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Yankees 2014 Roster Report Card: Jose Pirela

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Pirela had a very good year with the bat and added to his versatility in the field.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: A

2014 Statistics: (AAA): 130 games, .305/.351/.441, 10 HR, 15 SB, 117 wRC+

(MLB): 7 games, 333/.360/.542, 0 HR, 0 SB, 149 wRC+, 152 OPS+

2015 Contract Status: AAA/40-Man Roster

Jose Pirela got his first opportunity in the Major Leagues this season, and while it might have been for just seven games and 25 plate appearances, it was well-earned. He spent the bulk of the year at the Yankees Triple-A affiliate in Scranton where he was an International League All-Star; having had a solid season with at the plate and playing six different positions in the field, in addition to seeing time as a designated hitter. In his career, Pirela has played every position except pitcher and catcher, adding to his versatility this season when he saw 12 games at first base.

The promotion was more than a reward for good performance, or even cover for an injured Martin Prado, as Pirela would have been eligible for minor league free agency had he not been added to the 40-man roster. He is a valuable asset to have kept within the organisation, with positional flexibility to cover multiple roles and a bat that would play at any of those positions, at least at the minor league level. Pirela profiles as a solid contact hitter with some speed on the basepaths. He has also grown into a little power, having hit 10 home runs this season in Scranton.

Pirela came in as the ninth-highest rated Yankee position player in the August Newsday rankings, a relatively low rating considering how close he was to major league promotion at the time. While versatile, he isn't regarded as a strong defender and may not have a clear primary position. He played mostly shortstop until 2011 since when the Yankees have had him play more second base and the outfield. Second base might be his clearest path to a starting role with the Yankees in the short-term, but he is usually regarded as less of a prospect there than Robert Refsnyder for whom he was moved off second base in Triple-A. Pirela could also potentially see significant time in right field, but his true value down the line might well be in a super-utility role similar to Prado, the player he replaced on the big-league roster this season.

It is telling that when moved to first to make room for Refsnyder's promotion to Triple-A, Brian Cashman specifically mentioned the struggles the Yankees have had finding a backup to Mark Teixeira. A player like Jose Pirela carries more value than ever in the days of 12-man bullpens where bench spots are a scarce resource and expensive to spend on players who have just a single position. A key part of the value Prado provided this season was the ability to move around spelling multiple older veterans as they had off-days or played designated hitter. Having Pirela around to provide similar versatility could well prove an asset over the 162 game slog that is the regular season. He might start the season at Triple-A on the shuttle over to the Bronx for injury cover, or be given an opportunity to win a major league bench spot outright in spring training. Either way, expect to see him in the big leagues at some point in 2015.