The video above is OF Mason Williams making a ridiculous catch after slipping in the outfield during yesterday’s game. He might not be hitting much this year, but Williams is an outstanding defender and one of the very best in the all the minors. Here are some notes:

  • OF Ramon Flores, IF Dean Anna, and RHP Diego Moreno were all placed on the Triple-A Scranton DL, according to Donnie Collins. Flores has an ankle injury and will miss a month or so. Not sure what’s wrong with the other two. C Jose Gil, IF Carmen Angelini, and LHP Francisco Rondon were bumped up to replace them.
  • According to his Twitter feed, RHP Gabe Encinas pitched in an Extended Spring Training game today. He made seven starts for Low-A Charleston last year before blowing out his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery. Encinas is one of the hardest throwers and best sleeper prospects in the organization.
  • IF Jose Pirela and 2B Rob Refsnyder were named the Triple-A International League and Double-A Eastern League Offensive Players of the Week, respectively. Meanwhile, RHP Jaron Long was named the Low-A South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week. Congrats to all.

Triple-A Scranton‘s box score and game log seem to be broken after a lengthy rain delay. I’m not going to wait around any longer. Here is the link if you want to check it out yourself.

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Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (61)
On pace for six homers. Like, all season. (Getty)

On pace for six homers. Like, all season. (Getty)

The Mariners are back in town for one night and one night only, as these two teams have to make up a rained out game from late-April. That means Robinson Cano is back in the Bronx for the second time, and of course he’s in the lineup tonight. He missed the last four games with a bruised hand after being jammed by a pitch. Robbie hadn’t missed four games in a full season with the Yankees since 2006. You didn’t think he was not going to play, did you?

Anyway, Cano or no Cano, the Yankees need their offense to wake up tonight. That won’t be easy because Felix Hernandez is on the mound, but still. It has to happen sometime. They scored six runs total in the three games against the Twins over the weekend and Minnesota started two guys who went into the series with literally the two worst ERAs in baseball. The Yankees have hit .230/.298/.304 with an average of 3.5 runs scored in their last 14 games, which is awful. That’s NL team in a big ballpark production. Yuck. Here is the Mariners lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  6. DH Alfonso Soriano
  7. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. 1B Kelly Johnson
    RHP David Phelps

It is nice and sunny in New York today. Kinda hot too. No clouds and no chance of rain during the game, so it’s a lovely night for baseball. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (knee) has been running on a special treadmill that reduces impact and hopes to begin playing catch later this week. He spoke to Amare Stoudemire about rehabbing from the stem cell treatment, which I guess is good … Shawn Kelley (back) is likely to throw a simulated game on Wednesday and pitch in a minor league game on Friday before rejoining the team either over the weekend or early next week … in case you missed it earlier, both Carlos Beltran (elbow) and Frankie Cervelli (hamstring) played in Extended Spring Training games today. Beltran said he plans to rejoin the team for their road trip at the end of the week.

All-Star Voting Update: MLB released another All-Star Game fan voting update this afternoon, and Jeter remains the leading vote-getter at shortstop by a mile. Melky Cabrera jumped over Ellsbury for the final outfield spot, however. Mark Teixeira (fifth), Soriano (fifth), McCann (second), Beltran (fifth), and Gardner (13th) are among those getting votes at their respective positions. Here is the full update.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (251)
Jun
02

2014 Draft: K.J. Harrison

By in Draft. Tags: · Comments (0) ·

K.J. Harrison | C

Background
Harrison attends Punahou High School in Honolulu, and his father Kenny played briefly in the minors after being an All-American at Hawaii. He is one of the youngest high school players in the draft class (won’t turn 18 until August) and is committed to Oregon State.

Scouting Report
At 5-foot-11 and 190 lbs., Harrison stands out for his strong and accurate arm behind the plate. He has good footwork and is a very good receiver for a high school backstop, showing no trouble catching premium velocity during showcase events. Harrison shows power in batting practice and gets his bat through the zone quickly, but he needs to improve his approach to fully tap into his offensive potential. Like most catchers, he can’t run all that well. Harrison is also said to be a very intense competitor.

