With the first off-day of spring training coming up tomorrow, the Yankees were bound to make their first cuts from the massive roster they brought into camp at the end of February. Although the players have had about two weeks of games to make an impression on the coaching staff, most of the people in the first round of cuts were unlikely to make the major league roster anyway.
Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, and James Kaprielian certainly fit that mold. Whichever order one prefers, they are definitely three of the top four prospects in the Yankees system (along with Gary Sanchez, who is competing for big league backup catcher). They aren't ready for the majors though, so they will go off to minor league camp and begin April with the level that makes most sense for each. The guess here is that Judge goes to Scranton, Mateo to Tampa (since he only had a month there in 2015), and Kaprielian to Charleston, though "Kap" is so advanced that the Yankees may very well be aggressive and put him in Tampa, too.
The biggest surprise was who else was included in the first cuts:
The very first name listed in the image was a man who was reasonably expected to compete for a spot in the Yankees' bullpen: Jacob Lindgren.
The team's top pick in the 2014 Draft, the lefty Lindgren was the first Yankee in over 25 years to make his MLB debut within a year of being drafted, but bone chips in his elbow ended his 2015 in June. Nonetheless, it seemed like with only Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Chasen Shreve assured of spots on the Opening Day roster, Lindgren would be in the mix, especially with fellow southpaw Aroldis Chapman suspended through early May.
Unfortunately, Lindgren was knocked around in three games, particularly the opener, when he only recorded one out while allowing four runs thanks to three walks and a hit by pitch. Control was a bit of an issue for him during his big league cameo last year too, so the Yankees probably want him to work on that before they are comfortable putting him into games that matter.
Other re-assigned prospects of intrigue include Dustin Fowler, Tyler Wade, Tyler Webb, Chad Green, and Brady Lail. The latter three pitchers are all ticketed for Triple-A, whereas Wade and Fowler both seem on target for Trenton. Both Wade and Fowler will be nice under-the-radar players to track during the season.
Lindgren and the others' departure from the scene leaves a few main candidates remaining for the last few spots in the bullpen, namely James Pazos, Nick Rumbelow, Branden Pinder, Nick Goody, and Johnny Barbato (aka the Zubat Bunch). Luis Cessa, Kirby Yates, Vinnie Pestano, and a few others are all still around too, though they stand to have less of a shot. Depending on how the starting rotation shakes out, it wouldn't be shocking to see Ivan Nova or Bryan Mitchell (or both) begin the year as long relievers in the bullpen, too.
What do you think of the first round of roster cuts?