New York Yankees 2014 Spring Training Profile: Jose Pirela
The New York Yankees signed right-handed second baseman Jose Pirela out of Venezuela in July, 2006. His first stint in the Yankees’ system was in 2007 with the Dominican Summer League, where he played in 65 games and batted .273/.367/.746. The 24-year-old has been making the rounds in the Yankees’ minor league system since then.
Originally signed as a shortstop, the Yankees played Pirela at both shortstop and second base through the 2011 season. In 356 games as a shortstop in those five years, he committed an astonishing 107 errors. In 84 games as a second baseman, he committed just 11.
Needless to say, the Yankees determined that he was not exactly well-suited for the shortstop position. At 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, his physique fits better at second as well. And so, the SS experiment officially came to an end after the 2011 season.
In 2012, the Yankees tried Pirela at several positions, including left field and third base before finally committing him to the second base job full-time in 2013. Over 111 games with double-A Trenton that season, Pirela committed just 16 errors at second base. He made it to triple-A Scranton for five games at the end of 2013.
His minor league resume paints him as a utility guy, but he could be a viable defensive option at second base at the big league level, especially if anything goes awry with the injury-prone Brian Roberts. Offensively, there is some uncertainty. His numbers have been sporadic, with his best line coming in 2009 at .295/.354/.381 over 97 games. His BA dipped to .252 in 2010 and to .239 in 2011 before picking up again to .293 in 2012.
The Yankees’ big league lineup is lefty-heavy, so Pirela’s right-handed bat could provide a good tool against left-handed pitchers. In 2013, he played in 129 total games and put up a .274/.358/.413 line. He’s young, and hasn’t had any injury scares (knock on wood) — the time is ripe for him to get a shot at the big league level. Pirela could easily starting the year in Scranton and get his big break sometime in the 2014 season.