TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said he's excited to see what an influx of young players will bring to the major league team over the final weeks of a lost season and also hinted that changes could be coming to how the team utilizes analytics.
The Yankees plan to call up top prospects Jasson Domínguez and Austin Wells on Friday when active major league rosters expand from 26 to 28, moves made as center fielder Harrison Bader was claimed off waivers by Cincinnati.
The pair could make their major league debuts Friday at Houston, when the Astros are scheduled to start Justin Verlander.
“We’ll learn a lot in September and we’ll learn a lot in the spring,” Steinbenner told The Associated Press as he left the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa on Thursday. “That’s why I didn’t want to trade these guys away at the trade deadline. We’ve traded away too many guys the last few years. So, I think it will be exciting.”
The Yankees (65-69) are in danger of having their streak of 30 consecutive winning seasons end this year, and Steinbrenner said every facet of the team will be looked in detail going forward.
“We’re going to take a very deep dive into everything we’re doing,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re looking to bring in possibly an outside company to really take a look at the analytics side of what we do. Baseball operations in general. We’re going to have some very frank conversions with each other. This year was obviously unacceptable.”
Domínguez and Wells will join 22-year-old shortstop Anthony Volpe, who has had a strong rookie season, and outfielder Everson Pereira and infielder Oswald Peraza, who were recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre on Aug. 22.
Volpe hit a three-run homer in Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers and became the 15th MLB rookie to have a 20-homer, 20-steal season.
Domínguez, a 20-year-old outfielder, signed four years ago for a $5.1 million bonus, tying for the high given to an international player in that year's international amateur class.
He began this season at Double-A Somerset and hit .254 with 15 homers, 66 RBIs and 37 stolen bases in 109 games, then was promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Aug. 22. Domínguez had three hits and three RBIs in his RailRiders debut and is batting .419 with 10 RBIs and three steals in nine games.
“He’s got power, bat speed and strike zone discipline — he’s had that really from a young age, the ability to understand the strike zone," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Thursday. “We even saw that in spring training. You just saw a lot of real quality at-bats, so he has all the physical and raw tools you need, coupled with I think the DNA to control the strike zone. And now it's a matter of can you take that to the highest level in the land and do it consistently there?”
Wells, a 24-year-old catcher, was selected by the Yankees with the 28th overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft. He began the season at Class A Tampa and hit .177 in five games, then was moved up to Somerset, where he batted .237 with 11 homers and and 50 RBIs in 58 games.
Wells moved up to Scranton on July 21 and is batting .254 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 33 games.
“These are guys I’ve played with my whole career," Volpe said. "For these guys to be able to do this and get a taste of everything, I’m super happy for them.”
A Gold Glove winner with St. Louis in 2021, Bader hit .240 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 19 attempts over 84 games. Bader strained his left oblique in spring training and didn’t make his season debut until May 2. He was sidelined between May 29 and June 20 with a strained right hamstring.
Bader was acquired from St. Louis on Aug. 2 last year for left-hander Jordan Montgomery and hit five homers in nine postseason games for the Yankees.
"It just means so much to me to be a New York City kid playing in the Bronx for the Yankees and, yeah, it's just really special for a lot of reasons," Bader said. “So, there's just a lot of good moments and I'm just really excited because regardless of the situation, no one can ever take the fact that I put that uniform on, growing up in that city, which means a lot to me. ... I'm just very very excited and thankful for the opportunity and, man, that was special.”
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB
Mark Didtler, The Associated Press