The time for Chance Adams to get an opportunity to help the Yankees is fast approaching

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Fifty-six games into the 2017 season, the Yankees are one of three teams to use only five starting pitchers this year. The Yankees, the Cardinals, and the Braves. That’s the list. And soon it’ll be only the Yankees and Cardinals. The Braves put Bartolo Colon on the disabled list two days ago and will call up top pitching prospect Sean Newcomb to start in his place this weekend.

At some point this year, possibly sooner rather than later, the Yankees will use a sixth starting pitcher. It’s inevitable in baseball these days. The question is whether they will use that sixth starter because they want to use one to give their other starters rest, or because they have to use one due to injury or poor performance. Obviously the former is much more preferable.

Whenever the time for a sixth starter comes, one of the names the Yankees are sure to consider is Chance Adams, arguably their top pitching prospect overall (eh) and inarguably their top pitching prospect at the Triple-A level (duh). Last time out Adams took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. The start before that, he struck out 12 in six innings.

So far this season the 22-year-old Adams has a 1.55 ERA (3.34 FIP) with 26.5% strikeouts and 10.4% walks in eleven starts and 64 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A. Last year he had a 2.33 ERA (2.96 FIP) with 29.1% strikeouts and 7.9% walks in 24 starts and 127.1 innings. To call the reliever-to-starter conversion a success would be a pretty big understatement. Adams has been great since joining the rotation.

While the overall numbers look nice, Adams is not a finished product sitting in Triple-A. He’s still working to improve his changeup to combat left-handers, and his walk rate is a wee bit too high, which pitching coach Larry Rothschild recently chalked up to subpar fastball command. He’s working on it though. Here’s what Rothschild told Brendan Kuty:

“I think everybody  — the guys who have been working with him in the minor leagues — I think he’s been talked to about that certainly when he was with us (in big league Spring Training). I think it’s just a natural maturation process. I think he’s perfectly capable of (improving his fastball command). I think at times, just watching the tape of him this year, where he’s been good.”

Can Adams help the Yankees right now? I think so, though I’ll admit I’m less confident in his ability to step right into a big league rotation and be consistently solid from the get-go the way Jordan Montgomery did. That’s not intended to be a knock on Adams! Montgomery was a really polished prospect who’s been a starting pitcher basically his entire life. Going through a lineup three times wasn’t that new to him.

Adams has the tools to help the Yankees soon as a starting pitcher, and like most young starters, chances are there will be some bumps along the way. That’s baseball. He’s got to get his feet wet at some point though, and I think that time is rapidly approaching. Joe Girardi shot down Adams replacing Montgomery in the rotation — “Really? Are you kidding me? Come on now,” said Girardi to Bryan Hoch when asked that over the weekend — so that won’t happen, nor should it.

On merit, the starting pitcher who most deserves to lose his rotation spot is Masahiro Tanaka, and even though I am in favor of giving him a little time out, I’m not sure it’ll happen. I think the odds are pretty good the Yankees will ride it out with him and hope he fixes things on the fly. In that case, pretty much the only way to get Adams’ feet wet in the big leagues is as a spot sixth starter. Call him up, make a start to give the guys a rest, then go back down.

There are some roster consequences to doing that, namely:

  1. Someone has to be designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot.
  2. Someone has to be demoted to clear a 25-man roster spot, and they won’t be able to come back up for ten days.
  3. Adams would burn one of his three minor league options when he’s sent back down.

And maybe those things aren’t that big a deal. The Yankees could drop the wholly ineffective Tommy Layne from the roster, which would open both 25-man and 40-man spots, then call up any one of a number of players from Triple-A when Adams goes back down. Gio Gallegos, Luis Cessa, Ben Heller, etc. The Yankees would be tying up a 40-man spot for good though, so they’d lose some flexibility.

The minor league options thing might not be that big of a deal either. Should Adams go up and down these next three years, he’ll qualify for a fourth option because he’d burn his original three within his first five pro seasons. Also, if the Yankees need to think about using an option on Adams in 2020, something’s gone wrong. He should have established himself as a big leaguer by then. The 40-man is a bigger issue than the minor league options, I think.

The Yankees aren’t shy about throwing prospects right into the fire. Luis Severino made his big league debut against the Red Sox. Gary Sanchez was called up for a game last May specifically to face Chris Sale. I suppose the Yankees could call up Adams to make a spot start against the Orioles this Sunday, the day he lines up to pitch, which would allow them push Tanaka back a day so he could face the lowly Angels in Anaheim on Monday. Not the worst idea.

Either way, I get the sense Adams is going to make his big league debut very soon, as in before the end of the month. Hopefully it is on the Yankees’ terms (he’s ready) and their hand isn’t forced (someone is out and they need a starter). The Yankees are going to give Adams every chance to be part of the rotation long-term, and part of the process is allowing him to get his feet wet this summer. His time is coming and soon.

Sabathia’s brilliant outing leads the Yankees to 8-0 win over the Red Sox

This was a very refreshing game, especially after a frustrating loss last night. CC Sabathia went eight strong innings while the offense picked him up, particularly … Chris Carter??? Anyways, it was a good baseball night for Yankee fans. They improve to 33-23 and are now up 2 games in the AL East again.

