TAMPA — After just five major league games and two hits, Everson Pereira found himself batting fourth on Sunday.
“I just feel like he has a chance to impact the ball in there,” Aaron Boone said before the Yankees’ series finale against the Rays. “Despite not having a lot of results and even taking some lumps here in a couple of these games, I do feel like he’s put together some good at-bats, too.”
The 22-year-old left fielder’s designation as the cleanup hitter accentuated a rather youthful Yankees lineup on Sunday. Boone also had Anthony Volpe batting fifth and playing shortstop after an unprecedented Saturday off day for the 22-year-old.
Oswaldo Cabrera, 23, hit seventh and played right. Oswald Peraza, also 22, hit eighth and played third base.
“Excited to see what all of them are able to do here in this final month-plus of games playing regularly, playing together,” Boone said. “And hopefully they can take and run with it.”
With the Yankees in last place, below .500 and 10 games out of a Wild Card spot, their focus is now on the future. If that wasn’t clear already, Sunday’s lineup hammered the point home.
The underachieving team has an eye on 2024, and the rest of this season can be used to evaluate younger players at the big league level.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to really kind of get more information and to see where they need to continue to make strides,” Boone said.
Volpe, with the team since beating Peraza for the starting shortstop job in spring training, has impressed Boone while enduring the “ups and downs” that are to be expected of a rookie. The manager has been happy with Volpe’s defense and how he’s handled himself.
Volpe entered Sunday slashing a mere .217/.294/.392, but he’s shown flashes of an impact bat with 17 home runs. His speed — he had 20 stolen bases — has also been an asset for the Yankees, albeit with some inconsistency.
Boone said Pereira had some good at-bats against Tyler Glasnow on Saturday, but he hit just .111 over his first 18 plate appearances. Boone added that he’s liked how Pereira has moved around in left.
Pereira played all three outfield spots in the minors this year, but he’s yet to play center in the majors.
“I know he’s played all three,” Boone said earlier in the series. “He’s very much held his own in all three and he’s athletic enough to handle all of them. He’s got arm strength. So maybe long-term, he’s probably in the corner, but it’s probably not fair to totally rule out centerfield, either.”
Where Pereira plays in the future could depend on what the Yankees do with other players. Fellow prospects Spencer Jones and Jasson Domínguez play center, while Harrison Bader is an impending free agent.
“Does he have the ability to play center field right now? Yes,” outfield coach Luis Rojas recently told the Daily News of Pereira. “I’ve seen him play center in spring training games, and he handled himself pretty well. And that’s the position he knows best. So no doubt in my mind that he can come in today if we need him to play center.”
As for Peraza, Boone said “oh yeah,” when asked if his future is in the middle of the infield.
A natural shortstop, Peraza has mostly played third for the Yankees. But he also has experience at second base, which could open up if the Yankees move Gleyber Torres during the offseason. With DJ LeMahieu moving around, however, Peraza could stick at the hot corner, too.
Of course, Peraza could also be traded at some point.
“To me, he’s a big league shortstop,” Boone said. “Obviously, Anthony’s there. I think defensively, he can play anywhere, but he’s first and foremost good enough to be a major league shortstop. So when you have that, that’s the place you want to start from.
“I think he’s got a chance to be impactful wherever he is in the infield defensively.”
Then there’s Cabrera, who entered Sunday with just 12 plate appearances over eight games and three starts since July 22. After providing a jolt of energy last season, the utilityman has fallen short of expectations this year, hitting just .209/.270/.306 over his first 227 plate appearances.
Like the other youngsters, Boone hopes to play Cabrera regularly over the last few weeks of the season.
“We’re still high on him,” the skipper said. “I still think he has a long career in front of him in the big leagues, especially with his versatility. It’s a tough league, and people make adjustments to you. He’s gone through some bumps here at this level, but that’s also part of it. And the guys that are able to make a career out of this and become really good players at this level are able to learn from it.
“It’s not a straight line up for guys all the time. Hopefully, this will serve him well, not only moving forward in the short-term and next year, but down the road in his big league career.”
WELLS AND DOMÍNGUEZ
With the Yankees already playing a handful of kids, Boone was asked what the downside would be to calling up top prospects Domínguez and Austin Wells, who are both at Triple-A, when rosters expand in September.
“The downside is it could always not be the best first experience for guys,” Boone replied. “That’ll be more of a decision [for] player development, front office — with our recommendations, too. What’s best for their development? And it may very well be to be here and getting some of those at-bats, but we’ll see.”
Wells, 24, entered Sunday with 30 games of Triple-A experience. He’s hit .263/.356/.456 with four homers and 18 RBI there while making strides on his defense behind the plate. On Saturday, Boone also said the organization would like to get Wells some looks at first base.
Domínguez, meanwhile, began the day with just six days of Triple-A experience after a recent promotion. The 20-year-old has gotten off to a hot start there, going 9-for-20 (.450) with eight RBI.
On Sunday, Boone said “yeah” when asked if he feels Domínguez is close to major league ready.
“I think he’s gonna be a really good player in this league,” Boone said. “He’s a really special talent. After getting off to a little bit of a slow start this year in Double-A, he’s really played well here over the last few months.
“I like the fact that he, at a very young age, really controls the strike zone. Hopefully that’s something that, when he does get up here, will really be something that serves him well.”
JONES MOVES UP
Jones became the latest Yankees outfield prospect to receive a promotion on Sunday, as the organization moved the 22-year-old to Double-A Somerset.
“Organizationally, we’re really excited about his future,” Boone said. “It’s been a good first full year for him. And now, hopefully, as he climbs, he can finish off his season strong, but it’s been a successful year for him.”
Jones, the 25th overall pick last year, slashed .268/.337/.450 with 28 doubles, 13 home runs, 56 RBI and 35 stolen bases over 100 games at High-A Hudson Valley this season. The Vanderbilt product has drawn physical comparisons to Aaron Judge, as he is listed at 6-6 and 225 pounds. Jones, however, is a centerfielder by trade and swings from the left side.
Source: Yahoo Sports