With Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez sidelined with wrist and groin injuries, respectively, another Yankees slugger is dealing with an ailment of his own. Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reported Monday morning that Giancarlo Stanton was limited to being the designated hitter in the final two games in Boston because of tightness in his left hamstring.
From Adler’s piece:
“Stanton is dealing with tightness in his left hamstring and has had it wrapped up with ice after games Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Presumably, with Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez already on the disabled list, Boone has not wanted to take the risk of losing his final power bat as any chance at winning the division to avoid the one-game wild-card berth slips further away.”
An injury to Stanton would explain the seemingly inexplicable use of Shane Robinson in two out of four games in Boston. With Judge injured and Tyler Wade on optional assignment in Triple-A, Robinson is the only available outfielder for the Yankees. Clint Frazier is in Tampa working his way back from post-concussion migraines, and the Yankees traded away options like Tyler Austin and Billy McKinney at the deadline. Another option would be Ronald Torreyes, who has 187 outfield innings (including 90.0 in center in 2014) combined between the minors and majors.
Neil Walker has played three innings of right field basically out of necessity for the Yankees, marking his first time outside of the infield in his professional career. Walker’s bat is clearly superior to Robinson’s, but the Yankees felt it was necessary to have a natural outfielder patrolling right at Fenway. Robinson went 0-for-4 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt in his two starts against the Red Sox.
The truth is that the Yankees don’t have much outfield depth left after the trades they made last week. Top prospect Estevan Florial is not MLB-ready, especially after missing seven weeks with a wrist injury. Ryan McBroom and Mark Payton are the other outfielders worth keeping an eye on at Triple-A, while Wade has started three consecutive games in the corner outfield in SWB as well.
Stanton likely will attempt to play through the soreness, especially with the aforementioned lack of power bats. But, it likely means we’ll see a lot more of Robinson in right field until Stanton is 100 percent.
The Yankees farm system took a hit Friday as No. 2 overall prospect outfielder Estevan Florial will require hamate surgery on his right wrist, per George A. King III of the New York Post. The team has yet to officially confirm the injury.
Florial had left Thursday night’s game with a sore wrist after Class-A Advanced Tampa Tarpons’ manager Patrick Osborn noticed some “funky” swings from the 20-year-old. The surgery essentially requires the doctor to remove the hamate bone from the wrist.
“I figured something must be bothering him, so I made the switch to take him out, and later, we got word from the trainer that was working on him that it was soreness in the right wrist,” Osborn told MiLB.com.
After being promoted to Double-A Trenton for the Eastern League playoffs last season, Florial began 2018 back in Tampa. He broke out in 2017 to a .298/.372/.479 line in 110 games between Low-A Charleston and Tampa. He then went on to hit .286/.383/.414 in 19 Arizona Fall League games.
Prior to the injury, Florial carried a .246/.353/.343 slash-line in 36 games with Tampa. It’s worth speculating that Florial’s average and on-base percentage could be down because he was attempting to play through the injury, which could have sapped some of his power.
It appears likely that Florial will return to the Arizona Fall League to make up for the time he misses because of the surgery. The Yankees transferred Dom Thompson-Williams from Low-A Charleston to Tampa to replace Florial. Thompson-Williams was deserving of a promotion regardless, hitting .378/.425/.811 with five home runs in 10 games.
No Yankees baseball again (today was a scheduled off-day), so here are a few notes I’ve gathered throughout today:
- The Yanks didn’t have the best accommodations Wednesday night as they attempted to escape the rain in Washington. According to Newsday’s Erik Boland, the team was forced to sleep overnight inside Dulles Airport outside the capital because of flight delays and hotels being overfilled. “It was an unfortunate set of circumstances,” GM Brian Cashman said late Wednesday afternoon, per Boland.
- Outfielder Estevan Florial, the team’s No. 2 prospect, was lifted from Class-A Advanced Tampa’s contest against the Dunedin Blue Jays with “right wrist soreness”. The 20-year-old had a 32-game on-base streak snapped as he was lifted after going 0-for-2. “I noticed in his first at-bat he had some funky-looking swings,” manager Patrick Osborn said. “And then in his second at-bat, he had another one that resembled those ones from the first. I figured something must be bothering him, so I made the switch to take him out, and later, we got word from the trainer that was working on him that it was soreness in the right wrist.” No further word from the Tarpons at this point regarding the severity of the injury. Florial is slashing .246/.353/.343 through 36 games with Tampa this season.
