The official countdown to Yankees Opening Day might still be distant at 59 days away, but spring training is just around the corner. The Yankees' pitchers and catchers report on February 18th, just under two weeks from now. Some news of the Yankees' minor league deals emerged over the past few months, but the team had not yet officially released its list of non-roster invitees. Today, the names were revealed:
Yankees add 25 non-roster invitees including top prospects Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian. pic.twitter.com/5WOQVSrtsQ— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) February 5, 2016
Although most of these players are veterans looking for another shot at the major leagues, the first people to catch most Yankees fans' eyes should be top prospects Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge, and James Kaprielian. Judge was in spring training last year, where he made quite the impression with a three-run homer on the first day of exhibition games, so it will be fun to see cameo appearances from him once again.
2016 spring training will be the first time the Yankees see Mateo and Kaprielian with the major league club though. Mateo made a huge impression last year by leading all of organized baseball with 82 steals in A-ball, and Kaprielian was the 16th overall pick of the 2015 Draft. The fact that the Yankees invited him to spring training this year despite just three starts with Staten Island in short-season ball on his resume speaks to how much they think of the polished UCLA righty and how quickly he could rise through the system.
Dustin Fowler, Brady Lail, and Tyler Wade are other relatively well-known Yankees prospects who will be in spring training for the first time. Triple-A lefty Tyler Webb will be joined in the bullpen by Chad Green, who was acquired in the Justin Wilson trade with the Tigers last December (the other arm in the deal, Luis Cessa, is already on the 40-man roster). Domingo German appeared in one game with the Yankees last spring after being picked up alongside Nathan Eovaldi and the departed Garrett Jones in the previous off-season's Martin Prado deal, and German will be back with the Yankees in camp after missing 2015 with Tommy John surgery.
Among the veterans invited to camp, infielder Pete Kozma appears to have the best shot to be a factor at some point in 2016. The Yankees don't have a lot of infield depth close to the major league level, and Kozma can play pretty much anywhere there, though he doesn't have much of a bat at all. There's also a chance that catchers Carlos Corporan or Sebastian Valle could give Austin Romine competition for the major league backup role in Brian McCann if the team would prefer Gary Sanchez to play every day at Triple-A.
We'll have a more in-depth breakdown of everyone on the non-roster invitee list coming soon, but for now, what do you think of these players?