ORLANDO, Fla. -- It was one year ago this month that Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said that his expectation was for Aaron Judge to become the starting right fielder in The Bronx, a plan that worked out exceptionally well for all parties involved.As Judge vies to become just
ORLANDO, Fla. -- It was one year ago this month that Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said that his expectation was for Aaron Judge to become the starting right fielder in The Bronx, a plan that worked out exceptionally well for all parties involved.
As Judge vies to become just the third player to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award and the AL Most Valuable Player Award in the same season, Steinbrenner departed the Owners Meetings excited about the next wave of prospects rising through the Yankees' chain, many of whom could make an impact as soon as the upcoming season.
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"I really think we've turned the corner here," Steinbrenner said. "Part of it was by not trading away the Judges and the [Greg] Birds and the [Gary] Sanchezes of the world, and the [Luis] Severinos year after year when people were asking for them, being patient with the system, getting some new leadership a couple of years ago in player development. I think we're on the right track."
Steinbrenner specifically mentioned infielder Gleyber Torres, the game's No. 1 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, as one of his reasons for optimism heading into 2018. He also sees bright days ahead for right-hander Chance Adams, the Yanks' No. 2 prospect, and infielder Miguel Andujar, the Yanks' No. 5 prospect.
"One of the possibilities in my mind somewhere in the infield is Andujar; he had a really good August in [Triple-A] Scranton offensively, and even defensively, [he was] much improved," Steinbrenner said. "And we're going to have Chance Adams at some point, I hope. Domingo German is doing well.
"Arizona Fall League is wrapping up, Justus Sheffield did well, so did Albert Abreu, so we'll see. We've got guys at Double-A that are going to move quickly to Triple-A, we've got guys at Triple-A that may need a month or two and they'll be ready."
Steinbrenner said that the emergence of the "Baby Bombers" should permit the club to field a team with a payroll below $197 million in 2018, thus resetting their luxury tax penalty rate in the event they pursue big-ticket players in the 2018-19 offseason.
"I've been saying, you can have a world championship-caliber team and not have a $200-plus million payroll," Steinbrenner said. "We're finally getting to a point where that's coming true for us. We've got a lot of good young players on our team, made it to Game 7 of the ALCS -- I wish we had made it further, of course. We've got a lot of good ones coming."
• Alex Rodriguez's commitment as a Yankees special advisor runs through Dec. 31, and Steinbrenner said that he would welcome Rodriguez's participation in a similar role in 2018, including participating in Spring Training and the team's instructional league.
"I'd love to have him involved," Steinbrenner said. "He's going to continue if he can agree that he wants to be here, and if we can make it so. I'm sure he'll continue to work with Sanchez and other individuals he already has, so we'll see. He's very good with young players, they look up to him, and we've got a lot of good shortstops and middle infielders down below."
Steinbrenner said that there have been no conversations regarding Rodriguez as a potential managerial candidate.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.