As the season winds down, things get a little more intriguing in September and the 25-man roster expands to 40. Most of the time, teams bring up their Triple-A depth, but every so often fans are treated to the promotion of a top prospect who might finally get some big league playing time. The Yankees have several players who might be useful to the Yankees in the coming weeks, so here is a look at the position players.
Tyler Austin - 1B/RF
He's been pretty bad this year in his first full season at Triple-A, so much so that he was demoted to Double-A in order to get some playing time. Still, if he shows he can get going, his presence on the 40-man roster could make him a useful major league bench piece against left-handed pitching. He's able to play right field and first base, giving the Yankees backup in two positions that could use it down the stretch. Austin isn't a late-inning defensive candidate, but he could get some at-bats against lefties as a pinch hitter or give Mark Teixeira a breather, though Garrett Jones' presence on the roster could render him redundant.
Greg Bird - 1B
It's pretty unlikely, based mostly on what the team needs now and next year, but the Yankees have to put Bird on the 40-man roster this offseason anyway, so there's at least a non-zero percent chance of them giving him a call-up to play some first base in September. The problem with doing that means his service clock would start, but the Yankees don't really need him until after the 2017 season when Tex's contract is up. He can't play any other position and the Yankees like versatility, so it's more likely that they will leave him in the minors and wait to add him to the 40 over the Winter.
Cole Figueroa - SS/2B/3B
When Figueroa was up with the team briefly in July, it looked like he'd get at least a few days in the majors before being shuffled back down. If the Yankees value versatility, Figueroa might be the kind of player they could use in September as he's capable of playing shortstop, second base, and third base, and could allow Joe Girardi to rest his regulars or make late-game switches with ease. Maybe he doesn't turn out to be anything better than Jose Pirela or Brendan Ryan, but having more of those types of players has its advantages when not constricted to just 25 guys.
Ben Gamel - OF
He's not on the 40-man roster, but if anyone deserves a promotion for their 2015 season, it's likely Gamel. In his first taste of Triple-A, the 23-year-old outfielder is having a career-year as he's hitting .300/.358/.473 with a career-high eight home runs and 14 (14!!??) triples (leads all of baseball). Unfortunately, his prospect status has never been very clear and with Slade Heathcott and Aaron Judge ahead of him on the depth chart, it's unlikely they'll end up needing him.
Slade Heathcott - OF
He's finally healthy again, and with Mason Williams out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery, Slade will get the call in order to provide the outfield depth they thought they were getting from Dustin Ackley. He can play all three outfield positions and was looking pretty good in the majors before hitting the DL. Hopefully he can stay healthy long enough to make some kind of an impact on the field or at the plate.
Aaron Judge - OF
As their best prospect still in the minors and right on the cusp of the majors, it's no surprise that people are wondering whether or not the Yankees will promote Aaron Judge in September. Carlos Beltran is still hitting, so they don't need a starting right fielder, but Chris Young seems to be slowing down in the month of August, though a platoon role might not be worth bringing Judge up for. He's also currently hitting .133/.212/.400 in the month of August and hasn't been as amazing as he was in the beginning of the year since being promoted to Triple-A in July, so a call-up might not make as much sense as we would all like it to.
Jose Pirela - 2B/OF
Maybe the most likely position player to be up with the team on September 1, Jose Pirela can provide outfield and infield depth and also offers Joe Girardi another right-handed bat off the bench. He hasn't hit particularly well in his major league career so far, but he doesn't really have to–he just needs to hit for some occasional power against lefties to at least have a role in the big leagues. Of course, that's not really a give-in, since he won't be getting regular playing time and he might not be able to perform in such a limited role.
Rob Refsnyder - 2B
Yes, he should probably already be up with the team, if only because he would be something other than Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan, but at this point, who knows how much playing time he might get. The Yankees have clearly not had enough of Drew, but it's possible they use Refsnyder against lefties again, like they did when he got his call-up just before the All-Star break. The organization might not think he can contribute on a regular basis at the major league level, but there's no reason not to give him a chance at this point. Hopefully they will.
Austin Romine - C
Designated for assignment before the season, Austin Romine has hit his way back into the conversation with a .268/.323/.408 batting line in Scranton. The Yankees will want to have a third catcher up in September and if they don't like the idea of starting Gary Sanchez's service clock just yet, Romine would be an easy second choice. They'll have to rid themselves of someone who might offer more depth elsewhere, so we'll have to see how they choose to go in a few weeks.
Gary Sanchez - C
The Yankees' top catching prospect seems to have finally started hitting like they have been waiting for all these years as the 22-year-old backstop is hitting an astounding .356/.424/.603 since being promoted to Scranton last month. It's a good bet that with Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy here for the longterm, Sanchez will become trade bait in the offseason, so the Yankees could use this time to showcase him in the majors like they did with Jesus Montero in 2011. Of course, a 22-year-old catcher who can OPS over 1.000 isn't someone you give up unless you can get premium talent back, so we'll see what happens.
Who do you want the Yankees to call up in September?