Minor Leagues Report — By Tom K on January 31, 2017 3:16 pm
The list is below, with some snippets. The players with the best chance to actually make the team are the relief pitchers – because there is always a spot or two in the bullpen that is up for grabs in spring training.
Remember: Those on the 40-man roster don't need to be "invited" to spring training. The fact that Jorge Mateo is not on the list below is simply because he is already on the 40-man roster. He will be in spring training.
Let us break them down:
The top prospects (Following players all made the mlb.com Top 100 prospects list):
SS Gleyber Torres: Without a doubt, he is the #1 prospect in this system and can soon rise to the #1 prospect in all of MLB. No chance to make the roster, but will be fun to watch while here.
OF Clint Frazier: The second big prospect acquired at last year's trade deadline. Torres has moved out in front in terms of the top prospect in the organization, but Frazier is still likely #2. If all goes well, we'll see him this year.
LHP Justus Sheffield: And there is third big prospect they acquired at the deadline last year. Sheffield may arrive in 2018.
RHP James Kaprielian: If not for an injury in 2016, we may be talking about him as the #4 starter in the rotation right now. He was on the fast-track to make his debut as soon as last year
IF Tyler Wade: Wade has a great feel for the strike zone, and is sound enough to stick at SS long-term. The Yankees have tried to increase his versatility, though. He has played some second base in the minors and actually played some CF in the Arizona Fall League this year. They could be trying to turn him into a "super-sub" type. Power is nil.
OF Dustin Fowler: One of my favorite prospects in the organization. Flying under the radar with all of the noise going on around him. He'll be in Scranton this year, so we could see him in the Bronx later on in the season.
RHP Chance Adams: Dominating performance in the minors last year for the converted reliever. The hype has grown considerably on him. If the Yankees kept him in the pen, he would be a contender to make the roster. As a starter, he still needs some seasoning.
RHP Brady Lail: Lail is a right-handed flyball pitcher without a consistent strike out pitch. Guess how that will fare in Yankee Stadium? No chance to make it with this organization – maybe an NL team would give him a flyer.
RHP J.P. Feyereisen: The fourth player acquired in the Andrew Miller trade has some serious upside out of the bullpen. He has yet to appear in Triple-A, so I wouldn't expect him to win a slot this spring. Someone to keep an eye on, though.
LHP Dan Camarena: Smooth lefty does not feature dominating stuff, but has shown a lot of ability to generate outs.
LHP Jordan Montgomery: One of my favorite prospects. Gets lost in the shuffle, but his stuff has ticked up every single year since they drafted him. Once considered a "crafty" left-hander coming out of college, he can now dial up the fastball into the 93-94 range. Can easily get to the Bronx this year.
The minor league contract signings:
The relievers (They will likely all be given a shot to fill out the bullpen)
RHP Nick Rumbelow – Rumbelow, as you know, has already made some appearances in the Bronx. Taken off of the 40-man roster after 2016, the Yankees resigned him. I like his talent – but he has to show he has recovered from his injury.
LHP Jason Gurka – Who is Jason Gurka, you ask? A left-handed pitcher with an impeccable 9.35 career ERA in 15 games for the Rockies.
LHP Joe Mantiply: The Yankees claimed him from the Tigers this winter, before promptly dumping him back off of the 40-man roster. They were able to resign him. Pitched to a 16.88 ERA for the Tigers in five games last year.
LHP Evan Rutckyj: The Canadian with the hockey goalie name. Rutckyj was actually picked by the Braves in the 2015 Rule 5 draft, only to be returned to the Yankees. While in Braves camp, he made a few remarks about the Yankees, but obviously, the Yankees didn't hold them against him. Yet to make his big league debut. Depth.
Other minor league contract signings:
IF Pete Kozma – He may field like Ozzie, but he hits like shit. (He doesn't REALLY field like Ozzie, but you get the drift). The Yankees will park him in Triple-A, where he can play a variety of roles and provide some veteran leadership. A kid like Tyler Wade can learn stuff like positioning from a veteran like Kozma.
IF Donovan Solano – Solano has 1,068 career AB over the past five seasons. Made a brief appearance for the Yankees last year, hitting a home run during his tenure.
1B/OF Ji-Man Choi: The Yankees hope that Choi is nothing more than a Triple-A insurance policy. It is possible he makes the team if the organization feels that Bird needs some time down in Triple-A, but let us hope not.
IF Ruben Tejada: The veteran out of the Mets organization (played last year for the Cards and Giants) has some versatility and contact ability, but offers little speed or power. A bit generic, but nice to have as depth in Triple-A.
C Wilkin Castillo: 32-year old lifer has 22 games of MLB experience, but hasn't played in the big leagues since 2009. Guys like this are typically around to help out young pitchers.
C Kellin Deglan: 24-year old left-handed bat has played in 567 minor league games, hitting .227/.302/.389 in the process. Played his whole career with the Rangers until now.
C Francisco Diaz: Played in the Yankees organization last year as well. Played for the Phillies and Pirates organizations prior to coming here.
Rule 5 (minor league phase) pick:
C Jorge Saez: Drafted out of the Blue Jays organization. All four catchers listed here will simply fill out the minor league rosters, wherever the Yankees see fit.