Via Marc Carig, the Yankees have recalled Romulo Sanchez from Triple-A Scranton. As you probably remember, Romulo hit the disabled list in late-August with an apparent elbow injury, and we perhaps foolishly assumed he was done for the season. Anyway, I guess the elbow’s fine and Joe Girardi will have another option for low-leverage relief work. Sanchez made one appearance with the Yanks earlier in the year, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings at Fenway Park.
Via Donnie Collins, Romulo Sanchez is on the disabled list with some kind of arm injury. We first heard of his move to the DL last night, but no details were provided. Romulo was seen with a wrap around his right elbow in the clubhouse yesterday, but Collins’ says it could still be another part of the arm that’s bothering him.
Sanchez was reportedly going to be one of three players – along with Jon Albaladejo and Juan Miranda – the Yanks were set to call up on Sept. 1st, but obviously that’s not going to happen now. The only other pitcher in Triple-A on the 40-man roster is Hector Noesi, but I can’t imagine the Yanks will call him up so soon after promoting him from Double-A. Heck, he hasn’t even pitched for Scranton yet. Al Aceves should be ready to return soon, so chances are he and Albaladejo will be the only help the Yanks’ bullpen help gets in the first wave of call-ups.
Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees plan to recall Jon Albaladejo, Romulo Sanchez, and Juan Miranda when rosters expand on September 1st, with Colin Curtis a strong possibility as well. Wilkins DeLaRosa is barely holding onto his job in Double-A Trenton, so I wouldn’t expect to see him called up to give Joe Girardi a second lefty out of the pen. Hopefully Damaso Marte is healthy by then, because they don’t have any other southpaws on the 40-man roster.
The interesting situation involves the third catcher. Jorge Posada and Frankie Cervelli are the only two catchers on the 40-man at the moment, but a third catcher is a September call-up staple, especially for playoff teams that want to rest their primary backstop. Chad Moeller is the obvious candidate, but Sherman predictably opines about the possibility of calling up Jesus Montero. Personally, I don’t see it. The Yanks have plenty of options at designated hitter already, and I think the 20-year-old is better served playing every day in Triple-A Scranton during their playoff run than getting six or eight plate appearances a week with the big league team.
I want to see him in the show as much as an anyone, but I don’t think the time is now.
Via Bryan Hoch, sorely missed reliever Al Aceves had a setback while throwing his bullpen session in Tampa today. He’s heading back to New York for even more tests. The epidurals are obviously not doing the trick, so it’s looking more and more likely that Ace will need to have surgery to fix that bulging disc in his back. Shame, getting him back and healthy was the best bullpen help the Yankees could have hoped for in the second half.
In what I am sure is completely related news, Romulo Sanchez was scratched from his start for Triple-A Scranton tonight, and has been moved to the bullpen to prepare him for his future as a big league reliever. Jason Hirsh takes his spot in SWB’s rotation. If it’s just a coincidence that the Romulo news broke right after the Aceves news, then that’s one hell of a coincidence.
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
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
Updated 4:47 p.m. (scroll down for more on the rotation and Mariano): As the Yankees gear up for a weekend showdown with the Red Sox, the team announced a pair of complementary roster moves this afternoon. With Andy Pettitte expected to miss a start and Sergio Mitre all but officially penciled in for Tuesday, the Yankees have recalled Romulo Sanchez from AAA. To make room on the roster, the team has optioned Greg Golson back to Scranton.
Meanwhile, Jorge Posada isn’t in the lineup tonight, but neither he nor Pettitte are going on the disabled list yet. For the Yankees, then, the team is effectively struggling to make do with a 23-man roster. Until they know the extent of Posada’s and Pettitte’s injuries, they will play with a short bench and a long bullpen. Sanchez, scheduled to start tonight for Scranton, will replace Mitre as the team’s long man, and Randy Winn will be expected to be the versatile back-up outfielder in the event of a catastrophe out there. Hopefully, this roster holding pattern will clear up soon, and for what it’s worth, Posada, who says his tight calf may limit his running, says he could play tomorrow.
Going forward, this move suggests that the Yankees will send out Sergio Mitre, Javier Vazquez, Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia to pitch against Detroit next week. Pettitte wants to pitch, but the Yanks keep saying no no no, according to
Amy Winehouse Jon Heyman. Posada, who took BP today, should be back in the lineup soon, and if he’s not, then Chad Moeller will be activated. The team can’t go too long with Ramiro Peña as the emergency catcher.
Sanchez, 26, is a big guy with two cups of coffee in the majors. Listed at 6′ 5″ and 260 pounds, the right-hander made 26 appearances for the Pirates in 2007 and 2008, and he arrived on the Yanks in a trade last year for Eric Hacker. In his limited big league career, he has thrown 31.1 innings while giving up 16 ER on 14 hits and 14 walks. He has struck out 14 as well. This year for Scranton, he was 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA but impressed the Yankees during Spring Training.
According to Greg Fertel at Pending Pinstripes who has a full scouting report on Sanchez, the righty can dial his fastball up to 99 but sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. He has a good change and some decent enough breaking pitches that he has trouble keeping under control. Despite starting at AAA, the Yanks seem to view him as a bullpen option only in the big leagues, and for the weekend at least, he’ll be the team’s 25th guy on a rather inflexible roster.
Mitre to pitch Monday; Rivera available tonight
The updates for the walking wounded continue to pour in. Joe Girardi announced a few minutes ago that the team is reshuffling its rotation next week to give Andy Pettitte a few days off. Sergio Mitre will start Monday’s game against the Tigers, and Javier Vazquez will pitch on Tuesday. Pettitte, says Girardi, will likely pitch next weekend against the Twins and will avoid a trip to the DL. No word yet on why Mitre and Vazquez are getting flip-flopped. The Yankees, though, are in need of a long outing from Vazquez.
In good news, Mariano Rivera is available to pitch tonight, and if the Yanks have a late lead, Girardi will not hesitate to call upon his future Hall of Fame closer to save a win. Take that, Sports Illustrated cover jinx.
Via Bryan Hoch, we learn this afternoon that the Yankees have made two more cuts from the Big League camp. Ryan Pope — 3 G, 3 IP, 1 H, 3 K — has been reassigned to the minor league camp, and Romulo Sanchez — 4 G, 3.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K — has been optioned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Despite less than stellar Spring Training numbers, the Yankees will probably give Sanchez some Major League innings at some point this season if and when the bullpen needs some help. Slowly, slowly, the roster is getting whittled down.