Over the last two weeks, the Yankees have been playing exhibition games as they prepare for the 2017 season. We’ve seen the veterans shaking off the rust, we’ve seen the highly touted kids and we’ve seen a rotation competition that has been the focal point of the spring.
With two weeks in the books, here are some of my thoughts / observations:
The Starting Rotation Competition
Right now there’s no clear winner in the starting rotation competition that consists of Luis Severino, Adam Warren, Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell and Chad Green. The first time around, all of the starters were strong, but the second time around, all of the starters in the competition have struggled.
There’s obviously not supposed to be a clear winner of the competition the second week of Spring Training, and I know the starters are going to have off days, but hopefully the competition can get back on track as the contending hopefuls prepare to pitch in an exhibition game a third time around.
Matt Holliday off to a strong start
When the Yankees signed Matt Holliday over the winter, I actually anticipated seeing what he could do as the Yankees everyday DH. So far in Spring Training, Holliday already appears to be a better option than last year’s DH in the second-half, Brian McCann. This Spring, Holliday is hitting 8-for 17 (.471/.500/1.324) with a homer and three RBI, and has played a mentor role to the kids, notably Aaron Judge.
As long as the Yankees primarily use Holliday in the designated hitters spot, then this one-year deal could be one of the best signings the Yankees had in recent years.
The Arrival of Billy McKinney
Prior to position players reporting, Tyler Austin suffered an injury in the batting cage which completely diminished his chances of making the Major League roster in April.
As a replacement, the Yankees selected little Billy McKinney from across the street to take his place. But in Austin’s absence, McKinney is opening eyes. McKinney is currently 6-for-11 (.545/.643/1.916) with two homers and five RBI. I know McKinney has no shot of making the Major League roster, but he’s looking less like a throwaway piece in a trade and more like a legitimate minor league prospect.
Clint Frazier–and his hair–are everything advertised
When talking about Clint Frazier, you would assume most people would discuss his bat speed. However, the thing gaining traction in Major League camp this year was his hair. Offensive wise, Frazier went 6-for-19 (.316/.316/.842) with four RBI this Spring. But the main story was Frazier having to cut his hair after it was deemed too long. It was even reported Frazier had recieved a talking to by George Steinbrenner’s daughter, Jennifer Steinbrenner.
While everyone is focused on Frazier’s hair, I’d rather focus on how he’s doing this Spring. So far the bat speed is good, he has power and other than taking a baseball off the brim of his cap in the outfield, he’s a great fielder. He’s not going to start the season with the Yankees at the Major League level, but it’s not out of the question to see Frazier with the Yankees at some point during the regular season.
Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge battle for RF competition
While the starting rotation competes for the fourth and fifth spots on the roster, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge are competing for the right field position. When camp started, everyone believed Judge would walk away with the right field job. However, Hicks isn’t making it an easy decision.
This Spring, Hicks is 5-for-17 (.294/.400/.988) with a homer and two RBI. There’s a big chance there’s room for both Judge and Hicks on the roster, but the main question is who will get a bulk of the playing time? My money’s still on Judge, as I predicted back in February, but the Yankees have shown major interest in Hicks due to his cannon of an arm.