About 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.

Minor League Playoff Preview: Trenton Thunder



I have already looked at Empire State’s matchup against Pawtucket in the first round of the International League playoffs, so now I will look at Trenton’s first obstacle towards an Eastern League Championship. The Eastern Division champs will have to defeat a tough Reading Phillies team and EL MVP Darin Ruf for a shot against the winner of the Akron Aeros-Bowie Baysox series.

While Empire State’s 2012 success was a bit unexpected, perhaps only the Trenton Thunder’s success was more surprising. After losing to Altoona in the EL Championship in 2010, the Thunder had a tough 2011 season, going 68-73 and ending the year fourth in the Eastern Division. As I (wrongly) predicted in my preview of the Thunder, Trenton seemed destined for a similar season. They expected to have many of the same faces and with many of the Yankees’ best prospects still cutting their teeth in A-ball, it looked like it would be another year or two before the Thunder could relive their previous success. Instead, they played some strong baseball and put together a 79-63 season, winning the Eastern division.

Reading, however, didn’t punch their ticket for the playoffs until their last game of the regular season. A victory over the Portland Sea Dogs kept the Phillies one game against the New Britain Rock Cats, who ended the season with a six-game win streak. Reading is looking for their first Championship since they shared the title in 2001.  Before that, they had won the EL Championship last in 1995.

(click “view full post” to read more about this matchup) Continue reading Minor League Playoff Preview: Trenton Thunder

Minor League Playoff Preview: Empire State Yankees v. Pawtucket Red Sox

The Yankees’ major league team may be thoroughly frustrating to watch these days, but there is still plenty of excitement in the minors, as Empire State and Trenton start their postseason runs today. In case the prospect of playoffs isn’t thrilling enough, the Yankees will take on the Pawtucket Red Sox in the first round, a matchup we will not be seeing in the American League playoffs this season. The winner of the best-of-five series will take on the winner of the Charlotte Knights-Indianapolis Indians series for the Governors’ Cup and a chance for the Triple-A crown.

Empire State won the North Division against all odds this season. After a mediocre 2011, where the Yankees went 73-69 and missed the playoffs, the Yankees played surprisingly strong baseball this season. Despite losing their two biggest power hitters (Jesus Montero and Jorge Vazquez), seeing their highly touted starting rotation fall apart and having to play the entire season on the road, the Yankees improved upon last season and was a force to be reckoned with. In my preview of Empire State during Spring Training, I thought they had a chance to improve, but I will admit to not thinking the Yankees would play as well as they actually did. This is why Empire State manager Dave Miley was very deserving of the Manager of the Year honors he picked up last week.

Meanwhile, Pawtucket has made the playoffs for the second year in a row. They won the North Division crown last year, breaking the Yankees streak of division titles at five. The Red Sox saw a lot of turn over this season, as 69 players put on a Pawtucket uniform, but their 79-65 record captured them the Wild Card spot and a chance to win their first Governors’ Cup since 1984.

(click “view full post” to read more about this matchup) Continue reading Minor League Playoff Preview: Empire State Yankees v. Pawtucket Red Sox

The Farm Report: 9/4/12 – Some minor league notes and a game in Staten Island

It is a quiet night on the farm, with only Staten Island still playing regular season games while Empire State and Trenton both had a day off prior to the start of the postseason. Despite the lack of games, however, there was some news in the minors.

  • Luke Murton has been promoted to Empire State.  Murton found his power stroke in Trenton this year, hitting 25 homers, good for second in the Eastern League. Overall, he hit .249/.327/.464 in 126 games with 68 RBIs.
  • Murton will take the spot vacated by Kosuke Fukudome, who was released by the Yankees yesterday. The veteran outfielder hit .276/.440/.337 for Empire State over 39 games.
  • George King had some information about Slade Heathcott on Baseball America today (subscription req’d). He talks about how Heathcott has come back well from his second shoulder surgery since behing drafted in 2009.  King also shares that, despite the Yankees expectations that Heathcott’s shoulder should be fine and that he appears to have his plus arm strength back, he has not been cleared to throw at full strength. According to Mark Newman, they believe Heathcott will be at full strength by Spring Training.
  • King also noted that Newman said Mason Williams should be back by Spring Training, after having labrum surgery on his left shoulder.
  • Donnie Collins reports that Ramiro Pena has cleared waivers and is headed back to Empire State for the playoffs.
  • Pedro Feliciano threw another rehab inning for Staten Island. He seemed to jam his ankle on a base at one point, but later appeared fine.
  • Finally, former Yankee pitching prospect Christian Garcia earned a call-up with the Nationals, and made his major league debut today. The 27-year old hurler was an exciting prospect, but his career was derailed by two Tommy John surgeries, eventually leading to the Yankees releasing him. Today, he stopped a Cubs rally by getting the final out of the sixth.

