More often than not the New York Yankees positional roster is set entering spring training. It’s mostly the case this spring but there’s also a number of players either ready to break out or place the organization on notice when injuries hit the Opening Day roster.
LHP Zack Britton (32): Britton limited batters to a .182 clip in 66 games last season. His 78.5% groundball percentage was his best since 2016 and tops in the majors. He’s nasty.
RHP Luis Cessa (27): Cessa posted a 1.11 ERA across nine contests from June 19 to Aug. 4. Fanned 75 in 81.0 frames. Better than you thought last season and hopefully a continued late bloomer.
LHP Aroldis Chapman (32): Chapman held batters to a .185 average in 60 games in 2019. The All-Star closer was twice AL Reliever of the Month (May, Aug.). Chapman fanned 36.2% of batters faced last season.
RHP Gerrit Cole (29): The ace and best pitcher in baseball in 2019. Led the Junior Circuit with a 2.50 ERA, 326 K’s, 185 ERA+, 2.64 FIP, 13.8 K/9.
RHP Deivi Garcia (20): Fanned 165 to best all Yankee minor leaguers at three different levels. He should be in the mix to make some starts in the Bronx this summer.
RHP Luis Gil (21): Recorded an 11.53 K/9 with 123 K’s in 96.0 IP between Charleston and Tampa. Gil also sported a 2.72 ERA.
RHP Chad Green (28): Hopefully fewer opener outings this season. Green held the opposition scoreless in 11 of his 15 opener starts in 2019, with 32 K’s in 19.1 innings. Fanned 98 in 54 appearances.
*RHP David Hale (32): Pitched to a 3.11 ERA in 20 outings. Hale hurled multiple innings in 12 of 19 appearances. Has shown he can eat some innings.
LHP J.A. Happ (37): From Aug. until the end of the season, Happ held lefties to a .078 clip. His 19.1 inning scoreless streak from Aug. 26 to Sept. 12 was longest by a Yankee.
RHP Ben Heller (28): Heller posted a 1.23 ERA in six outings. Has all the stuff and at 28 it’s the make or break year to stay healthy on the bump.
RHP Jonathan Holder (26): After a stellar spring training, Holder had an abysmal season, yielding at least a one run in 15 of his 34 appearances. He needs to bounce back like Kahnle did last year.
RHP Tommy Kahnle (30): Kahnle confined batters to a .200 clip in 72 contests in 2019. He was also AL Reliever of the Month in July. 42 of his 72 relief outings were hitless and scoreless.
RHP Michael King (24): Tossed two innings with one strikeout in his lone appearance with the big club. If he’s healthy he’ll be ready to show his stuff for that fifth spot.
RHP Brooks Kriske (26): Recorded 12 saves between Tampa and Trenton.
RHP Jonathan Loaisiga (25): Posted a 4.55 ERA in 15 games, fanning 37. He needs to harness that control.
*LHP Tyler Lyons (32): Posted a 6.39 ERA in 14 outings.
RHP Luis Medina (20): Posted 127 K’s between Charleston and Tampa.
LHP Jordan Montgomery (27): Sported a 6.75 ERA in two appearances. After 2017, he’s the most proven for the fifth spot but with two lost years to injury, has the most to prove.
RHP Nick Nelson (24): Nelson posted a 2.81 ERA across three stops in the system. Recorded at least three strikeouts in every outing. Somewhat under the radar but his stats may be too impressive to ignore.
*RHP Dan Otero (35): Could be a solid pickup if he can reverse the trend of his home run rate and groundball rate back to his 63% 2016-17 levels with the Cleveland Indians. Otero avoids walks and if he can ever regain the velocity on his sinker, he could be a find.
RHP Adam Ottavino (34): In 73 contests, Ottavino limited batters to a .198 average in 2019. His 38.6% swing rate was second-lowest in the majors.
LHP James Paxton (31): Paxton’s 11.11 K/9 ratio ranked seventh in the AL and highest in a single-season in Yankees history. His 29 swings and misses on Aug. 23 at the Los Angeles Dodgers are the most by a Yankee in the Statcast era.
RHP Luis Severino (26): According to Statcast his 119 fastballs averaged 96.2 mph across three starts. He needs a healthy statement season and eclipsing 200 innings for the first time would make waves.
*RHP Clarke Schmidt (24): Posted a 3.47 ERA across three stops in the system. Schmidt fanned 102 in 90.2 frames. Scouts have him on the rise.
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (31): In a contract year, Tanaka was the lone Yankee starter in 2019 with a complete game, spinning a shutout against Tampa. Opponents hit .192 with 81 K’s in an at-bat concluding with a slider. Allowed two runs or fewer in 12 of 16 home starts.
*RHP Nick Tropeano (29): Local guy and depth piece working back from arm injuries.
*RHP Alexander Vizcaino (22): Fourth in the organization with 128 K’s between Charleston and Tampa.
RHP Miguel Yajure (21): Led all of minor league baseball with a 2.14 ERA between Tampa and Trenton. Also posted 133 K’s in 138.2 frames.
