New York Yankees: 5 Dark-Horse Prospects Who Could Make the Bombers in 2013
April 1 is getting closer and closer by the day.
That's the official start date for the 2013 regular season for the New York Yankees.
Until then, they're down in Tampa, Fla., getting prepared for the upcoming season at spring training.
This past week, the Yankees season took a little bit of a turn for the worse when it was revealed that Curtis Granderson broke his forearm after getting hit by a pitch from J.A. Happ with an injury that will sideline him for 10 weeks.
So now with Granderson on the shelf until May, players who came into camp with the Bombers will be fighting even harder to try and make the regular-season squad in hopes of taking his spot.
Aside from Granderson's temporary vacancy, there are other position battles that players are trying to win.
What prospects that might not be seen as favorites could be on the team in 2013?
Austin Romine, C
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If Austin Romine is looking to win a job with the Yankees, now is the time.
Currently, the Yankees don't have an official starting catcher—especially since Russell Martin signed with the Pirates back in November.
They have Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Bobby Wilson all fighting for the shot of being the starter, but then there is Romine too.
Romine's 2012 was hampered by injuries, as he played in just 31 games while hitting .243.
Former Yankees general manager Gene Michael has always been high on Romine, citing that he is very good with the glove and can be decent with the bat.
Back in 2011, Romine got his chance to play at the big-league level, appearing in nine games for the Yankees.
Although he's expected to start the spring at Triple-A, it would be nice to see a fresh pair of legs behind the plate for the Bombers.
Ronnier Mustelier, LF
As I mentioned earlier, with the injury to Curtis Granderson, it gives some of the youngsters a legitimate shot of making the team.
One of those is 28-year-old Cuban outfielder Ronnier Mustelier, whom I think has been impressive in the spring.
Every time I've seen him take an at-bat in a spring training game, he's got a certain pop that has the ball jumping off his bat.
Even when he's making an out, the ball is being hit hard somewhere.
In 114 games with both Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Mustelier hit .314 with 15 home runs and 69 RBI, so he's definitely got the power the Yankees might want on the team.
Don't be shocked if Mustelier gets the call to the big leagues in 2013 for outfield help.
Zoilo Almonte, CF
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The one name we've heard a lot about this spring is outfielder Zoilo Almonte.
The 23-year-old center fielder has already gotten some attention by hitting one of the few home runs this spring for the Yankees.
B/R's Kenny DeJohn feels that with the injury to Curtis Granderson, it is now Almonte's time to shine and get a potential look for the Yankees in 2013.
In 2012, Almonte hit .277 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI with 15 stolen bases in 106 games with Double-A Trenton.
Almonte is likely to start off 2013 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but with the opening in the outfield, Almonte could shock some people if he continues to have a solid spring.
Kelvin Perez, RP
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The Yankees bullpen looks to be pretty solid in 2013.
Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and David Aardsma should make for a very solid back end to the Yankees bullpen along with Boone Logan and Clay Rapada.
If there any injuries to a reliever in the season, one of the first names that you could see get a shot in the majors is 27-year-old Kelvin Perez.
In the two innings he's pitched in the spring, Perez has yet to allow a run to score, allowing just two hits. He's also struck out two batters.
In 2012, he was 7-3 with a 1.58 ERA while splitting time with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Perez will likely begin 2013 at Triple-A, but there's a chance that if Perez continues his solid pitching, he could see time at the Bronx in the bullpen.
Adam Warren, SP
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Some of you are already familiar with Adam Warren.
Warren got one chance to pitch for the Yankees in 2012, but did not impress in his one start against the Chicago White Sox during the summer. He got shelled for six runs on eight hits in 2.1 innings.
In the minors, Warren was 7-8 with a 3.71 ERA in 26 starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, striking out 107 batters in 152.2 innings.
If Phil Hughes' bulging disc in his back continues to act up, it could open up a spot in the rotation and also in the bullpen.
David Phelps would likely get bumped up to the rotation, which means someone would have to take his spot as the long reliever.
Warren could be that long reliever, as he has also been impressive in the spring in not allowing a runner to score in the two innings he's pitched.
At 26 years old, Warren's time to make the majors with the Yankees is closing, and he needs to make an opportunity for himself in 2013.