The New York Yankees today announced that they have signed nine players to minor league contracts with an invitation to Major League Spring Training: RHP Bruce Billings, INF Russ Canzler, RHP Robert Coello, RHP Brian Gordon, RHP Chris Leroux, OF Antoan Richardson, INF Scott Sizemore, INF Yangervis Solarte and INF Zelous Wheeler. The club has also invited 17 additional players to 2014 spring training, bringing the total number of invitees to 26 (13 pitchers, three catchers, six infielders and four outfielders). The number of players now scheduled to report is 66-18 fewer than 2013's total of 84.
Canzler , 27, has appeared in 29 Major League games-three with Tampa Bay in 2011 and 26 with Cleveland in 2012-combining to bat .271 (26-for-96) as a first baseman, outfielder and designated hitter. He was selected out of Hazleton Area High School (Pa.) by the Chicago Cubs in the 30th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and spent seven seasons (2004-10) with the organization.
Coello (pronounced koo-WAY-oh), 29, has combined to make 28 Major League relief appearances with Boston (2010), Toronto (2012) and Los Angeles-AL (2013), going 2-3 with one save and a 5.90 ERA (29.0IP, 19ER, 39K). He allowed only one run in his first 11 outings (13.1IP) with the Angels last season, retiring 21 consecutive batters (12K) in six games from May 13-25. In his career, Coello has averaged 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched and held right-handed hitters to a .209 (14-for-67) batting average. He was selected by the Cincinnati Reds as a catcher in the 20th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, but was converted to a pitcher by the Angels organization prior to the 2007 season.
Leroux (lah-RUE), 29, has made 63 Major League relief appearances with Florida (2009-10) and Pittsburgh (2010-13), going 1-2 with a 5.56 ERA (69.2IP, 43ER, 63K, 3HR). He played for Canada in the 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics, combining to go 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA (4.2IP, 3H, 2BB, 5K). After being claimed off waivers by the Pirates on September 13, 2010, Leroux went 1-1 with a 2.88 ERA (25.0IP, 8ER, 24K, 7BB) in 23 games with the club in 2011. He made two appearances with the Pirates in 2013 before becoming a free agent on April 17. He then joined the Yakult Swallows of the Japan Central League, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in five starts (22.0IP, 22ER). Leroux was selected by the Marlins in the seventh round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft after playing baseball for three seasons at Winthrop University (S.C.).
Sizemore , 29, has appeared in 160 Major League games for Detroit (2010-11) and Oakland (2011, '13), combining to bat .238 (123-for-517) with 14 home runs while playing second base and third base. After being traded to Oakland on May 27, 2011, Sizemore started 88 of the A's final 102 games at third base and batted .249 (76-for-305), ranking second on the team in home runs (11) and tying for second in RBI (52) over the stretch. He played baseball at Virginia Commonwealth University for three seasons before being selected by the Tigers in the fifth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
RHP Matt Daley , INF Corban Joseph and RHP Jim Miller earned invitations after spending a portion of the 2013 season with the Yankees. Daley, 31, was selected to the Major League roster on September 6 and did not allow a run in his seven appearances with the club (6.0IP, 2H, 0BB, 8K), holding opponents hitless in his final five games (4.0IP). On September 26 vs. Tampa Bay, Daley struck out his only batter faced after replacing Mariano Rivera in his final career appearance. Joseph, 25, appeared in two games with the Yankees when he was called up as the club's 26th Man for the May 13 doubleheader at Cleveland, starting the opener at first base (0-for-2, 1BB) and starting the nightcap at second base (1-for-4, 1R). Miller, 31, made his only Major League appearance of the season on September 7 vs. Boston (1.1IP, 3H, 3ER, 1HR, 1BB).
Also earning an invitation is RHP David Herndon, who is 2-8 with a 3.85 ERA (117.0IP, 50ER) in 97 Major League relief appearances, all with Philadelphia (2010-12). After spending his first four professional seasons (2006-09) in the Angels' minor league system, he was selected by the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft on December 10, 2009, making the club's Opening Day roster in three consecutive years (2010-12). He appeared in 92 games (109.1IP) in his first two Major League seasons, holding right-handed hitters to a .200 (26-for-130) batting average in 2011. Herndon was selected out of Gulf Coast Community College by Los Angeles-AL in the fifth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
RHP Yoshinori Tateyama earned an invitation after joining the Yankees organization during the 2013 season. He spent his first 12 professional seasons in Japan (1999-2010), going 35-43 with 27 saves and a 3.43 ERA (661.2IP, 252ER) in 438 appearances with the Nippon Ham Fighters. He signed with the Texas Rangers on November 30, 2010, and spent two full seasons and part of a third with the organization before being traded to the Yankees on June 21, 2013, for future considerations. Tateyama has made 53 Major League relief appearances-all with Texas-going 3-0 with one save and a 5.75 ERA (61.0IP, 39ER, 61K, 17BB) from 2011-12.
The list of invitees includes five of the Yankees' selections from the 2010 First-Year Player Draft: OF Mason Williams (fourth round),RHP Danny Burawa (12th), OF Tyler Austin (13th), RHP Chase Whitley (15 th) and LHP Fred Lewis (47th). Following the 2013 season, Williams was ranked by Baseball America as the third-best prospect in the organization, as well as the "Fastest Baserunner," "Best Athlete" and "Best Defensive Outfielder."
Also earning an invitation are recent Yankees draft picks RHP Mark Montgomery (2011, 11th round) and C Pete O'Brien (2012, second round). Montgomery was voted the Yankees' minor league "Pitcher of the Year" in 2012, and following the 2013 season his slider was ranked as the best in the organization by Baseball America. O'Brien led all Yankees minor leaguers in 2013 with 22 home runs and 96 RBI, batting .291 (130-for-447) with a .544 slugging percentage as a catcher, third baseman and designated hitter.
Rounding out the Yankees' invitees are C Francisco Arcia, OF Adonis Garcia, C Jose Gil, INF Jose Pirela and LHP Francisco Rondon.