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DotF: Parmelee’s homer gives RailRiders the 2016 Triple-A Championship

This is the last DotF of the 2016 regular season, folks. The Arizona Fall League and various winter leagues begin play in a few weeks, and those get weekly updates. Here are some notes before we get to tonight’s game:

  • RHP James Kaprielian (elbow) faced hitters again today, reports Brendan Kuty. They’re still hoping he can play in the AzFL. “I’m pretty happy and excited with the progression we’ve made,” said Kaprielian. “We’ve obviously taken our time with this and tried to deal with it smart. The Yankees have done a really good job with handling me and the process and I feel good with where I’m at.”
  • OF Blake Rutherford (hamstring) is healthy and participating in Instruction League, reports Kuty. “I’m 100%. Just going through some things, getting ready, getting my timing back. My leg feels real good,” he said. Rutherford also talked about some other stuff following his first few months as a pro ballplayer, so check it out.
  • Jim Callis ranked this year’s top 30 rookies based on future value. C Gary Sanchez placed tenth. “His power is for real, as is his arm strength, and he could become an All-Star after showing more maturity and receiving prowess the past two years,” said the write-up.
  • Both 1B Greg Bird and IF Tyler Wade were included in yesterday’s Monday Morning Ten Pack (no subs. req’d), which highlighted interesting players going to the AzFL. Bird is on his way back from shoulder surgery and Wade is going to spend some time in the outfield to increase his versatility.
  • The Dominican Winter League draft was held last week and Vince Lara-Cinisomo has the results. Several Yankees farmhands were picked, including RHP Domingo Acevedo and RHP Yefrey Ramirez. They’re still Yankees. Nothing’s changed there. It just means they have new winter ball teams. Like the time Gary Sanchez was traded for Pedro Ciriaco.

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over El Paso) the Triple-A Championship is a one-game winner-take-all series, so Scranton has won their first Triple-A championship in franchise history … pretty cool … here’s some video from the game … they faced an El Paso (Padres) team that hit .295/.348/.466 during the regular season … the Pacific Coast League is wild, man

  • LF Mark Payton: 1-4, 1 R
  • CF Clint Frazier: 2-4, 1 R, 2 K — the game was on NBC Sports Net and I thought Frazier had the best at-bats of the night by anyone on either team … calm, confident, knows the zone … he looked like a big leaguer … he also gets three title rings this year: Eastern League (Double-A Akron won, the team he started the season with), International League (Scranton), and Triple-A (Scranton)
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI — got picked off second … his three-run homer gave the RailRiders a 3-0 lead three batters into the game … he was named the Championship Game MVP
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-3, 1 BB
  • CF Jake Cave: 2-4
  • DH Mike Ford: 0-3, 1 BB — got to make his Triple-A debut in the Triple-A Championship Game after being bumped up to replace Donovan Solano … he nearly hit a home run in his first at-bat, but the outfielder caught it up against the wall
  • SS Pete Kozma: 1-3
  • 3B Cito Culver: 0-3, 2 K
  • 2B Jonathan Diaz: 1-3
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery: 5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1/9 GB/FB — 52 of 70 pitches were strikes (74%) … very nice rebound from his rough outing in the International League Championship Series, when he didn’t make it out of the first
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eight of eleven pitches were strikes (73%) … he came into a two on, no outs situation in the sixth and stranded the two runs, so that was big
  • LHP Phil Coke: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 17 of 21 pitches were strikes (81%) … Coke dominating in an important postseason game reminds me of his random Billy Wagner impression during the 2011 ALCS … blah
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 1 IP, zeroes, 1/1 GB/FB — all eight pitches were strikes

Double-A Trenton and High-A Tampa lost in the Championship Series. Low-A Charleston and Short Season Staten Island lost in the first round postseason. Rookie Pulaski, Rookie GCL Yanks East, and Rookie GCL Yanks West all failed to qualify for the postseason.

Despite strong Triple-A showing, the Yankees aren’t ready to bring Luis Severino back to MLB

(Danna Stevens/Times Tribune)
(Danna Stevens/Times Tribune)

Without question, CC Sabathia‘s renaissance is the best story in an otherwise mediocre 2016 Yankees season. Sabathia has been able to overcome years of declining stuff and personal demons to turn in what is truly a Cy Young caliber performance to date. It’s hard not to love what the big man is doing this season. It’s so fun to watch.

