The 2014 amateur draft will conclude two weeks from today. I’m not sure why it runs from Thursday through Sunday this year, but whatever. Jeff Nelson and Andy Cannizaro will represent the Yankees during the Day One broadcast on MLB Network, MLB announced. Cannizaro works in the team’s scouting department but I don’t think Nelson works for the Yankees. He might just be the token notable ex-player each team sends to the draft. Here are some stray draft links:
- Baseball America’s Top 200 Draft Prospects: Baseball America has released their list of the top 200 draft prospects, which will eventually increase to 500. The list is free and there are links to video as well, but the individual scouting reports are subscriber-only. Needless to say, a list of the top 200 draft prospects (eventually 500) sure is handy.
- ESPN’s AL East Draft Targets: In an Insider-only piece, Chris Crawford looks at the draft strategies and potential targets for the five AL East teams. “This year you can expect GM Brian Cashman and scouting director Damon Oppenheimer to likely go back to their prep routes, as they don’t possess a pick until the second round due to the plethora of free agents they signed during the winter. That said, if a talented college hurler fell into their laps, they could jump at that opportunity,” wrote Crawford. He lists Hawaii HS LHP Kodi Medeiros, Louisiana HS C Chase Vallot, and San Diego State RHP Michael Cederoth as players who fit the team’s strategy.
- Baseball America’s Mock Draft v3.0: In their latest mock draft, Baseball America has the Astros taking California HS LHP Brady Aiken first overall. The mock draft only covers the first round, so the Yankees not included, but it’s free and you can read up on which players each team is targeting.
- MLB.com’s Mock Draft v2.0: The MLB.com crew also has the Astros taking Aiken first overall in their latest mock draft. Again, the Yankees are not included because it only covers the first round, but it’s free and there’s lots of info in there anyway.
X-rays came back negative on Brian Roberts’ right knee following tonight’s game, according to various reporters with the team. Roberts fouled a pitch off the knee — it was a direct hit and he was in a lot of pain — but he stayed in the game and hobbled around for another few innings before being lifted in the ninth. I’m sure Roberts will be sore tomorrow and I’m guessing he’ll get a day or three off. Given his injury history, every little bump and bruise is a concern. · (2) ·
This was a total team loss. Bad pitching, bad hitting, especially bad defense. The Yankees have now lost eight straight games at U.S. Cellular Field (dating back to 2012) following Friday’s walk-off 6-5 loss. Let’s recap the heart-breaker:
- Early Runs: Former Yankee Hector Noesi came into this game with a 7.31 ERA, and that went up after Brian McCann clubbed a three-run homer in the very first inning. Derek Jeter singled and Mark Teixeira walked to set the inning up. McCann has been pretty bad this year, but that was his seventh homer, or one fewer than the Yankees got out of their catchers all last season.
- Chipped Away: Holy moly was the infield defense bad on Friday. I mean, it’s been bad all year, but it was especially bad on Friday. Kelly Johnson looked like he never played first base before — probably because he’s played 19 games at the position in his career — missing two scoops and failing to knock down a hard hit grounder. Those miscues extended several innings and drove up Hiroki Kuroda‘s pitch count, forcing him from the game with two outs in the fifth. He allowed four runs, the last two on an Alexei Ramirez homer. The bad defense hurt, but Kuroda also allowed eight hits to 25 batters. Ugly.
- Retake The Lead: Noesi managed to settle down after the first inning and wound up with a quality start. Down 4-3 in the seventh, the Yankees put something together against the ChiSox bullpen, loading the bases with two singles and a walk. There was a sacrifice bunt mixed in as well. The tying run scored on a wild pitch, thankfully, then the super-slumping Jacoby Ellsbury lifted a sac fly to center to plate the go-ahead run. The Yankees have put together a spirited two-run rally in the late innings of each of the last three games.
- Proctored: The poor bullpen is going to be toast come August. Because Kuroda was bounced from the game so early, Joe Girardi used his key late-game trio to get the final 13 outs. That meant four outs for Dellin Betances (20 pitches), five outs for Adam Warren (36 pitches), and one out for David Robertson (14 pitches). It would have been four outs had he not served up a two-run walk-off homer to Adam Dunn. It was his first blown save in ten tries this year. He was bound to blow one at some point. Sucks it happened on Friday.
