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A closer look at the Yankees' 2015 spring training non-roster invitees

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These names might be unfamiliar, but over the next month and a half, they will try to prove to the Yankees that they can surprise and help the team in 2015.

Slade Heathcott, trying not to get hurt... maybe
Slade Heathcott, trying not to get hurt... maybe
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in just four days, and joining the Yankees' regular 40-man roster will be 27 non-roster-invitees. Most of these players are young prospects, longtime minor leaguers, or veterans attempting one more shot at cracking a major league roster. (Former big leaguer C.J. Nitkowski wrote a nice article for FOX Sports about what it's like for a veteran to report to a team on such a deal.) There's a good chance that most of these players will have zero impact on the Yankees in 2015.

However, as last year's NRI star Yangervis Solarte proved, they can occasionally come out of nowhere and make a difference. So before all these players arrive in spring training, it's good for Yankees fans to at least have a basic idea about these players' backgrounds. The clipboard, please...

Pitchers

RHP Andrew Bailey
Age as of Opening Day: 30
2014 stats (NYY): Did not play (injured)

It's crazy about just how valuable Bailey was just four years ago. The Athletics closer was an All-Star in each of his first two years and the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year award winner, and he had pitched to a combined 1.70 ERA, 2.70 FIP, and 0.907 WHIP in 115 impressive games. Those are practically Craig Kimbrel level numbers. Alas, baseball can be a cruel game, and it's been a struggle for Bailey ever since then. The past few years have seen him sidelined with a forearm strain, a shoulder strain, thumb surgery, a biceps strain, and finally shoulder labrum surgery in midseason 2013. Bailey signed a contract with the Yankees last year to rehab during the 2014 season, and while he did not make it back to professional games, they are hopeful that there's something left in his arm in 2015. If the Yankees can even get a small semblance of that reliever from a few years ago, he would be another terrific bullpen asset.

RHP Scott Baker
Age as of Opening Day: 33
2014 stats (TEX): 25 G, 8 GS, 80 2/3 IP, 5.47 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 6.1 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 1.190 WHIP

Jason wrote about Baker when he signed his minor-league deal with the Yankees at the end of January

Scott Baker is a 33-year-old right-handed pitcher who once performed at an above-average level before injuries wrecked his career over the past few seasons. Baker had Tommy John surgery in 2012, missing the entire season and almost all of 2013 before making an underwhelming return in 2014. I previously identified him as a potential rebound candidate that the Yankees should consider signing, even if he's not a perfect fit. As a big fly ball pitcher he won't make the most sense, but he's not going to get in anyone's way and could be useful in case of an emergency. At his best, Baker could be an alternative to Chris Capuano.

RHP Vicente Campos
Age as of Opening Day: 22
2014 stats (NYY): Did not play (injured)

Campos reportedly wants to go by his middle name Vicente now, but for now, Yankees fans will be more familiar with the name Jose Campos. He was, of course, once a well-regarded addition to the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero trade in January 2012, but like pretty much everyone else in that deal, he has not had a very successful couple of years. He only made 24 starts with Low-A Charleston from 2012-13 due to elbow problems, and the Yankees desperately tried to avoid him needing Tommy John surgery. Unfortunately, the day of reckoning came, and Campos went under the knife on April 25th of last year. There's obviously still hope for him since he doesn't even turn 23 until late July, but after surgery, it's impossible to know what we can expect going forward. The best-case scenario sees him making a comeback in Charleston and perhaps emerging in High-A Tampa later this year. Cross your fingers.

RHP Kyle Davies
Age as of Opening Day: 31
2014 stats (CLE-AAA): 21 GS, 124 2/3 IP, 4.11 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 5.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.307 WHIP

Jason also wrote about Davies when the Yankees tabbed him as a late non-roster invitee just last week:

You might remember Davies as the pitcher who surrendered Alex Rodriguez's 500th home run back in 2007. He's been an above-average starter over the length of his seven-year MLB career exactly one time and has not reached the majors over the last three years. Clearly he isn't very good. He missed the 2012 season with a shoulder issue and spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons in the Twins and Indians organizations. Now at 31 years old, the Yankees must see him as a potential Triple-A rotation option, given his ability to eat innings (183.2 in 2010, 154.1 in 2014) because there's no way he has a chance to make the major league team.

