Yankees Announce List Of Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees

We’re less than 2 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa and that’s close enough for the Yankees to announce their list of non-roster Spring Training invitees.  They did so earlier today, officially inviting 25 non-roster players to big league camp.  The group was highlighted by top organizational prospects Aaron Judge, James Kaprielian, and Jorge Mateo, as well as notable prospects Dustin Fowler and Brady Lail and previous MiL signings such as Pete Kozma, Anthony Swarzak, and Vinnie Pestano.  Along with the players on the 40-man roster, the Yankees will have 65 players in Major League spring camp.

Here’s the full list of non-roster invites:

Catchers: Carlos Corporan, Francisco Diaz, Kyle Higashioka, Eddy Rodriguez, Sebastian Valle, Santiago Nessy

Infielders: Jonathan Diaz, Pete Kozma, Jorge Mateo, Deibinson Romero, Donovan Solano, Tyler Wade

Outfielders: Dustin Fowler, Aaron Judge, Cesar Puello

Pitchers: Richard Bleier, Tyler Cloyd, Domingo German, Chad Green, James Kaprielian, Brady Lail, Diego Moreno, Vinnie Pestano, Anthony Swarzak, Tyler Webb Continue reading Yankees Announce List Of Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees

Prospect Musings A Few Days Away From IIATMS Prospect Week

[caption id="attachment_80183" align="aligncenter" width="575"]Dustin Fowler 2015 Courtesy of Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com[/caption]

It’s been a busy week preparing for Prospect Week 2016.  There’s wild stuff going on behind the scenes that you guys don’t even know about.  I’m talking serious spreadsheet action.  The festivities kick off on Monday and there will be some more details on the whole schedule for the week coming later, but to get the prospect juices flowing I thought I’d touch on some of the trends I’ve noticed as we’ve worked on the list and some of the individual players I’m higher on and lower on than most.  It’s like a free look into the Brad Vietrogoski IIATMS Top 30 war room.

– The first thing that stands out to me after putting together this year’s list is how much upper-level talent the Yankees have right now.  It feels like they’ve got more legit future potential MLB guys in Triple-A and Double-A than they’ve had in a long time, and that’s without Eric Jagielo, Rookie Davis, and Jake Cave, who all would have been top 20 guys in our rankings.  By my count, 5 of the top 10 and 8 of the top 15 Yankee prospects are going to open this year in Triple-A SWB.  That’s solid.

– As for those prospects lost to the trade market this offseason, if you’re wondering where I would have had them, here you go: Davis 6th, Jagielo 7th, Cave 21st.  I also had Bryan Mitchell 13th up until a few days ago when I finally realized he exceeded his rookie eligibility in 2015.

– Another overall organizational trend that carries over to this year is the high level of Triple-A outfield depth.  We saw Ramon Flores, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott all get shots in the big leagues last year and 2 of those 3 will be back in SWB this year along with Aaron Judge and Ben Gamel.  I’m curious to see how the playing time breakdown will work once the regular season starts, and I’m even more curious to see how the call-up pecking order settles out.  I have to think Williams is the early favorite, but Judge could easily jump him if he hits better and Gamel’s “do a little bit of everything” style makes him a very viable call up candidate now that he’s on the 40-man. Continue reading Prospect Musings A Few Days Away From IIATMS Prospect Week

Throwback Thursday: My favorite home run(s) of 2015

In case you didn’t know, the Big League Stew blog over at Yahoo Sports is running a series called, “Homer History.” In it, writers from Yahoo and other websites, are re-telling stories about memorable home runs from their perspectives. It’s a fun series and frankly, I’m annoyed I didn’t think of it first.

So since I wasn’t asked to contribute to the series on Yahoo, [Oh I’m kidding, why would I be asked?] I thought I would totally bite off their idea, and write my own post about a memorable Yankees home run from the 2015 season. Or this case, four memorable home runs that just so happened to be hit on the same day.

***

“Some people say that life starts at 40. I’ll sign up for that right now.” ~ Alex Rodriguez July 25, 2015

It seemed like an ordinary summer Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Baseball was being played as the Yankees were facing the Twins at Target Field. and hoping to rebound from a tough loss against their former teammate Phil Hughes the previous night, but things didn’t start off so well for the boys in pinstripes. Their starter, CC Sabathia, put them in a 5-0 hole by the time the start of the fourth inning.

