A few mid-week minor league notes…
• The Yankees have re-signed veteran reliever David Herndon to a minor league contract. The 28-year-old had a couple of solid seasons with the Phillies before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012. He was back in games by the second half of this season and should come into big league camp with a non-zero chance of winning a spot in the big league bullpen. At the very least, if he’s not claimed in the Rule 5, he could be solid bullpen depth.
• Other minor league re-signings: Infielders Jose Pirela and Jose Toussen are back on minor league deals. Chances are, both are nothing more than organizational utility players, but Pirela has at least a few prospect-ish qualities. He’s 23; he can play second, third, left and (in a pinch) shortstop; he has hit pretty well in Double-A; he was in big league camp this year. That said, Pirela also turns 24 this winter, has five games of Triple-A experience, and was moved away from shortstop for a reason.
• Baseball America offers some first impressions of the 2013 draft, ranking the Yankees as having the third-best overall draft behind the Pirates and Diamondbacks. First-rounder Aaron Judge (fifth-best power) and second-rounder Gosuke Katoh (third best high school player debut) receive some individual attention. Tomorrow, BA will post a more detailed analysis of the Yankees draft class.
• Down in Arizona, emerging Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien hit his second Fall League home run today. He has just two hits in four games in the Fall League, but both of those hits have been homers. As expected, O’Brien has split his time between catcher and third base, so far playing two games at each position.
• Also in the Fall League, Tyler Austin is hitting .333/.438/.500 through just 12 at-bats. He’s played four games, all of them at first base. He has yet to play third base or right field this fall. … Mason Williams has been Scottsdale’s regular center fielder and leadoff hitter. He hasn’t done much so far, though. … Vidal Nuno has made one Fall League start. He lasted 2.2 innings with no walks and five strikeouts, but he also allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits, including a three-run homer. … Of the three Yankees relievers in Arizona, the early standout is James Pazos with three hitless innings. He walked two in his first appearance, but hasn’t walked anyone sense. He’s struck out two in each of his three outings. He was a 13th-rounder in 2012.
• Triple-A outfielder Adonis Garcia is in Venezuela and has three hits in his first two games. Curiously, he’s played third base in each of those games. Garcia has been primarily an outfielder with the Yankees, but he did get a little bit of infield time this year in Triple-A. He’s being managed this winter by Yankees Class-A manager Luis Sojo, so the organization will have a first-hand evaluation of Garcia’s day-by-day infield performance.
• Not many relatively big names playing winter ball just yet. … Ronnier Mustelier has three hits in his first 15 at-bats in Mexico. He’s been playing right field. … Recently re-signed catcher Jose Gil is hitting .333 with a home run in his first four games in Venezuela. He’s primarily played first base with one game behind the plate. … Organizational utility man Ali Castillo has more winter at-bats than any other Yankees player so far. He’s playing shortstop everyday in Venezuela and is hitting .174 through just six games.