Triple-A Scranton (8-5 loss to Durham)
- 2B Corban Joseph: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K
- RF Brennan Boesch: 3-5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI — had two hits in his first five games since being sent down
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 0-4, 1 K
- 3B Ronnie Mustelier: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB
- CF Melky Mesa: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
- RHP Brett Marshall: 4 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 9/0 GB/FB — 49 of 83 pitches were strikes (59%) … hooray ground balls?
Via Erik Boland: Mark Teixeira could join Double-A Trenton for an official rehab assignment as soon as next Tuesday. He’s been hitting in the cage and in simulated games down in Tampa, and I assume he’ll squeeze in a few Extended Spring Training at-bats before joining the Thunder.
Teixeira, 33, has been out with an injury to the tendon sheath in his right wrist since early March, so his rehab assignment is probably going to last longer than two or three days. He might be there for a week considering he missed a big chunk of Spring Training and needs to iron out two swings. Lyle Overbay has started to cool off recently and if nothing else, getting Teixeira in the lineup will be a huge help against left-handed pitchers. · (7) ·
The Yankees are enjoying a much-needed off-day today, their first true off-day in over two weeks. They open a three-game series with the Rays on Friday, a team that really isn’t a good matchup for them on paper. Then again, it’s a three-game series and anything can happen. That’s the best part of baseball.
Here is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is airing a game tonight, though who you see depends on where you live. There’s also some NHL playoff action, including the NY Rangers trying to stave off elimination. Talk about any of those games and more here. Have at it.
Via Joel Sherman & Andy McCullough: Right-hander Michael Pineda averaged 93 mph during today’s five-inning Extended Spring Training start according to team officials. I would take that with a grain of salt considering the source. Sherman says the plan is for Pineda to make one more ExST outing next week before going out on an official 30-day rehab assignment. The team will eventually decide if he is big league ready or in need of more Triple-A time.
Meanwhile, the Mariners demoted Jesus Montero to Triple-A today according to Ryan Divish. He hasn’t hit a lick since the trade, producing a miserable .252/.293/.377 (86 wRC+) line with 18 homers in 663 plate appearances to go along with awful defense behind the plate. Seattle is apparently going to work him out at first base in the minors, which is probably long overdue. This trade remains firmly in lose-lose territory. What a spectacular mess. · (61) ·
I think teams get a pretty good idea of what they have after three years, but the old saying says you need five years to evaluate a draft class. So, with the 2013 draft just two weeks away, it’s time to take a look back at the Yankees’ draft haul from June 2008. Unlike the 2007 draft, the team’s 2008 draft has been sneaky productive despite a high-profile first round blunder.
UCLA over NYY
Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer has been on the job since before the 2006 draft, and he has not drafted a single player better than RHP Gerrit Cole. Oppenheimer and the Yankees selected Cole with their first round pick back in 2008, making him the 28th overall selection. Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America ranked him as the tenth and 17th best prospect in the draft, respectively, but he slipped to New York due to signability concerns. Concerns that proved to be completely founded.
Despite declarations that he was a lifelong Yankees fan — and one very famous photo — Cole declined to sign with the team prior to the August 15th deadline and instead following through on his commitment to UCLA.
“We knew it was going to be a tough sign,” said Brian Cashman to Tyler Kepner in 2011, “but we also were told in pre-draft meetings with the family that he was willing to play pro ball and forgo college. We rolled the dice and took our chances. Everybody has a right to change their mind … We were right on the [talent] evaluation. There’s no doubt about that.”
Oppenheimer confirmed the team was prepared to offer Cole a far-above-slot $4M bonus, but they wouldn’t even listen to the offer. Cole wanted to attend UCLA, and it didn’t hurt that his family is wealthy and the money wasn’t truly life-changing. The Yankees lost out on their top pick, who went on to have three great years with the Bruins before being the first overall pick in the 2011 draft. The Pirates gave Cole an $8M bonus and he is now on the cusp of the big leagues. Before the season, Baseball America ranked him as the third best pitching prospect and sixth best overall prospect in the game.
