2015 Draft: Brady Aiken

Brady Aiken | LHP

Background
The 19-year-old Aiken was the first overall pick in the 2014 draft out of a San Diego high school, but his deal with the Astros fell apart when the team found some red flags in his elbow. The two sides reportedly agreed to a $6.5M bonus before the physical, then Aiken later rejected a reduced $5M bonus. Aiken opted to do a post-graduate year at IMG Academy in Florida rather than attend a four-year college, allowing him to re-enter the draft this year. Aiken blew out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery in April, and reportedly it was something more complicated than a routine ligament reconstruction.

Scouting Report
Aiken, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 lbs., looks the part of a first overall pick when healthy. He sat 92-94 and touched 97 before getting hurt, and it played up because Aiken could sink it and locate the pitch exceptionally well. A tight curveball is his go-to secondary pitch and was a legitimate put-away offering before his elbow gave out. Aiken also threw an advanced changeup that gave him the potential for three well-above-average pitches. A clean and repeatable delivery helped him command all three pitches, though the fact that he has such a smooth delivery and still blew out his elbow creates concerns about his future durability. Aiken has drawn big time praise for his makeup, especially after he took the Astros ordeal and Tommy John surgery in stride.

Miscellany
Baseball America, MLB.com, and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked Aiken as the 22nd, 24th, and 27th best prospect in the draft in their latest rankings, respectively. Kiley McDaniel says Aiken’s camp has made his medical information available to teams, and while that isn’t uncommon, it is a little weird they’re making it available only by request and with special instructions. They’re trying to limit leaks, basically. The Yankees are reportedly steering clear of injured pitchers like Aiken, but they’re one of the few teams with an extra first round pick (16th and 30th overall) and the draft pool space ($7.885M) to make it work. Aiken’s talent is undeniable, but apparently his injury goes beyond routine Tommy John surgery, and that’s scary.

2015 Draft: Cornelius Randolph

Cornelius Randolph | SS

Background
Randolph, 18, attends Griffin High School not too far outside Atlanta. He is the school’s best baseball prospect since Tim Beckham, the first overall selection of the 2008 draft. Griffin dealt with a minor bout of biceps tendinitis this spring and is committed to Clemson.

Scouting Report
Simply put, the 6-foot-1, 190 lb. Randolph is a pure hitter with great bat speed, power potential, and strike zone awareness from the left side of the plate. An ultra-advanced approach makes him even more dangerous. Randolph rarely chases out of the zone and consistently puts himself in good hitter’s counts. His best tool is his arm strength — his arm wasn’t at its best this spring because of the biceps issue — which works well because he’s not going to stick at shortstop long-term. Cornelius has good hands but lacks the first step quickness and range for shortstop. There’s enough defensive ability there to believe he’ll become an above-average defender at third base in time.

Miscellany
Cornelius ranked as the 19th, 20th, and 29th best prospect in the draft class in the latest rankings by MLB.com, Baseball America, and Keith Law (subs. req’d). Depending on who you ask, the Yankees are looking for a bat with one of their two first round picks (16th and 30th), and Cornelius has one of the best offensive skill sets in the entire draft. He’s a lefty with power and patience, which is the profile you’ll find all throughout franchise history.

Saturday Links: Stottlemyre, Betances, Didi, Mock Drafts

Stottlemyre during his playing days. (Presswire)
Stottlemyre during his playing days. (Presswire)

Once again, the Yankees are playing a Saturday night game this week, though at least this one is on the East Coast. Including tonight, their next three and four of their next five Saturday games are night games. Blah. Anyway, here are some links to hold you over until the Yankees and Angels resume their series later tonight.

Mel Stottlemyre Battling Cancer Again

Former Yankees pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre is again battling cancer, reports John Harper. The 73-year-old Stottlemyre was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, while on Joe Torre’s staff back in 2000, and he was told he only had 3-5 years to live. He’s outshot that projection by a decade, but the cancer returned in late-2011 and he has been undergoing treatment since.

“It’s been tough because so much of my life is controlled by doctors, by the cancer. And the side effects of the treatment have been nasty, there’s no getting around it. But I’m determined that I can beat this thing. There are times when I have my doubts but it’s not going to get me down,” said Stottlemyre to Harper. Among the side effects from the medication are heart and thyroid conditions, and a form of diabetes. He also has an Achilles tendon issue, but can’t undergo surgery due to chemotherapy.

Despite the cancer and the treatment, Stottlemyre said he is going to try to make it to Yankee Stadium for Old Timers’ Day later this month. “I want to be there in the worst way,” he said. His wife Jean said they are going to try to attend as well, though the travel from their home in Washington might be too much. Either way, let’s hope for the best for Stottlemyre, a longtime cancer survivor who is trying to do it again.

