Throughout the offseason, general manager Brian Cashman has said Gleyber Torres would come into spring training with a chance of winning an everyday job.
Now, the 21-year-old is about to get his tryout.
Im super excited, Torres told MLB.com in Tampa on Monday, where he spent much of the winter, rehabbing from the injury to his non-throwing elbow that resulted in Tommy John surgery and ended his 2017 season.
Right now, I feel pretty good. Last year, I missed a lot of months of my season, but now Im excited to come to work and make sure my arm and everything feels right 100 percent again and play the game.
The spotlight will be on Torres, as well as Miguel Andujar, during camp especially if the Yankees dont bring in another veteran player to compete for the second or third base job.
For now, they have Jace Peterson and Danny Espinosa on minor league deals, but more proven veterans such as Todd Frazier and Neil Walker remain available in this historically slow-moving free-agent market.
A reunion with Frazier is still a possibility, but the 31-year-old is seeking a multi-year deal, which may not suit the Yankees needs.
The team remains determined to stay under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold, and the presence of prospects like Torres, who opened eyes during spring training last year and may have had an opportunity to reach the majors later in the season, along with Andujar, is a key reason managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has been adamant about being able to reset their tax base and still get back to the playoffs.
A year ago, Torres went 13-for-29 with nine extra-base hits in the spring, looking very much like the player the Yankees were hoping they got when he came from the Cubs in 2016 as the main piece of the return for Aroldis Chapman.
He followed the strong spring with a solid start to the regular season with Double-A Trenton, quickly earning a promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after just 32 games.
Torres hit well at SWB, with an .863 OPS in 96 plate appearances, before he got hurt performing a hook slide into home plate on June 17.
The injury cut short his first full season in the Yankees organization and prevented him from playing in the offseason.
Although Torres wanted to play winter ball in his native Venezuela, the Yankees preferred he work out in Tampa to focus on his rehab and reduce the risk of any setbacks.
If Torres is able to build on what he did last spring and in the first of half of 2017, he would no doubt give the Yankees something to think about come Opening Day, but they also can preserve a year of service time by keeping Torres in the minors until April 16.
Regardless of when he makes his debut, Torres development figures to go a long way toward determining whether the Yankees will be able to match their unexpected success from a year ago.