Four Yankees infield prospects who could earn non-roster Spring Training invitesWill any of these four get a nod to major-league camp?
All 40 members of the 40-man roster will be there, a slew of extra pitchers will come to eat early innings, more catchers will be there to catch all those hurlers, and surely, position players like Ruben Tejada and Donovan Solano who have inked minor-league deals will get an invite as well.
In parts one and two of our five-part series, we looked at four non-roster outfielders and four non-roster right-handers in the Yankees system that we'd like to see earn an invite, and in part three, we're moving right behind the mound to chronicle four infielders we'd love to get a look at this spring.
Like with Clint Frazier in part one, we're almost certain top prospect Gleyber Torres will get an invite, so we've excluded him in favor of four others.
Solak was the Yankees' second-round pick last season, and as we mentioned with Blake Rutherford and James Kaprielian in parts one and two, that fact alone is almost enough to earn Solak an invite. However, the ex-Louisville Cardinal wouldn't be a formality invite, as he finished fourth in the New York-Penn League with a .321 average, led the Staten Island Yankees in that category, hits (77), on-base percentage (.411) and OPS (.833), and finished in the Top 3 in doubles, RBI, walks, total bases, and slugging. Not a bad debut, and if the Yankees want to see what some of their other infielders may have at multiple positions, he could pick up the slack of some late-game second base action.
At worst, it looks like Greg Bird and Tyler Austin are competing for the everyday job at first base in some form, and the Yankees will likely add a veteran (like Chris Parmelee or Nick Swisher last year) to stash at Triple-A as top depth. Even if they do, though, Ford, who made his Triple-A debut in the National Championship Game last year, may be the prime candidate to be the in-house Triple-A first baseman/designated hitter. The former Princeton Tiger hit .280 in 42 games around an injury in Trenton last year, and with a lefty bat that plays to Yankee Stadium, he could play his way into being an option, the same way Austin did last season.
Admittedly, shortstop at-bats will be hard to come by with Didi Gregorius, Jorge Mateo, probably Gleyber Torres and a few utility types in camp - but that's where the versatility of Avelino, who hails from the shortstop factory that is San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, comes in. Avelino began his utility journey in 2015 and has since played more second base than short, especially last year when he was on the same Tampa roster as Mateo much of the year. Avelino did get his first taste of Double-A last year and will likely open there - either as the everyday second baseman across from Torres or as a utility guy behind Torres and Mateo - so getting a look at him in camp would follow the same progression as Tyler Wade did in 2016.
Unheralded as a 17th-round pick out of Eastern Kentucky University last June, Alvarez hit .339 in his debut cameo in Staten Island and was quickly moved all the way up to Charleston, where he hit .274 with five homers in 53 games. At 22 years old, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he begins 2017 in Charleston or even Tampa, and he could be second in line behind Miguel Andujar in terms of hot corner prospects in the organization, depending on where guys like Torres, Mateo, Dermis Garcia and Thairo Estrada wind up long-term. There might not be many third base opportunities available behind Chase Headley, Andujar, and utility players, but if there will be, Alvarez might be worth a look.