Pirates return Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Webb to Yankees

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Another Rule 5 Draft pick player is back. The Pirates have returned left-hander Tyler Webb to the Yankees, both teams announced today. That means he cleared waivers. Webb is back with the Yankees as a non-40-man roster player, and the team has assigned him to Triple-A Scranton.

Webb, 26, was New York’s tenth round pick back in 2013. He’s pitched to a 3.61 ERA (2.91 FIP) with 26.3% strikeouts and 7.2% walks in 127 Triple-A innings the last two years. Although he’s spent most of his career as a reliever, the Yankees tried Webb as a starter last season, and he made a few spot starts and extended relief outings. I wonder whether they’ll have him try that again this year.

I thought Webb had a pretty good chance to stick as a Rule 5 Draft player because he’s left-handed, has a little something on his fastball, and has had success in Triple-A. Alas. He allowed four runs in 13 innings this spring while striking out eleven and walking one. The Pirates went with former Yankee Wade LeBlanc for their final bullpen spot over Webb. He would have had to remain on their 25-man big league roster all season.

Three of the four players the Yankees lost in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft have now been returned: Webb, Tyler Jones (Diamondbacks), and Caleb Smith (Cubs). The only one left is catcher Luis Torrens, who is in camp with the Padres and is reportedly the front-runner for their backup catcher’s job. He’s 20 years old and making the jump from Low-A to MLB, plus the history of Rule 5 Draft pick catchers is terrible, so I think he’s coming back at some point, sooner rather than later.

Report: Construction delays may force Yankees to play first home series at Citi Field

(Chris McGrath/Getty)
(Chris McGrath/Getty)

According to the Associated Press, renovation construction delays at Yankee Stadium could force the Yankees to play their first home series at Citi Field. The home opener is Monday, April 10th, and the Rays will be in town for a three-game set. The Mets will be on a road trip through Philadelphia and Miami that week.

The Yankees announced extensive renovations to Yankee Stadium over the winter designed to make the ballpark more fan friendly. They added a kids zone for parents, and, most notably, the center field area has been upgraded. The Yankees removed over 2,000 seats to build two new “Bullpen Landing” sections next to the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in center field. Here’s the artist’s rendering:

(Yankees)
(Yankees)

Those “Bullpen Landing” sections are the problem. Material delays have slowed down construction. Other teams have played games while their ballpark was being renovated — the Cubs played most of the 2015 season without bleachers at Wrigley Field, and they were short bathrooms on Opening Night — but because these renovations are in center field, they’re in the batter’s eye, and that’s a problem.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Yankees have had to play home games in Queens. They played all home games in 1974 and 1975 at Shea Stadium while the old Yankee Stadium was being renovated, and they also played one game at Shea Stadium in 1998. A concrete beam fell at Yankee Stadium and forced the ballpark to be closed for emergency repairs and safety inspections.

I should note it is not final the Yankees will play their first home series in Citi Field. Construction could still be done in time. Also, make sure you note the date: April 1st. There’s usually a lot of silly news dumped on this date each year, news designed to trick people and make them laugh, and maybe give them a little scare too. Posts for fools, if you will.

(Sorry, we’ve been out of the April Fool’s Day game for a while and decided it was time to get back in. So, just to be clear, this post is FAKE NEWS.)

The RAB crew’s official predictions for the 2017 MLB season

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees and Rays will open the 2017 baseball season with the very first game of the year. They’ll be the only show in town for a few hours. That’s much better than 2014, when the Yankees and Astros were the last teams to play their first game of the season. This Spring Training was a blast, but I’m ready for the regular season. Bring it on.

