Pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks, so the Yankees started February by announcing which nonroster players would be getting invites.
Twenty-one players — 10 pitchers and 11 position players — will join the 40-man guys in camp, and many of the names will be familiar to RailRiders fans. LHP Nestor Cortes Jr., RHP Cale Coshow, C Francisco Diaz, RHP Raynel Espinal, 1B Mike Ford, RHP David Hale, RHP Mike King, RHP Brady Lail and INF Giovanny Urshela all played for SWB last year and SS Kyle Holder joined the team as a spectator for the playoffs. RHP Danny Farquhar, who suffered a brain aneurysm in April and is the early candidate for the feel-good story of the spring, pitched one game with SWB in 2012.
Here’s everyone not on the 40-man roster who’s coming:
Pos: OF Age: 24 Acquired: 2015 draft, 13th round, St. Petersburg College
B/T: R/R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 210
2018: Impressed in limited action in big league camp, going 4 for 11 with a homer, five RBIs and two walks. Spent the whole season at Double-A Trenton and put up a .258/.300/.418 line in 125 games. Had 25 doubles, two triples and 16 homers, but also struck out 108 times against just 22 walks. He rotated pretty evenly around the outfield: 46 games in left, 39 games in center and 20 games in right. Even finished with eight assists.
SWB ETA: 2019, at some point. The outfield could be a little crowded in Moosic, with veterans Billy Burns and Matt Lipka getting nonroster invites, Clint Frazier being healthy again and 2018 holdovers Zack Zehner, Ryan McBroom and L.J. Mazzilli (who both moved between the infield and outfield last year) in the mix.
Pos: LHP Age: 31 Acquired: Signed a minor league deal Dec. 20, 2018. Originally selected by Colorado in the Comp. A round of the 2009 draft out of Lipscomb University.
B/T: L/L Ht: 6-0 Wt: 215
2018: Spent the season in the Braves’ minor leagues — 32 games with Triple-A Gwinnett and 11 with Double-A Mississippi. Made one appearance with Atlanta, walked two and gave up one run without getting an out, so his ERA is unfortunately listed as “*.**” on the MiLB page. In 40.2 minor league innings, he had a 6.20 ERA and walked 44 guys against 56 strikeouts. In that one big league game (an 11-pitch outing), his fastball averaged 96.6 mph and its spin rate was just a tick better than the MLB average.
SWB ETA: 2019. He’s got 314 games of big league experience under his belt, so you can safely pencil him into the Opening Day bullpen.
Pos: OF Age: 29 Acquired: Signed a minor league deal Jan. 3. Originally selected by Washington in the 32 round of the the 2011 draft out of Mercer University.
B/T: S/R Ht: 5-9 Wt: 170
2018: Played 102 games (376 AB) with Triple-A Omaha in the Royals system and went .255/.314/.316. Had just 14 extra-base hits, but also struck out just 54 times. Played mostly in center field (71 games), but also saw time in left (25) and right (9). Stole 10 bases and was caught eight times, but in his minor league career, has 222 stolen bases and has been caught just 44 times.
SWB ETA: 2019. He’s played 242 games in the bigs and is a career .270/.308/.353 up there. Two interesting tidbits from his MiLB.com bio: One, his speed was once given an 80 grade and, two, his dad Bob was a running back for the New York Jets in 1974 and his quarterback was Joe Namath.
Nestor Cortes Jr.
Pos: LHP Age: 24 Acquired: 2013 draft, 36th round, Hialeah HS (Hialeah, Fla.)
B/T: R/L Ht: 5-11 Wt: 205
2018: Spent spring training with the Orioles after they scooped him up in the Rule 5 draft. Made his MLB debut March 31 and pitched four games out of the bullpen for Baltimore before being returned to the Yankees. Once he got back to his familiar role in the starting rotation, he continued to toy with Triple-A hitters. He had a 3.71 ERA in 111.2 innings with the RailRiders, struck out 96 and walked 37. In 14 postseason innings, he allowed two runs on three hits with four walks and 13 strikeouts. Cortes Jr. continued his season with an eight-game stint with Estrellas de Oriente of the Domincan Winter League and had a 1.71 ERA in 42 innings.
