After a fairly consistent roster throughout the 21st century, the New York Yankees have decided to rebuild. In the recent weeks, we have seen Robinson Cano travel west to the Seattle Mariners, relief pitcher Boone Logan sign with the Colorado Rockies, and utility infielder David Adams move to the Cleveland Indians on a one year contract. Catcher Chris Stewart was also traded to the Pirates, and The Grandy Man, Curtis Granderson, jumped ship to Queens for the next four seasons.
So what do the Yankees do now? They can sign free agents (Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann), and make trades. Or, they could turn towards the farm system for big league ready prospects. Here’s a look at current minor leaguers who might make the jump to the Majors:
J.R. Murphy- A second round selection back in 2009, Murphy is a catcher with decent hitting ability and a strong arm. Between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (the most cumbersome name in minor league baseball), the backstop batted .270, with 12 home runs in 108 minor league games, while also playing for the Yanks in September. He threw out 37% of baserunners last season, and finished with a .990 fielding percentage. If Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine have lingering injury effects and/or underperform, Murphy could earn a roster spot at some point during the season. What makes him a more reasonable call-up is his versatility in the field; he has played third base a little bit before, and he only has one career error at third. If Alex Rodriguez is indeed suspended for next season, and Murphy starts off hot in 2014, he could provide a spark for the Yankees heading into the summer.
Jose Pirela- A free agent signed from Venezuela in 2007, Pirela is a decent hitter with good speed and an average glove. He played mainly in Trenton last year, reaching double digits in both home runs and steals (10 and 18, respectively). More importantly, he switched positions last year from shortstop to second base, a move that boosted his fielding percentage dramatically, to a respectable career mark of .970 at second. Plus, he doesn’t strike out very often, with a 56:61 walk to strikeout ratio. The newly signed Brian Roberts has had multiple health concerns throughout his career; Roberts should be the starter this year, but Pirela should be waiting in the wings if trouble strikes.
Jim Miller- A 2004 LA- Monroe graduate, Miller has been throwing in the minor leagues for the past few seasons. Unfortunately, he’s on the wrong side of 30 (he’s 31), but knows how to punch out batters, as evidenced by his 13.1 SO/9 innings. He pitched mainly in Triple A last year, along with one ugly game in New York, but Miller has just under fifty Major League games under his belt, with exactly 48. And also, for you sabermetricians out there, he has an ERA+ of 148 in The Show. Given the dearth of relievers in the Bronx, he could make for a solid middle reliever later on in the year, similarly to Preston Claiborne in 2013.
Rob Refsnyder- This 2012 Fifth Round draft has more R’s in his name that career minor league seasons. Refsnyder is by far the least likely on this list to earn a promotion to the Bronx, as he currently resides in High Single A- Tampa. However, he possesses great intangibles and has strong plate discipline. Another second sacker, Refsnyder is more of a Steve Sax rather than a Robinson Cano; don’t expect large power numbers from him, but he is a good doubles hitter with above average speed. He must improve on his defense to rise through the minors, though, as he committed way too many errors (25 in 108 games). He still remains a deep sleeper pick to earn a Yankees roster spot for next season. Maybe he’ll be ready by 2015, but either way, Rob Refsnyder should become a name to watch.