RHP Nick Goody
Age as of Opening Day: 23
2014 stats (NYY-AA/A+): 27 G, 31 1/3 IP, 4.60 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 13.2 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 1.436 WHIP

Goody was a sixth-round selection in the Yankees' 2012 draft class, but after a promising start in his debut season, he had to have Tommy John surgery early on in 2013. He had a modest comeback last year, but he struggled in Double-A Trenton upon his promotion there in late-June. Although the strikeout potential is still there, he'll have to do a lot better than a 6.75 ERA and 10 walks in 16 innings to make an impression in the high minors. If he recovers this year, it will be easier to write that off as post-surgery rust.

LHP Jacob Lindgren
Age as of Opening Day: 22
2014 stats (NYY-AA/A+/A/Rk): 19 G, 24 2/3 IP, 2.19 ERA, 0.92 FIP, 17.5 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 1.014 WHIP

We ranked the "Strikeout Factory" eighth overall among Yankees prospects when we did our Top 20 list:

The man with the greatest nickname in the minors, Lindgren has ridiculous strikeout potential that he was already showing off late in the season in Tampa and Trenton. I'm willing to write off the walks as a side effect of throwing nearly 80 innings last year between college and the minors, but it will still be something to track. If he truly does have even modest control, then watch out, big leaguers.

RHP Diego Moreno
Age as of Opening Day: 27
2014 stats (NYY-AAA/AA): 38 G, 57 2/3 IP, 4.06 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.457 WHIP

Moreno's name might ring a bell, as he was one of the minor leaguers sent by the Pirates to the Yankees in the 2012 A.J. Burnett deal. He's not a dynamic prospect and Triple-A batters have not had any problems hitting him, as his 12.0 H/9 can attest, so it seems unlikely that Moreno will see the majors, especially since he's behind so many other intriguing arms in the Scranton bullpen.

LHP James Pazos
Age as of Opening Day: 23
2014 stats (NYY-AA/A+): 46 G, 67 IP, 2.42 ERA, 2.21 FIP, 10.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.134 WHIP

Speaking of intriguing arms in Scranton, Pazos fits that bill nicely, even though he hasn't officially pitched in Scranton yet. After a midseason promotion from Tampa, Pazos actually got better in Trenton, recording a 1.50 ERA and a 2.78 FIP in 28 games. He also has not faced any problems against righties to date despite being a southpaw; lefties had a .458 OPS with Pazos on the mound compared to a still-poor .583 OPS from righties. FanGraphs writer Kiley McDaniel had this to say on Pazos:

Lefty runs it up to 96 mph with deception from the left side and fringy command and off-speed.

Keep an eye on that Scranton bullpen, as Pazos is just one of several potentially solid young relievers.

RHP Wilking Rodriguez
Age as of Opening Day: 25
2014 stats (KCR-AAA/AA): 24 G, 26 1/3 IP, 2.39 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 1.367 WHIP

Rodriguez actually spent a few days in the Yankees' organization last year, even though he didn't pitch. He pitched well enough in the Royals' farm system to make his MLB debut in June, though he returned to the minors after just two games (both scoreless innings). His numbers might be decent, but keep in mind that he spent seven years kicking around the Rays' system and never pitching above A-ball. He could pitch for the Yankees, but I'd feel more comfortable putting money on one of the other Triple-A options.

RHP Nick Rumbelow
Age as of Opening Day: 23
2014 stats (NYY-AAA/AA/A+/A): 44 G, 58 IP, 2.64 ERA, 1.63 FIP, 12.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.086 WHIP

When Rumbelow was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 draft, pretty much everyone at PSA fell in love with his awesome name. His strikeout potential and terrific rise in 2014 only made him more exciting. Rumbelow began the year at Low-A Charleston and rose up all the way to the doorstep of the majors in Triple-A Scranton by season's end. McDaniel thought enough of Rumbelow to rank him 24th in the Yankees' system, remarking that he could throw as hard as 98 mph and that his "short, hard-breaking curveball... gives hitters fits." He's not on the 40-man roster at the moment, but few would be surprised if that took long to change.

RHP Luis Severino
Age as of Opening Day: 21
2014 stats (NYY-AA/A+/A) 24 GS, 113 1/3 IP, 2.46 ERA, 2.07 FIP, 10.1 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.062 WHIP

Warning: Drool approaching...

