2012 Draft: Yankees agree to sign 18th rounder Brady Lail

Via James Edward, the Yankees have agreed to sign 18th round pick Brady Lail for a $225k bonus plus another $135k in future college money. The two sides hammered out the deal at an Arizona steakhouse on Friday and the contract will become official tomorrow.

Lail, a high school right-hander from Utah, is a classic project arm at 6-foot-3 and 170 lbs. with a fastball that ranges anywhere from 86-94. He also throws a true knuckle-curve and the occasional changeup, but both pitches — as well as his command — need work. Here’s some video. Since Lail was drafted after the tenth round, $125k of his bonus will count against the draft pool. You can see all of the team’s draft picks at Baseball America and keep tabs on the draft pool situation with our 2012 Draft Pool page.

Ibanez & Chavez lead Yanks to comeback win over Mets

Source: FanGraphs

Things were looking pretty grim for the first six innings, but they sure turned around in a hurry. The Yankees are back into the win column after a quick little three-game losing streak and are 21-7 over the last month. That’s pretty great. Let’s recap…

  • Comeback: Chris Young and his 85 mph fastball shut the Yankees right down for the first six innings, but the third time through the order was a charm for the Bombers. Mark Teixeira opened the seventh with a walk before Nick Swisher blooped a Lucas Duda-aided double to right, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Raul Ibanez. He launched a line drive three-run homer to right, a rocket that snuck over the wall. The best part? The whole thing happened in the span of three pitches. Swisher’s double and Ibanez’s homer both came on the first pitch after ball four to Teixeira.
  • Zombie: With the score knotted at three, Joe Girardi went to his bench with the pitcher due up and watched Eric Chavez hit his first career pinch-hit homer two batters after Ibanez tied the game. It was the exact opposite of Raul’s — a big fly ball the other way that snuck inside the foul pole. The solo homer gave the Yankees the one-run lead they would never give back. Chavez has now hit five homers this season, the same number he hit from 2007-2011. Obviously he missed a bunch of time due to injury, but still amazing nonetheless.
  • Bullpen: Ivan Nova pitched well enough, not great, but the relief corps really slammed the door shut after he left the game with two outs in the sixth. Clay Rapada struck out the only man he faced to strand two runners in the sixth, Boone Logan struck out the two men he faced to strand a runner at third in the seventh, David Robertson struck out the side to strand a pair in the eighth, and Rafael Soriano struck out two in the ninth. Eight of the ten outs the bullpen recorded came on strike three, as did a season-high 15 of the 27 outs overall. The Mets went 1-for-14 with RISP because the Yankees’ hurlers wouldn’t even let them put the ball in play. Great job by these guys.
  • Leftovers: Both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez booted routine ground balls, though Nova was able to pitch around the former … aside from that four-run seventh inning, the Yankees had just two other hits all night … the 1-5 hitters went a combined 1-for-17, with the one being a Jeter single to leadoff the game … the Yankees have hit five homers in the series and all five cleared the old dimensions at CitiField.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. Since both the Orioles and Rays lost, the division lead is up to a season-high three games in the loss column. The rubber game of this three-game set is three things: 1) the final interleague game of the season, 2) the ESPN Sunday Night Game, and 3) perhaps the most interesting pitching matchup of the season (CC Sabathia vs. R.A. Dickey). That’s gonna be a blast. Make sure you check out RAB Tickets if you make a last-minute decision to catch the game.

Williams & Bichette keep hitting in Low-A loss

CF Slade Heathcott is done with his rehab and will join High-A Tampa in the next day or two according to his Twitter feed. I’m surprised he didn’t play even one game in the outfield in the GCL, but whatever. Hopefully he can stay healthy and finish the season strong.

As for the bad news, OF Cody Johnson was placed on the DL with “left hamstring tightness” yesterday, but apparently it’s severe enough that Double-A manager Tony Franklin described it as “the injury that’s going to derail his season.” No bueno.

