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The Cervelli backstory

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on May 29, 2009 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Had a chance in Texas to have a long conversation with Francisco Cervelli. Get this: He has been catching only since 2003 when the Yankees signed him out of Venezuela.

“I was a shortstop and a second baseman and I pitched in Venezuela,” Cervelli said. “I had never caught in my life. I had no idea what to do at first.”

But when he was 17, the Yankees liked his size, arm and athletic ability and offered to sign him if he was willing to try catching. Cervelli jumped at the chance.

“I love it,” he said of catching. “I feel like I was born to do it. I just didn’t know before.”

Cervelli also was a switch hitter when he was a teenager. But when he arrived at the Dominican Summer League in 2003, that was the end of that. He was told to stick with his natural right-handed swing.

Cervelli’s story sort of reminds you of Jorge Posada, who was an infielder before he became a catcher. Now he has a chance to learn from Posada and — who knows? — maybe someday be his replacement. These last few weeks have boosted Cervelli’s stock in a lot of eyes.

Meanwhile, Jesus Montero is 1 for 2 with a double today for Single-A Tampa after belting two homers yesterday. He’s at .340/.394/.571 on the season. That kid is a beast at the plate.





44 Responses to “The Cervelli backstory”

  1. Uncle Ellsworth (Expert texpert choking smokers don't you think the joker laughs at you?) May 29th, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    and now we know the rest of the story.

    Thanks Pete.
    Where is the Gehrig weathervane?

  2. Matthew Jordan May 29th, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Is he staying up?

  3. 56Bomber May 29th, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Nice update on Cervelli…seems like a good kid. Its great watching kids make the most of their chances and finally getting the break they need. I see him (at the very least) a longterm replacement for Molina…hopefully he’ll continue to improve and will become more than that.

  4. Trevor May 29th, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Montero is their best position prospect. No doubt. Jackson is closer to being ready but he’s not the best.

  5. Doreen May 29th, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I love that story, Pete. So, theoretically, he could stay up as a third catcher and Berroa could be let go, since Cervelli has infield experience, if needed. At least until they’re comfortable with Jorge’s performance and how often he’s can play.

    Cervelli has certainly turned a lot of heads (both with his skills and, as I’ve read here, “those eyes” :) ).

    By the way, good chat today, some really good questions.

  6. Fan Interference May 29th, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    This is probably Molina’s last year with the Yanks. It would be nice to see Jorge help groom a young catcher the next couple of years.

  7. S.A.--Let's get ready to rumble! May 29th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Good stuff about Cervelli. I like the kid

  8. 56Bomber May 29th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I think Molina is signed thru 2010.

    I wonder if Cervelli is still serviceble enough as a backup infielder to let the Yankees keep him on the roster and let Berroa go.

  9. Annie May 29th, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I love Cervelli ,
    and I think that he will be the next young Posada .

  10. IRememberCelerinoSanchez May 29th, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    According to Cot’s, Molina signed a two-year deal for 08 and 09. He’s a free agent at the end of this season.


  11. Cam May 29th, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    As a former catcher it’s been a lot of fun watching him play. He brings a lot of energy and fire to the position and you can just see in his eyes that he was made to be a catcher. Hopefully he sticks around for a long time, if not as a starter, then certainly as a backup.

  12. Benny Blanco May 29th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    This kid cervelli has grit.

  13. YankeeDiva May 29th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks for this story Pete. Its great to hear more about the other players :)

  14. pete May 29th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    I saw Cervelli play on Staten Island when I was a season ticket holder. He was awesome defensively down there but so-so with the bat. The bat is what will keep him out of the majors if it does not continue to develop.

  15. vin May 29th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Many of us here have been discussing this for the past couple weeks – it would behoove Cervelli to either take some fly balls, or buy a first baseman’s glove.

    Now with this new info from Pete, maybe he should instead start taking some groundballs. I’d love to see him do anything to stick in the big leagues, even if that means becoming more versatile.

  16. Sandy May 29th, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I think most of us like what we have seen of Cervelli very much. And I agree with Doreen that his infield experience would mean that he could possibly be kept on the roster even after both Posada and Molina are back, since he can also function as backup infielder. He has hit reasonably well, lays down some effective bunts, and is a heads-up base runner, so he is a decent choice for a pinch hitter or runner as well.

    I think the chances of both Posada and Molina coming back and finishing out the season healthy is slim.

  17. Al from BK May 29th, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    I love Cervelli, the kid has a lot of heart and solid skills. If he can even hit like a league average catcher I’ll take his glove behind the plate any day.

  18. Patrick from CT May 29th, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Cervelli may have play is way into being the backup next year. Now will the Yankee go with 2 or 3 catchers?
    If 2 then who leaves Cervelli or Cash?
    Do they bring up another outfielder?
    I think we will get our wish and Berroa will be gone today regardless…
    I only makes sence to bring up an outfielder or keep 3 catchers, Berroa has to go!
    Now is there a guy in AAA that can play 3b and outfield?

