With September being two weeks away, the rosters for every team expand from 25 players to 40. With those extra 15 players, there may be a few that could make a case to be on the team next year instead of being in the minors. The New York Yankees have a few interesting players, especially in areas where they are hurting. The starting pitching outside of Hiroki Kuroda has been extremely sluggish, the bullpen could always use some padding and offensively, some of these guys who are playing now may not be there next year. A few players the Yankees may want to keep an eye on are Adam Warren, Brandon Laird, Justin Thomas, and David Adams as they are all on the 40-man roster.
First: Adam Warren – RHP
Warren’s debut in June was flat out bad. However, that does not establish him as a pitcher. Much like any pitcher who makes their debut, he was more than likely nervous about pitching in his first MLB game and especially for the Yankees. Moving past his debut, Warren has an arm the Yankees may eventually call on in the coming years and perhaps he’ll find his spot in the rotation. In Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Warren is 6-8 with a 3.77 ERA and 93 strikeouts inside of 136 innings pitched. While those numbers aren’t the greatest, he has proven himself worthy enough to be on the 40-man roster and has the potential to really show the Yankees what he’s made of in September.
Warren is a noted power pitcher and someone the Yankees thought could fill the void when CC Sabathia went on the disabled list for the first time this season. His breaking curveball has been scouted as his best pitch. He throws two types of fastballs, a two-seamer and a four-seamer, as well as a slider and change-up. If Warren ever finds a permanent job up in majors, don’t expect him to be at the front of the rotation. He’ll likely be a four or five in the rotation, if he’s not placed in the bullpen. He may not have the huge power stuff like Sabathia, but Warren is definitely someone we can use going forward.
Second: Brandon Laird – 1B / 3B
When Laird made his debut last summer, he wasn’t really expected to stay up here long term. With the shortcomings of Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez, Laird may have a chance to make a splash. If the Yankees don’t keep Eric Chavez and Casey McGehee beyond 2012, then Laird’s opportunity becomes that much larger. He’d more than likely split time with Jayson Nix as a back-up infielder and maybe even take over a position if we had a major injury like we currently do with Alex Rodriguez. The unfortunate thing about Laird is his defense. In Triple-A, Laird has committed 19 errors and it’s something we’ve seen before, especially in Nunez.
His batting average leaves a lot to be desired as he’s just batting .250. However, despite his low average, Laird does have a lot of extra base hits as he has 29 doubles, 14 home runs and 68 RBI. Laird’s build reminds me a lot of Mark Teixeira. He’s not exactly a contact hitter, but can hit for power, much like Tex. Laird has time to improve himself as he’s only just 24, but his role in the majors may not be too extensive unless he can work on his defense. However, Laird’s versatility around the bases is something a lot of major league teams envy. If the Yankees can work with him and have him eventually be that back-up guy who can cover any position, he’ll be a real valuable asset.
Third: Justin Thomas – LHP
Thomas is perhaps one of the more interesting players the Yankees have in Triple-A. Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2005, Thomas made his major league debut for the M’s in September 2008. He would then be claimed off of waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates and eventually found himself in Boston with the Red Sox in November 2011. However, after a few rough games with Boston this year, he was eventually optioned to make room for another pitcher. On May 12 of this year, the Yankees claimed him off of waivers and put him on the Triple-A team.
So far, Thomas is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA and has 34 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched. Around the beginning of July, Thomas started off as a relief pitcher, but eventually found himself starting games. Thomas’ arsenal of pitches consists of a fastball which touches the high 80′s, a slider and a change-up. Thomas, while being noted as an older prospect at age 28, has had issues with command and control as he’s fallen behind in counts and walked countless batters. However, he has seemed to improve on that throughout the years as he’s only walked 15 batters this season. His role with the Yankees’ may be strictly in the bullpen because as long as he has command issues, he won’t last very long into games as a starter.
Fourth: David Adams – 2B
While Adams may not be up in September, as the Yankees will have to make room for the returning A-Rod and Andy Pettitte, he’s still someone to keep an eye out for. There’s a possibility he could be called up and if he is, he definitely has a lot to show. For the Trenton Thunder this year, Adams is batting .320 with six home runs, 42 RBIs and has scored 37 runs. What’s also impressive about Adams is offensively he has an on base percentage of .391. He may not be a power hitter, but he hits for a lot of contact and draws quite a few walks. He reminds me a bit of Derek Jeter and perhaps shortstop is a role that Adams may very well be converted to in the coming years.
Defensively for Adams, he isn’t terrible, but has room for improvement as he’s committed eight errors this year. While it’s unlikely he may see time with the big club this season, as he’s in Double-A, he still may prove to the organization that maybe it isn’t necessary to stall him any longer in the minors. He shows a lot of potential for the Yankees and if he is called up, he’ll have his time to shine and hopefully he’ll make the most of it.
So basically, this is a list of a few players that could surprise the Yankees in the coming weeks. Warren may be the biggest name to watch for as the Yankees’ pitching has been a little sketchy lately. The other three though have potential, but how much they can actually show us is an entirely different question. Based on speculation, all of these players, except for maybe Adams, will probably be called up in September. Will they do well enough to earn a roster spot for next year? That remains to be seen.
Topics: Adam Warren, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Brandon Laird, Casey McGehee, CC Sabathia, David Adams, Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez, Eric Chavez, Hiroki Kuroda, Jayson Nix, Justin Thomas, Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees, Ramiro Pena