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Yankees spring training: A closer look at the Yankees' 2017 non-roster invitee position players

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Which non-roster hitters are in camp this year?

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Glendale Desert Dogs at Scottsdale Scorpions Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the Yankees released their list of non-roster invitees to spring training. Even if they’re all long shots for the Opening Day roster, they will still be present throughout most of camp and the minor league season, so it’s worth getting to know them a little. Jason will be going through all the pitchers tomorrow, but for now, here are the Yankees’ 12 non-roster position players this spring.

Catchers

Wilkin Castillo
Age as of Opening Day: 32
2016 stats (AAA/AA): 51 G, 185 PA, .229/.271/.312, 11 2B, 1 HR, 33% CS%

Kellin Deglan
Age as of Opening Day: 24
2016 stats (AA): 83 G, 294 PA, .194/.256/.332, 8 2B, 9 HR, 26% CS%

Francisco Diaz
Age as of Opening Day: 27
2016 stats (AAA/AA/A+): 62 G, 220 PA, .218/.298/.244, 3 2B, 0 HR, 42% CS%

Jorge Saez
Age as of Opening Day: 26
2016 stats (AA/A+): 58 G, 212 PA, .260/.314/.495, 9 2B, 12 HR, 40% CS%

Teams usually bring a crop of catchers into camp to help share the load with their regulars. Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine, and Kyle Higashioka will bear the brunt of the workload, but Higashioka himself is a reason why these catchers shouldn’t be completely dismissed. Just a year ago, it seemed like the 26-year-old was just another organizational catcher, but he broke it out with 21 homers. Now, he’s set to be the everyday catcher in Triple-A Scranton and the first man up if one of Sanchez or Romine is injured.

Castillo is an old former major-leaguer with the Reds and Diaz is, in fact, an organizational catcher, but look to Saez and Deglan. They are the best bets for Higashioka-esque breakouts, though it’s obviously unlikely. Saez was a minor league Rule 5 pick from Toronto and will probably end up in Trenton, just his second go-around in Double-A. Deglan has age on his side and only a year ago impressed Rangers manager Jeff Banister in camp with his glovework. The Yankees have made their appreciation of catcher defense well known in the past.

Infielders

Ji-Man Choi
Age as of Opening Day: 25
2016 stats (MLB): 54 G, 129 PA, .170/.271/.339, 4 2B, 5 HR, 2 SB

Choi spent several years in the Mariners’ organization before being given a shot in the majors with the Angels last season. Since the Angels were terrible, Choi certainly had his chances. The results in the majors were underwhelming, even though he hit .346/.434/.527 in 53 Triple-A games (thanks, Pacific Coast League). He can play some corner outfield, but he will likely spend 2017 as the Scranton first baseman and a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option should Greg Bird or Tyler Austin go down.

Pete Kozma
Age as of Opening Day: 28
2016 stats (AAA): 130 G, 488 PA, .209/.268/.265, 19 2B, 2 HR, 11 SB

The former Cardinals shortstop returns to the Yankees organization for the second straight year after playing all around the infield in Scranton last season. Since he never made it up to the majors last year and only got worse in Triple-A, don’t expect to see much of him in 2017 outside of Baby Bomber Recaps.

Donovan Solano
Age as of Opening Day: 29
2016 stats (AAA): 131 G, 546 PA, .319/.349/.436, 33 2B, 7 HR, 2 SB

Solano spent four years in the majors with the Marlins before joining the Yankees on a minor-league deal in 2016. He actually did crack their September roster, appearing in nine games with middling results, though he did belt a dinger. Like Kozma, he’s Triple-A depth, albeit depth more likely to make brief MLB cameo should someone get hurt.

Ruben Tejada
Age as of Opening Day: 27
2016 stats (MLB): 36 G, 78 PA, .167/.247/.242, 5 2B, 0 HR, 0 SB

The Yankees signed Tejada in December and I wrote about him then:

Tejada is most notable for being the victim of Chase Utley’s controversial slide in the 2015 playoffs. That broke Tejada’s leg and ended his Mets career. It was also unfortunate because 2015 had been a solid year for Tejada, as he hit .261/.338/.350 with 23 doubles and a 94 wRC+ in 116 games, spending time at shortstop, third base, and second base. That’s not really worth of a starting role in 2017, but as a potential Yankees bench player? Sure.

It’s not as though Tejada is old or anything, as he was just 26 last year, the same age as Didi Gregorius. Perhaps rehabbing from the broken leg was simply a difficult process and it was hard for him to get back into any sort of hitting groove, particularly since he also had a quad injury right before the regular season began. Perhaps it was tough to change organizations multiple times in one year after a whole decade with one. Perhaps he just sucks now.

Either way, Tejada will get his chance to make it again in New York, this time in Yankees pinstripes. He will most likely compete with Ronald Torreyes and others for a backup infield spot since like Torreyes, he can play pretty much anywhere.

Gleyber Torres
Age as of Opening Day: 20
2016 stats (A+): 125 G, 547 PA, .270/.354/.421, 29 2B, 11 HR, 21 SB

The phenomenal Torres isn’t coming anywhere near the Opening Day roster since he has yet to play above A-ball, but it’s obvious that the kid is special. He was ranked among the top four prospects in baseball by both MLB.com and Keith Law, and it would be an upset if Baseball America didn’t do so as well. The last time he was on a field, he won the Arizona Fall League MVP by hitting .403/.513/1.158 in 18 games.

#GleyberGood

Tyler Wade
Age as of Opening Day: 22
2016 stats (AA): 133 G, 583 PA, .259/.352/.349, 16 2B, 5 HR, 27 SB

Although Wade’s not as highly-touted as Torres, he’s a little closer to the majors, and there’s even a scenario where one can squint and see Wade as a 2017 September call-up at age 22. Since Torres is moving up to Trenton, Wade has a very good shot at beginning 2017 a step away from the majors in Scranton. Keep an eye on him.

Outfielders

Dustin Fowler
Age as of Opening Day: 22
2016 stats (AA): 132 G, 574 PA, .281/.311/.458, 30 2B, 12 HR, 25 SB

In most organizations, Fowler would be a top-10 prospect, but in the Yankees’ stacked system, he’s stuck outside. Make no mistake though—Fowler should be not be overlooked. He set a Trenton record with 15 triples last year and despite the shaky OBP, is in line for a promotion to Scranton in 2017. He could be up in the majors very soon.

Clint Frazier
Age as of Opening Day: 22
2016 stats (AAA/AA): 119 G, 520 PA, .263/.335/.447, 27 2B, 16 HR, 13 SB

The other elite prospect in this bunch, Frazier earned plenty of recognition for his continued growth, even as he changed organizations last year. He has some work to do cutting down on his strikeouts before he’s major-league ready, but Frazier’s even closer than Fowler. The power is real. And it’s spectacular.