Yankees reassign 4 players to Minor League camp, including top outfield prospect

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Miami Marlins
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In a wave of reassignments that aren’t shocking, the New York Yankees have assigned Jeter Downs, Caleb Durbin, Spencer Jones, and Brandon Lockridge to Minor League camp. The name that stands out is top prospect Spencer Jones, who was the Yankees’ first-round pick in 2022 and ranked as their second-best prospect on MLB.com. He’s been having an incredible Spring Training, and while there’s buzz about a potential 2024 debut, it’s a longshot at best that the Yankees turn to the 22-year-old during the regular season given their outfield depth.

As we get closer to Opening Day, the waves of reassignments will only become more frequent, as the Yankees continue to shorten their roster and start giving their everyday regulars more playing time

Spencer Jones Headlines Group of Yankees’ Reassignments

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
Mar 2, 2024; Sarasota, Florida, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Spencer Jones (78) at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are going to start rolling out their everyday regulars not just more often in their lineups, but also longer into games, as they continue to build them up for Opening Day. This group of four players wasn’t expected to make the Major League team, especially since only Brandon Lockridge and Jeter Downs have experience at Triple-A, and all four of them aren’t on the team’s 40-man roster. Spencer Jones is expected to end up in Double-A with the Somerset Patriots as he didn’t have much experience at that level, and it’s the right decision.

Letting a brief Spring Training sample size affect the evaluation of a player would be foolish, and there’s plenty of time for Jones to develop and hone his craft at the plate. Jeter Downs and Brandon Lockridge could be roster depth in the case of injury, although it would take the team clearing a 40-man spot for either name to be considered for a promotion. The Yankees also designated Jeter Downs for assignment earlier in the winter, indicating that the Yankees don’t have him particularly high on their depth chart.

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MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
Mar 2, 2024; Sarasota, Florida, USA; New York Yankees infielder Caleb Durbin (87) at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

What will be interesting to watch is where the Yankees assign Caleb Durbin, who posted an OPS above .800 at Double-A and tore up the Arizona Fall League as well in his first year with the organization. It’s possible that the Yankees put him in Triple-A and allowed him to get some experience at the highest level of Minor League Baseball. He could factor into their infield if he performs well in Triple-A, and the 24-year-old is hoping to impress the organization with his versatile glove and contact-heavy bat.

Both he and Brandon Lockridge can also provide speed to a roster and would be excellent bench pieces if they prove to be reliable enough bats to roster at the big league level. It seems that if the Yankees have a reserve infielder, it’ll be either Oswald Peraza or an external addition, as they don’t have many options on their roster that they can reasonably proclaim is a viable alternative. It’s an interesting storyline to follow considering their interest in both Enrique Hernandez and Gio Urshela, who have since signed MLB deals with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers.

We could see a couple of these names in the Bronx over the next year or two, with most eyes on Spencer Jones and his development, but these are again unsurprising decisions. The Yankees are hoping they’re not once again in a position where they have to promote waves of prospects to fill out their roster as they were last season, where they finished with a mediocre 82-80 record.

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