Should the Yankees promote this exciting young infielder?

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers
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Jorbit Vivas was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that saw the New York Yankees send their 2021 first-round pick Trey Sweeney out. It was a shocking trade given the perceived value traded, and it looked to age poorly as Victor Gonzalez was the “main piece” Brian Cashman acquired in the deal, and he has since been designated for assignment. Looking at Vivas and Sweeney, the Yankees have seemingly pulled away with the better prospect, as their former first-rounder has an 85 wRC+ and 26.5% strikeout rate in his first 82 games in Triple-A.

Those same struggles cannot be said for Vivas, who has a 123 wRC+ with the Scranton RailRiders, and the Yankees’ hitting development has worked its magic on him with the 23-year-old hitting for more power and lifting the ball more often.

Jorbit Vivas Could Be An Option for the Yankees’ Infield

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers
Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve delved into DJ LeMahieu’s struggles and how the Yankees absolutely need an upgrade over him, but Gleyber Torres hasn’t been great either. Jorbit Vivas could come up and provide a spark to a Yankees’ team that desperately needs some infield help, and while they should address some of their needs at the deadline, they could have an internal solution to provide even more depth. Vivas’ best skill is his plate discipline, with a 16.6% walk rate while attacking pitches in-zone at a high clip.

Pitch recognition is a very important skill, and Vivas has it down to a tee, something that has quickly allowed Ben Rice to come up and dominate MLB pitching. What the Yankees have done with some of their top MiLB hitters is hone in on their plate discipline, something that Rice improved dramatically from 2023 to 2024. Swinging at more mistake pitches has resulted in increased power output for Jorbit Vivas, and he’s looking like an MLB-ready bat right now.

When you’re walking more than you strike out while bringing plenty of slug to the table, you’re doing something right, but the big shift I want to highlight is with his batted ball data. He’s running the lowest groundball rate of his Minor League career, and the Yankees have done an excellent job with his development there. Vivas has a 37.8% Sweet Spot Rate, which has helped him get more ideal launch angles for hits and extra bases.

The raw power tool lags behind other big names in the organization, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees shouldn’t be excited about what Jorbit Vivas could become. As a left-handed hitter, pulling the ball in the air at Yankee Stadium could yield massive results, making up for lackluster raw power and allowing a hitter to still leave the yard even on a batted ball that would normally be a flyout if it were hit to centerfield.

Offense isn’t the only skill here, as his speed and athleticism would provide a nice change of pace for a team that has struggled to generate much baserunning value. Vivas has some speed that could prove useful for the Yankees, especially in the infield where both LeMahieu and Torres grade out poorly in terms of sprint speeds. The Yankees are last in BsR (-10.9) and it’s by a significant margin, moving off of some of their slower players could do them wonders.

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
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Steamer currently projects Vivas for a 90 wRC+, which is higher than what we’ve seen from both Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu, but another key question here is what you’re getting defensively. Ben Rice has been a nice surprise at first base posting +1 OAA and +2 Fielding Run Value on top of the exciting offense, but can Jorbit Vivas provide some value defensively as well? According to Baseball Prospectus, Vivas has +0.6 Defensive Runs Prevented at second base and +0.3 at third base, making him an above-average defender at both spots.

Minor League defensive data should be taken with a grain of salt, but it should be noted that Defensive Runs Prevented loved Ben Rice’s glove at first base way more than the public consensus. It’ll be interesting to see if the Yankees try Vivas out at third base more often, as it could make him a versatile left-handed bat who can move around the diamond and provide some speed or plate discipline where it’s needed.

The comparison that I think fits Jorbit Vivas is 2022 Oswaldo Cabrera, as both hitters relied on ideal launch angles and pulled contact in the air to do their damage. Unfortunately, we never saw that profile from Cabrera after ’22, but I’m confident that Vivas can stick to his approach moving forward. This could be another success story for the Yankees’ hitting development, who found Ben Rice out of nowhere and could turn Jorbit Vivas into a steady infield piece.

Jon Berti’s return could make it hard to see a Jorbit Vivas promotion, but he’s certainly entered the conversation for potentially winning a job next Spring. The Yankees seem to like him a lot, and he’s already on their 40-man roster, so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle him this season in terms of any call-ups.

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