Betances Gets Pointers From Rivera

Earlier this season, when Dellin Betances was really struggling with his command, the big right-hander got some pointers from Mariano Rivera, writes Kevin Kernan. “Towards the beginning of the season when I was struggling early on, Mo told me a couple of pointers that really helped,” said Betances. “He told me he felt like my front shoulder was flying open and he offered some tips. I dropped the shoulder a little bit to stay within a straight line and have a good direction towards home, and I think that has helped me be more successful and more consistent.’’

Betances said Rivera also reminded him to “stay locked in and have confidence,” even while struggling. “Hearing that from him makes such a difference. I’ve been able to use that advice to my advantage,” he added. Dellin’s numbers since his early-April struggles are insane — he went into last night’s game with five hits and six walks allowed in his last 24 innings, with 43 strikeouts. Bonkers. Somehow Betances has been even better than last year. If only Rivera’s words had that much of an impact on everyone.

Gregorius Gets Pointers From A-Rod, Beltran

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

Meanwhile, the Yankees have turned to two current veteran players to help shortstop Didi Gregorius, who has improved at the plate lately but has struggled overall. In addition to hitting coach Jeff Pentland and assistant hitting coach Alan Cockrell, both Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran have been helping Gregorius in recent weeks, reports George King. “Alex and Carlos had a big hand in talking to Didi,’’ said Pentland.

“You have to have the same approach in the batting cage that you do in the game, and that was something that was missing to me. He is the guy who has to go out and do it. Hopefully he has found something to work with,” said Beltran, who added he considers helping young players part of a veteran’s job. Both Beltran and A-Rod encouraged Gregorius to be “more selective in the (strike) zone” as well. This is the second time Rodriguez has lent a hand coaching Didi — he worked with him at shortstop a few weeks go.

Yankees Invite Whitley For Private Workout

According to Dan Zielinksi, the Yankees had New York HS OF Garrett Whitley in for a private workout before Monday’s draft. (Whitley said he worked out for the Braves and Brewers as well.) I’m not sure if the workout took place in Yankee Stadium or in Tampa, but that doesn’t really matter. Here’s my profile on Whitley, a projected first round pick and one of the highest upside players in the draft. Pre-draft workouts are not uncommon but teams don’t invite just anyone either — they’re usually reserved for players clubs have significant interest in, and, more than anything, the workout is so more members of the brain trust can see the player, including the higher ups. There’s no word on who else the Yankees brought in for a pre-draft workout.

Baseball Prospectus’ Mock Draft v2.0

Over at Baseball Prospectus (subs. req’d), Chris Crawford posted his second mock draft yesterday, and, like everyone else, he has the Diamondbacks taking Vanderbilt SS Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick. That’s not set in stone just yet, but it sure looks like Arizona is leaning in that direction. Crawford has the Yankees selecting Whitley and California HS C Chris Betts with their top two picks, 16th and 30th overall, respectively. Here’s my profile on Betts. (The Whitley profile is linked above.) The Yankees have been connected to both players for weeks now. There’s a decent chance Whitley will be off the board by time that 16th pick comes around, but Betts should still be available.

MLB.com’s Mock Draft v4.0

Meanwhile, Jim Callis posted his latest mock draft yesterday as well. He also has the D’Backs taking Swanson with the top pick. As for the Yankees, Callis has them picking UCLA RHP James Kaprielian and Betts with those 16th and 30th overall picks, respectively. Here’s my profile on Kaprielian. (Again, the Betts profile is linked above.) Callis says the Yankees “want a college pitcher,” but we’ve also heard they want a bat, so who really knows. This draft is very deep in right-handed pitchers, both high school and college, so the best available player for that 16th pick could easily be an arm.

Four Players To Attend 2015 Draft

According to MLB, four players will be at the MLB Network studios for the draft broadcast on Monday: Whitley, Florida HS SS Brendan Rodgers, Indiana HS RHP Ashe Russell, and Pennsylvania HS RH Mike Nikorak. Rodgers is a likely top five pick — he was a candidate to go first overall, but apparently the D’Backs want a quick moving college player — while the Yankees have been connected to the other three guys at various points these last few weeks. Here are my profiles for Russell and Nikorak. Look up a few paragraphs for the Whitley profile. It would be pretty neat if the Yankees drafted a kid who was actually in the studio, wouldn’t it?

Ibanez Changes Agents

Free agent Cuban infielder Andy Ibanez recently changed agents, according to Ben Badler. Ibanez left Praver Shapiro Sports Management and is now represented by Relativity Sports. He has been eligible to sign since February, but Badler says Ibanez is likely to wait to sign until after July 2nd so his bonus (and penalties) get pushed to the 2015-16 signing period. The Yankees have shown some interest in Ibanez, a 22-year-old light hitting/good fielding second baseman, but if he waits until July 2nd, they’ll have no shot to sign him. Part of the penalties for last year’s international spending spree is a bonus cap of $300,000 during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods, and $300,000 won’t be enough for Ibanez.

