With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Yankees squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.
TAMPA, Fla. -- If you enjoyed seeing a younger generation of Yankees strut their stuff on the big league stage over the final two months of the 2016 season, management believes that a full year of at-bats and innings will produce even more compelling results.
The Yankees played some of their best ball after turning the keys over to the kids, going 32-26 (.551) after July 31 to finish the season with 84 victories. They haven't posted a losing season since 1992, and the personnel in pinstripes see no reason why that should change now.
"We felt real good about the way our players performed when they were able to go up and compete at the Major League level," said Gary Denbo, the Yankees' vice president of player development. "Obviously we've got some exciting players that we think are going to be able to contribute at the Major League level and help us win championships."
They'll need to keep pace in an American League East that doesn't have many soft spots, but general manager Brian Cashman believes that the Yanks' blend of veterans and young players will be able to open some eyes.
"We contended all the way to the end last year. That was proof in the pudding," Cashman said. "Listen, if our current roster stays healthy and performs up to their maximum capability or close to their maximum capability, we're without a doubt a Wild Card contending team at the very least."
Closer Aroldis Chapman, who returned to suddenly find himself one of the Yanks' more experienced players at age 28, would agree with that assessment.
"You never know what's going to happen," Chapman said through an interpreter. "All I know is that this is a really young team, and they're going to fight very hard. I think we're going to do very well."
Here's a glance at the Spring Training picture for the Yankees:
Pitchers and catchers report: Tuesday; first workout, Wednesday
Position players report: Feb. 18; first workout, Feb. 19
First Grapefruit League game: Feb. 24 at 1:05 p.m. ET vs. Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field
New faces: Chapman was traded to the Cubs last July 25, won a World Series ring and then signed a five-year, $86 million deal to come back to New York. The Yankees spent $13 million to bring in designated hitter Matt Holliday on a one-year contract, and they also signed slugger Chris Carter for one year and $3.5 million earlier this month.
Interesting non-roster invitees:Chance Adams has been talked about as perhaps the best pitching prospect in the organization, while 2015 first-round Draft pick James Kaprielian has top-of-the-rotation stuff and could make his Major League debut this year. Touted lefty Justus Sheffield will look to impress after coming over from the Indians, and Cashman mentioned lefty reliever Joe Mantiply as a dark horse to make the squad. On the position player side, Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier are ranked among the game's most promising prospects, while former Met Ruben Tejada will try to beat out Ronald Torreyes for a utility job.
Prospects to watch:Aaron Judge will try to win the right-field job after hitting .179 in his first taste of big league duty last year, while right-hander Chad Green is a serious candidate for a back-end rotation spot. In addition to Adams, Frazier, Kaprielian and Torres, the Yanks will be taking close looks at third baseman Miguel Andujar, outfielder Dustin Fowler, infielder Jorge Mateo, left-hander Jordan Montgomery and infielder/outfielder Tyler Wade.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.