Major League Baseball teams can expand their rosters from 25 to 40 players on September 1st, which is less than one week away. (Doesn't it seem like this season has gone by way too fast?)
The Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are headed to the playoffs with their last regular season game scheduled for September 4th. The Triple-A Championship Game will not be held until September 19th, but the team will still call up any players they feel they need for their stretch run even if the RailRiders are still playing. Some players will be called up on September 1st, with the remainder potentially arriving later in the month.
Also remember, only those who are on the 40-man roster are eligible to be called up. Following Greg Bird's activation from the 60-day disabled list yesterday, the Yankees no longer have any available spots. So in order to call up a player that is not already on the 40, the Yankees would first have to remove someone else. A player must clear waivers before being removed from the 40-man roster.
Unless otherwise noted, all of the candidates discussed here are already on the Yankees' 40-man roster. Let's take a look at which prospects we might see wearing pinstripes in September and how they might be used, beginning with some notables who are least likely to be called up.
Kyle Higashioka, Catcher
Promoted from Triple-A to back up Austin Romine when Gary Sanchez was on the DL earlier this year, Higashioka was hitless with six strikeouts in 20 plate appearances. With both Sanchez and Romine facing suspensions, the currently injured Higashioka will probably have to be either designated for assignment or moved to the 60-day DL in order to clear roster space for a healthy catcher. So unless he is fit to play by the time Romine and Sanchez begin serving their suspensions, it is unlikely that we will see Higashioka in pinstripes again this season.
Jake Cave, Outfielder
MLB Pipeline's nineteenth ranked Yankees prospect, Cave has slashed .339/.382/.588/.969 with 14 home runs and 36 runs batted in over 62 games with Scranton. Cave is not on the 40-man roster and is eligible for minor league free agency this offseason. Unless one of the Yankee outfielders suffers a season-ending injury, we will not be seeing Cave in the Bronx this year.
Billy McKinney, Outfielder
Ranked the number twenty-four Yankees prospect, McKinney has opened eyes by slashing .320/.353/.584/.937 with 10 home runs and 33 runs batted in during 46 games with the RailRiders. McKinney is not on the 40-man roster and is Rule 5 eligible this offseason. Currently behind Cave on the depth chart, it is even less likely that we'll see McKinney in the majors this year.
Domingo Acevedo, RHP
The number seven ranked Yankees prospect is currently with Trenton on the DL. Acevedo is not on the 40-man roster and is Rule 5 eligible this offseason. Having only pitched two games above Double-A, it is highly unlikely that the Yankees will clear space and promote him this season.
Chance Adams, RHP
Ranked third by MLB Pipeline, Adams has gotten the most attention among Yankee starting pitching prospects. He is 10-4 with a 2.69 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 19 starts for Scranton. Fans have been clamoring for him to be called up practically all season, but Yankee management has steadfastly insisted that he isn't ready.
With the starting rotation reset following the acquisitions of Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia, it now appears even less likely that we will see Adams make his MLB debut in September. He is not on the 40-man roster, while the team has multiple starters beyond the top five who already are. The club also has plenty of bullpen depth. So unless the decision makers do an about face and decide they want to see Adams face big league hitters this year, we will have to wait until 2018 to see him wearing pinstripes.
Not this year
Gleyber Torres, Shortstop
The Yankees' top prospect (number two overall in MLB) is recovering from season-ending Tommy John surgery following an injury suffered in June. Torres is not on the 40-man roster and we won't see him in the Bronx until next year at the earliest.
Jordan Montgomery, LHP
The rookie left-hander has started 23 games for the Yankees this season, going 7-6 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. While other starters struggled with inconsistency and injuries, Montgomery was a rock that the Yankees could count on to take the ball every fifth day and give the team a chance to win.
A candidate to get down-ballot Rookie of the Year Award votes, Montgomery was dropped from the rotation because of concerns regarding his innings pitched. He threw a career-high 152 innings in the minors last year, including the postseason. In making the move, the organization made clear that they don't consider all innings to be equal, with pitching in the majors being more stressful.
