DotF: Tampa makes a big comeback in first postseason game

A few notes to get us started:

  • Because of Hurricane Irma, the Florida State League Championship Series has been canceled, the league announced. The winners of the Tampa-Dunedin and Palm Beach-Fort Myers series will be co-champions. Game Two and, if necessary, Game Three of the best-of-three series will be played tomorrow. They’re going to play a doubleheader rather than stretch the series out to Wednesday.
  • RHP Taylor Widener has been promoted from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, the team announced. That is at least partly due to Hurricane Irma. Widener was lined up to pitch for Tampa on Wednesday, but there won’t be a game that day now, so he’s going to Trenton to help them. Last year’s 12th round pick had a 3.39 ERA (3.05 FIP) with 26.4% strikeouts and 10.4% walks in 119.1 innings with Tampa this year.
  • Eric Longenhagen (subs. req’d) ranked the ten position player prospects with the most upside in the minors. OF Estevan Florial was seventh. “Florial has high-effort, plus-plus bat speed and a bat path that allows for power to all fields, similar to Ian Happ of the Cubs. Florial is an aggressive hitter, which leads to some strikeouts, but he has 25-plus-homer potential,” says the write-up.
  • In a separate piece (subs. req’d), Longenhagen ranked the ten pitching prospects with the most upside. RHP Jorge Guzman ranks ninth. “New York made a subtle change to the tempo of his delivery, and Guzman has been throwing more strikes this year while sitting 96-plus with his fastball, touching 102 mph, and holding that velocity deep into his starts … (There’s) a chance Guzman matures into developing two bat-missing secondary pitches to go with passable control and his elite velocity,” says the write-up.
  • OF Isiah Gilliam was named the Low-A South Atlantic League Player of the Week. He went 10-for-18 (.556) with a double, a triple, a homer, seven walks, and only two strikeouts last week. Gilliam, 21, hit .275/.356/.468 (137 wRC+) with 33 doubles and 15 homers this year. The Yankees gave him $550,000 as their 20th round pick a few years ago because he has power from both sides of the plate, and it showed this year.

Triple-A Scranton‘s regular season is over. Their best-of-five first round postseason series with Lehigh Valley (Phillies) begins tomorrow. Conor Foley says the rotation will be RHP Domingo German, RHP Chance Adams, RHP Brady Lail, LHP Nestor Cortes, and RHP Ronald Herrera in that order.

Double-A Trenton‘s regular season is over. Their best-of-five first round postseason series with Binghamton (Mets) begins tomorrow. RHP Dillon Tate is the scheduled starter for Game One.

High-A Tampa (8-6 win over Dunedin in ten innings) they fell behind 5-0 in the first inning, but rallied to win … the Fighting Spirit extends down into the minors too … Tampa leads the best-of-three series one game to none

  • 2B Hoy Jun Park: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K — Hoy Jun Judge
  • SS Kyle Holder: 1-5, 1 RBI, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — had the game-tying single with two outs in the ninth
  • 3B Gosuke Katoh: 1-6, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K
  • LF Trey Amburgey: 1-5, 1 K
  • CF Estevan Florial: 2-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — dude is amazing
  • 1B Tim Lynch: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — hit the go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the tenth … last year’s ninth rounder smacked 13 home runs in only 57 games during the regular season
  • C Donny Sands: 1-4
  • RF Alex Palma: 1-5
  • RHP Brian Keller: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 E (pickoff) — 19 of 36 pitches were strikes (53%) … had such a marvelous regular season, then he gets clobbered in the first inning of the postseason
  • RHP Adonis Rosa: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 7/1 GB/FB — 64 of 94 pitches were strikes (68%) … unsung hero restored order and gave the offense a chance to get back in the game
  • RHP Matt Frawley: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 2/2 GB/FB — 22 of 39 pitches were strikes (56%)

Low-A Charleston‘s regular season is over. Their best-of-three first round postseason series with Greenville (Red Sox) begins tomorrow. RHP Freicer Perez will be on the mound in Game One.

Short Season Staten Island is waiting out a very long rain delay. Game hadn’t started as of 10pm ET. Here’s the box score if they ever start playing. Their regular season ends Thursday and they’ve already clinched a postseason spot.