I like to think that had the Yankees signed Cole, he would be in their rotation right now after debuting sometime during the 2011 season. I assume he would have been on the Phil Hughes timetable, meaning Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa in year one, High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in year two, Triple-A Scranton and the show in year three. Cole did make major strides with his changeup at UCLA though, the pitch that made him the first overall pick two drafts ago, and there’s no way to know if that would have happened had he signed. Either way, missing out on Cole was devastating.
The Yankees didn’t just fail to sign Cole, they also didn’t sign their second round pick either. RHP Scott Bittle out of Ole Miss had agreed to a contract, but a pre-signing physical found some wear and tear in his shoulder and the team backed out. Bittle returned to school and had a strong senior season, which led to the Cardinals taking him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. He blew out his shoulder almost immediately after signing and has been out of baseball since 2011.
The Yankees did receive compensation picks for failing to sign Cole and Bittle, picks they used to draft OF Slade Heathcott and C J.R. Murphy in 2009. Those two are among their top prospects right now, but I would trade both for Cole and whatever is left of Bittle’s shoulder in a heartbeat.
Because failing to sign Cole and Bittle wasn’t enough, supplemental first round pick LHP Jeremy Bleich — the compensation pick for losing Luis Vizcaino to the Rockies — blew out his shoulder in May 2010 after an underwhelming 2010 campaign (4.86 ERA and 2.07 K/BB in 144.1 innings across two levels). He returned to action as a reliever last last year and currently owns a 3.32 ERA (3.71 FIP) in 21.2 innings for Double-A Trenton. Bleich is the fringiest of fringe prospects following surgery.
The Late-Round Success Story
As bad as the top three picks were, the Yankees did uncover a gem in RHP David Phelps (14th round). Phelps had a breakout sophomore year at Notre Dame but a disappointing junior/draft year, and the Yankees gambled $150k that they could get him back to his sophomore self. That happened almost immediately, as he flew through the minors in three years and never once posted an ERA over 3.00.
Phelps made the big league roster out of Spring Training as the long man last year, and he’s since pitched his way into the rotation and become a valuable member of the staff. In 142 innings split between 15 starts and 28 relief appearances, he has a 3.49 ERA and 4.12 FIP with New York. The Yankees struck gold with their 14th round pick and $150k investment.
Reached The Show
Phelps is not the only 2008 draftee to reach the show with the Yankees. In fact, IF David Adams (3rd round) is now the team’s everyday third baseman following the injuries to Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez. He’s performing very well and is playing his way onto the roster even when those two return. Adams missed an awful lot of time with injuries over the years, including a fractured ankle that cost him almost all of the 2010 and 2011 seasons, so his story is definitely one of perseverance.
In addition to Phelps and Adams, IF Corban Joseph (4), RHP Brett Marshall (6), and RHP D.J. Mitchell (10) have all reached the big leagues with the Bombers. Joseph and Marshall made their short-lived debuts within the last two weeks and are just up-and-down players at this point. Mitchell made four underwhelming appearances last summer before being traded to the Mariners for Ichiro Suzuki at the deadline. He’s since been released by Seattle and currently pitches in the Mets system.
The Other Late-Round Success Story
Turning a 14th round pick into a useful big leaguer is a pretty awesome accomplishment, but the Yankees also turned their 50th round selection — the 1,502nd of 1,504 total players drafted in 2008 — into a legitimate prospect. A commitment to BYU and impending two-year Mormon mission scared clubs away from Southern California prep LHP Nik Turley, but the Yankees convinced him to turn pro with a $150k bonus.
In the five years since, Turley has developed from a gangly and raw high school arm into the team’s top left-handed pitching prospect. He’s climbed the ladder slow and deliberately, but he earned a spot on the 40-man roster last winter by pitching to a 3.00 ERA (~3.39 FIP) in 117 innings split across High-A Tampa and Double-A Charleston. I ranked Turley as the team’s 11th best prospect a few weeks ago, and this year he owns a 4.46 ERA (4.39 FIP) with the Thunder. He should made his big league debut at some point next season, six years after being the third to last player picked in the draft.
