DotF: September call-up candidates have big games in Scranton’s win

Got some notes to pass along:

  • Brian Cashman told Dan Barbarisi that C Gary Sanchez (hamstring) will not be part of the first wave of September call-ups tomorrow. He’s still hurting. That makes C Austin Romine the odds on favorite to be the third catcher down the stretch, at least until Sanchez gets healthy.
  • SS Jorge Mateo was placed on the High-A Tampa DL retroactive to Saturday, reports Nick Flammia. Mateo recently suffered some kind of leg injury running the bases. Tampa’s season ends Sunday and they’re not going to the playoffs, so Mateo’s season may be over.
  • OF Michael O’Neill and OF Trey Amburgey were named the Offensive Players of the Week in the High-A Florida State League and Short Season NY-Penn League, respectively. Also, LHP Jordan Montgomery was named the FSL Pitcher of the Week.
  • Late Update: OF Jake Cave, RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Conor Mullee, and RHP Cesar Vargas have all been promoted to Triple-A Scranton, reports Josh Norris and Meister Sports. They’re all filling roster spots in the wave of September call-ups.

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 win over Buffalo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — tenth homer of the year … he hit ten homers total from 2010-14
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 2-5, 2 2B, 1 RBI — with rosters expanding tomorrow, I guess there is a non-zero chance this is the final Triple-A game he ever plays
  • 2B Dustin Ackley: 3-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) — played a full nine innings for the first time as part of his rehab … we’ll see him when rosters expand tomorrow
  • LF Jose Pirela: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI
  • C Austin Romine: 1-5, 1 K, 1 PB — assuming he’s the third catcher in September, I’m kinda surprised they let him catch tonight given the risk of injury
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 7/1 GB/FB — 59 of 95 pitches were strikes (62%) … he’s at 145.1 innings this year after throwing 134.1 last year
  • RHP Chris Martin: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (74%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, zeroes, 2/1 GB/FB — ten pitches, six strikes

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DotF: Ackley doubles in first minor league rehab game

Got a bunch of notes to pass along, via Chad Jennings, Bryan Hoch, and Brendan Kuty:

  • C Gary Sanchez suffered a hamstring injury running out a double play ball last night and has been placed on the Triple-A Scranton DL. Sanchez was on track to be the third catcher when rosters expand Tuesday. Stinks. Consider this a reminder to never hustle, kids. Gotta think the Yankees will go with Austin Romine as the third catcher now. They’ll need to clear a 40-man spot for him.
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder will be called up when rosters expand, but OF Aaron Judge will not. “We’re not going to bring somebody just to bring them. In Judge’s case, there’s currently not a need,” said Brian Cashman. Also, there’s no point in adding him to the 40-man roster yet.
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren (elbow) is on a throwing program but is not yet throwing bullpen sessions, so right now he is unlikely to return to the big leagues next month. The Yankees could put him on the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man spot for someone else though.
  • The Arizona Fall League rosters will be announced next Tuesday, according to Josh Norris. Lindgren and Eric Jagielo (knee) seem like good bets for the AzFL to make up for lost time, if healthy. Maybe LHP Ian Clarkin (elbow) too, but that seems unlikely.
  • Congrats to Rookie Pulaski manager Tony Franklin, who was named the Appalachian League Manager of the Year. Also, 2B Gosuke Katoh, OF Carlos Vidal, and LHP Nestor Cortes were named to the league’s end-of-season All-Star Team.
  • And finally, make sure you check out Norris’ article on SS Hyo-Jun Park. Park, 19, signed for $1.2M out of South Korea as part of last summer’s international spending spree, and he has impressed on both sides of the ball in his pro debut this year.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (5-0 win over Lehigh Valley) makeup of last Thursday’s rainout

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB — he’s hitting .383/.432/.642 in his last 30 games … wowza
  • 2B Jose Pirela: 2-4, 1 R
  • DH Dustin Ackley: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — first rehab game … my guess is he stays here until Monday, then rejoins the Yankees when rosters expand Tuesday, assuming his back holds up
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB — September pinch-runner candidate OF Rico Noel pinch-ran for him late in the game and stole a base
  • LF Slade Heathcott: 2-3, 2 RBI
  • C Austin Romine: 0-2, 1 BB
  • LHP Chaz Hebert: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 3/13 GB/FB — 64 of 88 pitches were strikes (73%) … that is one hell of a spot start for the kid who spent most of the year with High-A Tampa … he was up to help out during the doubleheader

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Yankees have no shortage of candidates for September call-ups this year

Didi and Slade. (Presswire)
Didi and Slade. (Presswire)

Twelve days from now, the Yankees and every other team in baseball will be able to expand their rosters and carry up to 40 active players. September call-ups are somewhat controversial, lots of people don’t like seeing the final month of the season played with different rules, but I’m a fan of expanded rosters. Players get worn down during the course of the season, so the extra bodies in September are welcome.

