Checking in on Mark Melancon

Twelve months ago, righty reliever Mark Melancon was the sixth best prospect in the Yankees’ farm system (in my opinion, anyway). He had always dominated the minors with a low-90’s fastball and a hammer curveball, but struggled in his various stints with the big league team. In 15 career appearances with the Yankees, he allowed 20 hits and uncharacteristically walked ten in 20.1 IP, allowing 13 runs. Team officials were “always perplexed” by Melancon according to Buster Olney, because his strike-throwing ways never carried over into the big leagues.

The Yankees traded Melancon to Houston at the deadline as part of the Lance Berkman swap last summer, after he’d walked 31 in 56.1 IP at Triple-A. His control issues followed him back to Scranton, but Melancon has thrived in his short time with the Astros though, striking out 28 and walking just nine in 25.1 IP. He’s allowed just four hits and a walk in eight scoreless innings this year, striking out nine with a ground ball rate near 70%. For whatever reason, it just didn’t work in New York, but the Yankees didn’t exactly give Melancon the biggest of leashes either. They had some relief depth and used it to fill another hole. It’s the kind of move you expect a contender to make.

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Mailbag: Traded Prospects

Here’s a special one-question edition of the RAB Mailbag, but don’t worry, we’ll definitely get to some more throughout the course of the week.

Hey! Since many, many moves were made both prior to the season and during the season concerning movement of prospects, it doesn’t seem to have affected the farm system too much. Contrary to this, the farm system as a whole seems to have taken a giant leap forward, especially with the development of our young pitching corps. But I still wonder, how much better (in terms of subjective quality or actual ‘ranking’) would our farm system be if we still had all the players pre Javy-trade.

The Yankees have made several trades involving prospects over the last twelve months, most notably for Curtis Granderson, Javy Vazquez, Boone Logan, Lance Berkman, and Austin Kearns. As far as we know right now, the Kerry Wood trade only involves money. Here are the prospects that were dealt away in those moves, in no particular order: Austin Jackson, Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Dunn, Mark Melancon, Jimmy Paredes, and Zach McAllister. Ian Kennedy surpassed the rookie limit of 50 big league innings back in 2008, so technically he wasn’t a prospect at the time of the trade.

The best overall prospect with the highest long-term value traded away is Vizcaino, who posted a 2.22 FIP (2.74 ERA) in 85.1 innings split between Low-A and High-A this season before being shut down with a small ligament tear in his elbow that did not require Tommy John surgery. During one stretch from early-May to mid-June, he went 44 innings between issuing a walk. Baseball America ranked him the sixth best prospect in the South Atlantic League two weeks ago, saying he “shows a 92-94 mph fastball that touches 96, a hammer curveball and excellent control … [h]is changeup continues to improve and could give him a third plus pitch.” It’s a frontline starter package, for sure. If he was still with the Yanks, he’d almost certainly be their top pitching prospect if healthy, but I’d probably dock him a bit for the injury and the uncertainty it brings. For sure, The Killer B’s (Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Brackman) would have another running mate, so perhaps we’d be calling them The Killer B’s Plus V.

The best immediate impact guy they traded was Jackson by far. He had a 3.6 fWAR season for the Tigers thanks to a slightly above average .333 wOBA combined with a strong +4.2 UZR in center. I have a hard time believing that Jackson would have made the Yanks out of Spring Training had the trade never gone down, simply because a starting outfield of Jackson, Brett Gardner, and Nick Swisher would have been very questionable back in April. He likely would have returned to Triple-A for at least a few weeks, and the Yanks would have brought in another outfielder, probably Johnny Damon now that I think about it. If he was still a Yankee prospect, he’d be their second best position player prospect behind Jesus Montero, but he’d only be in the middle of their top ten prospects behind Montero and The Killer B’s.

The other four guys were all second tier prospects with similar value. Melancon is  the best of the bunch as an MLB-ready strikeout reliever, and sure enough he pitched to a 3.19 FIP (3.12 ERA) with 9.87 K/9 and 4.15 BB/9 in 17.1 innings for Houston after the trade, good for 0.3 fWAR. Dunn spent most of the season in Triple-A but came up late in the year to post a 3.60 FIP (1.89 ERA) in 19 innings for the Braves, though his impressive 12.79 K/9 came with a hideous 8.05 BB/9. Paredes was one of the system’s better sleepers, a slick fielding middle infielder with some pop (.130 ISO this year) and lots of speed (50 steals, 82.0% success rate).

