The Spring Training game schedule is almost 2 weeks old, the first round of roster cuts were made yesterday, and the ST process has taken a step from "getting loose and back into the swing of things" up to "starting to think about the regular season and what needs to be done to be ready for that". With that in mind and with the Yankees off today, I thought it would be a perfect time to look at some of the big winners and losers so far in camp. There's still another 3 weeks to go until final roster decisions and anything can happen in that time, but these are the guys who have done the most to help or hurt their standing through the first 13 games.
Rob Refsnyder- No-brainer. And it's not even about how well he's actually played. Refsnyder is 4-16 with a double, a few walks, and 3 stolen bases in his 9 games, nothing special. It's the fact that he's playing so much that's the telling sign, that and his early ability to hold his own at third base. Joe is using Refsnyder in a variety of different scenarios at multiple positions and Refsnyder has responded well to it. He's showing he's capable of handling this 2B/3B utility bench role and that's got to be going a long way for a club that doesn't have a lot of vital options for that role.
Austin Romine- Makes himself a more likely Opening Day backup to Big Mac with each game he plays. His bat has been hot (5-14 with 3 doubles and 4 RBI in 7 games) and we already know that Romine is a more experienced and polished defensive catcher than Gary Sanchez. Sanchez is still the future and he's drawing his share of positive reviews, but the Yankees are surely interested in pushing his FA timetable back and there has to be some value in Romine's 183 plate appearances of MLB experience to Sanchez's 2. He's making the team's decision easier by showing something with the stick. If he can do that for a little while when the games count, that's gravy.
Nick Rumbelow- While fringe bullpen candidates like Lindgren and Goody have battled inconsistency, Rumbelow has steadily cruised along in his 5.0 innings of work. They've come in a team-leading 4 appearances (along with a handful of other pitchers) and it's worth pointing out that Rumbelow has gotten more than 3 outs in 2 of those appearances. He looked especially good on Friday, working 1.2 scoreless innings with 2 strikeouts. He has surrendered 8 hits in his 5 innings and he could stand to throw a few more balls out of the strike zone, but Rumbelow has to be scoring points with the coaching staff for working out of trouble, limiting damage, not issuing free passes, and showing he can go for more than 3 outs if needed.
Chasen Shreve- There was no doubt that Shreve was going to be in the OD bullpen, most likely as the primary lefty setup man to new-old closer Andrew Miller. But there was some doubt about whether Shreve could get back to his stellar early-season 2015 form after how poorly he finished the season. Shreve has shut all that doubt up with his early performance, throwing 4.1 perfect innings in his 4 appearances with 5 strikeouts. His changeup looked nasty in the one game I watched him pitch and he's locating his fastball better again. There was some repair work that needed to be done on Joe's trust and Shreve is doing a lot to rebuild that heading into the season.
Slade Heathcott- He wasn't going to make the OD roster if everyone was healthy, but Heathcott could have positioned himself as the first man up if somebody got injured. He's hitting a miserable 1-17 with 8 strikeouts and a walk in 8 games and his bat looks slow after more missed time with injuries. He's been a slow starter in the past and turned it on later, so maybe he just needs some more time. But right now Ben Gamel looks like a better call-up option if the Yanks had to dip into their MiL depth. It's also never a good sign when the opposing team can't even spell your name right.
Ronald Torreyes- My early sleeper candidate for the final bench spot hasn't done himself any favors with his quiet bat, not with Refs holding his own at the hot corner. Torreyes is 2-17 with 2 runs scored in 9 games played, and while he's at least making a lot more contact than Heathcott (only 2 Ks), he hasn't done much with that contact yet. Torreyes is probably the better defensive option at second and third over Refs, but he's going to keep losing ground to Refs if he doesn't start to hit a little.
James Pazos/Jacob Lindgren- Arguably the 2 worst pitchers in camp thus far, these guys have been walking walk factories, issuing a combined 8 free passes in 5.0 total innings pitched. Lindgren was reassigned to SWB camp yesterday and his command struggles are much easier to understand considering all the time he missed after his elbow surgery. I'm sure the Yankees were expecting a better showing from Pazos though. A lot of people in the organization really seemed to like him late last season and so far he hasn't lived up to that internal hype. He's struggling to throw strikes and struggling to get batters out on both sides of the plate.
CC Sabathia- This one may be an overreaction to yesterday's poor performance and the less-than-glowing scouting report on his stuff, but more than ever I feel like this is the year when CC can't afford to look bad in ST and early in the regular seasons. Bad CC has been an all-too-common theme for the last few years and with Nova and Mitchell each pitching well out of the gate, the calls for CC's removal from the rotation are only going to get louder with each bad outing. Joe came out and said CC had to "earn" his spot in response to yesterday's game, but that rings hollow to many fans who know what CC's making. He's had a lot to deal with recently in terms of his knee and alcohol rehab. His situation and the team's situation vis-à-vis his rotation spot will become even more uncomfortable if he doesn't pitch better going forward.