Yesterday, I profiled the 13 non-roster invitee pitchers, so next up are the 13 non-roster invitee position players, where we'll actually get the amazingly named hitters alluded to in the title of this post! So huzzah for that. Maybe.
NRI Position Players
C Francisco Arcia
Age as of Opening Day: 24
2013 stats (NYY-AA/A+): 55 G, .213/.286/.305, 1 2B, 2 HR, 19.2% K%, 36 wRC+ (AA)
The prototypical minor league depth catcher, Arcia's pretty much only in camp to serve as a backup. and for good reason since he can't hit a lick. A 21% caught stealing rate during last season with Double-A Trenton and High-A Tampa seems to indicate that he's not particularly adept at throwing baserunners out either. Who knows? Maybe he's good at pitch framing or he did some kind of innocuous favor for Joe Girardi one time. I can't really explain Arcia's purpose to the Yankees, but life goes on.
OF Tyler Austin
Age as of Opening Day: 22
2013 stats (NYY-AA): 83 G, .257/.344/.373, 17 2B, 6 HR, 21.6% K%, 103 wRC+
Austin struggled somewhat in 2013 after surprising as the Yankees' Minor League Player of the Year in 2012. Some regression was expected, but the young righthanded hitter also fought both a bone bruise on his wrist and a sprained right thumb throughout the season. Although these ailments understandably limited his batting numbers, he still hit roughly around league average. Hit-suppressing Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton also did a number on him, as he slugged a much better .427 on the road away from the pitcher's park. ESPN's Keith Law liked him enough to rank him the second-best prospect in the Yankees' system and 85th overall, though chances are he'll begin 2014 back in Trenton. Chris Mitchell did a more thorough profile of Austin earlier in Pinstripe Alley's prospect profile series, so check that out for more.
INF/OF Russ Canzler
Age as of Opening Day: 27
2013 stats (BAL/PIT-AAA): 125 G, .252/.343/.376, 16 2B, 12 HR, 19.3% K%, 125 wRC+ (BAL
Canzler was a Yankee for about a month during the offseason until the Orioles claimed him off waivers in February. He never made it into a major league game last year though, spending time with both the O's and Pirates' Triple-A affiliates (he does have MLB experience thanks to September call-ups with the Rays in 2011 and Indians in 2012). After Canzler moved to Indianapolis with the Pirates, he fell into a bad slump with a 45 wRC+ over his final 39 games, staining what had actually been a fairly decent minor league season up to that point. The righthanded hitter mashed lefties with a .327/.438/.617 triple slash in 130 plat appearances last year and he has experience at both first and third, which are both positions where the Yankees are desperately seeking depth. This versatility should give Canzler a decent shot at a major league job, especially if Mark Teixeira's wrist causes him to miss time.
OF Adonis Garcia
Age as of Opening Day: 28
2013 stats (NYY-AAA): 50 G, .256/.312/.357, 9 2B, 3 HR, 9.7% K%, 88 wRC+
The dashingly-named Garcia was briefly in camp last year with the Yankees but suffered a broken wrist during batting practice that kept him out until July. The Yankees must have been hoping for good things from Garcia, as they didn't even have him spend any time at Trenton, where he had a 123 wRC+ in 28 games in 2012. Unfortunately, Garcia did not appear to be all that prepared for Triple-A. Given his disappointing 2013 season, his advanced age (he'll be 29 in April), and a decent crop of Trenton outfielders knocking on Scranton's door, he might not be long for the organization.
C Jose Gil
Age as of Opening Day: 27
2013 stats (BAL/NYY-AAA/AA): 23 G, .250/.321/.276, 2 2B, 19% K%
See also: Arcia, Francisco. Gil was in the Yankees' organization for eight years before the two sides parted ways in 2013 and he joined the Orioles' minor league system for a handful of games. Baltimore cut him loose and he actually spent seven games with the Independent Lincoln Saltdogs in Nebraska until the Yankees brought him back into the fold. Gil is more organizational depth at catcher and will probably just be backing up some superior catching prospect at one of the levels in 2014.
2B Corban Joseph
Age as of Opening Day: 25
2013 stats (NYY): 2 G, .167/.286/.333, 2B, 14.3% K%, 71 wRC+
(NYY-AAA): 47 G, .239/.329/.383, 9 2B, 6 HR, 18.3% K%, 101 wRC+
CoJo torched International League pitching in 2012 with a 134 wRC+ in 84 Triple-A games and he had enough positive reps in camp last year that the Yankees called upon him to make his MLB debut last year as the 26th man during a mid-May doubleheader in Cleveland. After the excitement of his first game and hit however, Joseph's season spiraled out of control as his shoulder ailed him. He never played a game after Memorial Day and underwent season-ending shoulder surgery not long after. The departure of Robinson Cano means an opening might be there for Joseph to take at least a bench job at the MLB level, and the fact that he has some experience playing the corner infield positions as well can only stand to help him (though he would need serious work at third). First, he'll have to prove that he's fully recovered from the surgery. His lefty bat and doubles power could play well in Yankee Stadium, so here's hoping that CoJo has a bounceback season.
