All posts by Tamar Chalker

Tamar has written for IIATMS since July 2009, having started off writing game recaps before shifting to the minor leagues. Born in Connecticut and having lived all over the country and in South Korea, Tamar now finds herself "temporarily misplaced" in New Hampshire. Please send help - I can pay you in maple syrup.

Familiar faces make BA’s Top 20 Florida State League prospect list

As always, Sanchez’s bat has been widely considered his strongest asset, and this has not changed. While Ballew only quietly acknowledged the young backstop’s defensive improvements, he primarily focused on the improvements Sanchez needs to make defensively and what he viewed as a “lackluster” work ethic. Cooper didn’t seem to see things quite as bleakly, though he notes it is still uncertain Sanchez will stick at catcher. Cooper thought Sanchez made some good progress defensively and showed more energy, better receiving and a strong arm.

Injuries continue to be the main concern for Heathcott, who has had two surgeries on his left shoulder since being drafted by the Yankees. BA’s scouting report, however, will remind you why he is such an exciting prospect. In fact, Chris Truby, the manager of the Clearwater Threshers, is quoted as saying that Heathcott was his favorite player in the league, noting his ability to play strong defense, hit for power and run. It is easy to forget how exciting a player he is given his injuries, but if Heathcott can stay healthy it could be a fun couple years watching him develop.

Finally, the Yankees’ big southpaw Turley gets the final nod. He once again draws comparisons to the Yankees’ starting pitcher tonight, Andy Pettitte. Turley led the league with a 2.89 ERA this season and can use his fastball adeptly on both sides of the plate. Turley gets lots of groundouts and has two strong breaking ball pitches. His curveball came along well this season and he has a dangerous changeup when he has command over it.

Three Yankee prospects break BA’s Top 10 SAL Prospects list

Williams was praised for his tools, but BA seemed particularly dissuaded by the young outfielder’s actions. They note that he apparently “caused a few headaches” for the RiverDogs’ staff and included a quote from an unnamed scout saying, “He’s got the tools, but he needs to be humbled.” I never saw any specifics regarding this, so I hope that this is more of an instance of a young guy who has yet to really be challenged feeling cocky.

Sanchez made this list last season, coming in fourteenth, so the young backstop made some good improvements, coming in fifth this year. BA continues to tout Sanchez’s great bat, his ability to use the whole field and hit for power. They note that he has made defensive improvements, but doubt his ability to stick at catcher. Sanchez also seems to take a hit for his apparent “lackluster” work ethic.

Yankees’ offense quiet as their AL East lead falls back to one

Lost in the ugliness of the Yankees’ performance was David Aardsma’s pinstripe debut. After making his last major league appearance in Septemeber 2010, Aardsma gave the Yankees a decent eighth inning, but did allow Arencibia to go yard off him. Fourteen of his 24 pitches were strikes and his fastball hit 92 mph.

Bronx Cheers:
Ivan Nova: Nova went just 4.2 innings, gave up four runs on six hits, two walks and four Ks. His ERA is now 5.02. He has given up at least two runs in each outings since July 8th, while his last scoreless outing was June 11th.

Curtis Granderson: Grandy went 0-4, striking out once and stranding four runners.

Raul Ibanez: Ibanez went 0-3 and also struck out once and left four runners on base.

Curtain Calls:
Not a lot to be happy about in this game, but here goes…
Robinson Cano:
Robbie went 3-4 with a double. He is 8-11 over his last three games, so it looks like he’s found his bat again.

Russell Martin: The rest of the Yankees’ offense came from Martin, who went 2-4 with a double. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make his hits count, as he also stranded four runners.

Up Next: Hiroki Kuroda will try to get the Yankees back on track, when he takes the ball on Friday night. Chad Jenkins will make the second start of his career, after holding the Rays to one run in his last start. First pitch is at 7:07pm at the Rogers Centre.

Sloppy game brings the Yankees’ win streak to an end

With one out in the top of the sixth, Donaldson hit what should have been a routine ground out to short. Nunez fielded the ball, spun around awkwardly and flung the ball well past Swisher, allowing the runner to advance to second. Pennington connected with a RBI single, and the A’s had the lead once again. The Yankees had a few chances to get the run back, having two runners on in the bottom of the sixth, and with Martin taking a leadoff walk in the eighth. A-Rod just missed a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth, as the ball was just short of the wall in right. Cano struck out to end the game, with the A’s taking the 5-4 win and the Yankees streak ending at seven games. Luckily, the Orioles fell to the Red Sox, keeping New York in first in the AL East.

