Archive for Minors

Lindgren. (Martin Griff/The Times of Trenton)

Lindgren. (Martin Griff/The Times of Trenton)

Over the last six or seven years, basically the entire Joe Girardi era, the Yankees have done a nice job of building the bulk of their bullpen on the cheap. Oh sure, there still is the occasional Rafael Soriano or Matt Thornton signing, but the days of handing out big money multi-year contracts to (occasionally multiple) relievers every offseason are over. That has allowed the club to maintain some semblance of payroll and roster flexibility.

Low-profile pickups like Boone Logan, Luis Ayala, Cory Wade, Brian Bruney, and Shawn Kelley have contributed over the years, even if only for a short period of time — not everyone needs to be around forever to qualify as a success, getting 50-60 good innings out of a scrap heap pickup is a win — but for the most part the farm system has provided the bullpen core. David Robertson and Dellin Betances are the standouts, with others like Adam Warren, Preston Claiborne, Phil Coke, Joba Chamberlain, Edwar Ramirez, and Alfredo Aceves playing important roles at various times.

There are no indications the Yankees will stray from this approach, nor should they. They’ve been successful at cobbling together bullpens this way for several years, and it saves money to use elsewhere on the roster. They could have easily signed a veteran closer over the winter to replace Mariano Rivera, that would have been a very Yankees move, but no, they went with Robertson. (They were connected to Fernando Rodney and Grant Balfour at different points, though I think that was just due diligence.) It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Robertson is a free agent after the season.

Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, bullpens have a way of getting overhauled during the course of the summer. Already this year we’ve seen Betances go from interesting wildcard to arguably the best reliever in the game. Warren went from long man to setup man and back to … something. His role is kinda undefined at this moment. Thornton was signed to be the primary lefty specialist but was literally given away for nothing. Robertson in the ninth inning has been the one constant, so in a sense this year has been no different than the last few, only with Robertson playing the role of Rivera.

Coming out of Spring Training, the Yankees had three young relievers who were slated to serve as depth in Triple-A in Mark Montgomery, Danny Burawa, and Fred Lewis. All three impressed in camp and put themselves in position to be called up if a need arose. Instead, all three pitched their way into demotions down the Double-A before the end of July. All three of them! Lewis almost made the team out of Spring Training and now he’s currently on the Double-A disabled list after pitching to a 6.89 ERA with the same number of walks as strikeouts (31) in 32.2 innings. We shouldn’t forget Jose Ramirez either. He was part of that next bullpen wave but has been alternately hurt and ineffective in 2014.

Rumbelow. (Robert Pimpsner)

Rumbelow. (Robert Pimpsner)

Such is the life of a reliever though, especially reliever prospects. They just start sucking without warning and sometimes for no apparent reason. That’s why you need a lot of them, which the Yankees have. As Lewis, Montgomery, Burawa, and Ramirez took steps back this year, other relievers have taken steps forward and put themselves on the big league map. Specifically, I’m talking about righty Nick Rumbelow and lefties Tyler Webb and Jacob Lindgren. Lindgren you all know by now. Rumbelow (seventh) and Webb (tenth) are both 2013 draftees who have climbed from Single-A to Triple-A this summer. Rumbelow started all the way down at Low-A Charleston, Webb with High-A Tampa.

The Yankees have emphasized one singular trait these last six or seven years while building their bullpen: the ability to miss bats. They don’t care how the guy does it — blow a fastball by hitters, nasty breaking ball, filthy changeup, whatever — but that is clearly their top priority out of the bullpen. In fact, the Yankees have the highest bullpen strikeout rate in baseball this year (26.7%) and the second highest since the start of the Girardi era in 2008 (23.0%). Only the Braves (23.3%) have been better. It makes sense, right? Late in the game you want to miss as many bats as possible. The other team can’t hurt you if they can’t put the ball in play, after all.

Lindgren, as you know, has a wipeout slider that has allowed him to pile up 41 strikeouts in only 20.2 pro innings (17.9 K/9 and 49.4 K%). Rumbelow has 72 strikeouts in 51.1 innings this year (12.6 K/9 and 35.0 K%) thanks to his big breaking curveball. Webb is another curveball guy. He’s struck out 89 in 64.1 innings (12.5 K/9 and 33.1 K%) during his meteoric rise this year. That’s the trademark right there. Strikeouts. The Yankees do as good a job as any team of digging up pitchers with present or future out pitches in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, whether it be Rumbelow or Montgomery or Robertson. If you have one swing-and-miss pitch, you have a chance to help out of the bullpen. If you have two, you can dominate like Robertson and Betances.

“We’ve got some arms, no doubt about it,” said Brian Cashman to Nick Peruffo yesterday. “We had Webb here (at Double-A), and now he’s at Triple-A. Rumbelow is at Triple-A. These guys are pretty interesting characters in themselves, and we have some guys who could be moving up to Triple-A soon enough. I think a lot of the guys that you are seeing that have been here or are currently here, you have a chance to see as early as next year, and in some cases you can never rule anything out. We do have some left and right side arms that get asked a lot about, and that I’d certainly ask about a lot.”