SWB ETA: Been here already and he’ll be here again in 2019. Question is, what will his role be? Mike King, Chance Adams and Domingo German pitched for SWB last year, and Jonathan Loaisiga skipped Triple-A and went straight to the bigs before his season was shortened by injuries. That leaves one spot in the starting rotation, which could come down to Cortes or fellow nonroster invite Drew Hutchison. There’s also 40-man member Domingo Acevedo, who spent most of 2018 at Double-A and will be pushing for Triple-A time.
Pos: RHP Age: 26 Acquired: 2013 draft, 13th round, Oklahoma Christian
B/T: R/R Ht: 6-5 Wt: 270
2018: The big, hard-throwing righty appeared in 38 games with the RailRiders and had a 4.95 ERA in 56.1 innings. Struggled at times to keep the ball in park and allowed nine home runs — including three in one outing against Syracuse — but also averaged 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. At one point during the season, the Yankees sent him to Tampa to work on some mechanical stuff, including some things the analytics guys picked up.
SWB ETA: Been here already and he’ll be here again in 2019. Will be interesting to see how the RailRiders bullpen shakes out, though, with veterans Brothers, Coulombe and Farquhar now in the mix.
Pos: LHP Age: 29 Acquired: Signed a minor league deal Dec. 20, 2018. Originally selected by the Dodgers in the 25th round of the 2012 draft out of Texas Tech.
B/T: L/L Ht: 5-10 Wt: 190
2018: Split time between Oakland (27 games) and the Athletics’ Triple-A team (23 games). With the A’s, he had a 4.56 ERA and averaged better than a strikeout per inning. At Nashville, he had a 2.54 ERA. Average-wise, he was tougher on righties than lefites in both the bigs and the minors. Seems to fit the Yankees’ anti-fastball approach — with the Athletics, he threw his slider (36.8%) and curveball (28.9%) more than his four seamer (18.8%).
SWB ETA: 2019. Save him a spot in the opening day bullpen.
Pos: C Age: 26 Acquired: Signed a minor league deal Dec. 12, 2016, and hasn’t left since. Originally a Rangers first-round pick in 2010 out of R.E. Secondary School in Langley, B.C., Canada
B/T: L/R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 205
2018: After missing the 2017 season with an injury, Deglan played in just 36 games across three levels of the minor in 2018. Overall, slashed .179/.258/.544. Had only two passed balls in 34 games behind the plate, but also “allowed” 39 stolen bases and caught just six.
SWB ETA: 2020 or 2021. Maybe.
Pos: C Age: 28 Acquired: Signed a minor league deal Feb. 5, 2016, and hasn’t left since. Originally a Phillies free agent signing in 2006.
B/T: S/R Ht: 5-11 Wt: 185
2018: Played 34 games with the RailRiders, 21 at High-A Tampa and 19 at Double-A. With the RailRiders, hit .268/.366/.309. Solid behind the plate, where he “allowed” just 12 stolen bases with SWB and threw out eight runners.
SWB ETA: Been here already and will be here again at some point, but if everyone’s healthy, it likely won’t be for opening day. Kyle Higashioka is the Yankees’ No. 3 catcher and will be the starter with the RailRiders if Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine are good to go, and Ryan Lavarnway was a veteran depth signing in the offseason.
Pos: RHP Age: 27 Acquired: Signed a minor league deal Sept. 27, 2012. Originally a Brewers free agent signing in 2010.
B/T: R/R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 199
2018: Probably the RailRiders’ most consistent bullpen arm. Had a 3.09 ERA in 67 innings and averaged 12.8 K/9 and just 3.5 BB/9. Showed ability in multi-inning outings and late-inning situations. After the season, appeared in 11 games in the Dominican Winter League and had a 2.35 ERA.
SWB ETA: Been here before and he’ll be here again in 2019. Probably deserves a shot in New York at some point, too.
Pos: RHP Age: 31 Acquired: Signed a minor league deal Jan. 21. Originally a 10th-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2008 out of Louisiana-Lafayette.