On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t think there has been a bigger disappointment this year than Luis Severino. The young right-hander impressed in his second half cameo last year and was poised to emerge as a rotation force this season. Instead, he struggled big time, pitching to a 7.46 ERA (5.50 FIP) in 35 innings before getting hurt and demoted to Triple-A. It was a well-earned demotion, no doubt.

Since joining the RailRiders, Severino has posted a 2.52 ERA (2.85 FIP) in four starts and 25 innings. It’s not much, but it is right in line with what he did in the minors from 2014-15 (2.45 ERA and 2.42 FIP). That’s good! Had Severino gone down to Triple-A and continued to struggle, it would be a big problem. A big problem and very scary. The top young pitcher in the organization would still be broken.

Severino’s performance in Triple-A has been very good, and it stands to reason the Yankees want to get him back to the big leagues at some point, but right now there does not seem to be any urgency to do so. Joe Girardi told reporters the other day he’s watched all of Severino’s minor league starts and he still believes there is work to be done. From Randy Miller:

“It still needs some tuning up,” Girardi said Sunday before the Yankees and Minnesota Twins finished up their four-game series at Target Field. “It’s location. Consistency is the big thing. You see some really good pitches, some well-located pitches, but it’s consistency and here (in the majors) you can’t leave ball in the middle of the plate or they get hammered. So I think a lot of times you have to look beyond the numbers.”

“I think sometimes you see the location is not where it needs to be,” Girardi said. “He throws some really good sliders, then he throws some that are up or lack the downward movement that you want.

“I think he’s making strides. I think he’s becoming more consistent, but we’re looking for some more.”

Severino’s biggest problem with the Yankees earlier this season was his command, particularly of his slider and changeup. The stuff was fine. He had the velocity and his slider had some bite to it, but he left too many pitches in the hitting zone and batters really made him pay. Opponents hit .316 with a measly 11.6% swing-and-miss rate against his slider, for example. That is legitimately awful. The league averages are .211 and 15.2%, respectively.

Unfortunately, we don’t have access to any video of Severino’s minor league starts, so we haven’t been able to see him for ourselves. MiLB.com has just one highlight video from his time in Triple-A, and it’s a full three-pitch strikeout at-bat. The first pitch was a fastball, the next two were nasty sliders down in the zone. Check it out:

Based on that three-pitch look, Severino’s command is fixed! Those are two pretty good sliders. Too bad it doesn’t work like that. That at-bat represents 0.898% of the pitches he’s thrown with the RailRiders this year. They don’t tell us much at all. Severino broke off some nasty sliders in the big leagues earlier this year too.

When Girardi says “sometimes you see the location is not where it needs to be” you can be sure that is an organizational opinion and not his alone. After all, Girardi doesn’t make the roster moves. He might have input — I’m certain he does after 8+ years on the job — but at the end of the day, the front office is going to decide who is and who isn’t on the roster. Right now Severino is not considered MLB ready.

And you know what? That is perfectly fine with me. I was on board with sending Severino down to the minors to work on things right before his injury and nothing has changed. He’s too important to rush back just because the numbers are good. There are specific flaws that need to be addressed — again, the location of his secondary pitches — and if Girardi and the Yankees say there hasn’t been enough progress, then there hasn’t been enough progress.

Although the team insists they’re trying to contend — of course they’re going to say that, what do they have to gain by saying they’re going to trade everyone and rebuild? — improving the 2017 Yankees has to be a priority right now, and part of that is getting Severino right. If that means more time in Triple-A, so be it. Severino is too important to the franchise long-term. His development should continue in the minors until it is certain his command has improved.

Sunday Night Open Thread

The Yankees held their 70th annual Old Timers’ Day this afternoon, and, once again, it was just a wonderful ceremony. Here are all the videos. Hideki Matsui hit a homer into the second deck during the Old Timers’ Game just like the old days. It landed pretty much in the same spot as his 2009 World Series homer off Pedro Martinez. Good times.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Giants and Dodgers are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Peavy vs. Urias), plus Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals is on as well. Talk about those games, Old Timers’ Day, or anything else right here.