(Elsa/Getty Images)
(Elsa/Getty Images)

The Stopper

Just what the doctor ordered. As Katie Sharp noted, Sabathia has been lights-out this year in games following a team loss. The Yankees were in danger of the Red Sox tying them for first place in the AL East and CC denied it.

Sabathia didn’t get many whiffs – 5 overall – but he got weak outs and called strikes attacking the zone. Take a look:

bandicam-2017-06-08-11-29-23-448

Sabathia threw a lot outside to RHH’s and inside to LHH’s. A good amount of contact was made on pitches towards the edges of the zone, which is how Sabathia intends to approach hitters – he’s not as overpowering anymore so he needs some finesse to get through the lineup.

When it was all said and done, Sabathia had a 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K outing, which is more than you could ask from a starter facing the Red Sox lineup. He improved to 7-2, 3.66 ERA for the season. Surprising how well he’s done, huh? Especially after the bad start he had to this season (5.77 ERA in first 7 starts). He has allowed only 4 ER in the past 5 GS and 32.1 IP, which is good for a 1.11 ERA.

Runs! 

Unlike last night, when hitting with RISP was the team’s kryptonite — they went 0-for-10 in team’s many chances — tonight was a different story: the team went 5-for-12 in RISP situations and the most impressive offensive performer was Chris Carter. That’s how you know the game is going your way, eh?

The Yankees got the scoring started in the third inning. Didi Gregorius hit a 81 mph changeup fading downwards over the right-center fence for a solo home run. Chase Headley and Carter both followed it up with back-to-back singles and advanced to second and third with a Red Sox infield error. No outs, two runners and scoring position, time to break the game wide open, right? Brett Gardner struck out, Aaron Hicks popped out to make it two outs, and Red Sox intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday, who flew out to right field to end the inning. New York took a lead but man, that was a tease.

(Elsa/Getty Images)
(Elsa/Getty Images)

The bats got back into it the next inning, however. Starlin Castro tripled to deep center and Gary Sanchez banged a single to bring him in, breaking a 0-for-13 team cold streak in RISP chances. After a Didi flyout, Headley singled to put two runners on. Carter got a hold of a fastball down the middle and hit a 3-run homer to put the Yankees up top, 5-0.

Carter could have added another HR to his day but was robbed, maybe more than in a way. In the bottom of sixth, he hit a big fly towards right that seemed to head into the seats but Mookie Betts made a perfectly-timed leap to make a catch… or did he? The replays showed that the fan clearly touched the ball before the ball went into the glove, which should be ruled a home run. However, despite Joe Girardi‘s protest, the umpires declined to look at the replays. Weird.

Anyways, the Yankees got more runs off Rick Porcello in the seventh. Gardner reached on an error by the second baseman Josh Rutledge and stole second to put himself into, again, a RISP situation. Two hitters later, with the Red Sox pitcher changed to Blaine Boyer, Holliday hit an infield single that drove in Gardner to make it 6-0.

But wait! We’re not done here. With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Gregorius (single) and Headley (walk) reached base against Boyer. Carter, as he did all night, made contact and hit an RBI single that scored Didi. Gardner joined the RBI party with a single to make it 8-0 Yankees.

The factor to the offensive outburst tonight? Well, the top part of the lineup was quiet tonight (2-for-17) but the rest of them were en fuego (10-for-19). Also, as mentioned, helps a lot when Carter drives in 4 runs. He’s taken bad reps most of the year but he came up huge tonight. Props to the big man.

One last fun fact courtesy of Katie Sharp: this is the largest shutout win against the Red Sox at (any) Yankee Stadium since Sept. 3, 1965. Pretty unbelievable that taken been that long.

Box score, standings and WPA graph

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees will look to take the series tomorrow in the rubber match of the series. Big Mike Pineda will take the mound against David Price. Should be a fun matchup.

DotF: Frazier’s big game leads Scranton to a win

A few quick injury related notes:

  • OF Blake Rutherford has been placed on the Low-A Charleston disabled list with a foot contusion, reports Chris Tripodi. He left Sunday’s game after drawing a walk in his only at-bat. Hopefully it’s not too bad and Rutherford will be back after the 7-day DL stint is up. Maybe he fouled a pitch off his foot or something.
  • RHP Albert Abreu has been placed on the High-A Tampa disabled list, the team announced. He left last night’s start after two innings and 22 pitches. No idea what’s wrong with him, but Josh Norris heard Abreu was throwing 91-96 mph last night with good secondary stuff, so that’s encouraging. I guess.
  • C Kyle Higashioka has been activated off the Triple-A Scranton disabled list, the team announced. He last played May 14th. I could have sworn I remember seeing something about Higashioka taking a foul tip to the hand, but I can’t find it now. Either way, he’s back. Always nice to have catching depth intact.
  • LHP Stephen Tarpley has been activated off the High-A Tampa disabled list, the team announced. I have no idea what was wrong with him, but he’s been out all season. Tarpley came over from the Pirates in the Ivan Nova trade last year.

