Didi Gregorius led off that day and is easily the most interesting prospect story emerging. After Derek Jeter retired, the kid had to show that he could handle following the Captain. He did so in the media with maturity and clear focus, telling the press that he was focused on what he can do, not what Jeter did. In Sunday’s contest, Gregorius made his first plate appearance grounding to first.
Gary Sanchez was behind the plate and his work that day was fluid, quick, and skilled. He had good instincts about what pitch to throw when and where, showing increased confidence since the last time I saw him play. At the plate he struggled to recognize the off-speed pitch, but exhibited a bit more patience laying off balls low. He was late on a ball up in the zone and flied out to end the at-bat. A scout told me last season that he was “most impressed” with Sanchez’s development (along with Jorge Mateo) over any other Yankees prospects, calling him, “elite.” He exhibited a short, smooth swing direct to the plate. Sanchez has to answer questions about his defense in the 2016 season. His commitment to improving as a catcher had been an issue. He split time in 2015 between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton, and is at a pivotal career moment. He needs to put all the pieces together, at the plate and behind it to show the Yankees he’s ready.
Aaron Hicks, who I’ve covered since 2010 when he was in the Twins organization looked like the solid option off the bench that the Yankees are hoping for. He had good power in his upper and lower half, with good control of his body and swing. He fouled off a few, taking his time, stepping out. He had the look of a veteran who’s still finding his place in the majors. He swung through the high fastball for the strikeout. He also later grounded out to the short.
Lane Adams was impressive in his first two at-bats of the day. The left-fielder worked a walk, getting the count in his favor with a mix of smart aggression and measured patience. His pitch recognition helped him spot the low off-speed offerings of Phillies pitcher Charlie Morton, and he adjusted within the at-bat. He worked off the back leg with a lot of good, steady power. His timing helped, but he really got himself on base by recognizing Morton’s mistakes and taking advantage. Later, he worked his second walk.
Rob Refsnyder was also good for the free pass, but added some signature speed to steal second and third after being walked. He’s a solid all-around player who helps his team in a number of ways. Having him on base is a threat, and that day he showed it. The bigger story on Refsnyder this season is his transition from playing second base to third. That day he handled the ball well, scooping up the first ball hit to him and made a clean play. He’s part of an interesting, exciting trio that includes Gregorius and the player that he switched positions for, Starlin Castro.