Bill Madden of the New York Daily News wrote a column over the weekend hyping 23-year-old prospect Eduardo Nunez as the Yankees’ eventual successor to Derek Jeter at shortstop.
Madden frames it as if the Mariners asking for Nunez held up the Cliff Lee trade. That could be technically true in that at some point general manager Brian Cashman surely said no to adding more and more prospects to the proposal, but Nunez was hardly the centerpiece of the negotiations and the Yankees would have gladly given him up in a deal for Lee if they felt the rest of the package was reasonable.
Madden also quotes two different scouts who have doubts about Nunez both offensively and defensively, none of which stops the columnist from writing that he “is viewed as a big part of the Yankee future.” Mark me down as skeptical, to say the least.
Nunez is still fairly young and has plenty of physical tools, so he’s certainly capable of developing further and becoming a viable big leaguer. However, right now he looks like utility infielder material after hitting .289 with a .340 on-base percentage and .381 slugging percentage in 118 games at Triple-A this season. Nunez managed just four homers in 464 at-bats and drew just 32 walks in 506 plate appearances.
At some point Jeter will cease being New York’s shortstop and when that time comes the Yankees may turn to someone like Nunez to take over for him, but he’s far from a top prospect, let alone “a big part of the Yankees’ future.” Barring some major improvements, Nunez looks a lot more like a Bubba Crosby than a Robinson Cano as far as promising young Yankees go.