Below is the release from the Yankees about their 27 invitations to spring training, including 13 inked to minor-league deals. I always find these lists intriguing, checking out the former major-leaguers or prospects on them, pondering who might make the team and what impact the player will have. Dewayne Wise is a terrific defensive outfielder. If only he could hit. There are a couple of ex-Red Sox pitchers on there in Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima. Could Russell Branyan provide power off the bench, the kind of power he showed in an away uniform here? Wonder if Jorge Vazquez’s power could translate to the majors.
Who do you think can do something of substance and help the most this season at the major-league level among the veterans? Maybe Okajima. We’ll see.
OK, here’s the info, plus the player bios, courtesy of the Yankees:
The New York Yankees today announced that they have signed 13 players to minor league contracts with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, including INF Russell Branyan, RHP Manny Delcarmen, INF Bill Hall, LHP Hideki Okajima and OF Dewayne Wise. The club has also invited 14 additional players to 2012 Spring Training bringing the total number of invites to 27 (14 pitchers, five infielders, five catchers and three outfielders). The total number of players now scheduled to report is 67.
Branyan, 37, has played in 1,059 career games over parts of 14 Major League seasons with Cleveland (1998-2002, ‘10), Cincinnati (2002-03), Milwaukee (2004-05, ’08), Tampa Bay (2006), San Diego (2006-07), Philadelphia (2007), St. Louis (2007), Seattle (2009, ‘10), Arizona (2011) and Los Angeles-AL (2011). He owns a career .232 (682-for-2,934) batting average with 143 doubles, 194 home runs and 467 RBI. Entering the 2012 season, his 15.12 at-bat/home run ratio is the seventh best among active Major League players. Branyan is the only player in the history of the current Yankee Stadium to hit a home run off of the glass facing of the center field batter’s eye (7/2/09 with Seattle off Alfredo Aceves) and the first player to hit a home run into the upper deck (300 level) in the right-field stands (8/21/10 with Seattle off Javier Vazquez). In 2011, he combined with Arizona and Los Angeles-AL to hit .197 (25-for-127) with seven doubles, five home runs and 14 RBI in 68 games. The Franklin, Tennessee native was originally selected by Cleveland in the seventh round of the 1994 First-Year Player Draft.
Delcarmen, 29, has appeared in 298 career games – all in relief – over parts of six seasons with Boston and Colorado, going 11-8 with a 3.97 ERA (292.2IP, 129ER). He is tied for eleventh all-time in Red Sox franchise history with 289 appearances and established a career-high with 73 appearances in 2008. In 2011, he combined with Triple-A Tacoma of the Seattle organization and Triple-A Round Rock of the Texas organization to go 3-2 with a 5.59 ERA (38.2IP, 24ER) in 26 relief appearances. Originally drafted by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, Delcarmen has made 11 career postseason appearances, including six during Boston’s 2007 World Series run. Over his career, is 4-1 with a 3.65 ERA (125.2IP, 51ER) in 131 relief appearances vs. the American League East division.
Hall, 32, owns a career .248 (825-for-3,325) batting average with 210 doubles, 124 home runs and 439 RBI in 1,047 games over parts of 10 seasons with Milwaukee (2002-09), Seattle (2009), Boston (2010), Houston (2011) and San Francisco (2011). He has made appearances at second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions during his career. In 2011, he split the season between the Houston and San Francisco organizations, combining to bat .211 (39-for-185) with nine doubles, two home runs and 14 RBI in 62 games. Hall was originally selected by Milwaukee in the sixth round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft.
Okajima, 36, is 17-8 with six saves and a 3.11 ERA (246.1IP, 85ER) in 261 career games over parts of five seasons with Boston (2007-11). Has registered the sixth-most innings pitched among all lefthanded American League relievers since 2007. The 2007 All-Star and World Series champion owns a 2.11 ERA (21.1IP, 5ER) in 17 career postseason appearances. He made seven relief appearances with the Red Sox in 2011, going 1-0 with a 4.32 ERA (8.1IP, 4ER), but spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Pawtucket where he was 8-1 with a 2.29 ERA (51.0IP, 13ER). Over his Major League career, has limited lefthanded batters to a .218 (87-for-399) batting average with 98 strikeouts and eight home runs. Prior to his Major League career, played in 11 seasons in the Nippon Professional League (Japan).
