The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Mid-day notes: Second base situation, Sanchez stands out, Lowrie on the move

Dustin Ackley

I’m sure many of you are trying to get out of work early this afternoon, maybe get on the road as quickly as possible to begin fighting that day-before-Thanksgiving traffic. If you’re stuck in front of a computer, here a few things to have on your radar:

Refsnyder1. Yankees might not add a second baseman (but they might)
Writing for the Daily News, Mark Feinsand cites multiple non-Yankees sources who say they don’t expect the Yankees to make a move for a second baseman this winter. “I think the platoon can work, for sure,” one scout said. “In the long term, (Rob) Refsnyder could emerge as an everyday guy, but the Yankees have been good with their use of platoons, so they can probably succeed with those two.” The belief among those Feinsand talked to is that the Yankees are focused on other needs, and that the platoon of Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley is at least worth exploring before committing to a big-money free agent like Howie Kendrick.

Then again, in writing about some of the uncertainty that could impact this free agent market, Jorge Ortiz of USA Today named the Yankees’ second base situation as the No. 1 vacancy that could determine the market for free agent infielders. He mentions Kendrick, Daniel Murphy and trade candidate Starlin Castro as possible second base fits for the Yankees (I would add that Ben Zobrist is another obvious possibility). Goes back to what I wrote about this morning, that the Yankees are kind of in an anything-can-happen mode. Wouldn’t be surprising to see them stick with Refsnyder and Ackley; wouldn’t be surprising to see the market shift so that they add a second baseman.

Sanchez2. Gary Sanchez picked as the No. 2 prospect in the Arizona Fall League
Baseball America is always cranking out some sort of prospect list. Today, it’s their annual ranking of the top prospects in the Arizona Fall League. Of course, the Cardinals’ top prospect Alex Reyes came in as a the No. 1 choice, but No. 2 is Gary Sanchez, the young Yankees catcher who could have a chance to make the big league team out of spring training.

From the scouting report: “Sanchez consistently showed off his plus-plus power, with scouts believing the bat will play despite some pitch recognition issues. Most importantly, he showed better actions behind the plate than expected, and his arm strength remains a plus tool albeit sometimes lacking in accuracy.”

Sanchez appeared on the AFL list ahead of Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier, each of whom was ranked as a Top 50 prospect by MLB Pipeline, and ahead of Dominic Smith and Lewis Brinson, who were Top 100. Sanchez was ranked ahead of Willson Contreras, who MLB Pipeline had ranked ahead of Sanchez on its list of top catching prospects.

Lowrie3. Jed Lowrie has been traded back to Oakland
As first reported by Jane Lee, the Athletics made a trade today for utility infielder Jed Lowrie, who has two years and $15 million left on his contract. It’s unclear where he’ll play for the A’s — could be a kind of super utility guy all over the infield; could also free the A’s to trade a guy like Brett Lawrie — but it’s clear that it didn’t take much for the A’s to acquire him. They gave up only a bullpen prospect named Brendan McCurry. He’s a pretty good bullpen prospect, but nothing the Yankees couldn’t match.

The Lowrie deal caught my eye only because the Yankees are in the market for versatility, and I suppose Lowrie could have helped them in that regard. His offensive production has been erratic the past few years, but he still plays second, third and shortstop, and he’s a switch-hiitter who had a .267/.375/.533 slash line against lefties last season. He wouldn’t have been the worst fit, possibly as a better offensive version of Brendan Ryan. Then again, he costs $14 million more than Ryan, and his glove isn’t as good. Based on the price Oakland paid, the Yankees could have gotten Lowrie pretty easily — they have relief prospects to spare — but they don’t seem too keen to take on a big contract, especially when it’s not necessarily an impact addition.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 at 1:45 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Wide range of trade possibilities keep Yankees unpredictable

Ivan Nova

On the day I got back from vacation, one of the other beat writers called to ask about the trip. We talked about Irish pubs and French museums, then he filled me in on the past week of Yankees news.

“You missed nothing,” he said.

But, I argued, this feels like the kind of offseason when I just as easily could have missed everything. There is nothing the Yankees are definitely going to do, but almost anything seems to be on the table.

Yesterday, Joel Sherman added Ivan Nova to the trade rumor mill, writing that the Yankees are considering the idea of using Nova to help acquire a starting pitcher with more than one year of team control. The notion comes as no surprise — Nova is definitely a tradeable asset — but he’s another example of the Yankees’ recent trade approach, which often involves robbing Peter to pay Paul. Consider:

Gardner1. The Yankees are short on infield depth, have no real backup third baseman and could use a right-handed utility type. Yet they just traded Jose Pirela for a young pitcher. The team clearly wasn’t quite sold on Pirela as a big league role player, and they needed to clear space on the 40-man. Pirela certainly was a bad fit for the Yankees, but trading him might have not only added a young pitcher but also kept one of the upper-level relievers from being DFA at some point.

2. The Yankees did some roster maneuvering just to give John Ryan Murphy a big league opportunity this season, and he was terrific as a young, cheap backup catcher. Yet, the Yankees traded him for a young outfielder. Murphy definitely fit the Yankees, but they decided his trade value was higher than his immediate roster value. They preferred an outfielder with upside rather than a catcher trapped between a contract and a prospect.

3. The Yankees have more than their share of bad contracts causing headaches, yet they are clearly exploring the idea of trading Brett Gardner who has one of the more team-friendly contracts on the roster. Have to give something to get something, and the Yankees clearly recognize it might be easier to replace Gardner than to add a good, cost controlled pitcher through other means.

