It's now Week Three of spring training and we're approaching the end of the preseason fun. The Yankees made another round of cuts recently, removing four pitchers from the competition and leaving 12 pitchers to fight for four roster spots. As always, each player in camp was graded on a color scale to determine how likely they are to make the Opening Day roster.
Of the four players cut this past week, somehow Richard Bleier–the 28-year-old career minor leaguer–was the most impressive. He'll remain in Triple-A and be a left-handed specialist for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Mark Montgomery didn't exactly open eyes like he hoped, but he didn't embarrass himself out there, which is probably a plus for him after the last few seasons. Tyler Cloyd and Vinnie Pestano really struggled in their time with the big league team, likely dooming them to Scranton for most of the season.
The competition is coming to a head for those remaining in camp. At this point, Chasen Shreve can be written down for a major league role right out of the gate this year. He's ticketed for a setup role, pitching in the sixth and seventh innings before handing the ball to the back end of the bullpen. Shreve should also be useful as a left-handed specialist when needed. Aside from him, the only other pitcher I believe should be guaranteed a spot at this time is Bryan Mitchell. I have never been a huge supporter of Mitchell, but he's briefly shown promise as a reliever in the past and his dominant performance in camp cannot be ignored.
The other two pitchers who are lined up to take roster spots are Johnny Barbato and Branden Pinder, who have pitched well all spring. They could easily round out of bullpen by providing solid right-handed relief. I have downgraded Nick Goody and Nick Rumbelow to yellow because they have pitched so poorly that others have surpassed them in camp. Neither look to be starting the year off on the right foot, so they should start in Triple-A to get things right.
Kirby Yates has pitched well, but he hasn't thrown enough innings to be a serious consideration just yet. There are still two weeks of spring training, so I'm not going to ignore him when the Yankees are clearly interested in what he can do. There's definitely some sleeper quality to him at this moment. Tyler Olson and James Pazos are basically fighting for the same job of backup left-handed specialist. If someone gets hurt, whoever proves to be the stronger candidate will get a major league job before long.
I have pushed Diego Moreno down to red because with all the options in camp currently, there's no way he's being considered to take a bullpen spot. He's pitched poorly, but he could see playing time as the season wears on. Luis Cessa has impressed the Yankees in his outings this spring, however, considering he's still a work-in-progress, he'll report to Triple-A in order to improve and wait for an opportunity where he can start. Anthony Swarzak has pitched well, but should be cut soon. He's going to spend the year in Scranton, waiting for an opportunity as an injury replacement.