Aaron Boone’s first 25-man roster is essentially set for the New York Yankees coming 2018 season. Somewhat surprisingly, Tyler Wade is leaving Tampa a part of it.
It signals that the Boone era has officially begun. Wade is a nice player, he’s athletic and quick, but despite getting a chance last season, he does not seem like someone who Joe Girardi would have given an Opening Day roster slot. Now we will get to see what Wade can do, and in what capacity he will do it.
Wade’s official prospect status is questionable, especially considering he played 30 uninspiring games at the big league level last season. Our own John Sickels gave him a C+, leaving him outside of the preseason Top 20. He dropped completely out of MLBPipeline’s Top 30 while hanging around at No. 15 in Baseball America’s 2018 Prospect Handbook. If I were to have a Yankees Top 20, he’d likely sit in the 15-20 range.
None of that matters now as he’ll don the pinstripes in Toronto on Opening Day. In fact, he may be the starting second baseman with Neil Walker getting such a late jump this spring. So what can you expect from Wade?
Wade was part of the big 2013 MLB Draft for the Yankees, selected in the fourth round out of Murrieta Valley High School where he hit .524 as a senior. He made quick work out of the minor leagues, starting at a new level each season and making his Yankees debut by age 22.
Wade’s greatest asset is his speed. The last time John discussed that tool, he gave it a 60/65 grade. He has stolen 116 bases in his career at nearly a 74 percent rate. Not only is he quick, but Wade is smart on the base paths.
He has also shown his versatility over his career playing almost anywhere he has been needed. That is likely what earned him his spot on the roster, having played third, short, second and all three outfield positions in his career. His speed gives him range, and he is an above-average fielder at every position, even doing his best impersonation a former Yankees’ captain.
Despite being overmatched in his MLB debut last year, he had his best season in the minors with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2017. Wade slashed .310/.382/.460 with a career-high 22 doubles and seven home runs. He continued to show the same sound plate discipline he has his whole career, walking nearly 10 percent of the time.
It looks as if he’s made a few minor adjustments in his swing from his time in Trenton and the Arizona Fall League in 2016. His bat appears to be starting higher in his pre-pitch stance, and he shifts less weight back as he steps into the pitch. Perhaps it was these tweaks that helped add to his new-found power last season.
When the preseason opened, the talk was that the Yankees may be starting two prospects in its infield come Opening Day. Most expected those prospects to be Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. A few trades and signings of veterans have changed that, and now Wade is making a strong push to surpass Ronald Torreyes and get a few starts until Walker is ready. Either way, Wade is a player to watch and could excel in a super-utility role in 2018.