Peraza out to win SS battle: 'That's my goal'

February 28th, 2023

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After getting a taste of postseason baseball as a rookie, is ready to be an everyday big league shortstop -- and the Yankees' No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, knows that opportunity could come as soon as Opening Day.

But the highly touted 22-year-old isn't letting himself get caught up in the ongoing battle with incumbent starter .

"I felt really good coming into camp. But honestly, I'm focused on my work and my job and my responsibilities," Peraza said. "I understand there is a competition for shortstop, but for me, I've got to walk my path. I've got to focus on what I need to do and pay attention to the small details."

Peraza impressed in a small sample down the stretch last season, slashing .306/.404/.429 in just 18 games following his Sept. 2 debut. It was enough to earn him a spot on the Yankees' postseason roster.

The next step for Peraza is winning the starting job out of camp over Kiner-Falefa, who started just five of the Yankees' nine postseason games in October.

"Once you go to the big leagues and you experience that level of baseball, you definitely want to be playing at that level," Peraza said. "That's my goal. My goal is to try to win this competition and establish myself as a shortstop in the big leagues."

Peraza went 1-for-3 with a seeing-eye single in the Yankees' 12-0 loss to the Rays on Tuesday afternoon at The Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. That came after going 1-for-2 with a walk on Sunday against the Braves.

With Opening Day still more than a month away, though, Peraza isn't going to win -- or lose -- the job overnight.

"It'll be an ongoing conversation," manager Aaron Boone said. "You never know what's going to happen -- let alone four or five weeks from now, but even just one week from now. Right now, it's Feb. 28, so it's more about treating these guys in a way that you're trying to build them up and get ready for a long season."

Peraza will also get some looks at second base this spring, while No. 1 prospect and fellow shortstop Anthony Volpe will also get some playing time in the coming days, including reps at third base.

Assuming everyone is healthy (and nobody is traded), however, the Yanks have veterans Josh Donaldson and Anthony Rizzo at the corners. They also have Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu at second base, with LeMahieu filling in at the corners as well.

That means Volpe is likely to begin the year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- though the idea of potentially sharing the same infield at some point in the near future is an enticing thought for Peraza.

"Volpe is a really good guy on and off the field, so if it happens, I'm going to be excited about it," Peraza said. "But to be honest, I don't know how you can align all the pieces together. And like I said a moment ago, that's not my job."

Krook making push
As it stands, is the only left-handed reliever projected to break camp with the Yanks, but is making a case for New York to carry a second southpaw -- and he has been for some time.

Boone said last week that the Yankees "were seriously considering" adding Krook to the postseason roster in October. Though they ultimately decided against it, they did add the 28-year-old lefty to the 40-man roster in November to protect him from being claimed in the Rule 5 Draft.

Krook racked up 155 strikeouts over 138 2/3 innings over 29 games (22 starts) at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. He particularly thrived against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .172/.283/.217 slash line (.499 OPS). Meanwhile, right-handed batters slashed .261/.360/.471 (.831 OPS).

On Tuesday, Krook struck out three over two scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut -- and all three strikeouts came against righties.

“Krook’s just a little unorthodox, you know?” Boone said of the lefty’s approach. “It’s a little bit different and the stuff is certainly different, so it’s good to see him get out there and get through two and have success.”

Cole debut
could make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday against the Tigers in Lakeland, though Boone said that hasn't been finalized just yet.

"Cole is, I think, Friday, but we could also switch and do a live [BP] again," Boone said. "Though I do think it's possible he's in line for Friday."