DotF: Wade and Cessa lead Scranton to win in home opener

Random note from Brendan Kuty: C Radley Haddad, who traveled with the Yankees a bunch of times as an extra player this spring, is now with the big league team full-time as one of the two bullpen catchers. Jason Brown is the other bullpen catcher. He was on the Triple-A Scranton coaching staff last season and spend time in the farm system as a player in the mid-2000s. Longtime bullpen catcher Ramon Rodriguez left the Yankees to become a scout with the Angels over the winter.

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Lehigh Valley)

  • 2B Tyler Wade: 2-4, 1 K — he’s 7-for-15 (.467) so far and has hit safely in all four games
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K
  • DH Dustin Fowler: 0-4, 1 K
  • RF Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 K
  • CF Mason Williams: 0-2
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 9/2 GB/FB — 60 of 82 pitches were strikes (73%) … he took a comebacker to the calf but was able to stay in the game … LHP Jordan Montgomery will start for the big league team Wednesday, and it’s only a matter of time until Cessa gets an opportunity to start in the Bronx this year as well
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — ten of 16 pitches were strikes (63%) … nice bounceback after giving up the walk-off homer yesterday
  • RHP Ernesto Frieri: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eleven of 16 pitches were strikes (69%)

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DotF: Fowler and Andujar both go deep twice in big day in the farm system

There were a series of roster moves in the farm system today, most as a result of the C Gary Sanchez injury. Here’s a recap before we get to one of the most exciting days in the system in recent memory:

  • C Wilkin Castillo has been bumped up from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton to replace C Kyle Higashioka, who was called up to replace Sanchez. Also, LHP Jordan Montgomery has officially joined the RailRiders.
  • C Jorge Saez went from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton to replace Castillo. And, as expected, RHP Chad Green went from Tampa to Trenton as well. He and Montgomery are lined up for April 16th, the next time the Yankees need a fifth starter.
  • RHP Josh Roeder, RHP Christian Morris, and C Wes Wilson all went from Extended Spring Training to High-A Tampa. They’re replacing Montgomery, Green, and Saez on the roster. Got all that?

Triple-A Scranton Game One (4-3 loss to Buffalo in seven innings, walk-off style) make up of Thursday’s Opening Day rainout

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB
  • RF Clint Frazier: 0-2, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 SB — he also reached on an error, so three times on base without a hit
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 0-4, 1 RBI
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 HBP
  • LF Mason Williams: 0-3 — threw a runner out at second
  • LHP Dietrich Enns: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 7/4 GB/FB — 57 of 93 pitches were strikes (61%) … he’ll inevitably get called up as part of the bullpen shuttle at some point, though since he’s in the rotation, the timing will have to be right … they’re not going to call him up when he’s still a day or two away from being available
  • RHP Ben Heller: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eight of 14 pitches were strikes (57%) … gave up the two-run walk-off homer

[Read more…]

DotF: Torres, Estrada help Trenton to a win on Opening Day

Two quick notes today:

  • The RHP Dillon Tate mystery has been solved. Josh Norris says he’s dealing with a shoulder issue. That’s why he wasn’t on an Opening Day roster. Sucks. Hopefully it’s minor and he can get back on a mound soon.
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery will make his next start with Triple-A Scranton on Tuesday, according to Shane Hennigan. He started for High-A Tampa on Thursday only because the weather forecast in the Northeast was terrible, and the Yankees wanted to make sure he got his work in and remained lined up for April 16th, the first day they need a fifth starter.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 loss to Buffalo) this is their season opener after a pair of rainouts, so here’s the full lineup per Opening Day tradition

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 R
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — keep the extra-base hits coming
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 0-4, 1 K
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 PB, 1 E (fielding) — passed ball and an error, but he also threw out both runners who tried to steal … he’s heading to Baltimore to join the Yankees tomorrow following the C Gary Sanchez injury
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 BB — got picked off first … this is now his fourth season at this level
  • RF Mason Williams: 2-4
  • 3B Donovan Solano: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 K — he led the International League with 163 hits last season
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 1-4, 1 K
  • DH Mark Payton: 1-3, 1 2B
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 48 of 76 pitches were strikes (63%) … and thus begins his audition as a starting pitcher
  • LHP Jason Gurka: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 21 of 35 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K — 25 of 38 pitches were strikes (66%)