Staten Island beat Connecticut 4-2:
After four scoreless innings, Staten Island got sloppy in the top of the fifth. Bennett Pickar drew and Jared Reaves both worked walks and moved over on a single by Tyler Hanover. A wild pitch by Gabriel Encinas allowed both Pickar and Reaves to cross the plate, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Staten Island started to work their way back in the sixth. Exicardo Cayones singled to left and stole second, scoring on a RBI single by Claudio Custodio. Custodio stole second, but a fly ball by Peter O’Brien stopped the rally. The Yankees took the lead in the seventh, as Ravel Santana was hit by a pitch and Gregory Bird followed with a homer to right, putting Staten Island ahead 3-2. They added some insurance in the bottom of the eighth, as Taylor Dugas drew a walk and moved to second on a bunt by Custodio. A double by Bird plated Dugas and gave the Yankees a 4-2 win.

Bird went 2-3 with a run scored, a double, a homer and three RBIs. Daniel Lopez went 1-2. Cayones went 1-3 with a run scored and a stolen base. Custodio went 1-3 with a RBI and a stolen base. Pedro Feliciano did not give up a hit or walk in his inning of work. Encinas allowed two runs on three hits, two walks and six strikeouts over four innings. Cory Arbiso went two innings and gave up just one hit, a walk and struck out two. James Pazos and Taylor Garrison both pitched a one-hit inning, with Pazos striking out one and Garrison getting two Ks. Continue reading The Farm Report: 9/4/12 – Some minor league notes and a game in Staten Island

The Farm Report: 9/3/12

Empire State, Trenton and Charleston wrapped up their seasons. Trenton and Charleston came away with wins, while Empire State lost to Pawtucket, who they will see in a couple days when the International League playoffs begin. Trenton will have tomorrow off before starting their post season with a series against the Reading Phillies.

Empire State lost to Pawtucket 6-4 in 12 innings:
The Red Sox broke through in the bottom of the third, as Ryan Dent scored on a single by Jonathan Hee. Darnell McDonald homered in the fourth, tying the game and the Yankees took the 2-1 lead in the fifth. Melky Mesa started the inning with a single to left and Jose Gil lined a single to center. A walk to Doug Bernier loaded the bases and a passed ball plated Mesa. The Yankees added some insurance in the eighth, as Kevin Russo drew a walk and Corban Joseph singled. A double by Ryan Baker plated both runners for the 4-1 lead. Unfortunately, it fell apart for Empire State in the bottom of the inning. Dent, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Hee hit consecutive singles, scoring a run. A wild pitch plated another run and Danny Valencia singled in Hee, tying the game at 4-4. The game was tied after nine and went into extras. Pawtucket threatened in the tenth, when they started with a single and double, but the Yankees escaped unscathed. They were not as lucky in the twelfth, as Hazelbaker was hit by a pitch and J.C. Linares hit to walk-off homer, defeating the Yankees 6-4.

(click “view full post” to read more) Continue reading The Farm Report: 9/3/12

The Farm Report: 9/2/12

We are getting awfully close to the end, as the Tampa Yankees wrapped up their 2012 season with a loss today. Empire State, Trenton and Charleston will all finish their seasons tomorrow, with all but the latter heading into postseason play. Staten Island’ season ends on Wednesday and they will not be playing in the postseason.

Empire State beat Pawtucket 6-2:
The Yankees got to work early, as Kevin Russo, Corban Joseph and Ronnier Mustelier hit consecutive singles to load the bases. A sac fly by Kosuke Fukudome gave the Yankees the first run of the day. Pawtucket got the run back in the bottom of the second, but the Yankees retook the lead in the third as Fukudome hit a solo homer to right. Tony Pena took the mound for Pawtucket in the fifth and promptly hit Mustelier and Fukudome with pitches. A sac fly by Austin Romine brought Mustelier across the plate, giving the Yankees a 3-1 edge. The Red Sox drew within one run in the top of the sixth, as Nate Spears singled in Jason Repko. The Yankees got some insurance in the eighth. Darnell McDonald and Kevin Russo drew walks and Joseph doubled them in. A single by Mustelier plated Joseph and the Yankees took the 6-2 win.

Mustelier went 3-4 with a run scored and a RBI. Joseph went 2-5 with a run scored, a double and two RBIs. McDonald went 2-4 with a run scored and a walk. Romine went 0-2 with a RBI and two walks. Matt Tracy threw five and gave up one run on three hits and three walks, striking out four. Manny Delcarmen threw two innings, giving up one run on four hits, a walk and three Ks. Ryota Igarashi went two and gave up a walk, striking out three.

(click “view full post” to read more) Continue reading The Farm Report: 9/2/12

The Farm Report: 9/1/12 – A-Rod still hitless in rehab assignment

Welcome to September, when the rosters start to get very interesting. First, Trenton officially clinched their division, so congrats to them. I was not very optimistic about Trenton or Empire State heading into the season and I am glad to see them prove me wrong. In other exciting news, it looks like Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores, Nik Turley, Tommy Kahnle, Zachary Nuding and Brandon Pinder have all been promoted to Trenton. That should be an interesting group to watch as the season comes to a close.