Like the big league bullpen, the Yankees’ pool of minor league relief prospects has changed as the season as progressed. Montgomery and Ramirez in particular where expected to help at some point — Ramirez got a chance but it didn’t go well, it happens — while guys like Rumbelow and Webb were little more than interesting arms in Single-A back in April. I didn’t even know who Lindgren was in April and now he’s on the cusp of being a Yankee. Their rises combined with the fall of some upper level arms have given the Yankees a new-look crop of bullpen prospects these last four months.

Categories : Death by Bullpen, Minors
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The notes:

  • RHP Luis Severino (oblique) was activated off the Double-A Trenton disabled list, the team announced. How about that? A minor injury that actually turned out to be minor. C Gary Sanchez was placed on the paternity list to clear a roster spot, according to the team. Congrats to him.
  • 1B Mike Ford was promoted from Low-A Charleston to High-A Tampa, says Nicholas Flammia. 1B Bubba Jones was bumped from Short Seasons Staten Island to Charleston in a corresponding move, according to the team.

Triple-A Scranton (6-5 win over Syracuse, walk-off style)

  • CF Jose Pirela: 3-5, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — walk-off three-run triple … hot damn
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 R, 2 K
  • RF Zoilo Almonte: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 0-4, 1 K
  • SS Zelous Wheeler: 0-2, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K
  • C Austin  Romine: 0-4, 2 K
  • RHP Zach Nuding: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 2/6 GB/FB — 59 of 93 pitches were strikes (63%)

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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Via Pete Caldera: The Yankees have “ended any pursuit” of Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo. For what it’s worth, George King says the Phillies are the favorite to sign him while Jim Salisbury says Philadelphia is not the front-runner, so believe these reports at your own risk. Caldera also notes Castillo is having visa issues and is unlikely to sign before August 31st, meaning he will not be postseason eligible this year.

The Yankees reportedly like Castillo as a second baseman more than as an outfielder, which goes against the consensus. They had him in Tampa for a private workout two weeks ago. Castillo is said to be sifting through several offers — it’s unknown if the Yankees made one — and he was initially expected to sign within a few days, but I guess the visa issues put an end to that. It’s unclear why the Yankees are passing on the 27-year-old Castillo. In all likelihood they think he’s not worth the money he’s going to get.

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Some notes:

  • LHP Jeremy Bleich has been sent from Triple-A Scranton down to Double-A Trenton, according to Donnie Collins. The move clears a roster spot for RHP Chris Leroux, who rejoined the team after being designated for assignment and accepting his outright.
  • If you’re interested, Matt Eddy listed the signing scout for every player who has made his MLB debut this year. That includes RHP Bryan Mitchell, RHP Chase Whitley, and RHP Jose Ramirez for the Yankees, among others.

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Pawtucket)

  • CF Jose Pirela: 1-3, 2 BB — eight walks and six strikeouts in his last nine games
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 2-5, 1 2B, 1 K — 12-for-36 (.333) in his last nine games
  • RF Zelous Wheeler: 1-2, 2 BB
  • DH Scott Sizemore: 0-4, 1 K — first game since early-July due to an unknown injury … he was released and re-signing during that time as well
  • LHP Manny Banuelos: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 3 K, 4/2 GB/FB — only 30 of 68 pitches were strikes (44%) … had only five walks in his previous 22.2 innings
  • RHP Chris Leroux: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2/5 GB — 46 of 78 pitches were strikes (59%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 11 of 17 pitches were strikes (65%)

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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Triple-A Scranton (6-5 win over Pawtucket)

  • LF Jose Pirela: 1-5, 2 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 3-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K — 16-for-43 (.372), so he’s starting to heat back up after a little slump
  • CF Zoilo Almonte: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 0-4, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 3B Zelous Wheeler: 1-5, 2 RBI, 2 K – capped off the five-run ninth inning rally with a two-run go-ahead single
  • RF Taylor Dugas: 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — started that ninth inning rally with a one-out walk
  • LHP Matt Tracy: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 63 of 98 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Brandon Pinder: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/3 GB/FB — 13 of 17 pitches were strikes (76%)
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — ten of 13 pitches were strikes (77%) … 89/20 K/BB in 64.1 innings

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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OF Tyler Austin made the In The Team Photo section of this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. In other news, Chris Cotillo says RHP Chris Leroux cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A. He was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the roster for Michael Pineda the other day.

Triple-A Scranton (9-4 win over Pawtucket)

  • LF Jose Pirela: 2-4, 1 R, 2 BB
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 3-6, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — 13-for-38 (.342) in his last nine games
  • CF Zoilo Almonte: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 3B Zelous Wheeler: 3-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • LHP Nik Turley: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 3/5 GB/FB — 52 of 99 pitches were strikes … 39/36 K/BB in 50.1 innings
  • SwP Pat Venditte: 2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/0 GB/FB – 31 of 46 pitches were strikes (67%)

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees are viewed as “major players” for Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo. They are said to like him more as a second baseman while most teams view him as an outfielder. The 27-year-old Castillo is finished with private workouts and is currently sorting through contract offers. He could sign as soon as next week.

