Bryan Hoch has been the New York Yankees beat writer since 2007 and is the author of two best-selling books, The Baby Bombers: The Inside Story of the Next Yankees Dynasty and Mission 27: A New Boss, A New Ballpark and One Last Ring for the Core Four, plus an all-round nice guy.
I asked him a few questions to get his take on Spring Training so far.
As a beat writer for the Yankees, what does a typical day look like for you during Spring Training?
Generally speaking, they are longer days than during the regular season, which shouldn’t be surprising since there are so many more players in camp. For a 1:05pm game, our clubhouse access can occur as early as 7:45am, when we’ll have an hour to talk to the guys before workouts. Sometimes there is a clear storyline to follow (a Gerrit Cole start, or an Aaron Judge injury, for example) but I always try to come in with a fresh topic to chase that my competitors won’t have.
Who do you think will be the biggest surprise on the team this year?
I’m looking for Clint Frazier to have a big impact this season, especially with Judge and Stanton potentially unavailable early in the year. Frazier has already proven that his bat can play at the big league level, and I’ve noticed increased focus with him in all aspects this spring. He’s looking to make an impact.
Jordan Montgomery seems as though he is nearly all the way back from Tommy John surgery and I believe he’s going to recapture the form that he showed in 2017 and part of 2018. If he can, that’ll go a long way. The most impressive prospect I’ve seen this spring has been Clarke Schmidt. I believe he’s going to make a big league impact this year.
What impact has Gerrit Cole had on the team, both in terms as a team-mate and on pitching at the Yankees?
The best thing I can say about Cole is that it feels like he’s already been here for years. He seamlessly fit into the clubhouse mix and seems to be readily available to both hitters and pitchers, which is not always the case. This guy loves to talk pitching and seems to see the game on a different level than most.
What changes have you noticed after all the staffing changes on the team in the off-season?
Not much yet, to be honest. It seems as though they are still dealing with the injury hangovers of 2019 with regard to Paxton and Severino, and Stanton’s chain reaction of injuries since the beginning of ’19 has been mystifying. Judge’s situation has been kept very secretive, which concerns me long-term, even though he says he can still be ready for Opening Day. On paper, this team has the makings of a World Series winner – now they’ve just got to stay healthy enough to make it happen.
Sarah is covering the New York Yankees during 2020 as part of the growing team of writers at Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow her on Twitter @sarah2572