  19. Al from BK May 29th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    “If 2 then who leaves Cervelli or Cash?”

    Cervelli stays, better bat, and hes homegrown.

  20. Patrick from CT May 29th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    “I think the chances of both Posada and Molina coming back and finishing out the season healthy is slim.”

    You got that right Sandy.

    I think they send him down to play every day though. He’ll be back if/when someone gets hurt.

  21. rb15 May 29th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    i was a catcher in college – it takes a strange and strong kind of soul, but it’s the best position in baseball (or in my case, fastpitch softball). i wouldn’t have traded my catcher’s mitt for a fielder’s glove for a million dollars. after the first play at the plate and the first backwards k, i was absolutely hooked. the thinker’s position, and the position for the one that doesnt mind (or even better, likes) taking a hit now and then.

  22. Patrick from CT May 29th, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Cervelli stays, better bat, and hes homegrown.

    That works. He catches CC tomorrow.

  23. Sandy May 29th, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Well, Cash is gone for now, and if Molina’s contract expires at the end of the year, who knows? Alot may depend on how healthy Posada is at the end of the year, but nothing can change the fact that he is 37 and only has a year or two left behind the plate. Molina turns 34 this year — not exactly a spring chicken either.

  24. Steve B (Wouldn't it be cool if AJ's ERA was 3.14) May 29th, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    “Cervelli stays, better bat, and hes homegrown.”

    Shouldn’t matter. He should be postioned to play as often as possible and with Posada up that means the minors. Bat still needs a lot of work. He bunts well, but not much else. Have to like what he’s shown as a catcher though.

  25. S.A.--Let's get ready to rumble! May 29th, 2009 at 12:59 pm–5T4o

    The Francesa rant-the remix? :lol:

  26. bottom line -- nickname for Montero May 29th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Montero looks like the best power-hitting prospect the Yankees have had since– well, Jay Buhner. But he may even be better than that. With his ability to hit for average and his precocious command of the strike zone, he might be — take a deep breath — the Yankees’ best power hitting prospect since one Micky Mantle.

    After reading some recent Tampa box scores, I found myself thinking of Montero as “Moose.” That’s a classic sports moniker but others have had it. All of a sudden it came to me. Not Moose. But why not Zeus. As in Hey- Zeus. As in Zeus the Thuderer Montero.

    If this name sticks, I hope some at least will remember that on May 29, 2009 “bottom line” suggested this name.

    Zeus (as in Je-sus) Montero

  27. Jimmy the Saint May 29th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Wouldn’t Cervelli be better served playing every day at Triple A to get more at bats? That is if he isn’t going to start.

  28. vin May 29th, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    “Now will the Yankee go with 2 or 3 catchers?”

    That’s the big question, to me. Carrying 3 catchers makes sense only if Girardi plans to DH Jorge. But why would he do that?

    Matsui should be the consistent DH unless if:
    1) He is due for a rest (schedule it so Posada is catching those days)
    2) There’s a tough lefty going who gives him trouble (eventhough he’s good against LHP) – most plausible
    3) A guy like Damon, Alex, or Jeter needs a half-day off (again, Posada should be scheduled to catch those days)
    4) He gets injured – not much you can do about this, just hope Nady is back by then.

    I’m not really sure that DHing Posada is better for his hamstring in the first place. He tore it in a game that he was the DH, and some here speculated that perhaps if he was catching, maybe it would have enabled him to be looser.

    To me, you only DH Posada if Matsui or another regular can’t go and he needs a break either from catching in general, or for his shoulder. My guess is they will go with 2 catchers.

  29. Pokey May 29th, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Life after Jorge should be interesting. It seems as if Montero is being groomed to be the next starting catcher, and I think Frank will end up being Molina 2.0 and Romine moves to another position. Or they move Montero from behind the plate (RF?) and Romine becomes the guy with Frank as the backup. It doesn’t make much sense for them to keep all three of them behind the plate long term, and Frank will be the best bet to keep around cheaply for a long time as the backup.

    Moving Frank to the IF doesn’t really make much sense. All the spots are locked up for a long time, and the only guys who need regular days off at this point are Jeter and A-Rod, and Pena defensively is a more than adequate fill-in.

    An outfield move doesn’t make much sense either. AJax is going to be in center next season, Swisher is locked up for a while, and the expiring deals of Matsui, Damon and Nady give you 32.55 million to play with, and the most likely outcome is that they resign Nady and go sign Ankiel, Bay, Holliday or Ordonez.

  30. vin May 29th, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Zeus… I like it. Good job, bottom line.