Joe Girardi’s Spring Press Conference: Chapman, Tanaka, Castro, Gardner, Ellsbury, More

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Pitchers and catchers reported to Tampa for Spring Training today, meaning the first steps of the marathon that is the 2016 season have been taken. Joe Girardi met with reporters for his annual start-of-spring press conference this morning, and of course he was asked about all aspects of the team.

“Pretty much (quiet). I think it was evidence in the amount of time it took someone to ask a question this morning,” said Girardi when asked about this being a normal camp because they’re no huge stories. “We haven’t had the big story and that’s nice … It is a pretty regular Spring Training. I hope that doesn’t make it a boring Spring Training, but it is regular.”

Normal spring or not, Aroldis Chapman dominated this morning’s press conference, with questions about his pending suspension, the domestic dispute incident, and his role as closer. You can watch Girardi’s press conference right here (it’s chopped up into smaller clips.) Here’s a recap of the important stuff with some thoughts thrown in.

All Things Aroldis

  • On an appropriate punishment: “I think that’s up to the commissioner to decide. That’s not my job. Obviously I wasn’t in the room when they put the (domestic violence) policy together. I have not reviewed the cases … I know it’s very serious and we have to take it very serious. To me, it’s very important when there’s an issue, it’s taken care of.”
  • On behavioral concerns: “Obviously you look at behavioral patterns to see if guys are maturing … We’ve all probably done things in our lives we wish we could do a little differently. I want to get to know him before I really form an opinion about his character. It’s unfortunate sometimes players get labeled before you a chance to know him.”
  • On conduct: “I think there’s an expectation of conduct and how you’re supposed to handle things. The court of law is different than the court of MLB or the MLBPA (or) the public’s opinion. I think we have a responsibility as athletes with the way we present ourselves on and off the field, and I’m okay with that.”
  • On Chapman’s decision to appeal any suspension: “I think it tells you he wants to question the suspension … Does it tell me maybe he (doesn’t think he did) something wrong? I don’t think it says that.”
  • On getting to know Chapman: “I think it’s really hard to form a really good opinion by talking on the phone. There’s some language issues there … He’s very thankful to be here … But until I really get around him it’s really hard to form an opinion.
  • On making Chapman the closer: “He’s been a closer most of his career. It’s (a role) he’s probably most comfortable with. Andrew Miller did a tremendous job … Andrew has been a reliever most of his career — setup guy, seventh inning guy, lefty specialist — I thought it would be (easier for him) to adjust to it better than Chapman.”
  • On the trade itself: “His name was brought up, then it kinda died, then it happened really fast. I had some information about it (but) I was not given much information.”

Girardi danced around any questions regarding Chapman’s domestic dispute incident, which was to be expected. Technically MLB’s investigation is still ongoing and he wasn’t going to say anything remotely controversial. Girardi deflected everything with “that’s up to MLB” and “I have to get to know him,” basically.

I hope commissioner Rob Manfred announces the suspension soon, however long it may be, so Chapman can file his appeal and go through the process. The longer this goes on, the more of a distraction it will be. Let’s rip the band-aid off, so to speak. The sooner we can begin focusing on nothing but baseball, the better. During the press conference you could tell Girardi felt the same way.

The Rotation

  • On Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow: “We will watch him closely to see where he’s at … We’ll make sure that we put him in a situation where he’s ready to go pitch before he gets into a game. If it takes a little longer, it takes a little longer.”
  • On the fifth starter spot: “I think you have to let things work their way out in Spring Training. I know (CC Sabathia‘s) name has been brought up in that conversation, as well as Ivan Nova. Sometimes things have just a way of working out. The competition just goes way. A lot of times, unfortunately, that comes down to health … The big thing is that we have five healthy starters when we leave Spring Training. That’s my goal. We’ll take the five best starters.”
  • On managing workloads: “I thought putting an extra starter in there helped them … I think just watching them physically and watching their innings (is important). You have to be sensitive to your bullpen that it doesn’t get overworked. I think we were able to manage that because (the young relievers) were able to come up and be interchangeable.”
  • On Luis Severino‘s workload: “I think he’s a guy that can handle 200 innings.”

