As Spring Training nears the New York Yankees announced their non-roster invitees, with 26 players getting invites to the Spring Camp.
The list includes a wide range of players, from up-and-coming prospects to Major League veterans. Part of the excitement of Spring Training will be watching if any of the prospects or veterans can play their way onto the Opening Day roster.
Here are the three strongest candidates headed to Yankees camp.
1. Duane Underwood Jr - RHP (29 Years Old)
One of the biggest question marks heading into the season for the Yankees is the bullpen and pitching depth as a whole.
The Yankees addressed the bullpen by adding Caleb Ferguson in a trade with the Dodgers, but the unit still isn't set in stone. That opens the door for a player like Duane Underwood Jr., who has years of MLB experience.
Underwood has pitched in six seasons in the MLB splitting time between the Cubs and the Pirates with a career 4.63 ERA. In 2023 Underwood pitched in 20 games for the Pirates finishing the year with a 5.18 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched.
While the numbers wouldn't suggest that Underwood has a great chance to make the roster, he has a few things working in his favor. Matt Blake has helped relievers immensely with reclamation projects like Clay Holmes becoming an All-Star closer. Underwood's pitch mix is similar to Holmes', with Underwood sporting a five-pitch mix to Holmes' four with a curveball being the extra pitch. The Yankees also lost a great groundball pitcher in Wandy Peralta and Underwood could replace him with an above-average groundball rate.
The Yankees bullpen will be filled with question marks in 2024, with many of the team's important pieces returning from injury. Jonathan Loaisiga missed the majority of the season with an injury while Scott Effross missed the entire season. After losing Michael King and Wandy Peralta the bullpen will have openings and a player like Underwood could find his way onto the roster.