- Leftovers: Jeter played short and Brendan Ryan played first for the second time in about a week. That has to be the most backwards thing any team has done this season … Roberts fouled a pitch off his right knee and hobbled around the rest of the game. He was lifted in the ninth inning, but that might have been for defensive purposes … the Yankees need their starters to go deeper into the game. It’s a must. They’re killing the bullpen. Betances, Warren, and Robertson can’t be asked to get 4+ outs each every other day.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The good news: Vidal Nuno will be on the mound to stop the bleeding on Saturday afternoon. Wait, no. That’s the bad news. I don’t have good news. John Danks will be on the bump for the ChiSox in the matinee.
Alright, let’s start with some notes:
- On Twitter, Low-A Charleston hinted a rehabbing big leaguer might be in the lineup come Monday. I think they’re referring to Stephen Drew, who was sent to Low-A Greenville for tune-up games today and will play the River Dogs on Monday. Outside of Frankie Cervelli, I’m not sure which Yankee could be ready for rehab games on Monday. Certainly not Carlos Beltran, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, or Shawn Kelley based on everything we’ve heard recently, right?
- C Gary Sanchez was included in the Not So Hot section of this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. He’s been in a slump for a while now. RHP Brady Lail was mentioned under the Helium Watch though, so that’s cool.
- C Austin Romine has been activated off the Triple-A Scranton DL while LHP Nik Turley and RHP Chris Leroux were placed on it, according to Donnie Collins. Turley missed the start of the year with an unknown arm injury, but going from Extended Spring Training to the Triple-A DL suggests he will soon be activated.
- 2B Angelo Gumbs has been placed on the High-A Tampa DL, according to Nicholas Flammia. No idea what’s wrong with him.
Triple-A Scranton (7-1 loss to Rochester)
- CF Adonis Garcia: 0-4, 1 K
- RF Ramon Flores: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI – 11-for-35 (.314) with five doubles and one homer in his last eight games
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 2-4
- 1B Kyle Roller: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K
- SS Dean Anna: 0-3, 1 BB
- C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 K
- RHP Brian Gordon: 4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 2/3 GB/FB – 42 of 76 pitches were strikes (55%)
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 26 of 47 pitches were strikes (55%) … 27/14 K/BB in 21.2 innings
- RHP Danny Burawa: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB – 17 of 29 pitches were strikes (59%)
- RHP Diego Moreno: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — eight of 12 pitches were strikes
- SwP Pat Venditte: 1 IP, zeroes, 0/1 GB/FB — ten pitches, seven strikes
The Yankees have run into some run-scoring problems the last few games, though I guess that isn’t surprising since three of the last four pitchers they’ve faced are Gerrit Cole, Jeff Samardzija, and Chris Sale. Even the fourth (Jason Hammel) is having a pretty good year. That said, guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, Alfonso Soriano, and Brian McCann are slumping pretty hard and they need to snap out of it. Soon, preferably.
Derek Jeter is, unsurprisingly, starting tonight’s game at shortstop, his 2,583rd career game at the position. That ties Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio for the second most in baseball history. Since the Cap’n is retiring at the end of the season, it is mathematically impossible for him to catch Omar Vizquel for the top spot on the all-time games played at shortstop list. Vizquel is at 2,709. Jeter will fall nine games short of the record if he were the start every game the rest of the season in the field. Anyway, here is the White Sox lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- 2B Yangervis Solarte
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 1B Kelly Johnson
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
It’s chilly but sunny in Chicago with no threat of rain. May baseball weather, basically. The game is scheduled to begin at 8:10pm ET and you can watch on My9. Enjoy the game.
Via George King: Michael Pineda will take the next step in his rehab from a back/shoulder injury this weekend when he faces hitters in live batting practice. “I believe he will throw to hitters Saturday, live [batting practice], simulated type of things and we will go from there,’’ said Joe Girardi. “He is progressing like we want, things are going according to plan.’’
Pineda, 25, started a throwing program about two weeks ago and has thrown at least three bullpen sessions already. He has left the team and is rehabbing in Tampa. Based on how these things usually go, Pineda will throw live batting practice/simulated games a few times before making two or three (maybe four) minor league rehab starts. That puts his return sometime in the middle of next month, assuming no setbacks. So far so good though, and that’s most important. · (1) ·
According to a Naver report (translated article) passed along by Sung-Min Kim and Dan at MyKBO, the Yankees are close to signing 17-year-old Korean shortstop Hyo-Jun Park to a deal worth $1.1M. The bonus will count against the team’s international spending cap, so the deal might not become official until the new signing period opens on July 2nd, when the Yankees are expected to go bonkers.
