate, while physical offensive tools typically don’t disappear — nobody is a sure thing at the lower levels of the minors. It might not feel like it, but it would be a dream if one of Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza and 2021 first-round pick Trey Sweeney turns out to be a future Yankees star.
The Yankees know this too, we think. So it can’t be true that they’re actively planning to field a future infield of Volpe at second, Peraza at short, and Sweeney at third, right?
Do the Yankees really envision an infield of Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza and Trey Sweeney?
Volpe had as phenomenal a season as a prospect can, really, in 2021. After barely appearing post-draft in 2019 and sitting at home in 2020 with the rest of us, he burst onto the scene by hitting 27 bombs, stealing 33 bases, posting a ridiculous 1.027 OPS, and showing off all the requisite intangibles, leading to “gamer” and “winner” labels being thrown around.
Needless to say, the Yankees are in a good place with Volpe, whether he’s a second baseman or shortstop moving forward … which is something we just don’t know yet.
Peraza, the team’s consensus third-best prospect, has raw pop and defensive skills, but struck out 111 times in 115 games last season, and remains a bit too much of a free-swinger for a non-elite slugger. He had a good, not great 2021, but apparently is currently off-limits in all Matt Olson trade talks, just like Volpe.
Sweeney? He hit .261 with seven homers in 115 at-bats in his first minor-league cameo. He’s supposed to be a fast riser, and all the metrics are there, but … again, 115 at-bats, and he’s part of the grand plan that prevents you from adding infield talent?
The recent praise for Volpe has been deafening, and we hope against hope that he’s very quickly part of the future. But to bank on a pair of unproven prospects joining him, without a safety net, is foolish.
If the Yankees’ current shortstop prospect trio (Roderick Arias excluded) eventually consists of one shortstop, one second baseman and one third baseman, that sounds like there’s a good deal of baked-in uncertainty still surrounding their development processes.
In other words, it’s the exact situation where you’d want to insure things by signing a proven star like Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, instead of your idealized future being “float these kids all around the infield, and hope they all fall into the right place.”