Via Matt Eddy, the Yankees have signed right-hander Ricky Orta to a minor league contract. The 27-year-old was the Mariners’ fourth round pick in 2006 but missed all of 2010 and most of 2011 due to Tommy John surgery. He signed a minor league deal with the Rays last season and only managed four appearances (eight innings) before the end of the season.
Orta isn’t a starter long-term but he’s an interesting relief prospect. He runs his fastball up to the mid-90s and has a decent breaking ball, enough for middle relief work. The Yankees could send him to either High-A Tampa or Double-A Trenton and get about 40 innings to evaluate him this summer. If they like what they see, they could retain him going forward and have a potentially useful arm. Orta’s never pitched above Double-A, so he has all three minor league options left. It’s an interesting move, certainly more interesting than the typical minor league signings.