Everyone has a Mike Humphreys. When I was a kid, I thought he would become the next great Yankee. He was my I-told-you-so of the future. For the rest of my life, I was going to tell everyone that I predicted his greatness before anyone else.
Humphreys came to the Yankees as a player-to-be-named-later before the 1991 season. He hit like crazy in Spring Training and earned the affection of 7-year-old Danny Epstein. He did not, however, earn an extended stay in the Bronx. The same process repeated in 1992 and 1993: a fantastic spring followed by merely tepid cups of coffee in the regular season. He never played in the majors again after 1993 and retired with a career .176 average in 100 PA.
Humphreys, now 51, is long gone from professional baseball. he left behind only a sparsely populated Baseball-Reference page, noteworthy only for his 80-grade dad hat:
HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? I get that it was the early 90s and fashion was a little bizarre, but where does the blank red hat come from? And IF he’s going to wear the blank red hat, why is that his profile picture? This man was a major leaguer! There’s no remaining decent photo of him in an actual baseball cap?!?
Anyway, old Spring Training stats are hard to come by. MLB.com only has them as far back as 2006, which won’t help us with Humphreys. So I did what nearly all baseball fans do at some point when trying to remember an old player: I called my dad.
“Hey Dad, did I wake you?”
“Yes, Dan, you did. What’s up?”
“Sorry about that, but I have a really important question to ask you. Do you remember Mike Humphreys?”
“Now where do I know that name from? It sounds familiar.”
“He played for the Yanks in the early 90s. Always hit a ton in Spring Training.”
“Yeah, Mike Humphreys! Always seemed like a good ballplayer. Just, for whatever reason, never panned out. Reminds of another guy they had a few years later. Bubba something-or-other…”
The conversation went on from there, meandering past Bubba Crosby, Garrett Cooper, Hensley Muelens, and Billy McKinney. As a rite of spring, there will always be a young player or two that looks like something special but never becomes an impact major leaguer. 2018 is no different, and here are the Mike Huphreyses of this year’s Spring Training:
Offense: Kyle Holder
Perhaps this isn’t fair to Holder. If you squint just right, you can see a lengthy major league career ahead of him. He was drafted in the first round out of the University of San Diego in 2015 as a glove-first shortstop. He’s never been a particularly potent hitter, sporting a career slash line of .264/.309/.327 in the low minors. But if Brendan Ryan can stick around the major leagues for 10 years, maybe Holder can as well.
In spite of small sample size, this spring may be his offensive breakout (though probably not). He is the current Yankee leader in OPS (1.147), going 8-17 with 3 doubles and a walk. Last year in Tampa, he managed only 22 XBH in 442 PA, so 3 doubles qualify as a power outburst.
Holder probably begins the year in AA Trenton. There are several middle infielders ahead of him on the prospect depth chart, so he’ll need to kick his bat into high gear to stay on the Yankees radar.
Pitching: David Hale
Hale has already had a bit of a major league career. He pitched for parts of four seasons for Atlanta and Colorado from 2013-2016 with a 5.30 DRA. He split 2017 between the Dodgers AA and AAA affiliates.
As a non-roster invitee for the Yankees, Hale has gotten decent results this spring. In 10.2 IP, he’s amassed 12 strikeouts and allowed just 4 runs (3 earned). The 14 hits and 7 walks tell a different story though, and he’s darn lucky to have given up so few runs with so many baserunners.
If he sticks around in the Yankees system, we may see him at some point in the regular season. He could surface for a few games as they rotate out tired or injured relievers, then drop down below again.
Neither Holder nor Hale looks to be a legitimate major leaguer with the Yankees. Nevertheless, there’s a 7-year-old kid somewhere who saw them play this spring and now thinks the world of them. Years later, someone will remember for no good reason and make fun of the goofy smile on Holder’s Baseball-Reference page. They’ll be the next Mike Humphreys; the I-told-you-so that never was.
Photo credit: Double G Sports