For the 2015 Yankees, expanded rosters will be about much more than adding a third catcher or some spare arms for blowouts. They will be in position to add some real weapons to the roster even though most call-ups will be used in limited roles. Still, adding the extra players will be very beneficial. The Yankees have used their depth quite a bit this season and next month they’ll be able to have everyone on the roster at once.

During an interview with YES over the weekend, Brian Cashman said the player development staff has been told to prepare for mass call-ups on September 1st, so the Yankees won’t waste any time. They’re not going to wait for the Triple-A postseason to end or anything like that. The big league team is the priority and the Yankees are going to call guys up as soon as possible. Here’s a breakdown of who we will and could see next month.

Locks To Be Called Up

During that YES interview, Cashman said “any and all” of the relievers who have been shuttled up and down this summer will return in September, and it’s a long list. Caleb Cotham, Nick Goody, Branden Pinder, and Nick Rumbelow are the notables. (Rumbelow is up right now but that could change in a day or two the way things have been going this year.) Those are four extra arms on the 40-man roster who will be able to soak up any miscellaneous innings.

On the position player side, Slade Heathcott and Jose Pirela are safe bets to be called up to serve as the extra outfielder and extra infielder, respectively. Both are still on the 40-man and were up earlier this year — Pirela was sent down due to performance, Heathcott got hurt — and both offer different things. Heathcott adds speed and defense, Pirela offers versatility and another right-handed bat. Heck, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Heathcott snuck onto the potential postseason roster as a pinch-running specialist.

Called Up If Healthy

Lindgren. (Presswire)
Lindgren. (Presswire)

Bryan Mitchell was just placed on the 7-day concussion DL after taking a line drive to the face, though earlier this week Joe Girardi told Chad Jennings there’s a chance Mitchell will be back in the bullpen within a week. That sounds … optimistic. Either way, Mitchell will be on the roster in September if he’s healthy. No reason to expect otherwise. He’s been on the 25-man roster for a big chunk of the year already.

Righty Chris Martin and lefty Jacob Lindgren are both on the Triple-A DL with elbow problems and figure to return in September, if healthy. Lindgren had surgery to remove bone spurs and the Yankees have said they expect him to return this year, so it’s just a question of whether he gets through his rehab in one piece. The nature of Martin’s injury is unknown. We’re just going to have to wait and see whether he’s healthy and able to pitch in September.

The Obligatory Third Catcher

Cashman confirmed the Yankees will call-up a third catcher because duh. Every team brings up a third catcher. The only catcher on the 40-man roster aside from Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy is Gary Sanchez, who has hit a bit of a wall with Triple-A Scranton after crushing the level immediately after his promotion. Austin Romine has had a nice year too, but he’s not on the 40-man roster. My guess is Sanchez gets the call as the third catcher but rarely catches, sorta like Jesus Montero in 2011. (Also, Romine would require clearing a 40-man spot.) That is especially true if the race for a postseason spot goes right down to the wire, as expected. Sanchez might only catch in blowouts or after the team clinches all it can clinch.

Likely To Be Called Up, But Not Locks

There’s really only one player in this category: Rob Refsnyder. He’s had a good year in Triple-A, not a great year, and his brief four-game cameo in pinstripes earlier this year was a bit of a mixed bag. Some good, some not so good. There have been unconfirmed reports floating around that the Yankees were less than enthused with Refsnyder’s attitude during his call-up — not so much that he didn’t work hard, but that he was arrogant and acted entitled — and I suppose the club could keep him down in September as something of a wake-up call. My guess is Refsnyder comes up and takes second base platoon at-bats away from Brendan Ryan. I just wouldn’t put his chances at a call-up at 100%. Maybe it’s more like 95% or so.