According to Sherman, teams have a lot of urgency to get Castillo signed quickly for a few reasons. One, needs a work visa and they want to start that process as soon as possible. Two, he has to be in the organization by August 31st to be postseason eligible. Three, there is a little more than two weeks left in the minor league season and teams want Castillo to get in as many games as possible before considering him for a September call-up. The Yankees should be focused on 2015 at this point, so if they’re going to sign Castillo, the sooner they get him into the organization the better.

Comments (269)


Source: FanGraphs

Make it five straight losses to both the Rays and all teams in general. The Yankees were shut out 5-0 by Tampa in their series opener on Friday night as the offense continues to fold like a lawn chair during what was an important stretch of the season. Now it doesn’t look like there will be many important games left this year.

I missed tonight’s game and I ain’t mad about it. I’ve been told Brandon McCarthy was once again solid, falling victim to some shaky defense early and broken bat bloopers late. He was around the plate all night, throwing 84 of his 110 pitches for strikes (76%) and a first pitch strike to 23 of 28 batters faced. Seven strikeouts, ten ground ball outs, and two fly ball outs. That’s work just fine. McCarthy isn’t part of the problem.

The offense put one runner at third base all night, and that came with one out in the eighth inning, after they were already down four runs. Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira, aka the three-four hitters, both struck out with the bases loaded to squash that rally. The Yankees actually had the leadoff man reach base in five innings, so I guess that means they made Alex Cobb work hard? Based on his pitching line, it doesn’t look like it.

Derek Jeter and Teixeira both had two hits while Chase Headley, Frankie Cervelli, and Drew had one each. Brett Gardner drew the only walk. Esmil Rogers came out of the bullpen and served up a solo homer to James Loney — apparently he tried to quick-pitch him — for the Rays’ totally unnecessary fifth run. The Yankees have scored seven runs during the five-game losing streak, two of which scored when Manny Machado hit Carlos Beltran in the head with a throw.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are now eight games back in the AL East and 4.5 games back to Robinson Cano‘s Mariners for the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 5.8% and shrinking. They’ll try to score a run or two against lefty Drew Smyly during Saturday afternoon’s probable loss. Shane Greene will be on the bump for the Yankees.

Minor League Update: All of the night’s box scores can be seen in one place at MLB Farm. RHP Bryan Mitchell struck out three in five shutout innings, OF Tyler Austin had two doubles and a single, LHP Jacob Lindgren struck out five in two scoreless innings, and C Luis Torrens doubled. Not much else to see there.

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Terrible news: OF Frank Frias suffered a dislocated ankle and broken fibula on a freak play at second base today, according to hitting coach Drew Henson. He’s having surgery tomorrow to put plates in his leg. Sounds like another Ravel Santana/David Adams incident. Yuck.

Triple-A Scranton (8-5 loss to Louisville)

  • 2B Jose Pirela: 1-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
  • CF Zoilo Almonte: 1-5, 1 RBI, 1 K — threw a runner out at second
  • DH Kyle Roller: 1-3, 1 BB
  • RF Zelous Wheeler: 1-4, 1 K
  • RHP Zach Nuding: 5 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 4/6 GB/FB — 64 of 94 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/3 GB/FB — 21 of 37 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Jose Gil: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GB/FB — seven of 15 pitches were strikes (47%) … second straight night they had to put a position player on the mound

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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In this week’s Ask BA (no subs. req’d), J.J. Cooper answered a question comparing OF Aaron Judge to Adam Dunn. “Judge still has a long ways to go to match a Dunn comp,” he wrote. “Judge is 22. At that age, Dunn already had 45 big league home runs. But Judge does have an understanding of the strike zone, and his strikeout rate isn’t all that different than what Dunn did as a minor leaguer.”

In other news, LHP Ian Clarkin was placed on High-A Tampa’s disabled list, the team announced. I’m guessing it’s an innings management thing and not a real injury. It’s the time of the year for that. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Louisville in 14 innings)

  • 2B-RF Jose Pirela: 2-7
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 1-6, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • CF Zoilo Almonte: 2-6, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — three straight multi-hit games
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 1-5, 1 BB, 4 K
  • SwP Pat Venditte: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 42 of 67 pitches were strikes (63%) … had to make a spot start given the recent Bryan Mitchell and Chris Leroux call-ups
  • LHP Jeremy Bleich: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 0 K, 7/1 GB/FB — only 29 of 59 pitches were strikes (49%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 18 of 29 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • LHP Taylor Dugas: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 12 of 30 pitches were strikes (40%) … always sucks when a position player takes the loss

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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