Minor League Notes: Assignments, Spring Reports, Judge, International Spending

Yankees finalize Opening Day roster with latest round of roster moves
Sunday Night Open Thread
Pace of play clocks are up at PNC Field in Scranton. (RailRiders)
The new pace of play clocks are up at PNC Field in Scranton. (RailRiders)

The Yankees open the 2015 regular season tomorrow, and a few days later the minor league season will get underway as well. Triple-A Scranton, Double-A Trenton, High-A Tampa, and Low-A Charleston all begin their seasons this coming Thursday. Here are some minor league notes to hold you over until then.

Opening Day assignments for top prospects

The full minor league rosters have not yet been released and won’t be a few days, though Josh Norris was able to get his hands on Opening Day assignments for most of the Yankees’ top prospects. The list:

Norris says the assignments could change slightly before the start of the season, but for the most part they’re set. Sanchez is going back to the Thunder to continue working on his defense with coaches and ex-catchers Michel Hernandez and P.J. Pilittere, which I don’t love, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I assume Avelino, Katoh, and Mateo will rotate between second, short, and DH like Avelino, Katoh, and Wade did last year before Avelino got hurt. I’m little surprised Mateo is going to Charleston — he’s played only games in 15 rookie ball, that’s it — but the Yankees have never been shy about aggressively promoting their best teenage players. Otherwise these assignments are fairly straight forward. No major surprises.

Notes from the backfields in Tampa

Both Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Jeff Moore (no subs. req’d) recently posted a collection of notes after watching minor league games on the backfields all around Florida. Law got a look at Mateo, saying he likes “how well he keeps his hands inside the ball” and added he “liked the potential of the hit tool but was hoping to see more polish on both sides of the ball.” The polish will come. It’s only Spring Training and Mateo is still just a 19-year-old kid.

Meanwhile, Moore saw Judge, Bird, and RHP Bryan Mitchell. “What’s impressive is (Judge) seems to get a little better each time I see him. The at-bats have gotten tougher and more advanced, with a better plan each time out,” wrote Moore. He also said he sees Bird as “a potential regular first baseman” and his “power is very real, more real than he gets credit for.” As for Mitchell, Moore says his fastball/curveball combination “screams reliever, and possibly a darn good one.”

Law still ranks Judge 23rd in latest Top 50 Prospects list

Last week, Law released an updated ranking of the top 50 prospects in baseball (subs. req’d). There are only very minor changes from his top 100 list in February, with the most notable being the addition of Red Sox IF Yoan Moncada, who slots in at No. 16. Even with Moncada joining the list, Judge stays in the same No. 23 spot because he jumped over Rockies RHP Jon Gray, who hasn’t looked like himself this spring. Judge remains the third outfielder on the list behind Twins OF Byron Buxton and Cubs OF Jorge Soler. Law is the high man on Judge based on all this spring’s other top 100 lists. That’s cool with me.

Yankees spent $17.83M on international players in 2014

According to Ben Badler, the Yankees spent a ridiculous $17.83M on international prospects last year, easily the most in baseball. They spent more than the number two (Rays, $6.11M), three (Red Sox, $5.63M), and four (Astros, $5.42M) teams combined and more than the bottom ten teams combined ($16.9575M). Just to be clear, this is for the 2014 calendar year, not the 2014-15 signing period.

The Yankees handed out three of the five largest, six of the 14 largest, and 12 of the 40 largest signing bonuses to international prospects during the 2014 calendar year, according to Badler. We still don’t have a final number for the total bonuses the Yankees handed out during the 2014-15 signing period, but the total investment is clearly going to be north of $30M between bonuses and penalties. Most of that $17.83M last year was spent on July 2nd, the first day of the 2014-15 signing period. Now the Yankees just have to turn these kids into big leaguers and tradeable prospects.

Yankees release nine more minor leaguers

The Yankees have released seven more minor leaguers according to Matt Eddy: OF Yeicok Calderon, RHP Tim Giel, OF Robert Hernandez, RHP Stefan Lopez, RHP Matt Noteware, 1B Dalton Smith, and IF Graham Ramos. Dan Pfeiffer says OF Adonis Garcia was released as well, and OF Adam Silva announced on Facebook he was also released.