The Other Unsigned Gems
Cole is obviously the headliner here, but the Yankees also failed to sign 36th rounder LHP Chris Dwyer. He turned the team down out of high school before signing with the Royals as a fourth rounder out of Clemson in 2009. He was a super-rare draft-eligible freshman. Dwyer had a huge 2010 season across two minor league levels and Baseball America ranked him as the game’s 83rd best prospect prior to the 2011 season. His performance went south in a hurry — 5.77 ERA and ~4.75 FIP in 277.1 innings from 2011-2012 — and he’s just a fringe prospect now.
RHP Rob Scahill (48) also passed on New York, instead returning to Bradley for his senior year. He was an eighth round pick of the Rockies in 2009, then climbed the minor league ladder in short order before debuting with Colorado as a September call-up last year. In 14 innings spread across eight relief appearances these last nine months, Scahill owns a 0.64 ERA and 2.86 FIP.
The Rest of the … Rest
The Yankees drafted 51 players in 2008, signing 34 of them. Of those 34, ten remain in the organization. Bleich, Adams, Joseph, Marshall, Phelps, and Turley are six of the ten. The other four are organizational players: C Kyle Higashioka (7), RHP Mikey O’Brien (9), IF Addison Maruszak (17), and SwP Pat Venditte (20).
Venditte is the most notable of the bunch because of the whole ambidextrous thing, but he currently recovering from right shoulder surgery. Higashioka is a strong defensive catcher who will miss the rest of the year following Tommy John surgery. O’Brien is having an okay year with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, and Maruszak is doing the same with Triple-A Scranton.
I have to mention somewhere that the Yankees traded RHP Andy Shive (35) to the Indians for Kerry Wood at the 2010 trade deadline. He was released following that season and has been out of baseball since. Wood, as you remember, was a valuable setup man for New York down the stretch that year.
* * *
Fair or not, the 2008 draft will be defined by the failure to sign Cole. He is one of the top pitching prospects in the game and could become on of the top pitchers in the world in relatively short order. Using a first round pick on that player and failing to sign him is a big kick to the gut.
Beyond Cole though, the Yankees have gotten one good big leaguer out of this draft in Phelps. Adams looks to be on his way to joining him in the “useful player” ranks while the book is still out on Joseph, Marshall, and Turley. Shive was useful in his own way. As much as losing out on Cole sucks, the Bombers have gotten some value from this draft class. Just not impact talent.
The 2013 amateur draft will be held from June 6-8 this year, and between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Dustin Peterson | SS
Peterson attends Gilbert High School in the Phoenix suburbs, and he has his brother D.J. to thank for his prospect stock. D.J. will come out of New Mexico as a fringe first rounder this year after going undrafted in 2010, leading a lot of teams to believe they dropped the ball while scouting him in high school. That has led to Dustin getting a lot of extra attention this spring. He is committed to Arizona State and played very well in front of scouts this spring.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 lbs., Peterson’s best tool is his sweet right-handed swing and high-end bat speed. He’s very quick to the ball and he uses his lower half well, generating above-average power in addition to the ability to hit for average. Peterson has no trouble against good fastballs and he recognizes offspeed stuff well.
The bat isn’t much of a question, but his long-term position is. Peterson is a good athlete but he lacks the first step quickness needed to play shortstop long-term. His hands are fine but his arm isn’t anything special, making second base a more likely destination than third. The outfield could also be a possibility. Peterson is just an okay runner who won’t steal many bases. He’s not a bat-only prospect, but he is bat-first. I can’t find any video — there’s another kid named Dustin Peterson with a bunch of YouTube clips, but it’s not this Dustin Peterson.
Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America ranked Peterson as the 36th and 61st best draft prospect in their latest draft rankings, respectively, so there’s a pretty big split of opinions. Dustin is more advanced than his brother was at this age, and there’s a chance D.J. will be a top-15 pick in a few weeks. If a team thinks Dustin can remain at shortstop, he could go in the back-half of the first round. If not — and I’m guessing at least one of the 30 teams thinks he can play short long-ish term — he might be more of a second round guy. The Yankees have three first rounders (26th, 32nd, 33rd) and they love up-the-middle athletes, especially when they can hit. Peterson is right up their alley.
