Just about two years ago now, I became a writer on Pinstripe Alley along with Tanya and Greg, and in one of my first posts on the site, I profiled the 27 non-roster invitees to the Yankees' 2012 Spring Training. I did it again last year with an unnecessarily long five-part series on the unnecessarily numerous 44 non-roster invitees to 2013 Spring Training. In keeping with this bizarre tradition, and with hopefully a little more brevity than the 2013 list, here's the skinny on the non-roster players the Yankees invited to camp this spring. Unfortunately, none of them are Ronnier Mustelier. Sigh. Anyway, some names are old, some names are new, and some names are Yangervis or Yoshinori. Consider yourself warned. The hitters will go up tomorrow.
RHP Bruce Billings
Age as of Opening Day: 28
2013 stats (OAK-AAA): 26 GS, 148.3 IP, 4.31 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 8.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.29 WHIP
Jesse wrote about Billings when Baseball America reported that he would be signing a minor-league deal with the Yankees earlier in January. (Jesse's been a real trooper reporting these minor signings; there will be more links to his articles,) Billings has bounced around the minors with the Rockies and Athletics for seven games, but while he's done yeoman work pitching in the hitter-friendly PCL, there's a reason he's only pitched seven innings in the majors despite being in Triple-A since 2011.
RHP Danny Burawa
Age as of Opening Day: 25
2013 stats (NYY-AA): 46 G, 66 IP, 2.59 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 5.7 BB/9, 1.35 WHIP
A St. Johnny's grad, the hard-throwing Burawa was in Yankees camp two years ago, but a torn oblique muscle cost him his 2012 season. Burawa throws a 95-98 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider as his out pitch. While he had pretty good results in Trenton last year, he did it with an ugly walk rate, so if he's hoping to make an impression as a future bullpen option, he'll probably need to attend the David Robertson School of How to Hone Your Damn Control.
RHP Robert Coello
Age as of Opening Day: 29
2013 stats (LAA): 16 G, 17 IP, 3.71 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 12.1 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, 1.29 WHIP
(LAA-AAA): 15 G. 18.7 IP, 4.82 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 14.0 K/9, 5.3 BB/9, 1.39 WHIP
Jesse wrote about Coello a few weeks ago on a day in which the site was buried with A-Rod suspension. Coello has spent time with several different organizations since his professional debut in 2007, and he made it the pros for cups of coffee with the 2010 Red Sox and the 2012 Blue Jays before getting a little bit more time with the Angels last year. A 60-day DL stint for right shoulder inflammation cost him a few months last year, but he still posted gaudy strikeout numbers that caught the Yankees' eye. He might have an outside shot at a bullpen job, but more likely than not, he will end up Scranton. Also he throws this snazzy "forkleball" pitch:
RHP Matt Daley
Age as of Opening Day: 31
2013 stats (NYY): 7 G, 6 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.88 FIP, 12.0 K/9, 0.0 BB/9, 0.33 WHIP
(NYY-AAA/AA/A+): 43 G. 52.3 IP, 2.06 ERA, 1.82 FIP, 12.4 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 0.96 WHIP
Next up is the man who will forever be a trivia answer in Yankees history as the man who replaced Mariano Rivera in the legend's final game. A non-roster invitee to Yankees camp for his third year in a row, Daley could actually be an interesting bullpen arm to watch in camp though, as he successfully rehabbed from right rotator cuff surgery in 2012 to make it all the way back to the majors in September for the first time in two and a half years. Along the way, he put up nice strikeout numbers with a low walk rate, an always-appreciated combination that should earn him more than just a cursory gander in Spring Training.
