The Yankees clubhouse is overflowing. The team is already carrying 11 extra players, and reports are that Dellin Betances may become a 12th September call-up some time during this series in Anaheim.
Short term, these moves are mostly about depth down the stretch. Long term, they’re about getting a look at players who could play some sort of role in the future.
Elbow surgery slowed Brackman’s progress in the minor leagues, but the former first-round draft pick is older than Phil Hughes, so it’s not unreasonable to think he should be ready to contribute at this level. He seemed on the verge after a big 2010 season, but this year has been a significant step in the wrong direction. There’s talent there — when pitchers and catchers reported this spring, most of the early buzz seemed to be on Brackman — but the Yankees need to see consistent results before they can realistically project him in some sort of big league role next season.
Kind of a forgotten prospect after Tommy John surgery and a Rule 5 selection, but Kontos thrived in a full-time relief role this season. He was Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s long man, and the Yankees ultimately decided they’d rather have him than Lance Pendleton on the 40-man. Kontos turned 26 this summer, and could certainly play a long relief role next year. Oddly enough, he’s one of three players on the Yankees pitching staff this season after having previously been lost in the Rule 5 draft (Pendleton and Ivan Nova were also Rule 5 picks).
An interesting late-season addition, if only because he’s left-handed and still just 26 years old. Laffey has quite a bit of big league experience, but this is his first full season as a reliever. The Yankees seem to be trying to get a look at him this month — he’s pitched three times in the past week — and it’s conceivable that Laffey could pitch his way into at least some level of consideration beyond this season. Aside from Manny Banuelos, who’s going to remain a starter, there isn’t a lefty in the system who’s seems ready to push for a big league spot.
Technically a September call-up even though he’s spent most of the season pitching in New York. Noesi wasn’t really a discovery this season — he was fairly highly touted in the system — but he certainly emerged as a guy who could fill an immediate need and possibly play a larger role in the future. In most cases, I think it’s a waste to have a young potential starter work in the bullpen, but the Yankees system is so overpopulated with starters that it’s inevitable some will have to be converted to the pen. Noesi made that conversion successfully, and now the Yankees have to decide whether they like him in this role or want to move him back into the rotation mix for next year.
One of the few September call-ups that’s clearly not in a position to fight for any sort of long-term role. Really, Proctor seems to be in New York to give Joe Girardi another veteran arm down the stretch. If Proctor is going to play a role beyond this month, it might take a strong stretch performance and an invitation to big league camp next spring.
Along with Proctor, Valdes is the September call-up who most obviouslly seems to be short-term addition. He turns 34 this offseason, his big league experience is limited and the Yankees don’t seem to be in any hurry to use him. For now he’s giving the team a third lefty, but the Yankees went through almost the entire season with only one lefty, and right now both Boone Logan and Aaron Laffey are clearly ahead of Valdes on the depth chart. Seems like Valdes had a spot on the 40-man, so the Yankees decided, why not?
You might have heard about this kid. Of all the September call-ups, 21-years-old Montero is the only one who seems to be playing for a significant role in the postseason. Sure, someone else might win a spot as a reserve role player or a back-of-the-bullpen arm, but Montero is getting a look at designated hitter and could takeover that role by the end of the season. If the Yankees decide his development program is finished, then Montero could certainly play an everyday role beginning on Opening Day of next year.
Back in 2007, Laird was a 27th-round pick. Not only was he drafted that low, the Yankees drafted two third basemen — Brad Suttle and Braedyn Pruitt — ahead of him. Laird, though, hit his way into prospect status and he has value as a four-corners utility man who has some power from the right side. It’s silly to peg Laird as Alex Rodriguez’s future replacement at third base, but he could hit enough to play some sort of role, either as a reserve or as a guy who bounces back and forth from Triple-A to fill holes as needed.
By my count, Pena should have one option remaining after this season. That means it’s entirely possible that he could play the same role he’s been playing this season: The backup to the backup. Clearly Eduardo Nunez has replaced Pena as the Yankees primary utility man, but there’s still some comfort and value in having Pena as a proven defensive option up the middle. The other advanced utility types in the system — Laird, Joseph, Russo — have limited shortstop experience, if any.
As a left-handed hitter, Dickerson isn’t a great fit in this Yankees outfield, but he’s hit pretty well when given at-bats this season, and he’s a career .273/.360/.417 against right-handed pitchers. That’s pretty good, and it suggests a strong platoon fit for a team that’s not so full of left-handed-hitting outfielders. It hurts Dickerson’s long-term case that Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson are also left-handers. It helps his cause that the Yankees don’t have many upper-level outfielders knocking down the door.
The Yankees know what they’re getting in Golson. He’s a strong defensive outfielder with some speed and not much of a track record with the bat. He played a role for the team down the stretch last season, and Girardi seemed comfortable with him. In some ways he seems like a right-handed version of Dickerson, but probably with less bat and possibly more speed. Like with Dickerson, the fact the Yankees don’t have a ton of upper-level outfielders makes Golson potential fourth or fifth outfielder next season.
Associated Press photo of Montero