[Read more…]

DotF: Rutherford has big game in Charleston’s walk-off win

Let’s begin with two quick notes, including an update on RHP James Kaprielian:

  • Kaprielian went for his MRI and dye contrast MRI today, and he will see a Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday, the Yankees announced. That ain’t good. Players usually don’t go see ElAttrache for second opinions until there’s something scary in the MRI.
  • Baseball America posted a list of the youngest players on Opening Day rosters at each level. SS Gleyber Torres is the youngest player in the Double-A Eastern League and IF Oswaldo Cabrera is the youngest player in the Low-A South Atlantic League. Several other Yankees make appearances on the various lists.

Both Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton were rained out. No word on the makeup dates yet. The weather should be good enough for both clubs to begin their seasons Saturday. I’ll get the Gleyber Torres Watch up in the sidebar once he, you know, plays a game.

High-A Tampa (5-0 loss to Lakeland)

  • SS Jorge Mateo: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 K — he’s been at shortstop both games so far
  • 3B Kyle Holder: 0-4, 3 K
  • LF Trey Amburgey: 0-3, 2 K
  • DH Matt Snyder: 0-3, 3 K
  • CF Tito Polo: 0-3, 2 K — the 2-3-4-5 hitters were a combined 0-13 with ten strikeouts
  • 2B Nick Solak: 0-3
  • RF Jhalan Jackson: 1-3 — he didn’t play last night, so this is his season debut
  • RHP Taylor Widener: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 1 Balk, 6/3 GB/FB — 49 of 69 pitches were strikes (71%) … last year’s 12th round pick was a reliever in college, but the Yankees are trying him in the rotation a la RHP Chance Adams
  • LHP Nestor Cortes: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 4/5 GB/FB — 45 of 67 pitches were strikes (67%)

Low-A Charleston (9-8 win over Lexington, walk-off style) they scored four runs in the ninth to win

  • SS Hoy Jun Park: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B
  • 3B Oswaldo Cabrera: 3-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 K — this dude is a hitting machine … he hit .345/.396/.523 (163 wRC+) in 52 rookie ball games last year
  • RF Blake Rutherford: 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K — had the game-tying two-run single in the ninth inning (there was an error on the play, hence only one RBI) … first pro game in right field … he played two games in left and 20 in center field last season
  • LF Leonardo Molina: 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K — walk-off single
  • CF Estevan Florial: 2-4, 1 R — this is a really fun outfield
  • 1B Isiah Gilliam: 1-3, 2 RBI, 1 K
  • 2B Angel Aguilar: 1-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI
  • RHP Freicer Perez: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 1 Balk, 3/2 GB/FB — tough first start, but he’s poised to become a no-doubt top 30 prospect this summer, even in this farm system
  • RHP Adonis Rosa: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 4/3 GB/FB — 45 of 62 pitches were strikes (73%) … 22-year-old had a 2.19 ERA (3.03 FIP) in 78 innings between Short Season Staten Island and Low-A Charleston last year … they’re going to use tandem starters here for a while because they have more starters than rotation spots

DotF: Rutherford reaches base three times in Opening Day loss

At long last, the 2017 minor league regular season has arrived. The Yankees have a loaded farm system and this should be a pretty fun year. Even after RHP James Kaprielian complained about pain in his elbow that will send him into various MRI tubes. Blah. Baseball can be such a jerk sometimes. Here are some notes before we get to the Opening Day games:

