As Spring Training rolls around, the New York Yankees, like every other team, have invited a handful of players not on their 40-man roster to Major League Spring Training. The group is a mix of young prospects and veterans looking to make a comeback at the Big League stage. Which Yankee non-roster invitees have a good chance to make their mark in Spring Training and pave their way to the Big Leagues?
Nick Rumbelow, RHP: Since being taken in the 7th round of the 2013 Draft, Rumbelow has flown through the Yankees’ farm system, reaching Triple-A Scranton last year, where he posted a 10.91 K/9 (albeit in a small sample size). Rumbelow can hit a sizzling 98 mph with his fastball, with a tight breaking ball to boot.
Even if he has a great Spring Training, which I think he will, he’s probably a long shot to make the Opening Day roster ahead of players such as Bryan Mitchell, Jose A. Ramirez, and some others. But when someone in the bullpen inevitably gets injured, Rumbelow should be the first player called up. If he excels this Spring, he has the chance to make what should be one of baseball’s best bullpens even better.
Robert Refsnyder, 2B: There were calls from some to promote Refsnyder to the Major Leagues last season, but, quite frankly, he wasn’t ready. He got off to a quick start at Scranton after a mid-season promotion, but he struggled the rest of the way. Personally, I’m not a huge believer in Refsnyder – I think he’s a high-end bench bat at the Major League level. But ultimately, only Brian Cashman’s opinion counts, and it seems that he feels that Refsnyder is the second baseman of the future.
The Yankees brought in Stephen Drew to be a second base stop-gap, but chances are Refsnyder gets every chance to win the job in Spring Training. But he’ll really have to rake in Tampa, and prove he can hit against good Major League pitching, to start the season in New York. Otherwise, he’ll go back to Scranton until he’s ready.
Slade Heathcott: Heathcott has likely the most to prove of any player in the Yankees’ organization. He was the team’s first round pick in the 2009 Draft, and has been an utter disappointment since then. He’s played in more than 80 games just once since being drafted.
The tools are tantalizing, but will he ever be able to tap into them?
He’s reportedly fully healthy, and was given a fresh new minor league contract this offseason. The Yankees want him to succeed badly, because if he does, he could be a Major League All-Star. He just has to stay healthy and put it all together. He has virtually no shot of making the Major League roster, but a strong Spring Training could catapult Heathcott back into favor with the Yankees’ brass, and get him back on track towards being a valuable Major League contributor.