First things first: no more Yeicokshots!, sadly. Hernandez was signed in January, so his stint with the organization didn’t last long. Lopez led NCAA in saves in 2012 and had some potential, but he fell in love with his fastball so much in college that he lost all feel for his slider and became a one-pitch guy. The Yankees signed Giel, Noteware, and Ramos as undrafted free agents within the last two years to help fill out minor league rosters. That’s about it.

Old Timers’ Game coming to Triple-A Scranton

And finally, the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre franchise is holding an Old Timers’ Game on June 21st, reports Donnie Collins. The event will raise money for Parkinson’s disease research. “I expect the ballpark to be sold out — and standing room only. That’s the goal,” said RailRiders’ co-managing partner to Grant Cagle to Collins. A bunch of ex-Yankees will be in attendance — not sure who, exactly — to play in the Old Timers’ Game and/or mingle with fans during a meet-and-greet and autograph session. That should be fun.

Yankees finalize Opening Day roster with latest round of roster moves
Sunday Night Open Thread
  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    All our Yeicocks are at half mast.

    Not in love with the Sanchez decision. I’m a fan of the rest.

    • ropeadope1

      All our Yeicocks are at half mast.

      On a good day.

    • Aaron Juez

      Let’s all pour one out for Yeicok. In regards to Sanchez, I really don’t understand the decision at all. He can’t work on his defensive skills at AAA?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I’m guessing it’s having Piliterre at AA and thinking they can work together. Still not a fan. Bring Piliterre with him to AAA, then. The best catching prospect behind Sanchez is out for the season.

  • Dj17baseball

    I have always wondered how reporters, bloggers etc are able to get your info and know it’s accurate. Thanks for providing it for us fans.

  • Austinmac

    If Romine leaves, who are the two catchers at AAA?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I guess that leaves me and you.

      • Austinmac

        My skills have slightly eroded. Think Brian Roberts in a number of years. No, better not. Too scary.

    • ropeadope1

      Per MLB, Eddy Rodriguez & Juan Graterol.

      • Austinmac

        I know Rodriguez, but Graterol is a new one on me. I’m guessing he is a 30 year old.

        • ropeadope1

          Age 26. Born 2/14/89 in Venezuela.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Was in ST with the team. This is the first I even knew that he was a catcher, though.

        • Moncada’s Codpiece

          I bet he asks all the ladies if they’d like to inject some Graterol.

    • Literally Figurative

      Iceberg and redleaf

  • LazerTown

    Avelino, Katoh, and Mateo at Charleston?
    Why not leave someone at Pulaski if you short on AB.

    • Havok9120

      I imagine part of it is wanting to get them all into full season ball.

    • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

      The Pulaski season starts later.

  • Hankflorida

    I mentioned the shuttle bus from Scranton or even Trenton of the relief pitchers coming in but not from having to replace injured players. There is no question in my mind that this pen will be overworked and going down to the minors will be a vacation of rest and relaxation.

    • LazerTown

      Sounds like they should just extend the subway line up to Scranton.

  • ropeadope1

    Sanchez is going back to the Thunder to continue working on his defense with coaches and ex-catchers Michel Hernandez and P.J. Pilittere, which I don’t love, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

    Throw your weight around Mike. I’m sure you have more pull them you realize.

  • blake

    Who is gonna catch at AAA

    • Austinmac

      See ropeadope’s answer below.

  • Centaur Hips

    Will Igawa be the #1 SP for the old timers game?

    • BrettGardnerHasALargeForehead

      He gets to run the bases after the game.

  • Bo Knows

    bright side for judge is that the MLB will be fixing those strikezones (sure they may say it’s indicative on how the umps call the zone this year, but let’s face it that zone has been getting bigger and bigger MLB will have to fix the zone) so he might not be as vulnerable to the low strike

  • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

    Sanchez at AA is the right move for the current team. At some point McCann or SKJRM will get injured. The AAA spot should be reserved for the guy who is going to come up as the temporary replacement. Sanchez should be focused on developing until he is ready; his defense is not yet good enough to be an adequate ML replacement..