There were surprisingly few questions about the rotation. I guess that’s what happens when you have five pretty clearly established starters plus a sixth starter who’s been around the block. I don’t buy Sabathia being involved in any kind of fifth starter competition though. If he’s healthy, he’s going to be in the rotation. We all know that. As for Severino throwing 200 innings … we’ll see. I’d bet against it.

The Position Players

  • On Brett Gardner playing hurt: “He actually got hit (in the wrist) in April. This was something he dealt with all year long, and if you remember his July, it was an MVP type of month. Sometimes it’s hard to predict. Was it fatigue? Was it the wrist? Did he just get in a bad way? … Everyone plays beat up, that’s the bottom line. That’s what happens in our game … You hope players are honest enough with you that when it becomes too much, they come to you. He never felt it was too much and we didn’t either.”
  • On expecting veterans to produce again: “I think you can expect it. You have to manage them physically and their workload in a sense to make sure they’re strong at the end of the season. And that’s something when you’re fighting for that spot to get into the playoffs, it gets harder to manage that workload … I think the versatility of our club should help that.”
  • On mending fences with Jacoby Ellsbury: “I have talked to him over the winter … I had a tough decision. Brett Gardner has been pretty successful here too. Maybe he wasn’t as big a free agent signee as Jacoby Ellsbury, but Brett Gardner has been extremely productive in his career. That was a hard decision. I was going to disappoint someone immensely. I did what I thought was best for the team.”
  • On Starlin Castro at third base: “It’s something that I need to talk to him about to see where he is. I have not talked to him. I want to talk to him face-to-face about the possibility of what do we do if we need to give (Chase Headley) a day off. That’s something that will be important when we get to Spring Training to talk about.”
  • On A-Rod: “He is our DH and we expect him to be productive … He’ll be ready.”

I though the Ellsbury question was pretty funny. Girardi was asked about saying he had to mend the fences with Ellsbury but quickly pointed out he never said that. He was asked whether he had to mend the fences at the end of last year, that’s it. He never thought much of it. Girardi spoke to Ellsbury this offseason and this seems like a whole bunch of nothing.

Girardi again made it clear the Yankees want to rest their veteran players as much as possible this season, and he indicated the Castro and Aaron Hicks pickups will allow them to do that. (He also said Castro and Didi Gregorius are young and don’t need as much rest.) He didn’t name names and didn’t explain how he intends to rest these guys, but I think we all have a pretty good idea. We’ll find out soon enough.

Miscellany

  • On goals for 2016: “Our goal is to win the World Series. Bottom line. I appreciate how hard our guys played all year, how they never gave up last year, but you know what? We didn’t get to where we wanted. We lost in the first round of the playoffs … Our goal is to win the World Series. That’s why we come to Spring Training.”
  • On getting over 2015: “It’s never easy … I really don’t get over it until baseball ends. Completely ends. There’s an emptiness inside that you should be there. You try to avoid that one-game playoff and be a division winner. Our first goal is win the division this year.”
  • On biggest spring concerns: “There’s some competition here. When you look at some spots in our bullpen, I think we have to iron that out. And I always have concerns about players trying to do too much. I will let them know you’re not going to impress me in your sides, you’re not going to impress me in the first week of games.”
  • On some new additions: “We added Castro, who gives us an everyday second baseman that has been productive in his career. (This) is a young man that has almost 1,000 hits and is only 25 years old … We added a switch-hitter as an outfielder, which gives us more of an opportunity to rest maybe our two left-handers out there against left-handers more often, in a sense. I think we’re deeper.”
  • On young players contributing again: “You might be a non-roster player, you might be in Double-A when you get sent down, but you may have a chance to contribute … That wasn’t an easy job for the relievers — I was honest with them, I told them what was going to happen — but be the guy what when we make another move, is throwing well … Anything can happen. If you’re in uniform, anything can happen, so give everything you’ve got.”
  • Are the Yankees better than last year? “I think so. I think on paper we are better. Paper doesn’t really mean anything until you go out and compete … I think there’s more depth. I think our younger players in the minor league system have gotten a taste (and are eager to contribute).”

