Preston Who? Presenting the 2013 Non-Roster Invitee Pitchers, A-M

Nick Goody back in his LSU closing days. - Crystal Logiudice-US PRESSWIRE

In which Montgomery and Goody fascinate the author.

It’s that time of year again. The New York Yankees recently unveiled the rather-long of players invited to Spring Training to join their current 40-man roster in Tampa. For comparison’s sake, in 2012, the team invited 27 extra players to Spring Training, but this edition has 44 additional faces. This list can be more puzzling than even the odd names on the 40-man roster, so I will do what I did last season in one of my first posts for this SBN blog and give a brief background on all of these players. Just remember that regardless of expectations, these players can still surprise you a little:

Jayson Nix - Nix is 29 and has been in the big leagues as an infielder since 2008, but he was absolutely awful with Toronto last year- a .169 batting average and a 50 wRC+ in 151 plate appearances. Like (Doug) Bernier, I wouldn't expect much.

That being said, let’s dive into this group of mostly-unknowns and see if I get embarrassed by Bernier-like comparisons again. Due to the length of the list, I'll be splitting it up into a few different posts. There are 20 pitchers, so that group's getting divided as well.

Starting Pitchers

Corey Black, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 21 (born 8/4/1991)
2012 (Rk/SS-A/A-): 12 GS, 52.2 IP, 2-2, 3.08 ERA, 2.40 FIP*, 1.082 WHIP, 7.2 H/9, 2.6 BB/9, 8.5 K/9

This 5’11" San Diego native was selected out of Faulkner University by the Yanks in the fourth round of last year’s MLB Draft, their fifth overall pick. Even though he had Tommy John surgery while he was in school in 2011, Black did well last year mostly with Staten Island and Charleston, utilizing a mid-to-high 90s fastball with a changeup and a slider. He’ll need to develop those secondary pitches if he wants to become a pro starter somewhere down the road, but he got off to a good start last year (no pun intended). (Video 1) (Video 2)
*FIP normally has the league-average FIP added to the quotient of (13*HR+3*BB-2*K)/IP, but since some of these overall statistics go over numerous leagues, I have added FIP creator Tom Tango’s original constant of 3.2 in the league average’s place.

Shane Greene, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 24 (born 11/17/1988)
2012 (A+): 23 GS, 112 IP, 4-7, 5.22 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 1.571 WHIP, 9.1 H/9, 5.1 BB/9, 8.1 K/9

A 15th round pick selected by the Yankees in the ’09 MLB Draft, Greene took a bit of a step backward last year upon a promotion from 2011 to High-A Tampa. The control problems were particularly ugly, but opposing hitters hit his good fastball/slider combination just as they did in 2011 against him (around .260). Greene will probably have to figure out his control before moving up to Double-A Trenton. (No video)

Bryan Mitchell, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 21 (born 4/19/1991)
2012 (A-): 26 GS, 120 IP, 9-11, 4.58 ERA, 3.94 FIP, 1.492 WHIP, 8.0 H/9, 5.4 BB/9, 9.1 K/9

Now that D.J. Mitchell is gone, Bryan Mitchell reigns supreme as the greatest Mitchell in the system! Good for him. Unfortunately, his 2012 did not inspire much confidence in the late-round selection from ’09. Mitchell has a wide repertoire of pitches to work with, featuring a highly-rated hard curveball, low-to-mid-90s four-seam and two-seam fastballs, and a changeup. While they have been good for strikeout numbers, they have been difficult to control, as the walk rate and 18 wild pitches last year indicate. As with many other minor leaguers, Mitchell will need to harness his control before he can take another big step forward. (Video 1) (Video 2)


Juan Cedeño, LHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 29 (born 8/19/1983)
2012 (AAA): 53 G, 64 IP,, 2.81 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 1.359 WHIP, 9.3 H/9, 3.0 BB/9, 8.0 K/9

