This week, the New York Yankees announced that they have signed 11 players to minor league contracts with an invitation to Major League Spring Training: C Wilkin Castillo, INF Ji-Man Choi, C Kellin Deglan, C Francisco Diaz, LHP Jason Gurka, INF Pete Kozma, LHP Joe Mantiply, RHP Nick Rumbelow, LHP Evan Rutckyj, INF Donovan Solano and INF Ruben Tejada. Diaz, Kozma, Rumbelow, Rutckyj and Solano were in the Yankees organization last year and return in 2017 after signing new minor league deals.
The club has also invited 12 additional players to 2017 spring training, bringing the total number of invitees to 23 (11 pitchers, four catchers, six infielders and two outfielders). The number of players now scheduled to report is 63.
Kozma, 28, has appeared in 275 career Major League games, all with St. Louis, over parts of five seasons (2011-15), batting .222 (138-for-621) with 76R, 29 doubles, 3 triples, 3HR and 52RBI. After attending spring training as a non-roster invitee with the Yankees, the right-handed batter spent 2016 with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting .209 (93-for-445) with 48R, 19 doubles, 2HR, 32 RBI and 11 SB in 130 games.
He committed just 15E in 537TC (.972) while playing all four infield positions: SS (84G/83GS), 3B (23G/22GS), 2B (18GS), 1B (5GS). In 918 games over eight minor league seasons, he has hit .234 (760-for-3,253) with 428R, 155 doubles, 50HR and 374RBI. The native of Tulsa, Okla., was originally selected by St. Louis in the first round (18th overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
Solano, 29, has batted .257 (274-for-1,068) with 99R, 40 doubles, 6 triples, 9HR and 99RBI in 370 games with the Marlins (2012-15) and Yankees (2016). The right-handed batter has primarily played second base (237G) but has also appeared at third base (26G), shortstop (19G) and in left field (10G). Over 12 minor league seasons, he has batted .272 (898-for-3,302) with 386R, 143 doubles, 19HR and 308RBI in 932 games. Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, Solano was originally signed by St. Louis as a non-drafted free agent on January 14, 2005. The 2017 season marks his second in the Yankees organization.
Tejada, 27, has appeared in 616 Major League games over seven seasons with the Mets (2010-15), Cardinals (2016) and Giants (2016), batting .252 (504-for-1,997) with 207R, 104 doubles, 10HR and 153RBI. He combined with St. Louis and San Francisco to hit .167 (11-for-66) with 9R, 5 doubles, 5 RBI and 7 BB in 36 games in 2016. Tejada was released by the Mets on March 16, 2016 and was signed by the Cardinals as a free agent five days later.
He hit .176 (6-for-34) with 6R, 2 doubles, 3 RBI and 2 BB in 23 games with St. Louis before being designated for assignment on May 28 and unconditionally released on June 3. On June 29, he was signed by the Giants as a free agent and hit .156 (5-for-32) with 3R, 3 doubles, 2RBI and 5BB in 13 games for San Francisco. The Santiago, Panama, native was originally signed by the Mets as a non-drafted free agent on July 11, 2006.
Six of the Yankees’ non-roster invitees have been tabbed among the organization’s Top 10 prospects by Baseball America entering the 2017 season, including INF Gleyber Torres (No. 1), OF Clint Frazier (No. 2), RHP James Kaprielian (No. 5), LHP Justus Sheffield (No. 7), RHP Chance Adams (No. 8) and OF Dustin Fowler (No. 9).
The Yankees’ No. 4 prospect, INF Jorge Mateo, and No. 6 prospect, OF Aaron Judge, will also be in camp as members of the 40-man roster. Torres, acquired by the Yankees as part of the July 2016 trade that moved Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, became the youngest player ever to be named MVP of the Arizona Fall League, after batting .403/.513/.645 (25-for-62) in 18 games for the Scottsdale Scorpions following the 2016 season.
Frazier and Sheffield, along with fellow non-roster invitee, RHP J.P. Feyereisen, joined the Yankees organization in the trade that sent Andrew Miller to the Indians at last season’s trade deadline.
Of the Yankees’ 23 non-roster invitees, nine were originally drafted by the club: Adams (2015, fifth round), LHP Daniel Camarena (2011, 20th round), OF Dustin Fowler (2013, 18th round), Kaprielian (2015, first round, 16th overall), RHP Brady Lail (2012, 18th round), LHP Jordan Montgomery (2014, fourth round), Rumbelow (2013, seventh round), Rutckyj (2010, 16th round) and INF Tyler Wade (2013, fourth round).
In 2016, Adams went 13-1 with a 2.33 ERA (127.1IP, 33ER) in 25 games (24 starts) and led the minor leagues with a .169 (76-for-450) opponents’ batting average, the second-lowest opponents’ BA by a qualified minor leaguer since at least 1993, according to Baseball America. He also led all minor league pitchers (min. 125.0IP) with a 0.90 WHIP.
Rounding out the Yankees’ invitees is C Jorge Saez, who was selected by the Yankees from Toronto in the first round of the Triple-A phase of the 2016 Rule 5 draft.