Minor League Notes: Hernandez, Coaching Staffs

Alex Rodriguez wants to win the third base job, and that's not a bad thing
Weekend Open Thread
Duncan is heading back to Staten Island. (AP)
Duncan is heading back to Staten Island. (AP)

Got some minor league notes to pass along, including an interesting (because of his story, not prospect potential) signing and the coaching staffs for the lower level affiliates.

Yankees Sign OF Robert Hernandez

According to Matt Eddy, the Yankees have signed outfielder Robert Hernandez to a minor league contract. He hit .264/.350/.358 with three doubles during a 20-game stint in winter ball in his native Venezuela this offseason. Hernandez is notable because he used to be a pitcher — he converted some time ago and is not trying to make it as a position player. Here’s more from Eddy:

… he worked as a pitcher in the Cubs system from 2006 through 2009, making it as far as low Class A Peoria as a starter, but he hasn’t played affiliated ball in any of the past five seasons. The obvious parallel for Hernandez is Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta, who flamed out as a Cardinals pitcher, took three years off, toiled as an outfielder for two and half years in independent ball, then got noticed by Arizona scouts in 2013. Now he’s a big leaguer coming off a successful rookie campaign in 2014.

Hernandez played with a few current Yankees’ farmhands in winter ball, including UTIL Jose Pirela, so maybe the team liked what they saw as they were tracking their own players. He hasn’t played at all since 2009 — not in the minors, not in independent ball, not overseas, nothing — so obviously he’s an extreme long shot to make it. Either way, this is next level deep scouting. Hopefully Hernandez does well. It’ll be fun.

More Coaching Staffs Announced

Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton announced their coaching staffs not too long ago, and the rest of the minor league affiliates followed suit these last few days. Here are the coaching staffs set to lead the lower levels this coming season.

A+ Tampa A- Charleston SS Staten Island Rk Pulaski
Manager Dave Bialas Luis Dorante Pat Osborne Tony Franklin
Hitting Coach Tom Slater Greg Colbrunn Ty Hawkins Edwar Gonzalez
Pitching Coach Tommy Phelps Tim Norton Butch Henry Justin Pope
Defensive Coach J.D. Closser Travis Chapman Eric Duncan Hector Rabago
Trainer Michael Becker Jimmy Downam ? Josh DiLoreto
Strength Coach Joe Siara Anthony Velazquez ? James Gonzalez

So, first things first, yes, Franklin will indeed be the manager for the team’s new rookie ball affiliate, the Pulaski Yankees. We recently heard he will serve as a “roving instructor” and travel to the various affiliates this summer to help out, but Matt Kardos confirmed Franklin will do the roving thing in the first half of the season before joining Pulaski when their season begins in late-June. Alrighty then.

Anyway, the most notable name among the coaching staffs is Eric Duncan, who was New York’s first round pick in the 2003 draft. He spent a few years in the system — the Yankees really rushed him up the ladder in an effort to boost his trade value (he was in Double-A four months after turning 20) — but eventually flamed out and retired after the 2012 season. Duncan spent the last three years getting his degree and is now getting into coaching. Neat.

Norton, Gonzalez, Pope, and Rabago are all recently retired Yankees’ farmhands. Norton had a ton of arm problems during his career. He flat out dominated with Double-A Trenton in 2011 (1.55 ERA and 2.42 FIP) was on the verge of a call-up to MLB when he hurt his shoulder again. That led to the team signing Cory Wade off the scrap heap — they had to replace the depth. Norton was the pitching coach in Staten Island last year.

Dorante is returning as manager of the River Dogs while Osborne is moving up from one of the rookie Gulf Coast League squads. Bialas just joined the organization and has been managing in the minors for over 30 years. He’s part of new farm system head Gary Denbo’s initiative to have veteran managers lead young players at the lower levels. Colbrunn is returning to Charleston after spending the 2013-14 season as the Red Sox’s hitting coach. He lives in Charleston and left the Sox because he wanted to be closer to his family. Colbrunn was with the River Dogs as either hitting coach or manager from 2007-12.

RHP Andy Beresford Retires

Beresford, the club’s 19th round pick out of UNLV in 2013, has decided to retire according to a message he posted on Instagram. The 24-year-old reliever had a 2.67 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 19 walks in 91 career innings, most with Low-A Charleston this past season. Beresford was suspended 50 games last August after testing positive for amphetamines.