Wise, 33, owns a .219 (180-for-821) career batting average with 32 doubles, 22 home runs and 82 RBI in 445 games over parts of nine seasons with Toronto (2000-02, ‘10-11), Atlanta (2004), Cincinnati (2006-07), Chicago-AL (2008-09) and Florida (2011). Overall, he appeared in 69 combined games at the Major League level in 2011 with the Marlins and Blue Jays. He has appeared in all three outfield positions during his Major League career, combining for a .988 fielding percentage (509 total chances/six errors). Wise was originally selected by Cincinnati in the fifth round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft.
LHP Manuel Banuelos, 20, combined to go 6-7 with a 3.75 ERA (129.2IP, 54ER) and 125 strikeouts in 27 starts with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2011, ranking third among all Yankees farmhands in strikeouts. He was named to the Eastern League’s midseason All-Star team, prior to his promotion to Scranton/WB on July 31. Following the season, he was tabbed by Baseball America as the top pitching prospect in the Yankees organization, the sixth best prospect in the EL and the 12th-best prospect on MLB Network’s/MLB.com’s top 50 Prospects list. Banuelos earned the James P. Dawson Award from the New York Chapter of the BBWAA as the 2011 “Most Outstanding Rookie in Spring Training,” after going 1-1 with a 2.13 ERA in six games (two starts). The Monterrey, Mexico native was signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in 2008.
INF Doug Bernier, 31, played the entire 2011 season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting .237 (69-for-291) with 13 doubles, four triples and 29 RBI in 95 games. Originally signed by Colorado as a non-drafted free agent in 2002, he owns a career .238 (645-for-2,711) minor league batting average with 114 doubles, 16 triples, 20 home runs and 268 RBI in 904 games in the Colorado (2002-08), Yankees (2009, ‘11) and Pittsburgh (2010) organizations. He made his Major League debut in 2008 with Colorado, appearing in two games and going 0-for-4 in his lone start at second base on June 19, 2008 vs. Cleveland.
RHP Daniel Burawa, 23, combined with Single-A Charleston and Single-A Tampa to go 5-4 with a 3.64 ERA (84.0IP, 34ER) in 39 appearances out of the bullpen in 2011. The St. John’s University product began the season with Charleston and was 3-2 with a 3.63 ERA (44.2IP, 18ER) in 19 relief appearances prior to being promoted to Tampa in late June. While with Tampa he went 2-2 with a 3.66 ERA (39.1IP, 16ER). Burawa was originally selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
LHP Juan Cedeno, 28, has not pitched during the regular season in each of the last three seasons, appearing only in the Dominican Winter League. In 2011, he made 15 relief appearances with the Tigres de Licey and went 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA (8.2IP, 1ER). Originally signed by Boston as a non-drafted free agent in 2001, he has combined to go 29-48 with a 4.70 ERA (681.2IP, 356ER) in 216 games (99 starts) in eight minor league seasons in the Boston (2002-04; ’05), Kansas City (2005-2007), Los Angeles-NL (2008) and Detroit (2008) organizations.
OF Colin Curtis, 27, did not play in 2011 due to a shoulder injury. He last saw Major League action in 2010, when he made his Major League debut, hitting .186 (11-for-59) with three doubles, one home run and 8 RBI in 31 games (nine starts in right-field, two in left-field and one at designated hitter) over two stints with the Yankees. In five minor league seasons in the Yankees organization, he has combined to hit .267 (494-for-1,850) with 32 home runs and 209 RBI in 497 games. Curtis was originally selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
RHP Matt Daley, 29, is 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA (80.1IP, 42ER) in 92 career Major League games with the Colorado Rockies (2009-11). He has spent the bulk of his career in the Rockies minor league system, combining to go 20-20 with a 3.80 ERA (378.2IP, 160ER) in 259 games. In 2011, he spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, going 0-2 with a 6.28 ERA in 17 outings before being recalled to the Major League club in May. The New York-native appeared in seven games with the Rockies prior to undergoing season-ending arthroscopic surgery in August. Daley was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by Colorado in June, 2004 out of Bucknell University.
OF Cole Garner, 27, owns a career .286 (639-for-2,236) batting average with 157 doubles, 28 triples, 76 home runs and 346 RBI in 601 combined minor league games in the Colorado organization. In 2011, he made his Major League debut with the Rockies and batted .222 (2-for-9) in four contests. Colorado’s 26th round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Garner spent the majority of last season with Triple-A Colorado Springs and hit .330 (61-for-185) with eight home runs and 35 RBI.
