Catching up with former Yankees’ farmhands

Braves still on the Damon trail
The stats we use: UZR

Ever since I’ve been able to follow the Yankees’ farm system closely, I’ve been interested in what happens to players once they leave the system. Will they find success with another team, or are they just products of the supposed Yankee hype machine? Yesterday I happen to catch updates on three former Yankees’ farmhands, and Mike caught another.

C.J. Henry

Drafted with the 17th pick of the 2005 draft, Henry got off to a slow start with the Yankees. After hitting .249/.333/.381 in 181 at-bats in the GCL after being drafted, Henry moved on to Charleston in 2006, where he hit .240/.330/.353 in 275 at-bats before the Yankees traded him to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu. He had a horrible year in 2007, hitting .184/.238/.322 in 342 at-bats while repeating the Sally league. He asked for his release after the season, and the Phillies granted it, only to watch him return to the Yankees. In 2008 he appeared in 20 games for Tampa, but his hitting skills were still poor.

Henry then left the Yankees to play basketball at Memphis. Coach John Calipari brought him him to help recruit his brother, Xavier Henry, but once Calipari left for Kentucky the deal was off. Both Henry brothers signed with Kansas, where they’re currently playing hoops for the Jayhawks. He has played in nine of the team’s 15 games, averaging just 7.1 minutes. His greatest asset, it seems, is the long shot. He’s 11 for 18 on three point attempts. Kansas is ranked #3 as of this writing.

Brandon Weeden

Like Henry, Weeden plays college ball — football, that is. The Yankees drafted him in the second round of the 2002 draft, though he was their first pick. A $565,000 convinced him to pass up a football scholarship to Oklahoma State. He had a decent showing on the mound in 2002 and 2003, but eventually went to the Dodgers as part of the Kevin Brown trade. His lack of control hurt him as he reached A-ball in 2005, and after 77.2 innings as an Advanced-A player in the Royals system in 2006 he left baseball.

Afterward he want back to school, and he’ll be a 27-year-old junior next year at Oklahoma State. He is the favorite to win the starting quarterback job. Sounds like he should have taken that path initially. Hopefully he has more success with the transition than Drew Henson.

Jeff Kennard

For the 1,207th overall pick in the 2000 draft, Kennard performed pretty well in the minor leagues. Other than his injury-shortened 2004 season, he kept his ERA under 4.00, even as he moved up to AA. He was suspended for 15 games in the 2005 season for violating baseball’s minor league steroid policy. In 2007 the Yankees traded him to the Angels mid-season for Jose Molina.

Kennard pitched well at AAA last year for the Reds, striking out 48, walking 21, and allowing 17 earned runs in 54 IP. The Cubs signed him to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.

Jake Westbrook

We close the list with a name familiar to us all. A first-round pick of the Rockies in the 1996 draft, the Yankees were Westbrook’s third team. They acquired him, along with Ted Lilly, from the Expos for Hideki Irabu. Just over six months later, after Westbrook had thrown a whole 6.2 innings in the majors, the Yankees sent him, Zach Day, and Ricky Ledee to the Indians for David Justice in a move that would save their 2000 season.

Westbrook established himself as a solid middle of the rotation arm in Cleveland, posting average to above average ERA marks from 2003 through 2007. In 2008 he underwent Tommy John surgery that June. He recovered slowly, missing the entire 2009 season. He pitched well this winter in Puerto Rico, and appears ready to face the 2010 season as the Indians No. 1 starter. Slated to hit free agency after this season, Westbrook could end up being the third straight Indians No. 1 traded mid-season.

Braves still on the Damon trail
The stats we use: UZR
  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    hey acquired him, along with Ted Lilly, from the Expos for Hideki Irabu.

    The Expos GM who made that deal: Jim Beattie.

    I know, I was surprised too. I assumed it would have been Omar Minaya, but, no, he wasn’t there yet.

    • Rose

      His brother did a pretty good job with “Dick Tracy” when I was little…

      …wait a minute

    • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

      Also in this trade: Christian Parker, who made the 2001 team out of spring training, but started just one game in his ML career.

  • Rose

    Jake the Snake? Any guesses on where he goes? Assuming the middle of the season is right now…

    • Rose

      Not assuming…used the wrong word there…”pretending”

      • pat

        Red Sox. Dice-K has been on and off the DL , and Buchholz hasn’t transformed into the superace everybody predicted. Sox give up Lars and Reddick.

        • pat

          And a pitcher, maybe Mike Bowden.

        • pete

          Buccholz>>>westbrook. hate to say it, but the kid’s got great stuff and good control. he’ll break out soon enough. yanks fans saying he’s “not the superace everybody predicted” is like sox fans saying joba isn’t the superace everybody predicted – how can we know, if their careers are essentially just passing Go as we speak?

    • Thomas

      Westbrook to Red Sox for salary relief.

      Then Red Sox send Westbrook to the Rangers for Smoak and Feliz.

      Peter Gammons

    • A.D.

      Hmm I could see the Sox, or an AL West team…maybe the Mariners.

    • radnom

      How are you all guessing the Sox? They have similar if not better starting pitching than the Yankees (with less depth) and a vastly inferior offense. There is no way they are trading pieces of value for pitching midseason.

      • pat

        I guessed the Sox because, as I said in hypothetical land,DiceK wont be able to stay healthy and Buchholz is a nutcase who loses his shit whenever someone gets on base.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    Both Henry brothers signed with Kansas, where they’re currently playing hoops for the Jayhawks.

    The Jayhawks beat the Nebraska Huskers last night in Lincoln. Guess what other former Yankee farmhand was in the building?

    Fans began filing out with two minutes left, but not before New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain participated in a halfcourt shooting contest during a break. Chamberlain, who grew up in Lincoln and pitched for Nebraska, was long but straight with his two-hand push shot. The ball hit the back of the iron and bounced away.

    “That was fun,” Chamberlain said. “I thought I had that.”

    • Steve H

      It’s funny, two minutes to go in a basketball game is almost the equivalent of teh 8th!!11!!! in a baseball game, yet Joba failed. Hmmmm.

    • Pikachu

      He obviously cannot be a half-court shooter. His bull in a china shop mentality clearly belongs at the 3 point line, where he’ll shorten the deficit or extend the lead by 3 everytime. Yes, I’m a 3-Jobber.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        (golf clap)

      • Matt Imbrogno

        You just made my day.

  • A.D.

    Hopefully he has more success with the transition than Drew Henson.

    Luckily hes going from MLB to college ball, not to the NFL

    • larryf

      no alcohol at college games-a good thing in this case…

  • vin

    “They acquired him, along with Ted Lilly, from the Expos for Hideki Irabu. ”

    Talk about selling high on Irabu. I could’ve won 24 combined games for the ’98 and ’99 Yankees. He did make 55 starts in those 2 seasons… in his 2 years in Montreal, he made 14 starts.

    • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

      Both trades involving Jake Westbrrok were among the best Cashman has made.

      • vin

        Dude’s a ninja… and Westbrook is just one of his many pawns.

  • Rose

    I want to apologize upfront as I know this is off-topic…but I’m at work and due to government contracts and their fear of viruses, personal emails are blocked.

    That being said, I was just very curious about this…you may delete it once it is answered…or delete it immediately…whatever your preference. Again, sorry.

    The following is from MLBTR:
    2:08pm: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that LaRoche gets a “$4.5MM base with a $1MM buyout.”

    I’m just confused about the buyout…I understand it with an option…but not on a regular 1 year deal.

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