McAllister took a big step back before the trade, getting surpassed by several of the higher upside arms in the system throughout the summer. Before the trade he posted a 4.73 FIP (5.03) in 132.1 Triple-A innings after never having an FIP higher than 3.26 at any level in any season of his career. He also become exceptionally homer prone, giving up 19 in 24 starts after surrendering just 17 in the first 74 outings of his career. The numbers after the trade are from too small a sample to draw any conclusions from (4.08 FIP, 6.88 ERA, 17 IP).

There’s no question that the Yanks’ system would be considerably stronger had all of those trades never gone down, and that’s mostly thanks to Jackson and Vizcaino. Melancon and Dunn are solid depth pieces, Paredes and interesting low-level guy, but frankly McAllister had no place on a team like the Yankees and trade bait was almost certainly his ultimate future one way or the other. The Yanks certainly have a top ten system right now, but if you add a high upside arm like Arodys and a solid everyday centerfielder in Jackson (thanks to the benefit of hindsight, of course), it jumps into the top five, maybe even top three. Their depth would be improved greatly, and the cache of arms would be even deeper. For fun, here’s a rough top list of the ten best Yankee prospects had those trades never gone down…

  1. Jesus Montero
  2. Arodys Vizcaino
  3. Manny Banuelos
  4. Andrew Brackman
  5. Dellin Betances
  6. Austin Jackson
  7. Gary Sanchez
  8. Austin Romine
  9. Slade Heathcott
  10. Hector Noesi

Quibble about the order if you want, but the names are generally correct. No matter how you slice it, that’s a monster top ten.

Remember, prospects serve two purposes: the plug into the big league roster and trades. They were able to trade Vizcaino because of all the other high-upside arms they had in-house, and the reason they were able to acquire a power hitting centerfield with top notch defense like Granderson is because they had someone like Jackson to deal away. The other guys are just the cost of doing business, potentially useful pieces for almost certainly useful pieces. The farm system would be stronger with them, no doubt, but the big league team is stronger because they traded away, and that’s what matters.

Photo Credits: Jackson with the Honolulu Sharks of Hawaii Winter Baseball in 2007 via Kyle Galdeira, Jackson with the Tigers in 2010 via Mark Duncan, AP.

Linkage: Aceves, Melancon, A-Rod, Triple-A

Let’s round up a few afternoon links…

Aceves Begins Rehab Tonight

At long last, Al Aceves is going to begin his rehab assignment tonight as he tries to come back from the bulging disc that’s had him on the shelf since May. He is scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton, and will throw just one inning, pretty standard stuff. Assuming that goes well, he’ll presumably make a few more appearances and get stretched out to something like 50-60 pitches. Hopefully he stays healthy and can contribute down the stretch, but I’m not counting on it. Back problems are tricky.

Melancon Gets The Call

A little over a week after the Yanks sent him to the Astros as part of the Lance Berkman deal, Mark Melancon was summoned to the big leagues for what I believe will be his fourth stint. He told Alyson Footer that the Yanks wanted him to get the ball down in the zone more, so he ended up changing him arm slot which led to his struggles in Triple-A this year. My first reaction was that this is a cop out, but it certainly sounds legit. Either way, I wish him the best.

A-Rod‘s First Big Contract

Believe it or not, there was once a time when Alex Rodriguez was underpaid. That was quite a long time ago, when he was a 20-year-old behemoth hitting .357/.414/.631 with 54 doubles, 36 homers, and 15 steals. R.J. Anderson at FanGraphs recapped A-Rod’s first big payday, a four contract that bought out some of his arbitration eligible seasons for just $10.6M, which is what the Yanks’ paid him for their first 54 games of the season.

