We already knew that 1st round pick Ian Clarkin had agreed to a deal with the Yankees, but after passing his physical, the left-handed pitcher is officially signed. Likewise, middle infielder Gosuke Katoh has passed a physical and signed with the Yankees for his slot value of $845,700.
Clarkin, a left-handed pitcher out of Madison High School in San Diego, sports a low 90′s fastball and a plus curveball. Though he’s more polished than most top high school pitching prospects, Clarkin stands at 6’2″ and only 190 lbs. He can certainly add a little bit of weight to his frame, and thus could add some velocity down the line. He has the ability to move fast through the Yankees’ system, but from what we’ve seen of Gil Patterson‘s philosophy, Clarkin will likely be babied in his early years.
2nd round pick Gosuke Katoh is another player high school player out of San Diego. Katoh was known as a defense-first second baseman prior to the draft, but the Yankees seem to think he has a chance at short stop, a position that might better fit his light bat. While he’s not necessarily a bad hitter, he’s not expected to produce much power.Some, including myself, believed Katoh was a reach pick to save some money for signings like Clarkin, but with the middle infielder signing for slot, the Yankees obviously went out of their way to prevent him from going to college.
The Yankees still have to sign 1st round pick Aaron Judge, 7th round pick Nick Rumbelow, and 9th round pick Connor Kendrick. According to the draft pool at RAB, the team currently has an additional $225,900 saved up from below slot signings, and they could add nearly $400,000 to that if they’re willing to pay taxes on a 5% overage. It’s unlikely that Connor Kendrick gets more than his allotted slot bonus, and he’ll more than likely save the team additional money. If the team can sign Judge and Rambelow to their allotted amounts, they’ll have plenty of money to spend for their reach picks in the later rounds. Though each of these guys remain unlikely on their own, big money might force one or two of guys like Jordan Floyd, Cody Thomas, Nestor Cortes, or Cal Quantrill to sign.
Yesterday, Brian Cashman was asked about his current progress on the trade market, and today he landed an outfielder. Via Brian T. Smith, the Yankees have acquired Fernando Martinez in exchange for 2012 37th round pick Charles Basford.
Martinez was likely headed to the waiver wire, where the Astros originally picked him up from the Mets. The former top prospect is still just 24 years old, but after 5 short seasons in the majors, Martinez has been unable to produce regularly. In just 310 plate appearances in the big leagues, Martinez has a .206/.269/.362 slash. Although he was ranked in Baseball America’s top 30 prospect three times, and once at 77, Martinez hasn’t had much success in the minors lately either. With the Mets, Martinez has put up OPS’s of just .772 and .746 through 537 plate appearance in 2010 and 2011. Last season, Martinez went off to the hitter friendly PCL and looked much better with a .314/.367/.507 slash. He’s since struggled in both the majors and minors of the Astros.
The outfielder is still young at 24 years old, and left-handed bats in Yankee Stadium have been known to do well. Perhaps the Yankees still see some of the offensive prowess that scouts saw just a couple of years ago. If anyone can fix a swing, Kevin Long stands with the best of them. With that said, he’s destined for Scranton, and it only cost the Yankees a low-A relief pitcher, so it’s not the biggest move.
So Don Mattingly is back in New York. I’m sure he’ll entertain plenty of cheers and ovation, but it’ll be even sweeter to see the Yankees pull out a win with the type of line up they’re sporting.
On the mound, Phil Hughes takes on LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu.
The radar looks absolutely dreadful, and we’ve already been told that the game will start in a delay. If they do get this one in, you can catch it on MY9 and the MLB Network.
Also, just an update on Michael Pineda. In an interview on ESPN NY, Brian Cashman said that Pineda will make his next rehab start on Thursday in Tampa. It seems early, but after this next rehab start, Pineda will either be sent to the major leagues or optioned to Triple-A. Cashman has been coy about this since the winter, and it seems inevitable that Pineda will end up with his service time limited and doing rehab work in Scranton. The Yankees will do this to regain a year of lost team control, and I’m sure the union will be furious.
Update: The game is indeed postponed. I suggest catching Zack Wheeler’s debut on SNY, otherwise we’ll see you tomorrow for a day/night doubleheader.
Back in March, EJ wrote a piece about how we tend to over and under value Yankee prospects in different ways. In there, you’ll find that all the organization’s minor league affiliates manage to be in leagues that have ranked average to below average in runs per game since 2008. The argument EJ presents is that there is too much hype around the pitching prospects, and too little hype around the hitting prospects.
This is something that goes overlooked in many farm systems. Yes, from time to time we see players’ hype extinguished by great offensive performances in league like the PCL, and most prospect evaluators take into consideration the league, but when it comes to ballpark factors, there’s so many different stadiums to analyze that even the experts seem to get caught up in the hype.
