The Yankees made a slew of 40-man roster additions at the Rule 5 protection deadline on Wednesday night. Outfielder Estevan Florial along with pitchers Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Luis Medina, Nick Nelson, Brooks Kriske, and Miguel Yajure, were saved from exposure. In addition to the four open spots already available, New York released Jacoby Ellsbury and designated Greg Bird and Nestor Cortes for assignment to make room.
While Deivi Garcia, Estevan Florial, and Luis Gil were widely considered locks to be protected on Wednesday, there were massive amounts of intrigue surrounding the rest of the Yankees Rule 5 eligible players. Here is a quick look at the other players that they opted to add and a rundown of a few key prospects that will be available to other clubs when selections are made on December 12 at the winter meetings.
Nick Nelson: The 23-year old Nelson was a fourth-round draft selection in 2016 from Gulf Coast Community College and is probably the most big league ready arm of the six hurlers added on Wednesday. Nelson spent almost all of 2019 between Trenton and Scranton and went 8-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 17 starts while fanning 114 batters in 89.2 innings of work – opposition hit just .220 against the right-hander.
Miguel Yajure: Yajure projects as an eventual mid-rotation big league starter at just 21 years old, the right-hander has left many in the organization extremely excited about his potential. Yajure signed with the Yankees as an international free agent in 2015 and made his state-side debut in the GCL shortly thereafter in 2016. After pitching to a 2.87 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .211 average, Yajure was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2017 campaign.
Following a year of rehabilitation, Yajure proved that he was healthy by making 14 starts for Low-A Charleston. Yajure began the 2019 season at just 20-years old and pitched a career-high 138.2 innings between Tampa and Trenton. In his biggest test yet, Yajure made 22 appearances, 18 starts and pitched to an 8-6 mark with a 2.26 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 127.3 innings of work before receiving a late-season promotion to Double-A.
Brooks Kriske: The Yankees drafted Kriske in the sixth round of the 2016 draft out of USC and, much like Yajure, missed all of the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. The righty came back in 2018 and pitched in 16 games between Staten Island and Charleston to lay the groundwork for a breakout 2019 campaign. After opening the season in Tampa, Kriske received a quick promotion to Trenton, where he added a splitter to his arsenal. Kriske was used frequently in high leverage situations out of the bullpen, and the 25-year-old saved 11 games and fanned 80 in a career-high 60.2 innings of work while Eastern League opposition hit just .171 against him.
Luis Medina: Medina has been talked about for what feels like a long time now, but will be just 20 years old when Opening Day rolls around in April. The Dominican product is a case of eye-opening stuff but without the polish or the numbers to back it up. The right-hander set a career-high in innings pitched (103.2), strikeouts (127), and starts (22) in 2019 between Charleston and Tampa. The numbers don’t look pretty if you venture over to the back of his baseball card, but it truly was a tale of two halves for the highly-touted hurler. As noted in his Underrated Season Performance post earlier this month, Medina began the season at 1-7 with an 8.38 ERA. He had 64 batters over 58 innings pitched with a FIP of 6.33. His K/9 was 9.93, he had an 8.53 BB/9, and he had a 2.05 WHIP with a .359 BABIP. From July 11 and on, Medina started eight games and pitched to a 1.77 ERA and a 2.02 FIP with 63 strikeouts over 45.2 innings. His K/9 jumped to 12.42, and he lowered his BB/9 to 2.96.
Unprotected: The Yankees opted to expose Eastern League MVP Chris Gittens after the slugging first baseman blasted a career-high 23 homers and posted a near .400 OBP for Trenton in 2019. Former first-round draft pick Kyle Holder will also be available to clubs next month after a solid showing for Trenton in 2019. Pitchers Daniel Alvarez, Rony Garcia, Will Carter, and Trevor Lane were among the notables arms that will be available.