Going over the non-roster invitees

This information was released a few days ago, but it seems like an appropriate time to think spring on this wintry night, when it doesn’t seem to be letting up at all here in New York…

Here’s a rundown on the 20 players the Yankees have invited to Spring Training this year. By the way, I did a quick check back on the ’09 non-roster invitees just for fun — the players who wound up spending time with the big league club were Angel Berroa, Kevin Cash, Shelley Duncan, Mark Melancon, Sergio Mitre and Ramiro Pena.

Here’s briefly what you need to know about all of your 2010 contenders:

LHP Wilkins Arias, 29, spent the 2009 season with Double-A Trenton, going 5-4 with a 3.65 ERA in 48 appearances (two starts) and holding left-handed batters to a .183 (20-for-109) batting average with one home run.  Arias was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in June 2005.

LHP Jeremy Bleich, 22, combined to go 9-10 with a 4.86 ERA in 27 starts with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2009.  Bleich enters the 2010 season ranked by Baseball America as the organization’s ninth-best prospect after recording the fifth-most strikeouts (116) among all Yankees minor leaguers in 2009.  The Louisiana native was originally selected by the Yankees in Compensation Round A (44th overall) of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

OF Colin Curtis, 24, appeared in 126 games with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2009, combining to bat .250 with seven home runs, 48 RBI and a career-high 24 doubles.  Curtis was originally selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State University.

RHP Grant Duff, 27, combined to go 4-3 with two saves and a 3.52 ERA in 45 appearances (one start) with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2009.  The right-hander was selected by the Yankees in the 31st round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft out of the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif.

OF Reid Gorecki
, 29, saw his first Major League action in 2009, batting .200 in 31 games with Atlanta.  Also spent time with Triple-A Gwinnett, batting .286 with 27 doubles, nine home runs and 49 RBI in 106 games, setting a career high in doubles.  Gorecki was originally selected by St. Louis in the 13th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

C Kyle Higashioka, 19, batted .253 with 11 doubles, two home runs and 32 RBI in 60 games with short-season Single-A Staten Island in 2009, leading all New York-Penn League catchers in games caught (57), total chances (497) and putouts (451). His 25.3 percent caught stealing rate (19-for-75) ranked fifth in the league.  Originally selected by the Yankees in the seventh round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Higashioka will be the youngest player in the team’s spring training camp.

RHP Jason Hirsh, 27, owns an 8-11 career record with a 5.32 ERA in 32 appearances (29 starts) over parts of three Major League seasons with Houston (2006) and Colorado (2007-08).  In 2009, he combined to go 10-7 with a 5.55 ERA in 26 appearances (22 starts) with Triple-A Colorado Springs and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Following a mid-season trade to the Yankees on July 29, 2009, he went undefeated in six starts with Scranton/WB, going 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA.  Hirsh was originally selected by Houston in the second round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.

LHP Kei Igawa
, 30, led Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in both wins and games started, going 10-8 with a 4.15 ERA in 26 starts.  With 29 career wins at the Triple-A level, the lefthander now holds the record for most victories in Scranton/WB history.  Igawa was originally acquired by the Yankees through the Japanese posting process in November 2007 and owns a 2-4 record with a 6.66 ERA in 16 Major League games (13 starts).

RHP Zach McAllister, 22, went 7-5 with an Eastern League-leading 2.23 ERA in 22 starts with Double-A Trenton in 2009, ranking second among Yankees minor leaguers in ERA.  Originally selected by the Yankees in the third round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, he enters 2010 ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees’ fifth-best prospect and as having the “Best Control” in the organization.

C Jesus Montero
, 20, combined to bat .337 with 45 runs, 25 doubles, 17 home runs and 70 RBI in 92 games with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2009, ranking fourth among all Yankees minor leaguers in home runs.  Named to the midseason All-Star teams with both Tampa and Trenton, he had his season cut short when he was hit by a pitch while behind the plate on 8/1, fracturing his middle finger.  Originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in October 2006, the Venezuela native, played for the World Team in the 2009 All-Star Futures Game at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium.  He enters the 2010 season ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees’ top prospect and the fifth-best prospect in all of Baseball (top catcher).

