Friday, February 12, 2016

Sorting Through the 15 New Minor League Deals

The New York Yankees finally announced their non-roster invitees to spring training camp last week and with it came technically 15 new minor league deals for the team. I say technically because the Yankees had already announced deals with these players prior to the announcement last week but on paper and according to the transactions page on the blog these just became official. With these 15 new faces vying for spots either with the big league club, the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders or whether they are auditioning for another gig with another team it’s best to have all the information on them that you can to best make your personnel decisions. We will attempt to lay that out to you today.

Pete Kozma 
Kozam is a former St. Louis Cardinals infielder with the flair for the dramatic. Kozma is a defense-only type shortstop that will look to break camp on the Yankees roster as a middle infielder and final bench piece. He is a poor man’s Brendan Ryan although he comes at about half the price and is only 28-years old.

Vinnie Pestano
 Pestano will look to break camp with one of the presumably many wide open positions inside the Yankees bullpen for this season. Pestano is now 31-years old and will look to join his third MLB club after breaking out with the Cleveland Indians and after pitching with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last season. Pestano is a big guy with a heavy strikeout pitch but walks and ineffectiveness has dampened his career as of late.

Anthony Swarzak 
Swarzak is listed as a starting pitcher but if he makes the team it will be as a reliever. The former Minnesota Twins product will likely fall victim to a numbers game inside the Yankees rotation and either start the season in the bullpen, down in Scranton or searching for another team. I can’t see him breaking the rotation without a lot going wrong first in the injury department. I see Swarzak as the 2016 version of Kyle Davies circa 2015.

Tyler Cloyd 
The Yankees enticed Cloyd away from Korea to come back to the states and compete for a bullpen spot with the club. Cloyd had MLB experience and he has decent minor league stats to back them up so he is hoping a year in Korea can help him pursue his dream of playing in the Major Leagues. If it’s with the Yankees though he is going to have to pitch his butt off because if there was a pecking order or a depth chart he wouldn’t be very high on it right now.

Diego Moreno 
This is more of a procedural move than anything after the Yankees snuck him off their 40 man roster this winter. Moreno pitched well for the Yankees last season in limited action before an injury ended his season prematurely. If he’s healthy he has a very legitimate shot at making the roster because the Yankees always seem to go after the devil they know versus the devil they don’t know. They know Moreno.

Richard Bleier 
Bleier joins a long list of left-handed relief pitchers the Yankees will be looking at this winter. You have to think he is at least behind Jacob Lindgren, James Pazos and Tyler Webb on the pecking order and is a longshot for the bullpen this season. There’s nothing wrong with being Triple-A depth though because as the Yankees showed last season there is always room for you on the roster if the bullpen gets gassed out over the course of a weekend.

Carlos Corporan 
Corporano has a legit shot at becoming the team’s backup catcher this spring, it all depends on what the team thinks of Gary Sanchez. Sanchez had 35 games at Triple-A last season, one more than Greg Bird when he was called up to the show, and an impressive showing at the Arizona Fall League this winter but the team may want to stick him back in Scranton for another half of a season. If this is the case the team could easily designate Austin Romine for assignment and give “Corpy” the 40 man roster spot and the backup job. If not he could head to Triple-A and wish and wait. This signing, as a Sanchez fan, has me worried.

Francisco Diaz 
The Yankees invited a lot of pitchers to camp this season and they generally bring a lot of catchers for the beginning of camp. That’s why Diaz is here, just to catch all the pitchers. He has no real shot at making the team in my opinion and he knows it.

Kyle Higashioka 
Higashioka seems destined for a job in coaching and/or managing and has become a staple at Yankees spring training camp for that reason. He’s a special advisor without the fancy title and a spot within the organization. This may be his final spring training before hanging up his playing spikes for some coaching spikes with the organization.

Eddy Rodriguez 
See Francisco Diaz. Rodriguez is destined to be either the starter or backup in Scranton.

Sebastian Valle 
Valle is a former top prospect and has a very outside shot of making the team. If Sanchez struggles and the likes of Corporan, Rodriguez or Diaz don’t impress than Valle might work his way in with a strong spring. He’s a long shot and he’s an underdog and I always tend to root for the underdog.

Jonathan Diaz 
Diaz is a middle infielder with a lot of Yankees depth in front of him. He can play all the positions the Yankees need help at but is likely one of the last on the depth chart in my opinion. He’s organization depth at this point and needs an absolute ton to go wrong or a fantastic spring to win a job with the big league club this spring.

Deibinson Romero
 Romero is another one of those players that spent a year in the Korean Baseball Organization hoping to catch the eye of a MLB team. That MLB team was the New York Yankees this winter and Romero couldn’t have come at a better time. Romero can be a suitable backup at third base and other positions of need for New York keeping Starlin Castro and company at the positions where they feel most comfortable rather than playing out of position. Romero is just versatile enough to win that last bench spot he just needs to show a little bit with the bat to convince the Yankees and the front office.

Donovan Solano 
See above with Deibinson Romero. Solano has MLB experience with the Miami Marlins and experience at third base, first base and all over the infield. The Yankees are building a team around depth and versatility and Solano checks a lot of boxes in that department for New York.

Cesar Puello
I don’t think Puello has a legitimate shot at making the major league roster this spring and will likely spend the season at Double-A or Triple-A with the squad. With the likes of Ben Gamel, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Aaron Hicks and others in front of him New York just wanted to see what they had in the former Mets product. 

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