Alex Rodriguez wants to win the third base job, and that's not a bad thing
Weekend Open Thread
  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    A lot of familiar names there. Good for Duncan. Hopefully, there’s a successful career in baseball just yet for some of these guys.

    Surprised to see Colbrunn coaching at that low a level? Perhaps I hadn’t noticed him coaching in the low minors before.

    • Aaron Juez

      Duncan was probably my first prospect crush. I hope he is successful at coaching. Maybe one day he will make the big club, just not how I originally envisioned.

  • ajra21

    Am I reading this wrong?

    “Hernandez is notable because he used to be a pitcher — he converted some time ago and is not trying to make it as a position player”

    If he’s not trying to be a position player/hitter, and he’s no longer a pitcher – how does he expect to play baseball?

    • MTU

      Think that’s a typo amigo.
      Should read as “is [now] trying to make it ….”

      • ajra21

        That makes sense.

    • Tar

      I’m sure you are unaware, but I believe the proper procedure is to email the author about typo’s.

      • ajra21

        Ah, fair enough. I assumed it was my fault for not understanding what was being said.

    • W.B. Mason Williams

      pinch-manager

  • Wicomico Pinstripes

    If somehow Duncan is able to climb the ladder and coach for the Yankees in some capacity I will be irrationally delighted.

    • yankeefeminista

      Same here.

  • Tar

    “He’s part of new farm system head Gary Denbo’s initiative to have veteran managers lead young players at the lower levels.”

    I like that. Possibly get players up sooner, and establish good habits before the bad one’s have a time to take hold.

    • MTU

      Too late for me Tar. :(

      • Tar

        Well they can’t get to them in HS or College…so the next best thing is the lower levels. Or did I misunderstand?

        • MTU

          You did. I meant it was too late for me to get rid of my bad habits.
          They are firmly entrentched.

          • Tar

            Ahhh I though I might have. Well you have company my friend…old dogs, new tricks that’s us.

  • Go Win

    Robert Hernandez was teammate to Ali Castillo and Jose Pirela en the Zulia Eagles. The Yankees must have seen something that the liked enough to give this kid a chance. It is no evident what it was though as the batting average was only decent (.264) and he had no homers or stolen bases.

  • yankeefeminista

    I like the Franklin move. One of the responses from players at lower levels is they didn’t get enough mentoring especially on the baseball side. Franklin is a good teacher. It will be strange though to attend games at Trenton and not see him in the dugout or limping out to the field to coach 3B. However, I am as excited if not more so for the Trenton season to start as the big club’s season. Trenton should be loaded this year.

    • Tar

      Hey YF hope all is well. I agree getting to them at a younger age has to be good. thing. I miss our mutual friends. How’s the ankle BTW?

      • yankeefeminista

        Hey Tar, yes, think they realize more than ever that the lower levels are critical to development. Trenton will miss Franklin, but excited to see what the new coaching staff brings. We’ll also miss Tommy Phelps at PC. He was a big factor in Dellin’s ability to regroup and stop overthrowing, take pitches one at a time. Dell pitched great in Trenton: I always remember those great starts outpitching the supposedly more elite pitching prospects. LOL. I am great. How are you? I thought you were in touch with some of those mutual friends. Finally getting to Camden Yards this year? (Or should this go in open thread? ;)

        • Tar

          I didn’t know that about Phelps being so important to Dellin. You are always such a great source for stuff like that. I think we are ok because we are staying on topic, but briefly and not to press our luck, I got locked out of my email act. so no contact. But I have an idea on what the problem is. Camden yards I haven’t even thought about yet…but I am going to check the schedule now. You’re the best and all the best!

          • yankeefeminista

            Yep, Dellin returned to Trenton, not only because he was struggling at SWB, but to reunite with Phelps. Think he also needed to get back his confidence and work on his mental game. Phelps didn’t think his mechanics were as much of a problem as going pitch by pitch and reining in the adrenalin. Interesting that they moved Phelps down to A+. I have no idea what Rosado’s thing is as a PC, but I would assume they are all in relative sync philosophically. Interesting to see if this year our pitching prospects are allowed to go deeper, and aren’t always removed when they are in get out of jam situations.

            Ah, so you probably have a lot of unread email. Or so I hear. ;)Thanks for the comps and right back at you. I will head over to Open thread to discuss Yanks sched RE: Camden Yards, etc. with you.