Miscellany
In their latest rankings, Baseball America and MLB.com ranked Harrison as the 138th and 172nd best prospect in the draft class, respectively. He did not make Keith Law’s (subs. req’d) most recent top 100 draft prospects list. Last week, however, Law said the Yankees were targeting high school catchers and mentioned Harrison by name. That makes sense, they love hoarding catchers. The team’s first pick is in the second round (55th overall), but Harrison is a better fit for their third (91st overall), fourth (122nd), fifth (152nd), or possibly even sixth (182nd) round pick. Catchers almost always get drafted higher than expected because of position scarcity though.

Categories : Draft
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  • Hoch: Beltran, Cervelli play in Extended Spring Training games
    By

    Via Bryan Hoch: Carlos Beltran played in an Extended Spring Training game earlier today, his first game action since landing on the disabled list with a bone spur in his elbow. He went 0-for-3, but results don’t really matter. “The elbow felt good,” he said. Beltran said the plan is to play two more ExST games before rejoining the Yankees when they leave for their road trip at the end of the week. Good news.

    In other news, Frankie Cervelli also played in the same game as Beltran, according to Hoch. Cervelli went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk. It was his first game action since suffering a hamstring injury in April. He is eligible to be activated off the 60-day DL on June 14th, so less than two weeks away. With John Ryan Murphy playing so well as Brian McCann’s backup, there’s no reason to rush Cervelli back.
    · (17) ·

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Thanks to a rainout on April 30th, the Mariners are back in the Bronx for one night only. The Yankees and Mariners are making up that postponed game tonight, on what should have been an off-day. Seattle did win the two other games in the series back in April.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Mariners just took two straight from the Tigers but have still lost five of their last eight overall. They played in Seattle yesterday afternoon and had to fly in overnight for this game. They leave for Atlanta later tonight. That must suck. Overall, the Mariners are 28-28 with a +13 run differential on the season, which has them sitting in fourth place in the top heavy AL West.

Offense
At 4.07 runs per game with a team 83 wRC+, manager Lloyd McClendon’s squad is comfortably below-average offensively. They are without 1B Logan Morrison (8 wRC+) and DH Corey Hart (82 wRC+), who are on the disabled list with knee and hamstring problems, respectively. Neither will be back tonight. 2B Robinson Cano (115 wRC+) has not played the last three games due to a bruised hand after being jammed by a pitch. If he doesn’t play tonight, then it must be a really bad bruise. I can’t imagine Robbie will pass up an opportunity to torch his old team.

3B Kyle Seager (125 wRC+) has been the team’s best hitter on a rate basis this year, and that is especially true right now with Cano banged up. OF Michael Saunders (109 wRC+) and OF James Jones (107 wRC+ in limited time) are the only other hitters who have been even average for Seattle. 1B Justin Smoak (88 wRC+) and OF Dustin Ackley (85 wRC+) continue to be monumental disappointments, as is SS Brad Miller (42 wRC+). Miller might legitimately be the worst regular player in baseball. It’s amazing he’s not back in Triple-A yet.

Aside from that group, the Mariners are trotting out C Mike Zunino (88 wRC+) and IF Nick Franklin (-1 wRC+ in limited time) fairly regularly right now. OF Stefen Romero (56 wRC+) plays against lefties, OF Cole Gillespie (88 wRC+ in limited time) plays against righties, and UTIL Willie Bloomquist (53 wRC+ in limited time) is the veteran bench guy every team loves to have. C John Buck (65 wRC+) is the backup catcher and OF Endy Chavez (79 wRC+) the designated “holy moly he’s still in baseball?” guy.

