Baseball America’s Top 20 International Free Agents

The 2012 international free agent signing period opens on Monday, though this year every team will be limited to $2.9M in bonuses thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Like the draft, there are harsh penalties for exceeding that amount. Next year the spending pool will be based on the standings, so the more you win the less you get.

Ben Badler published a list of this summer’s top 20 prospects, though you need a subscription to read the scouting reports. Both Badler and Enrique Rojas say the Yankees are expected to sign Venezuelan catcher Luis Torrens (#2 prospect) to a sizable deal. They’ve also been connected to Venezuelan outfielder Alex Palma (#4) and Dominican shortstop Wendell Rijo (#10). You can read more about Torrens and Palma here while Balder describes Rijo as a strong runner with power and tremendous baseball instincts, though he may wind up at second base due to his weak arm.

The Yankees have signed Cuban southpaw Omar Luis Rodriguez ($4M) and Dominican right-hander Manolo Reyes ($600k) in recent weeks, their last chance to spend freely before the cap hits. They also made an aggressive offer for Jorge Soler ($25-30M).

Game 77: De Facto Ace

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

With CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte both on the disabled list, Hiroki Kuroda as taken over the role of staff ace by default. Adam Warren & Co. took a pounding last night, so the bullpen is a little short and fans are pretty annoyed after two straight losses (the horror!). Lots of high quality innings will be appreciated today. Here’s the starting nine…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Nick Swisher
RF Raul Ibanez
Russell Martin
LF Dewayne Wise

Today’s game starts a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Roster Move: The Yankees sent Warren back to Triple-A after last night’s game and recalled D.J. Mitchell, who threw 103 pitches on Tuesday and should be good for long relief today. Hopefully that’s not needed. Joe Girardi said that David Phelps will likely start Wednesday and throw 80-85 pitches.

Olney: Yankees not interested in Jim Thome

Via Buster Olney, the Yankees are not interested in trading for Jim Thome. The Phillies are shopping the veteran slugger mostly because he doesn’t fit their roster. I guess the fact that he hasn’t played the field in seven years snuck up on them.

Thome, 41, is hitting .242/.338/.516 with five homers in 71 plate appearances this season while missing more than a month with a back strain. Most of that damage came as a DH during interleague play — .333/.415/.722 with four homers in nine games — and that’s obviously how the Yankees would use him. They’re not going to get rid of Raul Ibanez with Brett Gardner hurt and they also have both Jack Cust and Russell Branyan stashed away in Triple-A. Thome can still mash, but a DH is not on the shopping list.

Warren tattooed as ChiSox hammer Yanks

Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees hadn’t gotten their asses handed to them in quite some time, but the White Sox were nice enough to take care of that on Friday. Just shake it off and come back tomorrow, what else can you do? Let’s quickly recap…

  • Early Runs: I was hoping the Yankees would score some runs early to make life easier on Adam Warren, and they did oblige. Curtis Granderson hit a two-run homer three pitches into Jose Quintana’s game and Andruw Jones followed up with a two-run double a few batters later. Four runs in the first is a pretty good recipe for a win … assuming the rookie starter doesn’t give it all back half-an-inning later.
  • Debut: Warren was terrible in his big league debut, allowing ten of the 17 men he faced to reach base before leaving with six runs on his docket. The ChiSox batters looked incredibly comfortable in the box and not fooled at all, to the point where I wonder if he was tipping his pitches. I’m usually a forgiving guy, especially when talking about someone’s debut, but there’s no way the Yankees can let Warren start against the Rays next week.
  • Death by Bullpen: David Phelps took over for Warren and allowed two runs in his 3.1 innings, the second not until he was over 60 pitches and visibly gassed. I have to think he’ll start in five days, they’d be foolish not to let him. Cory Wade’s been having a real hard time of late, but give him some love for throwing 58 pitches to spare the bullpen in the late innings. Fifth outfielder Dewayne Wise chipped in two outs, the first position player to pitch since Nick Swisher in April 2009.
  • Leftovers: The Yankees tied the game for about a minute in the fourth thanks to Jayson Nix’s two-run double, but it was all downhill from here … every starter had at least one hit, including a pair for Swisher and Andruw … I have to think Wade will hit the DL with something tomorrow, allowing them to bring back Ryota Igarashi for a fresh arm. Warren could be optioned down as well. Maybe D.J. Mitchell will come up for long relief, but he threw 103 pitches on Tuesday. has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Everyone non-Yankees team in the division won (or will win in the Red Sox’s case), so the lead in the division is down to four in the loss column (six up on the Rays and Sox). Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball on Saturday afternoon in an attempt to help salvage this series, squaring off against Jake Peavy. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that one.