B/T: R/R Ht: 5-9 Wt: 185
2018: Story’s pretty well known by now. Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage during a game with the White Sox in April and was in critical condition at one point. He made it past that, though, and is ready to get back on the field. He appeared in eight games with the White Sox and had a 5.63 ERA, but Statcast had his fastball with a better-than-average spin rate and you know the Yankees like that.
SWB ETA: He was here for one game during the nomadic 2012 season and, if all goes well with his health, you have to assume he’ll be part of the bullpen in 2019. Do yourself a favor and check out the lineup from the one SWB game Farquhar pitched. Spoiler alert: Kosuke Fukudome was the starting left fielder.
Pos: OF Age: 21 Acquired: Signed as an international free agent in 2015.
B/T: L/R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 185
2018: Played in 21 games with the Yankees in spring training and had a .219/.324/.406 line, but opened eyes with what his tools could be capable of. His regular season was interrupted after he broke a bone in his hand and — after joining Double-A Trenton for the playoffs in 2017 — wasn’t able to advance past High-A Tampa. He slashed .255/.354/.361 in 75 games with the Tarpons.
SWB ETA: If all goes well, 2020. Florial has some work to do, but it’s important to remember just how young he is. He’ll play this whole season as a 21-year-old, and was more than two years younger than the average High-A player last year.
Pos: 1B Age: 26 Acquired: Signed as a nondrafted free agent July 17, 2013.
B/T: L/R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 225
2018: Spent spring training with the Mariners as a Rule-5 pick, where he had a very Mike Ford-ian audition. In 24 games, he worked walks (10), drove in runs (10) and slugged extra-base hits (nine). He was returned to the Yankees, however, and spent the season with the RailRiders, where he slashed .253/.327/.433 in 102 games while dealing with a couple of nagging injuries. Got off to a slow start, but turned it up after the All-Star break, when he hit .293/.349/.500 in 47 games. Had the RailRiders won the Governors’ Cup, Ford would’ve earned some MVP consideration as he slammed three homers in the series, including two off Rays relief prospect Colin Poche. After the season — and this is important — Ford and his fiance brought home a golden retriever puppy named Carter.
SWB ETA: He’ll be here again, slugging homers and working counts. Hopefully Carter comes, too.
Pos: RHP Age: 31 Acquired: Signed a minor league deal Feb. 1. Originally a third-round pick by the Braves in 2009 out of Princeton.
B/T: R/R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 210
2018: Hale’s recap should start with a list of his transactions: Signed a minor league deal with the Yankees (Jan. 29), assigned to the RailRiders (April 6), selected by the Yankees (April 22), DFA’d by the Yankees (April 24), claimed by the Twins (April 26), activated by the Twins (April 27), DFA’d by the Twins (April 28), elected free agency (April 30), assigned to the RailRiders (May 1), selected by the Yankees (May 2), DFA’d by the Yankees (May 15), outrighted to the RailRiders (May 18), elected free agency (May 18), signed a minor league deal with the Yankees (May 19), assigned to the RailRiders (May 20), selected by the Yankees (July 1), DFA’d by the Yankees (July 7), elected free agency (July 10) and eventually signed with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization. Hale was reliable in 11 starts with the RailRiders (4.20 ERA) and pretty good in three games with the Yankees (2.53). He made 12 starts for Hanwha and had a 4.34 ERA.
SWB ETA: He’s certainly qualified to be here again. What kind of role that would be though …
Pos: SS Age: 24 Acquired: 2015 draft, first round, University of San Diego
B/T: L/R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 185
2018: Brutally tough year for the master defender. He reportedly suffered a fractured vertebrae in spring training, his older brother died in June and Holder suffered a concussion in August. He played just 48 games, most coming at Trenton (32) where he slashed .248/.297/.325. The Yankees bumped Holder up to the RailRiders as an emergency option during their playoff run, but even during pregame warmups, it’s noticeable just how smooth he is in the field. Really good arm, too.
SWB ETA: Let’s say 2020, but won’t be surprised if he finishes this season with the RailRiders, especially since Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada are already 40-man members.
Pos: RHP Age: 28 Acquired: Signed minor league deal Jan. 11. Originally a 15th-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2009 out of Lakeland HS (Fla.)
