The Yankees are keeping a close eye on their players’ progress in the Dominican League. We are too, so here’s an update on the studs and duds.
The Yankees have a significant contingent of players active in the Dominican Professional League winter ball season (Spanish language here). Each player has a specific reason for being there, and the Yankees keep a close eye on their development.
The league has been active since the middle of November, and by now, players have enough at-bats or innings pitched to begin weighing their progress, or lack thereof.
Here’s a rundown of the studs and a couple of duds so far:
Gary Sanchez, Age 29
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is fighting for his baseball life. Following what can only be said was a disastrous 2020 season, both offensively and defensively, his idea to play in the Dominican League.
Still considered by the Yankees to be their number one catcher, if Sanchez falters now and during Spring Training in the States, the starting job could go to Kyle Higashioka – and the Yankees would step up efforts to trade for a catcher.
Sanchez started on fire, going 5-11 with two home runs and six RBI. However, he’s slipped to 3-15 with no home runs and two RBI in his last six games.
Of greater concern, Sanchez, who is playing for the Toros del Este team, is continuing to strike out at an alarming pace (11 K’s in 24 at-bats).
On the flip side, though, Sanchez has drawn six walks. But for the most part, pitchers in the league are not at the major league level, and their mastery of the strike zone is still a work in progress.
Domingo German, Age 28
Domingo German was suspended for the entire 2020 season due to a domestic violence incident. Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner is noncommittal regarding German’s status with the team, indicating that German will need to prove himself both on and off the field.
Given that German has not pitched competitively in a year, it’s not surprising the results are mixed regarding his performance.
Over five starts, German does not have a decision. Over 16.1 innings pitched, the strikeouts are good (18), but the 7.16 ERA and nine base-on-balls are not what the Yankees need to see if he will make the team.
Assuming German answers the Yankees’ character concerns in a positive manner, an assignment to the team’s Triple-A Scranton club is most likely, if only to build up arm strength.
Deivi Garcia, Yankees Starting Pitcher, Age 21
Depending on what the Yankees starting pitching staff looks like by Opening Day, Deivi Garcia is probably ticketed to begin the season at Double or Triple-A.
Only 21, Garcia showed flashes of brilliance last year when injuries took a toll on Yankee starters, making six starts and winning three of five decisions.
It’s been rocky for Garcia, who plays for the Tigres del Licey entry in the Dominican League.
His line currently shows 0-2, 7.50 ERA, 3 starts, 6.1 IP, 7 hits, 7 runs, 7 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, and 2 HR.
However, Garcia’s outing on Tuesday shows a marked improvement. Over 6.1 innings, he allowed three hits, no earned runs, with five strikeouts, and he didn’t walk anyone.
That’s why the Yankees and several teams asking about his availability in a trade are so excited about his future.
Albert Abreu (25) – Yankees Starting Pitcher
With little room for argument, Albert Abreu is the most accomplished of the Yankees contingent in the Dominican League.
In four starts for Tigres del Licey, Abreu is 0-2, 1.10 ERA, over 16.1 IP, with 2 ER, 10 BB, 19 K.
The walks are a concern, but the strikeouts are on par with what the Yankees expect from him.
Unless pressed into action as a starting if the Yankees can’t fill the spots in their rotation, Abreu is slated to begin the season at Triple-A Scranton, the final leg of his journey to the big leagues.
Playing for Leones del Escogido, Estevan Florial has unimpressive. This continues a mysterious lack of progression for the highly-touted Yankees centerfielder.
A .182 batting average, with 33 AB, 1 run, 6 hits, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 7 BB, 11 K, 2 SB, 1 CS, 1 error, 13 games (2 starts in right field) is not what the Yankees need, or are looking for.
Similarly, playing for Toros del Este, Miguel Andujar (25) has seen limited action and yet to play a game in December (reason unknown).
A likely trade candidate, if packaged in a deal for a starting pitcher by the Yankees, his showcasing has produced a .267 average, 15 AB, 1 run, 4 hits, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 errors, 4 games (3 at 3rd base, 1 in LF).
No question, having players of this caliber participating in the Dominican League is a major step in a good direction by the Yankees.
The stats following each player are not as significant as the at-bats and innings pitched, providing a chance to move forward on the Yankees’ radar, as the team observes their work ethic and attitude.
We’ll give it another couple of weeks, and then it’ll be time to provide you with another update. (Note: All stats are provided courtesy of NewJersey.com)