Former Yankee Marcus Thames is retiring from MLB to become the hitting coach for the Tampa Yankees, the club’s High-A affiliate. The team announced the move on their Twitter page. Thames was mostly known for his ability to hit left-handed pitching, and finishes his major league career with 115 home runs and a .246/.309/.485 slash line. He spent one season with the Yankees, 2010, a year in which he hit .288/.350/.491 with 12 home runs and served as a key part of the team’s bench as they advanced to the ALCS before losing to Texas. He also hit a memorable walk off home run against the Red Sox in May of that year for his defining moment in pinstripes. Congratulations to Thames on a very nice big league career, and good luck in his new job.
It doesn’t get the same amount of attention that the lists put out by Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus do, but John Sickels’ annual prospect rankings may well be the most unique of all of the prospect rankings that come out annually. That’s because, in addition to his own unique perspective and preferences on prospects, Sickels assigns a traditional letter grade to prospects, adding an additional level of depth and context above a simple stacked list of players. He put his list of the Yankees’ top twenty prospects out back before Christmas and, as always, it’s worth a once-over if you’re into the prospecting thing. The top of his list is fairly non-controversial, but there’s some interesting selections in the 8-15 range.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Sickels will be joining Stacey and I on On the Money tonight to talk about his rankings, as will our own minor league editor Tamar Chalker. The show goes live at 9:00 P.M. EST, and can be listened to here.…
With Russell Martin on his way to Bradenton instead of Tampa this February and no major league reinforcements on the way, Austin Romine has emerged as both the catcher of the future and the designated object of hope for fans desperate for an alternative to Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Unfortunately for those people, Romine has lost a lot of development time to injury in the past year, and as such it appears as though he may be ticketed for Triple-A, at least to begin the year. Anthony McCarron reports that general manager Brian Cashman “believes” that’s exactly what will happen in April. “I expect Romine to go to Triple-A,” Cashman said. “I don’t expect him to be our everyday catcher out of the gate. He always has the possibility of taking it, but realistically, if I were in prediction mode, I’d say Triple-A. But he has a chance to alter that.”
If performance is the key issue, it shouldn’t take much for Romine to earn himself a shot with the big league team.…
This winter, the Yankees at least considered the idea of moving Austin back to third base, but they ultimately decided to keep him in right field for the time being.
“He’s a better defender in right,” vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. “But (putting him back at third) is something we’ve thought about. It’s a possibility.”
Austin played third base in 2011, his first full season in the Yankees’ system, but shifted to right field last year and took off on a tear that took him from Low-A Charleston on Opening Day to a cup of coffee with Double-A Trenton to end the season. He drew surprisingly positive reviews for his work in the outfield, certainly better than the scouting reports on his third base defense. He’s definitely a bat first player though, so the defense just needs to be passable so long as he keeps raking at the plate.…
The Rule 5 draft just wrapped up in Nashville, and of the 42 players selected none came out of the Yankees’ organization. That’s probably not as noteworthy as it sounds though, if only because the Yankees have been super aggressive in protecting eligible players in recent years. That’s why they have guys like Zoilo Almonte, Melky Mesa, and Corban Jospeh on the 40 man roster even though they don’t have a ton of usefulness to the big league team at the moment. This year they even protected Nik Turley and Jose Ramirez, even though it seems highly unlikely that they’re ready to stick on a major league roster, and filling up the 40 man roster just means that you have to DFA someone anytime you need to make a move. I don’t really get it, but there you go.
On the other side of the ledger, the Yankees didn’t have an open 40 man roster spot, so they weren’t eligible to select anyone themselves.…
Dave Miley has been named the minor league Manager of the Year by Baseball America. Miley led the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees to a division crown and the second best record in the International League despite being forced to play the entire season on the road due to construction at their own stadium, so the award is certainly a deserved one. Miley was also named the International League Manager of the Year for the second time for his work this past season.
Miley has had one managerial stint in the majors, owning a record of 125-164 from 2003-05, with a 76-86 record in 2004, his only full season. I remember that stint pretty well from being in the area at the time, and in hindsight I think Miley was a pretty average manager all things considered. Those were just some untalented teams, and management was in a period of going through managers like socks hoping to placate a restless fanbase, as I recall.…
Baseball America has a list of the top 20 prospects from the Arizona Fall League out today, and one Yankee makes an appearance. That would be outfielder Slade Heathcott, who comes in just shy of the top five in the sixth place spot after tearing up the league to the tune of a .388/.494/.612 batting line. Heathcott, who BA just ranked as the second best prospect in the Yankees’ farm system, comes in ahead of some pretty familiar names, including Seattle’s Mike Zunino (7th), Detroit’s Nick Castellanos (8th), Cincinnati’s record setting speedster Billy Hamilton (10th), and Washington’s Anthony Rendon (11th), which is pretty awesome. Obviously this is no guarantee of future success, but Heathcott’s resurgence is certainly a welcome bright spot in a year that has included so many other setbacks for the farm system.
The Red Sox who were rumored to have been in talks with Tino Martinez for their hitting coach position before he landed the gig with the Miami Marlins got their man today. Greg Colbrunn, who has been the hitting coach for Low-A Charleston since 2007 was named to Boston’s staff.
Colbrunn was the Riverdogs’ hitting coach from 2007-2009, managed the team in 2010 and went back to being hitting coach in 2011 and 2012.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman had this to say about Colbrunn:
“Greg is more than qualified for that job and in our estimation no better hitting candidate in the marketplace than him. We were lucky to have him for as long as we did.”
Colbrunn played with the 2001 Diamondbacks and won a World Series title with them.
MILB.com has released their picks for the Yankees’ 2012 minor league All-Stars, a list you can see here. It really doesn’t mean anything, but it’s a pretty fun read if only because prospect status doesn’t enter into the equation at all. Thus the list includes a range of minor leaguers going all the way from top prospects Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, and Tyler Austin to middling prospects like Corban Joseph and all the way down to total fringe guys like Ronnier Mustelier and Vidal Nuno. Plus there’s video of Mark Montgomery. That alone is worth a click through.