Kathy Willens/Associated Press
If there is an MLB season in 2020, the New York Yankees figure to look much healthier than they would have been if games had started as planned March 26.
Per Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, Aaron Hicks recently posted a video of himself taking batting practice at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Florida.
This marks significant progress for Hicks, who had Tommy John surgery in October and was expected to be out eight to 10 months. June marks the early end of that recovery time, though it’s unclear if Hicks has been medically cleared to play in games.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch in May that Hicks “playing center field for the New York Yankees this summer is a legit option, as expected.”
Hicks was among several starters on New York’s roster who were injured during the offseason or during spring training. Aaron Judge, James Paxton and Luis Severino filled out the rest of that group.
Severino’s season is over after having his own Tommy John procedure on his right elbow in February.
In the same interview with Hoch, Cashman noted Judge’s fractured rib should be healed by the time games begin: “Once we resume play, we’re excited to believe that he’s going to rejoin us at full capacity.”
Paxton told YES Network (h/t ESPN) in May he is “back to full strength” after undergoing surgery in his back to repair a herniated disk and remove a peridiscal cyst.
Hicks’ return to health will be particularly helpful to a Yankees team with World Series aspirations. He was limited to just 59 games last season but still managed to hit 12 home runs in 221 at-bats. In 137 games during the 2018 campaign, Hicks set career-highs with 27 homers and 79 RBI.
All of this, however, assumes there is a season since the owners and players have yet to reach agreement on a deal that will pave the way for games to be played.
As for prospects who someday hope to make their way to the Bronx, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo (h/t Hoch) reported recently that the Yankees agreed to undrafted free-agent deals with pitchers Carson Coleman, Ocean Gabonia, Trevor Holloway and Jarod Lessar.
New York only had three draft picks because signing Gerrit Cole cost the team its second- and fifth-round choices.
Arizona catcher Austin Wells was Yankees’ top choice at No. 28. Damon Oppenheimer, their lead scouting director, told YES Network’s Jack Curry (h/t NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty) that Wells bears some similarities to Joe Mauer:
“I wish I could say yes, that there’s an exact player that he reminds me of. But it’s a little difficult because I’ve seen some Joe Mauer in this guy’s swing. I’ve seen some of that kind of pop at times. Just to say, ‘Yeah, he totally reminds me of somebody.’ I can’t really say that. That’s the swing he reminds me of a little bit sometimes of Joe.“
If Wells turns into the hitter that Mauer was during his MLB career, the Yankees will have gotten the steal of the draft. Mauer, the No. 1 pick in the 2001 MLB draft, was a .306/.388/.439 career hitter and was named AL MVP in 2009.
Assuming the Yankees are able to sign Wells, they likely won’t be able to get a close look at his skill set until 2021, with the 2020 minor league season’s potential cancelation.