Yankees invite 20 to Spring Training
The New York Yankees announced today that they have invited 20 non-roster players to 2009 Spring Training in Tampa, Fla. The list includes four pitchers, five catchers, seven infielders and four outfielders. The total number of players now scheduled to report is 60.
C Kyle Anson, 25, batted .241 (54-for-224) with 11 doubles, four home runs and 25 RBI in 68 games with Single-A Tampa in 2008, catching 36.0 percent of potential base stealers (27-of-75). He was originally selected by the Yankees in the 10th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft as a third baseman and converted to catcher prior to the 2007 season.
INF Doug Bernier, 28, made his Major League debut in 2008, appearing in two games with Colorado and going 0-for-4 in his lone start at second base on June 19 vs. Cleveland. In 110 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2008, Bernier hit .255 (86-for-337) with 10 doubles, four triples, nine home runs and 42 RBI. He set career highs in triples, homers and RBI and appeared at all four infield positions as well as one game at right field. Originally signed by Colorado as a non-drafted free agent in 2002, he owns a .244 (487-for-1993) career minor league batting average in 661 games with 78 doubles, 10 triples, 19 home runs and 204 RBI.
INF Angel Berroa, 31, split the 2008 season between the Kansas City and Los Angeles-NL organizations after being acquired by the Dodgers on June 6 in exchange for minor league infielder Juan Rivera. He started at shortstop in 64 of the Dodgers’ final 101 games, batting .230 (52-for-226) with 13 doubles, one home run and 16 RBI in 84 overall games with Los Angeles. The 2003 American League “Rookie of the Year” has appeared in 711 combined Major League games with the Royals and Dodgers and owns a .260 career average (658-for-2526) with 116 doubles, 21 triples, 46 home runs and 251 RBI. He played the second-most games at shortstop (449) in the American League from 2003-05, trailing only Miguel Tejada (484).
C Kevin Cash, 31, played in a career-high 61 games in 2008 with the Boston Red Sox, batting .225 (32-for-142) with seven doubles, three home runs and 15 RBI. He made 42 starts behind the plate, including all 30 of Tim Wakefield’s outings. A native a Tampa, Fla., Cash was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as a non-drafted free agent in 1999 and has appeared in 187 Major League games over parts of six seasons with Toronto (2002-04), Tampa Bay (2005) and Boston (2007-08).
OF Colin Curtis, 23, appeared in 132 games with the Double-A Trenton Thunder in 2008, batting .255 (126-for-495) with 20 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 71 RBI for the Eastern League champions. He set career highs in games, runs (68), doubles, home runs and RBI. Curtis was originally selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State University.
INF/OF Shelley Duncan, 29, batted .175 (10-for-57) with 3 doubles, one home run and six RBI in 23 games over two stints with the Yankees in 2008, starting at first base (12 games) and right field (three games). He won the 2008 James P. Dawson Award, given to the most outstanding Yankees rookie in spring training as voted on by the New York Yankees beat writers, after batting .354 (17-for-48) with 5 doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI in 20 spring training games. The Yankees’ second-round selection in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Duncan made his first career Opening Day roster in 2008.
LHP Kei Igawa, 29, earned Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s “Pitcher of the Year” Award in 2008, appearing in 26 games (24 starts) and going 14-6 with a 3.45 ERA. The lefthander led the International League champions in wins, starts, innings pitched (156.1IP) and strikeouts (117), while ranking second in the league in wins and fourth in ERA. Originally acquired by the Yankees through the Japanese posting process in November 2007, Igawa owns a 2-4 record with a 6.66 ERA in 16 Major League games (13 starts).
OF Austin Jackson, 21, hit .285 (148-for-520) with 33 doubles, five triples, nine home runs, 69 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 131 games with Double-A Trenton in 2008, leading the team in hits and doubles while ranking second in stolen bases and RBI. He enters the 2009 season as the Yankees’ top prospect, according to Baseball America. The publication also tabbed him as the organization’s “Best Athlete” and “Best Defensive Outfielder” for the second straight season. Following the season, Jackson was named a Top Prospect in the Arizona Fall League. He was originally selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
RHP Jason Johnson, 35, has a 56-100 career Major League record with a 4.99 ERA in 255 appearances (221 starts) with Pittsburgh (1997), Tampa Bay (1998), Baltimore (1999-2003), Detroit (2004-05), Cleveland (2006), Boston (2006), Cincinnati (2006) and Los Angeles-NL (2008). He appeared in 16 games (two starts) with the Dodgers in 2008, going 1-2 with a 5.22 ERA. Originally signed by Pittsburgh as a non-drafted free agent on July 21, 1992, Johnson tied John Lackey and Jamie Moyer for the fifth-most starts (98) in the American League from 2003-05.
INF Justin Leone, 31, batted .251 (90-for-358) with 22 doubles, 17 home runs, 64 RBI and 16 stolen bases with Triple-A Fresno in 2008, appearing in games at second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions. Originally selected by Seattle in the 13th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, he saw his most extensive Major League action in 2004 with the Mariners, appearing in 31 games and batting .216 (22-for-102) with five doubles, six home runs and 13 RBI. He also played in one game with San Diego in 2006.
