By JED WEISBERGER
Back in 2016, infielder Tyler Wade was a key member of the Trenton Thunder, for which he played 133 games and batted .259 (131-for-505) as mostly the club’s leadoff hitter.
He played solid defense, showed dogged determination to improve, and admitted, upon moving up a level, pressed a bit.
“I guess I do try a bit too hard when I move up, maybe try to do too much,’’ said Wade at the time. “It takes me a bit to get used to the change,’’ referring to 29 games in Trenton in 2015, in which he hit just .204 (23-for-113).
“As far as my ability is concerned, I have the utmost confidence in myself.’’
We always liked Wade’s game and watched as he worked to improve his overall ability. It all came together for him in 2017, where he broke out by hitting .310 (105-for-339) and again flashing solid defense.
“That kid (Wade) is going to have an excellent major-league career,’’ said a scout from a National League East team. “If the Yankees don’t have a place for him, my team, and several others, will make one.’’
Wade’s play with the Triple-A RailRiders earned the native of Murrieta, Calif., who will play the 2018 season at 23 – not turning 24 until next Nov. 23 – a shot with the Yankees in 2017. He played in 30 games with the Bronx Bombers and hit just .155 (9-for-58).
Naturally, some “experts’’ jumped all over Wade, belittling his abilities despite never having seen him previously play. Every at-bat was criticized. Every play was criticized. Let’s judge the player on one at-bat, as he was in Wednesday’s game with the Mets at Port St. Lucie.
To these “experts,’’ we have some news. Don’t be surprised if Wade is the Yankees’ Opening Day second baseman. It will be Gleyber Torres’ position in due time, but, right now, he needs to get the rust out after missing much of 2017 with an injury and resultant Tommy John surgery.
Knowing Wade, he pressed a bit with the Yankees in 2017, certainly felt the pressure of adjusting and performing in the majors, but, again, his effort took nothing away from his ability. No doubt he will look a lot more like the player who broke out with the RailRiders in 2017 given his history.
The Yankees really like Wade and see his value as a super-utility player. He can handle all four infield positions and all three outfield positions. Yankees manager Aaron Boone has also been impressed with Wade’s work in Spring Training.
He has the speed to make a difference – 89 stolen bases over the past three seasons – and has matured into a decent hitter who can drive balls into the gaps.
Wade will prove to be valuable, both starting at one of seven positions if needed, or coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner or defensive replacement.
We have to agree with our friend, the scout from a National League East team. Wade will have a “solid major-league career.’’