Yanks acquire pitching prospect Yoiber Marquina from Indians to complete Nick Goody trade

Yesterday afternoon the Yankees announced they have acquired right-handed pitching prospect Yoiber Marquina from the Indians as the player to be named later in the Nick Goody trade. Goody was sent to Cleveland back in December. He was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot when the Yankees signed Aroldis Chapman.

According to the press release the 21-year-old Marquina had Tommy John surgery on May 1st, so we won’t see him on a mound until next season. He had a 3.16 ERA (2.90 FIP) with 32.3% strikeouts and 10.5% walks in 31.1 relief innings in the Low-A Midwest League last year. He’s a career reliever. Not a single start among his 69 career pitching appearances in pro ball.

MLB.com did not rank Marquina among Cleveland’s top 30 prospects prior to the trade, nor does he rank among the Yankees’ top 30 prospects right now. Eric Longenhagen did list Marquina among the notable prospects in the Indians system a few weeks ago. Here’s his scouting report:

A converted catcher, Marquina mixes a mid-90s fastball with a feel for creating movement on a breaking ball and changeup, but they often play down due to arm deceleration. His secondaries obviously remain projectable because of the recent conversion. Marquina missed time this year with a shoulder ailment.

Up-and-down players who have been designated for assignment like Goody don’t have much trade value. They’re usually traded for an amount of cash equal to the waiver claim fee, which I believe is $50,000 these days. Rather than take the cash, the Yankees are rolling the dice on a relief prospect, and hoping he’ll reward them once his elbow heals. If he does, great! If not, well no big deal.

Saturday Links: Posting System, IFAs, Sanchez, All-Star Game

Otani. (Masterpress/Getty)
Otani. (Masterpress/Getty)

The Yankees and Cubs continue their three-game weekend series with the middle game today, though not until 7pm ET. Weekend night games are just the worst. Here are some notes to check out as you wait for first pitch.

MLB seeks to revise posting agreement with NPB

According to report out of Japan, Major League Baseball has applied to renegotiate a provision in their posting agreement with Nippon Pro Baseball. That’s the system used to bring players from Japan over to MLB. Apparently MLB wants to reduce the maximum release fee, which is currently $20M. The owners are trying to cut costs? I’m shocked. Shocked I tell you. The two sides will reportedly discuss the matter Monday.

MLB managed to get NPB to agree to an overhauled posting system four years ago, conveniently right before Masahiro Tanaka came over. The old system was a blind auction, and the team that made the high bid won the player’s negotiating rights. Under the new system, the player is allowed to negotiate with every team like a true free agent, and only the team that signs him has to pay the release fee. That’s how the Yankees landed Tanaka.

So, the last time a significant player was set to come over (Tanaka), MLB was able to change the system to lower costs. (The Rangers won the rights to Yu Darvish with a massive $51.7M bid under the old system years ago.) Now another significant player (Shohei Otani) is expected to come to MLB soon, and they want to lower costs again. A sense a pattern.

Yankees expected to sign three top international free agents

MLB.com released their top 30 prospects for the 2017-18 international signing period earlier this week, and according to the write-ups, the Yankees are expected to sign three of those top 30 players: Venezuelan OF Everson Pereira (No. 4 on the top 30), Dominican 2B Ronny Rojas (No. 11), and Venezuelan OF Roberto Chirinos (No. 16). You can read the scouting reports for free at the MLB.com link. We’ve heard the Yankees connected to Pereira before. The international signing period opens July 2nd, as always.

A few things about the 2017-18 IFA signing period. One, the Yankees can spend again! The penalties from the 2014-15 spending spree, which limited the Yankees to a maximum bonus of $300,000 in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods, have expired. Two, this is the first signing period with the hard cap, and the Yankees only have $4.75M to spend. Not a penny more. That stinks. And three, this is potential the Otani signing period. He’ll be subject to the hard cap because he is not yet 25 years old. His earning potential is severely limited at the moment.