Rookie Pulaski has advanced to the Appalachian League Championship Series. They’re going to play either Elizabethton (Twins) or Greeneville (Astros) in the best-of-three series. Game Three between Elizabethton and Greeneville was rained out tonight. They’ll play the decisive game tomorrow, then they’ll begin the Championship Series on Thursday (I think).

Rookie GCL Yanks East (2-1 win over GCL Nationals) the best-of-three GCL Championship Series is now tied at one game apiece, so tomorrow’s game is for all the marbles

  • SS Jose Devers: 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 SB, 1 E (throwing)
  • CF Robert Javier: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K — singled in what proved to be the winning run in the seventh inning
  • RF Canaan Smith: 0-2, 1 BB, 2 K — left the game after striking out in the sixth … I think he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, through the box score usually notes that … maybe not in the GCL?
  • DH Jhon Moronta & 1B Nelson Alvarez: both 0-4 — Moronta struck out
  • RHP Roansy Contreras: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 WP, 4/5 GB/FB — last year’s prized international signing came up big in the elimination game
  • LHP Deivi Diaz: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 Balk, 2/2 GB/FB

Rookie GCL Yanks West‘s season is over. They did not qualify for the postseason.

DotF: Austin goes deep twice on final day of the minor league regular season

SS Gleyber Torres has started swinging a bat as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. Matt Kardos shared Gleyber’s Instagram story. Torres is wearing a brace on his left arm, which is to be expected less than three months out from surgery, and it seems everything with his rehab is going well so far. Good news.

Triple-A Scranton (4-3 loss to Lehigh Valley) their regular season is over … they went 86-55 and won the division … their best-of-five first round postseason series with Lehigh Valley (Phillies) begins Wednesday … RHP Domingo German and RHP Chance Adams are lined up to start the first two games of the series, though the rotation hasn’t been officially announced yet

  • CF Jake Cave: 1-5, 1 K — finishes the year at .305/.350/.542 with 26 doubles, 20 homers, 6.4% walks, and 26.3% strikeouts in 103 games between Trenton and Scranton … the 20 homers tie 1B Mike Ford for the farm system lead
  • RF Billy McKinney: 1-5, 1 K — he got off to a pretty slow start this season if you remember, yet he finishes at .277/.336/.483 with 29 doubles, 16 home runs, 7.8% walks, and 18.8% strikeouts in 124 games between Trenton and Scranton
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-4, 1 K — finishes his breakout season at .314/.352/.498 with 36 doubles, 16 home runs, 5.5% walks, and 13.6% strikeouts in 125 games between Trenton and Tampa … the 16 homers are a career high, and he led the system in doubles (36) and hits (151)
  • DH Tyler Austin: 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — hit one of the home runs against former big leaguer Henderson Alvarez … his ten days since being sent down are up tomorrow, so I think we’ll see him in Baltimore
  • RHP Jose Pena: 2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 Balk, 1 HB, 1/0 GB/FB — 31 of 57 pitches were strikes (54%) … up from Tampa to soak up some innings on the final day of the season
  • LHP Joe Mantiply: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 5/0 GB/FB — 19 of 32 pitches were strikes (59%) … had a 2.83 ERA with a 62/18 K/BB in 67 do-it-all innings

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DotF: Medina keeps Pulaski alive in Appy League postseason

Double-A Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell was named the Eastern League Manager of the Year, so congrats to him. Al Pedrique and Jay Bell were previously named Manager of the Year in the Triple-A International League and High-A Florida State League, respectively, so the Yankees won the award at the three highest levels in the system. Pretty cool.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (3-2 loss to Lehigh Valley in seven innings, walk-off style)

  • LF Tyler Wade: 2-4, 1 R, 2 K — threw a runner out at the plate … he was scheduled to play left field last night before the rainout … probably not a coincidence after the Aaron Hicks injury
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-2, 1 BB — he slid into MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list when Rafael Devers graduated to the big leagues tonight
  • DH Billy McKinney: 1-3, 1 2B
  • RF Jake Cave: 0-3, 1 K
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-3
  • RHP Ronald Herrera: 4.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 4/5 GB/FB — 41 of 68 pitches were strikes (60%) … I guess he’s going to spend the postseason here rather than Trenton
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 22 of 38 pitches were strikes (58%) … eight walks in 16 minor league innings this year after seven walks in 65.1 minor league innings last year

