With the Yankees' 25 man roster nearly set, I thought now would be as good a time as any to look at the guys who would be first off the bus from Scranton in the event of an injury to a starter. Obviously the bench players like Andruw Jones or Eric Chavez will have the first crack at taking over for any injured starter, but beyond that, some of the names are not very comforting.
If you've hung around PSA long enough to hear some of the more minor league following members talk about depth, you've likely heard that most of the exciting position player talent within the system is at the lower levels of the minors. Sadly, that means that these names won't really be overly exciting, but it's interesting to see the depth that could be forced into action at the major league level if called upon in case of an emergency.
The Yankees could certainly absorb an injury long enough to weather the storm at some positions better than others. Scranton Wilkes-Barre has a good pitching staff with a few guys who could contribute tomorrow if they were needed. The outfield is a much different story, however. The verdict? We really need to wrap Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher in bubble wrap. You'll see why if you follow the jump.
The first two guys who would likely be asked to fill in for any injured pitcher in the rotation are obviously David Phelps and Adam Warren, with Phelps having the edge by already being on the 40 man roster. Both guys have had success at AAA, and would likely be serviceable as a fifth starter if needed. For most MLB teams, these two pitchers would likely already have a spot in the rotation, so look for them to get the call first if something happens to one of our starting five.
Behind those guys, D.J. Mitchell and Dellin Betances are also on the 40 man roster, and both would likely get the nod over teammate Manny Banuelos if another pitcher from Scranton was needed to fill in. Betances got a taste of the big leagues last season, but desperately needs to refine his mechanics at the minor league level before being called up for any extended amount of time.
On the relief front, George Kontos and Kevin Whelan would be good candidates for a call up in the event that an injury happened to a member of the bullpen. There are also a slew of unexciting guys signed to minor league contracts that could hang around to fill in as a mop, if necessary, but Kontos and Whelan have had success at Scranton and would be my picks to pitch if need be. Once Kontos recovers from his oblique injury, he'd likely get the call first because of his 40 man roster status. And because Kevin Whelan walked too many people that one time, and is doomed to never be good again. Or something.
Eduardo Nunez would likely be the man for the job, but some other likely fill in candidates are Brandon Laird and Ramiro Pena. Most sane people would prefer Laird because he's not as incompetent offensively, and I definitely agree with that assessment. Less likely candidates include Jorge Vazquez, Corban Joseph, David Adams, and Jayson Nix. Most of these guys are in AAA for a reason, but if El Chato goes on another home run binge like he did in 2011, it might be interesting to see what he could do in the DH role in the Bronx. His strikeout numbers are concerning, and he'd likely be terribly exposed against major league pitching, but there's always a chance he could provide some value in a pinch.
For catchers, Austin Romine(!) and Gustavo Molina would likely be the fill ins for Russell Martin or Francisco Cervelli, who is likely to win the backup catcher spot out of Spring Training. Romine should really spend time in AAA to work on his offense against better pitchers, but if one of the catchers in the big leagues has to miss time, he'd be a better pick than Faux Molina pretty much by default.
Chris Dickerson and Justin Maxwell are out of options, and likely don't have a place on the 25 man roster to start the season as the sixth outfielder. This complicates the depth chart at an already weak position, as both are the best players we have to take over for a starter in the event of an injury. As you've likely heard, the Yankees are notoriously thin at outfield prospects, so Colin Curtis, DeWayne Wise, and Cole Garner are the main people to look forward to filling the spot of Grandy/Gardner/Swisher if one of them were to get hurt. Yikes. That's a pretty scary thought, in addition to the fact that there would possibly be some Raul Ibanez mixed in. We've seen the gifs. No one wants to watch him throw a baseball backwards.
Wrap our three starting outfielders in bubble wrap, store them in an airtight container, and keep all sharp objects at least 100 feet away from them. Please.
Which minor leaguers do you hope get the call in case of an injury?