There wasn’t as much talk about young players contributing this year. There’s been a lot of that the last few years. I guess that after last season — Girardi mentioned Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, and Rob Refsnyder (among others) by name when asked about who impressed him last season — and an offseason in which the Yankees signed zero big league free agents, it’s common knowledge they’re going to rely on young players again. That’s pretty cool. And kinda scary.

Yankees honor Willie Randolph and Mel Stottlemyre with plaques and a 14-3 win over the Tigers

The day started with a wonderful celebration of Willie Randolph’s career and the usual Old Timers’ Day fun, not to mention a surprise Monument Park plaque for Mel Stottlemyre, and it ended with a blowout 14-3 win over the Tigers. Pretty awesome day all around. The Yankees have won four straight and are now 20-11 with a +46 run differential at Yankee Stadium in 2015. Home sweet home.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
.274/.314/.432 over the last month. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Simon Says: Score Runs
Games like this are the toughest to recap because I don’t even know where to start. We all know what happened. The Yankees scored a ton of runs and they did it in every way possible. With singles, with homers, with sac flies … even with a hit-by-pitch. Six different Yankees drove in a run and eight different Yankees scored a run. The end result: 14 runs on a season-high 18 hits. They also drew six walks and struck out just five times. Pretty great game. Here are some points I want to highlight:

(1) Brett Gardner hit for the cycle. Well, sorta. He hit for the cycle in four at-bats spanning Friday to Saturday. Gardner homered in his last at-bat Friday, then on Saturday he tripled in his first-bat, doubled in his second at-bat, and singled in his third at-bat. That’s a cycle in four at-bats across two games. Doesn’t count in the record books but it’s still pretty cool. Gardner went 3-for-6 in the game overall. He is 10-for-20 on the homestand. Scorching hot.

(2) Carlos Beltran hit two home runs and they couldn’t have been any more different. The first was a moonshot he pulled over the home bullpen and into the right field bleachers as a left-handed batter. The second was an opposite field Yankee Stadium cheapie he reached out and poked to right field as a right-handed batter. It was the 12th time Beltran homered from both sides of the plate in one game in his career. That’s one shy of the all-time record held by … wait for itMark Teixeira and Nick Swisher. How about that?

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

(3) The biggest at-bat of the game was Alex Rodriguez‘s three-run home run in the third inning, I think. At least that was the biggest at-bat in hindsight. The Yankees worked Alfredo Simon really hard — he threw 85 pitches to get eight outs — and they had five runs on the board already, but A-Rod‘s monster homer off Ian Krol turned this one into a true laugher. Five runs is a nice lead. Eight runs? That feels like game over. And it was a bomb too. A-Rod crushed the ball deep into the left field seats. Zero doubter. He drove in five runs in the game.

(4) The two-run fourth inning rally was the stupidest rally ever. Not one, but two check swing bloops fell in for base hits. Didi Gregorius, who homered earlier in the game, tried to check his swing, made contact, and the ball fell in. Chris Young did almost the exact same thing two batters later. In between, Stephen Drew hit a weak grounder to short and Gregorius managed to beat the flip to second. It was scored a hit for whatever reason. (Fielder’s choice, no?) It was that kind of night. Everything went right, even the check swings.

(5) The top and bottom of the order did a lot of damage. The top three hitters went a combined 7-for-13 (.538) while the bottom three hitters went 6-for-14 (.429). The middle of the lineup did well too (3-for-10) but the top and bottom really stood out. The Yankees scored in each of the first five innings and went 4-for-13 (.308) with runners in scoring position. (I thought the RISP numbers would be better than that.) Utility infielder Josh Wilson pitched the eighth inning for Detroit — Young took him deep — and he forgot to cover first base on a ground ball, giving Brendan Ryan an infield single. The Yankees could do no wrong offensively.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Nasty Nate
Obviously the offense is the story of the game, but it shouldn’t be overlooked that Nathan Eovaldi rebounded from his disaster start earlier this week to hold the Tigers to two runs in six innings, and he wasn’t even on the mound for the two runs. (Bryan Mitchell allowed a pair of inherited runners to score.) Eovaldi struck out four and held Detroit to two base-runners in the first five innings. They didn’t have a runner reach second base until Rajai Davis’ leadoff double in the seventh. I’m sure all the offense made life easy. Still nice to see Eovaldi rebound so well.