  • High-A Tampa finally released their roster earlier today. RHP Dillon Tate is not listed on any of the four full season affiliate rosters and I’m not sure why. There’s been no word about an injury, so the Yankees probably held him back in Extended Spring Training. They’ve been working with Tate on all sorts of mechanical stuff since the trade last year, trying to get him back to his fourth overall pick form. We’ll see when he pops back up.
  • OF Jake Cave (knee), 1B Chris Gittens (unknown), LHP Chaz Hebert (elbow), RHP Brody Koerner (unknown), RHP Branden Pinder (elbow), LHP James Reeves (elbow), RHP Nick Rumbelow (elbow), and LHP Stephen Tarpley (unknown) will all start the year on the DL, according to Donnie Collins and Nick Flammia. Hebert, Pinder, and Rumbelow are rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
  • LHP Miguel Sulbaran, who came over from the Twins in the Eduardo Nunez trade, has been suspended 25 games for violating the minor league drug program, MLB announced. The 25-game ban indicates he tested positive for a drug of abuse (in most cases the kid gets caught smoking pot), not a performance-enhancer. Sulbaran did not pitch last year due to injury.
  • The Yankees have released 3B Drew Bridges, RHP Sean Carley, RHP Kyle Halbohn, RHP Cody Hamlin, RHP Tim Holmes, 1B Kane Sweeney, 2B Josh Gardiner, and OF Nathan Mikolas, according to Matt Eddy. There’s always a ton of cuts after Spring Training. The Yankees have also signed C Sharif Othman. Othman, 28, was with the Marlins from 2011-16. He hit .156/.208/.221 (23 wRC+) in 40 games between High-A and Double-A last season.
  • MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo posted a feature on Yankees’ minor league camp as well an interview with OF Blake Rutherford, so make sure you check those out. Also, don’t miss Anthony Castrovince’s feature on LHP Justus Sheffield, who doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves for being a top pitching prospect.
  • And finally, check out 20-80 Baseball’s massive Yankees organizational review. “They may not have the pitching to compete with a juggernaut Red Sox or a strong Toronto ball club in 2017, but don’t think that the rest of the American League doesn’t notice the stirring giant in the Bronx,” said the write-up.

Triple-A Scranton‘s game was rained out. They’ve already postponed tomorrow’s game too. One of the games will be made up as part of a doubleheader Sunday. They haven’t announced a makeup date for the other game yet. RHP Johnny Barbato will start the season opener Saturday, according to Shane Hennigan. LHP Dietrich Enns will start the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader and RHP Luis Cessa will start the home opener Monday. The starter for the second game of the doubleheader is TBA. Might be a bullpen game.

Double-A Trenton was also rained out. I’ll get the Prospect Watch up tomorrow since SS Gleyber Torres didn’t play tonight. This game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Sunday. Prior to the rainout, the rotation to start the season was going to be, in order, RHP Chance Adams, LHP Justin Sheffield, RHP Yefrey Ramirez, RHP Domingo German, and LHP Daniel Camarena, according to Matt Kardos. Not sure what the postponement and doubleheader do to the pitching plans.

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James Kaprielian heading for MRI on pitching elbow

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Once again, James Kaprielian‘s elbow is acting up. The Yankees placed their top pitching prospect on the minor league disabled list with elbow pain earlier today, the team announced. He’s going for an MRI and a dye contrast MRI. The Yankees will know more once the tests are done.

Kaprielian, as you know, missed most of last season with a flexor strain. He did return in time for the Arizona Fall League and reports said he looked very god. PitchFX clocked his fastball at 95.7 mph on average with a max of 99.1 mph out in the desert. Kaprielian threw 45 total innings between High-A and the AzFL in 2016.

“It’s a concern,” said Brian Cashman to Erik Boland. Cashman also confirmed Kaprielian first complained of discomfort two days ago, so this is a relatively new injury. The discomfort is in the same spot as Kaprielian’s injury last year. Pitching is terrible. Don’t ever pitch.

The Yankees took it slow with their 2015 first round pick in Spring Training, opting to have him throw simulated games for the first few weeks before letting him make a two-inning Grapefruit League appearance. Kaprielian threw four-plus innings in a minor league camp start last week and told Josh Norris he felt good.

Hopefully this is nothing serious. Needless to say though, elbow trouble in back-to-back seasons is not good. Kaprielian is New York’s best pitching prospect in terms of stuff and command, but health is a skill and he hasn’t shown it as a pro yet. Even a minor injury is a red flag at this point. Sigh.

Wednesday Notes: Minor League Rosters, Payroll, Betances

Andujar. (Presswire)
Andujar. (Presswire)

The Yankees will wrap up their first series of the season later today, then enjoy yet another off-day tomorrow. Two off-days in a series at a domed ballpark. Not the best move by the schedule makers. Anyway, here are some bits of news and notes to check out.