- Clint Frazier will stay with the big league club for the upcoming three-game series with the Kansas City Royals, with Aaron Boone stating that the outfielder will be a part of the team’s roster puzzle “for now”. With all of the recent rainouts, the bullpen has been extremely rested. That has allowed the team to put Domingo Germán into the bullpen until his scheduled start Tuesday, therefore allowing Frazier to be a fourth bat on the bench.
- The team’s top pitching prospect, lefty Justus Sheffield, has a return date in place after being placed on the 7-day disabled list with left shoulder stiffness May 12. The Yanks’ No. 3 overall prospect will return to the rotation May 23, starting against the Pawtucket Red Sox. Sheffield has a 2.16 ERA in two starts since being promoted to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
- Former Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira joined Michael Kay on The Michael Kay Show earlier this afternoon, and had plenty to say regarding the aftermath of former teammate Robinson Canó‘s 80-game suspension for Furosemide. The drug is banned under the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program because it is a diuretic that can be used to mask performance-enhancing drugs. “I don’t really want to get into too much detail, I love Robbie, but I’m not surprised,” Teixeira said. “I don’t want to get too much further but I think a lot of people are trying to say the same thing. (Yankees GM Brian) Cash(man) had to catch himself in an interview a couple days ago, but yeah, not surprised.” Canó is not the only former teammate of Teixeira’s to be punished for PEDs, since the three-time All-Star also shared a roster with Melky Cabrera and Alex Rodriguez. The influence of those two players may have pushed Canó down the path to using performance-enhancing drugs, Teixiera argued in his segment. “Listen, Robbie, look at his situation here: Robbie Cano’s assistant was on the list for Biogenesis. Of course, he has an assistant, you know, buys stuff for him. Alex Rodriguez got popped by Biogenesis. Melky (Cabrera) got popped. They’re best friends,” he said. “When someone gets lumped into that group, it’s because there’s evidence. There’s a paper trail. There’s a smoke trail.” He went on to say that many of his former teammates were able to get away with it, and even went on to say that some of them are already in the Hall of Fame.
Boy, have the Yankees had bad luck with outfield prospects beginning their careers recently. Billy McKinney, who replaced the injured Aaron Hicks on the active roster, has gone down after he sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder crashing into the outfield wall in left field at Rogers Centre.
McKinney stayed in for one play after the injury, but was quickly lifted once it was clear that his throwing arm was compromised. The 23-year-old went 1-for-4 in his debut game, but did not come to the plate in his second game. He was replaced by Brett Gardner in left field.
The Yankees now have some very limited outfield depth with McKinney joining Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier on the disabled list. They have started to play Giancarlo Stanton more in left field, and can turn to Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes in an emergency situation.
After Wade and Torreyes, the situation becomes even more murky. Shane Robinson was in camp as a non-roster invitee, and there were impressive contributions from lower-level prospects like Estevan Florial, Trey Amburgey and Jeff Hendrix.
Before turning to any of their minor league depth, the Yankees certainly have to be rooting for one of Ellsbury, Frazier or Hicks to return from injury. For the time being, Stanton in left, Gardner in center and Aaron Judge in right will have to do.
To replace McKinney on the roster, the Yankees promoted 3B/1B Miguel Andújar from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The RailRiders do not open their season until April 6, so Andújar might be best served on the big league roster anyway. Andújar slashed .267/.306/.622 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 15 Spring Training games this year. He is ranked as the team’s No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline.
By adding Andújar as infield insurance, Aaron Boone can have a little more liberty with his utility players.
The Yankees sent two Top 10 prospects down to minor league camp Sunday, as No. 4 third baseman Miguel Andújar and No. 2 outfielder Estevan Florial were reassigned to minor league camp.