4. The Yankees took a bit of a chance last winter when they gave Andrew Miller a multi-year contract to solidify the late innings, and he rewarded them with a Reliever Of The Year season. Yet the Yankees are reportedly listening on Miller trade proposals. Again, they could definitely use Miller to fortify their bullpen, but they seem to recognize an opportunity cash in on a good year (especially at a position that’s often fairly replaceable).

5. The Yankees are in need of a starting pitcher to add some depth and impact to their rotation, yet now Ivan Nova‘s name is out there as a trade possibility. That seems like another attempt to focus on the long game, recognizing that Nova might help the Yankees acquire someone who could help the rotation beyond this season. He’s still relatively cheap, but that’s what keeps him having some value on the trade market.

These aren’t necessarily the usual trade routes — these are all players who have immediate value to the Yankees, and in some cases, there’s potential for impact beyond this season — but the Yankees showed last season that they’re willing to have a lot of moving parts involved in roster reconstruction, especially if there’s not a ton of money to spend.

Thanksgiving is only a day away, and so far not a lot has happened with the Yankees. But they seem to be open to enough anything-is-possible scenarios that things could heat up when we least expect it.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Minor league notes and links: Cave list among early Rule 5 standouts

Jake Cave

Just a few minor league notes with Yankees connections:

• In an early Rule 5 draft preview, Baseball America lists outfielder Jake Cave as one of the toolsy outfielders who could stick as a fourth outfielder. Cave is the only Yankees prospect listed among the 46 names put together by Baseball America. Two other familiar names on the list are relievers Corey Black and Rafael De Paula, who were traded by the Yankees to acquired Alfonso Soriano and Chase Headley. Each one carried legitimate prospect stock at the time of the those trades, but obviously neither has been added to his new team’s 40-man roster.

• A few moves from Baseball America’s minor league free agent tracker: The Yankees have re-signed Kyle Higashioka, a good defensive catcher who played in Tampa and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year. The Yankees have been inviting him to big league camp since he was a pretty young kid. Knows what he’s doing behind the plate. Also, reliever/starter Joel De La Cruz has signed with the Braves (who continue to love signing former Yankees) and catcher Francisco Arcia is with the Marlins, outfielder Ericson Leonora has signed with the Diamondbacks.

• Have to wait until December 7 for Baseball America to announce its new Yankees Top 10 prospects list. Two of BA’s early prospect lists that stand out for Yankees fans are the Diamonds and Braves. For the Diamondbacks, Baseball America has Peter O’Brien ranked as the organization’s 10th-best prospect. O’Brien was traded to Arizona in the Martin Prado trade. It’s still uncertain whether he’s a better fit as a catcher or a corner outfielder, but he can still mash home runs. For the Braves, Manny Banuelos fell outside of the organization’s Top 10. Banuelos was traded to Atlanta in the offseason trade that brought Chasen Shreve to New York. In a chat, Bill Bellow, who put the Braves list together, said Banuelos was a near miss who could still be an impact big league starter if his command gets back to form.

• Former Yankees prospect Tommy Kahnle has been traded from the Rockies to the White Sox. The Yankees lost Kahnle in the Rule 5 draft a couple of years ago, and he had a good rookie season with the Rockies before going through some control problems this season. He was designated for assignment last week.

• The Braves announced a few minor league signing this afternoon, including a minor league deal with reliever David Carpenter. The right-hander opened this season with the Yankees and was expected to play a key role in the bullpen, but he got off to a slow start, never seemed to have Joe Girardi’s confidence, and was eventually traded to Washington after being designated for assignment. Carpenter was much better in his handful of games with the Nationals, and to his credit, he never blamed his Yankees struggles on the erratic way he was used (which couldn’t have helped).

Associated Press photo




Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 at 6:51 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Winter ball notes: Long wraps up strong showing in Venezuela


Bryan Mitchell

With the Arizona Fall League finished, there’s really not a ton of Yankees action in winter ball this offseason. Aside from Ben Gamel and Jaron Long, the Yankees don’t have any attention-grabbing prospects playing offseason ball, but at least there’s still baseball being played somewhere. Here are a few Yankees updates from the winter leagues:

• Still pitching down in Puerto Rico, Bryan Mitchell was on a roll before a rough start on Saturday. Mitchell lasted only an inning and one third, allowing six earned runs on six hits and six walks. Not pretty. Before that, though, Mitchell was pitching very well with a total of two earned runs in his previous three starts. Last Sunday was his best start of the winter going seven inning with one unearned run. Even in that start, though, Mitchell walked four guys. Based on the numbers, it looks like command has been his biggest problem in Puerto Rico. He has 12 walks and 14 strikeouts through 21.2 innings.

Long• After pitching 2.1 scoreless innings on Sunday, Jaron Long tweeted a thank you message to his Venezuelan Winter League team. Assuming that was his final start of the winter, Long finished with a 2.30 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in eight starts. Of his 11 earned runs, eight came in two starts, so he was otherwise terrific. His next-to-last outing was his best; he struck out seven through seven scoreless innings.

• The Venezuelan league’s first half ended November 15, and Ben Gamel hasn’t played since. That makes me think that, like Long, he’s finished for the winter. If that’s the case, Gamel wraps up his year with a .253/.327/.402 slash line with the Leones del Caracas. He played mostly center field this winter, but he did get some time in left and right. Gamel is a left-handed hitter who hit .400/.444/.636 against righties in winter ball, but he was 0-for-32 against lefties. He did not remotely show splits like that in Triple-A this season.

• Trying to get back in the mix with all of the Yankees’ upper-level relief pitchers, Mark Montgomery is pitching in a closer role in Venezuela. He’s 8-for-8 in save opportunities, and he has a 1.38 WHIP with 15 strikeouts and five walks through 12.1 innings. All of his walks have come in two outings. He allowed four hits and two runs in another outing. Otherwise, he’s been awfully good.

