Don’t get things twisted, the New York Yankees are committed to Anthony Rizzo as their starting first baseman for the next two seasons, but after that, the job could fall in the hands of one underrated prospect climbing the system.
To preface, Rizzo is in his 33-year-old season, signing a two-year, $40 million extension with the Yankees this off-season, including a 2025 club option. He played 130 games last year, hitting .224 with a .338 OBP, 32 homers, and 75 RBIs. Despite a chronic back issue that requires plenty of caution, Rizzo continues to fight it out and play despite the pain.
However, having a long-term solution at the position is certainly not a bad idea. The Yankees have seen Andres Chaparro rise to the occasion this spring training, putting himself in the conversation.
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The Yankees are excited about Andres Chaparro:
Chaparro has big league power, playing in 64 games with Double-A Somerset last year and enjoying 271 plate appearances. He hit .289 with a .369 OBP, 19 homers, and 52 RBIs. If you didn’t hear it the first time, Chaparro hit 19 homers over 64 games, and if you extrapolate that over a 162-game season, that is nearly 50 homers, 47.5 to be exact.
At 23 years old, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound infielder has played a bit of third base and first base, and while he doesn’t feature a lefty bat, which the Yankees seemingly prefer at the position, he has more than enough power to make up for any deficiencies.
This spring, Andres is hitting .333 with a .419 OBP, a 1.197 OPS, nine hits, four homers, and 11 RBIs across 27 at-bats. In fact, he’s only struck out six times in 13 spring training appearances, showcasing his patience at the plate and developing approach.
Defensively, he played 14 games at first base with Somerset last year, accumulating 122 innings with three errors. However, they may want to consider transitioning him full-time to the spot, allowing him to continue developing there since he doesn’t have the most athletic frame to man the hot corner. It’s possible he also features as the team’s primary designated hitter in the future, but I would assume Giancarlo Stanton is off the books or dealing with an injury for that to happen.
Nonetheless, showcasing Chaparro’s talents and underrated qualities is certainly a priority since the headlines have focused on Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez this spring.
Even manager Aaron Boone spoke highly of his power, notably after a mammoth Grand Slam against the Pirates on March 2nd.
“He’s earned his way here, and it’s because he can swing the bat,” Boone said. “It doesn’t surprise me when I see him get into one like that (grand slam).”
Chaparro most recently launched a homer against Toronto to dead-center, traveling over 420 feet and leaving a dent in the batter’s eye. He’s now tied with Jasson Dominguez for the most homers of any player this spring training on the Yankees.
As you can see, Chaparro has the skill set to be a valuable contributor in the future, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was elevated to Triple-A Scranton to start the 2023 season.