RHP Brian Gordon
Age as of Opening Day: 35
2013 stats (OAK-AAA): 51 G, 63 IP, 3.57 ERA, 2.45 FIP, 9.4 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 1.11 WHIP
"Hi, I'm Brian Gordon. You might remember me from that time when I was signed out of nowhere to make a couple spot starts for the Yankees in 2011 when they were being stubborn about promoting a worthy David Phelps." Gordon's starting days appear to be over after a season and a half in Korea and a full season in the 'pen with Oakland's Triple-A team, so it seems likely that if he survives Spring Training, he'll head to Scranton for bullpen depth.
RHP David Herndon
Age as of Opening Day: 28
2013 stats (NYY-AAA/AA/A+/Rk): 21 G, 35.7 IP, 2.78 ERA, 2.36 FIP, 9.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.57 WHIP
Like Daley, 2013 was a year of rehab for Herndon, a former Phillies bullpen arm who underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2012. He was invited to camp last year and eventually reached Triple-A before his season ended. Now that he's healthy, Herndon's previous 97 games of MLB experience from 2010-12 might give him a leg up on the competition, though they weren't exactly great innings (97 ERA-, 109 FIP-) and his pitches are similar to Burawa's: low-90s fastball, low-80s slider. Nevertheless, with a solid spring, Herndon could be in line for a bullpen job.
RHP Chris Leroux
Age as of Opening Day: 29
2013 stats (PIT): 2 G, 4 IP, 6.75 ERA, 9.30 FIP, 6.8 K/9, 13.5 BB/9, 2.50 WHIP
(Japan-Yakult): 5 GS, 22 IP, 9.00 ERA, 5.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 2.18 WHIP
Jesse wrote about Leroux just a few days ago when the Yankees signed him to a minor league deal. His 2013 campaign was very strange as he began the year with the Pirates, had two crappy appearance, and got himself DFA'd. Instead of going to the minors, he signed a $500,000 deal to pitch in Japan for the Yakult Swallows, where he was not much better in a handful of starts. Leroux's most recent full season of baseball was decent with 63 2/3 innings of 3.11 ERA ball for Triple-A Indianapolis in 2012, but more likely than not, Leroux is just back-of-the-bullpen fodder for the minors. He's hardly bulletproof.
LHP Fred Lewis
Age as of Opening Day: 27
2013 stats (NYY-AAA/AA/A+): 29 G (5 GS), 58.7 IP, 2.61 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.45 WHIP
There's a chance you might be thinking, "Hey wasn't that guy an outfielder?" That's a different Fred Lewis. This Lewis was a late 47th round pick by the Yankees in 2010 out of Tennessee Wesleyan, and he has exceeded expectations by remaining steady throughout his four seasons in the minors. He spent most of his time last year with Trenton, where he pitched to a sparkly 2.28 ERA despite a 4.2 BB/9. Lewis appears ready for another promotion to Scranton, and since he's lefthanded, there's a nonzero chance that we could see him in pinstripes later this year. It should be noted though that he struggled against lefties in 2013 with a .303/.370/.409 triple slash against... so maybe not.
RHP Jim Miller
Age as of Opening Day: 31
2013 stats (NYY): 1 G, 1.3 IP, 20.25 ERA, 15.05 FIP, 0.0 K/9, 6.8 BB/9, 3.00 WHIP
(NYY-AAA): 43 G, 63.3 IP, 3.55 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 13.0 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.26 WHIP
Miller was in camp last year after appearing in 33 games for the 2012 AL West champion Athletics, who chose to leave him off their playoff roster and not re-sign him. He actually had quite a nice campaign for Scranton in 2013, and when the Yankees were desperate for bullpen help in September, they brought him up to provide some depth. Unfortunately, he was pummeled in his one game against the Red Sox, and we never heard from him again (except on the 2013 Yankees roster Sporcle quiz). He's back again, but like many on this list, appears destined for a Triple-A bullpen job, if anything.