Overlooked Players In Triple-A

Baseball America posted an article today on players that are being overlooked at the Triple-A level (sub. req’d), and naturally a few Yankee farmhands are mentioned. “He’s a very athletic-looking shortstop,” said Triple-A Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh of Eduardo Nunez. “I saw him early in the year and really liked him. I saw him last year (in Double-A), too, and really liked the way he played the game.” Even though he’s noted for his ability to make solid contact, the article acknowledges that Nunez will provide almost all of his value through his speed (77% stolen base success rate the last two years) and defense (though his TotalZone scores are consistently negative).

Reegie Corona, who is out for the rest of the year after breaking his arm in a collision a week or so ago, also gets a mention. “[I]n the end he doesn’t have the bat to profile as even a reserve big leaguer.” That sounds promising.

Anyway, let’s wrap up with a video of a guy ducking out of the way while his girlfriend gets hit with a foul ball. He must have been making sure his hat had the proper 60-degree reverse tilt.

CHoP and the 2nd Inning

Photo credit: Charles Krupa/ AP

A lot of folks have pondered Girardi’s decision to continue to use Chan Ho Park in multiple inning situations, if use him at all. They point to his pitch count numbers as evidence of his struggles.In pitches 1-25 Park is kinda-almost-somewhat tolerable as a pitcher, hoisting up a .308/.341/.500 line. That’s basically Ryan Howard’s triple slash for the season (plus or minus a few points on average and OBP). On pitches 26-50, it becomes hide-the-children bad. Park has been tagged for a line of .368/.429/.842(!). If the first line is Ryan Howard, the second is Barry Bonds hitting batting practice in 2004. There’s been absolutely no question that the Korean native has struggled tremendously in his first (and likely last) season in pinstripes. But has he really epically collapsed in the second frame of every game he jumps in?

Yes and no. I’ve already looked at this at my own site, so take let’s look appearance-by-appearance.

*On April 7th, game 2, Park went three innings against the Red Sox. Although I recall there being quite a few deep flies, he gave up but one hit, in his 3rd inning. No runs were scored in total.

*April 13th versus Angels: Breezed through the first inning of work but gave up a monstrous shot to Kendry Morales in the 8th. No runs in his first inning. One run in his second inning.

*On May 20th, the Yanks took on the Rays. Struggling 1B Carlos Pena took Park deep in his first inning pitched. This is after he was almost burned by a deep line drive to RF by Ben Zobrist, which Swisher caught. Not a good first inning. His second inning against 7-8-9 batters went much more smoothly – he gave up a single to “Did You Know He Was An All-Star?” Dioner Navarro, but that was all. To recap, one run in his first inning. Zero runs in subsequent inning.

*On May 22nd, Park replaced Phil Hughes with after Alex Cora knocked him out of the game (?!). Park immediately gave up a single and then got a groundout to end the inning. Not terrible, but not a shutdown either. His next inning saw him give up a single and a double to score a run. No runs in first inning, one run in his second.

*Park faced the Indians on May 31st. His first inning started with a strikeout and ended with two weak groundouts. Nice, not bad! The second inning though featured 2 hits and a walk, which led to run. No runs in first inning, one run in second.

Ok, we may be on to something here. In three of his five early season multiple-inning games, Park has given up a run in the second inning. Of course, when looking more critically through the first innings of these outings, it’s not like Park was brilliant, either. He had some good fortune (and was hit around a bit in Tampa) and then it appears the hitters took note of Park and knocked him around his second frame. Let’s see if it becomes a pattern.

*In an extra-innings game at Skydome The Rogers Centre on June 5th, Park came in and issued one walk but also struck one out and received two weak groundball outs in his first IP. The second inning featured two strikeouts, a single and one walk. No runs issued.

*Of course, in last week’s game in Arizona CHoP got lit up. He came into the game in the 7th and did fairly well. It was surprisingly tranquil. Then, in the 9th, he gave up two singles and then a monster home run to Justin Upton. No runs in his first inning. 3 runs in his second inning.

*Last night looked to be the same old story. Park came in and pitched a quick 6th inning (one walk, one groundout, one fly out). Girardi sent him out for the 7th. His performance sealed the game for the Dodgers. Two singles and a double by Matt Kemp finally put the Yankees in the outhouse. Zero runs score in his first inning, two trot around in his second.

