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.

Game 74: Andy goes for the sweep

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Yankees have won the first two games of this three-game set against the Indians, and today they have Andy Pettitte on the mound against a very lefty-heavy lineup. It’s a favorable matchup and frankly I’m not even sure the Yankees need it right now. They’ve been playing very well for the last month or so and it’s hard not to feel confident before first pitch on a daily basis. Here’s the lineup…

CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
DH Mark Teixeira
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Eric Chavez
Russell Martin
SS Jayson Nix

LHP Andy Pettitte

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

HOPE Week: Chad Jennings has the details on today’s HOPE Week event featuring five-year-old Andy Fass, who suffers from a rare condition called oculocutaneous albinism.

Yankees place CC Sabathia placed on the DL

The Yankees have placed CC Sabathia on the DL after an MRI showed a Grade I strain of the left adductor. That’s a big muscle in his upper leg, near his hip and groin. Sabathia first felt a “twinge” during Sunday’s start against the Mets but did not say anything until after yesterday’s bullpen session. This will be just the third DL stint of his 12-year career — he missed 23 days in 2005 and 29 days in 2006, both with right oblique strains.

Joe Girardi said Sabathia will miss just two starts and return after the All-Star break. Freddy Garcia will start Friday in his place, though Brian Cashman said the team is leaning towards calling up Adam Warren from Triple-A. As our Bullpen Workload page shows, Warren started on Sunday and would lineup perfectly for Friday’s start if they want to go that way. No word on today’s roster move, they may just play with 24 guys this afternoon.

Cory Wade’s Bad Month

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Yankees were one inning away from shutting out the Indians last night, but Cory Wade let things get out of hand in the ninth and surrendered four runs in his latest dud outing in a month full of them. The 29-year-old right-hander has now allowed nine runs in his last 6.2 innings, spanning ten appearances. He’s walked four, struck out three, and given up three homers during that time. It’s been an ugly stretch, no doubt about it.

Wade has been betrayed primarily by his changeup during this rough patch, the pitch that is usually his go-to weapon. Two of the three homers he’s allowed came on nearly identical mistake changeups, pitches that were supposed to be down and away to right-handed batters — Miguel Cabrera and Jose Lopez — but leaked inside and belt high. That’s a batting practice fastball. The other homer (by Ian Desmond) was an inside fastball that just caught too much of the plate.

“Couple of balls over the middle and they hit them well … kind of sucks,” said catcher Chris Stewart after last night’s game. “His velocity is the same,” added Joe Girardi. “If I saw a real drop in velocity, I’d be concerned. I just think he’s struggling right now.”

Wade isn’t a guy that’s going to blow hitters away with the fastball anyway, but here’s his day-by-day fastball velocity plot if you’re interested. As Girardi said, there’s no drop. Wade did work quite a bit when David Robertson was on the shelf last month, at one point pitching eight times in 16 days. That includes three days in a row and four times in five days to end that 16-day stretch, which coincides exactly with the start of this rough patch. Remember, this is a guy that is two years removed from major shoulder surgery, so maybe he’s just worn out a bit and his all-important command is suffering. Who knows? It’s just a theory.

It’s very easy to write a guy like Wade off because he doesn’t fit the profile. We all like to see some hard-throwers march out of the bullpen and throw gas by hitters, but Cory is a pure finesse guy who mixes his pitches and changes arm slots to keep the batters off balance. It’s unorthodox so we’re skeptical. It worked brilliantly last season and for the first eight or ten weeks of this season, but the last month or so has been rough. Perhaps the other shoe has dropped, perhaps it’s just a slump. I would greatly prefer the latter.

With David Aardsma about three weeks away, Wade still has some time to sort himself out before his roster spot is really in danger. He obviously shouldn’t see any important late-inning situations anytime soon, but he should be given time to work through this. I do believe he has a minor league option left so it’s not like they would release him anyway, plus the current alternatives are Ryota Igarashi, Justin Thomas, and I suppose the recently claimed Danny Farquhar. No thanks. Wade’s awful recent performance could be just a bump in the road or it could be an indication that the end is near, but the Yankees can afford to be patient and give him some time to right the ship — in a reduced role, of course — before making a change.