WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Joe Girardi said he knew before camp started that there was talent in the Yankees’ system.
The success that many of his young players have had hasn’t surprised him. Still, he said, he wasn’t aware of just how much talent had been infused into the system.
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“I’ve been pretty optimistic since the start of spring training,” Girardi said before the Yankees’ 6-4 victory over the Astros on Sunday at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which raised his club’s record to an MLB-best 17-6. “[But] I think the one thing that I’ve realized in camp is the depth of our young players is bigger than I realized.”
And Girardi was not just referring to the players who have gotten a taste of the big leagues, such as Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino, each of whom likely will need to produce for the Yankees to have a chance to contend for the postseason.
He meant what’s been called the “next wave,” prospects hoping to knock on the door of the big leagues next year or the year after that — and maybe even this season.
That group begins, of course, with shortstop/second baseman Gleyber Torres, considered the jewel position prospect of the system. (Torres went 1-for-1 on Sunday and has a .444/.467/.926 slash line in 17 games.)
But there have been plenty of others — infielders Jorge Mateo, Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade, outfielders Dustin Fowler, Billy McKinney and Clint Frazier and pitchers Justus Sheffield, James Kaprielian and Chance Adams, to name a handful — who have shined at times.
Frazier, for example, went 2-for-2 on Sunday and has a .343/.343/.543 slash line.
“It’s [the talent pool] been better than what I’d heard,” Girardi said. “I wanted to see it with my own two eyes. I didn’t realize how deep it really was.”
That’s part of why Girardi didn’t hesitate when he was asked if he believes the Yankees are a legitimate playoff contender.
“Yes,” he said emphatically. “I do.”