DePaula debuts in the DSL

If you’re looking for video of Dante Bichette Jr.’s first (and only) homer of the season from earlier this week, well here it is. (h/t Danny)

Triple-A Empire State Game One (3-1 loss to Norfolk in seven innings) makeup of yesterday’s rain out
CF Kevin Russo, 2B Corban Joseph, 3B Brandon Laird & C Frankie Cervelli: all 1-3 — Russo struck out … Cervelli drove in a run
DH Jack Cust: 0-2, 1 BB
LF Ronnie Mustelier: 0-3
1B Russell Branyan: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B — as expected, he took over first base following the trade of Steve Pearce
RF Colin Curtis: 0-2
RHP Nelson Figueroa: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 6/5 GB/FB — 59 of 98 pitches were strikes (60.2%) … also picked a runner off first

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2012 Draft: Shane Watson

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.

Shane Watson | RHP

A Southern California kid from the Los Angeles suburbs, Watson garnered a lot of attention this spring for his strong performances against high-end area competition with Lakewood High School. He’s committed to USC.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs., Watson’s bread and butter pitch is one of the best curveballs in the entire draft. It sits in the upper-70/low-80s with sharp break and he has the ability to throw it for strikes or bury it in the dirt for swings and misses. His fastball usually sits in the low-90s and he’s shown the ability to hold his velocity deep into games. He’s also flashed 96-97 in showcase events. Watson throws a changeup and a cutter but both need a lot of work. He has a clean delivery but must work on overall consistency, typical high school stuff. Watson’s athleticism and competitiveness are considered pluses as well. Here’s more video.

Baseball America (#30) and (#34) like Watson more than Keith Law (#50) based on their recent rankings, but all three agree he’s a fringe first rounder/sandwich round player. It’s worth noting that Baseball America said the Yankees have some interest in the young righty for their first round selection (#30 overall) in their latest mock draft. I’m a fan of prep arms in general so you won’t find any complaints here, though I do like that Watson has a legitimate knockout offering in his curveball. Developing an out pitch is one less thing he’ll have to work on in pro ball.

Game 52: Another Youngster

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Yankees pounded rookie left-hander Casey Crosby in his first big league start last night, and they’re actually going to face a younger pitcher tonight. Right-hander Rick Porcello is making his 100th career start today and is more than three months younger than Crosby. That’s what happens when you jump from High-A to the show at age 20. The Yankees have won two straight and five of their last seven, so let’s see if they turn what is already a good road trip into a great road trip. Here’s the lineup…

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

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Tonight’s game starts at 7:15pm ET and can be seen on FOX. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Robertson, Gardner Joba

Got a bunch of injury updates, courtesy of Joe Girardi via Meredith Marakovits

  • 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.

2012 Draft: Zach Eflin

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.

Scouting Report
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), (#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.

Yankees trade Steve Pearce to Orioles for cash

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.

Life After Shoulder Surgery

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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.