So if we add up our tally here, in his first inning of multiple-inning games, Park has given up one run in his first inning pitched and 8 in his second frame. That’s a drastic difference.

So now you’re thinking, “Damn, CHoP’s done pretty well in just the first inning, all things considered. Maybe we can salvage him if Girardi stops throwing him back out there for multiple innings,” right?

Not so fast.

Why? Well, more sobering statistics: in games he’s only pitched one total inning or less, he’s given up 10 runs in 6 2/3rds innings. Park may be significantly worse in the second inning of his appearances, but he’s not an effective pitcher to begin with. Remember, the average hitter facing Park in the first inning is still Ryan Howard.

Should he be given a shot? (Photo credit: Nick Laham/Getty)

I’ve backed Chan Ho this whole year. Constantly I’ve said, “Don’t worry, he’ll turn it around. He has good stuff, this is just a rough patch.” No longer. We’re on the cusp of July and Park has been worth -2.5 runs below replacement. All the while, some pitchers in AAA are turning in good results and could certainly better Park’s performance on the year. At this point, I see no reason to not spell Chan Ho Park “DFA” and bring up a Romulo, Albaladejo, Nova or Melancon. The experiment didn’t work. It’s time to scrap it and call it a sunk cost.

Personally, I’d prefer to keep Nova in AAA to stay stretched out in the event we need a starting pitcher to come up. It would be nice to have a guy that can go multiple innings if need be, considering that right now, with injuries, it’s just Chad Gaudin. This probably means no Albie. So we’re left with Melancon or Romulo Sanchez. I like Romulo’s stuff and the fact that he can spot start or at the very least go multiple innings one way or another. But I worry that his control will be erratic considering that he’s thrown 5 or more walks in three of his last eight starts.

This means —at least in my world— Mark Melancon is my de-facto choice to replace Chan Ho should he be DFA’d. Melancon likely has the biggest upside of the pitchers in AAA, has been in The Show before, can go multiple innings and has been just curtains for opponents lately. He hasn’t given up a run since June 6th, though I’d prefer a better K/BB ratio in that time (2:1).

One way or another, something has to change. Simply put, if the team is not going to DFA Park, Girardi needs to put him in situations where his impact on a game is minimal. This means mop-up work in one frame or less.

Late rally can’t overcome Burnett, bullpen blow-up

In the box score, a 10-6 loss doesn’t look nearly as lopsided as last night’s Yankees/Rays affair was. Just one day after a heartbreaking loss to the Red Sox, the Yanks had to contend with a very hot first-place Tampa team. Jason Barlett homered to start the game, and the Yanks never caught up. Joaquin Benoit had to get the save after Andy Sonnanstine gave up four runs with two outs in what was a 10-2, but it just wasn’t close.

Towering Hits: A home run for the bad guys, a home run for the good guys

Jason Barlett rounds third after homering to lead off the game. Credit: AP Photo, Kathy Willens

When the visiting team leads off with a home run, it sets a certain pace for the game. With that one swing, Tampa dropped the Yanks’ win expectancy from a neutral 50 percent to 40.9 percent, and Bartlett’s shot was the biggest one-AB swing in the game. For the Rays’ short stop, it was his first home run since he led off against Joba Chamberlain Sept. 9 with a blast into left field at Yankee Stadium.

Still, despite the WE swing, it wasn’t what I would consider to be the biggest hit of the game. That honor belongs to John Jason’s ground rule double. As the fourth inning rolled around, we could clearly see A.J. Burnett struggling with his stuff. Two walks and a hit batter doomed Burnett in the third, and this time around, a pair of infield singles and a double steal had the Rays set up with two runners in scoring position and no one out. John Jaso laced a ground-rule double into left field, plating two. The Rays would add two more runs — both with two outs — as A.J. Burnett couldn’t stifle the potent heart of the Tampa lineup.

Burnett just flat-out did not have command tonight. He toughed it out through 6.2 mostly to give the bullpen a rest, but he faltered in the big spots when he needed a third out in the fourth inning. His 67 strikes and 49 balls are telling.

