Drafted in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Branden Pinder was a college reliever who was never very coveted as a prospect. He was at least an effective reliever through the first two seasons in the Yankees system. He maintained a 1.16 ERA in short season Staten Island after being drafted and managed to skip Low-A Charleston on his way to High-A Tampa where he maintained a 2.79 ERA with a cup of coffee in Double-A Trenton to finish out the 2012 season. He was poised to make the leap onto prospect lists, even if it was just as a reliever, but 2013 proved to be his undoing. In his first real taste of Double-A, he got knocked around to a 6.29 ERA that led to a demotion back to Tampa after 19 games. At that point, at 24 years old, it seemed like it was time to give up on him. He figured things out again over the rest of the season, but the damage was already done and it looked like he'd soon be forgotten.
If one season could turn things around, it was his 2014 season where he only surrendered one run in 16 innings in his second chance at Trenton. He pitched to a 3.86 ERA over another 16 innings for Triple-A Scranton even as he spent time rehabbing an injury in the middle of the season. He also managed to drop his walk rate to 2.1 BB/9 in 2014, over a full batter as compared to his last two seasons. Such a turnaround put him back on the team's radar and likely not wanting another Tommy Kahnle, they decided to add him to the 40-man roster in the offseason in order to keep him around indefinitely.
He's now 26, and while he's likely to start the season out in Triple-A, he'll get a chance at some point during the long and winding 2015 season. Someone will get hurt or prove ineffective and he, along with fellow Rule 5er Danny Burawa will be among the first to get the call. He might not be as highly regarded as any of the system's top relief prospects, but at this point he's a finished product and easy-to-use fodder if they feel that Jacob Lindgren, Nick Rumbelow, and Tyler Webb aren't quite ready to make their rushed MLB debuts. An arm like Pinder might amount to what Preston Claiborne was–a useful arm at one point, but ultimately very disposable–however he'll hold a spot until the prospects are ready and that might not be all that bad in the end.