  • Go Win

    I wonder how the OF bottleneck in the upper minors will play out next year. The Yankees already had 9 OF prospects (of different upside) between AAA and AA even before signing Hernandez.

    – AAA: Flores, Austin, Garcia and Dugas.
    – AA: Judge, Cave, Williams, Heathcott and Gamel.

    And this is even without counting Mark Payton who OPSd .891 in a brief experience in A+ and at 23yrs and with a rather refined bat is a candidate for a fast promotion.

    • yankeefeminista

      Flores really should get some mlb reps or be traded. I think Judge and Cave bat-wise should move up by the halfway point. Have to wish health for Austin and of course Slade. I think Mason will have a bounce back year. I really liked what Thames did with him in the stretch drive; he was working the count and looking for a pitch vs. flailing/be overly aggressive at the plate, which has at times been his Trenton bugaboo. Hopefully, he’ll pick up right where he left off.

      • Go Win

        This will be a key year for this group:
        – Flores should have some reps in the majors this year and hopely take Garret Jones spot next season as a 5th OF, back-up 1B / DH if things go right.
        – If Austin does well this year he should get next year the 4th OFer spot that Young will hold this year. His RHanded but and power potential would complement perfectly the Yankees OF needs.
        – I am more optimistic than most on Williams for the very same reason you mentioned and the plus defense in CF. He will be competing with 2 players with a similar profile in Cave and Heathcott. Cave is very good and has probably the highest floor of the three (although at the same time the lowest ceiling). Heathcott’s health will ultimately be his kiss of death in my POV. Hope I am wrong because he has the most upside. Next season will be make it or break it for Heathcott and Williams.
        – No need to rush Judge in my POV. There is still some room to refine his game. I think he will see AAA before the end of the season but for just a few reps in my estimate.
        – Unless Garcia is really lucky he will be cut some time before the start of next season.
        – Dugas and Gamel are complementary pieces that are long shots anyway and given the Yankees OF depth will never see an opportunity in this Organization.

        • W.B. Mason Williams

          Really hoping for Austin. He’s the closest to the show with the offensive profile that would best benefit the team.

        • yankeefeminista

          More like plus plus D with Williams. And I don’t expect
          Slade to stay healthy either, and it’s too bad, because he really is
          impressive. I like Cave’s bat a lot but he doesn’t give you the D you want in
          CF, and I don’t see the corner pop for RF or the Gardy kind of ability you need
          in left field. But we’ll see. Other factor with the OF is unlike in the past,
          we have lower level options who will need to move up at some point, so I can’t
          see all these upper level prospects hanging around ad infinitum like they have
          in the past. I agree that they shouldn’t rush Judge. When I saw him with
          Charleston, he was such a disciplined hitter, didn’t try to do too much. You
          see the power potential but he just doesn’t give up average for pop. But if he
          makes solid contact, boom! Love the combo and the patience at the plate. It is
          going to be a lot of fun to see him adjust and evolve vs. AA pitchers this
          season. Judge has no where to move to unless we make a move, but I like him hitting against the talent in AA. And yeah, agree on Garcia, Dugas and Gamel…

        • Let’s Go Yanks

          this is way too optimistic for a farm system that really has not done that much, especially when it comes to the of

          • Go Win

            This is the first time in a long while that the Yankees have a handful of real position prospects at AAA (Refsnyder, Pirela, Flores, Austin, Sanchez). If they have a good year in Scranton and are healthy I believe the Yankees will start using them when the unavoidable injury happens in order to see what they can bring to the major league team. If they like what they see then it is probable that they will use some of the bench spots to ease them to the major by next year. Not all of them will stick but they have to start giving them some opportunities.

      • NYCORNERSTONE

        Agreed why crowd your minor league of prospects and even bother signing a guy like Robert Hernandez

        • tbone1570

          He sounds like low A roster filler to me.

          • FriarFlyer

            Exactly

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Org filler. Someone has to be out there soaking up the innings the real prospects aren’t.

        • RetroRob

          Because he’s not crowding anybody out. He’s roster filler with something they like as opposed to some other roster filler who they don’t like.

        • yclept

          He isn’t really crowding anyone. They need four, probably five, OF at every level of the minors. He was probably signed to be one of those roving players who goes to whatever level needs him at that moment. No real value in a prospect kind of way, but real value to the organization.

