Don't forget about Oswald Peraza, the Yankees' 'other' shortstop prospect
SARASOTA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe gets much of the attention in the Yankees’ minor-league system, and deservedly so.
"Definitely has all of the tools," one rival talent evaluator said of the 20-year-old shortstop, generally regarded as the club’s No. 1 prospect. "There’s a reason everyone has asked Cash [general manager Brian Cashman] about him. Unsuccessfully."
But there’s another shortstop in the system who, while not garnering as much attention publicly as Volpe, has impressed just as many rival scouts and executives and has proved as difficult to pry away from Cashman (at least so far).
That would be Oswald Peraza, 21, who is rated just a couple of slots below Volpe, though depending on which talent evaluator you talk to — whether from another club or even with the Yankees — the rankings might be reversed.
"He checks every box," one National League scout said of Peraza.
The righthanded-hitting Peraza, who started at shortstop against the Orioles on Saturday and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout, smoothly handled the first ball hit to him, a routine grounder by Trey Mancini in the first. He went to his knees in the third to snare a one-hop smash off the bat of Chris Owings, making an accurate throw across for the first out.
"I remember bringing him over a couple of springs ago [to major-league camp] and feeling like maybe some of the focus was on a couple other guys and I remember thinking, ‘You need to be focusing on this guy,’ " Aaron Boone said before the 3-3 tie with the Orioles. "He’s got a good swing, he’s got some pop in his bat, a really good athlete. He’s got exciting attributes."
Peraza, slated to start the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, could be an early option for the big-league club in the event of an injury or two.
In need of a catcher?
Backup catcher Ben Rortvedt, acquired along with Josh Donaldson from the Twins in the Gary Sanchez/Gio Urshela deal, will be sidelined for at least the next five days, Boone said, with a Grade 1 oblique strain.
"Bang it out hopefully now [so] that it doesn't linger into the season," Rortvedt said in Tampa after players not on the trip to Sarasota worked out at Steinbrenner Field.
Rortvedt, 24, said the soreness is something he had been dealing with even before spring training and thought "it was gradually going to go away."
"I was pressing the gas pretty hard during the offseason trying to come in pretty ready to go," he said. "Was not under-prepared but maybe was doing a little too much."
David Freitas, one of five other catchers in camp, hit a two-run homer as the DH on Saturday. If Rortvedt is unlikely to break camp with the team, his spot — assuming the Yankees aren’t able to bring another catcher in — likely will go to Rob Brantly, 32, who has the most big-league experience among the catchers in camp, including six games with the Yankees in 2021.
All good (so far) with Hicks
Aaron Hicks, who started in center and went 0-for-2, has played in a total of 145 games since inking a seven-year, $70 million extension in February 2019. He was limited to 32 games last season after tearing a tendon sheath in his left wrist in May and requiring season-ending surgery.
"I’ve been really encouraged with where he’s at," Boone said. "His rehab from the wrist has gone how we had hoped and how he had hoped . . . So far, knock on wood, we haven’t had any issues with him."
Brennan Miller, the plate umpire who was the subject of Boone’s "savages in the box" rant in 2019, was part of the four-man umpire crew working Saturday’s game in Sarasota.
With David Lennon in Tampa