What should the Yankees do with Jesus Montero?

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Jesus Montero.jpgThe Daily News had an in-depth article about Yankees’ catching prospect Jesus Montero over the weekend. The focus follows the standard Montero storyline: kid can hit a ton, but his defense is lacking. As you might expect, there’s lots of stuff in there about bruised arms from ball-in-the-dirt drills, speculation as to whether he can hack it at first base, etc. Good story.

And while this is probably no surprise to Yankees fans and prospect hawks, I was unaware of how much catching depth the Bombers have in the minors:

The Yankees have so much catching depth in their minor-league system
that, as good as Jesus Montero is, he may not be Jorge Posada’s
eventual replacement. Four of the Yanks’ top eight prospects, according
to Baseball America, are catchers.

Maybe it’s Austin Romine, last year’s Florida State League player of the year who Baseball America tabbed as the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect behind Montero. Or Gary Sanchez (No. 7), who signed for $3 million as an international free agent, or J.R. Murphy (No. 8). Maybe it’s 19-year-old Kyle Higashoika.

“I’ve never seen so many good young catchers together,” says Julio
Mosquera, the Yankees’ minor-league catching coordinator. “I tell these
guys, ‘The sky is the limit for you.’ “

There’s not much more valuable in baseball than a good young catcher, and though the Yankees have been forfeiting draft picks due to free agent signings and picking late for years, that kind of depth could be plenty to keep the talent flowing into the Bronx for years. Indeed, this winter it was widely reported that the Yankees offered Montero for Roy Halladay.

Whether that simply wasn’t rich enough for the Jays or whether they simply didn’t want to trade Doc within the division is unclear, but you can bet that at some point someone is going to trade the Yankees an expensive stud veteran for Montero or one of the other prospects.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.