Betances demotion headlines night on the farm

A trio of notes…

  • Big Story: RHP Dellin Betances was demoted to Double-A Trenton. Something had to be done here, the poor kid must have zero confidence left after these last three months. Hopefully getting away from the traveling circus in Triple-A and closer to home allows him to catch his breath for a bit and get back on track. RHP Preston Claiborne went from Double-A to Triple-A in a corresponding move.
  • Medium Story: RHP Adam Miller was released. I kinda called it after his latest dud outing last night. Miller was a very intriguing minor league free agent pickup as a former top prospect, but it just wasn’t working out. He wasn’t missing bats or consistently throwing strikes.
  • Small Story: Triple-A Empire State has just one All-Star representative: LHP Juan Cedeno. DH Jack Cust, UTIL Ronnie Mustelier, and RHP Ramon Ortiz all had great All-Star cases, though Mustelier may not have been with the team long enough. I guess they just wanted to go prospect-heavy for the first time in basically ever.

Triple-A Empire State (3-2 win over Gwinnett)
CF Chris Dickerson: 3-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 K, 1 SB — nine extra-base hits in 16 games since coming off the DL
C Frankie Cervelli & LF Ronnie Mustelier: both 1-3, 1 RBI, 2 K — Cervelli got hit by a pitch … Mustelier drew a walk
DH Jack Cust: 0-2, 2 BB, 1 K — up to 59 walks on the season
1B Russell Branyan & SS Doug Bernier: both 0-4 — Bernier struck out thrice and committed a throwing error
3B Brandon Laird: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — 22nd homer in 923 plate appearances at Triple-A after hitting 23 homers in 506 plate appearances at Double-A
RF Cole Garner: 3-4, 1 K, 1 CS
2B Ramiro Pena: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
RHP Ramon Ortiz: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 4/8 GB/FB — 63 of 100 pitches were strikes
LHP Juan Cedeno: 0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K — 11 pitches, six strikes
RHP Manny Delcarmen: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 4/2 GB/FB — 29 of 49 pitches were strikes (59.2%) … nice effort even though he Clip’d the win

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Yankees had scout at Zack Greinke’s start today

Via Jon Morosi, the Yankees had a scout at Zack Greinke’s start against the Reds today (box score). Given their past history with Greinke, this was likely routine coverage more than anything else. A week or so ago we heard that they had someone watch Wandy Rodriguez as well.

About two weeks ago Joe wrote that the Yankees are likely to be connected to every available starting pitcher between now and the trade deadline just because. There’s no such thing as too much pitching — look at how quickly the rotation thinned out today — and getting involved could theoretically drive the price up for other interested teams. If the Yankees do add a pitcher before the deadline, I would be surprised if it was someone of Greinke’s caliber. A smaller depth move seems more likely.

Wednesday Night Open Thread

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

So today kinda sucked. Yeah the Yankees won, but I would gladly trade a loss for a healthy CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. Both left-handers hit the disabled list today — Sabathia with an adductor strain, Pettitte with a fractured ankle — meaning that pitching depth we spent all winter talking about will be put to the test. Joe Girardi confirmed that Adam Warren will take Sabathia’s place on Sunday and Freddy Garcia will take Pettitte’s on Monday, but D.J. Mitchell and David Phelps are looming as well. It’s these guys’ time to shine.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The Tigers and Rangers will be on ESPN at 8pm ET (Fister vs. Oswalt), and that’s pretty much it for nationally televised sports. Talk about whatever you like here, go nuts.

2012 Draft: Yanks sign second rounder Peter O’Brien

June 27th: Via Jim Callis, O’Brien signed for $460k. The Yankees didn’t save all that much even though he’s a college senior.

June 23rd: Via K. Levine-Flandrup, the Yankees have officially signed O’Brien. Still no word on the bonus, however.

June 21st: Via K. Levine-Flandrup, the Yankees have reached an agreement with second round pick Peter O’Brien, a catcher out of Miami. Slot money for the 94th overall pick is just shy of $508k, but he has little leverage as a college senior and is likely to sign for less. No word on the exact number just yet.

O’Brien is a legitimate prospect and was not just a draft pool saving selection. He’s a right-handed hitter with big power and leadership skills, though most think he’ll continue to outgrow — he’s already listed at 6-foot-5 and 225 lbs. —  the catcher position down the road. You can see all of the Yankees’ draft picks at Baseball America and keep tabs on the draft pool situation with our Draft Pool page.