For the Yankees, they’re big hit belonged to Alex Rodriguez. While his booming shot off the restaurant in straightaway center field did little to alter the game, I opted to highlight his shot because he’s flashing the power again. After ending April with a .250/.337/.440 triple-slash line and just two home runs, A-Rod has powered four over the fence this month. He now finds himself with a .295/.379/.503 line for the season. Small victories.

Biggest Out: A double play, a bases-loaded threat

For the Yanks, two at-bats loom large. Down 6-2 following A-Rod’s home run, the Yanks seemed on the verge of mounting a rally. Robinson Cano singled, but then Francisco Cervelli tapped into a double play. Despite his dash down the line, the relay throw beat the Yanks’ catcher by half a step, and the team seemed ready to roll over with the bottom of the order up.

Yet, the Bombers had something in them. On the next play, Marcus Thames hit a single to left, and instead of tossing his bat behind him, he threw it in front of him. It rolled down the line, and in an effort to avoid slipping, Thames twisted his ankle. He is day-to-day with a strained ankle, but the Yanks do not anticipate a DL stint.

Following Thames’ freak injury, Juan Miranda walked, and Randy Winn — now just 1 for his last 12 and 3 for his last 24 — reached on an error. Derek Jeter came up as the tying run with two outs and grounded out to short. Jeter ended the game with his OPS below .700, and nearly 70 percent of his batted balls have been grounders. Hopefully, Jeter’s bad play at the plate is just a slump, and as a A-Rod has this month, so too will Jeter snap out of it soon. That out effectively sealed the deal for Tampa as the Yanks’ win expectancy dropped to 6.7 percent.

Death by Bullpen

Go away, Boone Logan Where would this game have been though without another disastrous night from the bullpen? Hoping to keep the score close without burning through his top relievers, Joe Girardi gave Boone Logan the ball. He retired Gabe Kapler in the 7th, and that’s the only nice thing I can say about this outing.

To start the 8th, Logan walked the left-handed Jaso on eight pitches and then gave up an RBI double to Sean Rodriguez. For Logan, it was another night where he faced three batters, retired one of them and saw another two runs added to his ERA.

With Logan out, Girardi went to Mark Melancon, and Melancon disappointed. He allowed the run he inherited from Logan to score and two others in eighth. Gabe Kapler struck out, but the damage had been done. Tampa Bay had a 10-2 lead and even a two-out, four-run rally by the Yanks could put the tying run only in the on-deck circle.

For the Yanks’ bullpen, tonight marked the fourth straight day of pain. Since the Joba/Mariano meltdown against the Twins, Yanks’ relievers have now allowed 19 runs — but only 16 earned — over their previous 10.1 innings spanning four games. Tonight, the only complaining I can do is over the fact that Boone Logan is still with the team; he shouldn’t be. Otherwise, the Yanks aren’t going to go to their overworked relievers in a four-run game, but the bullpen has to get outs to keep the team in the game. It’s been downright ugly.

Paul O’Neill Rule

Because this entire game could be filed under “annoyances” — after all, the Rays scored a run from second on a fly ball to deep center — let’s instead hope that the Paul O’Neill Rule will be in effect later tonight. That rule stipulates that a team which scores late in the game has momentum coming into their next contest. The Yankees will send Andy Pettitte (5-0, 1.79) to the mound at 7:05 p.m. with, well, someone in right field to staunch the bleeding. The Rays will counter with James Shields (4-1, 3.00), and hopefully, that late offensive burst will carry over into the final game of this two-game set.

WPA Graph

That ninth inning rally was mere smoke and mirrors. The Yanks’ WE peaked at 2.3 percent after Ramiro Peña’s RBI single.

Yankees recall Melancon, option Golson

Via Bryan Hoch, the Yankees have recalled righty reliever Mark Melancon prior to tonight’s game. Greg Golson goes down in his place. The Yanks are now carrying 13 pitchers, so presumably Melancon’s time with the big league team is presumably limited. Maybe if we cross our fingers and wish really really hard, he’ll stick around and Boone Logan will be optioned back down. I’m not going to hold my breath though.