OF Todd Linden, 28, has appeared in 270 Major League games over parts of five seasons with San Francisco (2003-07) and Florida (2007), batting .231 (116-for-502) with 22 doubles, eight home runs and 36 RBI. He split the 2008 campaign between Triple-A Sacramento (Oakland) and Triple-A Buffalo (Cleveland), combining to hit .289 with 27 doubles, 17 homers and 62 RBI in 113 games. Linden, originally selected by San Francisco as a sandwich pick (41st overall) of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, last appeared in the Majors in 2007, posting a .245 (45-for-184) average with eight doubles, one home run and 11 RBI in 115 combined games with San Francisco and Florida, establishing career highs in games, at-bats, runs (21), hits and walks (19).
RHP Mark Melancon, 23, combined at three stops (Single-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) in 2008 to go 8-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 44 relief appearances, holding opponents to a .202 batting average (69-for-341, 6HR). Following the season, he was selected as the organization’s sixth-best prospect by Baseball America. Melancon (pronounced “Muh-LAN-son”) was originally selected by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
RHP Sergio Mitre, 27, did not pitch in 2008 after opening the season on the disabled list with a right elbow strain and undergoing “Tommy John” surgery on July 15. He owns a career record of 10-23 with a 5.36 ERA in 78 games (52 starts) with the Cubs (2003-05) and Marlins (2006-07). Originally selected by the Chicago Cubs in the seventh round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Mitre was acquired by Florida on December 7, 2005 in a trade for OF Juan Pierre and played the 2006 season under current Yankees Manager Joe Girardi.
C Jesus Montero, 19, batted .326 (171-for-525) with 86 runs, 34 doubles, 17 home runs and 87 RBI in 132 games with Single-A Charleston, recording the most hits among any minor league catcher in 2008. He also led the Yankees organization in batting average, runs, h
its and RBI last season, while leading all South Atlantic League catchers with a .993 fielding percentage (4E, 588 TC). Originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in October 2006, the Venezuelan native played for the World Team for the 2008 All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium. He enters the 2009 season ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees’ second-best prospect and will be the youngest player in the team’s spring training camp for the second consecutive year.
INF Eduardo Nunez, 21, will be making his second straight trip to spring training camp with the Yankees after attending as a non-roster invitee in 2008. He played in 94 games with Single-A Tampa in 2008, hitting .271 (101-for-373) with six home runs, 42 RBI and a career-high 18 doubles. A native of the Dominican Republic, Nunez was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in February 2004.
INF Ramiro Pena, 23, batted .266 (118-for-443) in 111 games with Double-A Trenton in 2008, collecting 20 doubles, seven triples, two home runs and 45 RBI to set career highs in nearly every offensive category. Following the season, he was tabbed by Baseball America as the “Best Defensive Infielder” in the Yankees organization and in the Eastern League. A native of Mexico, Pena played for the World Team for the 2008 All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium. He was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in February 2005.
C P.J. Pilittere, 27, hit .277 (101-for-364) with 15 doubles, three home runs and 48 RBI in 97 games with Double-A Trenton in 2008, ranking fifth among qualifying Eastern League catchers with a 21.3 percent caught stealing rate (17-of-80). Originally selected by the Yankees in the 13th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Pilittere will be making his third straight appearance in spring camp after receiving non-roster invitations in 2007 and ’08.
OF John Rodriguez, 30, split the 2008 season between the Tampa Bay (Triple-A Durham) and New York Mets (Triple-A New Orleans) organizations, combining to bat .276 (58-for-210) with nine doubles, 10 home runs and 32 RBI in 69 games. He saw his most extensive Major League action in 2006 with the St. Louis Cardinals, batting .301 (55-for-183) with 12 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 19 RBI in 102 games for the National League champions. He also led the club that season with 47 pinch at-bats and 11 pinch-hits. The New York native was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in 1996 after attending a tryout at Yankee Stadium.
C Austin Romine, 20, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of El Toro High School in California and will be making his second consecutive appearance as a spring training non-roster invitee. He batted .300 (122-for-407) with 66 runs, 24 doubles, 10 home runs and 49 RBI in 104 games with Single-A Charleston in 2008, ranking second on the team and third among Yankees minor leaguers in batting average. Following the season, Romine was tabbed by Baseball America as the fourth-best prospect in the Yankees organization.
INF Kevin Russo, 24, batted .307 (82-for-267) with 17 doubles, two home runs and 33 RBI in 71 games with Double-A Trenton in 2008, despite missing nearly two months after fracturing his left cheekbone when he was hit by a batting practice grounder in early June. Following the season, he played for the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League, where he led all Yankees winter leaguers with 34 hits. Drafted by the Yankees in the 20th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Russo will be making his first trip to Major League spring training camp with the Yankees in 2009.