The Yankees have added seven players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft and have removed Shelley Duncan from the roster.
RHP Hector Noesi
RHP Ivan Nova
RHP Romulo Sanchez
INF Reegie Corona
INF Eduardo Nunez
INF Kevin Russo
OF Austin Jackson
The New York Yankees announced today they have added right-handed pitchers Hector Noesi, Ivan Nova and Romulo Sanchez, infielders Reegie Corona, Eduardo Nunez and Kevin Russo and outfielder Austin Jackson and to the 40-man roster.
Noesi, 22, appeared in 26 combined games (20 starts) with Single-A Charleston and Single-A Tampa in 2009, going 6-4 with a 2.92 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 117.0 IP. He also combined to hold opponents to a .220 batting average (96-for-436) with only 15 walks and was named a midseason All-Star with Charleston. Noesi was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on December 3, 2004, out of the Dominican Republic.
Nova, 22, made 24 combined starts with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2009, going 6-8 with a 3.68 ERA (139.1IP, 57ER). He also made two postseason starts for Scranton/WB, going 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA, allowing just three earned runs in 14.0 IP and striking out 10 batters. Originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on July 15, 2004, Nova was selected by San Diego in the 2008 Rule 5 Draft before being returned to the Yankees.
Sanchez, 25, was acquired by the Yankees on May 16, 2009, from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for RHP Eric Hacker. He spent the year at the Triple-A level, combining to go 6-5 with a 4.09 ERA (77.0 IP, 35 ER) and 79 strikeouts in 29 games (13 starts) with Indianapolis (PIT) and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY). Sanchez was originally signed by the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent on March 8, 2002, out of Lara, Venezuela.
Corona, 23, combined to bat .257 (120-for-467) with 69 runs, 28 doubles, six home runs, 40 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 129 games with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, earning midseason All-Star honors with Trenton. The Caracas, Venezuela, native was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2003. A switch-hitting infielder, he was selected by Seattle in the 2008 Rule 5 Draft, and was returned to the Yankees on April 3, 2009.
Nunez, 22, batted .322 (160-for-497) with nine home runs, 55 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 123 games with Double-A Trenton in 2009, making 120 starts at shortstop. In his first season at the Double-A level, he ranked second in the Eastern League in hits and third in batting average, and was the lone Thunder player to earn both midseason and postseason All-Star honors. Originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on February 25, 2004, Nunez was a non-roster spring training invitee in 2009.
Russo, 25, was named to the International League’s 2009 postseason All-Star team after batting .326 (115-for-353) with 51 runs, 18 doubles, five home runs, 31 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 90 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He also walked 42 times, ranking fourth in the IL with a team-high .397 on-base percentage. Russo was selected by the Yankees in the 20th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
Jackson, 22, was selected as the 2009 International League “Rookie of the Year” after batting .300 (151-for-504) with 67 runs, 23 doubles, nine triples, four home runs, 65 RBI and 24 stolen bases in 132 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In his first full season at the Triple-A level, he led the IL in triples and ranked second in hits. Originally selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Jackson entered 2009 rated as the organization’s top prospect as well as its “Best Athlete” and “Best Defensive Outfielder” by Baseball America. He attended 2009 spring training as a non-roster invitee, batting .333 (12-for-36) with three home runs in 23 games.
In addition, infielder/outfielder Shelley Duncan was outrighted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees’ roster now stands at 39.
Just because a player is added to the 40-man roster doesn’t mean that they are the top prospects the team has. Typically players are added so other teams cannot take them in the Rule 5 draft. With the departure of Duncan the team actually has 39 players on the 40-man roster so they have room to work with if they need or they could add another prospect.
Mike Ashmore of the Hunterdon County Democrat wrote a good article on some of the guys who were not protected and are at risk of being taken in the draft. Remember though, just because a player is taken doesn’t mean he’s gone for good. A team would have to keep any player they take on their major league roster the entire season.
Of all the people not protected Humberto Sanchez seems interesting to me. Many expected him to be in the majors by this point, but injuries have certainly derailed what once looked like a promising team. I’d almost expect a team desperate for bullpen help could select him just to see if he’s healthy.