Something had to change. In the midst of a horrible slide, the Yankees had to try something to spark them out of this funk. So, they made some roster changes that could inject some youthful energy into the room. They called up switch-hitting prospects Oswaldo Cabrera and Estevan Florial, and then after moving Clay Holmes to the injured list, they brought back Ron Marinaccio.
But Aaron Boone cautioned that it’s too much to put on the two youngsters to expect them to be the spark the Yankees have been missing for a month now.
“No one’s expecting or counting on them being the revelation that turns us around,” Boone said. “Just go be a part of this team. … We want to spark and get things going offensively, but they’re here because they’ve earned their way here. We feel like moving forward they give us a couple of good pieces that can help us win ball games.”
The key to winning games is that the Yankees need to get healthy. DJ LeMahieu said he expects to be in the starting lineup on Thursday. Giancarlo Stanton could be on a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend and back next week, Boone said. Cabrera and Florial can change the narrative and boost some energy as the Yankees slog through the dog days of the season as they have lost 11 out of 13 and are 8-17 since the All-Star break.
Cabrera was making his big league debut Wednesday night in the series finale playing third base against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. His parents, who were in Wichita watching his younger brother who is in the Twins organization, were going to be there.
“Just play my game. I’m just gonna try to do the same thing that I was doing down there,” Cabrera said. “Don’t do more than I can. It’s my expectation.”
The 23-year-old is hitting .269/.348/.503 with a .851 OPS, nine home runs and 13 stolen bases this season. He’s drawn 22 walks and struck out 57 times in 197 at-bats across three leagues.
“Instinctual player,” is how one American League scout described Cabrera. “Was always one of the more mature guys on the field.”
The scout added that if the power Cabrera flashed in the second half of last season shows up again in the majors he could be an every day player on some major league teams. Cabrera finished with 29 home runs in 2021.
Bench coach Carlos Mendoza met Cabrera, a fellow Venezuelan, in instructional leagues and said he is a very mature player who understands the game and has baseball smarts.
“He’s someone we’re really excited about. You’ve always kind of loved his makeup and really like what he brings to the table as a switch hitter, impacts the ball and really is a good infielder wherever you put [him] on second, short, third. He’s played a few games now in the outfield and been working out in the outfield quite a bit down at AAA this year. He should be able to give us a lot of flexibility.”
Florial, the former top prospect, has power and speed. He is hitting .286/.368/.490 in Triple-A with a .858 OPS, 32 stolen bases and 14 homers in 89 games. Florial, who has had issues with pitch recognition in the past, has struck out 124 times in 353 at-bats and drawn 45 walks. He’s hit .206/.325/.353 with a .678 OPS, a home run and two stolen bases in 40 major league plate appearances.
The scout who saw him this year thought that Florial had shown significant improvements in his at-bats, particularly with pitch recognition.
“His [at-bats] were significantly more competitive,” the scout said.
Florial, who is still only 24, credited being healthy this season for being more consistent this season, as well as his preparation.
“A lot of things, not just one,” Florial said. “I think it’s working in the cage and using the fastball machine and seeing more breaking [balls]. It’s all helped.”
Boone said they will work to put Florial in situations to succeed.
“We’ll just see moving forward with matchups on a given day,” Boone said. “But I would expect him to play a good amount.”
The Yankees also traded for Harrison Bader at the deadline, who is expected to be their starter as soon as he is off the injured list. Dealing with plantar fasciitis, Bader has just begun working out in the pool and anti-gravity treadmill, but still hopes to be playing early next month.