Yankees’ Spring Camp Has Shortstops Galore

TAMPA—When Derek Jeter built a moat around the Yankees’ big league shortstop job in 1996, the organization still had talented shortstops in the minor leagues.

Through the years, shortstop prospects such as Cristian Guzman, D’Angelo Jimenez and Alfonso Soriano were blocked from regular playing time in the Bronx by Jeter.

While Soriano shifted to second base and starred for the Yankees for three seasons, New York traded the other two shortstops before they established themselves. Guzman flourished with the Twins, though Jimenez’s promising career was affected by a broken neck suffered in an automobile accident.

Now, with Jeter retired and Didi Gregorius replacing the future Hall of Famer, the Yankees have another crop of highly regarded shortstops littering the organization.

“We have a few young shortstops,” minor league head Gary Denbo said. “(Jorge) Mateo, he’s still young and he’s working on becoming a total baseball player. He’s an aggressive player and takes instruction very well. He’s on his way to a higher level and to becoming an everyday shortstop.

Wilkerman Garcia is just 18 years old. Tyler Wade has stood out, and Kyle Holder is another exciting prospect for us.”

“We went for a long time with one shortstop at the major league level . . . Now we have good depth, and the good thing about shortstops is that they’re athletes, so they can play all over the field if the position doesn’t open up for them at the next level.”

Mateo, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, has been invited to big league camp for the first time this year.

“I am ready for big league camp,” said Mateo, the organization’s No. 1 prospect. “There are a lot of expectations. I try not to pay attention. I want to do what Jeter did in his career.

“My goal is to play in the big leagues this year.”


• Joining Mateo as notable non-roster prospects in big league camp are shortstop Wade, outfielders Aaron Judge and Dustin Fowler and righthander James Kaprielian.

• The Yankees signed shortstop Pete Kozma to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp. The slick-fielding Kozma earned regular playing time with the 2013 Cardinals, but his skills profile best as a utility infielder.

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