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 win over Rochester)

  • 2B Tyler Wade: 2-5, 1 R, 2 K — 11-for-27 (.407) during his seven-game hitting streak
  • RF Dustin Fowler: 1-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 SB
  • SS Gleyber Torres: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) — video of the double is above
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K — three straight games with a double … he’s also 3-for-15 with ten strikeouts in his last four games
  • LF Clint Frazier: 3-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 SB — had been in a 3-for-19 (.158) slump
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 1-4, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 2 K
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1/5 GB/FB — 61 of 99 pitches were strikes (62%) … quietly has a 61/17 K/BB in 60 innings
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 24 of 35 pitches were strikes (69%) … 42/1 K/BB in 29.1 innings

[Read more…]

Game 56: Stop the Skid

(Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Al Bello/Getty Images)

Calling back-to-back losses a skid may seem premature, but this certainly feels like the beginning of a rough patch. The Yankees are 3-5 since Memorial Day, with all of those games (and the next five) coming against AL East opponents, and first place hangs in the balance tonight. The ship can be righted in a hurry, of course, but a victory tonight would provide a bit of much needed breathing room.

CC Sabathia will be at the helm (this will be the last of my boat metaphors), and he has improved rapidly over his last few weeks. He had a 5.77 ERA/5.21 ERA as of May 9, with below-average strikeout (15.3%) and walk (9.7%) rates. In his last four starts, however, he has pitched to a 1.48 ERA/3.26 FIP, which much improved strikeout (27.1%) and walk (6.3%) rates. Sabathia isn’t this good, but he’s not as bad as his first seven starts suggested, either – I’ll settle for the middle ground. Here’s the Red Sox lineup that he’ll face tonight.

And Red Sox starter Rick Porcello will have to deal with this lineup:

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Aaron Hicks, CF
  3. Aaron Judge, RF
  4. Matt Holliday, DH
  5. Starlin Castro, 2B
  6. Gary Sanchez, C
  7. Didi Gregorius, SS
  8. Chase Headley, 3B
  9. Chris Carter, 1B

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM EST, on the YES Network.

2017 Draft: Alex Lange

Alex Lange | RHP

Background
The 21-year-old Lange went undrafted out of a Missouri high school because of his strong commitment to LSU even though he was considered a top five rounds talent. He was dominant as a freshman, throwing 114 innings with 131 strikeouts and a 1.97 ERA en route to helping the Tigers to the College World Series. Lange hasn’t been quite that good since, though he has a 2.87 ERA with 124 strikeouts and 34 walks in 103.1 innings this spring.

Scouting Report
Lange has one of the best two-pitch mixes in the 2017 draft class. He sits anywhere from 93-96 mph with his fastball and has touched as high as 98 mph in the past. His hard low-80s curveball is a legitimate out pitch. Lange has worked hard to improve his changeup, which is promising, but it’s still not a reliable weapon. His delivery is not the prettiest thing in the world and he tends to rush through it at times, hurting his location. Lange also has a tendency to try to throw the ball through a brick wall in tough spots. That’s something that can be fixed with experience though.

Miscellany
MLB.com ranks Lange the highest in their latest draft rankings. They have him 23rd. Baseball America has him 34th and Keith Law (subs. req’d) has him 45th. The Yankees hold the 16th overall pick. Lange comes with some reliever risk because his changeup needs work and his delivery can be violent, though his track record as a three-year starter at a major college program ensures he’ll get a chance to start in pro ball. The Yankees love their power arms, though in Lange’s case, he seems like a ‘tweener. Taking him in the first round might be a bit of a reach, but waiting until the second round means you’re probably not going to get him.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: June 2012

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

The trade deadline is inching closer and closer, and now that we’re in June, it’s time for another trip through the MLB Trade Rumors archives. June is typically when trade chatter starts to pick up, and usually we see a few deals as well. For the most part though, the month of June is about laying the groundwork. Scouting players, seeing who’s available, that sort of thing.

On the morning of June 1st, 2012, the Yankees were 27-23 and in third place in the AL East, only 1.5 games back of the Rays and Orioles, who had identical 29-22 records. The Yankees closed out May with six wins in eight games. At that point of the season, the Yankees had already suffered three major injuries: Michael Pineda (shoulder), Brett Gardner (elbow), and Mariano Rivera (knee). There was no real shortage of needs. Let’s jump into the MLBTR archives.

June 1st, 2012: Yankees Eyeing Matt Garza

Matt Garza interests the Yankees more than other potentially available starters, so GM Brian Cashman could pursue the right-hander this summer, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The Red Sox could also pursue Garza, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com notes (on Twitter).

I remember being all about Garza in the weeks leading up to the 2012 trade deadline. He was only 27 at the time, and he was coming off a 3.32 ERA (2.95 FIP) in 198 innings in 2011. Plus he was under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2013. It was a chance to get a high-end starter with AL East experience in the middle of his prime.

The Yankees and many other teams reportedly remained engaged with the Cubs about Garza — the Cubbies went 61-101 that season and were clear sellers — though all the trade talk was put on hold when he left his July 21st start with elbow stiffness. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with a stress reaction and shut down for the season. Good thing the Yankees didn’t make a deal in June, huh? I was very much on board with going after Garza before the injury.

June 2nd, 2012: Orioles Acquire Steve Pearce, DFA Bill Hall

The Orioles have acquired first baseman Steve Pearce from the Yankees and designated utility man Bill Hall for assignment, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter).  The Yankees will receive cash considerations in return, tweets Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com.

A quick recap of Steve Pearce’s 2012 season:

  • March 27th: Released by the Twins.
  • March 29th: Signed minor league deal with the Yankees.
  • June 2nd: Traded to the Orioles for cash.
  • July 28: Claimed off waivers by the Astros.
  • August 27: Traded to the Yankees for cash.
  • September 29: Claimed off waivers by the Orioles.