(Tom Pennington/Getty)

(Tom Pennington/Getty)

Pitching Matchup: RHP David Phelps (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (vs. NYY)
One game series and of course it’s Felix. How could it not be? The rainout pushed the 28-year-old Hernandez out of the series in New York, but I guess the Yankees can’t escape him that easily. Felix has been superb this season, as usual, with a 2.57 ERA (2.23 FIP) in 12 starts and 84 innings. Lots of strikeouts (8.89 K/9 and 24.8 K%), lots of grounders (51.7%), few walks (1.71 BB/9 and 4.8 BB%), fewer homers (0.32 HR/9 and 5.9% HR/FB). Definition of elite. He also has a bit of a reverse split this year — righties have a .271 wOBA while lefties have a .248 wOBA — but still, he’s good against everyone. Felix has probably the nastiest stuff in the game, with a low-90s fastball that runs back in on righties, an upper-80s changeup that falls off the table, an unhittable mid-80s slider, and knee-buckling low-80s curveball. Every positive pitching adjective in the book applies to this guy.

Bullpen Status
Left-hander Roenis Elias threw a complete game shutout against the Tigers yesterday, so McClendon’s bullpen got a nice day of rest. Closer RHP Fernando Rodney (3.02 FIP) is the anchor and he has been a high-wire act all season. Every time I watch him he’s putting the tying run on base. RHP Yoervis Medina (4.07 FIP) and former Yankees farmhand RHP Danny Farquhar (2.76 FIP) are the primary setup men. Farquhar went to Seattle in the Ichiro Suzuki trade.

LHP Charlie Furbush (4.09 FIP) and LHP Joe Beimel (2.95 FIP) are the team’s two lefties while RHP Dominic Leone (3.24 FIP) and RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (3.97 FIP) handle pretty much all other situations. Outside of David Robertson, who has thrown a ton of pitches the last two days, the Yankees’ bullpen should be in good shape behind Phelps tonight. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage, then check out USS Mariner and Lookout Landing for everything you need to know about the Mariners over the next like, ten hours or so.

Categories : Series Preview
Comments (27)
(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

The 2014 season is now one-third of the way complete. Well, technically it’s one-third plus one game complete for the Yankees. They played their 54th game of the season on Saturday, and through that game they were on pace to go 87-75 with a -30 run differential. There is still a pretty big disconnect between the win-loss record and run differential this time of year. The relationship usually doesn’t start to stabilize until the All-Star break or so, according to Russell Carleton.

Anyway, as is the case every year, the Yankees have had some players or parts of their game be a pleasant surprise this season. There have also been some disappointments as well. That’s just baseball. Things don’t always go according to plan, both for better and worse. So, with all that in mind, let’s review the Yankees’ biggest surprises and disappointments at the one-third (plus one game) point of the 2014 season.

Surprise: Yangervis Solarte
I can’t imagine anyone doesn’t consider Solarte a massive surprise this year. Even if you totally bought into his excellent Spring Training, I still don’t think you could have reasonably expected a .294/.363/.458 (127 wRC+) batting line through the first third of the season. How could you? This is best case scenario stuff. Solarte is not a total fluke either — he has a not outrageous .305 BABIP and is a high contact switch-hitter hitter with a solid approach (23/20 K/BB). That’s a good recipe for success. The infield was pretty unsettled coming into the season, but Solarte has emerged as a legitimate everyday player and a much-needed above-average bat to lengthen the lineup.

Disappointment: Hiroki Kuroda
Maybe Kuroda’s shaky start to the season shouldn’t be much of a surprise given his age (39) and the way he closed out last season (terribly). His 4.57 ERA is by far a career-high — he’s also allowed seven unearned runs because of the lol defense — yet his peripheral stats are right in line with recent years. Check it out:

K% BB% GB% HR/FB Whiff% Zone% BABIP
2014 17.3% 3.9% 47.2% 12.3% 9.8% 42.9% 0.311
2013 18.2% 5.2% 46.6% 10.3% 9.9% 38.8% 0.282
2012 18.7% 5.7% 52.3% 13.0% 9.6% 38.7% 0.281

There’s nothing really crazy going on there. The biggest difference between Kuroda this year and Kuroda the last two years might be that he is throwing too many pitches in the strike zone, which would explain the jump in BABIP. More balls in the zone means more strikes to hit. (The shaky infield defense would explain that too.) Anecdotally, Kuroda has really struggled with his slider and to a lesser extent his splitter. When he misses, he’s missed out over the plate and the ball gets hit hard. When he’s going well, Kuroda lives on the edges and manages contact, meaning lots of weak pop-ups and grounders. Now he’s missing his spots and those pop-ups are line drives. I don’t know if it’s an age thing or a mechanical thing or something else entirely. Whatever it is, it’s made Kuroda part of the problem for the first third of the season.

