Yankees’ new infield prospect is starting to catch fire in Triple-A

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

Last winter the Yankees made two trades with the Dodgers, resulting in new left-handers joining the roster that haven’t pitched up to expectations. One of those trades included a recent first-round pick in the form of Trey Sweeney, whom Brian Cashman sent to LA for Victor Gonzalez and Jorbit Vivas. While Gonzalez flamed out and was designated for assignment, Vivas would impress in Spring Training before suffering a facial fracture. A slow start in Scranton combined with the time on the IL would move him away from the spotlight, but he’s come alive in June.

With his power starting to finally click alongside even better plate discipline, Jorbit Vivas’ left-handed swing and on-base skills could prove highly valuable to the Yankees as soon as this season.

Jorbit Vivas Could Force Himself into the Yankees’ Infield Equation

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

Swing decisions have always been a plus tool for Jorbit Vivas, who does a great job of not just taking pitches out of the zone, but also doing damage on mistakes in-zone. He owns a 72.1% Zone Swing Rate and a 23% Out-of-Zone Swing Rate, a rare combination that indicates Vivas has an excellent understanding of the strike zone. This is reflected in his 77th Percentile SEAGER score, a metric that tries to measure your swing decisions both in and out of the zone.

His 17.5% walk rate is excellent, and it’s paired with a low strikeout rate (19%) as well, but the problem for Vivas has always been generating consistent game power. He doesn’t have the frame to crush the baseball with authority, but his swing is very violent and results in plenty of pulled contact. This is perfect for a ballpark like Yankee Stadium, which rewards pulled flyballs with plenty of home runs.

With a 115 wRC+ and .403 OBP in Triple-A, he’s having a strong season with the Scranton RailRiders, but he’s made some key adjustments to get red-hot and put a tough start behind him. Over his last 15 games, he’s slashing .321/.493/.528 with his power finally coming around thanks to increased launch angles. He has a 35.7% groundball rate over that stretch compared to a 54.5% in the first 12 games he played in Scranton, where he had a putrid .197 wOBA.

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The Yankees have done a great job at the Minor League level of optimizing the skillsets of various players who either lack elite raw power or struggle to make contact. You can’t make every player a quality big leaguer, but they seem to be getting Vivas into the right process at the plate so he can contribute at the highest level. In his age-23 season, Jorbit Vivas is on the Yankees’ 40-man roster and could be an option if they lose another infielder in the coming weeks.

While Brian Cashman will almost certainly go after infield talent at the trade deadline, we’ve seen how aggressive they are with roster movement over the last few weeks. If Vivas continues to play at a high level and a need for a 2B/3B opens up, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get the call. That doesn’t mean he’s currently ready for the Major Leagues; he has under 60 games at Triple-A and struggled at that level with the Dodgers last season.

On the surface, the Yankees traded a first-round pick for a pitcher who they designated for assignment before the All-Star Break. When you look deeper into it, you find that they might have swapped out one left-handed infielder for an even better one, as while Sweeney has struggled in Triple-A (77 wRC+), Vivas has started to blossom.

Player development has become a strength for the Yankees, who are starting to churn out quality big leaguers from their farm system, and we’re seeing Vivas improve in just his first season with the organization. He’s marrying excellent swing decisions with high contact rates and improved launch angles, and if the Yankees are able to keep him on that trajectory, he could be a fun sparkplug in the Bronx either this year or next.

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