    • W.B. Mason Williams

      If push comes to shove, gotta imagine guys like Garcia, Gamel, Williams and Heathcott are the most at risk due to underperformance/injury history.

    • Let’s Go Yanks

      It will work its way out. Odds are only one of them is going to anything at the mlb level at some point – that is all that really matters. The Yankees only have one minor league position player starter in the past 10 ten years on the roster and that is Brett Gardner. They only have 4 minor league produced guys on the 25 man to be, assuming Murphy makes it. I have very low expectations on the minors until they prove otherwise at the mlb level.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Exactly. Yesterday’s logjam is today’s easy road.

  • hansdee

    Duncan must really want to be in baseball. Has got to be 30. Correct? Just got his degree it says. Believe he got it from Seton Hall, in political science. Surprise to see he’s coaching at Short Season. Not sure it’s the greatest of career moves at age 30 with a college degree.

    • W.B. Mason Williams

      Baseball (and sports in general) is American Civil War by other means.

    • yankeefeminista

      Did he? Good for him. He was drafted out of Seton Hall Prep. I see a trend here.

    • 86w183

      He’s got 40-50 years of working ahead of him. He loves the game and wants to try and pursue coaching/managing to see where it takes him. What’s the harm?

      He can earn more money in the off-season. Short-season teams only play 75 or so games.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Then again, it’s a BA in political science. Plenty of time to go to grad school if he gets tired of baseball.

  • pfoj

    I used to get so so so excited the three weeks a season where Duncan would just mash the ball that always made me think he was finally turning the corner.

    • ropeadope1

      let’s hope we start drafting more Jersey guys for me to cheer for

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Sadly, that was actually Jon Bon Jovi.

  • RetroRob

    This post is a sobering reminder of tracking players in the minors. Not just Duncan, but Pope and Norton were regularly followed on DoTF. And Beresford retiring after 18 months or so of not all bad pitching. K rate was low, so maybe he saw the writing on the wall, but seems like a quick exit. He was part of the Judge, Clarkin, Jags draft and teammates with Nick Rumbelow.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      We really don’t hear much about the guys for whom the door closes about as quickly as it had opened.

      • RetroRob

        Not sure how often that happens. Oh, guys can flame out quickly, but Beresford’s record looks like he’d have a job again this year. Wonder what drove him to retire that quickly. Working in the “real world” may lead him to reconsider in a year or two.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          It’d be interesting to see what percentage of draftees wind up out if baseball in, say, less than three years.

        • Pete22

          Making 5-10K a year, guys start looking elsewhere pretty quick unless things are going well. Once a player gets on the 40 man his salary jumps to 50K, but Beresford probably thought we was quite aways away from the 40 man, and maybe his elbow started acting up again and he said enoughs enough

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Except that baseball is full of players who decide otherwise.

          • https://www.linkedin.com/pub/telly-halkias/33/963/753 Telly Halkias

            You might want to add a 0 to all those salary numbers or check them …..even in the low minors the food money and per diem alone is higher than that.. ..then add on the base contracts..even for a 19th round pick.

    • hansdee

      I was just looking at Pope’s 1st name. I don’t recall Justin Pope, but do recall Ryan Pope. Only because Ryan Pope was drafted from my youngest daughter’s alma mater Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). He had to be the only player ever drafted from that school.

      • RetroRob

        I remember both Pope’s, although when Ryan Pope showed up I immediately confused him with Justin Pope. One’s Yankee career ended just as the other started, which is why when I’d see Ryan Pope mentioned I kept thinking he’s had one long-assed minor league career with the Yankees. They actually crossed over one year in 2007. I even had to go check to see which one was just hired as a coach, since both Pope’s I believe are now gone from MiLB as players. I doubt Justin was mentioned in DoTF even though I indicated he was unless it was his departure!

        • ropeadope1

          I’m continuously mixing up the Popes as well.

          • RetroRob

            Those two Pope’s also crossed over!

          • Deep Thoughts

            All you stat-head SABER-weenies will appreciate that Vatican City currently leads all nations with a record rate of 4.54 living Popes per Square Kilometer (P/km²).

        • hansdee

          Ryan pope was a 3rd rounder out of SCAD. Yes his career ended in 2013 at age 27. At Scranton by then.
          SCAD is a small Division III school in Savannah Ga. I was surprised this guy got enough of a look to get drafted in Round 3. Then I found out Luis Tiant was the head baseball coach there at one time. Possibly he got scouts interested in looking at players there.
          Funny thing, Cazzie Russell was head basketball coach at the school for 13 years. He’s still an administrator there.