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DotF: Florial has a big game in Tampa’s win

Two quick injury rehab notes to pass along:

  • Clint Frazier (oblique) worked out and hit in the cage with Double-A Trenton today, reports Kyle Franko. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll play rehab games with the Thunder. Trenton is home and Triple-A Scranton is on the road, so maybe the Yankees didn’t want him traveling too far. Anyway, Frazier is no longer with the Yankees. He’s now rehabbing with an affiliate.
  • 1B Garrett Cooper (hamstring) was scratched from today’s rehab game with Trenton with an illness, reports Franko. They told him to stay home and not even come to the ballpark. Cooper is supposed to rehab with Trenton through the weekend, then rejoin the Yankees. I’m not sure if the illness changes anything.

Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton were both rained out. They’re going to play doubleheaders tomorrow. Playing a doubleheader on the second to last day of the season when you’ve already clinched the division title and a postseason spot must not be very fun.

High-A Tampa (6-1 win over Lakeland)

  • SS Kyle Holder: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K
  • CF Estevan Florial: 2-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 SB — a lot of times kids his age (19) will wear down and fade late in the season, but not Florial … he’s mashing right to the very end
  • C Donny Sands: 1-4, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • RHP Taylor Widener: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1/2 GB/FB — the converted reliever finishes his regular season with a 3.39 ERA and a 129/50 K/BB in 119.1 innings
  • RHP Matt Frawley: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K — finishes the regular season with a 1.63 ERA and a 76/12 K/BB in 71.2 total innings … he came over from the Pirates in the Johnny Barbato trade a few months back

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DotF: Gilliam’s hot streak continues in Charleston’s loss

Two quick notes before we get to the day’s games:

  • Keith Law (subs. req’d) posted some scouting notes on RHP Chance Adams (“given his repertoire and delivery, I’d bet heavily that he’ll end up in relief”), OF Billy McKinney (“still has a very pretty left-handed swing”), SS Tyler Wade (“should end up as someone’s every-day shortstop”), and 3B Miguel Andujar (“at least a solid regular at third”).
  • 3B Dermis Garcia placed ninth on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. “Charleston’s Joseph P. Riley Park is no place for a power hitter, with a long history as a pitcher’s park, but the 19 year-old third baseman slugged three homers this week, including game winners Wednesday and Thursday night,” noted the write-up.

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 2-3, 2 2B, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS — he can’t come back up until Monday because of the ten-day rule
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-5, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • DH Tyler Austin: 0-4 — he has to wait until Tuesday because of the ten-day rule
  • CF Jake Cave: 0-3, 1 K
  • RF Mason Williams: 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 14-for-29 (.483) in his last eight games
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 5/7 GB/FB — 61 of 100 pitches were strikes
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1/2 GB/FB — 20 of 33 pitches were strikes (61%) … gave up a home run tonight … always amuses me when homers go for unearned runs
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 16 of 21 pitches were strikes (76%)

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DotF: Garcia homers, Charleston clinches a postseason spot

In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees acquired C Erik Kratz from the Indians for cash. He’s been assigned to Triple-A Scranton. Two other catcher notes from Conor Foley: C Wilkin Castillo (knee) was placed on the Triple-A disabled list and C Kyle Higashioka (shoulder) was healthy enough to take batting practice today. That’s good.

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 loss to Rochester)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 K — so I guess whatever led to him being pulled from last night’s game was no big deal
  • DH Matt Holliday: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB — 7-for-35 (.200) in ten rehab games … no surprise here, but manager Al Pedrique told Conor Foley that Holliday will rejoin the Yankees tomorrow
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-4, 1 2B — here’s video of the double, which might’ve been into the short porch in the Bronx
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-2, 1 BB, 1 K
  • LF Billy McKinney, RF Jake Cave & CF Mason Williams: all 0-3 — McKinney struck out twice, Cave once, Williams zero times
  • RHP Chance Adams: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 65 of 102 pitches were strikes (64%) … this was his final start of the regular season … he finishes the year with a 2.45 ERA and a 135/58 K/BB in 150.1 innings … he had a 144/39 K/BB in 127.1 innings last year

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Cashman heads to Japan as Otani scouting frenzy heats up

Part-time pitcher, part-time hitter, full-time fun as hell. (Getty)
Part-time pitcher, part-time hitter, full-time fun as hell. (Getty)

The 2017 regular season is fast approaching the stretch run, meaning rosters will soon expand and postseason races will really start to heat up. Four weeks and three days. That’s all that remains in the regular season. I swear, the season goes by a little faster each year. I guess that’s a function of getting old.

