- David Robertson (oblique) threw a bullpen session today and everything went well. He’ll presumably throw a few more bullpens before appearing in a minor league rehab game or three.
- Brett Gardner (elbow) hit in the batting cage today. Girardi said yesterday that he could return as soon as next weekend. Gardner still needs to take batting practice on the field and get a few minor league rehab games in.
- Joba Chamberlain (elbow and ankle) threw off a half-mound today, your holy cow moment of the afternoon. We’re not even three full months out from his ankle injury, so this is pretty amazing. He still has a long way to go though, remember Joba’s coming back from a rather significant elbow procedure. Still, great news.
- David Aardsma (elbow) threw 20 fastballs in a live batting practice session today, his first time facing hitters since having Tommy John surgery last summer.
The 2012 amateur draft is just two days away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Zach Eflin | RHP
A Florida kid out of Hagerty High School in the Orlando suburbs, Eflin caught some major helium thanks to a velocity spike this spring. He missed time with triceps tendinitis in April but has since returned to the mound. He’s committed to Central Florida.
A classic projectable high school right-hander at 6-foot-5 and 200 lbs., Eflin went from throwing in the upper-80s to sitting in the low-90s and touching 96 this spring. His fading changeup is one of the best in the high school crop and his inconsistent breaking ball morphs between a slider and curveball. Because he’s still growing into his body, he’s struggled to repeat his delivery and it’s led to command problems and that sketchy breaking ball. His baseball acumen and pitchability are considered pluses. Eflin’s total package screams workhorse starter down the line.
Keith Law (#14), MLB.com (#25), and Baseball America (#31) all consider Eflin a first round talent even after the triceps injury, and for what it’s worth, Baseball America had the Yankees selecting him with their first round pick (#30 overall) in their most recent mock draft. I’m a sucker for big high school arms and I like that Eflin has already shown three pitches, a rarity among prepsters. The triceps issue is a concern but it’s not like it’s his shoulder or elbow, plus he’s thrown fine in recent outings. I’m very intrigued and I sorta wish I hadn’t seen that latest mock draft because now my hopes are up.
The Yankees have traded Triple-A first baseman Steve Pearce to the Orioles for cash, the team announced. The 29-year-old was the best hitter on the club’s top farm system affiliate (.438 wOBA) after signing a minor league deal at the end of Spring Training. The Yankees don’t need the cash obviously, the trade is more about freeing up a roster spot for the now healthy Russell Branyan, who’s played a handful of games at High-A following back issues.
Chances are Pearce had a June 1st opt-out clause in his contract. Usually the team is given 48 hours to respond after the player triggers an opt-out, so the Yankees traded him for some cash rather than call him up or lose him for nothing. That’s all speculation on my part though.
Update: That’s exactly what happened according to Chad Jennings. Pearce triggered an opt-out in his contract and the Yankees were obligated to let him go to a team willing to put him on their 25-man active big league roster.
I didn’t see the top half of the eighth inning in last night’s win because I was busy watching Johan Santana throw the first no-hitter in Mets history. Having grown up in a family full of Mets fans, it was pretty exciting. I have a bit of a soft spot for the Amazin’s though I never actively root for them like I did last night. It was a lot of fun and that’s what baseball is supposed to be all about.
As you know, Johan came back this season from major shoulder surgery. He tore the capsule in his left shoulder, the same injury that kept Chien-Ming Wang on the shelf for the better half of two seasons. It was a long road back and Santana deserves a ton of credit for getting back in time for Opening Day and throwing a career-high 134 pitches to finish off the no-no. The Cardinals went into the game leading the NL in AVG, OBP, and SLG, so he certainly earned it.
The Yankees are currently waiting for one of their own to return from a serious shoulder procedure, though it’s still kinda weird to consider Michael Pineda a member of the team given the zero meaningful innings he’s thrown in pinstripes. His shoulder injury was significant but not as significant as Johan’s, who had to have the joint cut open and fashioned back together. Pineda’s surgery was arthroscopic, just a scope. That doesn’t make it insignificant, but it’s better than having an incision.
Santana’s no-hitter and successful return from shoulder surgery don’t really mean anything as far as Pineda is concerned. The Yankees have invested a lot in the young right-hander — in terms of players, not necessarily money — and need him to become a big part of the future, but it’s very easy to feel like he’ll contribute nothing of substance to New York and that’s disappointing. Pineda is no more likely to make a full recovery today than he was yesterday, but Johan’s historic night was a nice little reminder that shoulder surgery is not always a career death sentence.
Via Ken Rosenthal, 20-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler has been declared a free agent and is free to sign with any team. He can sign for any amount until the spending restrictions implemented by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement take effect on July 2nd, so expect him to sign sometime this month.
The Yankees were said to have “serious interest” in Soler earlier this season, but obviously they’re not the only club in the hunt. Bidding could approach $20M across four or five years on a big league contract. I’m a fan based on the little we know and it would be great to see the Yankees add a young player of this caliber to the organization. Either way, expect to here a whole lot about Soler over the next few weeks.
Via Josh Norris, the Yankees had talked with the Nationals about a trade involving one of Washington’s starting pitchers earlier this season. Eduardo Nunez, southpaw prospect Nik Turley, and an unnamed Low-A Charleston outfielder* were supposedly heading the nation’s capitol. Talks have cooled of late and nothing is imminent.
It stands to reason that Edwin Jackson was the subject of the trade talks. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmerman are presumably off-limits and Ross Detwiler, Chien-Ming Wang, and John Lannan aren’t anything special. Certainly not guys you’d trade three young players for. Jackson signed a one-year contract with the Nats this offseason and can’t be traded until June 15th without his consent. It’s an interesting rumor, but Washington lives and dies with its starting pitching. It doesn’t appear that they’re getting enough of an offensive upgrade to dish one of their four best starters, even if he’s only signed through this season.
* I have to think it’s either Ben Gamel or Kelvin DeLeon. I can’t imagine either Mason Williams or Tyler Austin being including in a package like this unless one of Strasburg, Gio, and Zimmermann was on the table, and I find it very hard to believe they are.
The Yankees beat the Tigers on Friday night to guarantee a winning road trip, but don’t expect to see them on the back pages Saturday morning. Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history and that’s pretty cool. Here’s a recap (of the Yankees)…
- Granderslam: If you’ve been reading RAB long enough then you’ve heard me say this before: the only things you can count on young pitchers to do are walk people and get hurt. Anything else is a bonus. The Yankees scored five runs on just one hit in the second inning because rookie southpaw Casey Crosby walked the bases loaded, forced in a run by walking Derek Jeter, and served up a grand slam to Curtis Granderson. Just like they drew it up.
- Sabathia: It was a typical bad CC Sabathia outing, meaning seven innings and three runs. A good start for normal folk but not what you like to see from the ace. Anyway, Sabathia threw 71 pitches in the first three innings but just 42 over his last four innings. Ramon Santiago hit a solo homer and both Prince Fielder and Danny Worth touched him up for run-scoring singles. Big whoop. Sixteen of his 21 outs were recorded on the infield. Go big man.
- Insurance: The Yankees were up 6-3 when Sabathia left the game and they managed to tack on a trio of insurance runs. Andruw Jones doubled in Nick Swisher in the eighth and one inning later Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer out to left-center off Octavio Dotel. I didn’t think it was gone off the bat, but it just kept carrying. An underrated moment of the game was Jayson Nix’s steal of third in the fourth, which allowed Chris Stewart to slap a ground ball single through the drawn-in infield to answer right back after the Tigers scored in the third.
- Leftovers: Clay Rapada pitched for the first time in nine days and retired one of four batters, and it wasn’t either of the two lefties he faced … Rafael Soriano picked up a cheapie save by coaxing a double play ball out of Miguel Cabrera with a five-run lead to bail out Rapada … Boone Logan and Cory Wade bailed out Cody Eppley with a
scorelessone-run eighth … Derek Jeter and Granderson each had two hits, plus Nix reached base three times (double and two walks) … everyone in the starting lineup reached at least once and five of the nine starters reached at least twice.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are now tied with the Orioles for second place in the AL East and are just one back of the Rays in the loss column. Game two of this three-game set is a rare Saturday night game, my least favorite. Hiroki Kuroda and Rick Porcello will be on the bump.