Culver• Down in Puerto Rico, Cito Culver continues to get occasional playing time at shortstop and third base. He’s gotten into six games — four at third, two at short — and he’s 2-for-19 with six strikeouts and a walk. At this point, I assume the Yankees are planning to use him as kind of a Double-A and Triple-A utility guy, kind of like Ali Castillo was used this year.

• Recently signed to a minor league deal, catcher Francisco Diaz has played very sparingly in Venezuela, getting into nine games with 13 at-bats and a .308 batting average. He’s one of four catchers getting some playing time on that team, but he hasn’t played since November 8.

• After working primarily as a reliever with High-A Tampa in the regular season, Luis Niebla has been a starter in the Mexican Winter League. He’s made eight starts with a 4.24 ERA and more walks (27) than strikeouts (22). In his past three starts he’s had 16 walks in 14.2 innings.

• He’s no longer with the Yankees, but Jose Pirela‘s winter ball stats are always fun to look at. Still playing nothing but left field and occasionally designated hitter, Pirela is hitting his usual .356/.427/.481 with more walks (13) than strikeouts (7) through 27 games. That dude just rakes in Venezuela.

Associated Press photo of Mitchell


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 at 3:25 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Refsnyder preparing for spring opportunity at second base

Already working out with the Yankees’ strength coaches in Tampa, Rob Refsnyder said on last night’s Yankees Hot Stove that he’s approaching this offseason with full intention of going after the big league second base job in spring training.

“I think you have to go into that whole situation with that mindset,” he said. “If not, then I think you’re at a disadvantage.”

Refsnyder said he’s doing some early strength work to improve speed and explosiveness (he said he’d been working out with Mason Williams, which seems to be a good sign for Williams’ health). Of course defensive work will always be a focus for Refsnyder, but he said he’s also continuing to work on an improved hitting approach. Last season, Refsnyder said, he would often get into good counts and then waste the at-bat by swinging at a pitcher’s pitch. He wants to improve his patience so that when he gets in a good count, he continues to wait for a pitch he can truly attack.

“Hopefully I’m just scratching the surface of the ballplayer I want to be,” he said.

Last season was a good one but a strange one for Refsnyder. He got to the big leagues in July, went back to Triple-A after four games, did not return until September, and even then did not get into the starting lineup until the last few weeks of the season. With that down-the-stretch opportunity, Refsnyder put up big numbers in a platoon role. Those numbers left Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman acknowledging that he could be at least part of the second base solution next season.

“Kind of a whirlwind of an experience,” Refsnyder said. “You know, sitting on the bench and learning and kind of observing, and then getting thrown in there, obviously it helped a lot and it kind of helped me go into this offseason with some confidence.”

There was one report last season that suggested Refsnyder’s attitude was a reason for his banishment to Triple-A. When I asked one player in the Yankees clubhouse about it, he said he’d heard the same thing — heard that there was a report about a bad attitude — but that he’d never seen it. The player said he was so surprised by the story that he actually asked around to find out if he’d missed something. No one, he said, had any complaints about Refsnyder’s attitude or work ethic.

“I’m pretty quiet,” Refsnyder said. “I kind of just try to go about my business. You definitely just watch and observe. Those guys have had unbelievably great careers, and they’re just getting started it feels like with the year Alex had and Carlos and things like that. I just try to observe and watch. I feel like they can tell when I have a question on my face or something like that, they’ve been always gracious enough to strike up conversations and talk about the game and things like that.”

The offseason is just getting started, and there’s still a chance the Yankees will make some sort of move that will crowd Refsnyder out of the picture. For now, though, he’s preparing as if he has a job to win.

“I’m in Tampa right now kind of training,’ Refsnyder said. “It’s nice. You build some relationships and some friendships. It’s going to start ramping up here soon, but I’m already kind of doing some things with the strength coaches here, just building it up so it’s not such a shock to a body once you start really getting after it.”


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 at 12:29 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Looking back at Yankees’ past Rule 5 protection decisions

Ivan Nova

For those of us who follow prospects and enjoy the process of player development, Rule 5 protection decisions always feel like a big deal. Unproven players are either added to the 40-man roster or left at risk of landing elsewhere, and those choices are not taken lightly.

But the impact of those choices isn’t always particularly significant.

On Friday, the Yankees chose to protect Ben Gamel, Johnny Barbato and Rookie Davis. Those left Jake Cave, Tony Renda and Miguel Andujar exposed. Are any of those decisions going to matter?

Recent history suggests a mixed bag.

Here are the players the Yankees protected in the past six offseasons. Of course, many players are protected mid-season — Adam Warren, for example, was called up mid-season and thus was never specifically “protected” from the Rule 5 — but here are the guys who were singled out for Rule 5 protection in recent seasons. Several names on this list might not be familiar at all. Plenty of them never sniffed the big leagues.

Mason Williams2014
Protected: Branden Pinder, Mason Williams, Danny Burawa, Tyler Austin
Yankees taken in the Rule 5: None

As I remember it, Austin was basically a slam dunk for Rule 5 protection last winter. Pinder and Burawa made sense as hard-throwing relievers with potential to win a big league job, and Williams was the curious choice because he was coming off a bad Double-A season. One year later, Austin has passed through waivers unselected, Burawa has been claimed off wavers, Pinder has a decent amount of big league experience, and Williams is coming back from injury with at least part of his prospect status restored. Half of the guys added to the 40-man last winter for Rule 5 protection have already been removed.

