Yankees put core group in place
The front office investment in a “youth movement” showed results in the win column in 2016. Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin and Gary Sanchez set the Bronx on fire in the summer months. Clint Fazier often gets overlooked in the mentions, but the 2013 fifth overall pick is poised to go from prospect to pro in 2017.
Swapping veteran talent for younger more athletic players as they continue to stock up the farm system helped the team get closer to its goal of staying under the luxury tax limit for the first time ever. Further, under the new CBA they will also receive a deduction for money they have and continue to pay toward construction and operation of Yankee Stadium. The Pinstripes could drop from the No. 1 highest revenue-sharing contributor to No. 3 or 4 in the league.
Why does this matter? The Yankees should have a lot of money to spend as the threshold will rise to $206 million in three years and go as high as $210 million in the two years after.
Cornerstone Pinstripe Pieces Sanchez and Judge
The cornerstones of New York's second year players look to be Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge. Judge’s batted balls averaged 96.82 miles per hour, according to MLB.com’s Statcast. The MLB average is 89.57. He needs to make better contact in order to address 42 strikeouts in 84 at-bats. Standing 6'7'' gives pitchers a large strikezone to work with so Judge has to adjust during his first full season in the majors.
“It’s part of the game. If you’re going to have 500 at-bats a year, you’re going to get out maybe 300 times, so it’s part of it. An out’s an out." Judge told MLB.com. In preparation for the 2017 season Judge was sent to spend time with minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson at the team's training complex in Tampa, Fla.
Sanchez had a remarkable rookie season, finishing second in the American League Rookie of the Year vote. He hit .299 with 20 homers and 42 RBI in 53 games. Essentially, he earned the starting catcher job when they traded Brian McCann to the Astros for two Single-A pitching prospects and salary relief. He has to improve defensively, specifically his pitch framing needs work. He catches the ball a bit too close to his body, impeding the umpire's view. With all of the things he does right, Sanchez has more opportunities than challenges going into the new season.
Bringing along the youngsters with veterans like Holliday and Sabathia, the Yankees are more poised to make a run in 2019. Provided the sophmores can stay healthy during a full season, there’s plenty of upside for this new core.
Which young Yankee impressed you most in 2016? Let us know in the comments!