No one has ever questioned the potential of Tyler Wade. Currently ranked as the No. 6 prospect for the Yankees, Wade is proficient everywhere around the diamond. At 22, he has already played 14 games in the big leagues.
Brian Cashman gave Wade a vote of confidence earlier in the season when he said that Wade would be the first name called if the Yankees needed infield reinforcements. With a system that just acquired Gleyber Torres, a top-five prospect in all of baseball, Cashman’s choice of Wade shows just how high the Yankees are on him.
His defense has sparkled, but his bat has yet to show the ability that allowed him to slash .313/.389/.453 for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. In his 14 games at the MLB level, Wade has a .136/.224/.227 line that includes 15 strikeouts in 49 plate appearances.
If this was last year, and the Yankees sold at the deadline, Wade would be starting at second base every day until Starlin Castro‘s return. The team’s lack of playoff aspirations in 2016 gave them the opportunity to test the skills of players like Tyler Austin, Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez in the MLB. They found their catcher and right fielder of the future in part because of that experiment.
However, this is a different year, and a different team. The Yankees need Wade to provide quality defense, some base-hits and stolen bases down the stretch. Castro still needs time to heal after his second hamstring injury of the season. But, if Wade continues to struggle at the plate, the second base job will go to Ronald Torreyes. The Yankees only have one other infielder on the 40-man roster: Miguel Andújar. The Yankees want to get his defense at third base serviceable, so there is no way they’d throw him into the second base fire. Wade is the guy to “replace” Castro on the roster.
The Yankees find themselves between a rock and a hard place with Wade. As much as they want him to develop with everyday at-bats, he cannot do so at the expense of the team’s performance. It looks like Torreyes will get the bulk of second base playing time until Castro returns. When Castro returns, Wade will go back to the RailRiders. He has been the target of Yankee fans’ ire because of his inability to instantly contribute at the MLB level. But, Wade has the talent to be a valuable piece down the stretch and into the future.