TAMPA, Fla. — Miguel Andujar was one of the first dominoes in the crowded New York Yankees infield to fall this spring.
The hard-hitting third baseman was optioned to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders prior to Sunday’s game against the Miami Marlins after posting a .262 batting average with four home runs and 10 RBI in 42 spring-training at-bats.
While Andujar lived up to Yankees manager Aaron Boone’s expectation, the move could prove beneficial in the end of the touted prospect. Now Andujar can get everyday at-bats in Triple-A while working on his defensive game — which has improved — to start the season.
“Difficult to send a guy that you feel like you know is going to be a good player in this league,” Boone said. “He came in here with a need to perform and he absolutely did on both sides of the ball. Played really well defensively and I think everyone got a peek at the kind of hitter he’s going to be.”
The Yankees manager wants Andujar to continue to work on his plate discipline while he’s in Triple-A. It’s not that Andujar doesn’t necessarily have plate discipline, but that there will likely be times when the third baseman feels like he’s better than the pitcher and Boone doesn’t want him to “expand” his zone because of it.
However, Andujar did strike out 10 times this spring after striking out 33 times in 221 at-bats with the RailRiders in 2017.
“One of our themes has been to dominate the strike zone, right? To control it, to own it and that’s one of the challenges I put before him,” Boone said. “If he can do that, than I think he’s going to go from a very good major league hitter to climbing into that elite class.”
“Fortunately and unfortunately we feel like we’re in a really good, loaded spot there. His time will come.”
The Yankees also announced that Andujar was named the winner of the 2017 Kevin Lawn Award as the organization’s minor league “Player of the Year.”
Torres plays short
RailRiders infielder Gleyber Torres played shortstop in Sunday’s Triple-A game against the Buffalo Bisons.
Boone confirmed after the Yankees’ game that Torres will split time between second and shortstop while with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“I think we just want to keep his arm as stretched out, obviously, as a natural shortstop because we don’t want him to lose that quality,” Boone said. “He’ll also get 50-50 reps at second because that certainly could be a real possibility at some point.”
Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier was feeling better on Sunday.
Frazier has been out with a concussion for more than three weeks, but took dry swings and did some throwing and exercise.
Boone described Sunday as a ”good day” for the outfielder.
RailRiders reunion in big-league game
With the Yankees hosting the Marlins on Sunday, Tyler Austin, Billy McKinney, Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve went up against a pair of former RailRiders in Caleb Smith and Garrett Cooper.
Smith started for the Marlins, pitching three innings of five-run baseball on five hits — two home runs — and a walk. He struck out four straight batters in the second and third innings.
Aside from a four-run first inning, Smith was able to settle down.
“I felt like the two other innings were pretty smooth,” Smith said. “Four-seamer actually worked pretty well. I threw it the majority of the time and where I got in trouble — they weren’t hitting the fastball — I think every hit that they got was on off-speed.”
Cooper batted cleanup and play first base. The 27-year-old was 1-for-3 with a first-inning single off Luis Severino.
“You always have that little extra adrenaline to face these guys and face a guy like (Severino) on the mound. It’s something you love,” Cooper said. “It’s great seeing all of the guys. You stay in contact with them and after the year we had, (the Yankees) had last year — it’s (special).
Florial reassigned to minors
New York also reassigned touted outfield prospect Estevan Florial to minor league spring training on Sunday.
In his time at the big-league camp, the 20-year-old outfielder show flashes of his potential. Three of his six hits are triples.
Florial posted a .231 batting average with three RBI and a pair of stolen bases in his first big-league camp.
“It was just exciting to see him stay here this long. We didn’t anticipate that,” Boone said. “There was a lot of opportunity for him to play. And obviously you know how highly he’s thought of in our organization that he came in here and did really well for himself.”
Florial made the most out of his 26 at-bats with the Yankees.
Having the opportunity to roam the same outfield as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo was a good start.
“I came here and tried to learn the most I could,” Florial said. “I didn’t put too much pressure on myself. I feel it’s not necessary to put too much pressure on myself. I tried to come in and tried to get my workouts.”