New York Yankees: biggest surprises on Opening Day roster

This post was originally published in Outside Pitch MLB

With Opening Day less than 24 hours away, the New York Yankees have their 25-man roster set to start the 2016 season. Due to injuries and poor performances during Spring Training, there are some players that made the team who weren’t expected earlier in the year. Let’s take a look at the biggest surprises to make the Yankees roster.

Luis Cessa

Cessa, who was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in the Justin Wilson trade during the Winter Meetings, was acquired for depth, as the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders rotation needed additional arms for the upcoming season. However, due to a strong Spring and the injury to Bryan Mitchell, the 23-year old righty found his way onto the big league roster.

Over the course of Spring Training, Cessa struck out 10 batters in 10 total innings while pitching to a 2.70 earned run average. His outlook for this season appears to be as a swingman (a role that was pegged for Mitchell), while also getting an assortment of spot starts throughout the year.

Johnny Barbato

Like Cessa, not only is Barbato a right hander who is 23-years old, but he was also acquired in a trade for a reliever (he was a part of the Shawn Kelley trade with the San Diego Padres before last season). While he wasn’t one of the notable names for a bullpen spot heading into Spring Training, he was vastly impressive.

Barbato had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 12:1, giving up just seven hits and sporting a 1.74 earned run average over 10.1 innings. On top of making the roster, he also won the James P. Dawson award, given to the most outstanding rookie during Spring Training.

Kirby Yates

The final spot in the bullpen was awarded to Kirby Yates, who was one of a handful of veterans brought in to compete for a job for this season. Despite having a career 5.27 ERA over 57 games, he stood out in a positive way during Spring Training.

Over 7.1 total innings, Yates surrendered zero runs with one walk, two hits and 10 strikeouts. As the final man to make the team, Yates is expected to bring depth in the middle relief role in 2016.

Austin Romine

Despite Gary Sanchez being the overwhelming favorite to be the backup catcher this season, Austin Romine took advantage of the shortcomings from the top prospect and found himself on the roster.

While Sanchez slashed just .059/.238/.059 over 12 games, Romine finally proved his worth to an organization that hasn’t been high on him in recent years. Although he hit just .259 with four doubles, Romine’s right handed bat and above average defensive ability behind home plate makes him a strong complement to starter Brian McCann.

Ronald Torreyes

Similar to that of the backup catcher’s job, many believed that Yankees prospect Rob Refsnyder was going to force his way onto the Opening Day roster. However, he continued to struggle on defense, and Torreyes looked both strong and versatile over the Spring.

At the plate, the 23-year old slashed .303/.324/.364 while playing second base and third base on the diamond. On top of that, Torreyes also has experience at shortstop, center field and left field, which should give him a good chunk of playing time this season.

Dan Federico is the Managing Editor and Staff Writer for Outside Pitch MLB. You can follow and interact with him on Twitter or contact him via email here

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