Cedeño was in camp last year, his first time spent with a big league organization since Detroit’s Double-A team in ’08. He was pounded to an 8.44 ERA in seven games, then vanished to Triple-A, never to be seen for the remainder of the season. Down with the Traveling Roadshow though, lefties batted just .240 against him, so he can’t be totally useless. It would take a tremendous Spring for him to make the club, and even then I think they would pick fellow southpaw Clay Rapada over him since he had some success to draw from last year. If there are injuries though, we could see Cedeño at some point, but I would hardly count on it. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Preston Claiborne, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 25 (born 1/21/1988)
2012 (AA/AAA): 50 G, 82 IP, 2.96 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 1.220 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, 4.0 BB/9, 8.6 K/9

A graduate of Tulane University, Claiborne was a late Yankee pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, selected in the 17th round. He has exceeded expectations and last year became only the second Yankee from that draft to reach Scranton. Claiborne needs to work on his control, but a low-90s fastball, changeup, and slider combined with decent peripherals certainly offer some encouraging signs. His K/9 and H/9 took slight turns in the wrong direction when he was promoted to Triple-A on June 28th, but he made up for that by improving his control. He’s thrown 163 innings out of the ‘pen in the last two years, so his numbers and Ramiro Mendoza-like flexibility (sans spot-starting) suggest that he could make the bigs sometime this year in a pinch. It's highly unlikely to happen out of camp though. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Matt Daley, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 30 (born 6/23/1982)
2012: Did not play (rotator cuff surgery)

Can I make another "Cecilia" joke? No? Fine. Daley was in camp in 2012, but he was still recovering from the right rotator cuff surgery performed on August 15, 2011 while with the Colorado Rockies. He rehabbed throughout last year, but was unable to return to even minor-league appearances. Regardless, the Yankees decided to give him another chance this year to see if he’s all the way back from the injury. Daley was an undrafted free agent when the Rockies signed him in ’04, but he made his way up to "The Show" within five years and was an important part of the ’09 Wild Card-winning Colorado bullpen. That season, he pitched 51 innings with 92 ERA-, 78 FIP- and a fine 3.50 K/BB ratio. In 2010, he was not quite as productive, and ’11 was poor until going on the DL with shoulder inflammation that led to his surgery. When healthy, he threw an 88-92 mph fastball with a decent curveball and changeup. Obviously, his health will determine how much he can contribute this year, though he seems likely to at least begin in Triple-A Scranton given his prior experience. (Video 1)

Nick Goody, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 21 (born 7/6/1991)
2012 (SS-A/A-/A+): 23 G, 32 IP, 1.12 ERA, 0.79 FIP, 0.906 WHIP, 5.6 H/9, 2.5 BB/9, 14.6 K/9

Minor League Ball’s John Sickels ranked Goody 19th in the system already despite being only 32 innings into his minor league career, but it is hard to argue that placement given the former LSU closer’s numbers. They are reminiscent of fellow strikeout artist Mark Montgomery’s first MiLB season in 2011, and actually superior to Montie’s across the board except strikeouts (Montie had a 16.2 K/9 last year in 28.1 innings; 14.6 is pretty close anyway). Goody features a mid-90s fastball, a slider, and a changeup. Since he only threw four innings in Tampa last year, it would seem likely that he will begin 2013 there and hopefully build on his early success. (Video 1)

David Herndon, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 27 (born 9/4/1985)
2012 (MLB): 5 G, 7.2 IP, 4.70 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 1.435 WHIP, 11.7 H/9, 1.2 BB/9, 9.4 K/9