Based on the write-ups, several other potential Otani suitors (Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays, Mariners, etc.) are expected to sign some of MLB.com’s top 30 international prospects, indicating they are not saving their bonus money for Otani. Others like the Dodgers, Giants, Astros, Nationals, and Cardinals will be limited to $300,000 bonuses as part of the penalties for past international spending. Is anyone going to have hard cap space left for Otani? Assuming teams following through on their agreements with international amateurs, there might not be any money left over. Hmmm.

Sanchez has top selling AL jersey

Gary & 'Hiro. (Elsa/Getty)
Gary & ‘Hiro. (Elsa/Getty)

Two weeks ago MLB and the MLBPA announced their annual top selling player jerseys list based on online sales since the end of the 2016 World Series. Here is the press release. You will be surprised to learn the defending World Series champion Cubs dominate the top of the list:

  1. Kris Bryant, Cubs
  2. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
  3. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
  4. Javier Baez, Cubs
  5. Kyle Schwarber, Cubs

Gary Sanchez ranks ninth on the best selling jerseys list overall, but is first among AL players. He’s one spot ahead of Mike Trout and five spots ahead of Mookie Betts. Sanchez, Trout, Betts, Francisco Lindor, Jose Altuve, Dustin Pedroia, and Josh Donaldson are the only AL players in the top 20. The list is decidedly NL (and Cubs) heavy. Pretty cool that Sanchez is so popular already. I guess doing what he did last year has a way of creating attention.

Over the last week, however, Aaron Judge has the third best selling player jersey behind Bryant and Rizzo, according to Buster Olney. The Yankees should have give away Aaron Judge-sized Aaron Judge shirts at a game one day as a promotion. That would be pretty cool.

All-Star Game voting opens

Voting for the 2017 All-Star Game starters is now open. They get a really early start on this each season. The ballot is right here. You can vote pretty much an unlimited number of times, though you’ll need different email addresses. On merit, both Aaron Judge and Starlin Castro legitimately deserve All-Star votes right now. Will they in two months? I sure hope so. I doesn’t really matter though. Royals fans are going to stuff the ballot like they always do anyway. Looking forward to seeing Eric Hosmer at first base, you guys.

DotF: Wade, Fowler, and Frazier stay hot in blowout AAA win

Five days after hitting a walk-off home run to compete the cycle, OF Dustin Fowler claimed the top spot in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. Fowler went 13-for-27 (.481) with two doubles, two triples, one home run, three walks, and two strikeouts overall last week. Also, LHP Daniel Camarena placed 18th on the Hot Sheet. “Camarena throws in the low 90s with a nice changeup, so if he continues to sharpen his breaking stuff he has big league starter potential,” says the write-up.

Triple-A Scranton (10-2 win over Syracuse)

  • 2B Tyler Wade: 2-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 K — 11-for-33 (.333) in his last eight games
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 2-5, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 K — already his fourth triple of the season … he led the minors with 15 last year
  • DH Clint Frazier: 2-2, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB — 12-for-38 (.316) with four doubles and two homers in his last ten games, so it sure seems like he’s starting to figure things out … he’s now hitting .256/.360/.489 on the season
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 2-3, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • LF Mason Williams: 1-5, 1 R
  • RF Mark Payton: 3-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB — he’s going to be someone’s fourth outfielder one day, you watch
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 HB, 6/3 GB/FB — nice bounce back from a rough start last time out (3.1 IP, 6 R)
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K — 19 of 31 pitches were strikes (61%) … 15/5 K/BB in 10.2 innings so far

[Read more…]

Comeback Kings: Yankees stun Cubs on Gardner’s late homer for 3-2 win

Man, this team. This friggin’ team. The Yankees were down to their final strike and trailing by two runs in Friday afternoon’s series opener at Wrigley Field, but then the Fighting Spirit kicked in. That 2-0 deficit turned into a 3-2 lead with one swing of the bat. The Yankees beat the Cubs by that same score.

Air Gardy. (Presswire)
Air Gardy. (Presswire)

Never Out of It
I’m going to start in the ninth inning because, well, the rest of the game kinda stunk for the Yankees. The Cubs took a 2-0 lead into the ninth thanks to solo home runs by Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, though regular closer Wade Davis was not available due to his recent workload. He’d pitched in each of the previous three days. Former closer Hector Rondon got the ball instead. He hasn’t been quite the same since suffering and arm injury last summer.