Surprise: Masahiro Tanaka
Man, how great has Tanaka been? He has taken over as the undisputed staff ace and has legitimately been one of the very best starters in all of baseball. I mean, the Yankees didn’t invest $175M in him because they thought he would be a solid mid-rotation workhorse, they expected him to be an ace. But this good, this soon? An adjustment period to life in the big leagues (and a new country) would have been totally normal.

Instead, Tanaka has been elite (2.06 ERA and 2.52 FIP), with excellent strikeout (10.07 K/9 and 28.7 K%), walk (1.37 BB/9 and 3.9 BB%), and ground ball (48.0%) rates. After allowing seven homers in his first six starts, he’s allowed zero long balls in his last five starts. Tanaka’s splitter has been as advertised (49.2% whiff rate!), ditto his toughness and poise. Dude is a stone cold killer on the mound. I expected Tanaka to be very good this year, but not this good.

Disappointment: Brian McCann
Yeah, he’s been much better over the last three weeks or so, but the Yankees absolutely did not expect a .229/.292/.380 (84 wRC+) batting line out of McCann when they agreed to give him $85M over five years. The homers have been there (seven so far), the other base hits (career-low .233 BABIP) and walks (6.7%, worst in seven years) have not. I’ve thought McCann was pressing more than anything — he is hitting .269/.363/.434 with an 11/9 K/BB in 21 games dating back to the start of the Brewers series, for what it’s worth — and it really isn’t ridiculous to think a guy who changed leagues and had to learn a new pitching staff needed a few weeks to adjust. McCann is trending in the right direction, but he was a negative in the first third of the season, there’s no doubt about it.

Surprise: Dominant Setup Crew
I had no concerns about David Robertson taking over the ninth inning, and yesterday’s total meltdown notwithstanding, he’s been pretty awesome as the closer. Getting the ball from the starters to Robertson looked like it might be something of a challenge when Spring Training opened, but, as has been the case the last few seasons under Joe Girardi‘s watch, setup men have stepped forward.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Dellin Betances has been unreal, with a 1.38 ERA (0.86 FIP) and a 46.7% strikeout rate in 32.2 innings. I love that Girardi has been using him as a multi-inning setup man (I just wish it wasn’t every other day, fatigue in the second half could be a problem) and effectively turning it into a six or sometimes even five-inning game. Adam Warren has not been quite as dominant as Betances, but a 1.71 ERA (2.34 FIP) with a 23.8% strikeout rate in 31.2 innings plays just fine. Shawn Kelley had 3.52 ERA (2.35 FIP) and a 25.0% strikeout rate in 15.1 innings before hurting his back as well.

Given the lack of offense and generally short outings from the non-Tanaka starters, the setup crew has been super important this season and they have been dynamite. Getting Kelley back will allow Girardi to spread the workload around a little more, which should make them even more effective.

Disappointment: Injuries, Again
The Yankees, once again, dealt with several injuries to key players. Some of them, like Michael Pineda going down with a shoulder issue and Mark Teixeira dealing with nagging wrist soreness, should not be surprising at all. They’re coming off surgery and complications come with the territory. Others, like Ivan Nova blowing out his elbow or Carlos Beltran developing (or, really, aggravating an existing) bone spur in his elbow, kinda popped up out of nowhere.

The injuries have stretched the Yankees thin and exposed their lack of offensive depth — they had four guys (Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian Roberts, Ichiro Suzuki) in the lineup yesterday who have spent the majority of their careers as leadoff hitters, and that doesn’t include long-time number two hitter Derek Jeter either — as well as forced them to play guys out of position. I mean, 21 games at first base for Kelly Johnson? Really? Injuries are part of the game and no one is going to feel bad for the Yankees. But these are real problems they have to overcome. Again.

