Do you wanna know what the hardest part about writing this post for the Yankees is? It’s taking a gander at their roster and trying to figure out who the hell hasn’t already had their breakthrough campaign. I mean seriously it seems as though every single person the Yankees have called up to the Major Leagues over the course of the last 5 years has already had their “break out” moment. We can run down the list if you’d like: Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Dellin Betances, Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, Greg Bird, Chad Green…
It’s like a step-and-repeat at this point with Bombers promoting guys to the big league level and them instantaneously catching fire in an effort to push the Yanks to victory. Truth be told the only pair of exceptions at the moment appears to be Tyler Wade and Clint Frazier. And there in lies my choice for the New York Yankees’ break out star of 2019: Frazier.
The Yankees’ resigning of Brett Gardner to man Left Field for 2019 seemed to point to the end of the Clint Frazier era in the Bronx. The elite baseball prospect with a mane fit for lacrosse, had been bogged down by a concussion and its long-lingering symptoms. But their is something of a reprieve for Frazier in the form of Gardner’s age-linked decline. Now an elder-statesman on the roster, Gardner’s trademark speed and lefty-pop has quickly evaporated as he enters his late-30s. There’s a strong chance that he sticks around beyond just the 2019 campaign, but he’s projecting more as a spark off the bench guy than a starting outfielder in an otherwise stacked lineup.
I’d consider it something of a surprise if Clint Frazier doesn’t open the season on the Major League roster. But if he doesn’t I highly doubt he’ll be relegated to minor league baseball for long in 2019. Gardner’s workload is set to take a steep dropoff this year, and barring Stanton transitioning back to a full-time outfield gig, it appears the long-term answer is to work Frazier into the Outfield mix on a more consistent basis. Perhaps it’ll be more of a platoon role to start, and slowly he’ll transition into taking away full-time duties from Gardy. By seasons end though, if Frazier can hit like we know he’s capable of, I like the odds of him entirely usurping the role of starting Left-Fielder. In the process making the Yanks’ oldest full-time position player Giancarlo Stanton…at the ripe old age of 29…
In the case of Wade, he never really materialized as the kind of offensive threat the Yankees needed him to be. His lefty-swing would’ve proved ideal for a right-heavy lineup in New York, but with him never quite turning on the hit tool I’m afraid that he’s missed his window of opportunity. The Yankees infield rotation is now so deep, that Wade could potentially miss the cut on the big league roster altogether.
Some consideration was given to new acquisitions, James Paxton and Troy Tulowitzki, but for varying reasons. Paxton has been good throughout his career, but has never quite profiled as great. As a main component of an average rotation in New York, an elevation to elite standing while also helping the Yanks to a Divisional crown would be massive, but the prospects of that happening are slim. For Tulo, he’s playing for his dream squad and is desperately in need of a career resurgence. His Spring Training stats show promise, but ultimately he’s going to be at the mercy of an inevitable Didi Gregorious return cutting out the legs from the Tulo comeback tour.
And my runner up for the honor was none other than late-2018 phenom Luke Voit, who the Yanks acquired for next to nothing at the waiver-deadline last summer. His September tear was stuff of legend and many fans were quick to crown him our cornerstone first baseman of the new Yankee era. However he’s a strong 2019 campaign away from proving that his 15-minutes of fame aren’t quite up yet.