New York Yankees' 5 Best Prospects Who Won't Be Called Up This September
Rosters expand to 40 in less than a week. Every team takes advantage of this rule, as it's perfect for teams in the stretch run to gather reinforcements. The New York Yankees are in this category.
There are other categories as well. Middling teams can put youngsters in relatively high-intensity situations to see how they fare. Bottom-dwellers can give their rookies playing time in order to prepare them for the future.
Not all 15 extra roster spots are used, though. Some teams, like the Yankees, for instance, might not call up more than five players. They'll stick to the essentials—a third catcher, an outfielder and some bullpen help—but they likely won't call up kids for the sake of calling them up.
There are five notable prospects who more than likely won't receive a call on September 1. These guys are some of the team's top prospects and will certainly have an impact on the team in the future. Just not in 2014.
Note: To be considered for this list, the player had to be in at least Double-A Trenton, seeing as jumps from A-ball to the majors almost never occur.
1. Jacob Lindgren, LHP
The kid has already earned the nickname "The Strikeout Factory."
He's only been a pro since June 28 when he was drafted by the Yankees in the second round. That said, he has already excelled in four levels of the minors and currently resides in Double-A. His overall numbers are astounding.
He owns a 0.73 ERA, 0.851 WHIP and 48 strikeouts in 24.2 innings pitched this season. The left-hander can dial it up with a mid-90s fastball and devastating slider. Honestly, he is certainly a candidate to be called up.
That said, it might be best if he's left down in the minors. Here's why, via Brendan Kuty of NJ.com:
But a jump almost straight from college to the bigs would be tough for anybody to handle. Maybe it would be better to let him come up in the middle of September and toss a few dominant innings as a taste of the show without the pressure of a possible playoff appearance looming.
What's more, Lindgren's innings have piled up. He's thrown a combined 78 innings between college and the minors in 2014. Lindgren threw just 56 in 2013 and 28.1 in 2012. The Yankees are aware of that, and you can bet they'll play it safe with their top pick.
The last time a young reliever came up and played a vital role in a playoff race was when Joba Chamberlain made his dominant debut. Then again, he wasn't a kid straight out of college. Given the Yankees' tendencies regarding young arms and prospects, we'll probably have to wait another year for Lindgren.
2. Rob Refsnyder, 2B/OF
When Brian Roberts was scuffling as the Yankees second baseman, fans all over the Internet (myself included) were calling for Rob Refsnyder. That's because he has mashed this season.
He owns a line of .322/.393/.504 with 14 homers and 62 RBI spread over Double- and Triple-A. He plays a primarily impotent offensive position (second base) but can also play right field if needed. He's actually working on that position now in the minors.
A bat like that can always be useful, but if there's no fit at any particular position in the bigs, then it would be a waste to call him up. That's the case here.
The acquisition of Martin Prado on July 31 pretty much sealed Refsynder's fate for 2014. Prado has been a revelation, smacking big hit after big hit and playing great defense at second base. His ability to also play seemingly everywhere else on the field (minus pitcher and catcher) makes him the ideal player for manager Joe Girardi and his fragile roster.
Refsnyder likely won't receive many at-bats if called up. While he is the future at second base for the Bombers, it might be best for him to be left down.
3. Luis Severino, RHP
Luis Severino is the top arm in the Yankees' system. He possesses a sinking fastball that tops out around 98, which is absolutely filthy. That pitch earned him the success necessary to be named to this year's MLB Futures Game.
Over the course of the year, Severino has played at Single-A Charleston, High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. He's still inexperienced, but his 2.48 ERA and 1.049 WHIP suggest that this kid might be ready for the next step.
That next step should be Triple-A, not the bigs, however.
Severino is a starting pitcher. He has only made two relief appearances in the minors, both of which came in 2013 in rookie ball. Bringing him up now would likely force him to relief. He'd be useful in this role for the Yankees, but the Bombers are notorious for messing with pitchers when it comes to their roles on the team.
Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are two recent examples of this. Remember the Joba Rules? Remember how Hughes bounced back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen multiple times? It's absolutely best for the Yankees to leave Severino down in the minors as a starter.
He could be ready for the big league rotation by 2016.
4. Jose Pirela, 2B/SS/OF
Jose Pirela is 24 years old and can do a little of everything—including hit. Playing exclusively at Triple-A this year, he owns a line of .308/.355/.448 with 10 homers, 58 RBI and 15 stolen bases.
Given his age, it's clear that Pirela has matured at this point. His lifetime numbers are just a bit behind his current production (.274/.340/.392) but still very respectable. Regardless, he probably won't get a call to the bigs.
His situation is strikingly similar to that of Rob Refsnyder's. Martin Prado's excellence in pinstripes as made it difficult for any other middle infielders to get quality playing time in the Bronx. And the last thing the Yankees need is another utility man with Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan (both light-hitting, defense-first guys) on the roster.
Pirela's best chance of earning a promotion to the bigs will come next February and March when he'll have the opportunity to really fight for a spot on this roster. For now, he'll continue honing his craft in the minors.
5. Gary Sanchez, C
Gary Sanchez is the team's top overall prospect. He plays a premium position and hits for power. His fielding is average at best, but his skills with the stick make him one of the game's most promising young backstops.
He has played entirely in Double-A this year, slashing .267/.331/.407 with 13 homers and 65 RBI. He has probably hit well enough to earn a call-up to Triple-A, but catchers Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy currently reside there.
Both of those catchers are next in line to get the call as the Yankees' third catcher in September, so Sanchez will be left to continue improving in the minors. Of course, a September call-up of either Romine or Murphy would likely mean an open spot in Triple-A.
With a productive few weeks in Triple-A, Sanchez might earn a starting gig there next season. This would make Murphy and Romine trade bait, as Brian McCann and Francisco Cervelli probably aren't vacating their roles any time soon.
Sanchez can prove a lot this September, but it just won't be in the big leagues.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR.