Just checked in very briefly with Mark Newman, the Yankees vice president of baseball operations down in Tampa. The Yankees complex is dotted with assorted minor leaguers every offseason, but Newman said he also see Dave Robertson on a daily basis.
“He works out, then goes fishing,” Newman said.
A few notes on the Yankees minor league system…
• Center fielder Slade Heathcott is still rehabbing from his second shoulder surgery. Newman said it’s “going fine” and Heathcott should be able to at least go through some drills in spring training. Whether he’s ready to open the season is still uncertain.
“Depends on spring training,” Newman said. “We’re not going to push him at all, and we’re not going to let him push himself.”
• One of Heathcott’s teammates, J.R. Murphy, is ready to go after an ankle/foot injury. Newman said he should be 100 percent by spring training, and although he has worked at third base and the outfield, Murphy will “predominantly” catch next year.
• The Yankees kept Justin Maxwell on the 40-man roster because they believe he’ll be healthy and could contribute off the bench next season. He had a good, but injury-shortened year in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. “He’s got some tools, and he’s a high-caliber individual who works,” Newman said.
• Newman denied a report that Jorge Vazquez is going to play in Japan. “News to me,” Newman said. “Still on my board. Still under contract.”
• Former supplemental-round pick Jeremy Bleich is still rehabbing from 2010 shoulder surgery. He didn’t pitch at all last season.
• Lower-level pitching prospect Jose Ramirez did not pitch past August 11, but his sore elbow never required surgery. “He’s alright,” Newman said.
• Although he’s moved quickly through the system and went to the Fall League this offseason, Newman said it’s too early to put reliever Chase Whitley on the big league radar.
• Newman seemed high on Cuban utility man Ronnier Mustelier, another Fall League guy who played in High-A last season. He wasn’t a big name on the international market, but the Yankees believe he could be a legitimate big league option down the road. “He’s got some tools,” Newman said. “He can hit, and he plays a lot of different positions. He can run. Built like a running back. He’s strong, stocky. He’s got a chance to help us in the future as a corner utility guy.”
• The Yankees have not had any talks about bringing back Mark Prior, and Newman doesn’t expect that to happen. “Right now I would say no,” he said. “But never say never.”
• Newman said there’s a chance the Yankees will have to wait to get the bulk of their minor league signings done. If they don’t happen in the next couple of days, they won’t happen until after the holidays, sometime in January.
• The entire Scranton/Wilkes-Barre coaching staff — Dave Miley, Butch Wynegar, Scott Aldred and Frank Menechino — will be back next season, running the team through a bizarre schedule of road games.