Yankees Spring Training Notes - SS and LF competition: Who will break camp?

Tampa, FL --The Non-Roster Invitees are making a strong case for a roster spot with the New York Yankees. In December of last year, we heard the story from Volpe's dad, convincing Anthony to give his body rest after a long season in Double-A and Triple-A. The following morning, Dad heard Volpe leave the home at the crack of dawn and Volpe told his father, "I have a chance to win the job", and he was off to Tampa.

Like a soldier being called to battle, these players are battling out this spring with one goal in mind: Make the Yankees roster. Brian Cashman previously indicated that Volpe is Major League ready defensively and the Yankees are going to have an open competition for the starting shortstop job. Fast-forward to Spring 2023 nine games into Spring Training and surely, we have seen a slew of action. What does the future hold for the NRI's? Here is a breakdown with Analysis and Stats as of March 4, 2023.

SS Anthony Volpe

The New Jersey native was selected in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Volpe was recently ranked the #1 Yankees prospect by MLB Pipeline and ranked fifth overall prospect in baseball. Last year he led in hits, doubles, and stolen bases. He ranked second in runs scored, home runs and was tied for second in RBIs. This spring he has been hitting the ball very well and showing solid defensive glove.

Spring stats: 15 AB, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 SB, 1.042 OPS, and batting .333 BA | Fielding: 0 errors in 8 plays

SS Trey Sweeney

The Yankees' #1 pick in 2021 and the seventh SS Prospect for the Yankees. On Saturday he launched one to deep center showing off his power. The left-handed hitter slashed .240/.349/.413 with 16 homers last season, although he reached Double-A at the end of the year. Six-foot-four and 200 lbs, Sweeney has the ability to hit for power with his strength and bat speed, and the Yankees need more lefties in the lineup. Like other Non-Roster-Invitees, he helped Somerset win the Eastern League title.

Spring stats: 4 AB, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2.100 OPS, .500 BA | Fielding: 0 errors in 5 plays

The left-field competition is also heating up as Aaron Boone commented on his views regarding Aaron Hicks. Boone says Hicks is the leading candidate for the Yankees LF position as it stands. However, there is outfield competition knocking on the door and waiting for an opportunity to take on the role. Let's breakdown the competitors and how they have performed thus far.

OF Rafael Ortega

The Venezuelan native was originally signed by the Rockies as a non-drafted free agent in 2008. He spent nine years in the Minor Leagues and had a brief call-up in 2012 where he made his MLB debut with the Colorado Rockies. The Yankees signed Ortega as a minor league free agent on December 24, 2022. The lefty has been making a case for the starting job. Ortega hit two HR in just eight at-bats this spring.

Spring stats: 8 AB, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1.875 OPS.

OF Willie Calhoun

Calhoun was selected in the fourth-round draft by the Dodgers in 2015. The Yankees signed Calhoun to a minor league deal in January of this year. The 28-year-old left-handed batter played with the Texas Rangers most of his career (2017-2022) then the Giants in 2022 where he was later designated for assignment. He spent most of his time in Triple-A batting .264, 42 R, 10 Doubles, 10 HR, and 43 RBI in 63 games. Calhoun has shown his power bat this spring.

Spring stats: 11 AB, 1 HR, 3 RBI 1.524 OPS. 

The Yankees have some room for NRIs making it out of camp, free agent signings, or a trade. As well as injuries to Frankie Montas amongst other players that will likely be placed on 60-Day IL. New York will have flexibility and there will be opportunities for NRI's to be called up.  After Saturday's game, Aaron Boone was asked if Volpe would break camp with the Yankees and win the job. "We're paying attention". The Yankees are known for wanting their players to conquer every level and the lack of at-bats at Triple-A will be a factor on whether Volpe and others will get the starting job.