It’s not the weekend. Hell, it’s not even Friday! But it is Thursday, which means you get another Thursday afternoon RAB Live Chat with yours truly (it’s hard to decide which of us is the bigger glutton for punishment, eh?) — anyway, the party kicks off at at 2 PM EST. Bring yourself. Bring your friends. Bring your baseball banter. See you all there! · (2) ·
The Yankees are off today, their first scheduled off-day since before the Rockies series 16 days and 16 games ago. Yeah, they were rained out on Sunday, but they still had to show up to the park and stuff. It’s not really a day off. So, as the team heads to Tampa in advance of their three-game weekend series against the Rays, here are some miscellaneous thoughts.
1. During the first 38 games of the season, the Yankees used six different outfield alignments. During the last eight games, since Curtis Granderson returned, they’ve used four. We all knew they would rotate their four outfielders — Brett Gardner in center has been the only real constant since Granderson returned — but I do think having a different alignment everyday can be problematic. Players are human, and no one likes showing up to work everyday not knowing their task for the day. Some continuity would be a good thing, but the Yankees aren’t prepared to flat-out bench Ichiro Suzuki and his Womackian 57 wRC+. For what it’s worth, Granderson told Dan Martin the constant bouncing between left and right fields was not a reason for his slow start with the bat, but I can’t imagine it helped.
2. As RLYW pointed out yesterday, the Yankees are at the bottom of the league when it comes to pitches seen per plate appearance this year. They’ve been at or near the top for the last 15 years or so. Not coincidentally, the team also has its worst walk rate (7.5%) since 1990 (7.0%). They haven’t been below a 9% walk rate since 2008, and only once in the last two decades did the team have a sub-8.5% walk rate. The league average walk rate this year is 8.4%, and sitting nearly a full percentage point below that is not Yankees baseball. With a few exceptions, they lack patience and the ability to grind out long at-bats. Replacing Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Russell Martin, and Derek Jeter with Ichiro Suzuki, Lyle Overbay, Frankie Cervelli/Chris Stewart, and Replacement Level Shortstops ‘R Us is a big reason why. Two of the team’s middle of the order bats — Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells — aren’t exactly patient either. Travis Hafner leads the team with a .386 OBP at the moment. That would have ranked third on the 2009 Yankees. The Yankees have a 93 wRC+ as a team this year — again, worst since the last place 1990 team (85 wRC+) — and that inability to work deep counts and grind out at-bats is a big reason why. Obviously injuries are a major factor here.
3. Prior to last night’s beatdown, Brian Costa argued Hiroki Kuroda may be the greatest free agent signing in Yankees history. I don’t necessarily disagree, but I think it’s a question that will require an awful lot of research to answer. It certainly helps that Kuroda is signing one-year deals because one-year deals rarely go horribly wrong. If the player is bad, he’s gone the next year. If he’s good, he usually winds up a multi-year deal. Kuroda’s willingness to go year-to-year makes his signing look that much more amazing. Just consider that in his two years as a starter, he’s been worth 7.1 bWAR in 43 starts. Mike Mussina pulled down 7.1 bWAR in 34 starts during his first season in pinstripes alone. I love Kuroda — I was pining for the Yankees to acquire him as far back as the 2010 trade deadline — and think he could very well go down as one of the two or three best free agent pickups in team history, but that’s as much a function of his willingness to take one-year deal after one-year deal as it is his great performance. The Yankees won’t be saddled with any decline years at the end of the multi-year pact that drag down the overall value.