That couldn’t have been fun for Pearce. Imagine if the recent Ruben Tejada trade plays out the same way. The Yankees trade a superfluous Triple-A depth player to the O’s in early June, then he inexplicably hits .258/.339/.482 (127 wRC+) the next three seasons.

June 7th, 2012: AL East Notes: Reyes, Rundles, Blue Jays

The Yankees have signed 22-year-old Dominican right-hander Manolo Reyes, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America.  The contract is worth $600K but is contingent on Reyes obtaining a visa and passing an MLB investigation into his identity and age, as Reyes has already served one year-long suspension due to problems with his paperwork.  Reyes was originally signed by the Braves in 2009.

Manolo! Reyes threw extremely hard. He was one of the hardest throwers in the farm system at the time, routinely hitting 99-100 mph. He also had no idea where the ball was going. Reyes was with the Yankees from 2013-16, and during that time he had a 4.14 ERA (3.78 FIP) in 87 total innings, none above High-A ball. He walked 65 (16.3% of batters faced) and struck out 90 (22.5%). The Yankees released Reyes last year and, as far as I can tell, he hasn’t hooked on anywhere since. They paid him a $600,000 bonus plus however much in annual salary for 87 Single-A innings. It’s good work if you can get it.

June 9th, 2012: Yankees Not Looking For Outfield Help

Left fielder Brett Gardner has played just nine games this season due to a right elbow strain, and today he suffered a setback that will likely keep him out through the All-Star break. Despite that, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including Chad Jennings of The Journal News) that he hasn’t looked into trading for outfield help just yet.

“I haven’t been looking,” said Cashman. “That doesn’t mean that (it’s out of the question). Now you’ve passed the draft, people will be more interested in having conversations. I have not had any conversations with anybody about anything.”

Gardner hurt his elbow making a sliding catch in April and it just wasn’t getting any better. He eventually had surgery in July and was able to return very late in the season. The injury pushed Raul Ibanez into left field on a nearly full-time basis before the Yankees swung the trade for Ichiro Suzuki. Eight different players started a game in left field for New York that year:

  1. Raul Ibanez: 65 starts in left
  2. Andruw Jones: 41
  3. Ichiro Suzuki: 26
  4. Dewayne Wise: 9
  5. Jayson Nix: 9
  6. Brett Gardner: 8
  7. Eduardo Nunez: 3
  8. Chris Dickerson: 1

Don’t forget Darnell McDonald either! He played one game in left field during his four days as a Yankees, though he did not start. The Yankees got a .241/.312/.415 (92 OPS+) batting line from their left fielders that season, which was a) not that awful considering the personnel, and b) their least productive position. The 2012 Yankees could score some damn runs.

June 13th, 2012: Ben Sheets Throws For Team

Righty Ben Sheets threw for scouts today in Monroe, Louisiana, MLBTR has learned.  Scouts from the Phillies, Braves, Yankees, and Angels were in attendance.

Oh man, I loved Ben Sheets. His 2004 season is one of the best pitching seasons no one talks about. Injuries completely ruined his career — he threw 119.1 innings from 2009-11, all in 2010 — but when he was young and healthy, he was dominant. Dude was tough as nails and his curveball was as pretty as it gets:

The Yankees never did sign Sheets that year. He wound up hooking on with the Braves and throwing 49.1 innings in nine starts with a 3.47 ERA (4.11 FIP). I have absolutely zero recollection of Sheets in Atlanta. He never pitched again after that. Sheets is still only 38, you know. He’s basically the same age as John Lackey.

June 14th, 2012: Yankees Notes: Quentin, Swisher, Nunez

The Yankees don’t consider Carlos Quentin as a fit for their needs, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  The Yankees would want to fill left field with someone “speedier” than Quentin, which probably also means someone more defensively capable (Quentin has a career UZR/150 of – 9.1). 

I didn’t love the idea of Quentin, but I understood it. The Yankees needed a left fielder in the wake of Gardner’s injury, and Quentin was hitting .421/.542/.921 (290 wRC+) on the day of this report. That was small sample size noise though. Quentin didn’t make his season debut until May 28th after having knee surgery in March. He finished the season with a .261/.374/.504 (146 wRC+) line and 16 homers in 340 plate appearances.

The two biggest reasons I wasn’t a fan of trading for Quentin were his defense and his injury history. He was a brutal outfielder, especially after knee surgery. One of the few players who was as bad or worse than Ibanez. And the guy got hurt all the time, partially because he was so prone to getting hit by pitches (127 HBP in 834 games). Only three times in nine MLB seasons did he play at least 100 games. The Padres never did trade Quentin. They signed him to a three-year extension in July instead. He played 132 games during the three-year deal.

June 15th, 2012: Yankees Like Dempster; Dodgers Eyeing Garza

Several contenders, including the Yankees and Dodgers, covet Dempster, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Unlike Garza, Ryan Dempster was an impending free agent in 2012, so the Cubs pretty much had to move him. He was having a good year too. A 2.11 ERA (3.28 FIP) through 12 starts and 81 innings following his start on the day of this report. The Yankees stuck to their guns and didn’t trade for any rotation help in 2012. They won 95 games and rode it out with what they had.