    • Go Win

      Beresford is a really sad story. The kid went through a lot after 2 UCL tears.

      • RetroRob

        All since he was drafted, or going back to university?

        • Go Win

          Back in University. 5yr College graduate with the 2 UCLs in his resume.

  • Bigdan

    http://itsaboutthemoney.net/archives/2015/01/18/jake-cave-your-center-fielder-of-the-future/

    Here’s a great read on a beautiful Football Sunday. I believe I anointed Jake Cave the Yanks top CF prospect last June. I’ve been off the Mason Williams train for about a year and a half now. Hasn’t hit since 2012. I still think he has decent shot to make it to the big leagues as a back up though. Probably not with the Yanks since I suspect he’ll be DFA’d sometime later this year and another team may pick him up.

    What I like most about this was the report on Cave’s defense. Very strong arm and range second only to Williams. The kid got a slow start because of that terrible injury but he’s on the rise now. Also plan to keep an eye on Dustin Fowler too in Tampa. Only 20 years only and good power. And then there’s Payton.

    System-wide OF is in pretty good shape for the Yanks, especially CF. If only there were more starting pitchers.

    • RetroRob

      Cave’s an interesting prospect, although certainly well-known around here at RAB since he was drafted in 2011. Mike wrote him up last March as a break-out candidate for 2014.

    • Go Win

      Some more notes on Cave.
      – He has excellent contact skills. Cave was the FSL League leader in hits by the time he was promoted to Trenton.
      – He hits more than his fair share of ground balls (55% GB%). He oftenly fights for his hits by using his speed to get to 1B.
      – He does use the field very well. He actually had more balls hit to left field than to right field last season. This is important in Cave’s case: as a LH hitter with ground ball tendencies he could be specially affected by the shifts in the majors. The fact that he uses the all field will help counter this.
      – His speed is more the above average variety – nothing comparable to Ellsbury or Gardner. The comment from Lanza that he could profile as a Golde Glove defender at center is well over-stated in my POV. He does have a cannon of an arm though.

      • yankeefeminista

        Not seeing the GG defender aspect at all. I know some think his D is pretty good, but he doesn’t profile as a CF, especially not in YS3, didn’t impress in a sss in the field when I attended Trenton games. Again, the bat definitely is very impressive though.

  • tomingeorgia

    Should not the new Pulaski team have been named Skyways>

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      In total agreement.

      How did Cashman fail here?

  • Guest

    More exciting game? GB vs. Sea or NE vs. Indy?

  • The Billy MartinVanBuren Boys

    Love the minor league news and notes from this site! They’ve helped me become a better-informed, more well-rounded fan of the organization rather than of the MLB team alone. Plus I’ve always thought of MiLB as baseball in almost its purest form. Thanks Mike!

  • vicki

    WHERE THE HELL IS LUIS SOJO.

    • bernbabybern

      Training for a comeback.

  • Y’s Guy

    pack needs a td this time no?

    • Y’s Guy

      6 points on 2 turnovers won’t cut it.

  • tomingeorgia

    Can Eddy Lacey hit a curve?

    • Austinmac

      He could sure break up a double play.

  • tomingeorgia

    Go, Pack!

  • Coney1

    Chris Cotillo
    ?@ChrisCotillo

    9s9 seconds ago

    Sources: Increasing sense throughout league that Max Scherzer will end up with #Nationals. Unclear if deal is close.

    Gallardo was dealt to the Rangers. Scherzer looks like he is going to the Nationals. Phillies and Padres are engaged on Hamels. Yankees need starting pitching desperately and look like they will be left holding their wangs.

    • ropeadope1

      Yankees need starting pitching desperately and look like they will be left holding their wangs.

      No, Wang also went to the Nationals.

      • tbone1570

        So, you’re saying Cashman has no Wang?

        • ropeadope1

          We’re all Wangless.

        • Tar

          No but he certainly has A Rod.

  • Y’s Guy

    Madden questions john hart’s rebuilding moves in Atlanta but likes Beane’s moves in Oaktown. I have to agree on Hart, not so sure about Beane:
    http://www.nydailynews.om/sports/baseball/madden-beane-good-hart-braves-year-article-1.2082692