Protected: Shane Greene, Bryan Mitchell, Gary Sanchez, Slade Heathcott, Jose Campos
Yankees taken in the Rule 5: Tommy Kahnle

Perhaps it’s a product of the Yankees’ improved farm system that this group from 2013 really does seem poised to have a potentially significant impact in New York. Already Greene has pitched well for the Yankees before being used to acquire Didi Gregorius. Mitchell, Sanchez and Heathcott each played for the Yankees this year and could compete for a job in spring training. The Yankees chose to leave a few relievers exposed to the Rule 5 draft in 2013, and the Rockies took Kahnle, who actually stuck and spent the full season on the Colorado roster. For a while, he looked like one who got away, but last week he was designated for assignment.

Manny Banuelos2012
Protected: Manny Banuelos, Jose Ramirez, Ramon Flores, Brett Marshall, Francisco Rondon, Nik Turley
Yankees taken in the Rule 5: None

This group definitely felt significant at the time, but it hasn’t played out that way. Banuelos needed Tommy John surgery and wound up traded for a couple of relievers. Ramirez and Flores got some big league time, but they were packaged in a trade for Dustin Ackley. Marshall got a very little bit of big league team, but he wound up claimed off waivers. Rondon and Turley — both pitchers — faded away quickly, with Turley thrown off track by an injury. Of course there’s still some chance that Banuelos will live up to his lofty potential, and both Flores and Ramirez could get a look in spring training, but expectations were higher. Ultimately, the impact of this group will be tied to the players they helped acquire via trade.

Protected: David Phelps, David Adams, Zoilo Almonte, D.J. Mitchell, Corban Joseph
Yankees taken in the Rule 5: None

At the time, I’m not sure anyone would have said with much certainty that Phelps would have — by far — the most significant big league career of this bunch. All of the guys the Yankees protected in 2011 were pretty legitimate prospects, but Adams and Almonte in particular failed to live up to expectation when they finally got a shot in the big leagues. Ultimately, Phelps looks like he’ll have a lasting career in one role or another, but the other guys (after each getting to the big leagues) have faded from the radar. Mitchell was used to trade for Ichiro Suzuki, so he had some impact. The Yankees actually had two 2011 Rule 5 draft picks in 2012 spring training — potential long man Brad Meyers and lefty Robert Fish — but neither made the team.

Dellin Betances2010
Protected: Dellin Betances, Brandon Laird, Melky Mesa, Ryan Pope
Yankees taken in the Rule 5: George Kontos, Lance Pendleton

One huge name here, obviously. Betances was a long way from the pitcher he is today, but the Yankees protected him because of his potential. The rest of this group is pretty underwhelming. Laird and Mesa each got a little bit of big league time, but neither had much of an impact. Kontos and Pendleton were each returned to the Yankees, and each one pitched in pinstripes that next season (Kontos was ultimately traded to the Giants, where he’s emerged as a pretty good middle reliever). Technically, Mesa was added to the roster earlier than the rest to keep him from reaching free agency, but he was effectively protected from the Rule 5 in the process.

Protected: Ivan Nova, Eduardo Nunez, Austin Jackson, Hector Noesi, Kevin Russo, Romulo Sanchez, Reegie Corona
Yankees taken in the Rule 5: Zach Kroenke, Kanekoa Texeira

In 2008, the Yankees left Nova exposed to the Rule 5 and lost him momentarily. They got him back when he proved not quite ready to win a job in the Padres’ bullpen. The Yankees then protected him in 2009, and Nova made his big league debut the following season. Ultimately, this 2009 group of protected players is pretty significant. Nova is still with the Yankees, Nunez had a fairly long run as a utility man, Jackson and Noesi were each pieces of huge trades, and Russo and Sanchez got some time in New York. As far as impact, this Rule 5 protection group was more significant than most. Kroenke and Texeira each got some big league time — Kroenke was actually taken in the Rule 5 draft in both 2008 and 2009 — but neither had a particularly long Major League career. (By the way, you might remember that the top pick in the 2009 Rule 5 draft was an outfielder named Jamie Hoffmann, who was traded to the Yankees and tried to win a job in spring training only to be returned).



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees didn’t want Cano’s contract then; why would they want it now?

Robinson Cano, Salvador Perez

Because we’re not used to reading or hearing these sort of comments on the record, it was pretty jarring to hear Andy Van Slyke truly rip into Robinson Cano late last week.

“Robinson Cano was the single worst third-place, everyday player I’ve ever seen… for the first half of a Major League Baseball season,” the former Mariners’ first-base coach said in a radio interview. “He couldn’t drive home Miss Daisy if he tried. Couldn’t do it. He couldn’t get a hit when it mattered. He played the worst defense I’ve ever seen at second. I mean, I’m talking about the worst defensive second baseman ever, I’ve ever seen in 20 years in the big leagues.”


Much less jarring was the line in John Harper’s recent column noting that Cano would like to get out of Seattle, where the situation is clearly a mess. Hard to be surprised by that idea considering the notion of Cano regretting his chosen destination — with a lot of money to help ease his concerns — was floated from the very minute he signed with the Mariners.

Jacoby EllsburyNaturally, there have been some trade ideas floated involving a Cano for Jacoby Ellsbury swap, but those suggestions have always seemed to be more conversation starters than actual possibilities. This afternoon, Andrew Marchand outlined five reasons such a swap is highly unlikely. 

I’ll add one other reason: Cano is still signed through 2023, and that’s not going to change.

Two years ago, the Yankees were unwilling to sign Cano through his 40th birthday. They were willing to top the Mariners’ offer in terms of average annual value, but they wouldn’t match the Mariners’ 10-year commitment. They stopped at seven years, meaning they stopped at Cano’s age-37 season. With Cano off the table, the Yankees gave Jacoby Ellsbury a seven-year deal that runs through his age-36 season (with a team option for Ellsbury at age 37).

