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Prospects could fill void in Yankees' infield

An early projection of New York's 25-man Opening Day roster
MLB.com @BryanHoch

TAMPA, Fla. -- Spring Training is more entertaining with legitimate battles taking place, and that projects to be the case in Yankees camp, where manager Aaron Boone's depth chart features question marks at a pair of infield spots.

The organization is high on top prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, and the youngsters could be the answers at second and third base. Boone will also hammer out the back end of his starting rotation and his last bullpen spot, though those decisions typically are not made until the final week of camp.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Spring Training is more entertaining with legitimate battles taking place, and that projects to be the case in Yankees camp, where manager Aaron Boone's depth chart features question marks at a pair of infield spots.

The organization is high on top prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, and the youngsters could be the answers at second and third base. Boone will also hammer out the back end of his starting rotation and his last bullpen spot, though those decisions typically are not made until the final week of camp.

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"I view Spring Training as a time where it's about the individual," Boone said. "It's about getting each guy ready for Opening Day. We're going to do things from a team concept. We'll do some team-building things. We'll do things that I think are important in building on camaraderie and our on-the-field focus, but it's about getting individuals on the field ready."

While it is too early to know for sure who needs to pack their passports for Opening Day (March 29, against the Blue Jays in Toronto), here is MLB.com's first educated guess at the Yankees' 25-man roster:

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Catcher (2): Gary Sanchez is set to return as the starter after hitting a career-high 33 homers in 2017, giving him 53 in just 177 big league games. Austin Romine is expected to serve as the backup, with Kyle Higashioka beginning the year at Triple-A.

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First base (2): Greg Bird is locked in as the starter, aiming to play his first full big league season. The Yanks' faith in Bird was rewarded when the lefty-swinging slugger had eight homers and 25 RBIs in 29 games after returning from the disabled list last August. Tyler Austin provides some right-handed thump as a backup.

Second base (1): Ronald Torreyes played well last year when Didi Gregorius missed most of April due to injury. With Torres coming off Tommy John surgery on his left (non-throwing) elbow, expect the Yankees to begin the top prospect in the Minors. Torres should help the 2018 Yankees, but probably not before April 14, a service time quirk which allows his free agency to be delayed a year.

Video: Top Prospects: Gleyber Torres, SS, Yankees

Third base (1): Andujar's bat is believed to be big league-ready, and the 22-year-old prospect has worked hard on polishing his defense. Andujar's promise permitted the Yankees to feel comfortable dealing Chase Headley and not re-signing Todd Frazier during free agency. Andujar can also shift to first base in a pinch.

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Shortstop (1): Gregorius is coming off a 2017 campaign in which he established career highs in runs (73), homers (25) and RBIs (87), despite missing the first month of the season. "Sir Didi" also led the Yanks in multi-hit games (44) and average with runners in scoring position (45-for-148, .304).

Utility (1): With Torreyes potentially in a starting role to open 2018, Tyler Wade can have an opportunity to show his versatility, filling in at second base, third base, shortstop and the corner outfield spots. He'll be challenged by non-roster invitees Danny Espinosa and Jace Peterson, both of whom struggled in the Majors last year.

Outfield (5): The players appear set, though Boone still needs to decide how to deploy them. Brett Gardner will start in left field, Aaron Hicks is the front-runner to start over Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, while Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are sharing duties in right field. Judge and Stanton will also be at designated hitter on a semi-regular basis, as will Sanchez.

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Starting pitchers (5): The first four slots will go to Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray and CC Sabathia, leaving only the No. 5 spot up for grabs. Jordan Montgomery is the likely choice, after the 25-year-old lefty had a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts last season, leading American League rookies in starts, strikeouts (144) and innings (155 1/3).

Bullpen (7): The relief locks behind closer Aroldis Chapman are Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and Adam Warren, though Green and Warren are competing as starters this spring. Expect to see both land in the bullpen, with Chasen Shreve likely to snag the final roster spot, holding off non-roster challenger Wade LeBlanc.

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

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