Unlikely To Be Called Up

Among the healthy 40-man roster players, the only one who I think has less than a 50/50 chance of getting a September call-up is Tyler Austin. Another righty bat would be neat, but Austin’s had a very rough year and was recently demoted from Triple-A Scranton to Double-A Trenton. Players who have struggled like Austin usually don’t get called up unless there’s no other option. There’s a “reward” aspect to being a September call-up, and he didn’t earn this year.

Judge. (Presswire)
Judge. (Presswire)

The biggest name among non-40-man players is Aaron Judge, the team’s top prospect. The Yankees added both Refsnyder and Greg Bird to the 40-man early and called them up this year, but they were both performing in Triple-A. Judge has been striking out a ton of late and he won’t be Rule 5 Draft eligible for another few years, not another few months. I would be surprised if the Yankees tied up another 40-man spot by adding Judge. His time will come eventually. Just probably not this September.

Other non-40-man players I don’t expect to be called up in September: Ben Gamel, Brady Lail, James Pazos, and Johnny Barbato. Lail and Barbato just reached Triple-A and there are too many arms ahead of them on the depth chart to add them to the 40-man roster early. Gamel’s had a breakout season and I wouldn’t necessarily put his call-up chances at 0%. Heathcott will fill the “extra lefty hitting outfielder” role though, and I’m not sure the Yankees should clear a roster spot to add another. Pazos could be a victim of the number’s crunch more than anything. There simply might not be any room for another lefty reliever.

The Non-40-Man Wildcard

The non-40-man player who I think has the best chance of being called up in September is Andrew Bailey. He’s working his way back from shoulder surgery and been able to stay healthy for a few weeks now, plus he’s pitched effectively in all sorts of situations (back-to-back days, multiple innings, etc.) in the minors. The Yankees have put a lot of time and effort into helping him rehab these last two years, remember.

Cashman admitted Bailey was recently held out of a Triple-A game in case he needed to be called up to help the tired bullpen, but that didn’t happen. Bailey wasn’t needed. That they’ve already come thisclose to calling Bailey up this month leads me to believe they will bring him to the show once rosters expand. Bailey hasn’t pitched in MLB since getting hurt in July 2013. It’s been a long and difficult road back. Hopefully he stays healthy these next two weeks and gets the call in September.

The 40-Man Situation

The 40-man roster is full right now. It’s actually extra full. The Yankees have four players on the 60-day DL (Sergio Santos, Diego Moreno, Mason Williams, Chase Whitley) and none of them will be ready to be activated in September following their season-ending surgeries. The Yankees will need to clear a spot to call up, say, Bailey or Romine, and there are a few ways to do that.

First and foremost, the Yankees could call up an injured 40-man roster player and place them on the 60-day DL. Martin (elbow) and Domingo German (Tommy John surgery) are two candidates for that move. The Yankees haven’t done the call-up/60-day DL thing often — they did it with Justin Maxwell and Heathcott a few years ago, that’s pretty much it — but it is an option. Not wanting German to accumulate service time is understandable. Martin though? Who cares. Of course, he’d have to actually be hurt to pull this move. Can’t 60-day DL a healthy player.

Figueroa. (Presswire)
Figueroa. (Presswire)

The Yankees could always outright or designate a player for assignment to clear 40-man space. There just aren’t many obvious candidates. Perhaps they’ll decide to cut Chris Capuano again in September since they’ll have all the extra relievers and won’t necessarily need a long man. Cole Figueroa could also get the axe, especially if Refsnyder does get called up and/or Dustin Ackley gets healthy. Martin? He could lose his 40-man spot if healthy as well.

Capuano, Figueroa, and Martin are the three main 40-man casualty candidates. It would be a surprise if the Yankees dropped someone like Austin, Pirela, or Cotham from the roster. Those guys are probably the next three in line, if anything. Aside from Bailey and maybe Romine, the Yankees don’t figure to need any 40-man spots this September, though they could clear two with the call-up/60-day DL move. We’ll see.

* * *

Once September rolls around, the Yankees will obviously add a bunch of pitchers and a third catcher, plus a few extra position players. The extra arms will be a huge help, the bullpen has worked a ton this year, and Refsnyder could really help if he gets those platoon at-bats instead of Ryan. If not him, then Pirela. Also, Heathcott could be a factor as a defensive replacement/pinch-runner.

