Sports

New York Yankees Have Solid Infield Depth in the Minors

| by Sliding Into Home
Ramiro Pena has filled in admirably for the Captain, Derek Jeter, and has been a solid back-up since he made the team to start last season. A slick fielder, who has never scared anyone with his bat in the minors (.255 career hitter), he often delivers key hits like yesterday's single to right-center that drove in two runs and put the Yankees ahead to stay.

The 24 year old Pena, who can play any position on the infield, is only 1 of 4 solid infield prospects on the 40 man roster who could potentially fill a utility infield role for the team. The other three – Reegie Corona, Eduardo Nunez and Kevin Russo, have been playing well at Scranton and could be just as effective in that role. So far this season playing time for each has involved moving around the infield to develop similar defensive versatility like Pena.

Nunez who has played mainly at shortstop, has been the stand out of the group so far offensively. In 10 games the 22 year old prospect leads the team with 14 hits and is batting .341 with 6 runs and 3 steals. However, he committed a lot of errors last year and has 2 errors so far this season for Scranton. Yet scouts still rave about him defensively.

Corona, also 22, over the last couple years has been solid defensively mostly at second, but has struggled at the plate. So far this year he is hitting only .222 in 10 games. Before last year began he was picked up in the Rule 5 draft by Seattle and didn't stick basically due to his lack of versatility. This year he has been seeing some time at short which should help him in the long run.

Because of his solid defense skills and bat, I think Russo will be the first to be called up if needed in a utility role. Playing mostly at third, he impressed in spring training but has started the season in a 6 for 39 slump (.154). Russo was the top right handed hitter in the IL in 2009 and should be better than what he's shown so far. In the field, he has also been solid at second and seen some time at short this year. If he can get more innings playing shortstop, he would have the most versatility of the three Triple-A players.

The Yankees' All Star infield has some solid reinforcements at the Triple-A level, however, down in Trenton a non roster second baseman named David Adams has been making some noise with his bat. A former Virginia star and now a top 20 Yankee prospect, Adams has been crushing the ball for the Thunder. He started off the year going 12-for-24 (.500). He has since cooled down a bit and is now hitting .368 with a home run, 7 RBI but is still leading the Thunder in hitting.

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The former 3rd round pick in the 2008 draft is solidly built and had a nice year in 2009 splitting time between Charleston and Tampa. Overall he batted .286 with 7 HRs and 75 RBI. If he continues to hit in Double-A, the Yankees will need to add another infielder to the stockpile of solid prospects.