*RHP Tony Zych (29): Posted some decent numbers in parts of three seasons with the Seattle Mariners. Yet, Zych has dealt with elbow and shoulder injuries and hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017.
* Kellin Deglan (27): Popped eight home runs in 65 contests at Trenton.
Kyle Higashioka (29): Collected eight extra-base hits in 18 contests. His pitchers seemed to love him at Triple-A, so he has that working in his favor.
* Chris Iannetta (36): About five-six-seven years ago he’s the veteran all-around backstop with solid defense and pop that you’d want. Maybe he has some Rockies magic like others who have come to the Yankees.
*Erik Kratz (39): Solid veteran presence and still has some fire and pop despite his age.
Gary Sanchez (27): Led all catchers with 34 home runs. His 19 home runs with an exit velocity of at least 110 mph were tied for best in the majors.
*Wynston Sawyer (28): Career minor leaguer with the Baltimore Orioles. More than likely organizational depth at catcher.
*Josh Thole (33): Has eight years of experience between the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays but hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2016. Another depth guy.
3B Miguel Andujar (25): Led the team with 17 hits in spring training in 2019. He looked like he was going to take off again from 2018 before he was injured. His bat jumps, he deserves to find a spot in that order.
SS Thairo Estrada (24): Collected six extra-base hits in 35 games, including his first home run off Felix Hernandez. Will vie for a utility role.
1B Mike Ford (27): Totaled 19 extra-base hits, including 12 homers in 50 games. Ford also scored 30 runs and coaxed 17 walks. He hit .333 against lefties. Ford collected five pinch hits. Ford hit .371 over his final 24 games and recorded seven home runs in his final 20 games. He should get a longer look at first base.
*1B Chris Gittens (26): Eastern League MVP at Trenton, second in the system with 23 homers. Is he this year’s version of Ford?
*UTIL Rosell Herrera (27): Versatile defender but likely not enough of a bat to stick.
*UTIL Kyle Holder (25): Hit nine home runs in 412 at-bats for Trenton.
2B DJ LeMahieu (31): LeMahieu led the majors with .389 BA with RISP. His .667 BA with the bases loaded was also best. Last June he was AL Player of the Month. First, in franchise history start 25 games at three positions in a season. Led majors with 61 multi-hit contests. Why hasn’t he been extended yet?
SS Gleyber Torres (23): He’s only 23! His 13 homers against Baltimore were the most against an opponent in the divisional era. Set career-highs in every offensive category in 2019. Of his 38 home runs, 21 came within the AL East. Officially the man at shortstop.
3B Gio Urshela (28): Reached base safely in 93 of 112 starts. His .272 average with two strikes was third-best in the majors. One of 10 AL players to hit .300 with 50 extra-base hits. Can he repeat his success or was his late slump a sign of a looming drop-off?
1B Luke Voit (29): Voit earned AL Player of the Week honors at the end of last April. Had two nine-game hitting streaks on the road and hit .292 away from Yankee Stadium. His 21 homers were a career-high. Voit hit .377 against Boston. Hopefully, injuries had more to do with his late-season decline.
UTIL Tyler Wade (25): Wade scored 16 runs and stole seven bases in 43 games. Hit .297 in Sept. The 26th man seems destined for him.
*OF Trey Amburgey (25): Power numbers have progressed each year at every level, popped 22 bombs and 31 doubles at SWB last season.
CF Estevan Florial (22): Still young as prospects go but he needs to avoid the fluke injuries and show some progression in the system.
OF Clint Frazier (25): Frazier recorded 26 extra-base hits in 69 contests. He played his way into and out of the lineup. Frazier’s bat deserves to be in the bigs but he remains in limbo.
OF Brett Gardner (36): Set career highs for home runs and slugging percentage in 2019. Seventh most valuable base runner in the AL according to FanGraphs. Savage of River Ave.
*OF Zack Granite (27): Local kid acquired from the Minnesota Twins. Quadruple-A type player with solid Triple-A stats but hey maybe this year’s Tauchman.
CF Aaron Hicks (30): Hicks had four game-tying or go-ahead RBI when trailing in the ninth inning or later. It would be nice if his return around June was the end of his spate of injuries of the last few years.
RF Aaron Judge (27): Judge homered in 10 consecutive series’ from Aug. 20 to Sept. 22 with 14 in 29 games. His home run at Oakland on Aug. 20 traveled 467 feet according to Statcast. Nothing he can’t do exceptionally well but God you’d love for him to have another 2017 signature season.
*Thomas Milone (25): Milone has 89 stolen bases across seven minor-league seasons.
LF Giancarlo Stanton (30): Went 8-for-28 in his second return stint from the IL. Don’t be foolish, it’s not that he can’t do it but he could really use a 40-50 home run campaign as a bounce-back in 2020.
OF Mike Tauchman (29): Of his 72 hits, 32 went for extra bases. Tauchman hit .357 against lefties. He also hit .324 with RISP. In July, Tauchman batted .423 and slugged .750. Quite possibly their best defender in the outfield.