Yankees add seven to 40 man roster

Tonight was the deadline for adding Rule V draft eligible minor leaguers to the 40 man roster in order to protect them from being selected by another team, and the Yankees acted robustly on this front, protecting six such players. Left-handed pitchers Manny Banuelos, Nik Turley, and Francisco Rondon, right-handed pitchers Brett Marshall and Jose Ramirez, and outfielder Ramon Flores were all had their contracts selected, and the Yankees also claimed 26 year old right-handed pitcher Mickey Storey off of waivers from Houston. By my count, that brings their 40-man roster total to 39, but of course they still have to sign Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, plus get a starting catcher and corner outfielder, at least, so there will be more changes coming. Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Michael Pineda will be put on the 60 day disabled list as soon as they can be, but that’s not until camp opens, so it’s guaranteed that at least a few guys on the 40 man roster right now won’t be there for long.…

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A couple of minor league notes

Kevin Russo has apparently signed a minor league contract with the Tigers. Russo was drafted by the Yankees in 2006 and made his major league debut in 2010. The utility player had a strong year for the Empire State Yankees in 2012, hitting .284/.358/.351, however it was his fourth year in Triple-A and at 28 it was clear the Yankees had no future plans for him, granting him free agency earlier this month.

The Peoria Javelinas defeated the Salt River Rafters 4-3 for the Arizona Fall League Championship. The game was notable for having the first official protest in AFL history, as the Rafters objected to some calls on a play that would have tied the game in the seventh. The officials upheld the original ruling and the Javelinas took the win. Chris McGuiness, a first baseman with the Texas Rangers organization, took the AFL MVP award. Cole Kimball, who pitched for Salt River this fall and is part of the Washington Nationals system, beat out David Adams and four others for the Stenson Award.…

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Arizona Fall League Wrap-Up

The Arizona Fall League has ended, with the Championship game slated for tomorrow when the Salt River Rafters will take on the Peoria Javelinas. The Yankees’ prospects spent the season with the Scottsdale Scorpions, who ended up 15-16 and 2.5 games behind the Rafters. There were some performances to get excited about, but – as has been the theme for the Yankees’ this season – the players closest to the Majors continued to struggle. I’ll get the bad news out of the way first.

Dellin Betances wasn’t able to get past the rest of his rough 2012 season, going 1-3 with a 5.25 ERA over eight appearances and twelve innings, though the news wasn’t all bad. After an ugly first outing, Betances did string together some solid performances, keeping opposing teams scoreless over four games (5.2 innings). He only allowed three hits and one walk, which was a good sign for a pitcher whose lack of control was particularly problematic this season.…

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Baseball America’s top 10 Yankee prospects

Baseball America is out with their list of the Yankees’ top ten prospects today, and the list has some rather…interesting quirks. You can get the whole list for free here, but need to be a subscriber to read the full scouting reports. Here’s the list:

1. Mason Williams OF
2. Slade Heathcott OF
3. Gary Sanchez C
4. Tyler Austin OF
5. Jose Campos RHP
6. Brett Marshall RHP
7. Angelo Gumbs 2B
8. Manny Banuelos LHP
9. Ty Hensley RHP
10. Rafael DePaula RHP

I won’t put out my own rankings until late February, but I’ve got some quick thoughts on these rankings after the jump.

-Someone really likes Slade Heathcott, eh? I would imagine that the first instinct reaction of a lot of people will be to be taken aback by seeing him ranked ahead of Sanchez and Austin, but in truth it’s not as crazy as it probably seems at first blush. After all, we’re talking about a former first round draft pick who has always had the potential to be a five tool athlete.…

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Yankee kids have good day in Rising Star Game

The Arizona Fall League held its annual all star game yesterday and the Rising Star Game, as it is called, ended up being a nice showcase for some Yankee prospects. Austin Romine tripled in one of his two at bats and scored the tying run at the time on a wild pitch.  David Adams went one for four and played second the entire game. Adams’ one hit was a double and it drove in two runs. He would later score a run. Mark Montgomery pitched the eighth inning and threw a perfect inning, striking out all three batters he faced.

The only semi-negative aspect of the game was the two stolen bases that Billy Hamilton recorded while Romine was behind the plate. Hamilton stole over a hundred bases this season in the minors, so it’s not like Romine is alone in that category. And Romine’s throw to second on the first steal was a laser and appeared to beat Hamilton there.…

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The Arizona Fall League’s Rising Star Game

Just in case you are jonesing for live baseball like I am, the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars game will be shown tonight at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on MLB Network.

Yankee prospects Mark Montgomery, Austin Romine and David Adams were all selected for the roster. And just in case you haven’t seen Billy Hamilton, phenom shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, he will also will also be playing in tonight’s game.

So far in AFL play, Montgomery has pitched in seven games – 8.1 innings – and has only allowed two hits and one earned run while fanning 15 batters. Romine has managed to stay healthy so far this Fall – he suffered a back injury in Spring Training and missed nearly the minor league entire season. He’s batting .273 with three doubles in 12 games. And Adams, while his average isn’t anything to write home about (.226) he has hit six doubles which leads the team.

Tonight’s game will be a chance for us poor baseball deprived people to watch a real live game again and will also give us a chance to check out some of the Yankee prospects we haven’t seen before.…

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Yankees Reassign Nardi Contreras

The Yankees have reassigned long-time minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras and have replaced him with Gil Patterson.

From the New York Post:

Gil Patterson was hired as minor league pitching coordinator. Patterson had been a candidate to become pitching coach after Dave Eiland’s departure two years ago and most recently worked with the A’s. The former Yankees pitcher replaces Nardi Contreras, who will stay with the organization.

Contreras was instrumental in developing the “Joba Rules” and pitching count guidelines while holding his coordinator position. He will remain within the organization.

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Building a bullpen without Mo

The Yankees got their first taste of life without Mariano Rivera this year, after the greatest closer of all time tore his ACL in Kansas City in early May. That was supposed to be something they didn’t have to repeat in 2013, but yesterday we learned that Rivera is having “second thoughts” about a return to the mound, even going so far as to share those thoughts with Brian Cashman. Having Mo call it quits would definitely be an emotional and psychological gut-shot for Yankee fans, but would would it mean for the team’s bullpen? Maybe not as much as you’d think.

Now, to be clear, the Yankees are obviously better with Rivera than without him, and the difference between Mo and the guy who would take his roster spot is enormous. The Yankees should absolutely hope that Rivera returns for at least one more season, I’m just saying that it wouldn’t be a catastrophe for the unit as a whole if they don’t have Rivera anchoring them next season.…

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Looking at the Yankees’ future at catcher

As Brien mentioned, the Yankees job for starting catcher is up for grabs right now. Russell Martin‘s contract was for one year and the Yankees have yet to indicate whether they plan to resign him. This year they sent a pretty clear signal that they do not view Francisco Cervelli as a viable option, while they groom their next backstop of the future. First, they traded for Chris Stewart at the end of Spring Training, sending Cervelli to the wandering Empire State Yankees and then only gave him three at bats and a handful of innings behind the plate after being called-up in September. While thinking about this potential hole in their lineup, it struck me that the Yankees have found themselves in a place many of us thought they would avoid, given their penchant for drafting and developing some strong catching prospects.

For much of the 1990s and 2000s, the Yankees had a solid starting catcher behind home plate.…

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