Could ex-Yankees top prospect lock down outfield spot in 2024?

mlb: new york yankees at toronto blue jays, estevan florial
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The New York Yankees face several crucial decisions concerning their outfield as the off-season approaches. With free agency on the horizon, the team can chase top-tier talent like Cody Bellinger or opt for complementary players like Kevin Kiermaier. Kiermaier could prove valuable in centerfield as the Yankees await the full recovery of Jasson Dominguez from Tommy John surgery.

Yankees Prospects on the Radar: Pereira and Florial

The Yankees possess promising outfield prospects for depth, notably Everson Pereira and Estevan Florial. Despite struggling through 27 major league games this past season, 22-year-old Pereira holds significant potential, particularly on the offensive end.

Florial, once a premier prospect, is now 25 and eager to secure a regular spot on the active roster. His MLB stint during the 2022 season was lackluster, as he managed a mere .097 batting average and a .200 OBP in 17 games. However, his performance towards the end of the 2023 season caught his attention, registering a .230 batting average and a .324 OBP over 19 games. His stats included eight RBIs, a 28.2% strikeout rate, a 9.9% walk rate, and an 83 wRC+.

His Triple-A record was impressive: across 101 games, he boasted a .284 batting average, a .380 OBP, a 130 wRC+, 28 home runs, 79 RBIs, and 25 stolen bases. While these numbers highlight his aptitude at the pinnacle of minor-league baseball, Florial’s defensive skills and offensive progression have yet to convince the Yankees’ management.

Still, given his potential power and improvements, Florial deserves a chance to prove his worth over a prolonged period. The question arises: Would he truly underperform compared to players like Jake Bauers, Billy McKinney, or Franchy Cordero?

Managerial Dilemma: Florial or Pereira?

If manager Aaron Boone must choose between promoting Florial or Pereira, the former might be the preferred choice. This would allow Pereira, the younger of the two, to hone his skills in Triple-A, refining his fundamentals before a full-time promotion. The Yankees could leverage Florial’s abilities in the short term, viewing Pereira as a long-term versatile outfield solution.

The Yankees must begin prioritizing their prospects to extract value from their development. Relying on converting seasoned infielders, such as Isiah Kiner-Falefa, into outfield roles can lead to defensive shortcomings.

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