Analysis

Previewing The Yankees’ Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees

The Yankees have announced their non-roster Spring Training invitees, so it’s time to take an individual look at each of the players.

One week from today, pitchers and catchers will report to Tampa for Spring Training 2019. Position players will report five days later and five days after that, the Yankees will play their first Grapefruit League game.

Late last week, the Yankees announced their 21 non-roster Spring Training invitees. These are non-40-man roster players that they are bringing to Major League Spring Training. All other non-40-man players go to minor league camp.

Estevan Florial and Mike King are two big names that most Yankee fans know. However, there are several players that most people have never heard of. There are top and mid-range prospects, as well as veteran journeymen just trying to find a roster spot.

So, let’s take a look at who the Yankees invited. (Note: All players already on the 40-man roster are automatically invited to Major League Spring Training).

Pitchers (10)

  • LHPs Rex Brothers and Danny Coulombe are both on minor league contracts and have quite a bit of big league time, so it’s no surprise they’ll be in Tampa. The two lefties have struggled in recent seasons, but they will look to bounce back this year. Brothers was excellent in 2013 and 2015, pitching to a 1.74 ERA in both campaigns, but he’s been derailed by injuries. Coulombe has been very erratic. He has a career ERA of 4.27.
  • LHP Nestor Cortes was in big league camp last spring with the Orioles after being selected in the Rule 5 Draft. Last season, he was solid, sporting a 3.71 ERA across 23 games for Triple A-Scranton.
  • RHP Cale Coshow was a non-roster player last year, but he struggled last season with Scranton. Across 56.1 innings, he pitched to a 4.95 ERA. He had a good strikeout rate (26.3%), but too many walks (11.2%) and homers (1.44 HR/9). This one was a bit of surprise, but the Yankees must see something in him.
  • RHP Raynel Espinal was a non-roster guy last year, as well, and he had a strong Triple-A season (3.09 ERA in 41 games).
  • RHP Danny Farquhar is coming back from a life-threatening brain hemorrhage that he suffered last season with the Chicago White Sox. This is a wonderful comeback story and I wish him nothing but the best. He has a career 3.93 ERA with a 26.9% strikeout rate. He had his best season with the Mariners in 2014, when he pitched to a 2.66 ERA. Last season, he allowed five runs in eight innings before the brain hemorrhage.
  • RHP David Hale had three separate stints with the Yankees just last season. He was designated for assignment four different times before joining the Hanwha Eagles in Korea, where he posted a 4.34 ERA in 12 starts. He owns a 4.49 ERA in 192.1 career big league innings.
  • RHP Drew Hutchison had a 6.75 ERA in 42.2 innings with the Rangers and Phillies last season. He had a 2.14 ERA in 42 Triple-A innings, though, so he looks to be Scranton’s veteran innings-eater.
  • RHP Mike King broke out last season. He climbed three levels to reach Triple-A and was close to being called up in September. He will be called up at some point in 2019 and the Yankees want him to get to know his teammates and coaches before then, a la the Spring Training invite. Pitching to 1.15 ERA in Triple-A will do that for ya.
  • RHP Brady Lail has been a non-roster guy each of the last three years. I guess the Yankees like him. I don’t know. They’ve never called him up or protected him from the Rule 5 Draft, but maybe they’re holding out hope for something.

Catchers (4)

Every year every team invites a bunch of non-roster catchers to Spring Training to catch a bunch of bullpen sessions and simulated games. That’s about it.

  • Francisco Diaz has been a non-roster invitee each of the last three years, so no surprise here.
  • Kellin Deglan is here for depth.
  • Ryan Lavarnway has big league time and he’ll provide some catching depth.  Last season, he hit .288/.375/.485 (145 wRC+) with nine homers in 77 Triple-A games. He went 4-for-6 as a September call-up. He’s a .208/.268/.326 (59 wRC+) career hitter, so not much potential here.
  • Jorge Saez was a non-roster catcher last year. He hit .237/.324/.362 (94 wRC+) with five homers as a member of Double-A Trenton last year.

Infielders (3)

  • 1B Mike Ford was in camp with the Mariners as a Rule 5 Draft pick last spring. In Triple-A last season, he hit .253/.327/.433 (114 wRC+) with 15 homers. He’s a bat-only guy, but a decent first base depth option.
  • SS Kyle Holder was in camp as a non-roster player last spring. He only played 48 games last season due to injury and family matters, so he was passed over in the Rule 5 Draft. He’s a great defender and the Yankees will look to rebuild his prospect hype.

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  • 3B Gio Urshela was traded to the Yankees last August as a depth infielder. He played 27 games with Scranton and hit .307/.340/.475 (129 wRC+) with two homers. He’s another excellent defender, but he’s produced nothing at the big league level. However, he’s an excellent depth piece to stash in Triple-A.

Outfielders (4)

  • Trey Amburgey hit .258/.300/.418 (97 wRC+) with 16 homers and 12 steals in Double-A last season. However, he started extremely slowed and finished very strong. He’s a solid prospect.
  • Billy Burns hit .255/.314/.316 (68 wRC+) in Triple-A last year. He’s a switch-hitting speed and defense-first center fielder. He’s basically taking over the Shane Robinson role from last season.
  • Estevan Florial is the Yankees No. 1 overall prospect. He was in camp as a non-roster player last spring. He struggled a bit last year due to injury, but the Yankees will expect a quick bounce back. His power was drained by a wrist injury, but now it’s had time to heal. He’s not close to the big leagues yet, but the front office will love a front row seat to see him perform this spring.
  • Matt Lipka hit .240/.329/.352 (91 wRC+) with four homers and 21 steals in Double-A last season. He’s nothing more than outfield depth in the minors.

So, there’s a brief look at each one of the Yankees’ non-roster Spring Training invitees. There’s not a lot of excitement with most of the names, but there are good prospects (Florial, King, Amburgey), a couple surprises (Ford and Coshow), and a great feel-good story (Farquhar).

It’s almost time for baseball.

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