Sabathia gave up two runs in the first inning and three in the third and all of those runs came off two home runs – one by Aaron Hicks who hit a two run shot in the first and the other by Torii Hunter who hit a three run shot in the third.

As Alex Rodriguez waited for a 2-0 offering from Twins starter Tommy Milone in the top of fourth, YES broadcaster John Flaherty remarked that Alex had never hit a home run in Target Field. Not even a second later, A-Rod connected with an 88 mph pitch from Milone and sent it screaming 452 feet into the third deck of the left center field stands. As some boos rained down upon him, A-Rod rounded the bases with his head down and the Yankees were on the board.

Both Flaherty and his YES broadcast partner, Ken Singleton were in awe of the moonshot, which was reminiscent of Andruw Jones‘ shot a few years earlier (August 2011) which also landed in the third deck of Target Field. And fun fact: Sabathia was the starter that day as well.

In the seventh inning, with the score still 5-1 Twins, Rodriguez stepped in again to face Milone, and this time, Milone got way too much of the plate, and A-Rod creamed another one of his offerings into a faraway section of Target Field. Rodriguez’s second home run of the day landed 422 feet from home, in the Twins’ bullpen in left center, and it pulled the Yankees to within two runs, 5-3. At that point in the season, Rodriguez had over 20 home runs so I have no idea why anyone would try to sneak an 87 mph pitch by him, but Milone tried it and he paid for it.

Rodriguez saw six pitches in the two at bats against Milone that resulted in home runs.

Here’s where the home run pitches missed:

trumedia_baseball_heatmap

The inside pitch was the fourth inning homer and the one over the plate was the seventh inning homer.

In the top of the ninth inning, with the Yankees down 5-4, A-Rod stepped in against Twins’ closer Glen Perkins, and without wasting a moment of anyone’s time, jumped on the first pitch Perkins threw, and deposited it into dead centerfield 424 feet away to tie the game.

Here’s the one pitch A-Rod saw from Perkins:

trumedia_baseball_heatmap (1)

It was the first time Rodriguez had hit three home runs in a game since August 2010 and the home run against Perkins made A-Rod 6 for 10 against the closer with two home runs up to that point.

A few batters later, with Carlos Beltran on third and Chase Headley on first, back up catcher John Ryan Murphy joined the home run party with a three-run shot of his own on a 2-2 pitch from Perkins to put the Yankees up 8-5, which would ultimately become the final score. Murphy’s shot kept carrying and eventually landed in the flowerbed above right centerfield.

Murphy was jubilant as he rounded the bases. So was Rodriguez and when Murphy made his way back to the dugout, A-Rod grabbed him and gave him a celebratory bear hug.

Here’s the pitch that Murphy deposited into the flowers:

trumedia_baseball_heatmap (2)

It turned out to be a big win for the Yankees, and for Rodriguez, who would be celebrating his 40th birthday a couple of days later. It also turned out to be one of the best games of the 2015 season up to that point, even with Sabathia’s iffy pitching performance. And do you want to read something pretty amazing? Glen Perkins had only allowed six runs all season before the Yankees scored four off him in that ninth inning.

***

Comebacks are always a lot of fun to watch and in this case, Yankee fans were watching two comebacks unfold – a team’s and a fallen superstar’s.

Here’s the video if you’d like to relive the highlights.
Continue reading Throwback Thursday: My favorite home run(s) of 2015

Quick Hit: Why Not Try A-Rod At First Base Again?

I don’t want to make this a longer post than it needs to be, because I do already know the situation and know it’s not going to change.  But since the news of the Greg Bird labrum tear came out and we started going over the various backup plans that the Yankees have at their disposal, I can’t help but think this is the perfect opportunity to revisit the idea of Alex Rodriguez at first base. You’ll remember this was something the Yankees experimented with last year.  A-Rod worked out at first and got a little action in Spring Training, and Joe Continue reading Quick Hit: Why Not Try A-Rod At First Base Again?