Unless there is another injury to a member of the starting rotation or manager Joe Girardi decides to insert a sixth man, it is unlikely that we'll see Montgomery make another start in the big leagues this year. He will probably continue starting for Scranton to help them try to win the Triple-A Championship and then get called up and added to the Yankees bullpen later in the month.
Giovanny Gallegos, RHP
He has thrown 14 innings for the Yankees out of the bullpen this year and is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA. Gallegos has pitched very well in Scranton and is 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 42 plus innings. He will be added to the bullpen for depth in September, probably later in the month.
Domingo German, RHP
A starter in Scranton, German is 6-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 71 plus innings. He appeared in 10 games for the Yankees earlier this season and had control problems, issuing seven walks and allowing 10 hits in 10 plus innings. He'll be back in the Bronx bullpen for depth later in September.
Ronald Herrera, RHP
He has appeared in two games for the Yankees this season, allowing two runs on three hits in three innings. Herrera is currently rehabbing with the GCL Yankees and will likely go to Scranton after that. He has little experience pitching above Double-A, but he is on the 40-man roster so we will probably see him in the Bronx later in September. Herrera will be far down on the bullpen depth chart.
Miguel Andujar, Third baseman
The number six Yankees prospect appeared in one game for the Bombers this season, going 3-for-4 with four runs batted in. Thought to be a possible replacement for Chase Headley at third base, he was sent back down to continue working on his defense. Andujar will be called up and could get some starts at the hot corner, especially if Todd Frazier continues struggling offensively. Otherwise, Andujar could be used as a DH or pinch-hitter.
Jonathan Holder, RHP
Holder has appeared in 34 games for the Yankees this season, carrying a 3.58 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 37 plus innings. He came up big on more than one occasion, including hurling three scoreless innings in the 16-inning marathon win against the Red Sox on July 15th. He'll be added to the relief corps in September and could become a valuable piece of the middle-relief puzzle.
Ben Heller, RHP
Heller has thrown 2 plus innings for the Yankees this year, allowing zero hits, zero runs, and two walks while recording three strikeouts. He has thrown 52 plus innings for Scranton this year, averaging 13 strikeouts per nine. He will also be added to the bullpen mix in September and we could see him climb the depth chart quickly if he pitches well.
Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell were only recently sent down and will likely immediately be recalled on September 1st for bullpen depth. Tyler Austin and Tyler Wade were also sent down recently to make room for players returning from the DL and will be back in September.
Austin will join a logjam at first base and is unlikely to get much playing time if Chase Headley stays hot and Greg Bird stays healthy. Speed is Wade's primary tool, which we didn't get to see much while he was here. Roster expansion will allow Girardi to make in-game moves more frequently. Wade, along with Jacoby Ellsbury, will be the team's primary pinch-runners.
Garrett Cooper and Clint Frazier were injured while on the active roster and are still with the team while on the DL. Both will be with the Yankees when they're healthy. Cooper is fourth on the first base depth chart, so he’s unlikely to see much playing time. Frazier, on the other hand, had already moved past Ellsbury prior to getting hurt and will likely be added to the starting outfield mix as soon as he is fit to play.
Red Thunder has played in 28 games for the Yankees this season. He began strong — homering three times in his first seven games — but cooled considerably prior to getting hurt. Perhaps Frazier can be the standout September addition that the Yankees could really use as the pennant chase heats up.
Amazingly, every single player on New York's 40-man roster has already appeared in at least one major league game for the Yankees this season. This is a testament to the rash of injuries that the team has endured. It's also a statement about the abundance of high-caliber talent that the organization has stockpiled. As Yogi Berra once said, the Yankees have "deep depth."
Stan Musial, Ernie Banks, and Randy Johnson are three Hall of Famers who began their careers as September call-ups. Of course, Yankee fans remember Shane Spencer's late-season heroics in helping New York win its 24th World Series championship in 1998. Are there any future Hall of Famers, stars, or even short-term impact players to be found in this year's crop? Who do you want to see playing in the Bronx this September? Let us know in the comment section below.