Cashman: Romine likely to start season in minors

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. Given that neither of the alternatives is a legitimate starter, the bar is already set pretty low, and Romine is the only one of the Yankees’ three catchers with the potential for any real upside right now. On the other hand, his offensive abilities don’t grade out very well, and he got very little playing time outside of the low minors last season, and underwhelmed in the Arizona Fall League as well.

McCarron does report that “going internal” was the Yankees “first choice” to replace Martin, according to Cashman, which would explain the team’s total lack of interest in A.J. Pierzynski, even as he signed a one year contract with Texas, and that the Yankees are prioritizing defense over offense in their catchers. But considering that Cervelli is an absolutely atrocious defender and Stewart is the picture of Nichols’ Law, that sounds a lot like a general manager trying to put a positive spin on his owner not giving him enough money to sign a real starting catcher this winter. Continue reading Cashman: Romine likely to start season in minors

Yankees considered moving Austin backed to third

Well this is interesting: Chad Jennings reports that the Yankees considered moving top prospect Tyler Austin back to third base in the wake of the Alex Rodriguez injury news.

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.

Of course, Austin is probably still at least a year away from the big leagues, so it really makes no sense to talk about him as a possible fill in for A-Rod. That said, if he can stick at third base he could certainly become the heir apparent to the spot, assuming Alex will be forced into a primary DH role in the not too distant future. Then again, the Yankees need an outfielder too, so if Austin is more comfortable in that position there’s no particular need to move him in order to find a place to play if and when he’s ready for the big leagues. Continue reading Yankees considered moving Austin backed to third

Yankees lose no one to Rule 5 draft

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. So…a lot of short-term hype for no meaningful results. Sounds exactly like the Rule 5 draft in general, I guess.
Continue reading Yankees lose no one to Rule 5 draft

Miley named Manager of the Year

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. He moved on to the Yankees’ organization after that, where he’s had quite a bit of success in the Triple-A ranks. A big congratulations to him tonight on a job well done. Continue reading Miley named Manager of the Year

Heathcott among best in Arizona

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. Continue reading Heathcott among best in Arizona

Colbrunn named Red Sox hitting coach

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 their 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. Continue reading Colbrunn named Red Sox hitting coach

Yankees’ 2012 Minor League All-Stars 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. Continue reading Yankees’ 2012 Minor League All-Stars

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.
Continue reading Yankees add seven to 40 man roster

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. Continue reading A couple of minor league notes