No one in their right mind is an expecting major impact from a September call-up — guys who do what Francisco Rodriguez did in 2002 are extremely rare — but they can help in limited roles. Those extra pitchers and platoon bats and pinch-runners are valuable in their own way. Given how tight the AL East race is at the moment, every little upgrade helps. September call-ups this year will be about more than resting regulars in blowouts.

King: Yankees declined Gary Sanchez for Cameron Maybin overtures from Braves

Maybin. (Presswire)
Maybin. (Presswire)

According to George King, the Yankees “turned down overtures” from the Braves regarding a deal that would have sent catcher prospect Gary Sanchez to Atlanta for outfielder Cameron Maybin before the trade deadline last week. The Yankees made their top prospects off limits in trade talks but it’s unclear whether Sanchez was included in that group alongside Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and others.

First of all, Sanchez for Maybin doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Yankees. Maybin, 28, is having a nice year, hitting .280/.332/.380 (100 wRC+) with eight home runs and 17 steals to go along with strong center field defense, but where does he play? The Yankees are locked into their three starting outfielders and they already have a quality right-handed hitting fourth outfielder in Chris Young, who’s been awesome.

I suppose the Yankees could have picked up Maybin and then looked to flip Brett Gardner for a pitcher or whatever, but that seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Maybin doesn’t fit the 2015 Yankees at all, and paying him $8M to be the fourth outfielder next season — and then another $1M to buy out his $9M option for 2017 — just doesn’t make sense from a baseball standpoint. I don’t see how that trade helps.

As for Sanchez, he is in the middle of a big year offensively, hitting .266/.333/.489 (136 wRC+) with 17 doubles and 15 homers in 309 plate appearances with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. Lots of people seemed to get Sanchez fatigue waiting for a season like this. He is still only 22 though, plus he’s never actually been bad, and the bat is often the last thing to come around for catcher prospects because they spend so much time focusing on defense.

Now, that said, I do think the Yankees were willing to trade Sanchez at the deadline and will be willing to do so again this offseason. Just not for someone like Maybin though. The Yankees prioritize defense behind the plate and Sanchez simply doesn’t offer it, plus Brian McCann is signed for another few seasons and John Ryan Murphy has been crazy impressive this summer. Catcher isn’t a pressing need. That all makes Sanchez a prime trade chip.

I could see the Yankees moving Sanchez this winter as part of a package for a high-end player with a year or two left on his contract or a younger, less established guy with multiple years of team control remaining. Not someone who would only be a spare part like Maybin. Sanchez has rebuilt his prospect stock in the eyes of some this year but I don’t think it ever took a hit. He’s taken a step forward this year and is having the big offensive season lots of people have been waiting to see. If nothing else, Sanchez has boosted his trade stock.

Olney: Yanks expected to listen to offers for Gary Sanchez


According to Buster Olney (subs. req’d), rival executives are expecting the Yankees to listen to offers for catcher prospect Gary Sanchez. The team has reportedly “sworn off” trading top prospects like Aaron Judge and Luis Severino, but Sanchez is a notch below those guys, and it makes sense to make him available with Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy entrenched at the MLB level.

Sanchez, 22, is hitting .262/.322/.480 (129 wRC+) overall this season with 15 doubles and 13 home runs in 273 plate appearances with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. That’s after hitting 19 doubles and 13 homers in 477 plate appearances at Trenton last year. It feels like Sanchez has been around forever, but he was 2.5 years younger than the average Eastern League player and is currently 4.9 years younger than the average International League player.

Should the Yankees make Sanchez available — and I expect they will — it would not at all be surprising. As I said in our recent trade chips post, the Yankees value defense behind the plate very highly, and Sanchez simply is not a strong catcher. He’s improving but still below-average. Both Jesus Montero and Peter O’Brien, two other bat first prospects faking it behind the plate, were dealt in recent years when they were hitting at the upper levels.

Sanchez now is a worse prospect than Montero was a few years ago but is a better prospect than O’Brien last year, so I guess that means his trade value is somewhere between Michael Pineda and Martin Prado. Not helpful! More than anything, Sanchez’s trade value will depend on whether other teams believe he can catch. That and how much they believe in the bat. All it takes is one club to think he’s an impact hitter to get a nice return.