Anyway, with the new season upon us, we figured it would be a good idea for everyone here at RAB to make some predictions. Sounds good? In an effort to save table space, I’m going to direct you to CBS for my predictions. You don’t have to read them, just click the link and leave the tab open for a few minutes. I made some Yankees specific bold-ish predictions earlier this week, so check those out too. Here’s how everyone else here at RAB sees the season playing out:

Ben Domenic Jay Joe
AL East Blue Jays Red Sox Yankees
AL Central Indians Indians Indians
AL West Astros Astros Rangers
AL WC1 Red Sox Mariners Red Sox
AL WC2 Yankees Yankees Tigers
NL East Nationals Nationals Nationals
NL Central Cubs Cubs Cubs
NL West Dodgers Dodgers Dodgers
NL WC1 Pirates Giants Mets
NL WC2 Giants Mets Cardinals
ALCS Indians Indians Yankees
NLCS Cubs Cubs Dodgers
WS Indians Cubs Yankees
AL MVP F. Lindor M. Machado A-ROD M. Trout
NL MVP K. Bryant B. Harper C. Seager
AL CYA M. Tanaka C. Archer M. Tanaka
NL CYA C. Kershaw C. Kershaw C. Kershaw
AL ROY A. Benintendi A. Benintendi A. Judge
NL ROY D. Swanson D. Swanson D. Swanson
Katie Matt Steven Sung-Min
AL East Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox
AL Central Indians Indians Indians Indians
AL West Astros Astros Astros Rangers
AL WC1 Mariners Orioles Yankees Astros
AL WC2 Yankees Rangers Blue Jays Blue Jays
NL East Nationals Nationals Nationals Nationals
NL Central Cubs Cubs Cubs Cubs
NL West Dodgers Dodgers Dodgers Dodgers
NL WC1 Giants Mets Mets Cardinals
NL WC2 Cardinals Giants Cards/Rox tie Giants
ALCS Astros Red Sox Indians Indians
NLCS Dodgers Cubs Cubs Nationals
WS Dodgers Cubs Indians Nationals
AL MVP M. Machado M. Trout M. Trout M. Trout
NL MVP B. Harper B. Harper B. Harper B. Harper
AL CYA C. Archer M. Tanaka M. Tanaka M. Tanaka
NL CYA N. Syndergaard C. Kershaw N. Syndergaard N. Syndergaard
AL ROY A. Benintendi A. Benintendi A. Benintendi A. Benintendi
NL ROY H. Renfroe D. Swanson D. Swanson D. Swanson

Surely there’s nothing here you disagree with, correct? Great. Enjoy the weekend.

March 31st Camp Notes: Green, Adams, Montgomery, Lineup

At long last, Spring Training is over. The Yankees wrapped up their exhibition schedule tonight with a loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park. Gary Sanchez had the first (unofficial) hit in the ballpark’s history and Greg Bird had the first (unofficial) homer. Georgia boy Dustin Fowler drove in two with a rocket into the gap. Watch the video above. That kid can really lay into the ball when he gets something to hit.

Michael Pineda got the start and allowed three runs, all on a Freddie Freeman homer, in five innings. He struck out six and walked one in his final tune-up outing. Joe Girardi used a small army of relievers out of the bullpen. It was one of those “everyone gets to pitch!” exhibition games. The Yankees went 24-9-1 this spring. I believe I heard the YES broadcast say that is tied for the most spring wins in franchise history. Correct me if I’m wrong. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here is the rest of the day’s notes:

  • The Yankees announced Chad Green has been optioned to Double-A Trenton while Kyle Higashioka and Ben Heller were optioned to Triple-A Scranton. Green is going to Trenton so he and Jordan Montgomery, who is in Triple-A, can start the same days and both be lined up for the first time the Yankees need a fifth starter.
  • Chance Adams will start the season in Double-A, not Triple-A. That surprises me, though I don’t think this is a long-term thing. He’ll be in Scranton soon enough. The Yankees probably have some developmental benchmark they want him to hit before a promotion. [Josh Norris]
  • Right-hander Mark Montgomery has been released. He was a pretty big deal a few years ago. Relief pitcher prospects, man. Can’t trust ’em. Montgomery has already landed on his feet though — he’s signed with the Cardinals. [Josh Norris]
  • Tyler Webb did not make the Pirates as a Rule 5 Draft pick. He’ll go on waivers and be offered back to the Yankees should he go unclaimed. Because he’s a lefty with some Triple-A success, some team might grab him on waivers. [Adam Berry]
  • And finally, Girardi confirmed tonight’s lineup will be the Opening Day lineup. That means Sanchez second and Jacoby Ellsbury fifth. We’ll see how long it lasts. [Andrew Marchand]

That’s it, folks. Spring Training is over. The Yankees are heading back to Tampa to start the regular season against the Rays. Saturday is an off-day and Sunday is the season opener. That’s a 1pm ET start. Masahiro Tanaka vs. Chris Archer is the Opening Day pitching matchup.