I generally try to shy away from complaining about umpires. After a couple decades of playing competitive sports I have always felt that, while bad officiating can be incredibly frustrating and can no doubt have an impact on the game, it is usually on the players to make the plays, coaches to make strategic decisions, etc. I tend to find people who constantly complain about officiating to be tiresome. As an athlete you know you need to adjust to your officials, whether it is a wide strike zone or making sure you don’t lose your focus due to a missed call. Today’s technology may be capable of minimizing these officiating mistakes, but at this point it isn’t being used so to act like it is would be fruitless.

That said, the umpires in this game did a pretty awful job. The strike zone was bizarre, whether it was A-Rod getting called out at a strike in mid-shin or Swisher watching a pitch completely avoid home plate and getting sent back to the bench. Did these plays (and others) impact the game? Absolutely, especially the call at first that resulted in an early 3-0 lead for the A’s. Were the umpires at fault for the Yankees losing? Nope, Kuroda was not at his best and struggled early on, their defense (Nunez, I’m looking at you) was sloppy and they failed to capitalize on various opportunities throughout the game.

Bronx Cheers:
Eduardo Nunez: Nunez may have been yesterday’s hero, but that will quickly be forgotten after his miserable performance today. He had two errors, one leading to a crucial run for Oakland. He also went 0-4 at the plate, stranding three runners, striking out once and picking up one RBI.

Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod almost came away as the hero when he almost got a ball into the short porch. Instead he went 0-5 with three Ks and a pair of runners left on base.

Hiroki Kuroda: The Yankees’ starter went just 5.2 innings and gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits, three walks and five Ks. He struggled to get strikes with his splitter and while he made some adjustments, it wasn’t enough to get him deep into the game.

Curtain Calls:
Nick Swisher: Swish went 2-3 with a run scored, two RBIs, a walk and a homer.

Raul Ibanez, Derek Jeter: Both went 2-4, with Ibanez driving in a RBI and a double. Jeter drew a walk and gave the Yankees chances out of the leadoff spot, but they couldn’t seem to bring him home.

The Bullpen: Clay Rapada, David Phelps, Boone Logan and Cody Eppley combined to give the Yankees 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball. Phelps gave up one walk and one hit in his inning of work, while Logan struck out two in his 1.1 innings.

Looking back at the 2012 Empire State Yankees

Curtain Calls:
Adam Warren (RHP): Originally slated to be the number four or five starter, Warren struggled out of the gate, but eventually became a consistent force on the mound. Warren went 7-8 with a 3.71 ERA over 26 starts. He struck out 107 and walked 46.

Chris Dickerson (OF): Perhaps Empire State’s most solid bat this season, Dickerson went .316/.417/.515 over 69 games. He had seven homers, 24 doubles, four triples and 17 stolen bases.

Ronnier Mustelier (OF): Perhaps one of the more perplexing players in the Yankees system. He is older, so he isn’t looked at much as a prospect, yet the Yankees signed the Cuban outfielder last June and he has done nothing but hit since then. After destroying the competition in Trenton, Mustelier spent the season with Empire State, hitting .303/.359/.455 with ten homers, 21 doubles and seven stolen bases.

Players to Watch:
Corban Joseph (2B): After a strong start with Trenton, Joseph put together a decent season in Triple-A. He hit .266/.366/.474 over 84 games. He hit thirteen homers and 25 doubles. He walked almost as much as he struck out, taking 53 free passes while striking out 57 times. Defensively, his thirteen errors were second only to Brandon Laird‘s 20.

Chase Whitley (RHP): Whitley put together a nice season, going 9-5 in 41 appearances. He had a 3.25 ERA, holding hitters to a .213 average. He struck out 66 and walked 25.

Austin Romine (C): It was not a good season for Romine, who was set to take over as the Yankees closest catching prospect with the loss of Montero. Instead, he was injured during Spring Training, suffered some set backs and finally returned to Triple-A in August. He made seventeen appearances and went .213/.296/.393 with three homers. He will get some extra time in during the Arizona Fall League. Romine is still a good prospect, but you do have to wonder if the back problems are going to be ongoing.


