MIAMI — After surprising much of baseball with a 38-23 start, the Yankees crashed to Earth by losing 18 of 25 games heading into the All-Star break.
But Monday afternoon brought a bit of big-picture perspective, or should have, for Yankees fans disappointed by the recent slide. Sitting among the 2017 American League All-Stars were three players on just about everyone’s top prospects list a few years ago.
Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Aaron Judge, who spent much of their minor-league careers playing together, were sitting side by side by side on the track in leftfield at Marlins Park during media availability.
“I feel very proud to be here with Gary and Judgy,” Severino said. “We grew up in the system for three or four years together and right now we’re in the All-Star Game together.”
Severino, whose 124 strikeouts rank third in the AL, is the youngest of the three at 23 but the one with the most big-league experience. He made a dazzling debut in August 2015 but stumbled badly in 2016, when he lost his rotation spot by mid-May, before making his All-Star breakthrough this season.
Sanchez, of course, was Judge before Judge was. Just last season, Sanchez launched home run after home run, 20 in 53 games, including 19 in a remarkable 37-game stretch in August and September.
“It’s definitely very exciting,” said Sanchez, who made it to the second round in Monday night’s Home Run Derby, which was won by Judge. “Having come through the system with Severino and Judge, we know each other. We’ve played together for a long time, so it’s very exciting to be here with them.”
Judge, not surprisingly, drew the most attention by far of any of the Yankees’ All-Stars, who also included Dellin Betances, who is here for a fourth straight season.
Betances was a top prospect as a starter before failing and finding himself as a shutdown reliever. He smiled about the direction of the organization.
“It says a lot,” said Betances, who had a 1.09 ERA on June 26 before allowing seven runs and 10 walks in 2 2⁄3 innings in a four-outing stretch. “For you to have three guys, three pretty much first-year guys, to be here as All-Stars, says a lot about the franchise and where the team is going.”
The 6-7 Judge’s 30 homers at the break, the distance many of them have gone and his very real MVP candidacy made him the star of stars Monday. So much so that it seemed as if just about every player on both teams was asked about him.
Rays pitcher Chris Archer was asked whom he sees as the current “face” of the sport. “Right now, it’s Judge,” he said. “It’s special what he’s doing, and he’s doing it on the biggest possible stage. People already are saying this: He may be the second coming of Derek Jeter.”
As he’s done much of the season, Judge deflected most questions about his achievements. It was the same when being part of the trio of first-time Yankees All-Stars came up.
“It’s pretty incredible, what a couple of years those guys have had,” Judge said. “Getting the chance to play with them the past few years and watching them develop and mature as players and as people has been great. For them to see all their hard work pay off this first year is incredible.”
And the franchise’s future?
“We have more coming, that’s the crazy thing about it,” Judge said. “We’ve still got guys in Double-A and Triple-A and even Single-A that have the potential to impact this team the next couple of years. So like I’ve said before, it’s an exciting time to be a Yankee.”
With David Lennon
Jose Altuve, Astros 2B
Jose Ramirez, Indians 3B
Aaron Judge, Yankees RF,
George Springer, Astros LF
Carlos Correa, Astros SS
Justin Smoak, Blue Jays 1B
Corey Dickerson, Rays DH
Salvador Perez, Royals C
Mookie Betts, Red Sox CF
Chris Sale, Red Sox P
Charlie Blackmon, Rockies CF
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins DH
Bryce Harper, Nationals RF
Buster Posey, Giants C
Daniel Murphy, Nationals 2B
Nolan Arenado, Rockies 3B
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 1B
Marcell Ozuna, Marlins LF
Zack Cozart, Reds SS
Max Scherzer, Nationals P