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Not Your Average “b Squad”

Monday, March 6, 2017 6:06
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“Nice Junior Varsity team you got there!” Clearly some people don’t actually watch these games.

That was said sarcastically so I replied, “you mad, bro?!” We have so many big name prospects at camp this year mixed in with some of the big name veterans that some of our guys are overlooked. Some of these under the radar guys may not be playing on the varsity team yet….but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good enough. Other teams wish they have a junior varsity team like this!
All three of these guys have a lot in common. They are all either at big league camp as a non-roster invitee or on the 40 man roster. They are not projected to win a starting role in the Bronx and are also not ranked in the top 10 Yankee prospects according to Baseball America. They aren’t likely to start the season in the Bronx but could still contribute by the end of 2017.

Photo: Getty Images

I’m keeping tabs on Jordan Montgomery. Right now five other guys are battling for back end spots of the starting rotation, but Montgomery isn’t one of them. He is at camp as a non-roster invitee and could be a contributor by season end. Montgomery is a lefty and was drafted by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. He has since put up some good numbers down in Triple-A with a very unconventional style that has worked for him. Montgomery does not have overpowering stuff but he does have a 6’6″ frame with a strange delivery on the mound with a release point that comes right over the top of hitters. The delivery and arm angle are very deceptive. It may be unconventional, but he has 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings, so it’s effective. It may be effective enough for a late season call up.

Photo: Getty Images

The Yankees may have a secret weapon waiting for a bullpen spot. The Yankees drafted Jonathan Holder in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. After spending two years as a starter the Yankees moved him to a relief role last season and he dominated.  In three  minor league levels he made 42 appearances, threw 65 innings and struck out 101 batters while only walking seven. In August last season he even struck out 11 in a row, you can see that HERE. He plays with a lot of guts, too. He isn’t afraid to go out there and pitch. “I’ve always been a guy that likes to pound the zone and trust the defense behind me. Getting swings and misses is a plus, but letting hitters get themselves out is my game plan.” He’s fearless….I like it!

Photo: Getty Images

Kyle Higashioka is not a new name, but after a breakout season he is getting a lot of attention. The Yankees drafted him back in 2008 and he has spent most of his time down in the minors as a good defensive catcher who did not hit. That’s not a good look for a 27 year old but last season something came together for Higashioka. He changed his swing up and hit a career best 21 home runs. Was it a fluke season? We will have to wait and see but if game one of Spring Training is any indication….the answer may be “no.” He hit a monster home run in his first at bat. Now there is an interesting competition between the Yankees backup catchers who are on the 40-man roster.

Photo: Getty Images

The Yankees already have Austin Romine who has the MLB experience but he is out of minor league options. Now Higashioka has shown the offense with the defense and if he were younger the Yankees might have chosen to just keep him down in the minors. If Hihashioka continues to improve offensively could he convince the Yankees that he has more upside to make him the backup catcher?

So these guys may not be on track to play in the Bronx right now, but at the rate they are going they could be there soon. If this is our “B squad” then that is one hell of a group and other teams should wish they had these guys.  This season is going to bring a lot of opportunity and just thinking about the possibility of mid-season call-ups right now are endless and have me excited.

Hey hater…..can you even name any of your “B squad” guys? Probably not…


–Jeana Bellezza
BYB Managing Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @NYPrincessJ


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