AAA prospects: a status report

Photo Credit: Cataffo/ Ny Daily News

Mike does a great job compiling all of the stats and happenings across the Yankees’ minor league system in his nightly Down on the Farm series. From Staten Island to Scranton, we have a pretty good sense about how our players did, even if we mostly only care about Montero, Romine, ManBan, Ramirez, Warren, Z-Mac, Stoneburner and a handful of other players.

But after a while we sometimes get “stuck” in the numbers — we forget how the guy that’s just gone 0-5 with 4 K’s during last night’s game is very often the same guy that went 4-5 with two home runs the night before. So I’m going to be doing a recap of how some of the AAA farmhands have performed thus far, all of which came from milb.com or minorleaguesplits.com. Many of the players on this list are on Mike’s Preseason Prospect List, where you can get a better look at their long term prospects. In this AAA installment I chose to recap players that are actual prospects, most of which will likely (if they haven’t already) see major league action this year. Not too many are interested in seeing Amaury Sanit’s progress, though I’m betting we’d all love to find out if Kei Igawa sleeps with those awesome sunglasses on (I’ll do some digging and try to find out for you all).

Next week we’ll take a look at how some of the AA guys are looking. Also, because there’s a Montero Watch present in the sidebar and most DotF are comprised of MonteroTalk, we’re going to leave him out on this one.

AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre

Kevin Russo, 2B: With the big league club having apparently suffering a pandemic of Mets-itus, a few AAA players have seen some promotions. Chief among them, and for good reason, is utility player Kevin Russo. Russo, a former 20th round draft pick out of Baylor in 2006, had hit .302/.383/.425 as Scranton’s second basemen before jumping to Massachusetts after Robinson Cano was hit by a Josh Beckett fastball. He got only two plate appearances but Russo’s versatility – he can at least play three infield spots and man the corner outfield positions – defensively, his solid on-base skills, and good contact ability make him a good candidate to stick in the big leagues for a long time. With Ramiro Pena‘s mounting struggles with the bat (which was inevitable, really), Russo may take him over as a super-utility guy at some point. He’ll have to show he can at least play SS passably, though, and there’s no guarantee of that. Bonus: if there are minors fantasy leagues that exist (I’m hoping they do), he’ll soon have CF eligibility, too. He’s played there of late.

Season line in AAA: .301/.388/.416

Last ten games: .310/.383/.405

Time in New York: .000/.000/.000

Eduardo Nunez, SS: Most people saw this coming. Nunez got off to a torrid pace, as Greg Fertel and even RAB’s own Mike Axisa have noted in his DotF postings. Consequently, Nunez has really tailed off, displaying why we shouldn’t fall in love with early season small sample sizes. With a few middle infielders ahead of him in the pecking order and poor defensive skills (albeit with a great arm), Nunez is unlikely to see any big league action this year. If he does it will because of ghastly circumstances. Poor defense, weak power, unrefined on-base skills with very good contact ability, plus speed and a wonderful arm. That may translate to some modicum of minor league success, but I don’t see it happening on the major league level for a middle infielder (and really one in name only).

Season in AAA: .321/.371/.400

Last ten games: .244/.262/.268

Juan Miranda, 1B: Miranda was a big-money IFA signing of the Yanks from Cuba back in 2006. You may remember he was once considered the future first baseman of the Yanks. While that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, Miranda, in his final option year, is playing for a contract for a big league club next year. The book on him was that though he really nails right handers, he struggles with lefties and his defensive play is by no means great, even for a first baseman. Last year he took positive steps in correcting those problems, hitting lefties with a triple slash of .291/.367/.507. So far, in AAA, he’s continued that pace, hitting .313/.389/.563 in 33 plate appearances (note: this is according to minorleaguesplits.com, which is a bit behind in their stats). Oddly, he’s struggled against righties, hitting .222/.354/.364 in 66 plate appearances. He’s been in New York for a few games, and with Nick Johnson possibly out for a few months, Miranda may stay in New York as a DH. Considering Johnson’s injury history, the team couldn’t be caught too surprised by that. This may be make or break for Miranda.

