Three non-roster invitees with a shot at cracking the Yankees in 2019
Earlier this spring, the New York Yankees extended a non-roster invitation to 21 ballplayers in their organization. The Yankees' 40-Man Roster is loaded and there is a drop-off of talent as we look at player 41 and beyond. This makes sense. Much of the talent in New York’s farm system is very young and will be playing in low-level minors in 2019. The list of non-roster invitees includes some of that young talent, but also some of the journeymen types. Each spring, it’s exciting to look through the list and try to identify a few players that will be called up to The Show at some point this season. This year, barring an outbreak of injuries, it will be a short list. However, there are three non-roster invitees that have a legitimate shot at cracking the major league roster at some point this season.
Michael King is one of my favorite pitching prospects in the Yankee system. Since being drafted in the 12th round in 2016 by the Miami Marlins, and then acquired by the Yankees, he’s surged to the top of the Yankees’ farm system. In 2018 alone, he we went from starting his season in the Florida State League, got called up to Trenton in two short months, and then called up to Scranton three months later. Once he was with the RailRiders, he really began to hit his stride. He had 152 Ks in 161 1/3 innings, a strikeout per inning count just shy of 1. His stuff isn’t deadly, but he’s adept at hitting his spots. He’s got a consistently low-to-mid 90s fastball and a slider and change that he mixes in to keep hitters off balance. He’s been very effective in his minor league debuts.
While he’s talented, his ceiling is not that of an ace. He will eventually be an everyday starter as he is projected to be a back-end pitcher in the rotation. Will that be this year? Barring an injury to one of the seven potential starters Boone will likely thrust out this season, I believe he will not be in the starting rotation this year. He will, however, be called up to come out of the pen as a middle reliever in 2019 with a very favorable outlook as a starter past 2019. Something else to keep an eye on is the fact that he was sidelined with an elbow injury in mid-February. This could further push back his rise to the majors.
Availability is Danny Farquhar’s best ability. Formerly with the White Sox, Farquhar’s 2018 season was cut short devastatingly due to a brain hemorrhage he suffered early in the season. His climb back to health was met with various trials and tribulations. Nevertheless, he has extensive experience as a reliever in the majors. His best season was five years ago in 2014 where he posted a 2.66 ERA allowing only 58 hits in 71 innings pitched. Admittedly, his statistics have not been as stellar as he has a career ERA of 3.93. However, big league experience is paramount when considering a call-up from the minors. As long as he stays healthy, Boone will consider Farquhar’s experience and call upon his services in 2019 if he feels the bullpen needs added depth.
Of the non-roster invitees, it’s unlikely we’ll see a position player get the call-up. It’s much more likely a pitcher gets called upon for depth after inevitable injuries to the Yankee staff ensue. However, if a position player does get the call, look no further than Matt Lipka. While Lipka does not provide a lot at the plate (career .238 average in AAA), he offers two skillsets that could prove to be very important as the season progresses: versatility and speed. Lipka has experience playing both middle infield positions and his more natural position of CF. With the depth the Yankees have in both the outfield and the infield, it’s unlikely Lipka gets any time with the Bombers, but an injury to Tyler Wade or D.J. LeMahieu could present a need that Lipka can fill. Also, the Yankees have few guys with threatening speed on the base paths. I can see a scenario late in the season where Lipka can come in and add some defensive insurance along with a few potential stolen bases. He has been able to collect three stolen bases in 57 games in AAA.
Honorable Mention: Estevan Florial
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Estevan Florial in an article about non-roster invitees with great potential. At only 21 years old, Florial is a budding prospect waiting to bloom. While his talent is unquestioned, he’s still very young and a path to the majors in 2019 is far from likely, barring substantial injuries to the major league outfield. It’s more likely that we see him in pinstripes towards the end of the 2020 season. Until then, we can continue to watch him rake in the Grapefruit League this spring and in the minors this summer.
Article by: John MessinaFollow @bronxbomberball