• Beltran working towards return to outfield, will begin throwing program

    Via Marly Rivera: Carlos Beltran will start a throwing program today as he begins to work towards returning to the outfield. He’ll be wearing a brace to prevent him from overextending on throws. “It’s there. I still feel a little pain,” said Beltran to Brendan Kuty. “But it’s something I have to deal with it. So, right now, I’m not really thinking about it.”

    Beltran, 37, is 3-for-18 (.167) since coming off the disabled list after missing close to a month with a bone spur in his right (throwing) elbow. The Yankees have limited him to DH duty because they don’t want to risk re-aggravating the bone spur, but ideally that wouldn’t go on forever. Getting Beltran back into the outfield, even on a part-time basis, gives Joe Girardi more flexibility with the lineup, something the Yankees could really use.
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A little more than a month ago, I wrote about Rob Refsnyder and the long-term future of the second base position in the Bronx. The Yankees lost Robinson Cano and replaced him with the epitome of a stopgap in Brian Roberts, so the job is wide open going forward. By virtue of playing the position and starting the season at the Double-A level, Refsnyder is the logical candidate to get the first opportunity to be Cano’s long-term replacement.

At the time of that post, the 23-year-old Refsnyder was hitting .267/.344/.384 (109 wRC+) though 23 games with Double-A Trenton. He shook off a very slow start (5-for-35 with 15 strikeouts) and his numbers were climbing up towards respectability. Since that day, Refsnyder has gone an absurd 55-for-142 (.387) to raise his season batting line to .342/.385/.548 (158 wRC+) through 60 Double-A games. He had multiple hits in 15 of his last 17 games at the level. He was kinda hot.

The Yankees promoted Refsnyder to Triple-A Scranton yesterday and he went 2-for-4 (of course) in his first game with the RailRiders, so the move up a level didn’t slow him down. The promotion was obviously well-deserved and the timing matches up perfectly with last season — Refsnyder was promoted to High-A Tampa after 59 games with Low-A Charleston in 2013. The Yankees let him spend two months at each level to get his feet wet before promoting him in each of his two pro seasons.

Now here’s something I wrote in that Refsnyder post early last month:

Any time a player gets to the Double-A level and has success, especially a player drafted out of a major college program, he puts himself on the map for a potential big league role. Obviously the season is very young and Refsnyder still has another 120-something games left in his season, but I’m encouraged he shook off the really poor start and has started to hit like he did last year. The Double-A level has always been something of a separator between actual potential big leaguers and regular ol’ prospects. You know what I mean. Refsnyder is starting to separate himself a bit.

Refsnyder clearly separated himself from the wannabe prospects in the weeks since that post, and at this point we have no choice but to talk about him as a potential big league option. Not just next year either, I mean later this season, after a few weeks in Triple-A. Cano played only 24 games in Triple-A before being called up in 2005 because Tony Womack was terrible. Roberts hasn’t been quite as bad as Womack, but he’s not someone the Yankees should hesitate to replace either.

Aside from position, Cano and Refsnyder have very little in common and are not at all comparable. It would be unfair to compare the two. Cano was a second year big leaguer when he was Refsnyder’s age, for example, so they have entirely different career paths. The better comparison — and again, I mentioned this last month — is probably Brett Gardner, who was also a mid-round draft pick who made it to Triple-A Scranton in the second half of his second full season. (Gardner was a third rounder, Refsnyder a fifth rounder.)

Gardner was blocked when he reached Triple-A in the second half of 2007. The MLB outfield at the time was Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, and young Melky Cabrera coming off a .360 OBP in 2006. Gardner had to sit in Triple-A until the middle of 2008 before getting a chance, and when he didn’t immediately produce, he was back in the minors. Refsnyder does not have the same kind of positional logjam standing between him and MLB. Roberts is as disposable as they come. A promotion depends on his performance more than anything.

For what it’s worth, PECOTA’s 50th percentile projection pegged Refsnyder as a .235/.319/.344 hitter at the MLB level coming into this season. That’s an estimate of his current talent level, not a prediction. Roberts went into last night’s game hitting .239/.317/.350 on the year, which is right in line with Refsnyder’s projection. Refsnyder’s defense is still a work in progress — he played second in high school and outfield in college, so he’s been back at the position for less than two full years — and if they’re going to hit roughly the same, Roberts is probably the better all-around option.