Park spent some time working out in California earlier this year. He is a slick fielder and a left-handed hitter who is said to be a contact-oriented line drive guy without much power. That said, here’s a video of him hitting a grand slam. Here’s another video of him fielding, hitting, and running. It appears the signing will help address the team’s lack of a quality bat flip tool in the minors. Including Park, the Yankees reportedly have their eyes on at least eight international players for seven-figure bonuses this summer. · (19) ·
Got seven questions for you this week. Send us anything at anytime through the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.
Jerry asks: Just read a quote where Joe Girardi said there is no guarantee CC Sabathia ever comes back, obviously this is an extreme response, but it got me wondering, how does a retirement due to medical issues work as far as the contract is concerned? Does he not retire and continue to collect his check? Negotiate a medical buyout then retire? Are these contracts insured?
Here’s the full quote for those who missed it (via Brendan Kuty): “I think there’s always that possibility a player may not make it back, but I feel pretty good about he’s had done so far and the steps that were taken, and you just kind of keep your fingers crossed.”
Anyway, players forfeit the remainder of their contracts if they retire. If Sabathia’s knee is bad enough that he can never pitch again, he’ll simply sit on the 60-day DL for the next few years and the Yankee will collect whatever insurance they’re entitled to based on their policy. I suppose a buyout is possible, but I can’t remember there ever being one in MLB.
I remember reading that many times teams won’t insure these super-large contracts because the premiums are often higher than the contract itself. The Yankees do have insurance on Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez though — that’s based on what we heard after Teixeira’s wrist and A-Rod‘s hip problems — so I’m guessing they have one on Sabathia too. The only player I can recall who retired and walked away from his contract due to injury is Gil Meche, who forfeited roughly $12M a few years ago. I would be stunned if Sabathia did that. It would be stupid. The Yankees knew the risks when they agreed to pay him all that money. He shouldn’t let them off the hook out of the kindness of his heart.
Mark asks: Is it fair to say that Peter O’Brien is now the team’s second or third best prospect behind Gary Sanchez? Does O’Brien’s meteoric rise on this list along with his versatility make him more valuable to the Yanks over the long-term and make it more likely they’ll trade Sanchez for some pitching help this summer?
I’m going to post my pre-draft top 30 prospects next Friday and right now I’m on the fence about whether O’Brien is even a top ten prospect in the organization. He’s a one-tool guy — granted, that one tool is power, and if you’re going to be a one-tool guy, power is the one to have — without a clearly defined position and some concerns about holes in his swing. If he does make the top ten, he’ll be in the back half for sure. O’Brien’s having a monster season, no doubt about it, but 40 strikeouts and three unintentional walks (!) is a red flag. How usable will that power be at the next level?
I don’t think O’Brien’s big year makes it any more or less likely the Yankees will trade Sanchez. Or John Ryan Murphy for that matter. If anything, it might make it more likely they trade O’Brien. They obviously don’t think he can catch — they wouldn’t have tried him at third base last year and in right field this year if they thought he could hack it behind the plate — but some other team might be willing to give him a shot as a catcher. The Yankees will probably trade a catcher for a pitcher this summer because they have a ton of catching depth, not because someone broke out and made someone else expendable.
J.R. asks: I know its early but can we get a scouting report on Kenta Maeda? Pitches, etc?
Maeda is the best pitcher in Japan now that Masahiro Tanaka is wearing pinstripes. There was some speculation he would be posted last offseason, but the Hiroshima Carp decided to keep him around for another year. Maeda is expected to be posted this coming offseason but he is not on par with Tanaka or Yu Darvish. It’ll be a little while before someone of that caliber comes along. Here’s a snippet of a Baseball America (subs. req’d) scouting report from last year:
Maeda doesn’t have a plus pitch, but he’s shown plus command at his best with the ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes, pitch to both sides of the plate and change hitters’ eye levels … Maeda’s size (6 feet, 161 pounds) doesn’t give him great fastball plane, but his fastball plays up because it has good sink and run and he commands it well. He throws a solid-average slider with short break, a low-70s curveball that he’ll use early in the count and an occasional changeup. Some scouts aren’t sold on Maeda’s stuff playing in the big leagues, but those who like him think he has No. 4 starter potential.