The three-run ninth inning rally started with Chase Headley one-out single. He slapped the ball the other way against the shift. A low-key important play followed: Headley went to second when Rondon uncorked a wild pitch. That removed the double play possibility and forced Rondon and the Cubs to change their pitch selection. Who knows how things play out if Headley is still at first base the rest of the inning? Removing the double play chance was not nothing.

Chris Carter struck out for the second out of the inning, which stunk. Jacoby Ellsbury, whose availability was uncertain due to the inflamed nerve in his left elbow, came off the bench to pinch-hit for the pitcher’s spot. He drew a five-pitch walk and none of the four balls were particularly close. Rondon had thrown 17 pitches before Ellsbury even stepped in the box and it was clear fatigue was setting in. He had big time problems locating.

In his first four at-bats of the game, Brett Gardner saw 22 total pitches, and he swung at only three. Three! That’s his thing. He takes a lot of pitches and works the count, and yeah, sometimes that leads to called strike threes. Gardner took the first three pitches he saw from Rondon for a 1-2 count, then he went into protect mode. Fastball foul. Fastball foul. Fastball for a ball and a 2-2 count. There would be no called strike three this time.

Rondon gave up on the fastball at that point and tried to get Brett to swing over top of a two-strike slider. Not a bad idea! But Rondon left the slider up just a little bit, enough for Gardner to golf it out to right field for a go-ahead three-run home run. To the action footage:

I jumped out of my chair so hard when Gardner hit that home run that I hurt my calf. I’m not joking. It’s still sore. I thought that ball was going to plop into the right field corner for a double that very well might have tied the game with Ellsbury running from first, but geez, it managed to go out and not by a few inches too. That’s five home runs in the last six games for Gardner. He went 69 games without a dinger before that.

The home run gave the Yankees the lead but it did not end the game. They still had to get three outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and it sure didn’t help things when Headley whiffed on Addison Russell’s leadoff ground ball. He missed the grounder and turned it into a double. Headley said after the game he just missed it. The sun wasn’t in his eye, he didn’t lose it as it crossed over from the shadows, nothing. Just a whiff. He started the season really well in the field, but that’s now errors in four of his last five games. Yikes. Tighten it up, Chase.

Thankfully, Aroldis Chapman is a bat missing monster, and Russell never advanced beyond second base. Chapman struck out Jason Heyward, got Willson Contreras to ground out to Headley, then struck out Javier Baez to end the game. He started Baez with back-to-back backdoor sliders for called strikes before blowing him away with a fastball. After those two sliders, the 100.5 mph fastball must have looked about 120.5. Ballgame over, Yankees win.

Two Mistakes For Pineda
Really nice outing for Michael Pineda. Two runs on three hits and a walk in six innings against a good lineup? With six strikeouts and only five balls hit out of the infield? Sign me up for that every fifth day. Pineda made two mistakes and both went for solo homers — Bryant turned a first inning hanging slider into an opposite field homer, a rarity for him, and Schwarber turned around high fastball for a solo shot in the sixth inning. Two mistakes, two homers. The Cubs will do that.

Between the home runs Pineda retired 14 of 16 batters faced, and he did a nice job escaping a wind-aided mess in the fifth. A Contreras fly ball to right turned into three-base error by Aaron Judge, who misplayed the ball after the wind got a hold of it. Pineda stranded the runner with two ground balls, though it should be noted Kyle Hendricks was the batter with one out. Shout out to Cubs manager Joe Maddon for batting his pitcher eighth. It helped the Yankees there. Nice outing for Pineda overall. I’ll take two runs in six innings every fifth day no question asked.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Running Into Outs
In theory, the game started well for the Yankees. Four of the first five batters they sent to the plate against Hendricks hit the ball very hard, and the one who didn’t was hit by the first pitch of the at-bat. That was Gary Sanchez. Hendricks grazed his jersey with an obviously unintentional first pitch fastball in the first inning. Four well-struck balls and one hit batsman, yet no runs. Sigh.