Aaron Judge tops Baseball America’s midseason top ten Yankees prospects lists

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

So I guess we’re in midseason prospect list update season now. On Friday, Baseball America (subs. req’d) posted their updated midseason list of the top ten Yankees prospects. They posted an updated midseason top ten for every team over the last two weeks. Their updated midseason top 50 prospects list came out last week.

Here is New York’s updated top ten according to Baseball America:

  1. OF Aaron Judge (13th on the top 50)
  2. RHP Luis Severino (17th on the top 50)
  3. SS Jorge Mateo
  4. 1B Greg Bird
  5. C Gary Sanchez
  6. 3B Eric Jagielo
  7. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  8. LHP Jacob Lindgren
  9. RHP Domingo Acevedo
  10. RHP Rookie Davis

Not included in any of the top tens are 2015 draft picks. I’m certain RHP James Kaprielian would have slotted into the top ten somewhere had they been included. Otherwise the top eight spots are pretty self-explanatory. Quibble with the order if you want, but those eight names make sense there.

Acevedo and Davis are the big risers — I didn’t have either on my pre-draft top 30 list, though Davis was an oversight and I should have included him. Acevedo has “a fastball that has touched triple-digits” while Davis has “taken steps forward over the last two years, especially in terms of command,” according to the write-up. Unless LHP Ian Clarkin has some kind of a career-threatening injury, I’d still take him over Acevedo or Davis.

OF Dustin Fowler, RHP Brady Lail, and LHP Jordan Montgomery are all listed as prospects on the rise while RHP Jose Ramirez is tabbed as a player whose stock is on the way down. Clarkin (elbow), RHP Domingo German (Tommy John surgery), RHP Ty Hensley (Tommy John surgery), and C Luis Torrens (shoulder) are all out with season-ending injuries, which knocked them down prospect lists. Can’t win ’em all.

Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez selected for 2015 Futures Game

Judge. (Presswire)
Judge. (Presswire)

Outfielder Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez have been selected to participate in the 2015 Futures Game, MLB announced earlier today. Judge will suit up for Team USA and Sanchez will play for the World Team, because duh. The full rosters are right here. Baseball America has free mini-scouting reports on all the players as well: Team USA and World Team.

Judge, 23, is New York’s best prospect. He is hitting .277/.345/.500 (139 wRC+) with 16 doubles and 12 home runs in 66 games this season, most with Double-A Trenton and a handful with Triple-A Scranton. Judge stands out for his size (6-foot-7 and 230 lbs.) and his raw power, though he has a line drive approach in games, so he doesn’t always tap into his pop. His athleticism and right field defense are assets as well and often overlooked.

The 22-year-old Sanchez is currently on the Double-A DL with a bruised hand after being hit by a foul tip, though the injury is considered minor and he’s expected back soon. Sanchez is hitting .256/.313/.432 (113 wRC+) with seven doubles and eighth homers in 45 games with the Thunder in 2015. He’s a bat first prospect with big power who is still trying to improve behind the plate so he can catch long-term.

Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)
Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

Teams do have input for the Futures Game — Bill Shaikin says the Dodgers didn’t approve Corey Seager’s selection even though he’s the best prospect in the minors right now, for example — so it’s possible the Yankees declined to allow right-hander Luis Severino to participate, possibly because they are considering calling him up at some point. Then again, players who are called up are simply replaced on the Futures Game roster. Who knows?

It’s also possible the Yankees pushed for Sanchez to be included so they could showcase him for trades. Crazy? Maybe. But Peter O’Brien was a Futures Gamer last summer and was then traded a few weeks later. If Sanchez goes 0-for-2 in the Futures Game, no one blinks an eye. But if he homers off a top pitching prospect, well hey now, someone will take notice of that. It’s a no-lose situation for the Yankees. Well, unless Sanchez gets hurt, but you know what I mean.

This is the first Futures Game selection for both Judge and Sanchez. Severino and O’Brien represented the Yankees last season and Rafael DePaula the year before that. The Futures Game is Sunday, July 12th in Cincinnati. The final day before the All-Star break. Congrats to Judge and Sanchez. It’s always cool to be recognized as one of the best prospects in the game.