Dempster, meanwhile, was traded to the Rangers at the deadline for a package that included Kyle Hendricks. Dempster with the Cubs: 2.25 ERA (3.43 FIP) in 104 innings. Dempster with the Rangers: 5.09 ERA (4.08 FIP) in 69 innings. Reminder: don’t pay for outlier performance at the trade deadline. This was Dempster’s final start with Texas:

That game, Game 162 in 2012 to decide the AL West, was easily one of the most fun and exciting non-Yankees games of the last ten years. As long as you weren’t rooting for the Rangers, that is.

June 15th, 2012: East Notes: Blue Jays, Phillies, Braves, Soler

The Braves were right there with the Cubs and willing to spend $30MM on Jorge Soler, tweets Peter Gammons of MLB.com.  The White Sox and Yankees, meanwhile, had bids that fell between $25MM and $30MM.

The Yankees tried and failed to sign Soler, which has become a bit of a pattern with the top Cuban prospects over the years. Soler was billed as the ultra-talented superstar in waiting, as all young Cuban players are, and five years later, he’s basically the next Jose Guillen. Lots of power, too much swing and miss, awful defense. I remain absolutely stunned the Cubs were able to trade him straight up for one year of Wade Davis. How?

June 18th, 2012: Quick Hits: Padres, Phillies, Drabek, Vlad

GM Brian Cashman told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that the Yankees haven’t pursued contract extensions for Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson, but aim to keep both players long-term (Twitter link).

Welp.

June 20th, 2012: Astros Will Listen On Wandy Rodriguez

The Astros will listen to offers for left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, and teams are watching the left-hander in anticipation of the July 31st trade deadline, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The Yankees, Giants and Blue Jays had representatives in attendance for Rodriguez’s start against the Royals last night, Morosi reports.

The Astros were still in the National League at the time, and there was a lot of concern Rodriguez, a finesse southpaw on the wrong side of 30, wouldn’t be able to cut it in the so-called Junior Circuit. He had been a solid pitcher for a while though:

  • 2009: 3.02 ERA  and 3.54 FIP in 205.2 innings
  • 2010: 3.60 ERA and 3.50 FIP in 195 innings
  • 2011: 3.49 ERA and 4.15 FIP in 191 innings

On the day of this report, he had a 3.29 ERA (4.20 FIP) in 95.2 innings. He finished the season with a Wandy-esque 3.76 ERA (3.93 FIP) in 205.2 total innings and was traded to the Pirates at the deadline. Wandy bounced around a bit at the end of his career, and his final big league appearance was a one-inning, seven-run disaster in this game:

That was a fun game. I didn’t realize it effectively ended Wandy Rodriguez’s career.

June 20th, 2012: Yankees To Sign Omar Luis

4:23pm: The left-hander will obtain a $4MM bonus, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. He has five pitches, including a fastball that ranges from 86-92 mph, and a competitive approach.

Luis was the last Cuban player the Yankees signed before the new international bonus pools kicked in on July 2nd. He might have been the last player they signed before the bonus pools period. Anyway, Luis was a total dud. He had a 4.80 ERA (5.11 FIP) with nearly as many walks (75) as strikeouts (86) in 99.1 lower level innings before being released following the 2015 season. He’s been out of baseball since. Also, his $4M bonus was later reduced to $2.5M after the Yankees saw something they didn’t like in his physical. A swing and a miss, this was.

June 26th, 2012: Yankees Claim Danny Farquhar Off Waivers

The Yankees have claimed Danny Farquhar off waivers from the Athletics, the team announced. Oakland designated the right-hander for assignment over the weekend.

How often does a player go from waiver claim to trade bait within a month? That’s what happened with Farquhar. The Yankees grabbed him on waivers, he spent a few weeks with Double-A Trenton (11 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 K!), then he went to the Mariners in the Ichiro deal. Farquhar has carved out a nice little career for himself as a middle reliever/sometimes setup guy. Grabbing a dude on waivers then trading him for a future Hall of Famer the next month is some video game roster building stuff. I’m pretty sure I’ve done that in MLB: The Show a few times over the years.

June 28th, 2012: Zack Greinke Rumors: Thursday

“A couple of teams,” including the Yankees, feel that Greinke may not be suited for pitching in a large market, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  Greinke did tell the Yankees he would pitch for them when he was in the process of being dealt from the Royals to the Brewers. 

Does anyone still believe this “Greinke can’t handle a big market” nonsense? I hope not. That ridiculous assertion was made by people who really have no idea what social anxiety disorder, something Greinke battled way back in the day with the Royals, actually is. He had a 2.30 ERA (2.97 FIP) in three years with the large market Dodgers, including a 2.38 ERA with a .186/.217/.310 batting line against in six postseason starts, all while pitching with a monster contract. Not sure he can handle the spotlight, you guys. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a truly great player — Greinke’s going to end up a borderline Hall of Famer when it’s all said and gone — be more unfairly characterized as Greinke.

June 29th, 2012: Yankees Claim Schwinden, Designate Farquhar

The Yankees claimed right-hander Chris Schwinden off of waivers from Cleveland, the Indians announced. The Yankees designated Danny Farquhar for assignment in a related move, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports (on Twitter).

My favorite part of these MLBTR Archives posts is being reminded of players I had completely forgotten about, like Schwinden. This was a one-month stretch of his life in 2012:

  • June 2nd: Claimed off waivers by Blue Jays from Mets.
  • June 6th: Claimed off waivers by Indians from Blue Jays.
  • June 29th: Claimed off waivers by Yankees from Indians:
  • July 5th: Claimed off waivers by Mets from Yankees.