Minor league rosters announced

The minor league regular season begins tomorrow and, over the last few days, the Yankees’ full season affiliates have started releasing their Opening Day rosters. The farm system is loaded, so the rosters are pretty exciting. Here are links to the rosters and the top 30 prospects at each level:

There’s always one roster holdout and that is High-A Tampa this year. They haven’t announced their roster yet. We can figure out which top 30 prospects are likely to be on the roster through the process of elimination though: RHP Domingo Acevedo, LHP Ian Clarkin, SS Kyle Holder, RHP James Kaprielian, SS/OF Jorge Mateo, LHP Josh Rogers, and RHP Dillon Tate. That’s a hell of a rotation.

3B Dermis Garcia is not on the Charleston roster and will instead start the season back in Extended Spring Training. Even without him, the RiverDogs are stacked. Non-top 30 prospects like IF Oswaldo Cabrera, SS Diego Castillo, OF Isiah Gilliam, RHP Nick Green, RHP Nick Nelson, RHP Freicer Perez, and C Donny Sands are all on the roster and worth knowing. Cabrera, Castillo, Nelson, Perez, and especially Sands could be top 30 prospects next year.

I should note that while Montgomery and Green are on the Triple-A and Double-A rosters, respectively, both will pitch for High-A Tampa tomorrow. The weather in the Northeast isn’t looking too good and the Yankees want to make sure those two get their work in and stay lined up for the fifth starter’s spot.

Yankees rank third in Opening Day payroll

According to the Ronald Blum, the Yankees opened the 2017 season with a $195M payroll, third highest in MLB. That’s down from $225M last year. The Dodgers (duh) rank first in payroll this year at $225M while the Tigers are second at $199.75M. This is the first time since 1993 that the Yankees are not among the top two teams in Opening Day payroll. Been a while, huh?

Keep in mind this payroll number reflects the Opening Day active roster and disabled list only, so the Yankees aren’t getting dinged for the $21M they have to pay Alex Rodriguez this season. Or the $5.5M they’re paying Brian McCann. Their payroll for luxury tax purposes is much higher. The Yankees are looking to get under the luxury tax threshold soon and the 2018 season will be their best chance to do it. A-Rod and CC Sabathia will be off the books, possibly Masahiro Tanaka as well.

Yankees, Betances discussed two-year deal

Dellin and Larry Rothschild. (Presswire)
Dellin and Larry Rothschild. (Presswire)

At some point prior to their arbitration hearing, the Yankees and Dellin Betances briefly discussed a two-year contract, reports Jon Heyman. We heard the two sides talked about a multiyear deal a few weeks ago, though now we know the term. It was a two-year deal, not a longer contract that would have bought out free agent years. The Yankees beat Betances in arbitration and will pay him $3M this season, not the $5M he was seeking.

Betances, 29, will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season. A two-year contract would have given him a nice little guaranteed payday and the team cost certainty over his next two seasons. These two-year “bridge” deals that buy out arbitration years but not free agent years are becoming quite popular around baseball. Nolan Arenado, Josh Donaldson, A.J. Pollock, Eric Hosmer, Todd Frazier, and Bryce Harper are among those who have signed one within the last few years. As good as Betances is, I’m totally cool with going year-to-year given his history of command issues.

Tiebreaker rules officially added in low minors

The extra inning tiebreaker rules have officially been approved for the low minors, according to Josh Norris. Extra innings in the rookie level Gulf Coast League, Arizona League, and Dominican Summer League will begin with a runner on second base. (The Yankees have affiliates in the GCL and DSL.) The rules will be in effect for the regular season only. Not the postseason. Also, the automatic intentional walk rule has been implemented at every level of the minors.

The extra inning tiebreaker rules were used during the World Baseball Classic and my gosh, they were terrible. Thankfully commissioner Rob Manfred said they are not being considered for MLB. They’re using the tiebreaker rules in the low minors to avoid overworking young pitchers, which is totally cool with me. Those games don’t mean anything — the crowds are basically friends and family at that level, so it’s not like there are many paying customers in attendance — and protecting the young players is the smart move. I’m guessing it’ll be only a matter of time until the tiebreaker rules make their way to other levels of the minors.