The Yankees officially announced their 2020 Spring Training Non-Roster Invitees (NRI) Monday morning, with some of the players expected to see time in the Bronx this summer.
Included among the invitees are top pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt, and veteran competitors for the backup catching position: Chris Iannetta, Erik Kratz, and Josh Thole.
Schmidt is a prime candidate to be called up this season should an injury or ineffectiveness occur in the starting rotation. There’s also the possibility that J.A. Happ could still be traded at some point.
Another pitcher hoping to wear the pinstripes this season is ex-Angel Nick Tropeano. The right-hander started 14 games for the Halos in 2018 but made just three Major League appearances last season. He missed the last two months of the 2016 season and all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery.
Additionally, pitchers Dan Otero, David Hale, Tyler Lyons, Domingo Acevedo, Luis Avilan, and Alexander Vizcaino are among this year’s NRI list.
Otero, who was in the Yankees organization for a day back in March of 2013, spent the last four seasons with the Indians after a combined four seasons with the A’s and Giants. He made 25 appearances out of the pen last season without much success. He’s definitely looked at to add depth to the Scranton RailRiders roster.
Both Hale (20 games) and Lyons (11 games) pitched for the Yankees last season with mixed results. Lyons also appeared in one game each in the ALDS and ALCS. He’ll be competing for a lefty specialist spot.
Acevedo is a 6’7″ right-hander with a power arm and the ability to pitch in the Majors, but he needs to have a consistent season at Scranton. He threw well for the Trenton Thunder last season but didn’t make the most of his 10 appearances at Triple-A.
Avilan is a 30-year old right-hander who made 45 appearances for the Mets last season. The Yankees are the seventh organization he’ll be looking to pitch with, though he’s a longshot for a call up.
The 22-year old Vizcaino has spent five seasons in the Yankees’ farm system after being signed out of the Dominican Republic. After the 2019 season, Baseball America ranked him as the Yankees ninth-best prospect. He mixes a power fastball with a top-notch changeup.
Three outfielders are among the invitees, including one of the best names in baseball, Zack Granite (who e really could be playing in Bedrock with Fred Flintstone).
Granite spent last season playing for the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Nashville after spending his first six years in the Twins organization. The local product (who grew up in Staten Island and went to Seton Hall University) made his Major League debut in 2017, posting a .611 OPS in 40 games.
Trey Amburgey and Thomas Milone are the other two full-time outfielders in camp.
Amburgey was a 13th-round pick by the Yankees in the 2015 draft and he had a solid 2019 season for Scranton. He posted a .274/.329/.494 split with 22 HR and 62 RBI in 470 at-bats.
The lefty-hitting, lefty-throwing Milone spent his first seven seasons in the Rays’ organization before inking a deal with the Bombers. He’s shown tremendous power but not much else.
Kelling Deglan and Wynston Sawyer are the two additional catchers in camp, each without Major League experience. The Rangers made him the 22nd overall pick in the 2010 draft but he has spent most of his time bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A.
Sawyer was an eighth-round pick by the Orioles in 2010. He’s also played in the Dodgers’ and Twins’ systems. A few years ago, Sawyer’s Isolated Slugging percentage (ISO) ranked high among minor league catchers but he hasn’t progressed since then.
Chris Gittens, Kyle Holder, and Rosell Herrera round out the list of 19 NRIs.
Gittens, a 12th-round pick in 2014, was impressive at Trenton last year with 23 HR, 77 RBI, and an .890 OPS. The first baseman/DH who turns 26 on Tuesday, must continue to show growth at Scranton this year if he wants to make it to the Majors in 2021.
Holder, taken with the 30th-overall pick in the 2015 draft, is a utility infielder who can play up the middle or at the hot corner. He’s a solid gloveman with a bit of pop, but doesn’t hit enough to be looked at as an everyday player.
Herrera has 149 Major League games under his belt, having played with the Reds, Royals, and Marlins over the last two years. He’s seen time at second base, shortstop, third base, and all three outfield positions. His defensive versatility gives him a chance to be the last man on a Major League roster since his hitting leaves much to be desired.