2019 Spring Training Preview: Minor leaguers and non-roster invitees


Spring Training is a time for excitement for baseball fans. It is a clean slate, where every team is on an even playing field, and every player is in the best shape of their lives.

Spring Training also offers a chance for younger players and former major league castoffs to prove themselves when they may not get the opportunity to do so normally. Minor league players on the 40-man roster along with a number of non-roster invitees get to come into camp with teams, and demonstrate their skillset to the major league coaching staff.

While they may not make an immediate impact at the major league level, these players are trying to prove they can contribute and will be ready when called upon.

Rex Brothers

Brothers made his major league debut in 2011 with the Colorado Rockies, where he spent his first five seasons. During his time in Colorado, he had three seasons with more than 50 IP out of the bullpen before suffering control and shoulder issues in 2015. Brothers has closer experience, saving 19 games for the Rockies back in 2013 with a 1.74 ERA. Plus, he is a lefty, so there’s that.

Danny Farquhar

Farquhar is one of those guys you just have to root for. After suffering an aneurysm during a game in 2018, he is trying to make a comeback this season. A 7-year veteran, Farquhar has had success at the major league level, and looks to add depth to the Yankees bullpen. If he is able to get back onto the mound and pitch effectively, he should be making an appearance in the Bronx this season.

Nestor Cortes

Cortes is a left-handed starting pitcher who is currently in his second stint with the Yankees. After being claimed by the Baltimore Orioles in the Rule-5 Draft in 2017, he was designated for assignment after only four appearances. Cortes is a soft-throwing lefty who deploys four different pitches. It is unlikely for him to break camp with the major league team, but he is good depth for the rotation.

Cale Coshow

Coshow is a prime example of an imposing force on the mound. Standing at 6’5 and boasting a fastball in the upper 90’s, he fits in with the Yankees clubhouse being one of the tallest in baseball. Coshow needs to work on his walks, and without that, he will not likely break camp with the major league team.

Danny Coulombe

Coulombe is yet another pitcher with major league experience getting a chance to break camp with the Yankees. Being a left-handed reliever, Coulombe offers a different look that the Yankees could be looking for as a depth piece. He pitched 23.2 innings for Oakland last season to a 4.56 ERA. His likely destination will be in Scranton as someone who can be called on with prior experience.

Raynel Espinal

Espinal has been in the Yankees system since the 2013 season and has been consistent during that time. Unfortunately, Espinal is having some issues with getting to Spring Training due to an outstanding Visa issue according to General Manager Brian Cashman. Reaching as high as AAA last season, the young right-hander is looking to build off his 3.09 ERA and 12.79 K/9 last season.

David Hale

The story of David Hale in pinstripes last year is a tough one. After putting together an impressive 5.2 IP in a start against Toronto last season, he was eventually cut by the Yankees. He is back, however, and will be looking to add depth to the Yankees in both the bullpen and the starting rotation.

Drew Hutchinson

Hutchinson is looking to bounce back and make some noise within the Yankees organization after spending much of his career north of the border. Hutchinson’s velocity has diminished quite a bit since his days in Toronto, but his major league experience should be quite valuable for the younger players.

Michael King

King is one of the Yankees fastest risers in terms of notoriety within the system. He is currently our no. 10 overall prospect in the system, and the Yankees clearly think highly enough of him to send him an invite to Spring Training, despite not being on the 40-man roster. He has been shut down, however, due to elbow soreness and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

Brady Lail

Lail seemed to find a role in the bullpen after transitioning from the starting rotation last season. He is a pitcher who typically focuses on his secondary pitches to get outs, and getting in some more reps in Tampa for spring training will help his transition more.

Kellin Deglan

Deglan is a former first-round pick by the Rangers out of the British Columbia Baseball League — the same league that produced Justin Morneau and Brett Lawrie. Deglan is a catcher who has yet to advance higher than the AA level, mainly due to his career .224 batting average in the minor leagues.

Francisco Diaz

Despite being only 28-years-old, Diaz has been playing professional baseball since the 2007 season. His familiarity with the minor league system should help him during camp as a catcher. He has been in the Yankees system since the 2016 season, and has functioned as a solid defensive catcher.

Ryan Lavarnway

Lavarnway’s highest point in his career came in 2013 with the Red Sox when they won the World Series, but he spent the 2018 season in the Pirates minor league system. At 31, Lavarnway is trying to make an impression with the Yankees, and prove that he can still catch. Cashman loves stashing major league veterans in the minors for emergencies, and this seems like a prime example of that.

Jorge Saez

Saez is another minor league catcher getting a chance to make an impression with the major league staff. Going into his age 28 season, Saez has not played at a level higher than AA, but he will get a chance to impress the coaching staff during Spring Training.

Trey Amburgey

Amburgey is an interesting player to watch in the Yankees system. He has had his fair share of injuries during his career that has taken away from his development time, but he has showed he is strong with the bat. He was one of Trenton’s best hitters during the 2018 season, and will look to make an impression during the spring.

Billy Burns

Burns has spent time in the major leagues with the Athletics (2014-16) and the Royals (2016-17) and is a depth piece for the Yankees. The switch-hitting outfielder will have a hard time trying to break camp with the major league team, but stashing an outfielder with major league experience in the minor leagues might be a good idea for the Yankees.

Estevan Florial

Florial is widely considered to be the top prospect in the Yankees system. He profiles as a potential five-tool player at the major league level, and has showed flashes of that explosiveness during last years’ spring training. The main thing to look for here will be how he bounces back after missing so much time last season. Being around major leaguers should help with his development.

Matt Lipka

Lipka is a 26-year-old utility man who most recently played in the Giants minor league system. Stashing away a utility man in the minor leagues is a smart idea for depth purposes, as he can help all around the diamond. Lipka will get a chance in front of the major league staff to prove he can help the major league club, he will just have a tough time breaking camp for opening day.

Phillip Diehl

Diehl is an interesting minor league arm. A former 27th-round pick in 2016, he has moved his way quickly through the major league system, reaching AAA by the end of the season. He is a soft throwing lefty who works out of the bullpen, but his stuff has played so far in pro ball. He is someone to keep an eye on in Scranton this season.

Trevor Stephan

Reports so far out of Spring Training have had Stephan impressing the coaching staff. There is little surprise in this, however, because of his large frame (6’4 210 lbs.) and mid 90’s fastball. Stephan is an imposing force on the mound, and if he is able to keep impressing the coaching staff, he could be someone to keep in eye out for come September.

Albert Abreu

Abreu is our no. 17 prospect in the Yankees system, and is widely considered one of the best pitching prospects in the system. He has some of the best raw stuff in the minor leagues, but the question is whether or not he can locate well enough to make a difference at the major league level. He missed significant time in 2018, but the question for this season will be how he bounces back in spring.

Domingo Acevedo

Acevedo is a pitcher who uses his imposing size and weight on the mound to dominate. Acevedo is a three-pitch pitcher who has incredible raw ability on the mound, and even touches triple digits on the radar gun. He should begin the season in AAA, but he is a guy who could see an opportunity in the majors should injuries arise.

Joe Harvey

Harvey was an effective bullpen piece last season for Scranton, and has been reliable since his professional debut. He was added to the 40-man roster this offseason in order to be protected from the Rule-5 Draft, and will likely start in AAA this season. His mid-90’s fastball plays well out of the bullpen, and his numbers reflect just that.

Ben Heller

Heller underwent Tommy John surgery last season that caused him to miss the entire 2018 season. He is a player who had a chance of making the major league roster last season, and he will likely have that same opportunity this spring. He will need a strong Spring Training if he wants a chance to break camp with the major league team.