Of course, PECOTA didn’t know Refsnyder would tear the cover off the ball in Double-A for a few weeks. And, of course, projections don’t mean much of anything. The Yankees will have another few weeks to see how Refsnyder performs at Triple-A and another few weeks to see if Roberts can get on any kind of hot streak. If Refsnyder continues to hit and Roberts continues to do whatever he’s been doing most of the year, the only way the team could justify not making a switch is by saying Refsnyder needs more time to improve in the field (which he does).

The promotion to Triple-A puts Refsnyder on the cusp on MLB, and, given his progress to date, the time to give him a shot at the big league level is coming sooner rather than later.

Categories : Minors
Comments (122)

Source: FanGraphs

Staying up for these late night West Coast games is never easy, so it’s always nice whenever the Yankees can eke out a win. They used some late-inning heroics to top the Mariners 3-2 on Tuesday night. The Yankees avoided falling below .500 for the first time since the season was nine games old. Let’s recap:

  • Amazing, Disappearing Offense: The Yankees met their daily quota with two runs in the first inning thanks to two-out hits from Carlos Beltran (double) and Brian McCann (infield single). Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira both singled to set up the rally. New York forced Hisashi Iwakuma to throw 46 pitches in the first two innings, then he retired 14 of the next 17 batters he faced and threw only 62 pitches in the next 5.1 innings. Things started off so promising, then the bats disappeared for about six innings.
  • Numero Nuno: Vidal Nuno owes his outfielders a steak dinner. The gerbil-ish southpaw needed several outstanding defensive plays on well-struck balls to hold the Mariners to four hits and one run in 5.2 innings. Brett Gardner got off easy; Jacoby Ellsbury and Ichiro Suzuki had to make the really tough plays. Nuno did retire 13 of 15 at one point (again, thanks to his defense) and he now owns a 1.80 ERA in 25 innings away from Yankee Stadium. If he could pitch every game in Safeco Field with an elite outfield defense, he’d be pretty great.
  • A Third Run?: Oddly, the Yankees scored another run in the eighth inning, but not until after Dellin Betances blew the 2-1 run lead in the seventh. It was a dumb rally. Hit batsman, move to second on a wild pitch, soft line drive just over a leaping Brian Roberts. Dumb. Then, in the eighth, the Yankees hit three Yankee Stadium homers and were left with a Jeter ground rule double to show for it. Gardner hit two balls that would have been gone in the Bronx and Jeter’s double would have been out as well. Ellsbury came through with a big two-strike single to plate Jeter and again give the Yankees the lead.
  • Six More Outs: Once the Yankees got that 3-2 lead, Joe Girardi turned the game over the Adam Warren and David Robertson, who combined to retire six of eight batters faced. Warren allowed a single to Robinson Cano but otherwise cut through the heart of Seattle’s lineup. Robertson issued a two-out walk while striking out the side and recording his 15th save. With Shawn Kelley set to come off the DL on Wednesday, the late-inning guys are going to get some much-needed help and extra rest going forward.
  • Leftovers: In addition to the go-ahead single, Ellsbury hit the ball on the screws in two other at-bats, but right at defenders … Jeter may or may not have missed first base on his ground rule double. He went back to touch the base and I’m not sure he gets to second without the ball hopping over the fence … Beltran had two hits (both to the opposite field) and generally seems to be getting more comfortable at the plate following the long DL stint … each of the top six hitters in the lineup had at least one hit while the bottom three hitters went a combined 0-for-9 with a walk.

For the box score and video highlights, head over to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and the updated standings are at ESPN. These same two teams will play the second game of this three-game set on Wednesday night, when Masahiro Tanaka starts against the soft-tossing yet effective Chris Young.

Categories : Game Stories
Comments (34)

After 60 games and a 158 wRC+ with Double-A Trenton, 2B Rob Refsnyder was promoted to Triple-A Scranton, according to Nick Peruffo. Refsnyder played 62 games with Low-A Charleston last year (173 wRC+) before being promoted last year, so he’s on the same basic schedule.

In other news, OF Adonis Garcia has been placed on the Triple-A Scranton DL, according to Chad Jennings. He left yesterday’s game with an unknown leg injury. Donnie Collins says RHP Zach Nuding was demoted back down to Double-A. Also, LHP Dietrich Enns underwent some kind of elbow surgery today based on his Twitter feed.

Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Toledo in ten innings)

  • LF Jose Pirela: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 CS — threw a runner out at the plate … 20-for-44 (.455) in his last ten games
  • DH Frankie Cervelli: 1-4 — he’ll continue his rehab with Double-A Trenton tomorrow since the RailRiders are heading out on a road trip
  • RF Zoilo Almonte: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • SS Zelous Wheeler: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI — third homer in his last six games
  • 3B Scott Sizemore: 0-3, 1 RBI
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4 — eight straight multi-hit games and 13 in his last 14 games… doesn’t miss a beat after the promotion
  • C Austin Romine: 1-3
  • RHP Shane Greene: 4 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 4/1 GB/FB — 60 of 87 pitches were strikes (69%)
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 3/1 GB/FB – 24 of 31 pitches were strikes (77%)
  • RHP Preston Claiborne: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 15 of 27 pitches were strikes (56%)

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (70)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

You are a trooper if you’re staying up for this game. Late night West Coast game with Vidal Nuno on the mound? I don’t even need to bring up the struggling offense for everyone to know this is as good a night as any to turn in early.

The Yankees are coming off a surprise off-day thanks to the weather in Kansas City, an off-day that will hopefully wake up the bats a little. Maybe the day away from the park helped everyone clear their heads. Hisashi Iwakuma is very tough and Safeco Field is not a fun place to hit though. Here is the Mariners lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. DH Carlos Beltran
  6. C Brian McCann
  7. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  8. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  9. 2B Brian Roberts
    LHP Vidal Nuno

It’s cool and cloudy in Seattle, but there is no rain in the forecast. Even if there was, Safeco has a retractable roof and it would be a non-issue. Baseball’s always better with the roof open anyway. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 10pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Shawn Kelley (back) will indeed be activated off the disabled list tomorrow … CC Sabathia (knee) is continuing to throw back in New York and will be re-evaluated when the team returns from the road trip next week.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (302)
  • Curry: LHP Jacob Lindgren heading to Tampa later this week

    Via Jack Curry: Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren is traveling to Tampa to take his physical on Thursday. That’s a strong indication the two sides have a contract agreement in place. He was the club’s top selection (second round) in last week’s amateur draft. Slot money for the 55th overall pick is $1,018,700.

    Lindgren, 21, already said he wants to sign “as soon as possible,” and Brian Cashman recently told Donnie Collins they will send the southpaw to Low-A Charleston when the time comes. Mississippi State’s season ended just last week, so Lindgren probably won’t need much more than a bullpen session or two to get back into game shape. You can see all of the team’s picks and keep tabs on their draft pool situation at Baseball America.
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The Yankees are out in Seattle to play the Mariners later tonight, so use this as your open thread until the regular game thread comes along in a few hours. The Mets are playing, plus MLB Network will air a game as well. Who you see depends on where you live. Game Three of the NBA Finals will also be on. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (47)

Late last week we heard Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren, the Yankees’ top pick in last week’s draft (second round, 55th overall), wants to turn pro “as soon as possible.” He has not signed yet, but Brian Cashman did tell Donnie Collins they will assign the southpaw to Low-A Charleston once he is under contract, so they’ve already got a plan in place and everything. I’m surprised they’re not sending him to High-A Tampa right away like they did RHP J.B. Cox back in the day.

Anyway, the signing deadline this year is Friday, July 18th, so a month and a week away. All of the team’s picks can be seen at Baseball America (Day One & Two, Day Three reviews). Here are some miscellaneous signing updates. Keep in mind that many mid-to-late rounders agreed to pre-draft deals, which is the reason they were selected where they were in the first place (draft round in parentheses):