Yes, he might end up a reliever and that is a far less exciting outcome than ending up as a top of the rotation starter, but Severino’s impressive 2014 season shows he’s worthy of being called the top prospect in this system. Another strong season will only further cement his place on everyone’s top 50 and 100 prospect lists. - Tanya

It would not be shocking at all to see PSA's top prospect take another big step in 2015 and make it to the majors by season's end. Severino certainly has the talent.

LHP Tyler Webb
Age as of Opening Day: 24
2014 stats (NYY-AAA/AA/A+) 48 G, 68 2/3 IP, 3.86 ERA, 2.53 FIP, 12.1 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.180 WHIP

Jason ranked Webb the 19th best prospect in the system, and he's certainly one of the most intimidating lefties in the system at 6'6":

Right now, Webb has the upside of a future left-handed closer, and before Lindgren was drafted, he was the talk of the relief prospect town. His numbers don't look too good thanks to the small sample size that comes with being a reliever, but there's a real chance he could reach the majors in 2015.

Catchers

C Francisco Arcia
Age as of Opening Day: 25
2014 stats (NYY-AAA/AA): 64 G, .276/.311/.347, 11 2B, 1 HR, .658 OPS, 56 wRC+ (AAA)

C Trent Garrison
Age as of Opening Day: 24
2014 stats (NYY-A+): 82 G, .254/.310/.308, 12 2B, 1 HR, .618 OPS, 78 wRC+

C Juan Graterol
Age as of Opening Day: 26
2014 stats (KCR-AAA/AA): 77 G, .278/.307/.387, 17 2B, 4 HR, .694 OPS, 103 wRC+ (AA)

C Kyle Higashioka
Age as of Opening Day: 24
2014 stats (NYY-A+/Rk): 17 G, .224/.310/.367, 4 2B, 1 HR, .678 OPS

C Eddy Rodriguez
Age as of Opening Day: 29
2014 stats (TBR-AAA): 13 G, .152/.204/239, 1 2B, 1 HR, .443 OPS

The Yankees are bringing five non-roster catchers to spring training, but if any of them sees time in the majors this season, then something has gone seriously wrong. They're all guys who the Yankees can probably use at whatever level they feel is most appropriate at the time. Graterol and Rodriguez were off-season additions who would probably serve as Austin Romine insurance should the Yankees decide to take John Ryan Murphy as the backup catcher to Brian McCann. Romine is out of options, so if he goes to another team, then one of Graterol or Rodriguez would probably step in at Triple-A Scranton or Double-A Trenton. (One of them will likely be Gary Sanchez's backup.)

Infielders

1B Greg Bird
Age on Opening Day: 22
2014 stats (NYY-AA/A+) 102 G, .271/.376/.472, 30 2B, 14 HR, .848 OPS, 158 wRC+ (AA)

Greg Bird is the Yankees' #3 prospect. Greg Bird? Greg Bird.

Swoon. You have to be really, really good with the bat to make top prospect lists as a first baseman and Bird has proven himself completely worthy of that distinction. He has excellent plate discipline, tremendous power, and could be knocking on the door of the big leagues before too long. - Tanya

SS Cito Culver
Age as of Opening Day: 22
2014 stats (NYY-A+) 132 G, .220/.298/.303, 21 2B, 5 HR, .601 OPS, 74 wRC+

Cito's really just in camp because he's another infielder to use and Addison Maruszak isn't around anymore. Maybe Cito should just try to reinvent himself as a reliever at this point. Hindsight will always be 20/20, but whatever--the Yankees were criticized right when they took Cito with the 32nd overall pick in the 2010 Draft. Andrelton Simmons was taken just one round later. Sighhhhhhhhhhh.

2B Cole Figueroa
Age as of Opening Day: 27
2014 stats (TBR) 23 G, .233/.286/.326, 2 2B, 0 HR, .611 OPS, 74 wRC+
(TBR-AAA) 71 G, .282/.371/.389, 13 2B, 3 HR, .761 OPS, 114 wRC+

The Yankees brought Figueroa in to be another second base option beyond Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela, though that was before they signed Stephen Drew. Still, Figueroa figures to be in the mix for the backup job. Pirela has the edge, but keep in mind that last year, Pirela had a wRC+ of 117, almost identical to Figueroa's in Triple-A. While I would take Pirela over Figueroa anyway, I'm skeptical of either player's ability to actually be a factor with the bat off the bench.

