The New York Yankees announced on Thursday evening that 44 players have been given invitations to join the team for Spring Training, bringing the total number of players expected in camp to 84. This list includes several of the team’s top prospects, as well as former first round draft choices Slade Heathcott (2009) and Cito Culver (2010). Only one player from the 2012 draft class, RHP Nick Goody, received an invitation to join the club for Spring Training.
Also included in the list of non-roster invitees are minor league free agent signees Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera, who will be battling with Russ Canzler for a chance to win a role as the Yankees’ fourth outfielder. The team also signed Bobby Wilson, Dan Johnson, and Thomas Neal to minor league deals this offseason, and each of the three received a Spring Training invitation.
The complete list of those who have received an invitation is found below:
Pitchers (20): RHP Corey Black, LHP Juan Cedeno, RHP Preston Claiborne, RHP Matt Daley, RHP Shane Greene, RHP Nick Goody, RHP Daniel Herndon, RHP Tom Kahnle, RHP Jim Miller, RHP Bryan Mitchell, RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Zach Nuding, LHP Vidal Nuno, RHP Mike O’Brien, RHP Kelvin Perez, RHP Branden Pinder, RHP Ryan Pope, LHP Josh Spence, LHP Matt Tracy, RHP Chase Whitley.
Catchers (5): Francisco Arcia, Kyle Higashioka, J.R. Murphy, Gary Sanchez, Bobby Wilson.
Infielders (10): Greg Bird, Cito Culver, Walter Ibarra, Dan Johnson, Addison Maruszak, Luke Murton, Jayson Nix, Jose Pirela, Kyle Roller, Gil Velazquez.
Outfielders (9): Abraham Almonte, Tyler Austin, Matt Diaz, Adonis Garcia, Slade Heathcott, Ronnier Mustelier, Thomas Neal, Juan Rivera, Rob Segedin
Players to watch
Bobby Wilson – With no proven answers behind the plate, Wilson could unseat Francisco Cervelli or Chris Stewart on the major league roster to open the season. He will need an impressive spring to do so, and if he fails to impress, could wind up backing up Austin Romine at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Wilson has never been much of a hitter, as he hit just .211 in a career high 75 games with the Los Angeles Angels last season.
Dan Johnson – Until the Travis Hafner signing earlier today, it would not have been a stretch to say that Johnson would have been the likely candidate to open the season as the Yankees’ DH against right-handed pitching. However, Hafner has not played a full season since 2007, and a strong spring season could put Johnson in the driver’s seat to fill in when Hafner inevitably hits the disabled list.
Jayson Nix – Nix took over for an injured Derek Jeter in the ALCS last season after spending the second half of the season in a utility role for the Yankees. He re-signed to a minor league deal this offseason, but is considered a definite contender for a utility role again this season, possibly at the expense of Eduardo Nunez.
Matt Diaz – Russ Canzler is on the 40-man roster, but he has minor-league options remaining and could be beaten out for a corner outfield spot. Diaz is a ten-year veteran who spent last season with the Atlanta Braves. He struggled mightily in 51 games last season, producing just a .222/.280/.333 batting line. However, Diaz has shown an ability to hit left-handed pitching in the past, as he owns a career .324 batting average against southpaws. If Diaz gets hot in Spring Training, he stands a very good chance of breaking camp with the Yankees.
Juan Rivera – Back for his second tour of duty with the Yankees, the recently signed Rivera will be competing for a chance at the opening day roster with Diaz and Canzler. At 34 years old, the Yankees are hoping lightning will strike with Rivera, who spent 2012 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 109 games with Los Angeles, Rivera hit .244 with 9 home runs and 47 RBIs. A career .285 hitter against left-handed pitching, Rivera hit just .260 last season. The veteran has the ability to play both corner outfield positions, as well as first base.
Mark Montgomery – All eyes will be on Montgomery, who dominated the minor leagues last season with 99 strikeouts in just 64.1 innings pitched, while also sporting a 1.54 ERA and allowing just one home run on the season. Equipped with one of the best sliders in the minors, Montgomery will be looking to make a lasting impression on Joe Girardi and his staff.
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