Yankees preparing for a ‘battle’ at shortstop this spring

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Oct 20, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Oswald Peraza (91) throws to first base on a ground out by Houston Astros center fielder Chas McCormick (20) during the seventh inning in game two of the ALCS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees could be heading into Spring Training, not knowing who the Opening Day starting shortstop will be. Before those reading have an aneurysm, fear not, for IKF is not one of the guys that is expected to compete for the starting job. It seems that the Yankees would much prefer to use him off the bench, and the possibility of him getting dealt elsewhere still lingers. No, instead, the battle between Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza will be one to watch pan out in March. 

Aaron Boone spoke on YES’s Hot Stove Thursday and stated, “It [the shortstop position] will be a battle.” He believes that Volpe is going to come out firing and also stated that if he were to “kick the door in,” that the organization would be forced to show their hand and give him a shot.

As for Peraza, we all got a glimpse at just how talented a player he is during his 18-game debut last year. He wowed fans with his fantastic defense in the postseason, despite being called upon in the direst time. It’s clear that he has built a solid relationship with Gleyber Torres already, as their double plays and communication seemed to be on point. 

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Volpe and Peraza both look to stake their claim during the Yankees ‘open tryout’:

Volpe is the consensus No.1 prospect in the Yankees system, and though he didn’t get much time at AAA last year, he could still make the 26-man roster. His 5-tool skillset could translate very nicely to the majors, and should the team want to use him at either 3B or 2B, that’s within the cards as well.

If Peraza is to win the job, one should expect Volpe to start the season in AAA unless the Yankees offload some of their current talent at the major league level. He’s truly a nightmare for opposing pitchers and could wreak havoc on the bases to go with a very solid hit tool.

His power is there, as the 21-year-old hit 21 HR across AAA and AA last season (a 132-game sample size). He swiped 50 bags and played solid defense to go with it. His offense started off slow in both Somerset and Scranton, but once he caught fire, he didn’t look back. He was able to post a 122 wRC+ at Somerset, and during his cup of coffee at AAA, posted a 91. 

Peraza seems to be the more likely of the two to start OD at short, and that’s for good reason. In the 18 games he played in the regular season, he OPS’d .832 and paired it with a stellar 146 wRC+.

Though the sample size was small, as he had just 57 PAs, it seemed to be enough to earn the trust of the front office. He went on to play in a few games in the postseason, despite the organization waiting til September to give him the call to the majors.

It’s clear that they like his skillset, and while his ceiling may not be as high as Volpe’s, it should make for quite the competitive environment this spring. 

Peraza and Volpe both could be considered the middle infield of the future, though Gleyber Torres might have something to say about that.

Despite all the mock trades and rumors surrounding the latter, Torres could very easily play his way into an extension and force the Yankees to move one of Peraza or Volpe to the hot corner — or, dare I say, elsewhere via trade. This will be one battle you don’t want to miss, as Spring is just around the corner. Once it’s sprung, we’ll know more about how the team looks before the end of March. 

Whether it be either of the two stud prospects, Yankees fans can finally get ready for the kids to play. The organization seems committed to letting one of them, if not both, have a shot this year and earn their keep.

The IKF stopgap era seems to be coming to an end, and even with an addition of Josh Harrison, that shouldn’t change anything. Keep an eye on this competition, it will be one of the main stories in camp during what should be an exciting Spring Training.