Hopefully he got some airline miles and hotel points out of that. Schwinden appeared in one game as a member of the Yankees organization, allowing four runs in four innings in a spot start for Triple-A Scranton. He’s been out of baseball since 2014, though at least he got to get a taste of the show with the Mets in 2011 and 2012.

June 29th, 2012: Quick Hits: Thome, Blue Jays, Oliver, Orioles

As the Phillies look for a place to move Jim Thome, the Rays and Yankees are not interested, sources tell Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter). 

JIM THOME. Man, that would have been fun. Because Ibanez was playing so much left field in the wake of the Gardner injury, the Yankees had an opening at DH, and they rotated players in and out at the position all season. Seventeen different players saw time at DH in 2012. 17! Among them were — and I’m not joking — Ramiro Pena and Melky Mesa. They could have used Thome at DH. Jimmer Jammer was with the Phillies as a bench bat at the time, and they later traded him to the Orioles, where he hit .257/.348/.396 (102 wRC+) with three homers in 115 plate appearances. That was the final chapter of his should-be Hall of Fame career. The Yankees ended it in the ALDS that October.

Five Years Later: The 2012 Draft

Hensley. (MiLB.com)
Hensley. (MiLB.com)

Baseball is a young man’s game these days. Teams are better at scouting and player development than ever before, so we’re now seeing players get to the big leagues and have an impact in a hurry. The old saying is you need five years before you can properly evaluate a draft class. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. Nowadays teams have a pretty good idea of what they have three years after the draft.

The 2017 amateur draft begins next Monday, and since five years is the historical standard, it’s time to look back at the Yankees’ 2012 draft haul. That was the first draft with bonus pools, meaning teams could not spend freely anymore. The Yankees went 97-65 in 2011 and held the 30th overall pick in the 2012 draft, giving them a $4,192,200 bonus pool. They did have an extra pick that year too. The Yankees received the 89th overall selection as compensation for failing to sign second rounder LHP Sam Stafford in 2011.

Barring a surprise development at some point, the 2012 draft is completed devoid of impact for the Yankees. They made 41 picks, signed 28 of them, and only five have reached MLB, all as spare part players. Only two of the other 23 picks even have a chance at a big league call-up, and neither projects to be an impact player. Not a great draft for the Yankees. Let’s review their 2012 draft haul.

The Top Pick

No one quite knew what to expect in the 2012 draft because of the new bonus pools. Would teams spread the bonus money around? Spend big on one player and save elsewhere? Turns out it was a little of both. Talent came off the board much more linearly. The top prospects went at the top of the draft, which is how it should be.

The Yankees used their first round pick, that 30th overall selection, on Oklahoma HS RHP Ty Hensley. Prior to the draft Hensley was ranked as the 23rd best prospect available by Baseball America. MLB.com ranked him 26th and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked him 36th. When New York’s pick rolled around, Hensley was the second best prospect remaining on Baseball America’s board behind Lance McCullers Jr. McCullers slipped because he floated huge bonus demands.

“We’re excited to get a guy with such a high ceiling,” said scouting director Damon Oppenheimer after the draft. “He has the ideal body for a high school pitcher, as well as power stuff, and has the ability to be a high-end starter. He’s demonstrated quality makeup and has shown himself to be a hard worker, which makes him a quality pick for us.”

The physical issues with Hensley started almost immediately. The two sides quickly agreed to a full slot $1.6M bonus, though the Yankees found what was called an “abnormality” in Hensley’s shoulder during his physical — there were rumors he was missing 40% of his labrum, though that was never confirmed — so the two sides went back to the negotiating table. It wasn’t until the day of the signing deadline that they agreed to a reduced $1.2M bonus.

The Yankees and Hensley agreed to the reduced bonus so late that the team couldn’t use the $400,000 in savings elsewhere. There wasn’t enough time to negotiate with other players. That $400,000 in bonus pool space was unspent. Despite the shoulder abnormality, Hensley made his pro debut later that season, throwing 12 innings with a 3.00 ERA (4.43 FIP) in rookie ball. He struck out 14 and walked seven in 12 innings.

The next time the Yankees would see Hensley on the mound in an official game was 2014. He opened 2013 back in Extended Spring Training, and that May hip issues sent him to the operating table. Hensley had surgery on both hips to correct impingements, and during his rehab he needed another surgery to treat a hernia. It wasn’t until June 2014 that Hensley got back into official games. He threw 30.2 rookie ball innings with a 2.93 ERA (3.38 FIP) and a 40/11 K/BB.

That was the last time Hensley would pitch for the Yankees. During the 2014-15 holiday season, Hensley was brutally attacked by a former college football player, and once he recovered from his injuries, he blew out his elbow in Spring Training. Hensley missed the 2015 season with Tommy John surgery. Then, while rehabbing in May 2016, he blew out the new ligament and needed another Tommy John surgery. In parts of five seasons, Hensley threw 42.1 innings.

This past offseason Hensley was Rule 5 Draft eligible for the first time and of course the Yankees didn’t add him to the 40-man roster. How could they? I know he’s a former first round pick, but the farm system is loaded and Hensley hadn’t pitched since 2014. The Yankees didn’t just leave him unprotected for the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. They left him unprotected for the minor league phase too. They used their reserve list spots on other players.

