Those are the names of some of the most notable super utility infielders of the past decade. With roster spots at a premium, it’s a manager’s dream to have a guy you can move around the diamond. The Yankees are trying to make that dream come true for manager Joe Girardi in the form of Tyler Wade.
Wade was drafted by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2013 draft and hails from Murrieta, California. He quickly proved he belonged in the conversation for prospect status by hitting .272 with 22 stolen bases in his first full professional season. He would follow that up with a .280 batting average and 31 stolen bases in 2015 at the High-A level.
“It’s the same game wherever you go,” Wade said. “I feel like I’m in a good spot right now and at every level you just need to learn how to adjust.”
After the 2016 trade deadline the Yankees had an embarrassment of riches at the shortstop position. Didi Gregorious was having a career year in the big leagues, they just traded for the young phenom Gleyber Torres, and their best athlete in the farm system may have been Jorge Mateo. That left Wade with a few road blocks in his way.
The shortstop depth allowed the Yankees to get creative. With a player like Zobrist becoming so valuable to his club, they decided to try and manufacture a Zobrist prototype themselves. Wade was already playing second base to accommodate players like Mateo and Torres at shortstop and he was excelling there.
“That’s going to be my role going forward and I’m excited about it,” Wade said. “I’m comfortable playing at all of the positions.”
The club then sent Wade to get some extra work in during the Arizona Fall League where he played exclusively in center field. From there on the plan has been to move him around the diamond and get him used to playing anywhere any day. While that may be a lot for a young player to handle, it just comes down to the simple things.
“The key for him is going to be his preparation and setup and to make sure he’s ready on time,” Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ manager Al Pedrique said. “Whether it’s shortstop, second, or third he needs to get his full work in and when he’s getting ready to throw the ball he needs to make sure his feet are moving towards the target.”
Wade is getting his first taste of the Triple-A scene with the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. As of May sixth, Wade has played mostly shortstop but once Gregorius became healthy he has started to see time at second and third base and ,according to Pedrique, there are also plans for Wade to start a few games in center field soon.
“This kid can play anywhere and to me, as a shortstop he should be able to play anywhere,” Pedrique said.
Regardless of his position, Wade has the reputation to his coaches of working hard every day. Pedrique said he likes that Wade works hard during batting practice and he’s always taking ground balls at every position.
Wade knows every day is an opportunity to fill in for whoever needs a game off that day and he’s making the most of his time. Most recently he played third in a contest against the Syracuse Chiefs. Wade dazzled by making diving plays, sliding catches, and picking tough balls at the hot corner. Many games like that are proving his hard work is trending towards adding his name on the short list of the super utility men.