Spring chance for young Yanks to earn 'stripes

Frazier among organization's top prospects with invitation to big league camp

Spring chance for young Yanks to earn 'stripes

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' Spring Training will feature a tantalizing glimpse of tomorrow, with the club inviting rising stars like Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres to big league camp. Could they do enough to show management that they are ready to be part of the current roster?

Among the 23 spring invitees announced on Tuesday were Frazier, Torres, James Kaprielian and Justus Sheffield, all of whom were featured on MLBPipeline's 2017 Top 100 Prospects list. Jorge Mateo, also included on that list, will attend camp as a member of the club's 40-man roster.

Frazier isn't about to begin apartment hunting in New York just yet, though the 22-year-old outfielder knows that he will have the opportunity to open some eyes over the next two months.

"I try to think more in a realistic term," Frazier said. "I don't think I'm going to start there Opening Day, but it could happen. There's a reason that all the players are on that roster. They've earned that opportunity."

Seven Yanks are Top Prospects

The Yankees' main position battles are at first base, where Greg Bird and Tyler Austin will face off, and in right field, where No. 4 prospect Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks push for a starting job. Yet general manager Brian Cashman says that he doesn't intend to block anyone who proves they are ready to make an impact.

"I would not expect anything from Gleyber Torres in New York in '17, but anybody else playing at Triple-A, our team needs at the Major League level and their performance at the Minor League level will dictate whether they have an opportunity to put themselves into the mix," Cashman said.

Torres named No. 3 prospect

Fresh off becoming the youngest MVP in Arizona Fall League history, Torres' ceiling has the Yankees excited, though even beginning the year at Double-A Trenton might be a tall order for the 20-year-old. That said, Cashman notes that players like Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano forced their way to The Show sooner than anticipated.

"He's someone that the game just comes easy to," Cashman said of Torres. "The tool package that he has, it's tough to predict. When someone has that type of ability, it can be an avalanche. I would say [Torres needs] two years, but who knows?"

Frazier hit just .228/.278/.396 in his 25-game stint at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre following last year's trade with the Indians, but Cashman said that he "checks all the boxes" as far as his power, speed and bat speed. Now the GM will be waiting for Frazier's performance "to announce, 'You can't deny me, I'm ready.'"

"I didn't show the ability to play in the big leagues last year, or else I might have finished there," Frazier said. "I'm just going in there trying to give myself the best opportunity to win a spot when the time comes."

Top Prospects: Frazier, NYY

The organization isn't sleeping on 22-year-old outfielder Dustin Fowler, who will start the year in Triple-A and, in Cashman's words, has been "going about his business in a nice, quiet way." Fowler, the Yanks' No. 13 prospect by MLB Pipeline's 2016 end-of-season rankings, hit .281/.311/.458 with 30 doubles, 15 triples, 12 homers, 88 RBIs and 25 steals last year at Double-A Trenton.

Among other roster hopefuls, No. 20 prospect Chad Green is in the rotation mix and manager Joe Girardi may toy with putting Chance Adams in the bullpen to start the season. Adams is the club's No. 14 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and Cashman said that the 22-year-old righty "may very well be" the Yankees' top pitching prospect.

Kaprielian would like to be included in that discussion. Despite being limited to just 18 Minor League innings last year by a right flexor tendon strain, Kaprielian could earn roster consideration after hitting 97 mph in the AFL, striking out 26 men in 27 innings.

"What we do find is people do come out of nowhere," Cashman said. "You have your pecking order going into the process and the game separates the men from the boys on a yearly basis. It'll be fun to see how these guys compete with each other and against each other as they vie for an opportunity here at the big league level."

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.