The shortstop question has hovered over this organization since Derek Jeter retired. That can’t be right. They’ve had a real shortstop since Jetes, haven’t they? Can we count Tulowitzki?
A quick giggle search brought me to a New York Post article from 2021 titled “Yankees Still Searching For Derek Jeter’s Long-Term Replacement at Shortstop.” A year and change later, the search continues.
The word “search” feels a little aggressive to describe how this has looked in the real.
Nobody’s gathering groups with flashlights to comb the forests of upstate New York. Instead, they’re hoping a shortstop emerges from atop this list.
1. SS Anthony Volpe | 21 | AAA | 2023
Turns 22 on April 28. Where will he be celebrating? He struck out 30.3 percent of the time in 22 Triple-A games, a huge jump from the 17.7 percent rate he’d posted in 110 games at Double-A, so it’s possible he spends a large chunk of 2023 with the RailRiders of Scranton Wilkes-Barre. If Oswald Peraza takes the job in spring training and plays well, we might not see Volpe in the majors all year. The polar opposite is in play as well, as Volpe offers the kind of topside that suggests he could settle the issue once and for all with a dominant spring or scorching start at Triple-A. Even riding the struggle bus to start 2022, Volpe finished with 21 home runs and 50 stolen bases in 132 games across the top two minor league levels. I’ve always been a little lower than consensus on him because the Yankees hype machine is so loud, and I’m not certain his loft-heavy approach will work against truly elite pitchers, but the 80th percentile outcome on Volpe would make him a fantasy superstar, and that puts him in elite company.
2. OF Jasson Dominguez | 20 | AA | 2024
The Dominator had been a submissive in his early pro career, but he switched it up in 2022, traversing three levels and acing High-A (.306/.397/.510 with an 18.5 percent K-rate) in time to spend his final five games as a 19-year-old in Double-A. He hit 16 home runs and stole 37 bases in his 120 total games. He was caught stealing just seven times, giving hope to those who’d love to see him retain some speed into his late-20’s. Listed at 5’10” 190 lbs, the switch-hitting Dominguez looks more like 290 given the Rock-says nature of his build, but so far he looks more like a running back than a pulling guard. With the pandemic pause and teenage steroid whispers in the past, Dominguez is primed and ready for a huge 2023.
3. SS Oswald Peraza | 22 | MLB | 2022
In 117 games across Triple-A and MLB, Peraza hit 20 home runs and stole 35 bases. He hit .197 in 16 April games and then .271 with 31 extra base hits and 29 steals over his next 83 games before getting the big call. He’s become a little underrated in Volpe’s shadow, but Peraza is a 6’0” 200 lb plus athlete with great hands and still-developing power. He probably should’ve been the shortstop throughout last season and should open at short this season, but I’m a little worried the Yankees don’t see an everyday player when they look at him, partly because they rarely see an everyday player when looking at their own prospects. Unless they’re talking to media people, at which point all their prospects look like everyday players.
4. OF Everson Pereira | 22 | AA | 2023
Pereira strikes out a lot for a premium prospect, but he makes enough impact that he could still catch on as a regular without making significant gains in the contact department. If he does figure out how to strike out less than the 30-ish percent rates he’s carried throughout his career, the 6’0” 191 lb Pereira will lay waste to the pitchers in his path. As is, he slashed .283/.341/.504 in 29 Double-A games despite striking out 30.1 percent of the time. He’s not a burner but stole 21 bases in 28 attempts across two levels and should be able to chip in 10-plus big-league steals without much trouble.
5. C Austin Wells | 23 | AA | 2023
A first-round pick in 2020, Wells came out of college as a borderline defender at catcher who could hit enough to switch spots if he couldn’t hang behind the plate. That’s more or less what he remains a couple years later. Might even be ready to contribute this season if the club doesn’t insist on keeping him at catcher. He finished 2022 with 55 games at Double-A, slashing .261/.360/.479 with 12 home runs and seven stolen bases. The defense dance is already mucking up the timeline in my opinion. His bat should’ve graduated High-A last year (130 wRC+ in 30 games) but was sent back to open 2022, where he dominated for 28 games (170 wRC+) before missing a month with injury. After a quick rehab in Low-A, he was promoted to Double-A. I’d say he’ll open in Triple-A this season, but history suggests he might have to wait. Probably a late-season call-up if the team thinks he can help in the postseason.
6. OF Spencer Jones | 21 | A | 2025
The scouting department found a Judge-ian prospect on the board at the 25 spot in this year’s draft and couldn’t resist the allure of 6’7” Spencer Jones: a 225 lb left-handed hitter with double-plus power and unique athleticism. From Judge to Oneil Cruz to James Wood to Jordan Walker to Elly De La Cruz to Spencer Jones, we’re seeing a trend of NBA-style athletes these past few years, and I’m here for it. Jones struck out just 18.9 percent of the time in 22 Low-A games, stealing ten bases and slashing .325/.411/.494 with three home runs.
Side note, as a team teaching the high fastball approach for years now, the Yankees clearly believe the simple equation that taller-than-tall hitters plus high fastballs equal home runs.
7. SS Trey Sweeney | 22 | AA | 2023
Another tall (6’4”) left-handed hitting first-round pick (20th overall in 2021), Trey Sweeney looks like a chimera of the rest of this list. Sorry, amalgam! Mixing pot? Soup? Stew? What I’m trying to say is to this point on the list, everyone has power, speed and a patient approach. The organization in general had a great year across the minors. Sweeney didn’t bring the power his frame implies, slugging .415 at High-A and then .395 in 11 games at Double-A, but he slugged .518 in 29 games at Low-A last season. We can see in the Isolated Slugging Percentages (.174, .163) that if he brings the batting average up (.241 in High-A), the slugging will follow.
8. 3B Andres Chaparro | 23 | AA | 2023
There’s probably just two players on this list who might be available in your deepish dynasty leagues: Chaparro is the one to rush out and get after blasting 20 home runs in just 71 games in 2022, striking out just 19.9 percent of the time to continue a steadily productive climb through the levels and set himself up as an option to step in for Josh Donaldson at some point in the near future.
9. SS Roderick Arias | 18 | DSL | 2026
A 6’2” 178 lb switch-hitter with plus speed, Arias signed for four million dollars on January 15. He didn’t have a great debut season, but it was just 31 games in the DSL, and his .194 batting average came along with .379 OBP and 113 wRC+. I tend to shy away from passive hitters, and you can’t get 28 walks in 31 games without patience that borders on the passive. Then again, these pitchers are no doubt missing the zone an awful lot, so nothing conclusive by any means.
10. SS Enmanuel Tejeda | 18 | DSL | 2026
On the other end of the money spectrum, we find Enmanuel Tejeda, who signed for $40,000 in the same class then slashed .289/.463/.493 with a 21.8%-to-13.3% walk-to-strikeout rate and 11 steals in 46 games. Listed at 5’11” 158 lbs, Tejeda has plenty of room on the frame to add a few extra doubles year-over-year.
Thanks for reading!