There will be plenty to watch when the games begin this March, but for right now pitchers and catchers have reported and there are a few players who will command early attention. While guys like Luis Severino, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka will be viewed for various reasons in early competition, it’s more unknown players who will be worth following in late February.
Mark Montgomery – It’s easy to forget Montgomery was once the hot name to replace Mariano Rivera at one point in his career. Then Dave Robertson happened. When Robertson departed in free agency, Montgomery had still never had major league success so Andrew Miller happened. Dellin Betances switched over to reliever and then he happened and now Aroldis Chapman has joined the team as well.
It’s probably no longer realistic Montgomery ever fulfills his potential as a closer or even a setup man in New York, but there are still bullpen spots open. A late spring training invite and, along with Kyle Haynes, Montgomery has a chance to recapture some attention.
Vinnie Pestano – He’s a newcomer to New York who finished last season red hot, going more than 20 appearances without surrendering a run to end his year. Pestano, now in Yankees’ camp, is about as much of a front-runner as you can get for a bullpen spot without facing actual competition. He has the potential to essentially be the right-handed compliment to Chasen Shreve, a pitcher who can pitch in earlier innings in a big spot, spell “The Big Three” if any of them aren’t available, or simply eat innings in games where a save is not on the line.
Diego Moreno – The guy can throw hard. Moreno has a mid to high 90’s fastball and will be either starting or relief depth by the end of March. The righty is coming off elbow surgery but has built his arm up already this winter, appearing to be in game shape with his arm. He is an extreme wildcard who can really boost the Yankees’ depth and farm system with a healthy year. If he’s throwing well and stays healthy, Moreno will either be in a very scary Yankees’ bullpen, or could be the seventh starting pitching option behind Ivan Nova.
Domingo German – The other guy who came over with Nathan Eovaldi, German also throws hard and also pitches. We haven’t heard much about him because he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery. Still a year removed, German may not be a major impact in the first half or even all of the 2016 season, but he’s a forgotten about, high-ceiling arm who can help the Yankees with a healthy comeback season.
Aroldis Chapman – Probably not the same type of player as the first four mentioned but Chapman is the prize of the winter, the bullpen and early spring bullpen sessions. Expect a lot of buzz about his triple digit fastballs and a lot of coverage on the pending domestic violence decision from MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, as a decision is expected to come soon. Chapman should know exactly how long his walk season is before the end of march and possibly before the games begin.