Yankees send down prospects Andujar, Florial

March 18th, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. -- and were two of the Yankees' most exciting prospects this spring, and despite high hopes for their respective futures, the touted duo departed big league camp following Sunday's 8-5 Grapefruit League victory over the Marlins at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Andujar's bid to serve as the Opening Day third baseman concluded as the Yankees optioned the 23-year-old to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The Yankees' No. 4 prospect and baseball's No. 3 overall prospect at third base according to MLB Pipeline, Andujar hit .262 (11-for-42) while slugging .643 with four home runs in 14 Grapefruit League games.

"It's difficult to send a guy like that down, that you know is going to be a really good player in this league," manager Aaron Boone said. "He came in here with a need to perform, and he absolutely did on both sides of the ball."

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Andujar's path to New York appeared to be blocked when the Yankees acquired infielder in a three-way trade from the D-backs on Feb. 20.

Andujar batted .315/.352/.498 with 36 doubles, 16 homers and 82 RBIs in 125 games between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A in 2017, leading all Yanks prospects in batting average and doubles.

"He played really well defensively. I think everyone got a peek at the kind of hitter we think he's going to be," Boone said. "I just had a long talk with him in here to go down there and continue to polish, continue to get better, continue to work. It won't be too long before he's up here for good."

Florial, 20, is rated the Yankees' No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline. The outfielder is seen as one of the more athletic prospects in the game, with above-average tools in his raw power, speed and arm strength. Speaking frequently with veterans like , Florial batted .231 and slugged .462 while smacking three triples in 18 spring contests.

"There's a lot of things I take from those guys," Florial said. "I learned a lot from those guys, how they handle themselves outside the field. Being next to those guys was a great experience. I think that is going to help me a lot."

Prior to Sunday's game, Andujar and right-hander were recognized as the winners of the Lawn Awards, given to the Yankees' top Minor League Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year. The Yankees have 43 players remaining in camp.

It's Sevy's time

has one tune-up remaining before taking the ball on Opening Day, the first such assignment of his career. Severino allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings to the Marlins on Sunday. He walked none and struck out seven, throwing 50 of 70 pitches for strikes.

Boone said that Severino's next start is slated for Saturday against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., which will put the right-hander on regular rest for the March 29 assignment against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

"It's an honor. We've got great guys here -- [Masahiro] Tanaka, CC [Sabathia], , who have been good pitchers for a long time," Severino said. "I just wanted to come prepared for the season and do battle every time they give me the ball. I was happy [when] they told me. I called my mom right away to celebrate."

Prospects' pitch

and , two of the Yankees' top pitching prospects, have been relocated to Minor League camp after posting double-digit ERAs in Grapefruit League action. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said that the organization remains bullish on both hurlers.

"I think Justus showed the kind of stuff that you'd expect to see," Rothschild said. "Chance, the arm strength was lagging behind a little bit, which you see in Spring Training. Because of that, the results were affected and it didn't look great, but he'll catch up arm-wise."

The Yanks' No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Sheffield allowed seven runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings (11.81 ERA) and is likely to open the season at Double-A. No. 6 prospect Adams gave up six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 frames (11.57 ERA) and will begin the year at Triple-A.

"He's healthy, and that's the important thing," Rothschild said. "He just needs to get down there and get some repetition, take the pressure off and get back to throwing the ball the way he can."

Fly away

After tying for the Grapefruit League home run lead last spring, Greg Bird connected for his first of 2018 on Sunday, and he made it count. Bird mashed a slider beyond the right-field picnic area, a jaw-dropping blast that came as part of a four-run New York first inning.

"I feel like it can kind of click at any time," said Bird, who recently identified a small mechanical tweak with hitting coach Marcus Thames. "You have a couple of good days or good at-bats back to back. That's the feeling. I'm trying to repeat that. When I'm right, I feel comfortable off lefties, the same as righties."

Injury report

(right oblique) was sidelined on Sunday with a sore throat and fever, Boone said. Ellsbury could hit under simulated conditions on Monday, with an eye toward playing on Tuesday against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla.

Up next 

The Yankees are under the lights on Monday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, hosting the Rays at 6:35 p.m. ET (listen live on Gameday Audio). will make his first spring start, with opting to work in a Minor League game.