  • Central Michigan RHP Jordan Foley (5) is indeed going to sign, according to Dominick Mastrangelo. I don’t see any reason to think any of the team’s picks in the top ten rounds won’t sign this year. Slot money for the 152nd overall pick is $317,500.
  • Mississippi State RHP Jonathan Holder (6) indicated he will sign on Twitter. He even posted a photo of himself and college teammate Lindgren wearing Yankees hats. Slot for the 182nd pick is $237,600.
    Eastern Illinois RHP Matt Borens (11) said he is traveling to Tampa and will be “starting his career” on Twitter, so yeah, he’s signing. I’m guessing he’ll be in the Short Season Staten Island rotation.
  • Citadel 1B Bo Thompson (13) is signing, according to Jeff Hartsell. Thompson said he “can’t wait to get back to Riley Park as quickly as possible,” indicating he will eventually be assigned to Low-A Charleston.
  • West Virginia RHP Sean Carley (14) will sign and head to Short Season Staten Island, reports Baseball America. He’s going to have to cut his hair and lose the whole Kenny Powers look.
  • Concordia RHP Corey Holmes (20) will sign and report to Staten Island, according to Pinstriped Prospects.
  • Pittsburgh RHP Matt Wotherspoon (34) told Steve Bennett he was flying to Tampa this week to take his physical and go through a brief mini-camp. He said the team has not yet told him if he will be a starter or reliever.
  • William & Mary 2B Ryan Lindemuth (37) said he is signing on Twitter. Guessing he will go to Staten Island as well.
  • South Carolina HS SS Madison Stokes (40) said he will be following through on his commitment to South Carolina on Twitter. Stokes was considered a tough sign going into the draft and the Yankees grabbed him late in case he changed his mind about school.
  • Based on his Twitter feed, the Yankees have signed USC C Jake Hernandez as an undrafted free agent. The 22-year-old hit .327/.363/.374 in 50 games this year. He spent most of his career as a backup for the Trojans. Veteran catchers to guide young pitching prospects are important!
  • The Yankees also signed Dayton RHP Travis Hissong as an undrafted free agent, according to Curt Conrad. He is heading to Staten Island.

Also, it’s worth noting Texas OF Mark Payton (7), UC Irvine 1B Conner Spencer (8), and Vanderbilt SS Vince Conde (9) can’t sign just yet because their schools qualified for the College World Series over the weekend. Once they get eliminated or win the National Championship, then they’re free to turn pro.

Categories : Draft
Comments (34)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The schedule gods were kind to the Yankees this year. This is their final trip out to the West Coast and it only lasts six days. Not too bad. The Yankees are in Seattle to open a three-game set against Robinson Cano and the Mariners tonight. Seattle won all three games at Yankee Stadium earlier this season, one of which was postponed a few weeks by rain.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Mariners are coming in very hot. They’ve won eight of their last nine games (including the makeup game in the Bronx) and just took three of four from the oh so terrible Rays in Tampa. At 34-29 with a +34 run differential, the Mariners currently sit in the second wildcard spot, 2.5 games up on New York.

Manager Lloyd McClendon’s team has an 85 wRC+ and averages 4.16 runs per game, so they’re below-average offensively. They’re banged up too. 1B Logan Morrison (8 wRC+) and DH Corey Hart (82 wRC+) are on the disabled list and both 1B Justin Smoak (79 wRC+) and OF Michael Saunders (112 wRC+) are day-to-day with quad and shoulder problems, respectively. Smoak has been used as a defensive replacement the last few days but hasn’t been able to do much more than that.

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

As expected, Cano (120 wRC+) has been the team’s best hitter this year, though his power output (two homers and .090 ISO) is way down. 3B Kyle Seager (118 wRC+) has been very good while Brooklyn-born OF James Jones (99 wRC+) has been league average. He grew up in the Ebbets Field apartments. Pretty cool, no? OF Cole Gillespie (121 wRC+ in limited time) has been a useful part-timer, but otherwise the Mariners don’t have anyone who has been even an average hitter this season.

