Youngsters delighted by chance to reunite at highest level – The Denver Post

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202309021854TMS MNGTRPUB SPORTS YANKEES NOTEBOOK YOUNGSTERS DELIGHTED BY CHANCE 1 NY5

HOUSTON — When the Yankees beat the Astros on Friday night, they did so with five rookies in their lineup. Another came out of the bullpen.

With Jasson Domínguez (20), Everson Pereira (22), Oswald Peraza (22), Anthony Volpe (22) and Austin Wells (24) all starting, it marked just the second time since 1971 that the Yankees had five players 24 or younger start the same game. Randy Vásquez, also 24, then delivered two scoreless innings in relief.

“It’s very special,” Wells, who debuted alongside Domínguez, said before the game. “I don’t know a lot of guys who can say they debuted with four or five guys from the minors that they played with.”

Domínguez, whose MLB debut had been highly anticipated ever since he signed a $5.1 million contract as a 16-year-old, stole the show when the centerfielder homered off Justin Verlander — who is twice his age — in his very first at-bat.

Wells, meanwhile, picked up a single in his initial plate appearance and caught the entire game.

But the Yankees’ youth movement amid a disastrous season is about more than just the two players who played their first game on Friday.

Volpe could be a cornerstone in the making after becoming the first Yankee to record a 20-20 season as a rookie. Pereira is trying to show that he can be the left fielder of the future. Peraza’s versatility could make him a keeper at second or third with Volpe occupying his natural position, shortstop. Vásquez and Jhony Brito, 25, hope to have an impact on next year’s pitching staff, while Oswaldo Cabrera, 24, has shown value as a super utilityman despite a rough season at the plate.

“I’m so happy for [Domínguez] and Wells and Everson and everybody,” said Volpe, who is the most experienced of the bunch. “I just told them to enjoy it and have as much fun as they can.”

All in all, 10 of the Yankees’ 28 players on the active roster are 26 or younger. Nine are 25 or younger and seven are 24 or younger. It is clear that the team’s focus is on 2024 and beyond after an underachieving veteran core, poor roster construction and injuries put the Yanks out of the playoff picture with September just beginning.

While the Yankees are not where they want to be, their younger players are eager to seize the opportunities in front of them. They’re also thrilled to be doing so together.

“I’m very excited, especially playing with a lot of them in the minor leagues,” Pereira said. “Just getting to the big leagues is not easy. It’s a lot of work to get to the big leagues. But we played together for quite some time.

“So just to be here is very exciting.”

MARTIAN IN THE MIDDLE

Speaking of Domínguez, the switch-hitter found himself hitting third on Saturday after batting fifth in his debut. Aaron Boone chalked that decision up to his “obsession with balance and having three lefties in” the lineup.

However, the manager is also comfortable with Domínguez’s ability to hit so high in the order in just his second game.

“He’s, I feel like, totally cut out for this,” Boone said. “So I’m not worried about where he’s hitting in the lineup. I really do believe he’s gonna be a really good player. I feel like he expects to be here.”

Wells, meanwhile, moved up from fifth to sixth while behind the plate again.

YOUNG PITCHERS

Boone said that it’s possible that Vásquez and Brito will get some starts over the final month of the season. The righties have mostly been spot starters and rotation fill-ins when needed this year, but they’re currently in the bullpen with the team using Michael King on a five-day schedule.

Brito entered Saturday with a 5.12 ERA over 70.1 innings and 18 games, including 13 starts. Vásquez has a 2.22 ERA over 24.1 frames and six games, including four starts.

WHY NOT FLORIAL?

One young Yankee who hasn’t gotten a chance is Estevan Florial. The 25-year-old former top prospect has had a monstrous year at Triple-A, but the Yankees have repeatedly promoted other farmhands and veteran minor leaguers.

On Saturday, Boone said that Florial has come up in organizational talks, but him not being on the 40-man roster has “complicated matters.” Florial fell off the roster when the Yankees designated him for assignment in April, but he went unclaimed and remained in the organization.

“He’s been in that conversation for a lot of the last two months,” Boone said while adding that Florial still has the tools to succeed. “Just a couple other guys that, right now, we feel like we want to look at ahead of him.”

Florial entered Saturday hitting .281/.381/.548 with 24 homers, 66 RBI and 23 stolen bases. However, he’s struck out 30% of the time.

NOT THINKING ABOUT .500

The Yankees began the season with championship aspirations, but they entered Saturday’s game with a 66-69, last-place record. With that in mind, Boone was asked if finishing over .500 is now a goal with a month left to play.

“I don’t even look at it like that right now. I get asked about it. I’m aware of where we [are],” Boone said, adding that he doesn’t want think too far ahead. “So, of course, you want to finish strong, but I also feel like that’s four weeks away.”

The reality is that the rest of the Yankees’ season will be about developing the aforementioned kids, not the team’s record. With that said, the Yankees have not finished below .500 since 1992.

TORRES’ BACK

Boone said that Gleyber Torres is doing better after his back locked up on him before Friday’s game. Boone said that he’d see about the second baseman’s availability as Saturday unfolded, but Torres did not have tests done.

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