Cust & Branyan homer in Triple-A win

First, some notes…

  • OF Mason Williams placed seventh on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet after his little homer binge. “In all likelihood it’s not a random spike, but rather the power of which scouts foretold even when Williams was a 6-foot, 150-pound amateur,” they wrote.
  • 2B Angelo Gumbs and RHP Wilton Rodriguez were both placed on the DL. Gumbs apparently hurt his elbow on a swing. [Josh Norris]
  • OF Abe Almonte was placed on the DL with a hamstring issue. [Mike Ashmore]

Second, bullet point recaps because I’m short on time…

  • Triple-A Empire State (win): Everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except for SS Ramiro Pena. LF Ronnie Mustelier tripled while DH Jack Cust and 1B Russell Branyan each homered. Branyan left the game for an unknown reason in the eighth. RHP Nelson Figueroa allowed two runs in five innings during his return to the rotation, though LHP Justin Thomas left the game after getting hit with a broken bat.
  • Double-A Trenton (loss): DH David Adams and 3B Addison Maruszak each had two hits including a homer. 2B Jose Pirela doubled for their only other hit of the night. RHP Mikey O’Brien got knocked around for eleven hits and eight runs in just four innings of work, but the bullpen picked him up with four scoreless.
  • High-A Tampa (win): DH Slade Heathcott homered for the second straight day and chipped in a double as well. RF Rob Segedin also doubled while LF Neil Medchill (two), SS Jose Mojica (two), and 2B Jose Toussen (three) all had multiple hits. LHP Matt Tracy had his first real bad outing of the season, surrendering seven runs (six earned) on six hits and four walks in 4.2 innings.
  • Low-A Charleston (loss): DH Dante Bichette Jr. and 3B Casey Stevenson each doubled on a slow offensive night. RHP Bryan Mitchell got rocked a bit, allowing four runs in as many innings. That’s pretty much it in an otherwise boring game.
  • Short Season Staten Island (loss): LF Taylor Dugas singled and drew three walks to raise his season OBP to .545. 2B Fu-Lin Kuo doubled twice (yawn) while CF Ravel Santana struck out three times in four at-bats. RHP Gabe Encinas allowed five runs (four earned) in three innings. LHP Eric Erickson made his pro debut with an inning of scoreless relief.
  • Rookie GCL Yankees (win): 3B Miguel Andujar singled, 1B Bubba Jones singled and doubled, and DH Ericson Leonora doubled and homered. LF Nathan Mikolas struck out his two at-bats. LHP Jeremy Bleich threw two scoreless innings in his latest rehab appearance, then RHP Jordan Cote came out of the bullpen to allow two runs in five innings, striking out two and walking none. He’s up 13 strikeouts and two walks in 14 innings.

Aardsma shut down with pain in right elbow

Via Erik Boland, rehabbing right-hander David Aardsma was shut down with pain in his surgically repaired right elbow. “His body basically said, ‘No, no. Too fast,'” said Brian Cashman. “He felt some pain in the medial area (of the elbow) … It happens. So we’re going to back off.”

Aardmsa, 30, is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and had allowed one unearned run in five minor league rehab innings earlier this month. Cashman said they still expect him back this year, but a mid-July return is now unlikely. Aardsma’s 30-day rehab clock resets with the setback and will begin once he appears in another minor league game, hopefully in a week or two.

Game 76: Warren’s First Time

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

You only get one Major League debut, and tonight 24-year-old right-hander Adam Warren will make his. He’ll become the first player to make his big league debut as a starting pitcher for the Yankees since Ian Kennedy in 2007, a game I just so happened to have in my 20-game package that summer. That was neat. Anyway, it would be real nice if the offense could push some runs across early to give Warren some breathing room. Here’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
DH Andruw Jones
LF Jayson Nix
C  Chris Stewart

RHP Adam Warren

Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

HOPE Week: Today’s event featured the Children’s Alopecia Project and a picnic at the New York Botanical Gardens. Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles and leads to hair loss. Chad Jennings has the details.