Yankees Spring Training Update: Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Beeter, Ian Hamilton

2024 New York Yankees Spring Training
2024 New York Yankees Spring Training / New York Yankees/GettyImages

Gerrit Cole's on the mound for Friday's Spring Training game. The New York Yankees have been hitting the ball (though Thursday night's 0-0 tie with the Marlins doesn't accurately depict that). Life feels good at the moment. We're about a week into preseason action and fans are as excited as can be for a fresh 2024 campaign.

Between the lines, "things" are developing. The newcomers like Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Marcus Stroman have gotten much of the hype. Carlos Rodón's resurgence is a massive talking point. Gleyber Torres' walk year. The list goes on.

How about a breather from all the overwhelming stuff, though? Where else do the Yankees need to fill in the blanks to make 2024 a successful season?

Giancarlo Stanton, another elephant in the room that's gotten less and less attention simply because his situation has been an exhausted topic, played some outfield on Thursday and showed off his new batting stance.

New hitting coach James Rowson told Greg Joyce of the New York Daily News that Stanton's mentality is much improved, and that the slugger feels "dangerous" when he's standing in the batter's box. The former MVP and 2022 All-Star Game MVP could be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year if Rowson's assessment is to be believed.

But again, we'll believe it when we see it. Stanton has played in just 211 games the past two seasons. Outside of his brilliant first half of the 2022 season, he's been unwatchable dating back to 2019 (with the 2020 ALDS being the only outlier).

Yankees Spring Training Update: Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Beeter, Ian Hamilton

On the pitching side of things, Clayton Beeter made his debut as a starter this spring and logged three shutout innings. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four.

Though he got some help from the home plate umpire, Beeter dialed up the velocity and showed off nasty movement on his secondary pitches. The centerpiece of the return package for Joey Gallo in the deal with the Dodgers could be on the cusp of his MLB debut with a strong spring.

Beeter's first outing this spring was a doozy, however. He got two innings of work in relief against the Tigers and allowed two earned runs on two hits and two walks. He's a bit of a rollercoaster, but when the right-hander finds his command, he racks up the Ks and leaves batters befuddled. His progress is worth monitoring, as the pitching staff still needs improvement in a few areas.

On that same note, Ian Hamilton, who immediately became an essential bullpen piece before suffering an untimely injury last season, could return to that status in 2024. A diamond-in-the-rough Brian Cashman find and Matt Blake project, Hamilton could become Michael King's replacement in the bullpen, per manager Aaron Boone.

King, who was traded to the Padres in the Juan Soto deal, was magical for about 3/4 of a season as the Yankees' most important reliever. He could erase three innings in a flash. He could close games. He could face the heart of the order in a jam and get out of it. Then an elbow injury knocked him off course and he returned to the rotation at the tail end of 2023.

Hamilton, in his first full slate of big-league action (39 games vs. a previous career-high of 10 back in his 2018 rookie season), made 18 multi-inning appearances for the Bombers last season. He finished with a 2.64 ERA, 2.82 FIP and 1.22 WHIP while whiffing 69 batters in 58 innings. King's shoes will be hard to fill, but the early returns on Hamilton suggest he's up for the challenge.

If he can stay healthy and cut back on the walks, he could once again emerge as a fan-favorite as the Yankees hurtle toward a championship-or-bust season.