Mitchell made his season debut and wasn’t great, though it doesn’t really matter. In addition to the two inherited runners he allowed to score, Mitchell surrendered one run of his own on four hits in three innings. He gets a save for throwing the final three innings in the blowout. This was the definition of mop-up duty for Mitchell. Throw strikes and get the game over with. It was nice to see the regular late-inning relievers get a second straight day off. The Yankees needed a laugher like this for more reason than one.

Leftovers
Kinda covered everything already, right? Here are all the Old Timers’ Day videos if you missed any of it. Also make sure you check out the Mel Stottlemyre plaque surprise if you haven’t. What a tremendous moment.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the updated standings. The AL East is so tight, geez. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Tigers will wrap up this three-game series on Sunday afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka and Anibal Sanchez will be on the bump. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch that game or any of the other upcoming home games live and in person.

Big Mike fans 16, Yankees take series finale from O’s 6-2


Source: FanGraphs

Gosh, what a game. And of course I missed it. Well, missed most of it. I was around for the first inning, inning and a half before I had to head out for some family time on Mother’s Day. Just my luck, right? The Yankees won for the 17th time in their last 23 games on Sunday, beating the Orioles 6-2 in the series finale. Let’s recap this one with an annotated box score.

Yankees Orioles annotated box scoe

(1) Sixteen strikeouts! I don’t want to spoil too much of tomorrow’s Yankeemetrics post, but Michael Pineda tied David Cone for the most strikeouts by a right-handed pitcher in a single game in franchise history. (Cone struck out 16 in June 1997.) Ron Guidry of course holds the franchise record with 18 strikeouts. Here is Big Mike‘s 16th strikeout:

I can’t remember the last time there was that much energy in Yankee Stadium for a non-legacy player farewell game. Pineda has kinda sorta been the staff ace since Masahiro Tanaka got hurt last year, but he confirmed it with authority on Sunday. He’s the ace. Sixteen strikeouts, no walks, one run in seven innings on a solo homer. Total domination. Pineda has 54 strikeouts and three walks in 46.1 innings this year. That’s a 29.5 K% and a 1.6 BB%, with a 53.2% ground ball rate to boot. Have mercy, Big Mike.

(Aside: Dan Barbarisi says Pineda calls strikeouts “strike ’em outs,” and I think we should all call them that from now on.)

(2) Carlos Beltran hit a home run! It’s his first dinger in 176 plate appearances, dating back to August 23rd of last season. It was a bit of a meatball, a hanging 85 mph slider, but that’s fine. It’s a pitch the hitter is supposed to crush and earlier this year Beltran wasn’t doing much with pitches like that. Carlos is 10-for-32 (.313) with four doubles, the homer, two walks, and two strike ’em outs in May. It’s no secret the Yankees rely heavily on the top of the order for offense. If they can start getting some production from Beltran in the sixth spot, man that would be a big help.

(3) I watched the video of Didi Gregorius‘ seventh inning double and I like the aggressiveness there. It took a perfect set of relay throws to get him at third base. That said, the run is the priority there. Stephen Drew broke it down too soon, and once the throw gets to the infield and it’s clear he’s not going to make it to third, Didi has to stop and get in a rundown so Drew could score. I don’t mind going for the triple there — that ball could have taken any sort of weird bounce off the wall, it just happened to bounce right to the cannon-armed Adam Jones — but the run has to score. Priority number one. Thankfully it didn’t come back to bite them.

(4) That was an incredibly dumb attempted steal of third base by Brett Gardner in the first inning. We went through this exact same situation with Gregorius in the first series of the year. Two outs, runners on base, power hitter at the plate … what’s the point of going there? Just let the hitter hit. Bud Norris has been pretty crappy this year and Brian McCann had a 2-0 count. A 2-0 count! Geez, Brett. Just let the man hit next time. Norris seemed very willing to work himself into trouble there and Gardner let him off the hook.

(5) The Yankees went 3-for-8 (.375) with three doubles and two walks (.500 OBP) with runners in scoring position on the afternoon. That’s really good. During this stellar 17-6 stretch, New York is hitting .243/.348/.439 with runners in scoring position. The AL average is .261/.345/.414 this year and the Yankees hit .254/.331/.372 in those spots from 2013-14. The batting average is a little low, but the on-base and slugging numbers are way, way better the last two seasons. Big time improvement from the Yankees in this area, hence the increase in scoring.