Phil Hughes talks about his two curveballs

In last night’s game recap I mentioned that Phil Hughes seemed to be throwing two different curveballs against the Indians, one his regular 12-to-6 downer and another that was more 11-to-5 (from the catcher’s point of view). The PitchFX data was unable to help confirm because the difference between the two pitches wasn’t that significant, so they were all classified under the same curveball umbrella. Thankfully, Chad Jennings spoke to Hughes this morning, who confirmed that he is in fact throwing two different curveballs…

Apparently there was some thought during yesterday’s game that Phil Hughes was throwing his slider again. Hughes said this morning that he’s been occasionally using a slightly lower arm angle and throwing a harder, tighter curveball that might look a little bit like a slider. It’s not a new pitch, just a different way of using his curveball. I know he’s done it in the past, and he said he’s been working on it the past six starts or so.

The 11-to-5 curve didn’t look much like a slider to me just because it had a bigger break, but it was clearly different that the 12-to-6er. Obviously this won’t help cure Phil’s homeritis or anything like that, but it does give the hitters something else to think about. As long as he feels confident throwing it and can locate it either down in the zone or (and) on the corners, then it’s a great little addition to his arsenal. If he can’t command the pitch and starts getting beat on it regularly, well then it’s time to shelve it. For now, let’s just keep an eye on when Hughes uses it and how effective it is.

Update: Pettitte out six weeks with fractured left ankle

3:37pm: The Yankees just announced that Pettitte suffered a fractured ankle and will miss a minimum of six weeks. He is not expected to need surgery. Crud.

2:27pm: Andy Pettitte left today’s game in the fifth inning after getting hit by a hard one-hop ground ball in the left ankle/foot. He remained in the game despite looking uncomfortable while testing it out, then was removed after throwing one pitch to the next batter. Stay tuned for updates.

Scouting The Waiver Market: Daniel Moskos

(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

There is something very alluring about former first round picks, especially guys taken in the top ten. Even when they flop in the big leagues and don’t show the skills that got them drafted that high in the first place, someone will take a chance on them in hopes of cashing in on their potential. Sometimes it works out (Gavin Floyd), most of the time it doesn’t.

The Pirates cut ties with a former top pick yesterday, designating left-hander Daniel Moskos for assignment to clear room on the roster for former Yankee farmhand Eric Fryer. Moskos was the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft and has always been a polarizing figure in Pittsburgh because they passed on Matt Wieters (and Madison Bumgarner) to take him. He flamed out as a starter in the minors but did help the Pirates as a reliever last season, pitching to a 2.96 ERA (3.23 FIP) in 31 appearances. Chances are that’s all they’ll get out of their $2.475MM investment. Let’s see if there’s anything about Moskos that should interest the Yankees…

The Pros

  • He’s left-handed! That always counts for something. Moskos has held Triple-A lefties to a .253/.304/.337 batting line with a 48.5% ground ball rate, a 22.3% strikeout rate, and a 6.0% walk rate over the last two years. Those are some mighty strong peripherals.
  • Moskos uses two different offspeed pitches to offset his low-90s fastball — a sweepy low-80s slider and a mid-80s split-change. As a reliever, he owns a 20.0% strikeout rate overall.
  • Moskos has one minor league option remaining (for 2013) and has less than one year of service time to his credit, so he offers flexibility and six years of cheap team control.

The Cons

  • Moskos got hammered by the 49 big league lefties he faced last season (.385 wOBA), though it is a tiny sample. His walk rate (4.1%) was fine, but the strikeout (12.2%) and ground ball (39.5%) were pretty bad. Righties have hit him pretty hard everyone, majors and minors.
  • After sitting in the mid-90s while touching 97 as recently as 2010, Moskos has lost some velocity because he has a herky jerky delivery and lacks athleticism. Usually guys will pick up velocity with a shift to the bullpen, not lose it.
  • Moskos missed time with a sore elbow this season and developed a brief case of the yips in 2010. He is fine now though, both physically with the elbow and mentally with the yips.

Because the Yankees have the best winning percentage in baseball, they are dead last on the waiver priority totem pole. Moskos first has to pass through the entire NL and then the other 13 AL teams before New York could put in a claim. The Yankees have two quality left-handed relievers on the big leagues (Boone Logan and Clay Rapada), two rehabbing from major injuries (Pedro Feliciano and Cesar Cabral), another 40-man guy in Triple-A (Justin Thomas), and two more non-40-man options in Triple-A (Mike O’Connor and Juan Cedeno). Lefty relief isn’t a top priority at the moment.

As Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects wrote yesterday, the move indicates that Moskos fell pretty far down on Pittsburgh’s depth chart. They opted to keep the 32-year-old Doug Slaten over the 26-year-old former fourth overall pick. That said, Moskos does offer that allure of being a former first round pick and there’s a chance someone will give him an opportunity. There’s nothing to lose other than a spot on the 40-man roster and in the Triple-A bullpen. The Yankees have plenty of in-house lefty relief options, enough that they don’t need to pick up the phone and call the Pirates about a trade before Moskos hits the waiver wire. If they put in a claim and get him, great. If not, well no big deal.