Empire State lost to Pawtucket 2-0:
The game was scoreless through five, as both teams struggled to string together hits. That changed in the bottom of the sixth, when Dan Butler hit a solo homer. Jonathan Hee followed with a single and Jeremy Hazelbaker doubled, but the Yankees managed to escape without giving up more runs. Butler went deep again with two outs in the seventh, giving the Red Sox a 2-0 win over the Yankees. Corban Joseph went 1-4 with a double. Ronnier Mustelier also went 1-4. Cole Garner and Darnell McDonald both went 1-3. Chase Whitley threw four innings, giving up two hits and striking out one. Kelvin Perez gave up one run on three hits, a walk and three Ks in two innings of work. Juan Cedeno also gave up a run on one hit and a strike out over two innings.

Trenton beat Binghamton 3-2:
The Thunder scored early on Saturday, as Adonis Garcia opened the game with a double to right and JR Murphy followed with a single. A sac fly by David Adams plated the first run of the day and Zoilo Almonte grounded a single to left. Addison Maruszak singled in Murphy, but Almonte was thrown out trying to get to third and ending the inning. Jose Gil singled in the second and Garcia doubled him in, giving Trenton a 3-0 lead. Binghamton started to chip away at Trenton’s lead in the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer by Dustin Martin. Martin started the ninth with a double to right and scored on a single by Jefry Marte, but the Thunder held on for the 3-2 victory.

(click “view full post” to read more) Continue reading The Farm Report: 9/1/12 – A-Rod still hitless in rehab assignment

Brandon Laird claimed by Astros

Via Chad Jennings, the Astros claimed Brandon Laird off waivers.  New York designated Laird for assignment when they got Steve Pearce off waivers from the Astros, so this almost appears to be a straight up trade. Laird is 24 and had lost some of his prospect status over the last couple years as he seems to be stuck in Triple-A. He hit .254/.307/.414 with 15 homers for Empire State this season. Continue reading Brandon Laird claimed by Astros

The Farm Report: 8/31/12

Empire State beat Pawtucket 4-3:
The Red Sox took a quick lead in the bottom of the first, with a two run homer from Danny Valencia. The yankees got one run back in the top of the second with a solo shot from Melky Mesa. Pawtucket held the 2-1 edge through six, but the Yankees rallied in the top of the seventh. Cole Garner started the inning with a double to center and Mesa hit another long ball, giving Empire State the lead. Kosuke Fukudome lined a single to center, but was caught stealing for the first out of the inning. Kevin Russo drew a walk and moved to second on a throwing error. Pena grounded out, moving Russo to third, and a wild pitch allowed him to score for the 4-2 advantage. Pawtucket got one run back in the bottom of the inning, on a triple by Jason Repko, but the Yankees held on for a 4-3 victory.

Ronnier Mustelier may not have contributed to the score, but he had a hot night with the bat, going 4-4 with a double. Mesa went 2-4 with a pair of homers and three RBIs. Russo went 0-1 with a run scored and three walks. Ramon Ortiz threw seven innings and gave up three runs on seven hits, no walks and six Ks. Preston Claiborne went two innings, allowing just two hits and striking out one.

(click “view full post” to read more) Continue reading The Farm Report: 8/31/12

Exciting group of prospects headed to the Arizona Fall League

While the Yankees prepare for September call-ups and their minor league affiliates’ seasons are ending and/or heading into playoffs, this does not mean the work ends for the Yankees’ prospects. The Arizona Fall League enters its 20th season with many of Major League Baseball’s top prospects, which include players like the Red’s Billy Hamilton, the Nationals Anthony Rendon and the Marlins’ Christian Yelich. The Yankees are sending some exciting prospects, who will play for the Scottsdale Scorpians, which will be managed by Carlos Mendoza, the current Manager for the Charleston RiverDogs. The Yankees have announced three position players that will head to Scottsdale, each looking to get some at bats after missing time to injury the last couple seasons.

Austin Romine (C) has been battling back issues the last couple years and was injured for most of the 2012 season. He has played in just 28 games so far this season, splitting time between rehab assignments in the Gulf Coast League and with Tampa before finally getting back to Empire State. He looks like he is starting to get back into the swing of things and, assuming he does not get called up, will benefit from the extra time in Arizona once the Empire State Yankees finish the International League playoffs. It has no doubt been a frustrating year for the Yankee backstop, who was surprised with a call-up last September and was battling for a spot on the major league roster prior to his injury. Hopefully a successful stint in Arizona will get him back on track, as the Yankees could use some help at catcher as they wait for some of the young prospects to advance.

(click “view full post” to read more) Continue reading Exciting group of prospects headed to the Arizona Fall League