Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Pitchers and catchers reported to Yankees camp today, and a happy spring training to all!

It’s the start of another exciting season and, on the whole, the Bronx faithful should feel optimistic. The Yankees have a far better roster than last year and the farm system is in good shape too. It’s hard to fathom the Yankees not improving after missing the playoffs in 2023.

Better yet is that if, baseball gods forbid, injuries tackle the team again, guess what? The minor league prospects who weren’t ready for the show last year might be this time around. Sure enough, the Yankees have acted accordingly and invited a number of non-roster players to camp in Tampa.

Such is the secret sauce for the Yankees. Always being in win-now mode while also having great player development. Spring training, of course, is a great time to get a small peek at the future.

Let’s take a look at some of the Yankees’ youth to watch this spring.

Chase Hampton (No. 4 prospect). Cashman loves his college arms and Hampton might be his latest great find. The 6’2″ Texan was a sixth-round pick out of Texas Tech in 2022 and posted a 3.63 ERA in 20 starts at Hudson Valley and Somerset. Hampton also punched out the world when he was on the mound, fanning 145 hitters in just 106.2 innings compared to just 37 walks.

A mid-90s fastball with solid spin, plus a slow curve and biting slider, means that Hampton should draw at least one start in spring training. A strong enough showing could be the difference between starting the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or returning to Somerset. He could easily make his pro debut this summer.

Ben Rice (No. 21 prospect). A catcher-turned-first baseman, Rice broke out in 2023 despite playing in just 73 games. He hit .324 with 20 homers and 68 RBI across three levels, mostly in Somerset. Imagine what could have been had he not missed two months with a bad back!

Rice’s immediate future is tied to Anthony Rizzo, who’s hoping for a comeback year. Rizzo’s contract is up at the end of the season, but the Yankees hold a club option for 2025. They might need to hold their breath and decline it if Ben Rice keeps swinging a hot bat. He’ll definitely get his chance in some spring training spot starts.

Clayton Beeter (No. 14 prospect). Remember when the Yankees finally traded Joey Gallo to the Dodgers for a random minor league pitcher? Beeter was that unknown arm who’s since turned plenty of heads in the Yankees organization. Like his fellow former Red Raider Hampton, Beeter is a strikeout artist who pairs a mid-to-high 90s fastball with a curveball and slider.

The downside is that unlike Hampton, Beeter has zero control of his pitches. He’s averaged 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), but nearly five walks per nine (BB/9) in three minor league seasons. He’ll switch to the bullpen unless he shows up with improved command of his stuff.

Roderick Arias (No. 6 prospect). We’ve got another international youngster in the 19-year-old Arias. The Dominican “no-doubt shortstop” signed a $4 million bonus with the Yankees and has performed well despite some injuries. He hit .267 with six homers in the Florida Complex League last year and posted an impressive .423 on-base percentage (OBP).

Arias’ best asset right now is his blazing speed and his power will improve once he adds some muscle. The young switch-hitter should get into a few games early in spring training before a likely assignment to the Tampa Tarpons.

Will Warren (No. 8 prospect). Whenever the Yankees suffer an injury to the rotation, and we know it’s going to happen, Warren may get the first call. The rail-thin righty turns 25 in June and posted a 3.35 ERA across two levels last year with 149 strikeouts in 129 innings. He’s ready.

What’s great about Warren is easily his pitch selection. He has a mid-high 90s fastball, a strong two-seamer, and a sweepy, spinny slider that’s considered his best pitch. Oh, and Warren also throws a curveball and changeup just for fun. Look out for when he starts spring training games, which should happen at least once.

Spencer Jones (No. 1 prospect). Be he lefty Aaron Judge or his own legend waiting to happen, Jones is getting a long look this spring. The 6-foot-6 slugger hit .267 with 16 homers and 66 RBI across Hudson Valley and Somerset in his first full season. Jones also showcased impressive speed to the tune of 43 steals.

As of now, Jones will probably get a handful of innings over the first couple of weeks of spring training games. His strikeout rate (K%) was an ugly 28.2% in 2023 and he needs to improve that. If he can hit well early on, we’ll see him at Triple-A sooner rather than later.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.