In the same week that Michael Pineda had season-ending surgery — and a little more than a week before the Seattle Mariners come to Yankee Stadium — Charleston starter Jose Campos was placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.
Campos, of course, was the fourth part of this winter’s trade that sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to Seattle and brought Pineda to New York. Pineda never got into a game for the Yankees before suffering a serious shoulder injury, and Campos lasted just five starts before being shutdown.
Obviously, with a pitcher, Tommy John surgery jumps to mind any time you hear about elbow injury, but for now there seems to be no indication that Campos needs a procedure. A Yankees source said that inflammation was the only diagnosis. Even so, in the wake of the Pineda injury, it’s certainly bad news and makes this winter’s trade look even worse for the time being.
Campos was 3-0 with a 4.01 ERA. He had more than a strikeout per inning, an opponents’ batting average of .213 and a 1.14 WHIP, and those numbers were even better before he gave up eight runs in 2.2 innings in his last start before going on the DL.
• First baseman Steve Pearce and designated hitter Jack Cust are the only Triple-A regulars slugging at least .400 this season, but they offer limited defensive value should the Yankees look to bring up a new hitter. Pearce is emerging as the best bet with an impressive .351/.439/.557 slash line, but he’s seen almost all of his time at first base. He can play some third base and the outfield corners, and more time at those positions might help the former Pirates regular plead his case for a call-up.
• Looking for more defensive flexibility out of a potential call-up? Kevin Russo is putting himself back on the map with a .299 average and .380 on-base percentage while playing second, third and a lot of outfield. Third baseman Brandon Laird is tied for the Triple-A team lead in RBIs – and he has played some outfield — but his .258/.327/.381 slash line isn’t likely to grab much attention.
• A new wild card in the hunt for a potential call-up is Ronnier Mustelier. Signed out of Cuba, he can play second base, third base and the outfield corners, and he was just promoted to Triple-A after hitting .353/.412/.598 in Trenton. He was sent to the Arizona Fall League last offseason, so the Yankees clearly think he’s worth keeping an eye on.
• Despite Manny Banuelos coming off the disabled list — he’s starting tomorrow — and D.J. Mitchell returning from a solid big league stint, there’s still statistically more to like in the Triple-A bullpen than in the Triple-A rotation. Lefty Mike O’Connor and late-inning relievers Kevin Whelan and Chase Whitley each have numbers that seem worth of call-up consideration.
• Utility infielder Corban Joseph is off the Triple-A disabled list and was immediately sent down to Double-A to get at-bats (Trenton didn’t really have a regular second baseman). He’s played just two games, so it’s too early for his .375 average to mean anything.
• J.R. Murphy and Ramon Flores are the biggest names on the High-A Tampa roster, but its Rob Segedin who’s having the biggest impact. Still getting a little bit of time at third base, the team’s regular right fielder is hitting .299/.373/.487 with five home runs and 21 RBIs. That’s more than twice as many homers and RBIs than anyone else on the team.
• Reliever Mark Montgomery still looks like a potential fast-riser. He caught everyone’s attention with his strikeout totals last season in Charleston, and this year he has 23 strikeouts and a 0.98 WHIP through 15.1 innings in Tampa. He’s gotten more than four groundball outs for every one fly ball out.
• The Tampa rotation standout is still Nik Turley, the former 50th-round pick who has a 2.23 ERA with solid across-the-board numbers (.246 opponents average, 1.24 WHIP, nearly a strikeout per inning).
• Dante Bichette Jr. is still looking for his first home run, but Tyler Austin already has 10 of them. An early favorite to be the Yankees breakout prospect, Austin is hitting .327/.378/.782. Like Segedin, he’s a converted corner infielder now seeing most of his time in right field.
• Mason Williams and Gary Sanchez were expected to overshadow Austin on that Charleston roster, and they’ve more than held their own. Sanchez hasn’t homered, but he’s hitting .337 with 10 doubles (27 strikeouts, though). Williams is hitting .327/.357/.500 with 11 stolen bases.
• The underperforming parts of that prospect loaded Charleston roster are Bichette (.215/.305/.247), Cito Culver (.238/.351/.313), Ben Gamel (.238/.304/.287) and Angelo Gumbs (.207/.300/.299). For whatever reason, it’s Gumbs that surprises me most. Not sure why, but I’ve been kind of expecting him to jump more onto the radar this year. Still plenty of time for it to happen.
• Charleston starter Bryan Mitchell has allowed 14 hits through 24.2 innings. That’s good for a 3.28 ERA. Walks remain a concern with him — he has 17 already this season — but he’s a legitimately impressive lower-level prospect. If not for Campos, Mitchell would probably be the top pitching prospect in the lower levels of the system.
Headshots of Campos, Pearce, Joseph and Williams