5 Prospects New York Yankees Will Promote in September
A smart string of September call-ups can often be the difference between a playoff berth and a phone call to the local golf course.
When MLB rosters expand to 40 on September 1, expect some of the game's top youngsters to get the call to the majors. The New York Yankees will certainly make some additions, but who will be brought up to help the team's run at the American League Wild Card?
There are five obvious candidates. While the team could certainly bring up more (the max it can call up is 15), sometimes there isn't a need. It's often best to leave youngsters down on the farm if they don't have a realistic shot at getting any playing time.
Five minor leaguers, however, are in the running for serious playing time. Those five prospects are listed and analyzed here.
1. Pat Venditte, LHP/RHP
The Yankees are owners of the only ambidextrous pitcher in baseball. Yes, you read that correctly. Pat Venditte is both a left-handed and right-handed pitcher.
Venditte is a unique arm who could potentially be an asset to the Yankees down the line. Of course, the fact that he throws with both arms isn't enough to earn him a promotion. His numbers from 2014 speak for themselves.
Split between Double- and Triple-A, Venditte currently owns a 2.83 ERA, 1.143 WHIP and 76 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched. Now 29 years old, Venditte has been in the pros since 2008. If he doesn't get the call soon, he might never get a shot in the bigs.
Venditte used to offer different looks as a lefty and a righty, but an injury forced him to change in favor of more deception, writes Jim Baumbach of Newsday:
Venditte used to throw overhand from the right side and sidearm from the left, but minor-league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson said he felt he needed more deception in his delivery after shoulder surgery sapped him of some velocity. So now Venditte is a double sidearmer.
There's nothing wrong with adding more bullpen depth for the stretch run, and Venditte could be used creatively. If manager Joe Girardi wants to go to a lefty reliever early in the game (let's say the sixth inning), he can then leave Venditte in to face the ensuing right-hander. Rather than dipping even further into his bullpen, Girardi can get a lefty-on-lefty matchup and then length from his reliever.
Watching Venditte in the bigs would certainly be one of the better stories of the year for the Yankees.
2. Bryan Mitchell, RHP
Bryan Mitchell only got into one game this season, even though he's had more than one trip up to the big club. That said, his one trip to the rubber was impressive.
In two innings, Mitchell struck out two and allowed just one baserunner—via a walk. The 23-year-old throws in the upper 90s and could be an asset down the stretch for Girardi.
While inexperienced, Mitchell possesses a gift. Oftentimes the best relievers are ones who throw gas. When in a playoff race, sometimes a strikeout is the difference between a win and a loss. Here's an example.
Let's say there's a runner on third with less than two outs. Pretty much anything but a pop-up or a drawn-in infield will score the runner, so a strikeout is obviously the optimal outcome for the batter at the plate.
Mitchell has strikeout stuff. If he can harness his potential and stay calm in the thick of a playoff race, Girardi will find a spot for him in the bullpen.
You can never have too many arms.
3. Manny Banuelos, LHP
Manny Banuelos, once deemed the future ace of the Yankees, has had more downs than ups in his professional career. However, he's finally on track to make it to The Show.
The 23-year-old is enjoying a decent year split between three levels of the Yankees farm system. He owns a cumulative 3.88 ERA, 1.163 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 69.2 innings.
Should the Yankees call him up, it will likely be as a lefty specialist. Rich Hill and David Huff are the lone lefty options in the bullpen after the Yankees dealt Matt Thornton to the Washington Nationals, so it would be in the team's best interest to consider calling up another option.
Chad Jennings of LoHud.com wrote about why Banuelos is a decent option:
Can't say for certain that Banuelos is the 'best bet' to come up as a left-on-left reliever, but he's the only option who's currently on the 40-man roster. He's also pitched pretty well lately, which is surely easing some of the concerns about his early season inconsistency. Whether a career starter -- and a young one at that -- would be a viable situational lefty, I have no idea. But having a spot on the 40-man makes him an easy call-up if the Yankees want to either get his feet wet or see what he can do in a fairly important role.
Banuelos has a future as a starter, even if he has suffered through many issues during his young career. A great way to right the ship with the organization would be to get some quality outs in a playoff race during September.
4. John Ryan Murphy, C
Aside from extra arms in the pen, one of the more popular September moves is calling up a third catcher.
September is the perfect time to give your regular catchers a rest if needed. Plus, having a little extra insurance on the roster is never a bad thing.
John Ryan Murphy has earned the right to a call-up in a few weeks. He owns a line of .286/.308/.365 with the big club this year (63 at-bats). That said, his numbers in the minors—.235/.283/.366—are puzzling.
It's rare to see a prospect hit better against pitching in The Show than pitching in the minors. That said, Murphy proved that he can hang with the big boys during his last stint with the Yankees.
Francisco Cervelli has done well as Brian McCann's backup, so Murphy likely won't steal too many at-bats from him. Murphy could see action during a grueling stretch of games with no rest days, though.
Murphy is losing his prospect status as he continues to waver on being a borderline major leaguer, but seeing as he spent a majority of this season in the minors and is still just 23 years old, we'll call him a prospect for now.
5. Zelous Wheeler, UT
Some bench power is always a plus.
Zelous Wheeler proved earlier this summer that he is capable of handling pitching in the bigs. The 27-year-old slashed .267/.267/.467 with two homers and three RBI in 30 at-bats. It's a small sample size, but two homers in 30 at-bats is obvious power.
The right-handed hitter has been great in the minors. Over 302 at-bats, Wheeler has slashed .298/.365/.470 with nine homers and 40 RBI.
His versatility in the field is also something that should open the eyes of Girardi. He has experience at third base and in the outfield, making him the ideal bench bat to have on the roster.
Should the Yankees magically make it to the postseason, Wheeler likely wouldn't be included on the roster. A few homers down the stretch might change that verdict, though.
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