One non-Yankee example could be the Mariners over the last few years. Top prospects like Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, and Jeff Clement all posted huge offensive numbers in the minor leagues as left-handed batters, but have failed to succeed in Safeco Field. If you take a look at Stat Corner’s rankings of their minor league parks, the Mariners have extremely favorable park factors for left-handed hitters in both their High-A affiliate and Triple-A affiliate. Meanwhile, Safeco remains a very difficult ballpark for left-handers to hit in, as Stat Corner gives it an 80 (where 100 is average) for doubles and triple, an 83 for home runs, and a 79 for runs overall. Meanwhile, Mariner’s pitching prospects usually exceed expectations after surviving through the offensive-slanted minor league system.
For the Yankees, it would seem the opposite happens. The team has had a number of top pitching prospects over the years that have failed to survive in Yankee Stadium and the AL East. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all pitching prospects will fail in Yankee Stadium, but Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy decimated the Yankees’ minor league system, and each earned themselves top prospect statuses before hitting a wall in the Bronx. Of course the Yankees minor league teams, for the most part, have pitcher friendly stadiums, while Yankee Stadium remains one of the easiest ballparks to hit in.
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West Coast trips are rarely fun for players or the East Coast fans, and this last road trip was no exception. The Yankees went 4-6 against the Mariners, Athletics, and Angels, while displaying an awful offensive deficiency and picking up a number of injuries on the way. As the Yankees head to Yankee Stadium to play the Dodgers tomorrow, it’ll be their first home game in nearly two weeks, and the team yet again finds itself without Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira. Even with home field advantage in three of the last four series in June, the Yankees have a very difficult schedule to deal with.
Despite their recent slump, the team has remained 7 games over .500, somehow right in the middle of the ongoing pennant race, and just 3.0 games behind the 1st place Red Sox. Though they don’t face the Red Sox until after the All Star break, the Yankees now have to deal with the second place Orioles, the Rays, who are just 2 games behind them, and the Rangers, who are currently tied with them for a wild card spot.
Looking at the standings so closely in June, especially the Wild Card possibilities, is usually pointless, but with the fruitless lineup they’ve played over the last month, it looks like they’ll need to catch lightening in a bottle at the right time if they want any chance at retaking the AL East.
The next two week stretch will provide an opportunity for the Yankees to flourish or flounder. After the Dodgers, the next three series feature top teams in the American League, all playing over .500. Losing against the Rays or Orioles would obviously send them further back in the AL East standings, and set up more obstacles for the team to overcome in the late summer. Meanwhile, losing against the Rangers could send Texas into an advantageous spot in the Wild Card standings.
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Yesterday, Mike Axisa published a rant of his own at RAB. As a Yankee fan, I fully understand his dejection with the team, but A) I don’t think the team is in the worst shape and B) I’d like to try to make sense of the current budget situation causing all this. That said, I have this crazy little theory that I’ve been sitting on, refusing to post it because it’s… crazy.
One thing stirs a Yankee fan more than winning. Losing.
The fans down in Queens call us spoiled entitled front-runners, and I used to laugh that off. If I’ve learned anything from the first few months of this season, they were all right. That doesn’t mean you or I are only rooting for the team when they win, but take a look at Twitter, at the comments around Yankee blogs, even in the seats. This team is 8 games over .500, but fans see that this team is bad. They were confused this off season, they were angry at the injuries, and now they’re leaving.
Fans have been increasingly absent, and ownership has refused to look in the mirror. They blamed Stub Hub last year, and now that they’ve set up their own competitive aftermarket ticket exchange, they’re blaming the economy and baseball attendance as a whole.
But we’re not talking about a Marlins or Astros team, it’s Mariano Rivera‘s last season, possibly Andy Pettitte‘s last, and who knows about Robinson Cano. Fans should be piling into Yankee Stadium in the hopes of seeing a great Yankee for the last time, but instead they’re growing increasingly apathetic, and perhaps that’s what the Steinbrenners want.
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According to Jim Callis of Baseball America, the Yankees have agreed to terms with their third-round draft pick Michael O’Neill. The deal includes a $500,900 signing bonus, which is the exact slot for his pick.
The outfielder O’Neill is the nephew of former Yankee and current announcer Paul O’Neill. This was not a nepotism pick though, O’Neill was ranked as the 82nd prospect overall on my consensus rankings, and the Yankees were able to land him with the 103rd overall pick. You can get a better idea of his talents courtesy of Mike Axisas’ draft report.
The Yankees have now signed one of their first-round picks, Eric Jagielo, their third-round, O’Neill, their fourth-round, Tyler Wade, their fifth-round, David Palladino, and their sixth-round, John Murphy. Though the bonus for Palladino is unknown, each of Jagielo, O’Neill, and Wade have signed for their exact bonus slots, while Murphy received just $20,000 and saved the team over $188,000 to use elsewhere. First-round picks Aaron Judge and Ian Clarkin, as well as second-round pick Gosuke Katoh should be negotiating contracts soon.