Torreyes Reacquisition Provides A Second Chance To Make A First Impression

[caption id="attachment_80140" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Ronald Torreyes 2015 Good defensive position. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

The minor trade that brought Ronald Torreyes to the Yankees a few weeks ago didn’t make many waves, and the follow-up DFA’ing of Torreyes to clear a roster spot for Lane Adams made even fewer.  But in the wake of yesterday’s crushing news on Greg Bird’s season-ending labrum tear, the Yankees reacquired Torreyes from the Angels and sent Adams packing, shedding some light on their plan to cover for the loss of Bird as Mark Teixeira‘s primary backup at first base.

The primary part of that plan sounds like it’s going to be Dustin Ackley.  Cash was quick to tell reporters that the team would not seek to replace Bird through the MLB free agent or trade markets and that Ackley would be assuming primary backup first base duties.  Ackley has some recent experience there and he was picked up and retained primarily because of his positional flexibility, so the move makes sense for a team that has already established itself as one not looking to spend money on free agents.  With Brian McCann in the fold and in need of more rest at catcher, the Yankees appear to be prepared to cover for the loss of Bird at the 25 and 40-man roster level.  This of course assumes that Teix stays healthy.

So where does Torreyes factor in?  With Ackley shifting over to first and the rest of the infield already light on backup depth, he could fit perfectly as the do-all utility infielder role that the team essentially gave up when it traded Brendan Ryan.  That’s basically what I wrote about Torreyes when the first trade was made:

“Call me crazy, but I think we might be looking at the final member of the Opening Day bench in Torreyes.  He profiles as almost exactly what Brendan Ryan would have been for this team if he were still around, and I could see him easily outperforming Ryan in that role.”

In my mind I could see Torreyes taking over Ackley’s responsibility as primary backup to Starlin Castro at second, becoming emergency depth at shortstop behind Castro and Didi, and providing some much needed backup depth to Chase Headley at third.  That has to be a better plan than just saying Castro is the automatic backup for every position on the left side of the infield, no?  Torreyes could even fake it in an outfield corner if needed, and at the age of 23 with a high-contact offensive profile, there’s reason to hope that he could provide something resembling average value at the plate.

Now that’s not to say that Torreyes is going to be a difference maker with the bat, because he’s not going to be.  But how many last guys on any MLB bench really are?  The Yankees clearly saw something in Torreyes when they first acquired him and they clearly recognized the value he brings in terms of fitting their needs when they scooped him back up yesterday.  He’s young, he’s flexible, and he’s cheap.  He checks a lot of boxes. Continue reading Torreyes Reacquisition Provides A Second Chance To Make A First Impression

Tuesday Morning Links: 2/2/16

Busy day yesterday around IIATMS.  You probably have some catching up to do on that stuff, so I’ll ease you into today with a linkaround.  You’re welcome.

– Last Thursday, Nick Ashbourne of BP Bronx dissected the scenarios in which Didi Gregorius can hit left-handed pitching.

– On Friday, David Schoenfield of ESPN’s SweetSpot looked at NL players who would make great DHs if MLB ever decided to wake up and expand the DH rule.

– Jason Cohen of Pinstripe Alley broke down how shifting the strike zone up would negatively impact CC Sabathia.

– On Saturday, Chad Jennings pointed out Sabathia’s still very active role as a clubhouse leader despite his personal struggles and injury problems.

– Chris Carelli of Yankees Unscripted discussed the bullpen situation and the importance of getting something out of the middle relief corps ahead of the big three.

– On Sunday, friend of the blog and IIATMS alum Matt Imbrogno looked at Ivan Nova’s strengths and how they could be maximized as a reliever.

– On Monday, Daniel Burch of The Greedy Pinstripes listed his top 10 Yankee pitching prospects.

From the IIATMS team:

– Last Thursday, I continued my campaign for the Yankees to sign Juan Uribe.  The campaign has only gained strength in the last 4 days.

– On Monday, I hashed out my concerns about Chase Headley heading into this season.  By the way, you know who would make a great backup for Headley? Juan Uribe.

– Dom discussed the service time downside to the Greg Bird injury and touched on the new backup first base situation.