Herndon (relation unknown to the famous Abraham Lincoln biographer) spent the previous three seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies after they claimed him from the Los Angeles Angels in the ’09 Rule 5 Draft. They were almost all spent in the pros, his first three seasons at the level, but Tommy John surgery on his right elbow prematurely ended his 2012. He had the surgery on June 19th, so it might be awhile before he returns to where he was before the injury. Although he was left off the final playoff roster both years, Herndon pitched 92 games and 109.1 innings with a 96 ERA-, 111 FIP-, and 1.492 WHIP for the Phils from 2010-11. The Blue Jays claimed him in late October, and the Yanks then claimed him in early November. Herndon’s mostly a low-90s fastball/low-80s slider guy, and his shaky pitching in the pros would seem to indicate that when he finishes his rehab, he will join either Triple-A Scranton or Double-A Trenton. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Tommy Kahnle, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 23 (born 8/7/1989)
2012 (A+/AA): 31 G, 57 IP, 2.37 ERA, 2.55 FIP, 0.982 WHIP, 5.1 H/9, 3.8 BB/9, 11.7 K/9

Chosen in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Kahnle has put together a few fine seasons in the minors to earn an invitation to his first Spring Training with the Yankees. Most of his season was spent in High-A Tampa outside of two Double-A innings in Trenton, and opposing batters hit just .153 against him in the Florida State League. He’s used a mid-90s fastball and a slider as his primary pitches to get this far, and one would figure that he will probably start 2013 with a new challenge—Double-A hitters. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Jim Miller, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 30 (born 4/28/1982)
2012 (MLB): 33 G, 48.2 IP, 2.59 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 1.356 WHIP, 7.2 H/9, 5.0 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
(AAA): 16 G, 19.1 IP, 2.79 ERA, 1.65 FIP, 0.983 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, 1.9 BB/9, 9.8 K/9

Welp. Are you excited by Jim Miller? Is it Miller Time? So be it. Miller simply appears to be one of those guys who floats around organizations. Since being drafted by Colorado in ’04, he really never made an impact at the major-league level until last year with Oakland. Miller was called up from Triple-A Sacramento in late April, and he pitched decently enough to hang around the big-league club for the next few months outside of a few brief demotions. He then returned to Sacramento in August only to come back for Oakland’s surprising September run to the AL West title over the Texas Rangers. Miller finished with a nice ERA, but that walk-rate and FIP really leave something to be desired. He has a good 93 mph fastball weighted positively by FanGraphs last year (2.5), and it is complemented by a slider and curve that aren’t as good. It should say something that Oakland did not seem to be fooled by the sparkly ERA—they never appeared to hesitate about sending him down and Miller was left off the playoff roster. If Miller stays with the Yankees, expect him to be in the Triple-A bullpen. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Mark Montgomery, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 22 (born 8/30/1990)
2012 (A+/AA): 46 G, 64.1 IP, 1.54 ERA, 1.35 FIP, 0.886 WHIP, 4.9 H/9, 3.1 BB/9, 13.8 K/9

It can be difficult to get excited about relief prospects since they only make so much of an impact on a game, but wow. In addition to those numbers above, Montgomery pitched well in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 19 in 10.1 innings with a 2.61 ERA and 1.26 FIP. I’ve already discussed Montie’s fastball/slider combination a bit when mentioning Nick Goody, and PB’s Matt Keegan wrote a great article about 2011’s 11th round pick back in August (also why he should have been considered for a September call-up). You can also find him gracing Tanya Bondurant’s avatar. He has room to improve on his control, but he took a step in the right direction with a 2.25 BB/9 in 24 innings with Trenton at the end of 2012. His otherwise-superb statistics and insane strikeout totals have us eagerly awaiting Montie’s promotion to the Bronx, but he will probably break camp with either Trenton or Scranton since he has not yet pitched above Double-A. However, don’t be surprised if he suddenly appears on the big-league roster like David Robertson did in ’08 after a similarly-small sum of minor-league innings. Keep an eye on him in camp. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Coming up next: Zach Nuding, Vidal Nuno, Mike O'Brien, Kelvin Perez, Branden Pinder, Ryan Pope, Josh Spence, Matt Tracy, and Chase Whitley.

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