The Rays selected Hensley with the third pick of the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft this past December, and the minor league phase works differently than the Major League phase. Tampa doesn’t have to keep him on their roster all season or anything like that. Hensley is theirs to keep now, with no roster shenanigans. He is still rehabbing from the back-to-back elbow constructions and has not pitched this year. He’s probably out until 2018.

It would be very easy to trash the Yankees for a bad first round pick, especially given their first round track record since Derek Jeter, but geez, how could they see all this coming? Hensley’s talent isn’t the problem. It’s been the injuries. A shoulder abnormality. Two hip surgeries. A hernia surgery. Facial fractures after getting jumped in the offseason. Two Tommy John surgeries. Rough. There’s no way to predict that. Needless to say, the Yankees received zero value from their 2012 first rounder. Sucks.

The Bonus Baby

Ever since the bonus pools were put in place, the Yankees have been using their picks in rounds 6-10 on cheap college seniors to save bonus money. Lots of teams do that now. College seniors have no leverage because their options are turn pro or get a real job, so the Yankees agree to deals with them ahead of time. They then redirect the bonus pool savings to other players.

In 2012 the Yankees used their college senior savings on Texas HS SS Austin Aune, the compensation pick for not signing Stafford in 2011. He signed for $1M even though he was slotted for $548,400. Aune was a two-sport star in high school who was a good quarterback recruit with scholarship offers in his pocket. The Yankees had to buy him away from school, hence the seven-figure bonus.

Aune’s athleticism has never been in question. He just hasn’t turned that athleticism into baseball skills the same way Dustin Fowler, another multi-sport high school kid, has been able to. Aune spent three years in rookie ball, one year in Low-A, and is now in his second year in High-A. The 23-year-old is a career .234/.291/.368 (91 wRC+) hitter with 36.7% strikeouts and 7.2% walks in over 1,300 minor league plate appearances. I suppose you can never really rule out a talented kid figuring things out, but yeah, Aune’s stalled out.

The Depth Players

Refsnyder. (Presswire)
Refsnyder. (Presswire)

Like I mentioned earlier, five players from the 2012 draft class have reached the big leagues, and four did so with the Yankees. Only one of the four remains in the organization. That’s Arizona 2B/OF Rob Refsnyder (5th round), who hit his way up the minor league ladder and reached the big leagues in 2015. He hit .302/.348/.512 (131 wRC+) with two homers in 47 plate appearances late that year and actually started the AL Wild Card Game against the Astros.

Refsnyder was an outfielder in college and the Yankees moved him to second base in pro ball because, well, that’s where he would be most valuable. He’s worked hard at it, but he’s always been a defensive liability, and his bat doesn’t offer enough power to make up for it. Refsnyder has been up and down a few times this season and he’s currently on the big league bench. The Yankees have used him primarily at first base, but also some second base and right field. It’s tough to see how Refsnyder helps the Yankees as anything other than a utility player going forward.

Two other 2012 draftees who debuted with the Yankees were relievers: LSU RHP Nick Goody (6th round) and San Diego LHP James Pazos (13th). Both debuted in 2015 and served as up-and-down arms with New York from 2015-16. Goody threw 34.2 innings with a 4.67 ERA (5.11 FIP) for the Yankees. Pazos had a 5.40 ERA (6.26 FIP) in 8.1 innings. Both were traded away in minor deals this offseason.

The final big leaguer from this draft class (so far) never did appear in an MLB game. Alabama OF Taylor Dugas (8th round) was called up for two days in July 2015 as a short-term injury replacement. Carlos Beltran was dealing with an oblique issue and the only healthy position player on the 40-man and not in MLB at the time was Gary Sanchez. The Yankees called up Dugas, he sat on the bench for a game against the Angels, flew back to New York on the off-day, then was dropped from the roster. He never returned to MLB. At least Dugas got affordable health care for life. He was released last April.

The Trade Chips

The Yankees have used a few 2012 draftees as trade chips over the years. The first to go was Faulkner RHP Corey Black (4th round), who went to the Cubs for Alfonso Soriano at the 2013 trade deadline. Black was one of New York’s better pitching prospects at the time, and Soriano made it known he wouldn’t waive his no-trade for any team but the Yankees, so Chicago had no leverage. Brian Cashman was waiting them out before ownership reportedly stepped in and agreed to trade Black.

Black, 25, has transitioned from starter to full-time reliever since the trade, and it wasn’t until last season that he reached Triple-A. He had a 4.25 ERA (3.66 ERA) with 25.9% strikeouts and 15.1% walks in 53 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, then went unpicked in the Rule 5 Draft after the season. Black’s elbow gave out in Spring Training this year and he underwent Tommy John surgery, so he’s currently rehabbing.

The next 2012 draftee to be traded was Miami C Peter O’Brien (2nd round). He put up unbelievable power numbers in the farm system — 65 homers in 273 games! — but his lack of plate discipline and lack of a position prevented him from being a top prospect. The Yankees traded O’Brien to the Diamondbacks for Martin Prado at the 2014 deadline. He made his big league debut as a September call-up in 2015, did this …

… and has bounced around since. O’Brien has never not annihilated minor league pitching — he’s a career .261/.312/.515 (123 wRC+) hitter with 120 homers in just over 2,000 minor league plate appearances — but he’s been unable to stick in the big leagues. Already this year he’s gone from the D’Backs to the Royals to the Rangers to the Reds in minor trades and waiver claims.

