Author Archives: Tamar Chalker
Pitching will continue to be the main question for the Yankees. Jose Quintana gave Tampa a strong 2011, going 10-2 over twelve starts and thirty appearances with a 2.91 ERA. He signed with the White Sox during the offseason, however, so someone will need to step up and fill those shoes. Solid pitching prospects Nik Turley and Mark Montgomery should provide some help on the mound for Tampa. If they can put together some decent pitching, the Yankees could contend for another FSL Championship.
Who to Watch with the Bronx in Mind:
Slade Heathcott: All eyes will be on the Yankees’ 2009 First Round Draft pick, once he returns to action. It is likely, the toolsy outfielder will be out until some time in June after suffering a shoulder injury last season. Heathcotts troubles both on and off the field have been well-documented, however, he’s still young and has all kinds of talent. How he bounces back from this injury will show us whether he will continue on his fast track towards the majors.…
Who to Watch with the Bronx in Mind:
Zoilo Almonte: Almonte made quite a splash in Spring Training, before being assigned to Trenton. He had a strong stint with Tampa to start 2011, but struggled to find his stroke when he was promoted. Almonte has become notorious for needing some time to adjust when he moves up a level, but that should be behind him when he starts this season. If so, he should provide a big spark for the Thunder offense, especially with his reputation as someone who can come through in clutch situations.
Graham Stoneburner: Stoneburner had steadily moved up the ladder but experienced his first major hurdle last season. He injured his neck in April and found himself on the DL for a good portion of the season. When he came back he did not have his best stuff, but he seems to be past the injury and should return to form, which will give the Thunder a strong arm in their rotation.…
Even before Andy Pettitte decided to return we were hearing about the Yankees’ wealth of pitching. Empire State benefits most from this, as their starting rotation will look much as it did at the end of last season. Adam Warren, D.J. Mitchell and David Phelps all have a full season of Triple-A service, while the remaining Killer B’s, Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos have part of a season. With Kevin Whelan and Eric Wordekemper in the bullpen, the Yankees will be hard on International League batters. The Yankees offense may be its biggest question mark as the season begins. They lost their biggest bat, but Justin Maxwell and Jorge Vazquez showed they could provide some good power for them last season.
Of course, the Yankees may already be working at a big disadvantage this season. While PNC Field undergoes renovations, they are virtually homeless this year, playing their “home” games in various parks of other Triple-A teams. We will have to wait and see whether a nomadic season will affect their success, but there is good news for the Yankees. …
Phelps started his first full professional season in Charleston and didn’t miss a beat, going 10-3 with a 2.80 ERA in nineteen starts and 112.2 innings. He allowed just 25 walks and struck out 90 batters before being promoted to Tampa. Phelps was even more impressive in Tampa, where he had a 1.17 ERA in seven games.
Instead of starting 2010 back in Tampa, the Yankees put Phelps in Trenton, bumping him up to Scranton partway through the season after he went 6-0 with a 2.04 ERA and his highest K/9 thus far of 8.6. His numbers came down a bit in Scranton, but Phelps still put in a strong showing.
2011 gave Phelps his first professional hurdle, as he struggled right away and then missed some time due to shoulder tendonitis. He was invited to the big league Spring Training camp and put too much pressure on himself, which resulted in a poor showing. It continued into his first couple starts, but eventually he was able to put it all back together and ended the season throwing 107.1 innings in Scranton with a 3.19 ERA, continuing to keep his walks low (26) and strike out batters (90). …
As he has moved up the ladder, Almonte has often taken some time to adjust to the next level, but he continually shows flashes of his potential. In 2010, the outfielder began the season with the Charleston RiverDogs where he hit .274/.355/.440 in 58 games. His performance earned him SAL Mid-Season All-Star honors and a promotion to the Yankees’ High-A affiliate in Tampa, where he put up decent numbers but seemed to be missing some of his power.
Almonte started 2011 back in Tampa, where he seemed to make the adjustment and hit .293/.368/.514 in seventy games. Not only did his power numbers return, but Almonte showed good patience at the plate, working 31 walks and driving in a career best 54 RBIs before heading up to Trenton. Once again, Almonte’s numbers dipped when he arrived in Trenton, but if his trend continues he should bounce back when the season starts.
While the young outfielder shows great potential on both sides of the field, he is prone to inconsistencies, often taking some time to adjust to each new level as he works his way through the Minors. …
The Royals used the fifth pick of the draft to take Cesar Cabral from the Red Sox, before sending him to the Yankees for cash considerations. Cabral is a left-handed reliever who the Yankee hope to put behind Boone Logan. Cabral made 36 relief appearances in Class A and Double-A last season. The Rays took him in the the Rule 5 Draft last year, but returned him to Boston.
A few other notes:
- Colin Curtis was designated for assignment now that the Yankees have made Freddy Garcia’s signing official. Mike Ashmore notes that it is likely that Curtis will clear waivers and return to Scranton for 2012.
- Jayson Nix (3B) and Mike O’Connor (LHP) have both signed.
- The Yankees resigned Kelvin Perez (RHP) who struggled in Tampa before having a decent season in Charleston.