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Notes: Prospects honored; Chapman debuts

@BryanHoch
March 6, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees have announced that right-hander Deivi Garcia and first baseman Chris Gittens were selected as the winners of the 2019 Kevin Lawn Award, representing the Yankees’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year. The players received their awards before the Yankees’ game

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees have announced that right-hander Deivi Garcia and first baseman Chris Gittens were selected as the winners of the 2019 Kevin Lawn Award, representing the Yankees’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year.

The players received their awards before the Yankees’ game Friday night against the Orioles at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Garcia -- the Yankees’ No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline -- was the Bombers’ starting pitcher and worked two innings in New York’s 5-1 Grapefruit League loss, permitting two runs (one earned) on two hits with two strikeouts.

Garcia, who turns 21 in May and is the youngest player in big league camp this spring, combined to go 5-9 with a 4.28 ERA in 26 games (21 starts) among Class A Advanced Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. His 13.34 strikeouts per nine innings ranked fourth among all Minor League pitchers (minimum 75 innings), and his 165 strikeouts were the most in the organization.

“He spins it well,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “You try and get a feel for his mound presence, how he reacts in different situations. I thought he handled himself really well. He seemed unfazed and pitched with confidence [Friday], even in situations when he got in a little trouble. For Deivi, because his delivery is a little unique, it’s making sure he’s repeating the delivery that is going to allow him to have the command he’s going to need.”

Gittens, 26, won the 2019 Eastern League Most Valuable Player Award after hitting .281/.393/.500 with 23 homers and 77 RBIs in 115 games for Double-A Trenton. An MiLB.com Organization All-Star and Eastern League Midseason and Postseason All-Star, he led all Yankees Minor Leaguers in RBIs and tied for second in home runs while pacing the Eastern League in home runs, RBIs and OPS (.893).

The annual awards are dedicated in memoriam to Kevin O’Brien Lawn, the son of longtime Yankees vice president and chief of operations Jack Lawn.

'Missile' launch
Closer Aroldis Chapman said he felt "a little out of rhythm" as he made his spring debut on Friday evening, firing a scoreless third inning with one strikeout. He threw 10 pitches, seven for strikes, and allowed a double by Austin Hays.

Chapman said he would need "about four or five more outings” before Opening Day.

“The important thing about Spring Training is feeling good,” he said. “That's what is important at the end."

Stanton update
Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who has a Grade 1 right calf strain, has resumed running on an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill, according to Boone. Stanton remains unlikely to be ready for the Opening Day lineup, but there is optimism that he can rejoin the active roster in April.

“He did about 6 miles an hour. He's doing pretty well,” Boone said. “I would say it's going pretty well, but we're still only nine or 10 days out from when it happened. He has been able to ramp up his intensity here consistently. Those are all good signs.”

Outfield opportunity
Injuries to Stanton and Aaron Judge (stress fracture in right rib) have created opportunities for Miguel Andújar, Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman to showcase their skills in the Yankees’ outfield. Trey Amburgey, who posted an .822 OPS in 124 games at Triple-A, also has been playing well on both sides of the ball this spring.

“Trey has been on our radar for the last couple of years, frankly,” Boone said. “He's gone through our system and had success. He's a good athlete and a good player. Sometimes, it's these things that open up opportunities. He's a pro, and we have confidence in him.”

Up next
Right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga will look to continue a strong bid to make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster when he draws the start Saturday for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Pirates at Bradenton, Fla. Loaisiga has thrown five scoreless, hitless innings this spring, striking out nine without a walk. Right-hander Chris Stratton will start for the Bucs.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.