UTIL Jonathan Galvez
Age as of Opening Day: 24
2014 stats (SDP-AAA) 103 G, .280/.354/.449, 24 2B, 10 HR, .803 OPS, 109 wRC+

Galvez spent six years in the Padres' system, including the past two seasons in Triple-A El Paso. Given how shaky the Padres' infield has been, it should say something that they never promoted him despite decent numbers at the minors' highest level. Galvez does bring versatility to the table though, so while he'll likely begin the year with Scranton, he could be brought up should the Yankees need someone to simply man a utility role beyond Pirela.

INF Nick Noonan
Age as of Opening Day: 25
2014 stats (SFG-AAA) 104 G, .237/.282/.303, 16 2B, 3 HR, .586 OPS, 51 wRC+

Like Figueroa, the Yankees signed Noonan to be an option at second before they brought Drew back. He can also play some shortstop and third base, too. However, Scott Davis hit the nail on the head in his assessment of Noonan:

Noonan has been pretty consistently terrible at the plate over his minor league career, but he does bring some good glove work to the middle of the field. Still, the Yankees already have a glove-first backup in Brendan Ryan, so there's little upside to Noonan. He seems like nothing more than Triple-A depth for now.

2B Rob Refsnyder
Age as of Opening Day: 24
2014 stats (NYY-AAA/AA) 137 G, .318/.387/.497, 38 2B, 14 HR, .884 OPS, 137 wRC+ (AAA)

We ranked Refsnyder as the fourth-best prospect in the Yankees' system, and he's probably the most likely of all these names to actually reach the majors in 2015. Here's what I said when we made our prospect rankings:

The fastest-rising position player prospect in the Yankees' system this year, his bat impressed all season long--his 38 doubles between Trenton & Scranton were certainly impressive. However, the question remains the same: Will he ever learn to even adequately defend second base at the major league level? If not, then his future is quite unclear since his bat does not profile nearly as well in right field.

1B Kyle Roller
Age as of Opening Day: 27
2014 stats (NYY-AAA/AA) 125 G, .300/.391/.550, 30 2B, 26 HR, .941 OPS, 143 wRC+ (AAA)

Some Yankees fans are believers in Roller. I am not. He's not much defensively and if the Yankees thought he was a real option at first base, why wouldn't they have brought him up sometime last year when he was mashing while Mark Teixeira struggled with injuries? Garrett Jones's presence on the team now makes Roller even less likely to make it to the majors. The numbers are nice, but there's a reason scouts don't seem to buy him.

Outfielders

CF Jake Cave
Age as of Opening Day: 22
2014 stats (NYY-AA/A+) 132 G, .294/.351/.414, 28 2B, 7 HR, .764 OPS, 121 wRC+ (AA)

Cave's a solid outfield prospect who might be closer to the majors than one would think. He has a solid defensive reputation and since returning from injury in 2013, he has put up a steady wRC+ around 120 everywhere he's played. We had him ranked 13th in the Yankees' system:

Now that names like Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott have fallen out of favor, Cave finds himself among the most promising outfield prospects in the system. He split time between Tampa and Trenton last year, putting up a .764 OPS for the season. Former Thunder manager Tony Franklin compared Cave to Brett Gardner, which is obviously pretty high praise. - Tanya

OF Slade Heathcott
Age as of Opening Day: 24
2014 stats (NYY-AA) 9 G, .182/.250/.242, 2 2B, 0 HR, .492 OPS

Tanya mentioned that Heathcott has fallen out of favor, and that's unsurprising given his inability to stay healthy. He's played more than 80 games in a season just once since being drafted in 2009. Last year was likely the lowest of the lows for Heathcott, as he didn't even make it into 10 games. It ended early due to arthroscopic knee surgery related to the one he had during the previous off-season. He still has great tools, but since he can't stay healthy, it's increasingly difficult to consider him part of the Yankees' future.

RF Aaron Judge
Age as of Opening Day: 22
2014 stats (NYY-A+/A) 131 G, .308/.419/.486, 24 2B, 17 HR, .905 OPS, 149 wRC+ (A+)

Judge looks like the prize of the Yankees' 2013 draft class, and his tremendous 2014 campaign placed him in the Top 50 overall prospects on lists from all around baseball. He was second in the Yankees' system on our list, and I had him #1:

You have to go back to the days of Austin Jackson to find a Yankees outfield prospect as captivating as Judge. The bat is very real, and it will be exciting to see what he can do against pitching above A-ball. It will be a challenge, but the first round pick has the talent to live up to it.