(6) At some point a number three reliever behind Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller is going to have to emerge. For a while it was Chris Martin, and lately it’s been Justin Wilson, but that spot is still undecided. That’s the role Adam Warren filled behind Betances and David Robertson last year. A five-run lead with six outs to go is a spot where Betances shouldn’t be needed for five outs, even if he threw only 23 pitches. Maybe Wilson can take that role and run with it these next few days. Maybe Jacob Lindgren can assume that role later in the year. For now, the Yankees don’t have that obvious number three option behind Dellin and Miller. Those two need to be able to sit games like this one out.

* * *

Here are the box score, the video highlights, and the updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees are now off to start a nine-game, eleven-day road trip. CC Sabathia will open a four-game series in Tampa on Monday night. Righty Alex Colome will be on the bump for the Rays.

Prospect Profile: Tyler Wade

(MiLB.com)
(MiLB.com)

Tyler Wade | SS

Background
Wade is a Southern California kid from Murrieta, roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. He played baseball at Murrieta Valley High School and was a pop-up guy, meaning he didn’t jump onto the radar as a draft prospect until the spring of his draft year. (Wade hit .524 as a senior after hitting .328 as a sophomore and junior.)

Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Wade as the 34th best prospect in California and the 169th best prospect overall for the 2013 draft. The Yankees selected him in the fourth round with the 134th overall pick. Wade signed about a week later for $371,300, exactly slot money for his draft spot.

Pro Career
Wade was assigned to one of the team’s two rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliates after signing and he had an excellent pro debut, hitting .309/.429/.370 (146 wRC+) with a 16.2% walk rate, a 21.2% strikeout rate, and 11 steals in 12 attempts in 46 games. He played so well the Yankees bumped him up to Short Season Staten Island for a few games at the end of the GCL season. Wade went 1-for-13 (.077) in four games with Staten Island.

The Yankees aggressively assigned Wade to Low-A Charleston to start the 2014 season, where he was slated to split time at shortstop, second base, and DH with Gosuke Katoh and Abi Avelino. Avelino suffered a quad injury a month into the season and that pushed Wade into regular shortstop duty. He handled the workload well, hitting .272/.350/.349 (100 wRC+) with a 9.9% walk rate, a 20.5% strikeout rate, and 22 steals in 35 attempts during his age 19 season.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 lbs., Wade is a true shortstop with good athleticism, quick feet, and sure hands. His weakest defensive tool is his arm, which is juuust strong enough for short. Wade has a quick and compact left-handed swing that sprays line drives all over the field, and he knows the strike zone well. Here’s some video (there’s more at MiLB.com):

Wade is a pure slash hitter with zero power. He hit one homer total in his last three years of high school and has one homer in 179 games as a pro. Power’s not his game. Even if he packs on some muscle as he matures, Wade is expected to be a single digit home run guy who hits near the bottom of the order with okay batting averages and respectable on-base percentages. His speed is good, but, as going 22-for-35 (63%) in stolen base attempts last year suggests, he needs to improve his base-running instincts and pick his spots better. Wade’s a classic scrappy middle infield type. Prepare for the inevitable David Eckstein comparisons.

2015 Outlook
After a strong full season debut with the River Dogs, Wade will move up to High-A Tampa for the 2015 season and again serve as the everyday shortstop. He just turned 20 in November and there’s no reason to think he’ll get a midseason promotion to Double-A Trenton, even if he breaks out and has a huge year. Wade’s a one level at a time guy and there’s nothing wrong with that.

My Take
I like Wade, he’s been a pleasant surprise despite being a relatively high draft pick. Most pop-up guys never amount to anything — they usually just have the best few weeks of their lives at exactly the right time — but Wade has the athleticism for shortstop and isn’t a zero at the plate. There’s always a chance upper level pitchers will knock the bat right out of his hands, but I think there’s a good chance he’ll get stronger as he fills out and turn into a doubles machine. The Yankees have a surprising amount of quality shortstop prospects in the low minors and Wade is the highest on the minor league ladder.