B/T: L/R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205
2018: Had a list of transactions that would impress anyone not named David Hale. Started the season with the Phillies, spent time in the Dodgers organization and then finished with the Rangers. In 42.2 innings in the majors, he had a 6.75 ERA. In 42 innings in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, he had a 2.14 ERA. His fastball averaged 90.2 mph in the majors.
SWB ETA: Should be here this season, and of his 119 minor league games, he’s made 112 starts. Hutchison spent plenty of time with Buffalo (2013, 2015-16) and Indianapolis (2016-17), so he’s no stranger to the International League.
Pos: RHP Age: 23 Acquired: Via trade with the Marlins on Nov. 20, 2017, for LHP Caleb Smith and OF Garrett Cooper. Originally a 12th-round pick by the Marlins in 2016 out of Boston College.
B/T: R/R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 210
2018: Dominant first season in the Yankees organization. Pitched at three levels and compiled a 11-5 record with a 1.79 ERA. Saved his best for the end of the season with the RailRiders, when he went 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA in 39 innings, holding hitters to a .147 batting average.
SWB ETA: He’ll be here again. Lock for the starting rotation. King’s an analytical pitcher with a funky delivery that makes it hard for hitters to pick up the ball. It’ll be interesting to see if he can sustain 2018’s dominance.
Pos: RHP Age: 25 Acquired: 2012 draft, 18th round out of Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah.
B/T: R/R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 205
2018: Transitioned to a reliever after being a starter his whole career. Showed flashes at times, but ultimately finished with a 5.43 ERA in 63 innings between SWB and Trenton.
SWB ETA: He’ll be here again, but it’s possible he’ll be splitting time between SWB and Trenton again.
Pos: C Age: 31 Acquired: Signed minor league deal Nov. 7, 2018. Originally a sixth-round pick by the Red Sox in 2008 out of Yale.
B/T: R/R Ht: 6-4 Wt: 240
2018: Spent most of the season with Indianapolis, Triple-A affiliate of the Pirates. In 77 games, he put up a .288/.375/.485 line. Went 4 for 6 with a double in six games for the Pirates. Had just one passed ball in 60 games behind the plate, “allowed” 19 stolen bases and threw out 15 runners.
SWB ETA: He’ll likely join Kyle Higashioka as the catchers on the opening day roster. If 2019 goes as well for Lavarnway as it did for SWB’s last opening day veteran backstop, he’ll wind up starting games in the NLCS for the Brewers.
Pos: OF Age: 26 Acquired: Signed minor league deal Jan. 11. Originally a Comp. A pick by the Braves in 2010 out of McKinney HS (Texas).
B/T: R/R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 190
2018: Spent the season at Double-A Richmond in the Giants system. Put up a .240/.329/.352 line in 123 games, struck out just 57 times and stole 21 bases. Played 71 games in center, 26 in right, 19 in left, two at second and one at third. Started his career as a shortstop.
SWB ETA: He’ll be another piece of the outfield puzzle this year. Perhaps a starting lineup of Frazier, Burns and Lipka?
Pos: C Age: 28 Acquired: Signed minor league deal Feb. 1 to remain in the organization for a third season. Originally a 32nd-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2012 out of Lee University.
B/T: R/R Ht: 5-10 Wt: 200
2018: Spent a second straight season with the Thunder and appeared in 47 games. Batted .237/.324/.362.
SWB ETA: He’s an emergency option, but guessing he just sticks around with Trenton.
Pos: IF Age: 27 Acquired: Acquired in a trade with the Blue Jays on Aug. 4, 2018, and then signed a minor league deal. Originally signed with the Indians as an international free agent Jul 2, 2008.
B/T: R/R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 215
2018: Began the season with Cleveland, was traded to Toronto and then was traded to the Yankees in a move that saw him walk from the visitor’s clubhouse at PNC Field to the RailRiders clubhouse. Performed really well for SWB and was one of its better players down the stretch. In 27 games with the RailRiders, slashed .307/.340/.475 with seven doubles, two triples and two homers. Defensive whiz on the left side of the infield, especially at third base.
SWB ETA: Should be in the starting lineup on opening day.