Surprise: The AL East Sucks
Overall, the Yankees have been pretty mediocre this season. Let’s call a spade a spade here. At the same time, the AL East as a whole has been mediocre as well. The Blue Jays have been the best team in the division by a decent margin with a 34-24 record and a +34 run differential. The other four teams are 107-116 with a -65 run differential combined. The Rays are especially terrible. They’re a half-game worse than the Astros (!) at 23-34 with a -38 run differential. Can you believe that?

The Yankees are only 3.5 games back of Toronto, which is nothing with two-thirds of the season to go. They still have five head-to-head series to play. There does not appear to be that one great team that will run away with the division, which means New York’s general mediocrity will not sink them over the summer. This division could be decided by which team gets the most impact from a call-up or makes the best (not necessarily the biggest or the most) moves at the trade deadline.

* * *

Some aspects of the Yankees are not surprising and have played out exactly as expected. The bad infield defense and general lack of power, for example. Gardner again being totally awesome and one of the most unheralded players in the league is another one. The Yankees are a flawed team and there is no argument to be made against that. They are also a flawed team in an eminently winnable division full of flawed teams. The first third of the season revealed some very real cracks in the dam. The second third is for fixing those cracks and putting the club in the best position to make a run at a postseason berth, AL East title or otherwise.

Categories : Players
Comments (139)

Record Last Week: 3-3 (19 RS, 28 RA)
Season Record: 29-26 (230 RS, 245 RA, 26-29 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: vs. Mariners (one game, Mon.) vs. Athletics (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), @ Royals (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

Categories : Polls
Comments (41)

The video above is C Gary Sanchez‘s two-run homer from last night’s game. I enjoy that he has a Marcus Thamesian bat flip (0:50 mark). It’s no coincidence that Thames is Double-A Trenton’s hitting coach, right? I like to think not.

Triple-A Scranton (9-7 loss to Indianapolis)

  • 2B-LF Jose Pirela: 5-6, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 K — 12-for-32 (.375) in his last six games
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-1 – beat out an infield single in the first inning and was immediately lifted for a pinch-runner, his agent says he suffered an ankle injury and will miss about a month … ouch
  • 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RF Adonis Garcia: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, RBI, 1 K
  • SS Zelous Wheeler: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 E (fielding) the error led to three runs in the eighth
  • C Austin Romine: 0-3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Bruce Billings: 3 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 39 of 62 pitches were strikes (63%) … picked a runner off second
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 27 of 44 pitches were strikes (61%) … 13/6 K/BB in 10.2 innings
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 18 of 28 pitches were strikes (64%) … 17 walks in 24.1 innings

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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  • Carlos Beltran heading to Tampa to begin playing minor league games
    By

    Carlos Beltran is traveling to Tampa this evening and will play in Extended Spring Training games on Monday and Tuesday, Joe Girardi announced following this afternoon’s game. “We’ll just go day by day to see where’s at and how his at-bats are, and when they deem that he’s ready, we’ll have him back,” said the manager. “I don’t imagine that it’s going to be real long. I would hope that we’ll see him soon here.”

    ExST is very informal and Beltran will be able to get a ton of at-bats the next two days. He can lead off every inning, for example. Assuming these next two days go well, he’ll probably play in a minor league rehab game or two with one of the affiliates. Looking at the upcoming schedule, maybe he’ll be ready to rejoin the team at the end of the homestand on Thursday, before they travel to Kansas City. So far the elbow is holding up well and that’s important. The Yankees really need his bat in the lineup.
    · (0) ·

Here is your open thread for the last few hours of the weekend. Yesterday’s weather kinda stunk but it was gorgeous today here in New York. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Pirates at the Dodgers (Volquez vs. Greinke), plus the Kings and Blackhawks are playing Game Seven (8pm ET on NBCSN) to determine who will face the (hockey) Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals, so that’s fun. Talk about this afternoon’s game, either of tonight’s games, or anything else right here. Have at it.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (17)
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