Yanks survive bullpen meltdown, beat Angels 8-7 in opener

Well that was way too stressful. The Yankees barely hung on to a seven-run lead in Friday’s series opening 8-7 win over the Angels. They were up 8-1 heading into the ninth. The bullpen melted down and the tying run was at third base when the final out was recorded. Goodness.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Two Runs Two Times
In theory, Jered Weaver is exactly the type of pitcher who would struggle at Yankee Stadium. He’s a big time fly ball pitcher with a mid-80s fastball, and, sure enough, he came into Friday’s start with an 8.17 ERA and seven homers allowed in four starts and 25.1 innings at the new ballpark in the Bronx. This is not the ballpark to live and die with the fly ball, that’s for sure. Ask Phil Hughes.

The Yankees took advantage of Weaver’s propensity for the air ball with a pair of two-run home runs juuust over the wall in right field. They were Yankee Stadium cheapies for sure. The first came from Stephen Drew in the second inning, who did a nice job staying back on a slow 60-something mph curveball after being fooled by one earlier in the at-bat. Mark Teixeira hit his two-run home run one inning later. That gave Nathan Eovaldi and the Yankees a nice early 4-0 lead.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Split
Eovaldi gave the Yankees 5.1 innings of one-run ball, and holy moly did he emphasize his relatively new splitter. PitchFX says Eovaldi threw 23 splitters in this game after throwing ten in his last start, seven in the start before that, and four in the start before that. Eovaldi got all four strikeouts on the splitter as well as a few other outs, including a pop-out and a soft line drive out by Mike Trout. This was definitely the most he’s used the pitch this season.

Eovaldi cruised for most of the game — he did have to pitch out of some bad defense-aided jams early — but the wheels came off rather quickly in the sixth inning. Yeah, the strike zone did seem to shrink, but Eovaldi lost the plate and walked three batters to load the bases with one out. No bueno. The three walks ended his night, and Chasen Shreve was able to limit the damage, escaping the inning with just one of the three inherited runners scoring. That was on a ground out too. Shreve was the unsung hero of the night for that inning.

I’m curious to see how Eovaldi uses his splitter going forward. Was this a one-time blip, or will it be a point of emphasis going forward? It was pretty effective for him on Friday night, and a pitch like that can really help him take that next step. Eovaldi threw the splitter so much in this game that I have to think it was intentional and something he is trying to improve. We’ll see.

Barely. (Presswire)
Barely. (Presswire)

Messy Ninth
The Yankees scored four insurance runs late in the game and they ended up needing them. Alex Rodriguez singled in a run in the fifth, Didi Gregorius plated a run with a sac fly in the sixth, Drew hit another home run in the sixth (solo), and Chris Young dunked a single into right to score another run in the seventh. They scored with homers, they scored with hits, they scored with sac flies, they scored in five of eight offensive innings. Great night for the offense, up and down the lineup. The top, middle, and bottom of the order all contributed.

Unfortunately, the bullpen really fell apart in the ninth inning. Esmil Rogers came in to face the bottom of the order with a seven-run lead — the Angels subbed out some of their regulars! — and was unable to retire any of the five batters he faced. Ridiculous. Dellin Betances had to come in with the bases loaded and no outs in the inning to clean up the mess. He allowed a two-run single to David Freese, walked Matt Joyce, walked Chris Iannetta with the bases loaded, struck out Kirk Nieuwenhuis, got Johnny Giavotella to hit into a run-scoring fielder’s choice, then struck out Carlos Perez with runners on the corners to end the game. Good grief.

The defense didn’t help Rogers — Jose Pirela and Chase Headley let a pop-up fall when it should have been the first out — but it did save the game with Betances on the mound. Gregorius made a nice play going to his right to snag Giavotella’s ground ball, keep it on the infield, and get the out at second. That ball was dangerously close to scooting into left field for a game-tying two-run single. Didi legitimately saved a run there. What a mess of an inning. Let us never talk about that again.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
Every Yankee in the starting lineup had at least one hit except for Gregorius, who walked and had the sac fly. Brett Gardner had two hits, A-Rod had four hits (!), and Drew had his two homers. The Yankees tallied 14 hits total while striking out just three times.

A-Rod’s fifth inning single gave him 1,997 career RBI, passing Barry Bonds and taking over sole possession of second place on the official all-time RBI list. Only Hank Aaron (2,297) has more. Alex is now only nine hits away from 3,000 as well.