Gardner started the game with a line drive to right field that was knocked down a bit by the wind and caught by Heyward. Aaron Hicks, the second batter, laced a double the other way into the left-center field gap. Sanchez was hit by the pitch, then former Cubs shortstop-turned-second baseman Starlin Castro roped a line drive to right. I thought it was a clean hit off the bat, but Heyward made a sliding catch. Hicks was running all the way, presumably because he thought the ball was trapped and not caught, and was doubled off second base to end the inning. SIGH.

The second inning started with another rocket, this one a Judge double into the right-center field gap. Statcast guru Daren Willman says the double left Judge’s bat at 119 mph. Insane. Didi Gregorius did the bare minimum and moved the runner to third with one out with a ground ball, then, unfortunately, the contact play was on when Headley hit a grounder right to Ben Zobrist at second. Judge was thrown out at home. It wasn’t all that close either.

So the Yankees hit the ball very well the first time through the lineup against Hendricks, and it resulted in zero runs because of the baserunning miscues. The Cubs play great defense! They deserve credit. But Hicks made a bad baserunning mistake in that first inning. He’s got to go halfway with one out to make sure the ball isn’t caught, not take off running. And the contact play? That’s a calculated risk. It didn’t work out. Hard hit balls: good! Baserunning mistakes: bad. Very bad.

Hendricks settled down a little bit over the next few innings before the Yankees put together a rally in the sixth. Castro beat out an infield single with one out, then Judge pulled a ground ball to left for another single. That ended Hendricks’ afternoon. Maddon went to lefty Brian Duensing to face Gregorius, who lifted a weak fly ball to center field. The wind took it and Jon Jay had the ball clank off his glove. Amazingly, it was scored a hit. The bases were loaded with one out and the Yankees had their best chance to score prior to the ninth inning rally.

Instead, they hit into their second fly ball double play of the afternoon. Headley lifted a fly ball to Heyward in right, and Heyward was able to throw Castro out at the plate. Well, no. He threw him out about ten feet up the line. Starlin slowed down and basically ran into Contreras rather than around him. I do not understand. There was a clear path behind Contreras. Look at these baserunning shenanigans (video link):

starlin-castro-baserunning

What a weird play. I didn’t think it was a bad send! I thought Castro was going to score given where Heyward caught the ball, in fact. I’m not sure why Starlin a) initially broke home and had to run so far back to tag up at third, and b) why he slowed down on the bases and ran into Contreras rather than simply run behind him. Whatever. A full inning’s worth of outs on the bases. Hicks in the first, Judge in the second, and Castro in the sixth. Up until the Gardner homer, it sure felt like the baserunning had cost the Yankees the game.

Leftovers
Welcome back, Gary Sanchez. In his first game back from the biceps injury, Sanchez went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and the first inning grazed-by-pitch. One of his outs was a line drive at Russell at shortstop. Sanchez also took a pretty good foul tip directly to the face mask in the middle innings. One of those foul tips that make you wonder why anyone ever wants to be a catcher. He stayed in the game and was fine though. Glad to see Gary back.

A Yankees pitcher got a hit! Pineda found a hole through the left side of the infield with a ground ball in the third inning. It was the first hit by a Yankees pitcher since Branden Pinder ripped a double (!) against the Braves in 2015. New York’s pitchers went 0-for-27 between hits. Also, Pineda was nearly thrown out at second on a Hicks single. He didn’t read the ball off the bat well and held up. A 9-6 force out would’ve been something. Pineda laid down a sac bunt in his second at-bat, so he took care of business at the plate.

The Yankees had eleven hits total, including three by Hicks — he’s up to .316/.444/.632 (196 wRC+) on the season now — and two each by Castro and Judge. Gardner, Gregorius, Headley, and Pineda had one hit apiece. They went 2-for-11 (.181) with runners in scoring position. Good thing for dingers, eh? One of two hits with runners in scoring position equaled three runs. Sometimes it takes a few innings for this offense to get going, but once they do, big things happen.

