The first full week of Grapefruit League action has come and gone.
Entering the second week, the Yankees have a plethora of stories from young prospects knocking on the Bronx’s door to veterans showing they are still in pinstripes.
The battle for position is still very much present and could drag on throughout the spring while Aaron Boone determines who he will take north on Opening Day.
Here’s how the players battling for spots are trending after the first week.
Inf Anthony Volpe: Trending UP
The Yankees’ No. 1 prospect has been the talk of the town early in spring training. The 21-year-old reportedly received a call from Brian Cashman telling him he had an opportunity to be the Bombers’ Opening Day shortstop in 2023, and the New Jersey native has so far answered the call.
Volpe is 5-for-15 (.333) with one homer, two doubles and two stolen bases, while owning a 1.042 OPS.
The infielder has been the top performer in exhibition games among shortstop competitors — Isiah Keener-Falefa and Oswald Peraza — and has positioned himself firmly to trot out March 30 against the San Francisco Giants. The Yankees have been put on notice.
“It is difficult to answer whether the criteria [for Volpe to become the Opening Day shortstop] is,” Boone said after Friday’s loss to the Rays. “But we’re paying attention.”
INF ISIAH KINER-FALEFA: GOING DOWN
The incumbent’s spring in the Bombers’ shortstop competition hasn’t gotten off to a good start.
The 27-year-old is 1-for-9 (.111) with an error at shortstop on a routine ground ball — something that may have derailed him in 2022, leading the Bombers to find answers with Peraza and Osvaldo Cabrera at shortstop in October. Were staying to begin.
Kenner-Falefa — who signed a one-year, $6 million deal in November to avoid arbitration — is being hunted by Peraza and Volpe to take over the reins at the six-hole.
Boone noted that the infielder will be used in a variety of areas such as third — where he won a Gold Glove Award for the Texas Rangers in 2021 — and second base. Perhaps a display of versatility could help his stock rebound after a rough week.
Jason Dominguez: Trending Up
The planet Mars has visited the Moon several times this spring. The Yankees’ No. 2 prospect Jason Dominguez has shown he could be on the cusp of a breakout campaign.
The 20-year-old outfielder homered again on Sunday afternoon against the Braves and is now 5-for-12 (.417) with two homers — one on each side of the plate — and four RBI.
Dominguez lost a bit of his shine after his first two professional seasons in the minors — .731 OPS in 2021 and .837 OPS in 2022 — compared to what Mike Trout and Mickey Mantle were achieving during his time with the Bombers. He was signed for a record-breaking $5.1 million international signing bonus.
However, entering his third professional season with a strong big-league spring under his belt, it would be wise to retain all Dominguez stock as it appears to be trending in the right direction.
Aaron Hicks: Trends in UP
If there were any believers left in 2022 after his .642 OPS in a 130-game season, now is the time to show yourself. Aaron Hicks debuted a different batting stance this spring, and with that change have come some positive results.
The 33-year-old is 3-for-10 (.300), including a 404-foot solo homer in Friday’s loss to the Rays. Hicks entered the spring as the favorite to win the Yankees’ left field job and has done nothing to stave off his odds so far.
“It definitely gets the competitive juices flowing, that’s for sure,” Hicks said of the positional battle during Friday’s game on the Yes Network. “Because, I mean, this is my spot. I’m here to do whatever I have to do to make sure I get that spot. But most importantly, I need a spring training That should allow me to get ready for the season.”
Hicks was arguably a penny stock after last season, however, his spring performance and MLB rule changes such as banning shifters have things moving upward.
Estevan Florial trending down
This is his last chance and he is not taking advantage of it.
Estevan Florial, once a top prospect, ran out of minor league options this spring and headed to Tampa, Fla. To show he can provide value to a big league club. However, things haven’t gone according to plan.
The 25-year-old is 2-for-12 (.167) this spring with one RBI and one stolen base. Florial drove in some runs last season with the Bombers as well, hitting .097 in 17 games.
If Florial doesn’t make a big league club out of camp, he will be placed on waivers for any of the other 29 teams to claim him, and stock futures don’t look very promising if his goal is to stay in pinstripes.
Rafael Ortega’s: Trending Up
Rafael Ortega has been white hot this spring. The outfielder is 3-for-8 with two homers and five RBI and has pushed himself through the door as a legitimate candidate for a flight north with the club.
As a non-roster invitee, the lefty is a part of the competition to win the left field job—along with Hicks and Willie Calhoun—Cabrera figures more as a utility man as opposed to a set position.
However, Ortega is more of a righty specialist as he is a .211 career hitter against southpaws and .243 against righties. The Bombers haven’t shied away from platoon situations in the past and Ortega’s stock could be worth a look for investment.