Goody and Pazos are the other two 2012 draftees the Yankees have traded. Goody was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot when Aroldis Chapman was signed, then dealt to the Indians for pitching prospect Yoiber Marquina. He’s been unbelievable for Cleveland. A 0.34 ERA (2.39 FIP) in 21 innings unbelievable. I always liked Goody. His slider was promising. Anyway, Pazos went to the Mariners for pitching prospect Zack Littell in a 40-man roster space clearing move over the winter. He has a 2.49 ERA (2.93 FIP) in 25.1 innings with Seattle this year.

The Two Remaining Prospects

There are still 2012 draftees in the farm system with a chance — a chance — to reach MLB at some point. Utah HS RHP Brady Lail (18th round) was an extremely raw high schooler the Yankees developed into a bonafide prospect, though he’s hit a wall in Triple-A the last few years. Still, the Yankees brought Lail to big league camp as a non-roster player the last two years, so they like him. A stint as an up-and-down shuttle arm isn’t out of the question down the line.

The other 2012 draft pick with a chance to help the Yankees was selected one round after Lail: Central Michigan LHP Dietrich Enns (19th round). Enns has, oddly enough, really taken off since having Tommy John surgery in 2014. He has a 1.41 ERA (3.04 FIP) in 204.2 minor league innings since getting his new elbow ligament. The Yankees added Enns to the 40-man roster this past offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He opened this season back in Triple-A and is currently on the disabled list with a shoulder issue. Once Enns heals up, he’ll be a call-up candidate.

The Notable Unsigned Players

As is always the case, the Yankees did not sign all their draft picks in 2012. One of those unsigned picks later become a first rounder. They used their 28th round pick on Florida HS OF D.J. Stewart, who didn’t sign and went on to hit .344/.481/.570 with 27 home runs in 177 games at Florida State. The Orioles selected him with the 25th overall pick in the 2015 draft. Stewart is currently hitting .251/.339/.446 (120 wRC+) at Double-A, which isn’t great for a bat-only player whose best position is designated hitter.

Four other unsigned 2012 draftees were selected in the top ten rounds in future years. Here’s the list:

  • Texas A&M SS Mikey Reynolds (20th round): Fifth round pick by the Braves in 2013. He was in an independent league by 2015 before getting back into affiliate ball in 2016.
  • Maryland LHP Jimmy Reed (21st round): Went to the Cardinals in the sixth round in 2013. He missed all of last season with an injury and is just now getting back into game action.
  • Georgia C Kyle Farmer (35th round): The Dodgers grabbed him in the eighth round in 2013. Farmer is currently an organizational depth catcher at Double-A and Triple-A.
  • Florida HS 3B David Thompson (38th round): Signed with the Mets as their fourth rounder in 2015. MLB.com currently ranks him as their 23rd best prospect.

I suppose it’s worth noting the Yankees did not sign Alabama JuCo RHP Bret Marks as their 22nd round pick in 2012, then re-drafted him out of Tennessee in the 15th round in 2015. He soaked up some rookie ball innings after the draft that year and was released shortly there after.

Stewart is clearly the one who got away even though he’s a just on okay prospect. Thompson is probably someone the Yankees wish they were able to sign in 2012 as well. Otherwise there are no significant unsigned players from this draft class, a la Jon Gray in 2011.

Still In The System

Seven 2012 draftees are still in the farm system. Four of them are Aune, Refsnyder, Lail, and Enns. The other three are Mississippi 1B Matt Snyder (10th round), Montana HS LHP Caleb Frare (12th round), and Florida HS RHP Jose Mesa Jr. (24th round). Yes, the Yankees really drafted a high school kid from Montana. None of those three players are big league prospects. They’re organizational depth players. I suppose Frare could get a cup of coffee at some point because he’s left-handed and breathing, but it seems unlikely. Snyder and Frare are both Double-A right now. (Snyder is on the disabled list.) Joe Table II is with High-A Tampa.

The Best of the Rest

Wisconsin HS OF Nathan Mikolas (3rd round) had a promising hit tool but not much else. He never grew into any power and was released back in March after topping out at Low-A … Fresno State RHP Taylor Garrison (7th round) spent a few years in the system as a solid swingman. He was released followed the 2015 season with a career 2.85 ERA in 202 innings … Auburn RHP Derek Varnadore (9th round), Rice RHP Andrew Benak (14th round), and Samford RHP Charles Basford (37th round) all spent a few years in the lower levels as depth arms … Florida HS C Chris Breen (12th round) and Canada HS RHP Dayton Dawe (15th round) were raw prep players with some tools who never quite figured it out.

* * *

Unless something very surprising happens, like Enns carrying his minor league performance over to the big leagues, the most impactful prospect the Yankees drafted in 2012 is Black, and that’s only because he was traded for Soriano, who gave the Yankees an excellent half-season in 2013. O’Brien turning into Prado, who turned into Nathan Eovaldi, is an honorable mention. Guys like Refsnyder and Goody and Pazos are useful depth players, but when all you get out of a draft class is depth players, it was a tough draft. No doubt this one didn’t work out well for the Yankees.