Andújar, who is a member of the 40-man roster, was optioned to Triple-A Scranton. Prior to the Yankees’ trade for Brandon Drury, Andújar was the local favorite to break camp as the team’s third baseman. He is currently tied with outfielder Billy McKinney for the team lead in home runs this spring with four. He slashed .262/.273/.643 in 14 games prior to his demotion. The knock on Andújar is his defense, where his scouting report says “he still needs to polish some rough edges”.
Interestingly enough, the Yankees decided to expand Andújar’s defensive portfolio by having him play first base now that he is in minor league camp.
Florial, who is not Rule 5 Draft eligible until December 2019, was simply reassigned to minor league camp. He will likely open the season with Class-A Advanced Tampa or Double-A Trenton. The speedy outfielder impressed with his maturity for a player who just turned 20 this past November. He slashed .231/.333/.462 with three triples, three RBIs and two stolen bases in his 18 games in big league camp.
The Yankees are looking for Florial to work on making more consistent contact, given that he struck out at a 31% rate in the low minors last season. He has a plus arm, and the speed to stick in center field.
Jake Cave has found a new home in Minnesota, as the Yankees dealt him to the Twins for pitcher Luis Gil Friday. Cave had been designated for assignment March 12 to clear a 40-man roster spot for newly-signed infielder Neil Walker.
Cave found himself on the chopping block after a strong 2017 in the minors because of the Yankees’ outfield depth. He put up career highs in home runs (20) and RBIs (56), while slashing .305/.351/.542 in 103 games between Double-A and Triple-A. The 25-year-old, who is capable of playing all three outfield positions, was hitting just .158/.304/.211 through 10 games with the big league club in Spring Training.
The Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton and the emergence of Billy McKinney in Spring Training made Cave expendable. While the Yankees’ next true center fielder, Estevan Florial, is still a few years from the Bronx, they were clearly comfortable dealing Cave because of their belief in the upside of Aaron Hicks and in the consistency of Brett Gardner to back him up.
The return for the Yankees is 19-year-old right-hander Luis Gil. Gil signed with the Twins in 2015, and pitched for their Dominican Summer League team in 2015 and 2017. It is unclear why he did not pitch in 2016. Between those two seasons, Gil posted a 3.32 ERA and 10.1 K/9 in 30 games (14 starts).
Gil is the second pitcher the Yankees have acquired with only Dominican Summer League experience under their belt. The Bombers traded Nick Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners in November 2017 during their 40-man roster crunch for RHP Juan Then, who is now ranked as the Yankees’ No. 25 prospect.
The Twins designated 1B/DH Kennys Vargas for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Cave. Vargas was out of options, while Cave still has three remaining. Cave likely begins the season with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.
The Yankees’ matchup with the Detroit Tigers today ended locked in a 2-to-2 tie after Giovanny Gallegos blew a one-run lead after just two batters in the ninth inning.
It was a low-scoring game from the start, with the Tigers scoring first on a Leonys Martín solo shot off CC Sabathia in the third inning. That was all the offense that the Tigers got until the ninth inning.
The Bronx Bombers did not look like themselves until their two-run rally in the eighth inning. Didi Gregorius launched his third home run of the spring to cut the lead in half. Aaron Hicks followed with a single, Miguel Andújar moved him to second on a ground out, Adam Lind walked, Gleyber Torres walked to load the bases, then Shane Robinson beat out a double play ground ball to score Hicks and tie the game.
The Tigers came right back in the ninth. JaCoby Jones singled off Gallegos then moved to second on a wild pitch. Victor Reyes promptly singled to center field, and Jones beat Estevan Florial’s throw to the plate.
The Yankees threatened in the bottom of the ninth after Jeff Hendrix made it to third after a leadoff walk. But, strikeouts from Jace Peterson and Kyle Higashioka set the stage for Estevan Florial to ground out to second base. Hendrix was stranded on third, and that ended the game in Tampa.
- Neil Walker is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut in pinstripes (at least the pants) for Friday’s evening matchup with the Houston Astros. He had been working out at the free agent camp setup by the MLBPA in Bradenton, Fla., and is scheduled to workout at the Yankees’ minor league complex over the next few days to prepare for full game activity.
The Yankees send Chance Adams to the hill to take on Miguel Castro of the Baltimore Orioles at their complex in Sarasota, Fla.