It seems odd to think of a Yankees hitting coach working with an up and coming Mets hitter, but when young prospects arrive from around the country to play baseball in the Arizona Fall League, that’s just what happens. Both New York teams have sent a battery of players to Arizona and wouldn’t you know it, they’ve been spending a great deal of time together.
The Mets have sent Brandon Nimmo, Matt Reynolds, L.J. Mazzilli, Cory Mazzoni, Paul Sewald, Rob Whalen and Julian Hilario, while the Yankees are represented by Dante Bichette Jr., Caleb Cotham, Branden Pinder, Alex Smith, Greg Bird, Eric Jagielo, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge.
These “New Yorkers” are now mingling in ways that they will never be able to again.
In a New York Times piece over the weekend, Tim Rohan described the atmosphere as almost fraternity like.
The Scottsdale Scorpions’ clubhouse is divided into five sections, one for each group of top prospects. On any given day, you may find the San Francisco Giants playing cards in one corner, the Mets lounging and keeping to themselves in their corner, and across the room, in the Yankees’ corner, Mazzilli freestyle rapping with Bichette Jr. and a few others.
Clearly it’s an eclectic group. Nimmo described one obvious cause of the relaxed atmosphere. “Nobody’s job is on the line here,” he said, pointing to the obvious pressures of the regular season, even in the minor leagues.
Nimmo also described Yankees batting coach P. J. Pilittere as throwing some of the best batting practice he’s experienced. “It’s firm, realistic,” Nimmo said. “He’s consistent.” Pilittere has worked with Reynolds and Mazzilli, as well as Nimmo on their approach at the plate. With so many Mets and Yankees in one place, it’s easy to see where the camaraderie comes from, at least until spring.