Exhibition Game Thread: Welcome to SunTrust Park

(@SunTrustPark)
(@SunTrustPark)

Twenty-one years ago, the Yankees closed Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium with a win in Game Five of the 1996 World Series. Tonight they have a chance to open brand new SunTrust Park with another win. Sure, the stakes are much lower, but beating the Braves is always fun. It warms my heart that the Yankees had more World Series wins at Turner Field (two) than the Braves (zero).

The dimensions make it seem SunTrust Park will be somewhat pitcher friendly, perhaps less so than Turner Field, but I guess we have to see how the ball carries first. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that, a few years ago when SunTrust Park was being built, the Braves were losing in the artist’s renderings. Can’t make it up. Here is the lineup the Braves will use tonight, and here are the players the Yankees will run out there:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. 1B Greg Bird
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Michael Pineda

Available Pitchers: RHP Dellin Betances, LHP Aroldis Chapman, RHP Jonathan Holder, RHP Bryan Mitchell, LHP Tommy Layne, and LHP Chasen Shreve are the regulars in the bullpen. Not sure who’s pitching though. RHP Colten Brewer, RHP Cale Coshow, RHP J.P. Feyereisen, RHP Ernesto Frieri, RHP J.R. Graham, RHP Ben Heller, RHP Matt Marsh, RHP Dillon McNamara, and RHP Andrew Schwaab are all on the trip as well.

Available Position Players: C Austin Romine, 1B Chris Carter, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Pete Kozma, 3B Miguel Andujar, LF Clint Frazier, CF Dustin Fowler, and RF Aaron Hicks will be the second string off the bench. C Radley Haddad, C Jorge Saez, 1B Mike Ford, IF Cito Culver, and OF Rashad Crawford are the extras.

The weather report says it’s a nice night in Atlanta. Clear and cool. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:35pm ET. You’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. There’s also MLB.tv and the FOX Sports Go app. Enjoy the game.

Poll Results: The Gleyber Torres Watch

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The results are in and this year’s Prospect Watch player will be shortstop Gleyber Torres. I apologize in advance to all of you who believe in the Prospect Watch Curse. This was a two-horse race and Torres edged out outfielder Blake Rutherford by a relatively small margin. In fact, when I checked the poll results yesterday morning, Rutherford was in the lead.

Here are the final vote totals for the eight Prospect Watch candidates:

  1. SS Gleyber Torres — 2,048
  2. OF Blake Rutherford — 1,642
  3. OF Clint Frazier — 709
  4. SS Jorge Mateo — 353
  5. RHP James Kaprielian — 273
  6. 3B Miguel Andujar — 233
  7. LHP Justus Sheffield — 91
  8. RHP Chance Adams — 84

The 5,433 total votes is a new Prospect Watch record. Last year we had 5,158 votes and the year before it was 3,020. Pretty cool. Thank you to everyone for voting and reading and sticking around.

Torres, 20, came over in the Aroldis Chapman trade last year and he is currently on the very short list of the best prospects in baseball. He hit .448/.469/.931 with six doubles and two homers in 32 plate appearances this spring, and he’ll start the season with Double-A Trenton. The plan is two three games at short, two games at third, and one game at second per week. Sounds good to me.

Despite his age, I don’t think it’s out of the question Torres reaches the big leagues later this year. Several things need to happen, but it is doable. Other high-end shortstop prospects like Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Correa climbed from Double-A to MLB in their age 20 season in recent years. It would be pretty darn cool if Torres did the same.

So what does winning the Prospect Watch mean? It means we’ll keep track of Gleyber’s progress day by day in our sidebar, right where the Opening Day countdown is now. Because he’s a position player, the Prospect Watch will be updated daily. That’s more fun that waiting five days with a starting pitcher, ain’t it?

The minor league regular season begins next Thursday, April 6th. I’ll get the Prospect Watch up in the sidebar that day.