Reliever Jim Miller has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which means the Yankees have already built considerable minor league bullpen depth that could be waiting in Triple-A and ready to help during the season. Here’s a baker’s dozen to consider.
LHP Juan Cedeno
Signed out of obscurity last winter, had a nice 2012 season in Triple-A. Was at risk in the Rule 5 draft, but got through without being selected. Will surely get another invitation to big league camp.
LHP Vidal Nuno
A strike-throwing starter in Double-A last season, the Yankees have left open the possibility of Nuno becoming a relief option at some point. He was outstanding last season and continues to dominate this winter.
LHP Francisco Rondon
Added to the 40-man this winter, Rondon is an easy-to-overlook prospect coming off a nice year in Double-A. Impressive strikeout numbers; needs to cut down on the walks. Could be more than a lefty specialist.
LHP Josh Spence
Claimed off waivers from the Padres, Spence has since cleared waivers and been outrighted. He’s pitched parts of the past two seasons in the big leagues, holding lefties to a .158 batting average.
RHP Preston Claiborne
Part of the Yankees reliever-heavy 2010 draft class,Claiborne was terrific in Double-A last season and remained effective — 1.29 WHIP, 4.05 ERA — after a mid-season jump to Triple-A.
RHP Cody Eppley
Pitched well last year, but Eppley does have an option remaining, which means he could be shipped back to Triple-A if he’s crowded out of the big league bullpen. If that happens, you have to think Eppley would open the season at the top of the call-up pecking order.
RHP Ryan Flannery
He wasn’t bad in Double-A last season, but Flannery’s walk rate — which had been impressively low in the lower levels — more than doubled. If he gets that back under control, he could climb to Triple-A. For now, he’s overshadowed.
RHP David Herndon
Claimed off waivers and eventually signed to a minor league deal, Herndon won’t be ready to open the season because of Tommy John surgery, but he was a solid Phillies reliever for two years before the injury. Should be ready mid-summer.
RHP Jim Miller
Claimed off waivers from the Oakland, Miller has now cleared waivers and been outrighted. He made 33 big league appearances last year, finishing with a 2.59 ERA and .217 opponents batting average. Was better against lefties than righties.
RHP Mark Montgomery
The top relief prospect in the organization, Montgomery has put up insane strikeout totals without very many walks. After 15 Double-A appearances last season, he might not open in Triple-A but he could certainly get there soon enough.
RHP Kelvin Perez
Not entirely sure what to make of this guy. He’d been pretty far off the radar until last season when he had a terrific year in Double-A, pitching to a 1.14 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while holding opponents to a .192 average. The Yankees need to find out whether that was a legitimate and sustainable leap forward.
RHP Chase Whitley
In his second full seasons, the fast-rising prospect spent almost all of last year in Triple-A. He had a 3.25 ERA and .213 opponents batting average while routinely pitching two, three and even four innings at a time.
SHP Pat Venditte
The novelty act who just keeps getting results, Venditte was in Triple-A last season and once again pitching well before a labrum injury sidelined him at the end of April. Might not be back until the middle of next season.
This list leaves out Graham Stoneburner, who was hurt part of last year. It also leaves out rotation prospects like Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, Brett Marshall and Schaefer Hall who could shift into the bullpen if necessary. It also leaves out a guy like Tom Kahnle, who could move quickly based on his potent High-A numbers last season.
Associated Press photo