2011 Draft: Yankees sign fifth rounder Greg Bird for $1.1M

Update (Aug. 15th): Via zoodig, the Yankees have inked Bird for $1.1M, which is some serious dough. It’s easily the most they’ve spent on a player this year, topping Jake Cave’s $825k bonus by more than 30%. They must really like his bat. Jim Callis confirmed the report, in case you wanted to see one of the regulars report it.

Original Post (Aug. 13th): Via Keith Law, the Yankees will sign fifth round pick Greg Bird to a signing bonus north of $1M. The exact amount is unknown, but KLaw says it’s in the seven figures. Baseball America (subs. req’d) says that Bird, a high school catcher/first baseman from the Denver area, “has good bat speed and gets plenty of loft and backspin on the ball” with his left-handed swing. He’s a big dude (6-foot-4, 210 lbs.), and is expected to wind up at first base. Bird was committed to Arkansas and his bonus will be the largest the Yankees have given out this year, surpassing the $750k they gave Dante Bichette Jr.

2011 Draft: Yankees sign sixth rounder Jake Cave

Update (11:14pm): Via Jim Callis, the Yankees signed Cave for $825k. That’s the largest bonus they’ve officially given out this year, surpassing the $750k they gave Dante Bichette Jr.

Original Post (11:34am): Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees are close to signing sixth round pick Jake Cave. Cave, a high school outfielder from Virginia, was the 209th overall pick and the 182nd best prospect in the draft according to Baseball America. In their subscriber-only scouting report, they say “he shows bat speed, but he has a loop in his swing that could be a long-term problem.” They also say he figures to be stuck in a corner spot down the road. Cave is also a legit prospect as a left-handed pitcher, but the Yankees announced him as an outfielder during the draft. He’ll certainly get an over-slot bonus.

Two losses on a slow night

Penn League Report is rolling out a list of the top 30 prospects in the Short Season NY-Penn League, ranking Evan DeLuca 28th. Check out the write-up, it includes a note about a recent velocity dip. Prospects 1-25 are forthcoming.

Low-A Charleston (4-1 loss to Hickory)
Jose Toussen, SS: 2 for 4, 1 K, 1 SB, 1 E (throwing)
Ramon Flores, LF, Kevin Mahoney, 1B, Kelvin DeLeon, RF & Kyle Higashioka, C: all 1 for 4 – Flores and DeLeon each doubled and struck out … Mahoney scored a run, struck out three times, and committed a fielding error … Higashioka drove a run in
Eduardo Sosa, CF: 0 for 4, 1 K, 1 SB
Anderson Feliz, 2B & Mike Ferraro, DH: both 0 for 3, 2 K – Feliz scored a run … Ferraro got caught stealing
Garrison Lassiter, 3B: 1 for 3, 1 K
Shane Greene, RHP: 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 6-1 GB/FB – picked a runner off second … 54 BB in 115.1 IP (4.21 BB/9), which is way too many for a college guy at this level
Tommy Kahnle, RHP: 2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1-1 GB/FB – struck out all three guys he faced in the first inning, then everything else happened in the second
Kelvin Perez, RHP: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K

[Read more…]

Game 119: More Rain

The Yankees just can’t catch a break with the weather. They got rained out yesterday, will have three games to make up in a four day span late next month, and there’s a pretty good chance that it’s going to rain in Kansas City tonight. Not just tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday as well. At least that’s what weather.com tells me, and they’re never wrong. It’s been raining all day in western Missouri (not Kansas!), and apparently it’s going to rain straight through Wednesday, with the occasional break that is poorly timed for baseball. We’ll see how this series goes. Here’s tonight’s lineup…

Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Eric Chavez, 3B
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C

A.J. Burnett, SP

The game is supposed to start at 8pm ET, but no promises there. YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy.