Even at the time, Yankees officials acknowledged in one-on-one conversations that it would be difficult to replace Cano’s production in the short-term. What kept them from signing him was their concern about the long-term. They weren’t willing to take on those final three years.

To make a deal for Cano at this point would be to take on the long-term risk without as much of the short-term advantage. If the Yankees didn’t want to have Cano on the books through his 40th birthday two years ago, why would they be more willing to do so today when they no longer have the benefit of his age 31 and 32 seasons?

Cano is one year older that Ellsbury, and his contract runs three years longer. Ellsbury’s deal ends at age 36; Cano’s ends at age 40. Ellsbury’s contract looked like a mistake this year, but Cano’s contract doesn’t exactly look like a good one going forward.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 23rd, 2015 at 6:41 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Sanchez, Fowler stand out among Yankees’ prospects in Fall League

Gary Sanchez

The Arizona Fall League has come an end, which means the end of updates about Gary Sanchez hitting a bunch of home runs in the desert. The eight Yankees’ prospects assigned to the AFL played for the Surprise Saguaros, who lost in the championship game. Here’s a final update on the Yankees prospects who just wrapped up a few weeks in Arizona.

SanchezGary Sanchez
A White Sox outfielder named Adam Engel hit .403 and led the Fall League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. If not for a slash line like that, Sanchez surely would have won the league’s MVP award. He led the league with seven home runs and 55 total bases, and he was tied for the league lead with 21 RBI. Sanchez was terrific, building on the kind of minor league season the Yankees had been waiting to see. Not only has Sanchez earned rave reviews for his improved defense and maturity, but his bat is starting produce numbers that line up with the scouting reports.

Dustin Fowler
Center fielder
A Fall League assignment was a challenge for 20-year-old Fowler, and he was chosen by Jim Callis as one of the breakout players from the championship game. “He concluded his breakout Fall League performance by going 2-for-3 with a walk, including a no-doubt home run off a 97-mph Nick Burdi (Twins) fastball to leadoff the ninth,” Callis wrote. “… Fowler has plus speed and center-field skills, solid hitting ability and arm strength, and interesting power potential.” Fowler got more playing time late in the Fall League season, to the point that he was chosen to play center field in the title game. Finished seven-for-seven stealing bases.

WadeTyler Wade
Second baseman/shortstop
Primarily a shortstop in the regular season, Wade wound up spending roughly three-quarters of the Fall League playing second base. He made four errors at second (none at short), but most reviews suggest he should be a fine defender in the end. Wade’s another really young Yankees choice for the Fall League, and while he didn’t hit much, he did have nearly as many walks (6) as strikeouts (7). From his third game on, he walked six times and struck out only four times.

Tyler Austin
Outfielder/first baseman
Had slightly better numbers — but pretty close to the same — in the Fall League last year. Austin hit for some power, drew more walks than any of the other Yankees position players in the league, and he got quite a bit of time at first base. This wasn’t a huge performance to make anyone forget about Austin’s disappointing regular season, but it was another reminder that in his best moments, Austin can hit (and he hit .318/.400/.545 against Fall lefties). He had a hit in nine of his last 10 games, then had another hit in the title game. Still needs a good 2016 to get back on the big league radar.

MiLB: AUG 06 - Brevard County Manatees at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)Ian Clarkin
Left-handed starter
5.84 ERA, 1.95 WHIP, 17 K, 24.2 innings
Injury kept Clarkin sidelined throughout the regular season, so his Fall League assignment was all about making up for lost time. Results were most secondary, especially considering Clarkin was extremely young for the assignment. The numbers were more or less what you’d expect from a young kid who hadn’t pitched all year. He walked a lot of guys — especially early — but he had a one-walk, five-strikeout performance in his final Fall League start. Clarkin made six starts to get at least a little work in this year and suggest he could be healthy enough to try to get back on track next year.

Chaz Hebert
Left-handed starter
4.40 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 12 K, 14.1 innings
Pitched mostly in relief in the Fall League, working often as kind of a piggyback reliever behind Clarkin. Of his 12 strikeouts, seven came in his first two outings. After that, Hebert actually walked more than he struck out. Lefties also hit .300 against him (but with now power), while righties hit .226 (but with a .452 slugging percentage). Clearly the performance wasn’t enough for the Yankees to put him on the 40-man roster for Rule 5 protection. Hebert was better in the regular season, and he’ll look to build off that next year to really put himself more firmly on the radar.

AcevedoDomingo Acevedo
Right-handed reliever
2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 11 K, 12 innings
This is a 21-year-old with a huge fastball, and although he’s been a starting pitcher throughout the minor leagues, he worked as a reliever during his stint in the Fall League. He pitched in seven games. Six of them were scoreless outings with two walks and nine strikeouts. In the other outing, Acevedo was charged with three earned runs on a home run, a hit batter and a walk (two of the runs scored after he left the game). In his final outing, Acevedo pitched two hitless innings with four strikeouts. This is the kind of kid who could have a real breakout next season. Big, big arm.

Tyler Webb
Left-handed reliever
5.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 12 K, 12.1 innings

Getting a few innings to make up for an injury during the regular season,Webb was terrific in most of his nine Fall League outings. In two of his appearances, Webb allowed a total of seven earned runs on eight hits and three walks. In his other seven outings, he was charged with one run on five hits and no walks. In his final outing, he struck out five in 2.1 innings. Lefties hit just .200 against him (though they did have a .400 slugging percentage because of three extra-base hits). Could be a big league option at some point next year, but obviously he’s one of many left-handed relievers in the mix.

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 23rd, 2015 at 3:11 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

A closer look at the Yankees’ Rule 5 protection decisions

Gamel (Farmer)

On Friday, the Yankees made their Rule 5 protection decisions. Three eligible prospects were protected. Another, Vicente Campos, was added to the 40-man roster earlier in the offseason to keep him from becoming a minor league free agent (and by adding him, the Yankees effectively protected Campos from the Rule 5 draft as well).

It’s worth noting that several upper-level prospects including Aaron Judge, Brady Lail, Eric Jagielo, Tyler Wade and Tyler Webb are not yet Rule 5 eligible, and so there was absolutely no reason to put them on the roster at this time.

Here’s a quick look at the prospects the Yankees chose to protect, as well as a few notable names left exposed.


BarbatoJohnny Barbato
Relief pitcher
Why he was protected: In short, because he almost certainly would have been selected in the Rule 5 draft. He’s a relief pitcher who put up very good numbers in both Double-A and Triple-A this year. Probably would have been a September call-up if the Yankees weren’t already so overloaded with right-handed relievers.
Why it might have been unnecessary: Same reason the Yankees didn’t bring Barbato up in September: they have plenty of similar pitchers already in place. Even if Barbato were lost in the Rule 5 draft, the Yankees might not have missed him. Even with last year’s success, Barbato’s not a slam-dunk prospect. Plenty good enough to be prime Rule 5 fodder, but that doesn’t mean he’ll have a meaningful career. And the Yankees are overloaded with solid right-handed relief prospects.

DavisRookie Davis
Starting pitcher
Why he was protected: Heading into this season, Davis was kind of a sleeper prospect. He might have been most recognizable because of his 80-grade baseball name. This season, though, Davis pushed his stock significantly higher with improved strikeout and walk rates. He now looks like one of the better rotation prospects in the organization, and he seemed like the system’s best bet for Rule 5 protection.
Why it might have been unnecessary: Because he made just five Double-A starts last year and may very well open next season back in Double-A. In other words, he’s probably not quite ready to keep a spot on a big league roster. His upside made it hard for the Yankees to take that chance, but he’s more likely to be a big league option in 2017 than in 2016.

GamelBen Gamel
Why he was protected: Left-handed hitter with a little bit of speed, little bit of power, solid contact and on-base skills, an ability to play all three outfield spots and terrific Triple-A numbers? Gamel would have been a perfect Rule 5 candidate with a legitimate chance to stick as a fourth outfielder. He went unselected in last year’s Rule 5 draft, but he showed himself to be a very different player this year. Surely some other team would have given him a chance if he were available this winter.
Why it might have been unnecessary: Two reasons: Gamel could regress to a level far below this year’s production, and even if the Yankees were lose him, they might not miss him given their left-handed outfield depth. Gamel looks like a more bat-first version of Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams. Do the Yankees really need another outfielder from that mold? Is Gamel really the guy who had a .830 OPS in Triple-A this year, or the guy who had a .648 OPS in Double-A last year?


AndujarMiguel Andujar
Third baseman
Why he was left unprotected: He’s too young, too inexperienced and too limited to think he could really make a big league roster out of spring training. Andujar has upside, for sure, but he’s coming off a so-so season in High-A and he’s basically limited to third base. He made second-half strides, but that’s not enough to think he’s ready for the Majors.
Why it might have been a mistake: Talent matters, and Andujar has talent. His upside is that of an everyday third baseman, so if he were to actually stick as a Rule 5 pick, the Yankees would lose a legitimate, high-end prospect. Hard to picture that happening at this point, but if a team drafts him, the Yankees will holding their breath a little bit.

AustinTyler Austin
Why he was left unprotected: It wasn’t all that long ago that Austin cleared waivers, suggesting no team is interested in giving him a 40-man roster spot, much less a 25-man roster spot. At this time last year, the Yankees protected Austin from the Rule 5, but he had an underwhelming Triple-A season (so underwhelming that he was demoted to Double-A and taken off the 40-man roster). This year did little to suggest he’s a big league hitter at the moment.
Why it might have been a mistake: At his best, Austin has a pretty potent right-handed bat, and the Yankees could use a hitter like that. If a team wants to put him back at third base, he could have a shot to stick as a four-corners utility man. His numbers in Triple-A suggest it might be a reach to think he could stick in the big leagues, but his best stretches in past seasons suggest the potential for impact.

CaveJake Cave
Why he was left unprotected: A combination of performance, redundancy and a tight roster. Cave stands out as the kind of guy who might have been protected if the 40-man weren’t so crowded (the Yankees have protected lesser prospects in the past). As it is, Cave’s solid-not-great Double-A numbers suggest he’s not a big leaguer right now. Even if a team takes a shot on him, the Yankees might not miss him because of their left-handed outfield depth.
Why it might have been a mistake: Even though his Double-A numbers weren’t great, Cave can still do a little bit of everything, which profiles pretty well for a possible fourth outfielder. Because of his current skill set and potential, it’s not at all difficult to imagine a team giving Cave a look in spring training. He’s a legitimate Rule 5 candidate, just a question of whether he can actually stick and whether the Yankees would actually miss him.

EnnsDietrich Enns
Relief/starting pitcher
Why he was left unprotected: Injury threw his development off track a little bit, and he’s coming off a year in which he pitched just 58.2 innings, none of them above High-A. The Yankees currently have at least six left-handed relievers ahead of him in the big league pecking order — Miller, Wilson, Shreve, Lindgren, Pazos, Webb — so even if Enns were to to stick with another team, the Yankees might not regret leaving him off the roster.
Why it might have been a mistake: Even with the Yankees’ bullpen depth, it’s not a good thing to lose a young pitcher with the potential for a legitimate big league career. And if Enns can stay healthy and build off this season — even though it was at a low level, he really was terrific this year — he could stick around as a big league lefty. He’s worked as both a starter and a reliever, so there’s some versatility that could be appealing.

MiLB: MAY 03 Flying Tigers at YankeesChaz Hebert
Starting pitcher
Why he was left unprotected: Not to dismiss him, but at the moment Hebert’s just not an organizational standout. He quietly had a nice year in High-A (with a few spot starts in Triple-A), and the Yankees rewarded him with a spot in the Arizona Fall League, but Hebert still needs a bigger breakout season to really push himself onto the big league radar.
Why it might have been a mistake: This is a left-handed starting pitcher who just had a nice year, and he’s shown enough to warrant a spot in the Fall League, which suggests the Yankees were at least considering him as a possibility for a roster spot. Even if Hebert’s not a big name, it’s not like the Yankees are overcrowded with left-handed rotation prospects. Could be a decent Rule 5 candidate as a long-man who could serve as a second bullpen lefty.

RendaTony Renda
Second baseman
Why he was left unprotected: Could be a versatility issue above all else. Renda is a pretty decent infield prospect — the Yankees got him from the Nationals in the mid-season David Carpenter trae — but he has very little experience at any position other than second base, which probably limits his ability to actually stick as a Rule 5 pick. He’s also coming off a good-but-not-great year in Double-A.
Why it might have been a mistake: With Jose Pirela gone and Eric Jagielo coming back from injury, the Yankees don’t have a ton of upper-level infield prospects. If the Yankees lose Renda, they’ll be even thinner in the infield. On-base skills make him a decent prospect, especially at a position like second base where a team could show some interest in a low-risk Rule 5 possibility. Renda’s not a huge prospect, but he has some potential, and he gives the Yankees depth where they’re otherwise thin.

CulverCito Culver/Dante Bichette Jr.
Why they were left unprotected: Because they just haven’t been very good. These were the Yankees’ top draft picks in 2010 and 211, but Culver’s been absolutely nothing but a defender while Bichette’s bat has shown up in infrequent bursts. Culver lost his everyday shortstop job in Double-A this year, while Bichette was demoted from Double-A to High-A. These are notable omissions only because they were such high picks, not because they were strong candidates for protection.
Why it might have been a mistake: Most likely, this won’t be a mistake. It really would have been stunning to see the Yankees protect either of these players. They’re worth mentioning, though, because they were such high draft picks, and if some team actually roles the dice and gets legitimate production — taking a chance on Culver’s glove, for example — the Yankees could watch one of their top picks finally come to life elsewhere. Again, though, the chances of a team actually taking Culver or Bichette in the Rule 5 seems very low, which says a lot about their underwhelming numbers.

Photo from the Scranton Times-Tribune



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 23rd, 2015 at 12:11 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

So, what did I miss?

Rays Yankees Baseball

So, I spent the past week in Dublin and Paris. It was an unforgettable trip for many reasons, but the whole thing was booked during the summer, and we nearly cancelled the Paris leg after the attacks a week earlier. Glad we went, though. It was unnerving to see such a military presence on the streets, but there was a definite sense of kindness and solidarity throughout the city. Anyway, that was my past week, and here’s some of the Yankees stuff I missed:

Brett GardnerBrett Gardner trade rumors haven’t gone away
For reasons outlined on this blog several times, it looks like Gardner will be the Yankees’ most talked about trade chip this winter. Often through raw speculation, and occasionally through sourced reports, Gardner has already been linked to several potential trade partners including the Mariners, Indians and Cubs. This past week, it was the Cubs who came front and center with the possibility of a Gardner-for-Starlin-Castro trade. Mark Feinsand reported that the Yankees are not interested in such a swap, but it’s the kind of possibility that’s likely to come up time and again. At some price, Castro seems like a decent fit for the Yankees because he could play second base in the short term, and because the Yankees have been active in trying to buy low on fairly young players like him. Gardner is a valuable trade chip who’s vaguely expendable and could bring back pitching (hence the connections to Seattle and Cleveland, two teams with pitching to give).

The market for closers gained more traction (Andrew Miller could be in the mix)
Before I left, there were already rumors of teams showing trade interest in Miller. It doesn’t seem the Yankees are actively shopping him, but they’re not hanging up the phone if his name comes up (part of Brian Cashman’s ongoing “open to anything” policy). Well, the closer market has been active already this offseason. Last week, the Tigers traded for Francisco Rodriguez, and that was after the Red Sox gave a substantial prospect package for Craig Kimbrel. It seems the Royals’ success – and possibly the Yankees’ bullpen success as well – has pushed some teams to prioritize building relief depth and dominance. Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon are also said to be on the trade market, and Darren O’Day has been one of the most discussed free agents at this point. If the market is high on closers, the Yankees could see that as a chance to sell high on Miller. For now, it seems more of an interesting possibility than a definite inevitability.

The Yankees settled their coaching staff
When we learned that neither Jeff Pentland nor Gary Tuck would return next season, I think every single Yankees beat writer I spoke to had the same reaction: they’re going to make Alan Cockrell the hitting coach, bring up Marcus Thames from Triple-A to be the assistant, and bring back Mike Harkey for the bullpen. It was the most obvious way to go — fit perfectly with familiar faces the organization likes and trusts — and that’s exactly what happened. A few weeks ago, the Yankees announced the Cockrell and Thames promotions, and early last week they announced the hiring of Harkey and the return of everyone else. Clearly none of this comes as a surprise.

Chase WhitleyChase Whitley was claimed off waivers
Lack of wiggle room of the 40-man roster could be a problem for the Yankees all winter. It came back to bite them last week when Whitley was claimed by the Rays. The Yankees had decided to protect three prospects from the Rule 5 draft, and they had only two roster spots open. Someone had to go, and the Yankees tried to sneak Whitley — recovering from Tommy John — through waivers. It didn’t work. He was claimed, and the Yankees lost a bit of rotation depth that still has options going forward. The past two years, Whitley’s best stretches were terrific, but he was still looking for the consistency to stick on the big league roster full-time. Can’t stress enough what a great guy he is. Casualty of roster restrictions. Cost the Yankees some depth.

Three prospects were protected from the Rule 5 draft
With Whitley off the roster, the Yankees filled their only open spots by protecting outfielder Ben Gamel, starting pitcher Rookie Davis and reliever Johnny Barbato from the Rule 5 draft. Among the most notable prospects left unprotected are Jake Cave, Tony Renda and Miguel Andujar. If only because I really enjoy prospect news, I’m sure I’ll end up writing more about this later in the afternoon. For now, I’ll say only that Davis is the one player I thought would definitely be protected (his prospect stock rose too much last season). Gamel and Barbato stood out as the Rule 5 eligibles who had the best chances of actually sticking on a big league roster. With several others — most notably Cave — the Yankees are rolling the dice a little bit, either because of similar players already in place or because it’s hard to imagine the prospect in question being ready to make a big league team out of spring training.

Handful of Yankees appeared on BBWAA award ballots
My awards vote this year was for Manager of the Year, and I chose A.J. Hinch over Jeff Banister (I thought it was pretty much a toss-up, but I gave Hinch credit for mixing and matching quite a bit and for keeping a young roster from being overwhelmed late in the year). Of course, no Yankees player won any of the major awards, but Joe Girardi did get a couple of first-place votes for Manager of the Year. I was surprised to see him at the top of some ballots, but I didn’t have a problem with him finishing top five overall. Until September, I still thought Girardi would be on my ballot somewhere, just couldn’t vote for him ahead of Hinch, Banister and Paul Molitor after the second-half collapse (though I don’t think Girardi did a bad job). Miller and Dellin Betances got a few down-ballot votes for Cy Young, while Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez each got a Top 10 vote for MVP. I would not have put a Yankees pitcher Top 5 if I had a Cy vote. Not sure about MVP – haven’t researched it enough – but my gut feeling is that I wouldn’t have had a Yankees player on that ballot either.

David Ortiz announced next season will be his last
I’m curious to see how baseball will react to this one next season. The longtime Red Sox designated hitter announced he will retire at the end of the 2016 season, and while I’m sure Ortiz get some sort of farewell tour, I have a hard time thinking it will be as celebrated as Mariano Rivera’s. Surely it won’t be as celebrated as Derek Jeter’s. That’s not to knock Ortiz, who’s been a heckuva hitter for a long time and just might be a Hall of Famer — haven’t put in nearly the work to make a truly informed decision, but my initial thought is that Edgar Martinez has to go in ahead of Ortiz, but again, I haven’t checked the numbers so I could be wrong — I just think baseball’s response will be different. He’s a fascinating player and a huge personality, and I think the Yankees will and should do something for his final series at Yankee Stadium, I just don’t think his farewell is comparable to Jeter or Rivera.

Rich HillWait a second, Rich Hill got how much money?
Have four starts ever earned a player as much money as Hill seems to have earned himself at the end of this season? The guy’s career was basically finished, but he came out of independent ball this season, signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox, pitched well in Triple-A, got some late-season starts when Boston’s big league rotation grew incredibly thin, and last week he cashed in with a one-year, $6 million deal with the Athletics. Whoa! I thought Hill might get a big league deal, but I had no clue he would get that kind of money. Made me think back to last year’s $5 million deals with Chris Capuano and Stephen Drew. Each one looked bad throughout the year, but man, teams are really willing to give significant money if they can avoid a multi-year commitment. Good luck to Hill, who was a very nice guy during his brief Yankees stint a couple of years ago. Would be pretty cool to see a guy like that live up to a contract like that.

Yogi Berra was awarded the President’s Medal of Freedom

Very cool news for the beloved Yankees’ icon. It was announced last week that Berra will received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is given at the President’s discretion to recognize “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Here’s Hal Steinbrenner’s statement on the news: “On behalf of the entire Yankees organization, we congratulate the family of Yogi Berra for his inclusion among upcoming recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This honor is a fitting tribute to a man who not only represented the sport of baseball with unequaled dignity and humor, but exemplified the best virtues of our country through his military service and compassion for others. His life was truly the embodiment of the American dream.”

There were, of course, a few odds and ends
Former Yankees’ prospect Ramon Flores was on the move again, this time traded from the Mariners to the Brewers in a small deal. Flores is out of options, so the Brewers will have to either carry him on the big league roster or pass him through waivers. … Another former Yankees’ prospect, hard-throwing Tommy Kahnle, was designated for assignment by the Rockies. He was the last Yankees’ prospect lost in the Rule 5 draft, and he initially stuck with a strong rookie season in Colorado. Walked too many guys this year, though. … Two other former Yankees’ prospects, relievers Cesar Vargas and Andury Acevedo, signed a Major League deals with the Padres and Cubs. Always interesting to see career minor leaguers get Major League contracts. The Yankees gave one last winter to Jose De Paula, who actually wound up pitching in the big leagues this season before being designated for assignment. … According to Baseball America’s latest minor league transactions, the Yankees have signed right-hander Jhony Brito and catcher Francisco Diaz to minor league deals. Almost certainly nothing more than organizational depth.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 23rd, 2015 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

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