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01/15/2008 10:27 AM ET
Yankees invite 26 players to Spring Training
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The New York Yankees announced today that they have invited 26 non-roster players to Spring Training in Tampa, Florida. The list includes nine pitchers, five catchers, five infielders and seven outfielders. The total number of players now scheduled to report is 66.

C Kyle Anson, 24, batted .272 (91-for-334) with four home runs and 44 RBI in 98 games with Single-A Charleston in 2007, and ranked second in the South Atlantic League with a 40.4 percent caught-stealing rate (42-for-104) in his first season as a catcher. Anson was originally selected by the Yankees in the 10th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft as a third baseman.

C Jason Brown, 33, batted .208 (10-for-48) with one home run and three RBI with Double-A Trenton in 2007 after being limited to 15 games due to a left shoulder separation. Brown was originally signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent on May 26, 1997, and was signed by the Yankees as a free agent on November 19, 2004.

INF Bernie Castro, 28, played with Triple-A Columbus in the Washington organization, ranking fourth among all Nationals minor leaguers with 34 stolen bases and hitting .280 (120-for-428) with one home run and 32 RBI in 118 games in 2007. Castro has spent parts of two seasons in the Majors (Baltimore in 2005 and Washington in 2006), batting .253 (118-for-466) with 17 RBI in 66 games. He returns to the Yankees organization that originally signed him as a non-drafted free agent on September 25, 1997.

OF Justin Christian, 27, split time between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2007, batting .271 (115-for-424) with four home runs and 48 RBI in 105 games. Christian attended Auburn University and was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on July 1, 2004.

OF Colin Curtis, 22, played in 65 games with Single-A Tampa where he batted .298 (73-for-245) with five home runs and 26 RBI. He was promoted to Double-A Trenton on June 22 and hit .242 (58-for-240) with three home runs and 15 RBI in 61 games in his Double-A debut. Curtis was originally selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State University.

INF Eric Duncan, 23, hit .241 (99-for-411) with 26 doubles, 11 home runs and 61 RBI in 113 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2007, setting a career high in doubles and tying a career best in RBI. Duncan was selected by the Yankees in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.

OF Brett Gardner, 24, split time between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2007, batting .281 (108-for-384) with one home run, 26 RBI and 39 stolen bases in 99 games. Over the last two seasons, he has successfully stolen a base in 83.6 percent of his tries (97-for-116). After the season, Gardner played in 26 games for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .343 (37-for-108) with 10 RBI and ranked among league leaders in stolen bases (16), runs scored (27), hits (37), walks (17), on-base percentage (.433) and batting average while being named to the AFL Top Prospects Team. Following the 2007 season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the organization as well as the fastest baserunner and the player with the best strike-zone discipline among all Yankees minor leaguers. Gardner was originally selected by the Yankees in the third round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

RHP Daniel Giese, 30, made his Major League debut with the Giants as a September call-up, going 0-2 with a 4.82 ERA in eight relief appearances. He began the season with Triple-A Fresno (San Francisco) where he went 3-1 with two saves and a 2.82 ERA in 47 relief appearances. Originally selected by Boston in the 34th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, Giese owns a 43-26 record with a 2.97 ERA in 374 career minor league appearances.

INF Nick Green, 29, spent time with Seattle, Triple-A Tacoma and Triple-A Indianapolis in 2007. With Indianapolis, he hit .245 (25-for-102) with five home runs and 20 RBI in 26 games before being traded to Seattle. In 66 games with Tacoma, hit .337 (96-for-285) with 16 home runs and 46 RBI and was promoted on September 4 to Seattle, where he did not record a hit in six games (seven at-bats). Green is a career .240 (169-for-703) hitter with 10 home runs and 59 RBI in 275 games over four Major League seasons with Atlanta, Tampa Bay, New York (AL) and Seattle. In 2006 with the Yankees, he batted .240 (21-for-114) with two home runs and four RBI in 46 games. Green was originally selected by Atlanta in the 32nd round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft.

RHP Alan Horne, 25, was 12-4 with a 3.11 ERA in 27 starts with Double-A Trenton in 2007, earning Eastern League "Pitcher of the Year" honors. He led the league in ERA, strikeouts (165) and winning percentage (.750), while ranking fourth in innings pitched (153.1). Following the 2007 season, he was named to the Eastern League midseason All-Star team and was selected as the EL's top right-handed starter on the postseason All-Star team. Horne was selected by the Yankees in the 11th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

OF Austin Jackson, 20, spent time at four different levels in 2007 (Single-A Charleston, Single-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre), combining to hit .304 (151-for-496) with 88 runs scored, 21 doubles, 13 home runs, 59 RBI and 33 stolen bases in 128 games. He was ranked by Baseball America as the organization's No. 2 prospect and was selected as the "Best Athlete" and "Best Defensive Outfielder" in the Yankees' minor league system. Jackson was originally selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

RHP Steven Jackson, 25, split the 2007 season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, combining to go 4-9 with one save and a 5.40 ERA in 28 appearances (11 starts). Jackson was originally selected by the Diamondbacks in the 10th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and was acquired by the Yankees from Arizona along with right-handed pitchers Ross Ohlendorf and Luis Vizcaino and infielder Alberto Gonzalez in exchange for Randy Johnson on January 9, 2007.

OF Jason Lane, 31, split time between Houston and Triple-A Round Rock in 2007 before being traded to San Diego on September 24. Over two stints with the Astros, batted .178 (30-for-169) with eight home runs and 27 RBI in 68 games and hit .319 (59-for-185) with nine home runs and 41 RBI in 50 games with Round Rock. In three games with the Padres, he did not record a hit in two at-bats. Originally selected by the Astros in the sixth round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, Lane is a career .241 (291-for-1,208) hitter with 61 home runs and 189 RBI in 497 games with Houston and San Diego. He batted .267 (138-for-517) in 145 games with Houston in 2005, establishing career highs in home runs (26) and runs batted in (78).

