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Versatile Rookie Infielders Give Yankees Infield Depth


During a rain delay on Sunday, a video of Anthony Volpe played on Yankee Stadium’s Jumbotron for the few hundred fans waiting for the sport to start out.

Volpe, a shortstop, is the Yankees’ top prospect. He has been thriving at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre since being promoted on Sept. 2, batting .314 with two home runs over eight games. The new start has left some wondering just how much seasoning Volpe, 21, still needs before moving into his assumed role because the Yankees’ shortstop of the long run.

For now, nonetheless, the injury-plagued Yankees have a surprising amount of depth within the infield. Third baseman Josh Donaldson recently missed a couple of games on the paternity list, first baseman Anthony Rizzo is on the injured list consequently of headaches and the versatile DJ LeMahieu finally landed on the I.L. after attempting to work through a toe injury. However the team has no shortage of options due to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera.

Kiner-Falefa, who had been the team’s starting shortstop, has spent a while at third base — where he won a Gold Glove for Texas in 2020. Peraza, who like Volpe is a top shortstop prospect, has began five games at his primary position and one game at second base. And Cabrera, who has turn out to be a fixture on highlight reels due to his defense, has filled a super-utility role, spending time at second base, third base, shortstop and right field — and he’s learning first base.

Even the veteran Marwin Gonzalez has been helpful despite a lightweight bat, playing every position except center field and catcher this season.

LeMahieu, who plays second, third and first when healthy, noted “that’s the best way the sport’s going,” when asked about Latest York’s versatility. That flexibility gives the Yankees the power to maneuver pieces around, each to accommodate for injuries and to take advantage of matchups, which is a big luxury for a team with 15 players currently on the I.L. Kiner-Falefa said that having players move across the diamond could be “tough, but at the identical time, it gives you a possibility. It gives you a possibility to play more, it gives you at-bats.”

Neither Peraza nor Cabrera has excelled to date in opportunities at bat since being called up, though Cabrera hit his first home run in Sunday’s 10-4 win over Tampa Bay, which pushed the Yankees’ dwindling division lead back as much as five and a half games. But even with modest offensive statistics to date, Cabrera and Peraza have injected some energy into the Yankees at a time after they weren’t playing well.

“Each of them seemed very, very prepared coming up,” LeMahieu said. “Aggressive, loose, no fear. It’s hard to do whenever you just get called up. They’ve each added so much to our team already, so it’s been great watching them play.”

Cabrera’s ability to play nearly any position — and play it well — has earned him loads of opportunities since his debut Aug. 17. After moving across the infield shortly after his call-up, he has been in right field exclusively since Aug. 29, a stretch that overlaps with outfielder Andrew Benintendi landing on the I.L. with a wrist injury.

“I’m just attempting to learn probably the most possible,” said Cabrera, who had never played the outfield or first base before this season. “Once they need me on first base, I can be ready.”

While Cabrera’s extreme adaptability could help him secure a future within the Bronx, Peraza’s status as a natural shortstop has spurred short- and long-term questions on his fit due to the looming query of what’s going to occur when Volpe is prepared.

Much to the chagrin of some Yankees fans, Peraza has yet to completely overtake Kiner-Falefa on the shortstop depth chart, despite the fact that the latter joined the Yankees as something of a stopgap. Peraza has spent only 111 skilled innings away from short, including 10 games at second this season within the minors. However the Yankees have already got two established second basemen in LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres, a two-time All-Star who homered twice on Sunday.

In some unspecified time in the future there can be an odd man (or two) out, and Torres’s name got here up in rumors before and after this season’s Aug. 2 trading deadline. LeMahieu, who hopes to return in the course of the Yankees’ next homestand, is signed though 2026.

Kiner-Falefa sees the writing on the wall when it comes to his role because the team’s starting shortstop. He has had a difficult season on the plate — though he has delivered a couple of big hits currently — and has drawn the ire of some fans for his defense, whilst many advanced metrics indicate he’s well above average in the sector. He is just not a free agent until 2024, which suggests the Yankees could keep him in a utility role next season even when Volpe or Peraza were able to take over shortstop on a full-time basis.

If that’s the case, Kiner-Falefa says he could be advantageous in that role, provided the Yankees are succeeding.

“My thing is to simply help the team win,” Kiner-Falefa said. “If those guys come up, they usually play shortstop they usually make the team higher, it’s what it’s. I’m here to assist the team win, so whatever they need me to do, so long as now we have a winning vision, it makes it so much easier to maneuver around and be that sort of player. I feel we just must win, and it makes all the pieces so much easier.”

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