After the Mark Teixeira injury, the Yankees gave prospect Ronnier Mustelier every chance in the world to win a job with the major league team. Between the first day of Spring Training and an unfortunate play on a foul ball on March 15th, Mustelier only missed 4 games. Despite being a 28 year old without a plus glove, the organization wanted to see his bat everyday. Before the Yankees showed so much interest in him, it was hard to know what to make of Mustelier’s 2011 .925 OPS, and his 2012 .859 OPS. While he was far older than the competition, Mustelier has continued to hit through increasing competition inside pitcher’s ballparks. Projecting his bat in the major leagues would be a difficult task, but he was certainly the Yankees’ most competent and mature right-handed batter this spring.
It wasn’t through a lack of hitting or effort that he missed the Major League roster in April. After hitting .314/.368/.571 this Spring, Mustelier overran a foul ball against the Marlins one afternoon, and planted his knee right into a fence. It bothered him enough to hold him back over the next few weeks, and landed him in extended Spring Training. Ben Francisco and Jayson Nix ended up getting the call as the team’s right-handed DH and utility player, each of which have hit a wRC+ of 39 and 48. Meanwhile, the Yankees have gone on to trade for Chris Nelson to try and pick up some of the slack that these players couldn’t.
Mustelier returned from Tampa last week, and has already hit a double and a home run in Triple-A, though he’s just 3 for 16. With Kevin Youkilis on the DL and Eduardo Nunez day-to-day, the Yankees now have Jayson Nix at short stop and Chris Nelson at third base, which leaves the team without an adequate backup infielder. Nunez may be back soon, but even so, it’s hard to imagine the team continuing to play this low on infielders in order to keep Francisco’s desolate bat on the roster. To add to this, the Yankees project to see just two left-handed starter until the Blue Jays series on May 17th. Jorge De La Rosa gets the ball tonight, after which the Yankees may not need a right-handed DH after this Rockies series.
The Yankees obviously like Mustelier’s bat, and although he’s not a very good fielder, he has experience at third base, second base, first base, and the corner outfield spots. His glove is a much better fit for this over Francisco. After tonight’s game against De La Rosa, Ben Francisco better learn how to play short stop or hit like Babe Ruth, because Mustelier is gunning for his roster spot.