Yankees announce 19 non-roster invitees to this year’s Spring Training
On Monday the Yankees announced that 19 non-roster players have been invited to this year’s Spring Training. Most of the invitees are veterans who are fighting to keep their big league careers alive but there’s also an intriguing young pitching prospect who could make a big impact.
Heading into the 2020 season we have a pretty good idea of which players will make the Yankees Opening Day roster but a lot can change over the course of Spring Training.
We know the players who are likely going to make up New York’s starting lineup but there are still some roster spots that will be fought for throughout camp. The biggest position battle taking place this spring will be for the backup catcher job after the Yanks signed three veteran backstops to minor league deals this offseason.
Kyle Higashioka will enter as the favorite to back up Gary Sanchez now he’s out of minor league options and Austin Romine is on the Tigers. Higgy is deserving of this opportunity after being stuck at Triple-A behind Romine over the past couple of years but he’s yet to really prove himself at the major league level for an extended period of time so he’s going to have to earn it.
He could face some stiff competition from Chris Iannetta, Erik Kratz, and Josh Thole who have all been signed by the Yanks over the past month and a half. The 36-year-old Iannetta has been a starter for most of his 14-year career and should pose the biggest threat. He wouldn’t be a bad option to backup Sanchez at all if Higgy falters this spring and doesn’t separate himself from the pack.
Kratz is the oldest of the trio at 39 years-old and spent time with Yanks at the end of the 2017 season but he has the least amount of big-league experience. He’s spent the majority of his career in the minor leagues and finished last season with Triple-A Scranton in his second stint with the organization. The former Met and Blue Jay Thole was just signed last week and hasn’t appeared in a major league game since 2016 so it’s hard to envision him coming away with the job.
The Yanks also invited a group of veteran relievers to camp to battle it out for one of the final spots in the bullpen. David Hale and Tyler Lyons will both be back after spending part of last season with the big league club while newcomers Dan Otero and Luis Avilan will also be in the mix.
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Hale was very solid for the Yanks last season in his third stint with the club. The right-hander posted a 3.11 ERA in 20 games before he suffered lumbar strain that kept him out of action until September 28th. Lyons joined the Yankees last September to finish the year and actually made the postseason roster because of his ability to get lefties out. In 1.2 IP he didn’t give up a run and struck out four during October.
Clarke Schmidt, one of the Yankees top overall prospects will also be at big league camp for the first time in his career. The 2017 first rd pick was very impressive last season in the minors and the Yankees have high hopes for him in 2020 after he really finished last year strong with Double-A Trenton.
Even though he probably won’t make the 26-man roster out of camp there will be plenty of eyes on him to see how he handles going up against big league hitters for the first time in his career. He projects to be a staple in the Yankees rotation for years to come and if all goes well we could see him pitching in the Bronx later this summer.
Some other notables to round out the list of non-roster invitees includes RHP Domingo Acevedo, Alexander Vizcaino and infielders Chris Gitten and Kyle Holder.