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Yankees make some early minor league moves

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A few early minor league transactions from Baseball America. [2] Usually signings at this time of year are incredibly minor, but these minor league deals actually carry a little bit of significance.

Signed: LHP Juan Cedeno (re-signed), LHP Francisco Rondon (re-signed), OF Abe Almonte (re-signed), OF Cody Johnson (re-signed)
Released: OF Billy Hart

[3] [4]The two names that stand out here are Cedeno and Almonte.

Last winter, the Yankees took a shot on the lefty Cedeno, who hadn’t played in a big league organization since 2008 and had never played higher than Double-A ball. The Yankees scouts clearly saw something they liked because the Yankees gave Cedeno an invitation to big league camp, then made him a prominent part of the Triple-A bullpen. Lefties hit .240 against him, and he carried a 2.81 ERA at the end of the year. Shouldn’t expect him to be a major contributor next season, but he could be legitimate big league bullpen depth (or a potential Rule 5 pick if the Yankees don’t protect him).

Almonte is coming off his best professional season since rookie ball in 2007. He hit .276/.350/.392 in Double-A while stealing 30 bases and playing all three outfield positions. He’s a switch hitter, but his splits were drastic this season. Almonte hit .310 against righties and only .190 against lefties. His second-half numbers were pretty bad. He’s somewhat significant because Almonte once carried some prospect status — initially as a second baseman — and he’s still just 23 and there’s always been a little something to like about him. Don’t put him on your big league radar, but he’s finally done enough to be worth another look to see if he can build on this season and play his way (at least) to Triple-A.

There’s not much that stands out about the other names.

Johnson is a big strikeouts, big power kind of guy who’s found an organizational role as a Double-A run producer for the Yankees.

Rondon has been kind of an organizational reliever who finally got out of the lower levels this year and pitched pretty well in Double-A.

Hart was signed mid-season to provide some outfield depth in the lower levels. As far as I can tell, he never actually got in a game.

Headshots of Cedeno and Almonte