    I think the Cash vs. Cervelli (who gets sent down) has some similarities to Berroa vs. Pena in ST. Veteran vs. young guy, roster ramifications, etc.

    “Now is there a guy in AAA that can play 3b and outfield?”

    Yeah, but he’s not on the 40man roster and his bat is suspect.

  31. Steve B (Wouldn't it be cool if AJ's ERA was 3.14) May 29th, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Too small a sample to make anything of it, but in Tampa:

    Montero as a C = 0 homers with a .265 average (83 AB’s)
    Montero the DH = 7 homers with a .416 average (77 AB’s)

    He’s a young guy and probably a little hellbent on proving the naysayers wrong, thus putting a lot of emphasis on his catching when he’s called to do so, perhaps at the expense of his offense. But it sure seems like he was born to hit as much as anything. I think if the Yankees are committed to developing him as a catcher, it delays him getting to Yankee Stadium by at least a year, maybe more.

  32. Kevin B. May 29th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I know he’s Venezulaen but he played for the Italian WBC team and has a name that would find in The Godfather. How was he able to play for Italy?

  33. Kevin B. May 29th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I know he’s Venezulaen but he played for the Italian WBC team and has a name that would find in The Godfather. How was he able to play for Italy?

  34. Pokey May 29th, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    His family has roots in Italy.

  35. 224 May 29th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Jesus Montero has to be the biggest prospect with the most potential that we’ve had in some time.

    We need to be ultra careful in his development and not rush him. If he can’t make due as a catcher, we need to make sure that we develop him for a position that he can play. Anyone can play left field (pretty much) and we’re going to have some vacancies in a few years.

    While his catching is improving, Romine is likely to best him in that role. Romine won’t be near the offensive player that Montero is, but he still projects as a solid player. If they both develop really well, it’s a good problem to have. I guess we’ll just have to see.

    Francisco is a darn good defensive player and I think that, with a year in AAA, he can get a bit better at hitting some offspeed stuff and develop some patience at the plate. Right now, he has the potential to be a Brandon Inge-esque player for the Yanks and it’s hard to send him down knowing about his infield experience.

    A .250 avg is all you can expect from a backup and that’s probably all that Cervelli will be on the Yanks. A very valuable backup. Molina has been a blessing these past few years and knowing that Cervelli has similar potential is exciting.

  36. JOBA to the PEN - it only makes sense May 29th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I know this was beaten to death, but it is a legit argument now. The bullpen is weak, Wang is back and Phil is pitching well now – pretty good for a 5th starter. Joba had one good game (the 12 strike out game), but even then he gave up 4 runs in the first and still lost. When he was in the pen he was lights outs except the “bug” game. If Joba doesn’t go to the pen are we going to with 6 starters? No. Are we going to send Phil back down? Maybe. Do I think that Joba can be a starter? Yes, but right now he is needed in the pen.

  37. Vince May 29th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    This is the 2nd year of the 2-year deal Jose Molina signed with the Yankees.

  38. Javitt May 29th, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    As much as I love Cervelli, if the Yankees don’t want to carry 3 catchers, or even if they still do when Molina returns then Cervelli should be the odd man out.

    The kid has been great since his call-up, but he needs to see pitches everyday if they want him to have any type of future with the Pinstripes.

    A lot of his success has to do with the fact that there really isn’t much of a scouting report on him. Not even from the minors considering he was only at double-A Trenton when being called. I doubt his current numbers would hold up over the whole season once teams start to get a read on him. That means he needs to be swinging the bat everyday so that if and when he comes back up he is that much more skilled at the plate in order to handle the adjustments made for him.

    Its good to know the Yanks have some solid prospects to suat behind the plate though considering it looks like Posadas monster contract is likely only going to be for services rendered and not much future production.

  39. KO May 29th, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Cervelli = Catcher of the future
    Montero = 3B, DH, or trade of the future (I would say 1B but he will be ready long before Tex is gone)

  40. KO May 29th, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    And also A-Rod kind of blocks him at 3B… o well cross those roads when he’s ready

  41. tim boat May 29th, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    before we all crown Cervelli heir apparent to Posada let’s remember that a)nobody overhypes prospects better than the Yankees and NY Media b) no one ever head of Cervelli before he got bowled over in the spring c) he’s what 23? right about the age when blue chip no longer applies. He could be a serviceable back up though.

    Montero – never will be a MLB catcher, his frame is too big already and he’s only going to continue to get bigger, what is he – 6’4”? how many catchers in the bigs are that tall?

  42. loanAGE June 2nd, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Joe Mauer is 6’4″ and hits like a tank

  43. Cynthia809 June 21st, 2010 at 10:57 am

    i LOVE Cervelli he’s a great chatcher and he’s pretty cute too, no what am i talking about he’s CUTE, HOT and SEXY, i had a dream that i was married 2 him…. he’s soo dreamy



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