Archive for Minors
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.
- 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%)
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
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%)
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.
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.
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
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
First base is a weird position. Teams expect huge offensive production from first base and it’s at the bottom of the defensive spectrum despite being involved in more total plays than any position other than pitcher and catcher. You can’t just stick anyone there either. We’ve seen enough of that firsthand this year. You need offense from first but defense isn’t a huge deal, except for all those times the first baseman handles the ball.
You also rarely hear people talk about a team’s “first baseman of the future” too. There’s plenty of “this guy will be our shortstop for the next ten years,” but first base? Nope. The history of first base prospects is pretty awful as well. Baseball America ranked 37 full-time first baseman among their top 100 prospects from 1995-2005 and only five became bonafide stars: Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Todd Helton, Paul Konerko, and David Ortiz, who made his name at DH.
More recent elite first base prospects like Eric Hosmer and Justin Smoak have been disappointments. Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo are the best of the top first base prospect crop since Fielder while others like Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt were never top prospects. It has historically been a tough position to project and I think that’s because it’s so offense-focused. Hitting is generally considered to be tougher to scout and evaluate than pitching because there is no “textbook” swing. A fastball is a fastball and a slider is a slider. But a swing? Good luck cracking that code.
Anyway, the Yankees are at a point now where the future of first base in the Bronx is up in the air. Mark Teixeira is under contract for another two seasons but he is becoming more and more injury prone with each passing year. His playing time at first base will only go down through injuries and time spent at DH in an effort to keep him healthy. The Yankees have gotten by (barely) with fill-in first basemen during Teixeira’s injuries this season, though I hope that isn’t the plan going forward. To just wing it whenever Teixeira gets hurt.
The Yankees currently have two first base prospect at Double-A Trenton … well, one first base and one kinda sorta first base prospect. The true first base prospect is Greg Bird, who was just promoted and has gone 9-for-30 (.300) with three doubles and three homers during his first week with the Thunder. He had a monster 2013 season (170 wRC+) with Low-A Charleston and offers the kind of left-handed power and patience the Yankees crave. Bird is a recently converted catcher though, so his defense at first can be generously described as a work in progress.
The kinda sorta first base prospect is Tyler Austin, another ex-catcher who has bounced from third to first to right field over the years. He’s spent most of this year playing right in deference to Peter O’Brien and now to Bird. Austin had an outstanding 2012 campaign (~160 wRC+) before a wrist injury marred his 2013 season (103 wRC+). The wrist problem lingered into this season and caused him to miss the start of the year, and after a few slow weeks, he’s hit .319/.362/.518 with six homers since July 1st. It appears 2012 Austin is starting to return as he gets further away from the wrist injury.
Neither Bird nor Austin is a top first base prospect like Hosmer or Fielder — Austin did rank 77th on Baseball America’s top 100 in 2013 — though they are solid prospects expected to be average or better contributors at the MLB level, assuming things work out. League average is valuable, especially when the players are making close to the league minimum in their pre-arbitration years. Austin in particular fits the roster very well as a right-handed hitter with some power who can play both right and first. Bird, as a pure first baseman, is a less perfect fit.
It’s clear at this point the Yankees will need some kind of viable backup for Teixeira going forward just because he gets hurt all the time. It’s not necessarily the 15-day DL stuff either. He’s shown a knack for those 6-7 day injuries, the ones that are short enough to avoid the DL but long enough to force the team to play a man short. The problem is that “backup first baseman” really isn’t a position anymore. No team carries a player specifically for that. They tend to carry, well, someone like Austin, who can play first in addition to the corner outfield, third base, or even catch. Think Mike Carp or Steve Pearce or Scott Van Slyke.
The assumption has been that Brian McCann will eventually have to move to first base, though continues to rate very well defensively in terms of pitching framing, throwing out runners, and blocking balls in the dirt. His bat has been a huge disappointment this season but there is no reason to move him out from behind the plate yet. Since Austin is further along in his development thank Bird and figures to start next season at Triple-A Scranton, he’ll be in position to help the Yankees as soon as next season, perhaps getting his opportunity when Teixeira gets hurt. Bird is still a year or two away and his lack of flexibility hurts his chances. If Austin hits, the Yankees will have some different ways to get him into the lineup. They can’t really do that with Bird.
Until his contract is off the books, Teixeira will be New York’s primary first baseman and that’s just the way it’s going to be. There is no reason to think they’ll bench him or relegate him to DH duty on a regular basis. It would be a drastic change from the way they’ve done business for the last, I dunno, 15-20 years. Teixeira’s injuries will give Austin and later Bird a chance to get into the big league lineup — assuming they’re worth calling up, of course — though staying there is the hard part. The Yankees have had four primary first baseman over the last 30 years and they usually go for stars at the position. The opportunity will come for both Austin and Bird in the next two years, but being a good but not great prospect with the Yankees is a not ideal. They may only be stopgaps until the next big name comes along.
- LF Jose Pirela: 1-3, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K — threw a runner out at the plate
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
- CF Zoilo Almonte: 3-5, 1 RBI
- 1B Kyle Roller: 2-3, 2 2B, 1 RBI — 14-for-37 (.378) with four doubles and four homers in his last ten games
- SS Zelous Wheeler: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K, 1 E (throwing)
- LHP Manny Banuelos: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 4/3 GB/FB — 42 of 67 pitches were strikes (63%) and he was sitting around 91 … first Triple-A start since May 2012 … he’s strung together some really good starts lately, good to see him finishing the year on a high note
- RHP Branden Pinder: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 0/2 GB/FB — 20 of 36 pitches were strikes (56%)
- LHP Tyler Webb: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 15 of 24 pitches were strikes (63%)