4. With Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez not particularly close to rejoining the team, David Adams‘ job as the everyday third baseman is pretty safe for the time being. He’s played well on both sides of the ball — his defense has been better than advertised even if his over-the-top throwing motion makes me think every ball is going to sail into the dugout — and in his week on the roster, he’s shored up a nice-sized roster hole. Adams could always hit, and if he continues to hit, I think he’ll stay on the roster even after Youkilis or A-Rod returns. He could take the place of Ben Francisco, the designated lefty-pitching masher who has done anything but. Francisco has played in 21 total games but has only started four in the outfield, instead spending most of his time at DH. Adams can fill that role. The Yankees would only be carrying four true outfielders in that scenario, but Jayson Nix has left field experience and could step in in a pinch. It’s only been a week, but Adams has played well enough to stick around and the team owes it to themselves to give him as much time as possible to see if he can help them both this year and into the future.
5. I’ve never really bought into the whole “you can’t lose your job due to injury” stuff you hear from time to time. If you get hurt and your replacement performs considerably better, he deserves the job. With that in mind, I think Ivan Nova has lost his rotation spot to David Phelps. Nova’s been dreadful since last year’s All-Star break — 6.93 ERA and ~4.50 FIP in 76.2 innings — and Phelps has been rock solid in his four-start cameo, pitching to a 2.84 ERA and ~3.42 FIP in 25.1 innings. Phelps doesn’t have much of a track record as a big league starter, but I’ve seen enough to know he should keep his spot over Nova. I think the Yankees should send Nova down to Triple-A once he come off the DL so he can work on things in an environment where results don’t matter. I wouldn’t give up on him as a starter yet, but he needs fixin’ and Phelps is a more than capable replacement.
This game was not nearly as close as the 6-3 final score indicates. The Yankees were down three runs after the first inning, a deficit that feels close to insurmountable these days.
This was an unfortunate time for Kuroda to have his first bad start of the year. The Orioles were all over him even before he took a line drive to the calf, as four of the first six batters they sent to the plate hit the ball to the warning track or beyond. Two of those four hit the ball over the fence for homers, resulting in a three-run first inning deficit. Kuroda allowed two more runs before being removed in the third. His night ended with eight hits allowed (four for extra-bases) and 14 batters faced.
The good news is that Kuroda is apparently fine after the line drive. We saw Andy Pettitte go down for three months with a leg fracture on a similar play last year, so it was definitely a fingers crossed moment. Thankfully, it’s just a bruise and he’s expected to make his next start. Kuroda has been awesome this year and I consider this start just a bump in the road, nothing to be concerned about. Everyone will throw a dud now and then. Shake it off and do better next time out.
Daily Dose Of Runs (Three)
For the ninth time in the last 16 games, the Yankees scored no more than three runs. It was exactly three runs on Wednesday night, two from solo homers (Curtis Granderson and David Adams) and one from an RBI single (Robinson Cano). Granderson was the man on offense, going 3-for-3 with the solo homer and a walk. He was a triple away from the cycle. You could see he was on the verge of breaking out on Tuesday, when he hit a few rockets right at people. The Yankees really need his bat.
Other than that, there’s not much to talk about offensively. Non-Granderson players went 4-for-30 with two walks, both drawn by (who else?) Travis Hafner. Only two of the final 17 players they sent to the plate reached base, so they went out without a whimper too. Did you know the Yankees have the lowest OPS (.675) and wRC+ (79) in the AL over the last 30 days? They also have have the lowest ERA (3.22) during that time, but it goes to show how dreadful the offense has been. When a starter has a bad start like Kuroda did on Wednesday, they have little chance of winning.
Preston Claiborne finally allowed his first run as a big leaguer — the first batter he faced (Matt Wieters) clubbed a three-run homer to break the game open. The first two runs were charged to Kuroda. Claiborne allowed just the one run in two innings, then Adam Warren followed with four scoreless to close the game out. He’s been outstanding as the long man.
That’s … probably it, right? Not exactly an eventful game. No news is good news, I guess.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Red Sox beat the White Sox, so they are just one game back in the loss column now. The Orioles climbed to within three back.
The Yankees are off on Thursday, then they’ll head to Tampa for a three-game weekend set with the Rays.
Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez and David Phelps will kick that series off on Friday night.