C P.J. Pilittere, 28, combined to hit .220 with one home run and 17 RBI in 55 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton in 2009.  Originally selected by the Yankees in the 13th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Pilittere will be making his fourth straight spring training appearance after receiving non-roster invitations each year since 2007.

LHP Royce Ring, 29, spent the 2009 season with Triple-A Memphis, going 5-2 with four saves and a 3.04 ERA in 51 relief outings.  In 94 relief appearances, he owns a 3-3 record with a 4.93 ERA over parts of four Major League seasons with the Mets (2005-06), San Diego (2007) and Atlanta (2007-08), holding left-handed batters to a .229 (30-for-131) batting average.  Ring was originally selected by Chicago-AL as the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

C Mike Rivera
, 33, owns a .244 (129-for-528) career batting average with 13 home runs and 69 RBI in 181 Major League games over parts of seven seasons with Detroit (2001-02), San Diego (2003) and Milwaukee (2006-09).  He hit .228 with two home runs and 14 RBI in 41 games with the Brewers in 2009, making 31 starts at catcher.  Rivera was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent in 1997.

C Austin Romine, 21, 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 third consecutive appearance as a spring training non-roster invitee.  He batted .276 with 61 runs, 28 doubles, 13 home runs and 72 RBI in 118 games with Single-A Tampa in 2009, tying his career high in hits and establishing career highs in doubles and RBI.  Following the season, Romine was tabbed by Baseball America as the second-best prospect in the Yankees organization.  He was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.

RHP Amaury Sanit
, 30, went 1-5 with 10 saves and a 3.16 ERA in 44 combined relief outings with Single-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2009.  Sanit was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in August 2008.

RHP Zack Segovia, 26, went 1-0 with a 7.84 ERA in eight relief appearances with the Washington Nationals in 2009.  He also saw time at the minor league level, combining to go 3-5 with six saves and a 3.24 ERA in 51 appearances (three starts) with Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.  Segovia was originally selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

OF Marcus Thames, 32, was originally selected by the Yankees in the 30th round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft.  He owns a .243 career batting average with 75 doubles, 101 home runs and
261 RBI in 522 Major League games over parts of eight seasons with the Yankees, Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers.  Since 2006, he has averaged one home run every 14.52 at-bats, marking the fourth-lowest ratio in the American League over the stretch (min. 1,100 AB).  Thames batted .252 with 11 doubles, 13 home runs and 36 RBI in 87 games with the Tigers in 2009, missing nearly two months (April 19-June 7) on the disabled list with a left rib cage strain.

OF Jon Weber, 31, hit .302 with 14 home runs and 69 RBI in 117 games with Triple-A Durham in 2009, leading the team in hits (136) and doubles (46) and ranking third in runs scored (63) and RBI.  Originally signed by Cincinnati as a non-drafted free agent in 1999, Weber spent the last two seasons in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

RHP Kevin Whelan, 26, combined to go 4-0 with three saves and a 2.67 ERA in 44 relief appearances with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2009, allowing just one home run in 67.1 IP.  Whelan was acquired by the Yankees with RHPs Humberto Sanchez and Anthony Claggett from Detroit in exchange for OF Gary Sheffield in November 2006.  He was originally drafted by the Tigers in the fourth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

OF David Winfree
, 24, batted .273 with 48 runs, 14 home runs, 61 RBI and a career-high-tying 31 doubles in 116 games with Triple-A Rochester in 2009, leading the team in doubles, ranking second in home runs and RBI and third in hits.  Winfree was originally selected by the Twins in the 13th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.

3 Comments

I believe the Yankees had serious concerns about Matsui’s ability to keep producing at his ’09 levels physically, which I can understand after seeing him limp around the clubhouse with huge ice packs almost every day. Sometimes I was amazed he could get on the field. Not that Nick Johnson has been especially injury-free his whole career, but the thought is that DHing can keep his bat in the lineup.

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Why for an additional 1 million, wouldn’t the Yankees have signed Matsui vs Johnson, more power…wondering?

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The non roster looks pretty good,I like marcus thames.

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