Anyway, even with the final month of the regular season on tap, clubs are already starting to look ahead to the offseason, either because they’re rebuilding and want to reshape their roster, or they’re contending and want to bring in more help. All 30 teams, regardless of whether they’re rebuilding or contending, figure to be interested in Nippon Ham Fighters ace/slugger Shohei Otani, who may or may not be posted this winter.

According to David Lennon and Erik Boland, Brian Cashman headed to Japan this week to get a firsthand look at Otani, and he is only the latest big name executive to do so. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently went to see Otani as well. Otani has been hampered by an ankle injury all season, though Jon Morosi reports he will make his first start today, so I imagine more talent evaluators are going to see him.

It’s unclear whether Otani will actually be posting this offseason, though, for what it’s worth, Jon Heyman suggests the Yankees and Red Sox could be gearing up for bidding war. (Morosi says the Yankees are among Otani’s most serious suitors.). I say a “bidding war” because Otani will be limited to the international hard caps, so the bids can only go so high. Heyman says both the Yankees and Red Sox have traded for the maximum allowable additional hard cap space, giving them $8M to spend internationally during the 2017-18 signing period.

Both teams have, of course, already spent a lot of that money. They both loaded up on Latin American amateurs when the 2017-18 signing period opened on July 2nd. It’s impossible to know exactly how much of their $8M bonus pools they’ve spent so far because so many international deals go unreported. Here’s the little we know:

Based on that, the Yankees can make Otani a much larger offer than the Red Sox. That’s great. The problem is if Otani does come over this year, it won’t be because he’s chasing top dollar. If securing top dollar was the priority, Otani would spent 2018 and 2019 in Japan, make more than he’d make here as a pre-arbitration player, then come over once he is no longer subject to the international hard cap.

(The Dodgers, by the way, are limited to $300,000 bonuses this signing period as a result of previous international spending. The same is true for other potential Otani suitors like the Cubs, Nationals, Astros, Cardinals, Braves, Padres, and Giants.)

If Otani does come over — and I still think this is a pretty big if — chances are his decision will come down to factors other than money. Example: who will let him hit? That seems like a potential big one. The team that gets Otani very well may be the one that agrees to let him DH on days he doesn’t pitch. Location, chances to win, and things like that figure to be considerations as well. Point is, if Otani does come over, it won’t be strictly for money. Being able to offer more doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t guarantee anything.

Cashman going to Japan is a pretty good indicator the Yankees are very interested in Otani. Cashman isn’t flying halfway around the world for nothing. I’m curious to know who went with him. Cashman is not a scout. He’s an administrator, not a talent evaluator. Very few general managers these days came up through the scouting ranks and even fewer played once upon a time (Jerry Dipoto is the only former MLB player turned GM in baseball right now). Times have changed.

Anyway, Mike Mazzeo says Cashman brought assistant general manager Jean Afterman on the trip, which makes sense. She has worked with Japanese players for a long time, both on the team side and agent side. I’m sure Cashman also brought a few of his top lieutenants on the trip. Vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring, vice president of player development Gary Denbo, pro scouting director Kevin Reese, special assistant Jim Hendry, senior advisor Gene Michael, and so on. The Yankees had eyes on Masahiro Tanaka for a long, long time before he became available. I’m sure they’ll have (and have had) many different folks see Otani, though the ankle issue threw a wrench in things this year.

For now, the next several weeks are all about the end of the season and the postseason races, and then hopefully a long postseason run as well. We still don’t know whether Otani will come over to MLB this winter. The only thing the Yankees and every other team can do is prepare. Scout him, analyze the numbers, the whole nine. The Yankees have international money to spend, at least in theory, though I suspect money will not be the deciding factor for Otani.