OF Dustin Ackley (81 wRC+) and C Mike Zunino (84 wRC+) are disappointments, but at least Zunino has the whole “young catcher in MLB” excuse to fall back on. SS Brad Miller (47 wRC+) has been awful, Ditto OF Stefen Romero (69 wRC+), OF Endy Chavez (65 wRC+ in limited time), and backup C John Buck (84 wRC+ in limited time). UTIL Willie Bloomquist (72 wRC+) has been playing first base with Smoak banged up. Cano and Seager are the two guys the Yankees can’t let beat them.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: LHP Vidal Nuno (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (vs. NYY)
Iwakuma, 33, was on the disabled list with a finger injury when these two clubs first played. Masahiro Tanaka‘s former teammate with the Rakuten Golden Eagles has a 2.66 ERA (3.44 FIP) in seven starts and 50.2 innings this year. Last year, when he finished third in the AL Cy Young voting, Iwakuma had a … 2.66 ERA and 3.44 FIP. Freaky. His strikeout (6.39 K/9 and 19.2 K%) and walk (0.71 BB/9 and 2.1 BB%) rates are both down a bit from last year while his ground ball rate (55.8%) has jumped a notch. Iwakuma’s homer rate (1.07 HR/9 and 15.8 HR/FB%) is about the same and lefties (.313 wOBA) had hit him much harder than righties (.228 wOBA). Like Tanaka, Iwakuma’s out pitch is a mid-80s splitter, though his upper-80s four-seamer and sinker lag behind his ex-teammate. A slow low-80s slider is his other offspeed pitch.

Wednesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. SEA) vs. RHP Chris Young (vs. NYY)
The Mariners have struck scrap heap gold with Young, who has a 3.42 ERA (5.38 FIP) in eleven starts (and one relief appearance) and 68.1 innings. Safeco Field has been perfect for his extreme fly ball (25.8% grounders) ways, as he’s been much more effective at home (.230 wOBA) than on the road (.269 wOBA). He doesn’t have a platoon split, doesn’t miss bats (4.35 K/9 and 11.6 K%), doesn’t limit walks (3.95 BB/9 and 10.6 BB%), and doesn’t keep the ball in the park (1.32 HR/9 and 8.0 HR/FB%). And yet, it works for him. Baseball is so weird. Young is a pure two-pitch pitcher these days, throwing a mid-80s fastball about 75% of the time and filling in the gaps with upper-70s sliders. He survives because of his funky delivery, which hides the ball very well. Young held the Yankees to two runs (one earned) in 5.2 innings back in April.

(Mike Carlson/Getty)

(Mike Carlson/Getty)

Thursday: RHP Chase Whitley (No vs. SEA) vs. LHP Roenis Elias (vs. NYY)
Due to injuries, the 25-year-old Elias jumped straight from Double-A to MLB this season, and he has a 3.64 ERA (4.01 FIP) in 13 starts and 81.2 innings so far. Not bad for an unheralded Cuban signee. Elias has good but unspectacular peripherals across the board — 7.71 K/9 (20.8 K%), 3.20 BB/9 (8.7 BB%), 0.99 HR/9 (11.8 HR/FB%), and 46.3% grounders — and he has small home/road and left/right splits. Elias uses a low-90s fastball to set up his mid-80s changeup and upper-70s curveball, both of which are quality offerings. The Yankees won’t have to face Felix Hernandez this series, but Elias did strike out a career-high ten while allowing two runs in seven innings in the Bronx a few weeks ago.

Bullpen Status
The Mariners made the long flight from Tampa to Seattle yesterday, and their bullpen has worked quite a bit of late. Closer RHP Fernando Rodney (2.72 FIP) has pitched in two of the last three days and four of the last seven. Setup man RHP Danny Farquhar (2.70 FIP) threw two innings yesterday and RHP Dominic Leone (2.85 FIP) has pitched in back-to-back games.

The rest of the bullpen includes RHP Yoervis Medina (4.04 FIP), RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (4.06 FIP), LHP Joe Beimel (3.08 FIP), and LHP Charlie Furbush (3.66 FIP). There isn’t a true long man in the bunch, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just unusual. The Yankees were rained out yesterday, so their bullpen is rested. Check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway. For the latest and greatest on the Mariners, head over USS Mariner and Lookout Landing.

Categories : Series Preview
Comments (45)
  • Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui will make Old Timers’ Day debuts this year

    Both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui will make their Old Timers’ Day debuts later this month, the Yankees announced. That’s going to be a lot of fun. Former right-hander John Montefusco will make his Old Timers’ debut as well. The full roster of Old Timers can be seen right here. The usual cast of characters will be there.

    Old Timer’s Day is June 22nd this year, so not this coming Sunday, the following Sunday. The Yankees will be unveiling the second of four new Monument Park plaques that day, this one in honor of Goose Gossage. Tino Martinez’s plaque will be unveiled one day earlier. Plaques for Paul O’Neill and Joe Torre are coming later this summer. Torre is having his number retired as well.
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