Will any of the non-roster invitees make the roster?
The 2018 New York Yankees have much of their roster set in place come opening day in Toronto. Questions surrounding first base will be answered this year by Greg Bird, coming off of an injury plagued year last year. Didi Gregorius has seemingly solidified the shortstop position for years to come. The outfield situation is, if anything, too crowded with the likes of Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton filling out the starting roles, with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury also in the mix.
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While the roster does have its strengths, there are many young (and old) non-roster invitees looking to cement one of the few holes in the Bronx Bombers' lineup. Names such as Danny Espinosa and Jace Peterson were brought along to compete with Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, and recently acquired Brandon Drury for starting infield positions, while others like Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield look to take a rotation or bullpen spot. Nobody on this list is a lock to make the roster, however some players have a better shot than others based off of their resume, skill set, and needs of the team. Keeping this in mind, let’s look at who has the best chance of cracking the 2018 squad as we head into spring training.
Honorable Mention- The guys on this list are either earning their first year in spring training, or were just called up to get extra reps in with the team in Tampa over the next month. Regardless, none of these players have a real shot of making the team, but definitely keep on the lookout for some of these names in the future.
RHP Cody Carroll, RHP Cale Coshow, RHP Raynel Espinal, RHP David Hale, RHP Brady Lail, RHP Dillon Tate, C Francisco Diaz, C Chace Numata, C Jorge Saez, IF Kyle Holder
Now let's take a look at some potential non-roster invitees who have a shot at making the Opening Day Roster.
RHP Chance Adams- Adams is one of the best prospects in the Yankees’ system. There is a clear need for him on the roster with a rotation spot and bullpen spot up for grabs heading into camp. However, the Yankees will most likely to hand the bullpen spot over to one of the more experienced candidates on their 40-man roster that they have used in the past, but Adams has the ability to raise some eyebrows this spring and establish himself as a young, major league hungry pitcher. It would be a long-shot for him to crack the roster as a reliever instead of an arm the Yankees already have on the team, but it’s worth noting that if he impresses, he has a fair shot at making the club.
Verdict: Fair chance
RHP J.P. Feyereisen- Feyereisen was one of the names turned over by the Indians in the Andrew Miller deal back in 2016, and has flashed signs of potential during his time in Trenton and Scranton Wilkes-Barre last year. He pitched to a 3.27 ERA last year, showing he has major league capability. However similar to Adams, there isn’t much room as it stands, and Feyereisen still looks to be a year or two away from contributing on a big league level. Keep an eye out for him in the coming years though.
LHP Wade LeBlanc- LeBlanc is one of the more experienced candidates coming into the Yankees camp, having been the only pitcher on the non-roster list to have played in the Major Leagues last year (and also the only one to have previously pitched with the Yankees). Brian Cashman acquired the veteran LeBlanc primarily to serve as one of the “revolving door” pitchers being called up and sent down from the minors when needed, so it may be possible that he gets the chance to pitch with the team in 2018. However unless he has a stellar spring, it seems unlikely he will make the roster coming out of camp. FWIW, though, LeBlanc pitched in one game with the Yankees back in 2014, where he gave up two runs on two hits in one inning.
LHP Justus Sheffield- Sheffield was another name that headlined the Miller trade, and is currently ranked as the #41 Prospect in the majors according to Baseball America. His stuff is electric, occasionally reaching the high-90’s with his fastball. He seems to be on the fast track to the Major Leagues, yet it seems he may still need a year in the minors to adjust to different hitters and work on his offspeed pitches. The future is bright for Sheffield however, and he projects to be a front-to-middle end starter in his future with the Yankees.
Verdict: Long shot
C Erik Kratz- Kratz Was acquired from Cleveland last year as a safety precaution when Gary Sanchez went down with an injury towards the end of last year. He only received two at-bats last year, one of which in he hit a pinch-hit, two run double, and he also got a base knock is his other at-bat as he finished the season batting 1.000. Kratz seems to slot nicely into the third-string role behind both Sanchez and Austin Romine, however it is ludicrous to think the Yankees would be carrying three catchers on their opening day roster.
IF Danny Espinosa- Out of all of the non-roster invitees, Espinosa has the best shot of making the roster. He has years of veteran experience with the Nationals and Angels, and will fit right into the lineup due to Starlin Castro’s exit to Miami in the Stanton deal. Espinosa gives the Yankees a stopgap at second base if highly coveted prospect Gleyber Torres needs more time to develop, and could see time at third base as well. His bat fits nicely into the lineup as a switch hitter, which gives the Yankees an extraordinarily deep group of hitters all around. However, the acquisition of Brandon Drury hinders his chances at making the team.
IF Jace Peterson- Spending time with the Braves last year, Peterson was a second baseman who played in 89 games, posting an ineffectual .215/.318/.635 during that time. Hoping to deputize the second base role, Peterson was signed to a minor league deal in the offseason. His competition is going to come in the likes of Drury, Gleyber Torres, Ronald Torreyes, and Danny Espinosa, two of whom have had greater major league success. Barring a major injury, it seems Peterson seems to be the odd man out of this race.
Verdict: Slim Chance
OF Estevan Florial- Florial shot up dramatically in the prospect rankings last season after imposing his five tool threat skill set, including his tremendous speed, glovework, and power threats. He is a young, exciting player to watch and will have the opportunity to face big league pitching in the coming weeks. With the outfield cluttered as it is, harboring Judge, Stanton, Hicks, and Gardner as it is, and Jacoby Ellsbury’s heap of a contract going nowhere, it is extremely unlikely Florial will be on the team when they hike up to Canada for opening day. However definitely keep an eye on him in spring training, as he has the potential to do great things for the Yankees in the future.
Article by: Gianmarco CastronovoFollow @gianmarcocast6 Follow @BronxBomberBall