RHP Daniel McCutchen, 25, combined to go 14-4 with a 2.47 ERA, 33 walks and 103 strikeouts in 24 games (23 starts) with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2007. His wins were tied for second most in the organization while his ERA ranked third among Yankees farmhands. The Florida State League All-Star was rated by Baseball America as having the FSL's best control. The right-hander was selected by the Yankees in the 13th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

RHP Mark Melancon, 22, missed the 2007 season while recovering from "Tommy John" surgery. Originally selected by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, he was 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in seven relief appearances with short-season Single-A Staten Island in 2006, his first professional season.

C Jesus Montero, 18, made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast Yankees in 2007, batting .280 (30-for-107) with six doubles, three home runs and 19 RBI in 33 games. He committed just one error in 182 total chances behind the plate and was rated as the Yankees' top catching prospect (sixth overall) and the organization's best power hitter by Baseball America. The Venezuelan native signed with the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in October 2006 and will be the youngest player in the Yankees spring training camp.

LHP Heath Phillips, 25, split time with the White Sox and Triple-A Charlotte and made his Major League debut as a September call-up, going 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in six relief appearances with Chicago. With Charlotte, he tied for the International League lead in wins, going 13-7 with a 4.30 ERA in 28 starts. He led all Chicago minor leaguers and the International League in innings pitched and went 8-0 with a 2.44 ERA over his final 11 starts. His eight-game winning streak tied for the second-longest in the IL in 2007. Phillips was originally signed by the White Sox in the 10th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft.

C P.J. Pilittere, 26, will make his second straight appearance in spring camp after receiving a non-roster invitation in 2006. He batted .261 (91-for-348) with 16 doubles, two home runs and 34 RBI in 100 games with Double-A Trenton in 2007 and led all Eastern League catchers with a .995 fielding percentage, committing only four errors in 844 total chances. He was originally selected by the Yankees in the 13th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft.

OF Greg Porter, 27, combined to hit .316 (149-for-472) with 11 home runs and 78 RBI in 129 games with Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Salt Lake. He was named the June "Player of the Month" among all Angels minor league players, hitting .368 (42-for-114) with 25 runs scored, 12 doubles and 28RBI in 31 games. Porter was originally selected by the Angels in the 45th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft and was signed by the Yankees on December 1, 2007.

INF Cody Ransom, 31, appeared in 19 games with Houston in 2007, batting .229 (8-for-35) with two doubles, one home run and three RBI. He opened the year with Triple-A Round Rock and won team MVP honors, batting .260 with 35 doubles, a team-high 28 home runs and a team-high 90 RBI. A former ninth round pick of the San Francisco Giants in the 1998 First-Year Player Draft, Ransom owns a .236 career Major League batting average (33-for-140) with nine doubles, three home runs and 16 RBI in 133 games with the Giants and Astros.

RHP Darrell Rasner, 27, made his first Opening Day roster in 2007 and went 1-3 with a 4.01 ERA over two stints with the Yankees. He had his season cut short on May 19 when he was hit in the right hand by a come-back ground ball. He underwent surgery the next day to repair a fractured right index finger. After missing three months, he made two rehab starts with short-season Single-A Staten Island (0-0, 5.14 ERA) to close out the year. A second round pick of the Montreal Expos in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, he was claimed off waivers by the Yankees from the Washington Nationals on February 10, 2006.

C Austin Romine, 19, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of El Toro High School in California. He appeared in one game with the Gulf Coast League Yankees, going 1-for-2 with one double, one RBI and one walk. Baseball America rated the catcher's arm strength the third-best among the nation's high school players in the draft.

­ RHP Scott Strickland, 31, was 4-1 with a 4.58 ERA in 15 relief appearances with Triple-A Portland (San Diego) in 2007. He owns a 21-17 record in 193 career Major League games (27 starts) with a 3.26 ERA, pitching with the Expos and Astros. Originally selected by the Montreal Expos in the 10th round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, Strickland was signed by the Yankees as a free agent on December 20, 2007.

OF Jose Tabata, 19, batted a team-high .307 (126-for-411) with Single-A Tampa in 2007, along with 16 doubles, five home runs, 54 RBI and 15 stolen bases. He earned a spot on the Florida State League's postseason All-Star team after ranking fifth in average and never going more than two games without recording a hit. He was ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees' third-best prospect and tabbed as being the best hitter for average in the organization. This will be the second straight spring training invitation for Tabata who signed with the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on August 12, 2004.

LHP Billy Traber, 27, appeared in 28 games (two starts) with the Washington Nationals in 2007, going 2-2 with a 4.76 ERA. The left-hander opened the year with Triple-A Columbus where he was 2-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 14 games (four starts), striking out 29 batters with only seven walks. Signed by the Yankees as a minor league free agent on January 4, 2008, Traber has appeared in 76 Major League games (28 starts) with the Cleveland Indians and Nationals, posting a 12-14 record and a 5.41 ERA.

INF Marcos Vechionacci, 21, spent most of the 2007 season with Single-A Tampa, batting .266 (104-for-391) with 44 runs scored, 23 doubles and 39 RBI in 108 games at third base. He also appeared with Double-A Trenton in the final two games of the regular season and batted .288 in the postseason, helping the Thunder win the Eastern League title. Following the season, he joined Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League where he hit .286 (30-for-105) in 41 games. He was rated by Baseball America as having the best infield arm in the organization for the second straight season. Vechionacci was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on August 26, 2002.

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