I’m a geek about the 40-man roster. Even as a kid, I remember getting Baseball Digest delivered my house in the country and reading through the rosters in the back of each issue. I understand that it should be boring, but I like these sort of lists and groupings, and I always thinks it’s interesting when people are added and removed. A team can’t have its 25-man roster until it has its 40-man roster, and I like that.
Yesterday, the Yankees 40-man additions took an obvious back seat to the new pitching coach. But these three are officially worth knowing heading into next season.
How he got here: Back in 2006, Betances was an eight-round pick with first-round stuff. Injuries have slowed some of his progress, but 2010 reestablished him as one of the elite pitching prospects in the organization.
What’s to like: First time I saw him, I was struck by just how big he is. He’s not a wiry 6-8. He’s pretty thick. He works mostly with a low to mid-90s fastball and big curveball. Baseball America noted that even if he takes a step back, he could slide into the mix as a possible closer candidate down the road.
Up next: He made only three Double-A starts last season, so a return to Trenton is probably in order. A September call-up seems possible, but there are enough pitchers ahead of him that there’s absolutely no need to rush his progress. Keep him and healthy and let that arm carry him.
How he got here: He just kept hitting. Even with a big league brother, Laird was only a 27th-round pick and the Yankees drafted two third baseman ahead of him. He certainly didn’t come into the system with a lot of hype, but he hit — and hit for power — leading up to a breaking 2010 season in which he had 25 homers and 102 RBI between Double-A and Triple-A.
What’s to like: Primarily the power. That said, when I saw him in spring training, Laird seemed to play a better third base than I was expecting. He’s been working in the outfield corners, and if he could become a four-corners type of utility player, he could play a role pretty quickly.
Up next: More Triple-A at-bats. Probably more time in the outfield. Depending on the Yankees needs in New York, a big league call-up is certainly not out of the question.
How he got here: Slow and steady is probably the way to describe it. Pope was a third-round pick in 2007, but he’s never had one of those breakout years that puts him firmly on the prospect map. Even within the Yankees system he’s been overshadowed.
What’s to like: Pretty much everything since the second week of May. After opening the season in the rotation, Pope moved to the Trenton bullpen and finally started to standout from the pack. His first relief outing was two hitless innings with no walks and four strikeouts. He never let an inherited runner score.
Up next: A promotion to Triple-A. Although a move from the rotation to the bullpen is usually seen as a bad thing, it might actually help Pope standout from the large group of young pitchers in the upper levels of the Yankees system. With Jonathan Albaladejo out of the picture, Pope could be the first Triple-A reliever called up next season.