Meet the homegrown 2018 Yankees: The reserves

With a young team, a versatile bunch is needed on the bench
12/24/2013 10:32 AM ET
By Editorial Team

In our world, catching Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte's swan songs won't be J.R. Murphy's only pinstriped memories.(AP)
As we investigate what a 2018 Yankees team made up of only homegrown talent still under team control would look like, we've already revealed a starting lineup that contains the top four position-player prospects in the organization heading into 2013, a former College World Series MVP, two recently-drafted lefties with huge power potential and a man who idolized Derek Jeter well before he earned a shot to become the heir apparent. But as fan or coach alike can tell you, having a strong, versatile bench is just as key as having a packed starting lineup. Only six Yankees played in even 100 games last season but the team still finished 85-77, proving that quality depth is a must at every position.

We intentionally left the designated hitter out of our 2018 starting lineup, because as you'll see, the bench is so versatile that if one of them isn't the DH on any given day, any one of them can step in and "play the matchup" depending on which of the starting eight is getting the "half day off."

There is one thing we can spoil for you, however, and it is this: with the starting lineup containing a 50/50 balance of lefties and righties, the entirety of the reserve squad hits right-handed, so that any (or all) can step in against a tough lefty and give someone a rest.

With that, here are five projected reserves for our 2018 all-team control Yankees:

C/3B Peter O'Brien: Drafted as a catcher, O'Brien began taking reps at third base in Tampa and then again in the Arizona Fall League, gaining some versatility that can help him down the line. In just two seasons in the organization he's proven he can hit (.291 average last year, 32 homers and 130 RBIs in 659 total pro at-bats), and if he even adds maybe the ability to play first base to his repertoire, he could be well on his way to the Bronx -- if not already there -- when he gains Rule 5 eligibility after the 2015 season.

C JR Murphy: O'Brien is a catcher, but with his versatility, the team also needs a true backup backstop, and Murphy fits our bill. Because he reached the Majors and was placed on the 40-man roster last September, the 2018 season would be Murphy's second arbitration-eligible year at worst and second year of team control at best, so he might be one of the costliest on the team but also one of the "veteran" leaders. He's a solid hitter, showed a little bit of pop last season, and is very strong defensively, so he fits the mold of a backup catcher to a tee -- and because O'Brien can catch, he's a guy that could be used as a solid pinch-hitter at times as well.

OF Adonis Garcia: His right-handedness gets Garcia the nod over lefty options like Ramon Flores, Jake Cave or Ben Gamel, but that doesn't mean he's a slouch; in fact, Garcia might actually be the prototypical bench player and fourth outfielder. He's not necessarily strong in any one offensive category, but he's solid across the board, can play all three outfield positions and even a little second base in a pinch, and will be 33 shortly after Opening Day 2018, so he might work best in a reserve role. In reality he may not project to earn a 40-man spot prior to reaching Rule 5 eligibility in November 2015, but in our scenario, he's a guy that could have been a fourth outfielder for a few years by the time we reach 2018.

UTIL Addison Maruszak: He's already Rule 5 eligible, seen multiple looks in Major League spring camp, and will be a grizzled veteran of 32 by April 2018, but Maruszak would be a solid choice for our 2018 Yankees in a Jayson Nix-type utility role. Maruszak hit .254 with 32 RBIs in his first extended look (94 games) at Triple-A last year, and played every position but center field and catcher; these 2018 Yankees of ours don't need either, but they do need a guy who can fill in behind Cito Culver and Rob Refsnyder. Add in the fact that he could be a fifth outfielder, man a corner in a pinch, or maybe even knock one out of the park at times (he did hit 16 homers in Trenton in 2012), he seems like a perfect fit on this bench.

SS Abiatal Avelino: The final spot on our bench was a hot debate, but in the end, we wanted a true middle infielder with a righty bat and a speed element; our choice came down to Thunder stalwart Jose Pirela and Avelino, who got the nod simply because he's younger (barely 23 on Opening Day 2018) and much more of a natural shortstop (Pirela was moved off the position after making 37 errors at Trenton in 2011). Avelino stole 28 bases and hit .303 in 53 games between the GCL and Staten Island in his first season in America, putting his name on the map early; if he continues that progression, he could be a name to watch somewhere around 2016 in "real time," but for now, he gets the final nod as the 25th man in our fantasy 2018.

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