Via Ken Rosenthal -
Just as the emergence of shortstop Elvis Andrus persuaded the Rangers to move Michael Young to third base, the rapid development of two young shortstops eventually might compel the Yankees to approach Derek Jeter about a change.
The issue could not be more sensitive — Jeter, who turns 35 on June 26, wants to continue playing short, and he will be a free agent at the end of the 2010 season.
Scouts, however, have been buzzing all spring about Ramiro Pena, 23, and Eduardo Nunez, 21, both of whom have received increased exposure with Jeter participating in the World Baseball Classic.
Pena spent last season at Class AA, Nunez at Class A.
“They’re two of the better young kids I’ve seen … two legitimate core players for the future,” one scout says. “They’re not that far from being major-league ready — they have some tools and they know how to play.”
Will they hit?
“Their offense will not keep them from playing — they have at least survivor skills with the bat,” the scout says. “I enjoy watching them. They’re exciting players. They bring a lot of energy.”
As for Jeter, one problem with moving him off short would be finding him a new position. Center field would appear to be his most logical destination, considering that the Yankees are set long-term at first, second and third.
Robin Yount moved from short to the outfield at 29, but Jeter’s mentality is probably more similar to that of Cal Ripken, who did not shift to third base until he was 36.
The Orioles had to sign free agent Mike Bordick to justify the switch to Ripken. Jeter might resist for moving younger players, but his diminished range could weaken his case.
Both times now, when Jeter has been away at the WBC, Pena has taken advantage of the situation – in terms of making an impression. And, it was three years ago when Eduardo Nunez popped up on the Yankees prospect radar. However, then again, neither Pena or Nunez made it on to the Yankees top prospect list in John Sickels’ The Baseball Prospect Book 2009 – whereas SS prospect Carmen Angelini did make the list (albeit with a grade of “C”).
Remember, once upon a time, Domingo Ramos and Damaso Garcia were supposed to be the future of the Yankees, up the middle, too…