And finally, it was pretty cool to see Castro get a big ovation before his first at-bat. He was the first young player to come up as part of Chicago’s rebuild, and while he wasn’t there for the 2016 World Series, he spent a long time with the Cubbies. The fans gave him a nice hand. Also, Chapman and Adam Warren received their World Series rings before the game.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. Helps you know which relievers are available on a given day. Here’s the amazing win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Saturday night in the middle game of this three-game series. That’s a 7:15pm ET start. The worst. Southpaws Jordan Montgomery and Brett Anderson are the scheduled starting pitchers.

Friday Night Open Thread

Over the last few weeks MLB Trade Rumors has been running a series called “Inside the Draft Room,” in which they speak to scouting directors about notable recent draft classes. I was hoping they’d get to the 2006 Yankees draft at some point — the Yankees drafted and signed Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, and David Robertson that year, among others — and today they did exactly that. Here’s the link. Make sure you check it out. It’s a pretty great read.

Anyway, this is an open thread for the rest of the evening. The Mets are supposed to play tonight, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen with the rain. MLB Network is showing a regional game, plus there’s NBA and NHL playoff action on as well. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else that isn’t politics or religion here.

2017 Draft: Nick Pratto

Nick Pratto | 1B

Background
The 18-year-old Pratto attends Huntington Beach High School in California, where he stars as both a hitter and pitcher. He’s committed to Southern California. Back in 2011, Pratto had the walk-off hit in the Little League World Series Championship Game, which is kinda cool.

Scouting Report
Pratto is a legitimate pro prospect as both a first baseman and a left-handed pitcher, though he’s made tremendous strides with the bat this year and will be drafted as a position player. He’s a left-handed hitter who knows the strike zone and barrels the ball up consistently, and while he’s listed at only 6-foot-1 and 193 lbs., Pratto offers impressive power potential too. His athleticism and strong throwing arm — he’s mostly around 90mph off the mound — make him an asset defensively at first base. Pratto is not a bat-only first baseman. He runs well and has a great feel for the game.

Miscellany
Keith Law and MLB.com rank Pratto as the ninth and tenth best prospect, respectively, in the 2017 draft class in their latest rankings. Baseball America is a little more bearish and ranks him 17th, probably because the history of high school first basemen drafted in the first round is not pretty. The Yankees hold the 16th overall pick and they’ve always had an affinity for advanced prep bats, whether it’s Blake Rutherford or Greg Bird or Tyler Austin. That plus the whole SoCal thing leads me to believe Pratto is among their top targets.

Game 27: Gary Returns

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Twenty-six days after an ill-fated swing in Baltimore, the Yankees welcome back arguably their best hitter today. Gary Sanchez is back in the lineup following nearly four weeks on the disabled list with a biceps issue. He completed his minor league rehab assignment yesterday — Sanchez went 3-for-8 (.375) with a double and a homer in three rehab games — and is in the starting lineup today.

Amazingly, rather than fall apart without Sanchez, the Yankees went 16-5 while he was on the disabled list. They’re also averaging 5.69 runs per game, easily the most in the AL. (The Mariners are second at 4.90.) Big ups to Austin Romine. He was pretty awesome during Sanchez’s absence. Romine didn’t just help keep the Yankees afloat, he helped them thrive. His contributions will not be forgotten. Here is the Cubs’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

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

It’s a good thing this series is in Chicago, because it is cold and raining in New York. It is merely just cold at Wrigley Field. Also, the wind is blowing in big time, so it’ll take a shot to hit a ball out of the park this afternoon. (Aaron Judge accepts that challenge.) Today’s game will begin at 2:20pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Jacoby Ellsbury (elbow) is feeling better, though he is not available for this afternoon’s game. He’s still receiving treatment and did hit in the batting cage today. Ellsbury could be ready to play as soon as tomorrow, however.

Roster Note: Joe Girardi said he plans to play Matt Holliday at first base at some point during this five-game road trip through NL cities. He doesn’t want him sitting on the bench all five games. I had a feeling this was coming.

Roster Move: As expected, Kyle Higashioka was sent down to Triple-A Scranton to clear a roster spot for Sanchez. He’ll be back at some point. September as an expanded roster call-up at the latest.