Cashman: It’s unlikely we’ll see Banuelos next month

Via George King, Brian Cashman said it’s unlikely that Manny Banuelos will be up in the big leagues next month when rosters expand. “You may or may not see him. It’s more likely you won’t see him,” said Cash in his typical GM speak. “There are no plans for him to join us. He is 20 years old. He is at Triple-A right now and there are no plans to push him. That could change, but …”

Banuelos was bumped up to Triple-A Scranton on trade deadline day in what seemed like precursor to a September call-up. There’s been speculation about using the lefty out of the bullpen down the stretch, which makes sense in the context of him being at 112 IP and unlikely to go over 130-140 on the season. The Yankees don’t have to add Banuelos to the 40-man roster until after next season at least, so there’s no crunch. We’ll see, Cashman left a lot of room for interpretation.

Ravel Santana’s injury: broken ankle and torn ligaments

Saturday afternoon we heard that Rookie Level GCL Yankees outfielder Ravel Santana suffered a “brutal” ankle injury, and Dante Bichette Jr. tweeted the diagnosis: it’s broken in two places with a bunch of torn ligaments. The play-by-play indicates that it happened on a stolen base attempt, so it sounds like one of those hideous Stephen Drew/Jason Kendall/spike gets caught and foot gets twisted around type of injuries. Just awful.

Santana, 19, had a .426 wOBA with a ton of power (nine homers, .273 ISO) and speed (10-for-13 in stolen base attempts) in 40 GCL games. The Yankees landed him for just $145k back in 2009, and the scouting report is exciting. Based on what happened with Kendall and Drew, there’s a chance Ravel will be back in time for Spring Training, but there’s no way to know for sure.

The brutal September schedule that might not be a problem

At the moment, the Yankees have a 99.2% or a 98.9% chance to make the playoffs, depending on who you ask. They’ve gone 8-4 this month to stretch their lead in the wildcard race to nine games in the loss column, and their next 15 games will be played against four sub-.500 teams a combined 38 games below the break-even point. It’s not a stretch to think that they could roll into Fenway Park two weeks from tomorrow a dozen games up on a playoff spot. That cushion is good news, because the schedule at the end of the season is straight up brutal.

The Yankees were originally supposed to play two games from September 19th to 22nd, a two-game set against the Rays both preceded and followed by an off day. Now they’re going to play five games in that four day stretch. The first off day will instead be used to make up an April 6th rain out against the Twins, and the second off day will be used to make up a July 8th rain out against the Rays (because Tampa didn’t want to play a doubleheader the next day). At some point during that series they’ll also play a doubleheader to make up yesterday’s rain out. I guess the good news is that all of those games will be in the Bronx, so it’s the other teams that have to deal with the travel. The Yankees will be coming back from Toronto on the 18th, so not a long flight.

The last ten games of the season will be played against the Rays (seven games) and Red Sox, which are never easy. The Yankees also have to make one more west coast trip in the middle of September, visiting Anaheim and Seattle for three games apiece. With any luck, that road trip and those last ten games will be little more than tune-ups for the postseason, with September call-ups seeing the majority of the action in the doubleheader, day games after night games, stuff like that. Plus their already sizable lead on a playoff berth could increase before the rough stretch of the schedule arrives, making things that less dire. It could also decrease, but that’s another post for another time.

The Yankees are technically half-a-game back of the Red Sox in the AL East, but they’re tied in the loss column. All they need to do is win one more lose one fewer game than Boston the rest of the way to take the division. They could make a big move over the next week, since the Yankees have that light schedule and the Sox will play seven of their next eleven games against the Rays and Rangers (with a four-gamer against the Royals mixed in). Getting into the playoffs is always the top priority, but winning the AL East would likely mean an ALDS matchup against the Tigers or Indians, not the Rangers. We’re getting way ahead of ourselves though.

With about six weeks left in the season, the Yankees lead baseball in run differential (+175) by a significant margin (32 runs), and are on pace for 99 wins (98.82, to be exact). They took care of business earlier in the season and are in the middle of the soft part of their schedule, which hopefully makes the last two or three weeks of the season relatively meaningless. The division will probably still be on the line then, but as long as a postseason berth is in the bag, we’ll have little reason to sweat what will probably be the toughest stretch of the season.