Season line in AAA: .260/.371/.438

Last ten games in AAA:.250/.357/.417

Time in New York: .143/.250/.286

Photo Credit: Mike Ashmore

Ivan Nova, SP

Nova’s rocketed up Yankee top prospect lists over the last two years as he’s finally started to harness his very good stuff. He’s been up in New York after the injury bug hit and he’s largely impressed, though he’s probably the guy sent back down with Park coming back from the DL. In his first appearance, Nova, signed by the Yanks and returned after being selected as a Rule V from the Padres, came in and threw two scoreless innings and in today’s game he again looked fairly good. With a likely ceiling as a back-end starter in the AL East (which really isn’t all that bad when you think about it), Nova is very likely to be the first guy up again with another injury, first because he’s already on the 40-man roster, and second because a groundball pitcher with good stuff is always a valuable commodity. He also has an outside shot at a rotation spot next year depending on how things shake out.

AAA season: 37 IP, 2.43 ERA, 35 hits, 32 K, 12 BB, 1.78 GO/AA

Last two starts: 13 IP, 3.84 ERA, 17 hits, 7 K, 4 BB

Time in New York: 3 innings, 0.00 ERA, 4 hits, 1 K, 0 BB

Zack McAllister, SP

Z-Mac has had an up-and-down in his first run at AAA. Arguably the Yankees’ top pitching prospect, McAllister ran into some issues in late April, early May, giving up over 6 runs in two of three starts. Still, he’s sprinkled in some good games and has strung two consecutive 7-inning performances of good ball. A polished groundball pitcher, McAllister may wind up trade bait or perhaps in the rotation as early as next year. He, like Nova, has back rotation or possibly #3 starter potential, but he’s going to need to get that groundball rate up again. A 34% GB ratio is not going to work at the big league level for a guy with his skill set. It wouldn’t hurt to develop a true out pitch, either.

Season in AAA: 45 IP, 4.40 ERA, 52 hits, 32 K, 9 BB, 0.52 GO/AA

Last two starts: 14 IP, 2.14 ERA, 14 hits, 8K, 1 BB

Romulo Sanchez, SP/RP

The last of the famed “Fat Sanchezes,” Romulo has been very impressive in his time in Pennsylvania and also in New York. Sanchez has a great fastball, occasionally hitting the high 90’s with his 4-seamer, but he likely profiles best as a reliever in the future due to his erratic control and fringe-average off-speed pitches (a changeup and slider). If he can locate that big fastball and keep hitters off balance with one of the off speed offerings, he could definitely stick with the big club over the year. His numbers in Scranton are a bit misleading. In April he gave up 10 earned runs in only 2.1 innings. Otherwise, he’s been among the better pitchers in the upper minors.

AAA season: 32 IP, 5.34 ERA, 30 hits, 32 K, 16 BB, 1.22 GO/AA

Last 2 starts: 14 IP, 1.42 ERA, 9 hits, 17 K, 2 BB

In New York: 3.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 hit, 3 K, 1 BB

Mark Melancon, RP

The final name on our list, Melancon entered last season with high expectations and didn’t live up to them in limited action. I recall his propensity for hitting opposing batters (along with old favorite Mike Dunn). It was probably just jitters because he returned to AAA and fell right back where he’d been before his callup. He came back up again briefly and showed signs of life, causing many of us to think he’d be up in the Bronx to start the year. Well, hasn’t happened yet but it seems like just a matter of time. Melancon has again been very good in Pennsylvania in 2010. A look at his splits reveals some quirks, though. You might look at his numbers against righties and say, “Wait a second, this doesn’t look right.” And to some extent, you’d be right. But aha! Along with a BABip against righties of .462, he’s also giving up a line drive rate of 26.2%, yet checking in with an FIP of 3.05. Look a bit further over and you see why. He’s striking out 16.55 righties per nine innings this year. Wow, that’s strange data. Against lefties he’s getting lots of groundouts, another promising sign. I’d be fairly shocked if we don’t see Melancon in the Bronx very soon.

AAA Season: 23 IP, 2.74 ERA, 21 hits, 31 K, 8 BB, 1.71 GO/AA

Last 4 appearances: 5.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4 hits, 13 K, 2 BB