RHP Mark Montgomery
Age as of Opening Day: 23
2013 stats (NYY-AAA): 25 G, 40 IP, 3.38 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 11.0 K/9, 5.6 BB/9, 1.53 WHIP
Man, what a letdown Montie was in 2013. After storming through the system at a breakthrough pace since he was taken in the 11th round of the 2011 draft and amazing fans with gaudy strikeout numbers (13.8 K/9 in 2012 between Tampa and Trenton), he hit a brick wall last year. As Jason noted back in August, Montgomery didn't stay in very good shape during the 2012-13 offseason, and he missed time due to shoulder fatigue with Scranton. He landed on the DL three separate times and even though he maintained impressive strikeout numbers, he walked the ballpark in the process. There was some hope that he would take the next step in 2013 and eventually ascend to the majors, but it's evident that Montgomery needs more work in Triple-A to cut back on those walks, at least to start the season. If he can manage to even dial it back to 3.7 BB/9, his wicked slider could help him finally make his MLB debut given the numerous openings in the MLB bullpen.
LHP Francisco Rondon
Age as of Opening Day: 25
2013 stats (NYY-AAA/AA): 33 G (7 GS), 82.7 IP, 3.92 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 9.3 K/9, 5.9 BB/9, 1.45 WHIP
Rondon has been in the Yankees' system for quite awhile now, dating back to the 2006 Dominican Summer League season. The Yankees tried to experiment with him in the Trenton rotation at the start of 2013, and it did not end well. He had a 6.99 ERA, got bumped from the rotation, struggled in the bullpen for six games, and got cut from the 40-man roster in favor of long reliever David Huff. Ouch. No one claimed him though, so he stayed with the Yankees and seemed to pitch a lot better upon his return, as Jesse wrote in August. From his first game back on May 30th onward, he pitched to an excellent 1.23 ERA in 51 1/3 innings with an 11.2 K/9, though he still struggled with control with a 5.1 BB/9. Perhaps most importantly, lefties hit a meager .189/.252/.263 against him in 103 total plate appearances, perhaps setting him up for a shot at a "second lefty" bullpen shot in 2013. He'll have 40-man roster resident Cesar Cabral to contend with, but it's certainly not unreasonable to think that we could see him in New York at some point in 2014.
RHP Yoshinori Tateyama
Age as of Opening Day: 38
2013 stats (TEX/NYY-AAA): 32 G, 76.3 IP, 2.83 ERA, 2.77 FIP, 10.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 1.15 WHIP
Also mentioned in Jesse's article about the Yankees signing Billings was Tateyama, a 12-year veteran of the Nippon Ham Fighters who went stateside in 2011 with the Rangers at the same time as his longtime teammate, Yu Darvish. He was roughly league average in 44 MLB innings with Texas in 2011, but he began 2012 in Triple-A Round Rock and despite a 1.13 ERA down there, he was crushed in his 14 big-league games that year. He hasn't returned to the majors since then, splitting last year with the Rangers' and Yankees' Triple-A teams. He did have a 1.70 ERA in 21 games with Scranton with very nice BB/K numbers, but his previous experience in the pros does not portend much success in his future as he approaches 40.
RHP Chase Whitley
Age as of Opening Day: 24
2013 stats (NYY-AAA): 29 G (5 GS), 67.7 IP, 3.06 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 8.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.21 WHIP
Whitley is arguably the non-roster invitee with the best legitimate chance at an immediate MLB bullpen job. Unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, the Yankees were fortunate to be able to keep Whitley, a 2010 15th round pick out of Troy University in Alabama who has pitched well at every stop he's made in the Yankees' system. Like Daley, he's been a non-roster invitee for three years in a row, and this is likely his greatest opportunity yet. He pitches well against both righties and lefties, has never had an ERA above 3.88 in any minor league stint, and he doesn't walk all that many people. He's not a dominant arm, but it definitely seems like he could be a youthful boost to the Yankees' bullpen in 2014. Whitley, Montgomery, and Daley are my picks for non-roster pitchers to keep an eye on in camp when pitchers and catchers report on Valentine's Day.
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