    • LazerTown

      Which may make you wonder if they think Romine can pass through waivers, or be resigned to a minor league deal.

      • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

        It’s certainly possible, and desirable.

        • BrettGardnerHasALargeForehead

          I would love if they could keep him. Just because no one else wants him now doesn’t mean he can’t come back to prospect status. He’s been hampered by injuries and really just needs a full season of AAA at-bats.

          Hell, Slade Heathcott could not get a 40 man roster spot from any team in baseball 4 months ago. If he were released now, I would argue he could be an opening day outfielder somewhere.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            He’s 26 years old and has been in the system long enough that he’s out of options. I’m sorry, but “prospect” and “Austin Romine” no longer belong in the same sentence, at least utilizing the present tense.

            We can talk about whether he can be a useful piece at some point in his career, which I guess is possible, but the bloom is long, long off the rose.

            • BrettGardnerHasALargeForehead

              I don’t expect by any means him to be a starter, but the catcher position as a whole just has so few players, that even a useful back up is hard to find.

              Hell, Gerald Laird, Tuffy Gosewitz, and Drew Butera are going to be on Opening Day rosters.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                This I absolutely agree with.

                Romine is probably a better option than the guys who are going to open up the season in AAA. They’re just at different points in their careers than he is. Romine, if he chooses to remain in baseball, could easily bounce around as any of the guys you just mentioned have. Hell, I still hope he does better than that.

            • TheEvilUmpire

              Interesting note: in the draft year that they took Slade in the 1st round, Romine was the 2nd round pick. Oh how far the mighty have fallen!

      • Austinmac

        He didn’t exactly create a demand this spring. He may well pass through.

        • http://riveraveblues.com/ Mick

          Why wouldn’t a team pick him up?
          The Phillies seemed to want him and might make a trade so that they don’t lose him to another team.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Phillies may meet that need with someone else in the next ten days. Same for the Padres. Same for anyone else.

            I agree it’s unlikely he clears, though.

    • BrettGardnerHasALargeForehead

      Agreed. Sanchez would not called up. AAA needs to be Eddy Rodriguez and another veteran splitting time.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        This is the type of 40-man stuff that often drives me batshit although, in this case, I get why they are where they are with Sanchez. It’d have been damn nice if feeling he was progressing AND having to add him when they did were a bit closer to each other timewise.

        • BrettGardnerHasALargeForehead

          Yes, but at the end of the day, the Yankees have one goal here: making sure that Gary Sanchez is MLB-ready by April 2017, when he will be only 24, and out of options.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Yup.

  • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

    I’m disappointed they just let Matt Noteware go. I think, instead, they should have fixed his bugs and released Noteware 2.0.

  • BrettGardnerHasALargeForehead

    Considering what the Yankees think of PJ Pilitere, I think there are worse ideas than having him be Sanchez’s mentor for a bit. There is literally zero reason to rush Sanchez right now with McCann under contract for 3 more years.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Other than the obvious “because we assigned him to AA and really don’t feel like shuffling the coaches around right before the start of the season” reason, I wonder what else gets in the way of just bringing Piliterre to Scranton with Gary.

      • BrettGardnerHasALargeForehead

        That sounds like the plot to Bull Durham 2.

  • Let’s Go Yanks

    You have been warned – get Shaw with the second pick:

    Michael Lananna @mlananna · 2h2 hours ago

    Chris Shaw just homered for the third time today — off of the scoreboard in right center. His power is unreal. #mlbdraft

    Gallo type power

  • BrettGardnerHasALargeForehead

    Does anyone know exactly what Hensley’s situation is right now? Obviously, unfortunately, he was the victim of the attack this offseason, but what does he need to “rehab”? Or is this just some sort of procedural thing?

  • TheEvilUmpire

    Ah well, ye can’t rock out with Yeicock out anymore! For shame!

  • RetroRob

    Someone, somewhere will need Yeicok.

  • JLC 776

    I’m slightly confused by the numbers for International player spending – I thought Moncada counted towards those? So shouldn’t the Red Sox be significantly higher?