It will be some time before we know the final configuration of the Yankees major league roster. While it was mostly set before heading into camp, a few players still have the ability to make it or break it. Some of these final decisions will ultimately affect the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders roster, but here is a guess as to how it will look on Opening Day.
C Kyle Higashioka
C Wilkin Castillo
This is probably the easiest position to decide on. The Yankees don’t have many promising catching prospects in the system now that Gary Sanchez will be in the majors and Luis Torrens was taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Higashioka did an excellent job in 2016 to the point that the Yankees took notice and decided to put him on the team’s 40-man roster. I’d say he could be a candidate for the big league team, but Austin Romine can’t be optioned and they wouldn’t chance losing him with no backup at Scranton.
Castillo is the right call here because he’s the only non-roster invitee who has extensive experience at the Triple-A level.
1B/RF Tyler Austin
1B Ji-Man Choi
The Scranton infield will be comprised almost entirely of minor league signings this year because the Yankees are fresh out of MLB-ready talent here. Ji-Man Choi was likely intended to be the everyday first baseman, however the surprise signing of Chris Carter will probably push Tyler Austin back to Scranton. Austin will likely get most of his at-bats at first, but should also see time in right field and as the DH to give Choi plenty of playing time.
SS/2B Tyler Wade
Wade is the player I am most unsure about just because he is so young and there are too many veterans who were promised jobs. The Yankees have moved him quickly through the system, so it wouldn’t be too crazy to have him in Triple-A to start the year. Wade has the misfortune of being in the organization just when Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo are pushing their way up while Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro are at the top. The 22-year-old shortstop may never be a starter, but there’s reason to believe he can play a role sooner than his competition.
SS/2B Pete Kozma
2B/3B Donovan Solano
SS/2B Ruben Tejada
The rest of the players are pretty much interchangeable. If Wade starts at shortstop, Solano will likely play third and second, while Kozma and Tejada share time at second and infield backup.
2B/RF Rob Refsnyder
Refsnyder will probably play second and outfield throughout the season, but I’m not sure where he’ll be more often. I’m including him with the outfielders because it seems easier for him to grab more playing time at second than right.
OF Dustin Fowler
OF Clint Frazier
Scranton will have two top prospects in the outfield this season with Frazier returning for his first full year in the Yankees organization and Fowler getting his first taste of Triple-A. Frazier has a chance of reaching the majors this year, while Fowler will likely have to wait until next year. Unfortunately, the presence of Jacoby Ellsbury clogs up the outfield.
OF Mason Williams
OF Jake Cave
You should notice that Aaron Judge is not among these players because I believe he will make the major league team out of spring training this year. All he has to do is beat out Aaron Hicks, which shouldn’t be hard. This will leave Mason and Cave to share time at the third outfield position.
RHP Chance Adams
RHP Jordan Montgomery
LHP Dietrich Enns
The RailRiders have three promising pitchers lined up for the rotation here. Neither Adams nor Montgomery received a 40-man roster spot this offseason, but it shouldn’t be long before we see them around the big leagues. Enns received a spot and should get a chance to start, even if he ends up in the bullpen down the road.
RHP Chad Green
RHP Bryan Mitchell
I have Green and Mitchell rounding out the rotation, signifying that Luis Severino and Luis Cessa will make the major league team. Green will be a useful spot starter over the course of the season, but I really do think that Mitchell is more of a reliever than a starting pitcher.
LHP Chasen Shreve
RHP Johnny Barbato
RHP Giovanny Gallegos
All three of these pitchers hold 40-man roster spots, giving them the leg up over anyone else. Gallegos was just added, so he’ll be around. Meanwhile, I feel like Shreve and Barbato are sort of at the end of their rope with all the talent coming through. Don’t be surprised if they don’t last the season. This also means that I have Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder making the team this spring.
LHP Jason Gurka
LHP Joe Mantiply
Tommy Layne is clearly going to make the Yankees as their left-handed specialist, so that means Gurka and Mantiply will be relegated to Scranton for now.
To round out the bullpen, I have Wotherspoon making the team and Lail sticking around after he struggled last year.