C Jose Gil, 25, has appeared in 506 career minor league games, all in the Yankees organization, hitting .240 (405-for-1,691) with 98 doubles, 34 home runs and 224 RBI over 8 seasons. In 2011, he combined to bat .253 (67-for-265) with six home runs and 35 RBI in 79 games with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Following the season, he played in 32 games with the Caribes de Anzoategui of the Venezuelan Winter League and batted .272 (22-for-81) with eight doubles, one home run and 10 RBI. The Barcelona, Venezuela native was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in 2003.
C Kyle Higashioka, 21, spent the first half of the 2011 season with Single-A Tampa, batting .238 (39-for-164) with 10 doubles, four home runs and 16 RBI, appearing in all but two games at catcher (two at designated hitter) and throwing out 21-of-60 (35.0%) potential base stealers. He was transferred to Single-A Charleston in June where he remained for the rest of the season, batting .223 (29-for-130) with six doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI in 36 games. Higashioka was the Yankees’ seventh round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
RHP Brett Marshall, 21, played the entire 2011 season with Single-A Tampa and went 9-7 with a 3.78 ERA (1401.IP, 59ER) in 27 games (26 starts). He made his third career relief appearance on July 21 at Bradenton and struck out eight batters in 5.0 scoreless innings. The Yankees’ sixth-round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Marshall has played in four combined minor league seasons, going 16-15 with a 3.88 ERA (317.2IP, 137ER).
RHP Adam Miller, 27, has spent his entire professional career in the Cleveland minor league system, combining to go 33-30 with a 3.71 ERA (533.2IP, 220ER) in 135 games (94 starts). In 2011, he combined to make 31 relief appearances with Single-A Kinston and Double-A Akron, going 1-5 with a 5.93 ERA (44.0IP, 29ER) in his first action since May of 2008. Miller was originally selected by the Indians in Compensation Round A of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.
C Gustavo Molina, 29, made the Yankees’ Opening Day Roster in 2011 and made three starts at catcher, batting .167 (1-for-6) with one double. He spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he hit .253 (41-for-162) with six doubles, four home runs and 21 RBI in 47 games. Following the season, he appeared in 42 games with the Caribes de Anzoategui of the Venezuelan Winter League and batted .256 (31-for-121) with seven doubles and 5 RBI. In 17 postseason games (16 starts at catcher) with the Caribes, he hit .295 (18-for-61) with six home runs and 17 RBI, ranking second in the league in slugging percentage (.639), tying for second in home runs and tying for third in RBI. Molina has played in 26 career Major League games with Chicago-AL (2007), Baltimore (2007), New York-NL (2008), Boston (2010) and the Yankees (2011), making 11 starts at catcher. The Venezuela native was originally signed by Chicago-AL as a non-drafted free agent on January 3, 2000.
C J.R. Murphy, 20, owns a career .274 (193-for-704) batting average with 46 doubles, 15 home runs and 107 RBI in 182 minor league games in the Yankees’ organization since 2009. In 2011, he combined at Single-A Charleston and Single-A Tampa to hit .287 (98-for-341) with 29 doubles, seven home runs and 46 RBI in 86 games. He threw out a combined 23-of-72 (31.9%) potential base stealers. Murphy was the Yankees’ second round selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
INF Jayson Nix, 29, owns a career .207 (161-for-778) batting average with 33 doubles, 30 home runs and 84 RBI in 264 games over parts of four seasons with Colorado (2008), Chicago-AL (2009-10), Cleveland (2010) and Toronto (2011). In 2011, he made the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster and appeared in 46 games with the club, batting .169 (23-for-136) with four home runs and 16 RBI. In 41 games with Triple-A Las Vegas, he batted .270 (44-for-163) with eight home runs and 29 RBI. Nix was a member of the bronze-medal winning 2008 U.S. Olympic Baseball Team in Beijing, China and was originally selected by Colorado in Compensation Round A of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.
