We are all thinking about Spring Training and counting down the days until it gets here. Some of our guys aren’t as ready as we are but that is the beauty of fall baseball.While some guys are at home taking a few weeks off right now there are a select few that have no time for relaxation. It’s not the off season for everyone. In fact, for some this IS the season.
There are going to be a lot of changes next year, but it’s not time to be thinking about that. For the time being our guys need to be thinking about getting the work in down in the Arizona Fall League. This is a very important season for some of our guys. This sets the tone going into spring…and they certainly have a lot of catching up to do.
This year the Arizona Fall League has a whole new importance. Many times, it is just a way to give developing players extra at-bats but not this time. The Yankees have Greg Bird, a current big leaguer who missed an entire season due to shoulder surgery. He is the likely replacement for Mark Teixeira but has competition from Tyler Austin, who got a piece of the action this season. If Bird wants the starting job he is going to have to show the Yankees the Bird from 2015 and that he is healthy enough to be playing every day. He went 1-for-4 in Tuesday’s Opening Day game where he played designated hitter. He said he is still not 100% HERE but it sounds like he is making progress and will be ready to play first base by Spring Training.
James Kaprielian is also coming back from a tough flexor tendon strain that has kept him from pitching since April. He hasn’t pitched above High-A Tampa and wants to be playing in the majors by 2017. The Fall season in Arizona will likely help coaches decide if he is ready to make the jump to AA and hopefully get to the Bronx in time for 2017. Kaprielian is considered to be the most talented pitching prospect in the system and if he would be ready in time for 2017 it would give the Yankees a good candidate to help replace CC Sabathia who is entering the last year of his contract.
The start of the Fall season is also the start of a new beginning for Dillon Tate, who the Yankees hope they can transform into a more effective pitcher. He was the center piece in the Carlos Beltran trade and has struggled with both his velocity and his command. If the Yankees can get him back on track he could be an important piece to the starting rotation in the future, or they may have to move him back to a relief role.
This is a very important season for the Yankees. This isn’t just extra work. This is about getting the future back on track and ready to take over beyond next season. The Yankees are all about future possibilities right now. So this isn’t just fall ball….this is the season for our guys. This is new beginnings and all about winning right now. Show us what you got, boys!
–Jeana Bellezza, BYB Senior Writer & Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @NYPrincessJ