It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve had one of these. In that time, Baseball American has released it’s annual list of minor league free agents. No one from the Yankees list should come as a surprise. It’s made primarily of guys who were signed as minor league free agents in the first place.
Of this group, Sam Demel might want to come back — kind of like David Herndon — if only because the Yankees have some bullpen jobs legitimately up for grabs, and Demel has both big league experience and strong numbers with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Walter Ibarra might also re-sign to fill his familiar organizational utility role. He’s not a bad defender.
Here are the Yankees minor league free agents, as reported by Baseball America.
RHP: Cory Arbiso (AA), Sam Demel (AAA), Yoshinori Tateyama (AAA)
C: Bobby Wilson (AAA)
1B: Andrew Clark (AA), Randy Ruiz (AAA)
2B: Reegie Corona (AA)
SS: Walter Ibarra (AAA)
OF: Fernando Martinez (AAA), Corey Patterson (AAA)
• Through his first two Arizona Fall League starts, it seemed Vidal Nuno was falling apart. Far more advanced than most of his AFL competition, Nuno struggled in his first two outings, but in his past three appearances, Nuno’s gone 13 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 11 K. Suddenly, his Fall League ERA is down to a strong 3.20. It was up to 8.10 at one point.
• Speaking of getting on a roll in the Fall League, Mason Williams has an 11-game hitting streak. Most have been one-hit games, so his overall numbers aren’t overwhelming, but he’s hitting a solid .274/.338/.339 through 62 at-bats. He’s 3-for-4 stealing bases, but he’s had just one extra-base hit in his past nine games (not counting the game when he entered as a pinch runner and didn’t get an at-bat).
• Still a bit of a weird Fall League for Peter O’Brien, who has just 10 hits (a .196 batting average), six of which have gone for extra bases (a .471 slugging percentage). O’Brien continues to split time between catcher and third base, and he’s hit four home runs, but he’s also struck out 20 times in 51 at-bats.
• The infield experiment seems to have ended for Adonis Garcia. The Cuban outfielder is in Venezuela this winter, and it’s been more than two weeks since he got any time at third base (he played there a few times early). He’s basically rotated through all three outfield positions — mostly right field — while hitting .292/.333/.477 in 65 at-bats. He’s had seven hits in his past three games. He could absolutely hit his way into the big league picture this season, especially if Zoilo Almonte stumbles.
• Speaking of Zoilo Almonte, he’s in the Dominican, playing almost exclusively in left field, and hitting .246/.313/.344. He homered in each of his first two games this winter, but he hasn’t had an extra-base hit since. He continues to be much better from the left side of the plate. He’s hitting .300 against right-handers this winter; .143 against lefties.
• Winter struggles continue for Ronnier Mustelier. He’s hitting .227/.333/.280 in Mexico, where he was awfully good last winter. The one positive in his numbers comes from the 12 walks against 14 strikeouts in 75 at-bats. He remains a middle-of-the-order hitter for Culiacan, but he hasn’t hit for as much power as expected. He’s coming off a down year in Triple-A as well, and for a guy like Mustelier — an older and largely untouted prospect — there’s not much margin for error. He can fall off the radar rather quickly if things turn south.
• Despite all the prospect buzz, Gary Sanchez is still very young, which means he’s not getting much playing time in Dominican. He’s gotten into seven games — one as a pinch hitter — and he’s hitting .150/.150/.150 with six strikeouts in 20 at-bats. The Dominican Winter League is pretty advanced for him. Shouldn’t expect big things from him just yet, not even in winter ball.
• My inclination is to make very little of it, but it’s certainly worth noting that Jose Pirela continues to rake in Venezuela. Playing both second base and left field, Pirela is hitting .308/.409/.538 through 91 at-bats. He’s started getting a lot of at-bats in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the order. Pirela’s been a pretty good Double-A hitter as well, but there’s never been any indication that the Yankees have high expectations for him (as evidenced by keeping him in Trenton for three years). Maybe he can hit his way on the radar, but I’m not sure he’s there yet.
• Since replacing Tyler Austin in the Arizona Fall League, Addison Maruszak is hitting .222/.440/.278 through six games. He’s walked seven times in 18 at-bats, which is pretty much the only way to explain such an unusual slash line. Able to play literally any position except pitcher, Maruszak has gotten all of his time at first base, third base and DH which makes sense considering he’s filling in for Austin.
• The other Yankees pitchers in the Fall League: Lefty Fred Lewis has yet to allow a run. He has a perfect 0.00 ERA through nine relief appearances, however he’s allowed eight hits and five walks. Lefties have had more success against him than righties. … You see some ugly Fall League pitching lines every year, and right-hander Brett Gerritse has one at the moment. Through 8.2 innings, he’s allowed nine hits, nine walks and 10 earned runs. He was charged with a blown save in each of his past two appearances. … James Pazos was pitching pretty well in Arizona before back-to-back three-hit outings. He still has a strong 2.45 ERA out of the bullpen, but it’s more telling that opponents are hitting .313 against him. He has a 2.18 Fall League WHIP.
Associated Press photo of Nuno; headshots of Mustelier and Maruszak