LHP Mike O’Connor, 31, owns a 4-10 career record with a 5.30 ERA (120.2IP, 71ER) in 35 games (21 starts) at the Major League level over parts of three seasons with Washington (2006, ’08) and New York-NL (2011). He has spent the bulk of his career in the Nationals, Padres, Royals and Mets minor league systems, combining to go 50-52 with a 4.00 ERA (808.0IP, 359ER). In 2011, he spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Buffalo and went 5-5 with a 5.22 ERA (60.1IP, 35ER) in 39 relief appearances. In nine outings out of the bullpen with the Mets, he went 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA (6.2IP, 2ER, 8K), holding righthanded hitters to a .083 (1-for-12) batting average. O’Connor was originally selected by the Montreal Expos in the seventh round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
RHP Ryan Pope, 25, combined to go 2-3 with a 5.12 ERA (45.2IP, 26ER) in 40 combined relief appearances with Single-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2011. Pope was selected by the Yankees in the third round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, becoming the first player ever drafted out of the Savannah College of Art and Design.
C Gary Sanchez, 19, batted .256 (77-for-301) with 49 runs, 16 doubles, 17 home runs and 52 RBI with Single-A Charleston in 2011. He led the RiverDogs in home runs, and ranked fourth overall among all Yankees farmhands. Following the season, he played with Escogido in the Dominican Winter League and hit .300 (6-for-20) in eight games. At the conclusion of the season, Baseball America listed him as the fourth-best prospect in the Yankees organization. Sanchez was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in July of 2009.
RHP Graham Stoneburner, 24, owns a career 10-13 record with a 3.03 ERA (234.1IP, 79ER) in 45 combined minor league games in the Yankees organization since 2009. In 2011, he combined at three different levels (GCL, Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton) to go 1-5 with a 4.04 ERA (91.1IP, 41ER) in 18 games (16 starts). While with the Thunder, he limited opposing batters to just 20 hits in 78 at-bats (.256 batting average). Stoneburner was originally selected by the Yankees in the 14th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
INF Jorge Vazquez, 29, played in 118 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2011, batting .262 (119-for-455) with 32 home runs and 93 RBI. He ranked first in the International League in home runs, second in RBI and fourth in total bases (235), leading all Yankees farmhands in home runs and RBI. A member of the IL’s midseason and postseason All-Star teams, he became the first Yankee minor leaguer to be named to a postseason All-Star squad as a designated hitter since Shelley Duncan accomplished the feat in 2007. Following the season, he played in 56 games with the Tomateros de Culiacan of the Mexican Pacific League and hit .330 (70-for-212) with 18 home runs and 60 RBI. He led the league in RBI, ranked second in home runs, third in slugging percentage (.618) and fourth in batting average and total bases (131). Vazquez played for Team Mexico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, batting .294 (5-for-17) with one home run and five RBI in five games and was a 10-year veteran of the Mexican League prior to signing with the Yankees in December 2008.
RHP Adam Warren, 24, spent the entire 2011 campaign at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 6-8 with a 3.60 ERA (152.1IP, 61ER) in 27 starts. He recorded a career-high in innings pitched and ranked tenth in the International League in ERA. Prior to the halfway point of the year, he went 6-3 with a 3.20 ERA (104.1IP, 37ER) in 17 starts, earning a spot on the IL’s midseason All-Star team. Warren recorded victories in five of six decisions from May 12-June 20, going 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA (54.0IP, 15ER) in eight starts over the stretch, throwing 7.0IP or more and allowing 2ER or less in five of those appearances. The University of North Carolina graduate was originally selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
RHP Kevin Whelan, 28, spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2011, going 2-3 with 23 saves and a 2.75 ERA (52.1IP, 16ER) in 45 relief appearances. He was named to the International League’s midseason All-Star team and converted 18 of 21 save opportunities with a 1.61 ERA (28.0IP, 5ER) prior to the halfway point of the year. He finished the season tied for second in the league in saves, holding opposing batters hitless in 21 of his 45 outings. Whelan was acquired by the Yankees with RHPs Humberto Sanchez and Anthony Claggett from Detroit in exchange for OF Gary Sheffield in November 2006. He was originally drafted by the Tigers in the fourth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
RHP Chase Whitley, 22, has appeared in 72 combined career minor league games (one start) with the Yankees since 2010, going 7-7 with a 2.17 ERA (128.1IP, 31ER). In 2011, he went 3-5 with seven saves and a 2.47 ERA (91.0IP, 25ER) in 42 combined games at Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. He made his first career start on August 24 at New Hampshire and recorded the loss, allowed 3ER in 2.0IP. Whitley was originally selected by the Yankees in the 15th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.