Righties Shohei Otani and Shintaro Fujinami are the early favorites to be the next elite pitching talents to come out of Japan, but they are only 19 and 20 years old, respectively. Long way to go before they’re MLB ready and made available via the posting process.
Mike asks: I get it that Pat Venditte doesn’t have great stuff, and his main point of interest is that he switch-pitches, but after seven years in the minors with a 2.31 ERA and 376/86 K/BB ratio, isn’t it at least worth just seeing if he can do it in AAA? Why not just release him if they believe in him that little?
This question was sent in right before Venditte was promoted to Triple-A Scranton. Teams still need players to fill out their minor league rosters and soak up the playing time left over by the actual prospects, which is why guys like Venditte continue to get jobs even though the team may not believe they’re a future big leaguer. No club has a prospect for every roster spot on every minor league affiliate. Organizational players are necessary and somewhat important. That said, Venditte has been nails against left-handers this year (.071/.188/.071 with a 43.8% strikeout rate). With Cesar Cabral and Fred Lewis both pitching poorly and getting demoted to Double-A Trenton recently, Venditte just might be next in line for a call-up if another lefty reliever is needed. Unlikely? Yeah, probably. It’s not completely far-fetched though.
Andrew asks: With Dellin Betances being amazing in his new bullpen role, why not approach him with an extension right now? He’s under team control for 6 years I believe, why not offer him 6 years, $10 million? It would give him a big payday now, but also give the Yanks cost certainty as he advances into a more high leverage role.
The Yankees do still have six years of control left over Betances and yes, he has been totally awesome this year. He’s also been completely unpredictable throughout his career and I think his flame out potential is lot higher than many either realize or want to admit. There’s not much of a difference between him and, say, Daniel Bard. Electric when on but a perpetual risk of falling apart at any moment.
David Robertson will earn approximately $11.2M during his six years of team control, so that six-year, $10M deal is in the ballpark. Relievers don’t make much during their years of team control unless they rack up saves, and right now Betances isn’t closing. Maybe he’ll close next year — don’t you just love him as a dominant fireman for the middle innings though? — which would change things. Six years and $10M is a relatively small amount, yet it comes with quite a bit of risk and wouldn’t be much of a bargain unless he takes over as closer at some point relatively soon. I’m not a fan of rushing into extensions with non-closing relievers. Their earning power is so relatively small that it’s not worth the risk, especially when they have fewer than one year in the show. Maybe after 2015?
Russell asks: After watching Gerrit Cole, I am wondering why he turned down the Yankees. Growing up a Yankees fan, being selected by them and turning them down? I do not understand why.
Cole simply decided to go to college, that’s all. Teams knew he would be a tough sign coming into the draft, but the Yankees rolled the dice anyway because they never get a chance to draft that kind of talent. They were prepared to offer him a far-above-slot $4M bonus, but Cole’s family is wealthy and money wasn’t a big factor, so he went to UCLA. That’s life. No player should base a decision like this on their fandom growing up.
Sandy asks: What minor league players must the Yankees protect or could lose to the Rule 5 Draft in December?
General rule of thumb is high school players drafted in 2010 and college players drafted in 2011 (or earlier) will be eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft. International prospects are always tough to pin down because the exact dates they signed are often unknown. Based on that, the notables who will be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season are OF Tyler Austin, RHP Danny Burawa, SS Cito Culver, OF Ben Gamel, 2B Angelo Gumbs, RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Branden Pinder, and OF Mason Williams.
Of those eight, I think only Austin, Montgomery, and Williams are locks to be added to the 40-man roster and protected from the Rule 5 Draft. Williams hasn’t hit a lick in two years, but the Yankees have a tendency to protect their one-time top prospects regardless of whether they would actually stick in MLB for a full season (coughJoseCamposcough). There’s a good chance Burawa and/or Montgomery will be called up at some point this season, so they’ll likely already be on the 40-man. Culver and Gumbs shouldn’t be protected and both Gamel and Pinder are on the fence at best. That’s what I think right now, but there are still six months before these decisions have to be made.