Sporting one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, the New York Yankees were extremely active leading up to Monday night’s deadline to set 40-man rosters ahead of December’s Rule 5 Draft.
With so many talented Rule 5-eligible players, the Yankees had to make moves to clear roster spots so they could secure the necessary players.
In fact, New York made three trades in less than 72 hours to clear enough of the 40-man roster ahead of the 8 p.m. deadline to pave the way for six players: RailRiders Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney and right-handed pitcher Albert Abreu, right-hander Domingo Acevedo, infielder Thairo Estrada and righty Jonathan Loaisiga.
Four players with RailRiders ties were traded in the process. First baseman Garrett Cooper and left-hander Caleb Smith were traded to the Miami Marlins and right-hander Ronald Herrera was traded to Texas on Monday while reliever Nick Rumbelow was traded to Seattle on Saturday.
“This is a kid who’s always asking questions, who’s very coachable — great kid,” RailRiders manager Al Pedrique said of Torres. “When he started to swing the bat real well for us — it’s too bad he got hurt. Playing third base the few games that he did with us, he showed that he was getting comfortable in that position. For me, a guy that can play short, he should be able to handle second and third.”
The additions of Torres, McKinney, Abreu, Acevedo and Estrada come as little surprise.
Torres (No. 1), Acevedo (No. 6), Abreu (No. 7) are all top-10 prosects within the organization while Estrada comes in at No. 17 and McKinney No. 23, according to MLBPipeline.com. Torres, McKinney and Acevedo all spent time with the RailRiders, with McKinney and Torres making the most impact.
Torres, McKinney and Abreu have all been in the news lately.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Torres will have a chance to make the team’s Opening Day roster this spring — a move that wouldn’t surprise Pedrique — and McKinney took on first base during the Arizona Fall League.
Abreu had an impressive AFL season himself.
The flamethrower made six starts and finished with a 1-2 record and 2.60 ERA. He retired the last five batters he faced in his final start on Nov. 13, pitching five scoreless innings.
“For him to play another position, it will increase his value and also change the probability to make it to the big leagues with New York,” Pedrique said of McKinney. “As everybody knows with the outfield situation, we have a lot of talent in the outfield. For him to show that he can handle first base, definitely, that’s going to increase the chance to make it to the big leagues.”
Estrada is coming off an impressive campaign with Double-A Trenton.
The middle infielder finished the season with a .301 batting average with six home runs, 48 RBI and 72 runs. It was his first season in Double-A.
Acevedo is coming off of an injury-riddled season, which was mostly spent with Trenton. However, he did make a pair of June starts for the RailRiders, finishing with a 1-1 record and 4.83 ERA.
The powerful right-hander sports an upper-90s fastball and an impressive changeup. Acevedo could start the season in Moosic.
“It’s only two starts for him, so it’s too early to make a judgment on him,” Pedrique said after Acevedo’s June 21 appearance. “He has a good arm with a good fastball. He’s still getting comfortable at the Triple-A level. I think he’s done a fine job so far. He’s going to make mistakes, but we think he has a bright future.”
Loaisiga is the mystery name out of the bunch.
While Torres, McKinney, Abreu, Acevedo and Estrada were mostly expected moves, Loasiga was selected above fellow right-handers Anyelo Gomez and J.P. Feyereisen — both are relievers — and fellow starters Nestor Cortes and Daniel Camarena — both are lefties. Gomez, Cortes, Camarena and Feyereisen all spent time with the RailRiders this season, while both Gomez and Cortes impressed during the team’s postseason run.
Loaisiga has never pitched higher than Low-A. The 23-year-old right-hander started his 2017 campaign in the Gulf Coast League and finished it in the New York-Penn League.
However, his season was mostly wasted due to an injury. When Loaisiga returned, he did dominate the competition. He sported a 1-0 record and 0.43 ERA over his last four appearances.
“I think you’re always going to get a little bit of confidence — you’re always going to be that guy — whether they’re deciding who’s going to pitch next or who’s going to come up to pitch,” Cortes said. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job filling in that hole and I’m proud of myself for doing it because it’s not easy to get a 6 a.m. flight and pitch that same day. I take a lot of credit for that, but then again I think the Yankees for allowing me to pitch at a higher level.”
With a full 40-man roster, the Yankees have both a healthy balance of youth and veteran presence. Over 50 percent of the Yankees’ roster spent time in the minor leagues during the last two seasons — not including rehab time.
The question that now remains: How many players will the organization lose during the Rule 5 Draft?
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle