A few notes and links from this surprisingly busy Wednesday…
• Not that there was any reason to doubt today’s Miami Herald report, but attorney Frank Quintero Jr., who represents one of the other men charged in the federal Biogenesis investigation, confirmed to The Associated Press that the Herald story is true. “I can for your report confirm that the report by the Herald is accurate as to what Rodriguez said,” Quintero said in an email to the AP. “I don’t have a dog in this fight. My client has no involvement with ANY major league players concerning the use of banned substances.” Quintero Jr. represents Lazaro Collazo, the former University of Miami pitching coach.
• According to the team’s transactions page, the Yankees have outrighted Antoan Richardson to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. That means he’s cleared waivers and is off the 40-man roster. I assume that also means he’s allowed to elect free agency, which he surely will. Richardson signed as a minor league free agent last winter, having not played in the big leagues since 2011. He was a September call-up who went five-for-five in stolen base attempts (though he also made some early base-running blunders) and hit .313/.353/.313. If Richardson has a spot in Yankees history, it’s surely the fact he scored the winning run in Derek Jeter’s final Yankee Stadium at-bat. Given the Yankees upper-level outfield depth, there’s really no obvious role for Richardson next season.
• Former Yankees left-hander Brad Halsey died in a climbing accident on Friday. His agency, O’Connell Sports, announced Halsey’s death in a tweet: “We are sorry to hear of the passing of longtime client, Brad Halsey. Our thoughts & prayers are with his family during this difficult time.” Halsey was just 33 years old. He was an eighth-round pick in 2002 and made seven starts for the Yankees in 2004. He went on to pitch in Arizona and Oakland. After a stint in independent ball, Halsey returned to the Yankees minor league system in 2011 to pitch for a while with Double-A Trenton.
• From Baseball America’s latest round of minor league transactions, the Yankees have re-signed right-hander Andury Acevedo. A former infielder in the Pirates system, the 24-year-old’s had a bunch of strikeouts and a bunch of walks since joining the Yankees and moving to the mound. He was 23 in short-season ball most of the year, so he’s been old for his level (understandable given the role switch). Probably not a guy worth having on the radar, but you never know. One other recognizable name from the latest minor league transactions: reliever Kevin Whelan — who came over in the 2006 Gary Sheffield trade and made two big league appearances with the Yankees in 2011 — has signed with the Athletics. Whelan got back to the big leagues for one game with the Tigers this season. He pretty consistently strikes out a ton of guys in Triple-A.
Associated Press photo of Richardson
At the very top of the Yankees minor league system, two Triple-A starters — Andrew Brackman and Adam Warren — are top five in the International League in walks. Down in Low-A, one of the Yankees best young catchers — Gary Sanchez — is hitting just .238 with 37 strikeouts in 32 games.
“It’s like somebody trying to lose weight and looking at the scale every day,” vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. “It’ll drive you nuts.”
Less than two months into the minor league season, the big picture is nowhere near coming into focus, and Newman said this part of the season is still about making initial adjustments to a new level. The Yankees focus more on the second-half results for most of their minor leaguers, curious to see how they adjust and adapt.
Right now, Warren is eight walks away from his total for last season. Brackman is 12 away from his 2010 total. From the outside, the Brackman number is more glaring because, 1. His ERA is three runs higher than Warren’s, and 2. He had similar control issues in 2009.
“I don’t think it’s going to be an issue long term, because he’s showing he can throw strikes,” Newman said. “He’s just got to get back (to last year’s command). His mark right now is well above where we want it to be, but I don’t think it’s going to stay there.”
As for Sanchez, he was hitting .314 with three home runs in his previous 10 games before going on the disabled list a week ago. More importantly, he’s 18 years old.
“He’s swinging it good now,” Newman said. “He’s like a high school senior playing in that league. He’s doing well.”
• Speaking of letting the big picture come into focus… Slade Heathcott and J.R. Murphy were the Yankees first- and second-round picks in the 2009 draft, and both are off to eye-opening starts in Charleston. Newman called it little more than the natural progression of two talented kids who had very little little experience when they put up pedestrian numbers in Charleston last season. “That was a helluva challenge,” Newman said. “Now they’re getting a little experience, and we’re seeing what kind of players they are. There’s nothing particularly surprising about it.”
• As you might expect, Newman said both Heathcott and Murphy will “probably” jump to Tampa midseason.
• As previously reported, Newman said Sanchez has a “stiff lower back” that he’s trying to work through in extended spring training. Once he’s through that, Sanchez will return to Charleston.
• In the wake of the Buster Posey injury, Newman said the Yankees have not discussed moving any of their catchers from behind the plate just to avoid injury. “Not because of health concerns,” he said. “All of our catchers do work at first base. We have a lot of young catching prospects. Who knows who’s going to catch, who’s going to play first base and who’s going to DH?” Newman once again stressed that the Yankees believe Jesus Montero can catch.
• Other injury updates:
Greg Golson: About a week away from playing in games.
Mark Prior: “Not throwing (off a mound),” Newman said. “He’s really struggling with this kind of hip, abdominal thing. Hard to nail it down.”
Alan Horne: Throwing in extended spring and building arm strength.
Graham Stoneburner, Steve Garrison, Jeremy Bleich: “Still a ways to go,” Newman said.
David Adams: Having some leg problems that the Yankees believe to be related to the ankle injury that forced him to miss most of last season. He was back and playing, but then the leg started bothering him. Not sure how close he is to returning.
• Carlos Silva can opt out in mid-June and pitched well last night. “This is a contingency plan,” Newman said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
• Veteran Brad Halsey, signed to a minor league deal earlier this month, is throwing in Tampa, basically going through his own spring training.
• Outfielder Damon Sublett has been throwing some bullpens in Double-A. He was a closer in college and hasn’t been getting a ton of playing time as a position player, so he asked the Yankees if he could start working out on the mound. “We’re just checking it out, getting his arm in shape,” Newman said.
• Newman said there’s no one in extended spring training who’s “setting any world records or anything,” but the name-to-know that jumped to his mind was starting pitcher Bryan Mitchell. “He’s got electric stuff,” Newman said. “He’s got the stuff to be the next Banuelos, Betances. The high-end guy. That’s Mitchell.”
Brackman photo from my friends at the Scranton Times-Tribune
A few short minor league notes • 05.04.11
A few quick minor league notes this late morning. Don’t forget, we’re doing a chat at 2:30 this afternoon.
• Two injuries to players on the 40-man roster: Greg Golson is on the Triple-A disabled list with a hamstring injury, and Steve Garrison could be headed for the Double-A disabled list after groin pull.
• Two other Triple-A injuries that seem fairly minor: Chris Dickerson has missed three straight games with a neck injury. He would have missed a fourth if not for a rain out last night. Ramiro Pena was out of last night’s lineup with a sore foot.
• Three non-40-man pitchers to keep an eye on: George Kontos (two runs in his past 15.1 innings as Scranton’s long man), Kevin Whelan (much improved control to go with only two hits allowed in past 10.2 innings as Scranton’s closer) and Andy Sisco (still no earned runs with four hits allowed through 10.1 innings as Scranton’s bullpen lefty).
• The Associated Press reports that the Yankees have signed Brad Halsey to a minor league deal and sent him to extended spring.
• He’s still a long, long way from the big leagues, but Slade Heathcott is hitting .351/.436/.574 through 94 at-bats in Charleston. Have to think he’ll be in Tampa around mid-season or so, maybe sooner if he keeps this up. JR Murphy is also really hitting in Charleston (.316/.340/.490) but Gary Sanchez is not (.200/.238/.293).