Yankees sweep Jays behind another big night for Ichiro

Toronto got a little life when Moises Sierra hit a two-run homer off Hughes in the top of the fifth, but a double by Nix and a RBI single by Jeter gave the Bombers those runs back, making the score 10-4. The Blue Jays rallied in the top of the eighth, as the Yankees sent Cory Wade to the mound for the first time since September 9th. Johnson promptly hit a solo homer to right and J.P. Arencibia lined a single to right. Wade struck out Hechavarria, but Gose hit a double deep to center, putting runners on second and third and prompting the Yankees to call on Joba Chamberlain. Lawrie singled in Arencibia and Gose scored on a ground out, cutting the Yankee lead to three runs. David Robertson came out in the top of the ninth and struck out the side to preserve the Yankees’ win.

Bronx Cheers:
Robinson Cano: Robbie went 0-4 with a walk and a strikeout. His batting average dipped below .300 for the second time this month after being above it since June 25th.

Russell Martin: Russell went 0-3 with a run scored and a stolen base. He drew two walks but struck out three times, left two on base and had a passed ball.

Alex Rodriguez: After an ugly day at the plate yesterday, A-Rod did pick up one hit, but otherwise it was a quiet day for the veteran slugger. He went 1-5, striking out once and stranding three batters.

Phil Hughes: Hughes lasted just five innings and gave up four runs on four hits, three walks and a homer. He did have nine strikeouts (helped in part by a passed ball third strike that led to him striking out four in one inning), but that wasn’t going to help him get very deep in the game after throwing so many pitches early on.

Cory Wade: In just 0.1 inning of work, Wade gave up three runs on three hits and a homer. He struck out one.

Curtain Calls:
Ichiro Suzuki: Ichiro went 2-4 with two runs scored, three RBIs, a double and a homer.

Derek Jeter: The Captain went 2-4 with a run scored and two RBIs.

Nick Swisher: Swish may finally be breaking out of his abysmal slump (hitting .161 in September). After collecting a few hits yesterday, Swisher went 1-4 with a big grand slam that seemed to really open up the game for the Yankees. On the negative side, he struck out three times. Still, hopefully these last couple days have helped Swisher get his swing back.

David Robertson: After Soriano pitched both games yesterday, Robertson got the ball for the save. He had clearly put his last rough outing behind him, striking out the side. One of the strikeouts came on a particularly nasty curve.

In the On Deck Circle:
CC Sabathia will take the ball for the Yankees as they host the Oakland Athletics and Jarrod Parker. Parker is 11-8 with a 3.51 ERA. First pitch is at 7:05pm in the Bronx.

Looking back at the 2012 Trenton Thunder

It was an exciting season for Trenton, who showed some consistent play across the season despite the coming and going of various players due to injury or promotion. Trenton Manager Tony Franklin picked up a much deserved EL Manager of the Year Award. While it is always disappointing to just fall short of a championship, I would think Thunder fans have a lot to get excited about in the next couple years. They have the opportunity to continue to shine as prospects like Ramon Flores, Tyler Austin and Mason Williams could see time there shortly.

Curtain Calls:
Zoilo Almonte (OF): In 106 games, Almonte hit .277/.322/.487 with 21 homers, 23 doubles, 70 RBIs and fifteen stolen bases. He caused some excitement during Spring Training and has shown some good stuff.

David Adams (2B): Coming back from a nasty injury, Adams got better as the season progressed. He played 86 games and hit .306/.385/.450 with eight homers, 23 doubles and 48 RBIs.

Vidal Nuno (LHP): In 20 starts, Nuno went 9-5 with a 2.45 ERA. He held opposing hitters to a .252 average, struck out 100 and walked just 27.

Brett Marshall (RHP): Marshall had a strong season on the mound for Trenton. He went 13-7 with a 3.52 ERA over 27 starts. He racked up 120 Ks, allowing just 53 walks. He seems to improve each year as he advances, so it will be interesting to see how he does in Triple-A.

Players to Watch:
Shaeffer Hall (LHP): Hall’s makeup suggests a future as a reliever, but he turned in a strong season for Trenton, even if he didn’t always get much run support. He went 9-10 with a 3.67 ERA, striking out 100 and walking 41 in 27 starts.

Melky Mesa (OF): Mesa hit .277/.344/.464 for Trenton, with fourteen homers and eighteen doubles in 88 games. He stole seventeen bases, but struck out quite a bit (75) while rarely taking a walk (29). Mesa spent the later part of the season in Triple-A, where he struggled to hit for average but still knocked nine homers in 33 games. Now he’s hanging out in the Bronx.

Preston Claiborne (RHP): Claiborne made 30 relief appearances in Trenton, going 2-2 with a 2.22 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .195 average. He was promoted to Triple-A, where he had a little more trouble but continues to look good.