Just an early heads up, I’m planning to host a chat here on the blog at noon on Thursday. I’ll be coming at you live from Canada, so that should be fun. For now, here are a few quick mid-day notes from the minor leagues…
• Eduardo Nunez reported to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre yesterday and went 1-for-5 as the team’s starting shortstop and leadoff hitter. He singled in the ninth inning of a one-run game, but was thrown out trying to steal second. He committed no errors. Ramiro Pena, who had more starts at shortstop than anyone else on the Scranton roster, played second base, and Kevin Russo, who had more second base starts than anyone, played left field.
• The Triple-A Yankees lost last night’s game despite seven strong innings from starter Adam Warren. In easily his best start of the year, Warren struck out six, walked three and allowed just four hits. The one run he allowed was a solo homer by Juan Miranda. It was the second straight strong start for a Triple-A rotation prospect. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre got six terrific innings out of Manny Banuelos on Sunday. In his third start back from a back injury, Banuelos allowed one unearned run through six innings. He struck out seven, walked none and still hasn’t walked a batter in 14.2 innings since the injury. He walked six in the start before going on the DL.
• Signed late in spring training, 29-year-old former Pirates prospect Steve Pearce has been Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s best hitter this season, and he was just named the International League Player of the Week. He had three home runs, four doubles, slugged .920 and hit .400 for the week. The hot streak brought his league-leading average up to .361. Primarily a first base, Pearce can play the outfield corners and has gotten a little bit of time at third base. Don’t rule him out as a possible bat off the bench at some point this season.
• Rotten luck down in Double-A where Graham Stoneburner aggravated his groin injury on Friday. That Trenton rotation is running awfully thin. Yesterday they added Triple-A reliever Adam Miller, who was sent down to make room for Cody Eppley. I guess there’s a chance the Yankees are thinking about using Miller as a starter, but I haven’t heard one way or the other.
• Charleston second baseman Angelo Gumbs was named the Charleston the South Atlantic League Player of the Week after hitting .464/.467/.643 in six games. He had triple, a home run, five RBI, six runs, one walk, and a league-high 11 stolen bases. That gave him a league-best 19 stolen bases for the season. Gumbs was hitting just .207 before last week’s hot streak brought his average up to .270 and more than doubled his stolen base total.
• Speaking of the SALLY, Charleston right fielder Tyler Austin was the league’s Player of the Week earlier this season and still leads the league in homers. The guy continues to rake down there, and his .695 slugging percentage makes him a real standout — along with Mason Williams and Gary Sanchez — on a roster full of legitimate prospects.
• Speaking of Sanchez, he hit is first homer of the year a week ago.
• All the way down in extended spring training, Slade Heathcott is finally getting into some games. Once he’s really in playing shape, he’ll likely join the Tampa roster. After losing seven of nine, Tampa could use him.
Associated Press photo of Nunez