C/3B Pete O'Brien
Age as of Opening Day: 23
2013 stats (NYY-A+/A-): 119 G, .291/.350/.544, 39 2B, 22 HR, 26.5% K%, 122 wRC+ (A+)
O'Brien can mash and the the numbers speak for themselves. He pummeled pitching with both Low-A Charleston and Tampa despite not playing home games at hitter's parks; hitting 39 doubles in 119 games is ridiculous. Unfortunately, like Jesus Montero, O'Brien is a complete butcher in the field. He has badly struggled behind the plate in his career and he wasn't much better at third base. If he ever reaches the majors, it will probably be in an almost exclusively DH role, and that's not exactly a great thing for prospects. Time will tell if O'Brien's bat can carry him there (the strikeout numbers are concerning), but for 2014, he'll probably start off back in Tampa or in Trenton. Maybe he can try first base.
UT Jose Pirela
Age as of Opening Day: 24
2013 stats (NYY-AAA/AA): 129 G, .274/.358/.413, 27 2B, 10 HR, 19 SB, 11.4% K%, 118 wRC+ (AA)
Another dark horse infield candidate, Pirela hit quite well in Trenton in his third straight season there and even spent five games in Scranton, his first time above Double-A. While the righthanded hitter's numbers were nice, keep in mind that the Yankees have kept him in Trenton for so long in part because his defense is so questionable. Pirela has experience at second base, shortstop, left field, and even some at third base, but he doesn't play any of them particularly well. The guess here is that he'll start the season in Scranton and wait in the wings as a possible infield replacement whenever Brian Roberts inevitably goes down due to injury. Jason wrote more about Pirela's chance in 2014 here.
OF Antoan Richardson
Age as of Opening Day: 30
2013 stats (MIN-AAA/AA): 115 G, .285/.402/.371, 20 2B, 0 HR, 39 SB, 18.2% K%, 115 wRC+ (AAA)
Jesse wrote about Richardson when the Yankees signed him back in November. He's a Crash Davis-type nine-year minor league veteran with just nine games of MLB service time from a September call-up with the Braves in 2011. He has basically no power, but he does have a patient approach at the plate that leads to many walks, which often turn into doubles since he has was successful on 84.8% of his 46 stolen base attempts last year. Of course as Jesse noted, these are all numbers at the minor league level, so it's difficult to say whether his plate discipline would translate to the major league level, especially given his already-considerable strikeout numbers. He's a fifth outfielder candidate, but likely nothing more, so with Ichiro Suzuki apparently entrenched on the roster, it's unlikely we'll see him much at all outside of Scranton in 2014.
INF Scott Sizemore
Age as of Opening Day: 29
2013 stats (OAK): 2 G, 1-for-6, 2B, 0 BB, 2 K
Sizemore's comeback from a lost season due to a torn ACL in 2012 lasted two MLB games before he tore it again in early April. He underwent season-ending surgery and thus only has those two games on his professional record since the end of the 2011 season. As I mentioned when the Yankees signed him though, he was quite good for the Athletics in 2011, reaching a 109 wRC+ while spending decent time at both third and second, two positions of great need for the Yankees in 2014. Obviously his health is a huge wild card, but his versatility and decent offensive production have the potential to make him a very intriguing Opening Day roster candidate. Keep an eye on Sizemore.
INF Yangervis Solarte
Age as of Opening Day: 26
2013 stats (TEX-AAA): 133 G, .276/.323/.403, 31 2B, 12 HR, 12% K%, 89 wRC+
Solarte has never played in the major leagues and was playing in the Pacific Coast League last year with the Texas Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock. It's not exactly inspiring that his offense wasn't impressive even in the hitter-friendly PCL, but it's whatever; most likely, Solarte will serve as organizational depth and Dean Anna figures to get more of a look than him. Lone Star Ball's Adam Morris did have this to say about Solarte:
INF Zelous Wheeler
Age as of Opening Day: 27
2013 stats (BAL-AAA/AA): 114 G, .275/.354/.414, 22 2B, 11 HR, 16% K%, 114 wRC+ (AAA)
Like Richardson, Wheeler signed with the Yankees back in November and Jesse wrote about him. (Once again, round of applause for Jesse for tackling all those small signings.) He can play all around the infield and actually hit pretty well for the Orioles' Triple-A team, with whom he spent 90 games with in 2013. The Yankees' last infield spot seems most likely to come down to either him, Sizemore, or Dean Anna, and he doesn't seem like he'd be a horrible MLB backup. Get pumped for Michael Kay making bad "zealous for Zelous" joke in Spring Training.
OF Mason Williams
Age as of Opening Day: 22
2013 stats (NYY-AA/A+): 117 G, .244/.303/.336, 24 2B, 4 HR, 14.7% K%, 95 wRC+ (A+)
Chris Mitchell will have a more in-depth prospect profile of Williams coming up in a couple weeks, but most people reading this blog probably have a decent idea of who Williams is. If not, the SparkNotes version is an excellent 2011 season in short-season-A Staten Island began to land him on Top 100 Prospects lists back in 2012, and he maintained his place that year with a solid stint in Low-A Charleston that earned him a promotion to Tampa by July. However, 2013 was a big step backward for Williams, who struggled in the Florida State League and went a paltry 11-for-72 with little plate discipline upon an August promotion to Trenton (though he did play better in the Eastern League playoffs). Williams is going to need a comeback season this year to justify the praise for his natural tools that still managed to place him on MLB.com and Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects lists entering 2014.