The New York Yankees have headed north from spring training, and although their Opening Day celebration has been delayed 24 hours, their 28-man unit is ready to roll against the Red Sox.
Marwin Gonzalez, JP Sears, Clarke Schmidt and Ron Marinaccio snagged the four up-for-grabs roster spots after starring all spring, but they weren’t the only standouts. The decisions weren’t that tough, for a number of reasons, but several additional young players caught our eyes.
There were the top prospects, like Anthony Volpe and Alexander Vargas, who had no chance to make the Opening Day roster but clearly popped and were given an opportunity to show off. There were the late-rounders and prospect hugger favorites, like Cooper Bowman and Andres Chaparro, who displayed their exit velocity under the lights.
Then, of course, there were the completely out-of-left field standouts — none of whom made the final roster, but … that’s forgivable. The Yankees didn’t have a Lucas Luetge-style comet rise all the way to the 28-man this time around, but with pitching depth paramount after a shortened ramp-up period, it’s safe to say they’ll need these three guys at some point (relatively soon).
Apologies to Deivi Garcia, who shocked us with his four MPH velocity uptick (on average), but who’s had plenty of ink spilled about his legitimate greatness already in recent days. He had to go back to Triple-A (to prove his spikes were sustainable, in part), but if he keeps up that surge, he will most certainly be making his presence known with the big-league Yankees again. As will Luis Gil.
Beyond that bounce back, these three Yankees shocked fans the most, either in extended stays or brief, shining cameos.
3 best Yankees spring training surprises who didn’t make Opening Day roster
3. Manny Bañuelos
Technically, Manny Bañuelos should probably occupy the Nos. 3, 2 and 1 spots on this list, based on his entirely unexpected performance as a non-roster invitee. Out of fairness to the other standouts, though, we’ll restrict him to only one position.
Bañuelos was demoted to Triple-A earlier this week, but was given the honor of the spring’s final start on Tuesday, nearly going through the entirety of camp without surrendering an earned run before Miguel Cabrera took him deep in his fourth inning of work.
The one-time Top 100 prospect and Clayton Kershaw of the East Coast, Bañuelos was traded from the Yankees to the Braves after his Tommy John surgery rehab was completed back in 2014. From there, he fulfilled his major league dreams but not his promise, carrying a career 6.31 big league ERA at this point after one stint each with the Braves and White Sox.
Following stints with the Fubon Guardians in the CPBL and in the Mexican League, the Yankees threw the now 31-year-old Bañuelos a life raft this offseason and gave him a second chance at wearing the pinstripes. After what had to be minimal input from Matt Blake (just a few weeks?), Bañuelos was already dotting the corners with velocity (93-94) and dictating at-bats like a veteran, working his way through the spring with nine shutout innings before the final third of an inning saw him tagged for three runs.
The bubble may have burst temporarily, but he’ll be one of the first in line for a call-up when a 40-man spot opens up. Certainly not bad for a bounce back.