Chase Headley sees future All-Stars in clubhouseWith a loaded farm system, the Yankees appear positioned for long-term success
The Indians and Royals were two such teams, and the other four - the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays - make up four-fifths of the toughest division in baseball.
Relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller represented the Yankees' fearsome bullpen unit at the Midsummer Classic, while switch-hitting veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran earned his ninth career appearance before he and Miller were later dealt at the trade deadline.
For decades, the Yankees have provided the AL All-Star squad with a plethora of talented players and eventual superstars, and one current Yankees veteran believes that trend is bound to continue while the club's many young prospects begin to establish themselves at the major league level.
"I think the talent level is really, really good. I think the young guys have really brought a level of ability that I haven't seen from young players in a long time," Headley said in the opening week of spring training. "There's four, five, six guys that have the potential to be not just good Major Leaguers, but All-Stars and superstars."
Entering the 2017 season, the Yankees touted one of the very best farm systems in the game, with some experts ranking them as high as No. 1 in MLB. Newcomers like Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier have brought elite talent to New York's organization upon landing here after last year's deadline, while familiar faces like Jorge Mateo and former first-round pick James Kaprielian continue their development.
The successful recipe that Yankees GM Brian Cashman has tried to follow is the one laid out by the Chicago Cubs, whose organization continues to yield All-Star caliber talent while capturing World Series success. It seemed like every player the Cubs promoted over the course of 2015 and 2016 went on to become high-level contributors on an everyday basis, and that's exactly what the Yankees are hoping to replicate with their own batch of top-flight prospects.
"Usually you're somewhere where you see one guy or maybe two guys that have game-changing ability in the Major Leagues." Headley said, "I hate to put that kind of pressure on anybody because there's nothing wrong with being a good Major League player, but it's exciting to see the talent level."
With a full decade of major league experience under his belt, Headley has seen plenty of talented players come and go during his time in MLB. Headley was a Gold Glove winner and Silver Slugger back in 2012, and hopes that this new influx of young talent in the Yankees clubhouse will soon lead to a deep playoff run for the Bronx Bombers.
"It's exciting to see the hunger," Headley said. "It's exciting to see the type of people that we have in the clubhouse. We have a lot of really talented, professional, hard-working, humble players coming, and that's exciting as a veteran player."
Even with the promise of talent, however, there's no guarantees when it comes to making the 25-man roster. Each and every player has to continue to prove their tenacity and talent level, no matter what the preseason rankings might say. Constant improvement is the only way to get to - and stay in - the big leagues.
"If you're not continually getting better, then you're going to get passed," Headley said. "I think anybody who's here, if they're not trying to get better, they're probably on their way out the door because the game just keeps improving."
That kind of everyday pressure might be a major challenge for some, but it keeps players sharp throughout the long, arduous regular season. And in the Yankees clubhouse, there are no rebuilding years. The goal of winning a championship is always the standard set, no matter how young or old the locker room might be.
"I don't think there's any lack of motivation. We don't need anything outside of what we already have going on inside the clubhouse as far as motivation," said Headley. "We're going to be doing everything we possibly can to hopefully be playing for a World Series."