I watched the “South Park” episode where Kenny and Gerald Broflovski are addicted to huffing cat pee and they spoof Heavy Metal in the drug trip scenes last night.  That’s the only reason I’m playing this song today.

Continue reading Tuesday Morning Links: 2/2/16

Service Time: A Greg Bird Story

A scant few hours ago, we learned that the man they (read: we) call #GREGBIRD would miss the entirety of the 2016 season due to shoulder surgery. Some have already begun looking for silver linings, generally revolving around the likelihood of Bird spending the majority of 2016 in Triple-A due to the presence of Messrs Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran – but that is little more than scraping the bottom of the barrel for a silver lining. Shoulder surgeries tend to sap power (at least for a year or so), and Bird’s offensive game largely revolves around depositing the ball deep within the right field bleachers. And, of course, this ignores the full season of lost development for a 23-year old.

Oh, and it gets worse.

Due to Major League Baseball’s service time rules, Bird is all but guaranteed to garner a full year of service time in 2016. He is currently on the team’s active roster, which would put him on the Major League disabled list. While there may well be ways to game the system, it seems as though those loopholes have yet to be discovered. Michael Pineda picked up roughly a year and a half of service time with the Yankees before throwing a pitch for them in the Majors, and Zack Wheeler was credited with a full season in 2015 as he recovered from Tommy John Surgery. Both players were put on the disabled list closer to the beginning of the regular season, to be fair, but this is the rule – not the exception.

For the time being, Dustin Ackley‘s role on the team seems to have grown quite a bit, and Tyler Austin may suddenly be relevant again. It makes Juan Uribe and his ability to play second and third a bit more attractive, as well, should Ackley be forced into further duty at 1B and in LF. And, despite his butchery in the field (-14 DRS, -14.3 UZR at 1B), folks are already discussing Pedro Alvarez as a potential replacement for Bird. None are as exciting as Bird, who may well have the highest offensive ceiling of any Yankees “prospect” (yes, I know he doesn’t qualify at this juncture), though.

It may be premature to worry about Bird reaching free agency in 2021 instead of 2022, as he has yet to go under the knife. Nevertheless, this deals a serious blow to the team’s upper level depth in 2016, and puts a damper on the team’s plans in a post-Teixeira world. Continue reading Service Time: A Greg Bird Story

Prospect News And Notes: 2/1/16

Couple of quick updates on the MLB.com prospect lists that came out late last week.

Aaron Judge was the final Yankee prospect to crack a positional top 10 list, coming in as the #8 outfielder.  The brief write-up on him praised him for being a better all-around hitter than originally advertised while acknowledging his struggles upon jumping to Triple-A, saying “… even though he profiles as a potential slugging run producer, he’s also shown an ability in the past to make adjustments. Once Judge does that, he should be ready for his New York debut.”

Judge is going to have a lot of eyes on him during ST this year and I feel like Joe could give him a lot of burn to get a firsthand look at how he’s changed his approach against upper-level hitting.  If Judge is able to learn from last year and improve his Triple-A production while cutting down on strikeouts, he could skip guys like Williams and Heathcott in line when it comes to being the first outfielder called up.

– Interestingly enough, Judge was not the leading Yankee on the MLB.com Top 100 list.  He was edged by Jorge Mateo, who came in at #30, 1 spot ahead of Judge.  Gary Sanchez came in at #59 to complete the trio of Yankee selections, and I’m much more in agreement with his placement on this list than I was with the BP ranking.  Of course rankings like these can be wildly different and don’t mean too much in the grand scheme of things, but it is pretty cool to see the Yankees with 3 top-60 prospects even after Severino and Bird lost their eligibility.  The improved farm is finally starting to bear fruit.

If you’re interested, the top 5 prospects on this list were Corey Seager, Byron Buxton, Lucas Giolito, Julio Urias, and J.P. Crawford. Continue reading Prospect News And Notes: 2/1/16

Quick hit: Greg Bird out for the season

It’s not April 1, right? So this isn’t a joke?

Damn it.

More:

The initial injury occurred in May 2015.
Continue reading Quick hit: Greg Bird out for the season