Three standout hitters from the Yankees’ Spring Breakout game

PSA’s newest scout highlights players who could contribute to the big league roster as soon as this season.

Toronto Blue Jays v. New York Yankees

On Saturday afternoon, the Yankees sent many of their top prospects to George M. Steinbrenner Field to take on the Blue Jays’ equivalent as part of the first-ever Spring Breakout series. The idea? Get more eyeballs on the future of baseball. If you tuned into the game, boy did you receive a treat! If you didn’t tune in, well, you’ve come to the right place because I was there scouting both teams.

In my first piece for Pinstripe Alley, I’ll highlight three position players who caught my eye. These players aren’t my highest-ranked position players in the organization per se (one of them is), but they’re the ones who stood out in a loud way and could make their big league debuts this season. Tomorrow, we’ll cover the three pitchers who saw action in Tampa. Without further ado, let’s get things going.

Spencer Jones, OF

Over at Baseball Prospectus, I evaluated Jones as the best prospect in the Yankees’ system, much to the chagrin of many Yankees fans on Twitter/X. I get it: Jasson Domínguez is a known quantity who made a loud entrance in the Bronx before blowing out his elbow. But if you’ve watched even a little of Yankees spring training, hopefully, you’re seeing what I and many evaluators across the industry have observed for over a year. And if you caught the Saturday afternoon action, Jones crushed the two furthest and hardest-hit balls during the game per Statcast.

What I’m about to say, I don’t say lightly: Jones is an 80-grade size-adjusted athlete. Simply put, guys his size (6-foot-6) shouldn’t run as fast nor cover center field as gracefully as he does. His swing, which has always generated sensational exit velocities and is surprisingly compact, seems to have been improved over the offseason to create more lift without sacrificing contact. If this adjustment sticks during the minor-league season, there’s a legitimate case for Jones to enter the upper echelon of top prospects. Dare I say he might even be a top-prospect-in-baseball candidate this time next year? Yes, the caveat that we’re in spring training remains, but there are tangible changes he’s made that I think can stick. Jones has created a little more separation between himself and Dominguez with his showing this spring.

Jorbit Vivas, 2B

Vivas was acquired by the Yankees alongside Victor González in the deal that sent Trey Sweeney to the Dodgers. The only – and I mean the only – reason this trade was made is because the Dodgers needed to clear 40-man space to sign a guy named Shohei Ohtani, who you might’ve heard of. Given that Vivas and González are both 40-man occupants, it meant the Yankees capitalized on the Dodgers’ roster crunch and got the better prospect and a usable lefty reliever.

Why do I think Vivas is a better prospect than Sweeney? On top of his ability to put the bat to the ball at an elite rate, the attack angle of his swing – a measure of the vertical angle your bat takes while it goes through the zone – means he’s going to lift the ball more than you’d think for a contact-driven profile. His hand-eye coordination is that good, and that coordination was on full display Saturday afternoon when Vivas went 2-for-3 with a pair of hard-hit balls (only Jones had a higher exit velo among Yankees prospects). If Vivas can pull the ball with frequency, he’d be an ideal fit for Yankee Stadium where his home run tallies could be inflated.

Considering the recent injury to Oswald Peraza, Vivas has manned short in games to increase his versatility. He was already a fringe defender at the keystone, so I don’t think he’ll be an option at the six. Still, he’s capable of staffing second and third and is making a case to be one of the first guys called up in case of an injury. His bat-first utilityman projection looks to be very much intact, with the potential for a low-end regular still in play.

Caleb Durbin, IF

One could’ve made the argument that the Yankees should’ve traded for another prospect besides Vivas. Why, might you ask? Well, because the Yankees already had someone eerily similar to him in Caleb Durbin. Durbin, acquired by the Yankees when they jettisoned Lucas Luetge to Atlanta before the 2023 season, tore up High-A Hudson Valley before being promoted to Double-A Somerset, where he didn’t skip a beat. For good measure, Durbin also lit up the Arizona Fall League with a 1.045 OPS while swiping 21 bases in 23 attempts.

In many ways, Durbin is the right-handed version of Vivas: excellent contact rates, middling if not below-average power, and an uncertain defensive future. Durbin is slightly different from Vivas in that he’s slightly more selective with what pitches he swings at. His swing is also flatter than Vivas’, which works for him since he’s an above-average runner while Vivas is merely average. That speed was on display when he ripped a double down the left field line off Landen Maroudis, adding an RBI in the process.

This is the kind of player who always has a successful 12-year, big-league career as a key contributor off the bench, or as a capable spot starter at a myriad of positions. The big-league squad’s infield picture is murky for this season, but we could see things open in a big way for both Durbin and Vivas in 2025.

On the whole, I thought the Spring Breakout was a neat introduction for those who may not have had much, if any, exposure to their favorite team’s prospects. My gut tells me these exhibition games will expand so that each organization plays multiple games against other teams. One game for most teams seems light, and it’d be cool to get more exposure for players who were on the rosters but only played an inning or two (it was a seven-inning game). For instance, Keiner Delgado and Enmanuel Tejeda came in as replacements in the fifth inning, meaning they only got a few at-bats and innings in the field.

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