Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Posted by el duque at 6:32 AM
We enter 2013 with few young bodies ready to go. The key, of course, is Austin Number One: Romine, the catcher. He could solve our long term catching problems in one quick package - or if he fails, leave us desperate for a crushing trade. Maybe one of our lugnut pitchers - Adam Warren, etc., the kind that usually die on the vine - will step forward, a la David Phelps. But unless someone missiles through the system, forget it. The real Yankee news in 2013 will happen in Trenton.
There, the team's two best OF prospects - Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott - will determine the future of the organization. One likely will replace the Grandyman in 2014. If one becomes a star, we're fine. If both tank, we are in deep doo-doo.
Currently, we have no young shortstop ready to replace Derek Jeter. (Only one infielder - Angelo Gumbs - made Baseball America's Yankee Top 10 list, and he plays 2B and might end up in the OF.) In 2013, somebody will become the heir apparent. It might be Austin Number Two: Aune, a high school wunderkind who passed up a chance to become TCU's starting quarterback and signed for $1 million last summer. He signed as a CF. They moved him to SS. He played well in the Gulf Coast League. Aune is probably destined for Charleston in 2014. But if he continues to shine, for better or for worse, he will become Jete's designated heir, with the ensuing media attention that comes with it.
Our catching future depends on Romine and Gary Sanchez, who will probably starting at Double A. Sanchez has hit at every level - the question is whether we another Jesus Montero situation. We're still trying to figure out whether we completely blew the last one.
At Trenton, we will also watch Austin Number Three: Tyler Austin. If the kid keeps hitting, nobody expects problems with him handling right field. He could be Scranton by August, and who knows what happens when the rosters expand? By next spring, Tyler could be on our short list of corner outfielders. Or, he could be repeating a grade - the Yankee equivalent of death.
Listen: There's always a chance that Dellin Betances will figure it out, or that Cuban old-timer Ronnier Mustellier can hit MLB pitching, or that reliever Mark Montgomery will pull a Joba-like arrival late in the season. But compared to what other teams bring to camp this spring, we have almost nothing. Right now, there is a half-season blip between the collapse of our aging veterans and the hopeful emergence of our best prospects.
It will all be happening in Trenton. And Austin.