Triple-A Empire State (8-3 loss to Indianapolis)
RF Kevin Russo: 1-4, 1 R, 2 K, 1 SB
2B Corban Joseph: 2-4, 1 K — had been in a 7-for-31 slump (.226)
LF Ronnie Mustelier & CF Colin Curtis: both 0-4, 1 K
DH Jack Cust: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K — second homer in his last four games
1B Russell Branyan: 0-2, 2 BB, 1 K — 23 walks and 20 strikeouts in 24 games
C Frankie Cervelli: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB
3B Brandon Laird: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
SS Ramiro Pena: 1-3
RHP John Maine: 0.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 1 E (pickoff) — half of his 34 pitches were strikes … I see walking papers in his future
RHP Nelson Figueroa: 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 52 of 85 pitches were strikes (61.2%)
RHP Manny Delcarmen: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 18 of 34 pitches were strikes (52.9%)
LHP Juan Cedeno: 1 IP, zeroes, 3/0 GB/FB — seven of 12 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Russell Martin leaves game with stiff back

Russell Martin left tonight’s game in the eighth inning with a stiff back. Dewayne Wise pinch-hit for him before Chris Stewart took over behind the plate. David Robertson was bouncing breaking balls all over the place in the eighth, but who knows if that caused/contributed to the problem. Martin was likely to get Sunday off anyway with CC Sabathia pitching, but we’ll see what they say. Check back for updates.

Game 70: Early Zeroes

Oh Curtis. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Yankees are stuck in a three-game losing streak and the last two losses have one thing in common: they were down multiple runs before the end of the first inning. Phil Hughes allowed a three-spot to the Braves in the first inning on Wednesday, and yesterday Andy Pettitte gave up five runs before recording his third out. Playing from behind early in the game is a great way to continue a losing streak, so hopefully Ivan Nova tosses up some early zeroes tonight and gives his team a chance to actually have a lead. Here’s the starting lineup…

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

Tonight’s game starts at 7:15pm ET and can be seen on FOX. Enjoy, or least try to.

Aardsma throws two scoreless innings in second rehab game

In his second minor league rehab outing, right-hander David Aardsma gave up two singles in two scoreless innings for the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Yankees. He struck out three, walked none, and got two ground balls. No word on the pitch count, but something in the 30-40 range seems like a reasonable estimation. Aardsma will probably make his next appearance late next week and he could climb the ladder — High-A Tampa seems like a logical next step — soon thereafter.

Mailbag: Second tier prospects exceeding expectations

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Will asks: Isn’t it amazing how non-prospects like Robinson Cano and Ivan Nova have turned into an all-star and an above average starting pitcher? Does this happen often? Who in the Yankees farm do you think can perform better than their minor league stats if they reach the big leagues?

Well, calling Cano and Nova non-prospects is harsh. Baseball America ranked Cano as the team’s second best prospect prior to the 2005 season and I actually thought he was their top prospect at the time, but either way he was clearly one of the club’s best potential big leaguers. He never did crack one of BA’s top 100 lists though. Nova never ranked among New York’s top ten prospects according to Baseball America — he topped out at #13 prior to 2010 — but he was in their top 30 in the Prospect Handbook every year from 2007-2010.

Anyway, the larger point here is that non-top prospects often do turn into above average big leaguers and even stars on occasion. At the same time, if you look at the list of the best starting pitchers over the last three years, the only one of those guys who didn’t project to become an ace was Cliff Lee. Non-top prospects can develop into strong starting pitchers but you very rarely see one develop into a truly elite hurler. Nova’s no ace, but he’s a rock solid starting pitcher with a chance to improve further and become a bit more at age 25.

Dave Cameron wrote a post about hitting being more difficult to scout than pitching a few weeks ago and I recommend giving it a read. Looking at the list of the best hitters over the last three years, not many of those guys were projected to be stars. Joey Votto wasn’t supposed to be the best hitter in baseball, Jose Bautista certainly wasn’t expected to be the game’s premier power hitter, Albert Pujols wasn’t supposed to be one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball history, so on and so forth.

As a layman, pitching appears to be more straight forward. You can see the pitches and their movement as well as the guy’s command, it’s right in front of you. Hitting, on the other hand, has so many intricacies and moving parts that work together that it’s very difficult to predict. I also think that because pitching dictates the game — the hitter reacts to the pitcher, not vice verse — it makes it tougher to properly evaluate hitters. Sometimes it’s quite obvious that a guy will be an excellent hitter, think Alex Rodriguez or Miggy Cabrera, but many times it’s not.

As for the Yankees, I think that OF Ramon Flores could develop into a really strong hitter down the road because he controls the strike zone well and is at the platoon advantage most of the time as a left-hander. I had him just outside the top ten in my preseason top 30, so he’s not a total sleeper. IF Corban Joseph is another one because he makes lots of contact. LHP Nik Turley seems like the obvious “exceed expectations” guy on the mound as a three-pitch lefty without a huge fastball, and RHP Shane Greene probably fits here as well. His stuff is consistently better than the results.