And finally, Dellin Betances has an ERA now. It’s 0.30, but still. That 0.00 ERA was fun while it lasted.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. This is the team’s 18th series of the season, and so far YES has used 13 different booth combinations. Crazy. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Angels will continue this three-game series with the second game on Saturday night. (Grumble grumble.) Adam Warren and Garrett Richards will be the pitching matchup. Warren is three months younger than Richards. Wouldn’t have guessed that. Anyway, head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any other game on the homestand in person.

DotF: Hebert throws rare minor league complete game shutout in Tampa’s win

RHP Rookie Davis ranked third on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. I didn’t include him in today’s Pre-Draft Top 30 Prospects but I should have. That’s a mistake. Davis is having a fantastic year with High-A Tampa and is really coming into his own (3.26 ERA and 1.86 FIP in 49.2 innings). Also, SS Jorge Mateo has hired Scott Boras, according to Jon Heyman. Nothing to worry about there. The Yankees aren’t poor.

Triple-A Scranton (10-2 win over Syracuse in eleven innings)

  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-5, 1 R, 2 RBI
  • C Austin Romine: 1-6, 1 R, 1 RBI, 3 K
  • CF-RF Ben Gamel: 3-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI — threw a runner out at the plate … third homer of the year … his career high is four set back in 2013
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 K — left the game with an injury in the eighth
  • RHP Luis Severino: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 10/5 GB/FB — 56 of 94 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 2/0 GB/FB — 28 of 46 pitches were strikes (61%) … very nice second start at Triple-A
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 21 of 30 pitches were strikes (70%)

[Read more…]

Game 55: Back from the West Coast

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

That was a really uneven seven-game trip to the West Coast. The Yankees played poorly in losing two of three to the Athletics then had basically the best series ever while sweeping the Mariners. They pounded Felix Hernandez in the first game, had a dramatic ninth inning comeback in the second game, and watched Masahiro Tanaka dominate in his return from the DL in the third game. How could it get any better?

Thankfully, the Yankees are back home in the Bronx for a quick five-game homestand, starting tonight with the first of three against the Angels. The Halos had the best record in baseball a year ago but are kinda scuffling along this year. In fact, they have almost the same record as the Yankees. The Yankees are 29-25 and the Angels are 28-26. Anyway, here is Anaheim’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. LF Ramon Flores
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

The weather is kinda crummy in New York. It’s been raining on and off all day, though there’s nothing more than some drizzle in the forecast tonight. That’s good. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending where you live. Enjoy the game.

Rotation Update: The Yankees are skipping Michael Pineda‘s next start to control his workload. He isn’t hurt and will start next Friday. CC Sabathia will start on normal rest Sunday in Pineda’s place. The Yankees had an off-day yesterday and have off-days coming up on Monday and Thursday, so they can skip Pineda without needing a spot starter. Big Mike has already thrown 70.1 innings this year and is on pace for about 220 innings. He threw 76.1 innings last year and a career-high 171 innings back in 2011, before shoulder surgery.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) ran some sprints, took dry swings, and played catch today, the first time he’s performed any baseball activity since getting hurt … Ivan Nova (elbow) will make his first official minor league rehab start with High-A Tampa on Monday, the team announced. He is scheduled for 80-85 pitches and will make at least one more start after that before returning to the team … Carlos Beltran (foot) is still day-to-day after fouling that pitch off his foot in Seattle. He may be available to pinch-hit tonight … McCann (foot) got some new orthotics and tested his foot in the bullpen this afternoon. He’s fine and back in the lineup.

2015 Draft: Baseball America’s Mock Draft v5.0

Everett. (The Tennesseean)
Everett. (The Tennesseean)

It’s Friday, so Baseball America’s John Manuel published his weekly mock draft. As always, the mock draft is free to read. You don’t need a subscription. Manuel has the Diamondbacks selecting Georgia HS C Tyler Stephenson with the first overall pick, which differs from most recent mock drafts. Arizona’s been connected to Vanderbilt SS Dansby Swanson frequently the last few weeks.

Anyway, Manuel has the Yankees taking Cal Poly Pomona RHP Cody Ponce with the 16th overall pick and Tennessee HS RHP Donny Everett with the 30th overall pick. (The 30th pick is compensation for David Robertson.) The Yankees have been connected to both players in recent weeks — here are my profiles for Ponce and Everett — so these two mock draft picks are not surprising at all.

Manuel notes the Yankees are in New York HS OF Garrett Whitley (profile), and says they “can be aggressive with a tough sign” with their second pick thanks to their extra draft pool space. New York has a $7.885M bonus pool this year, sixth largest in baseball, so they can roll the dice on a tough to sign player knowing they have the extra money to spend.