After Blockbuster Deals With Yankees, Cubs and Indians Set to Duel in Fall Classic

Clint Frazier (Cheryl Pursell)

Both the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs had the best records in their respective leagues on the morning of July 31. While both teams appeared destined to play late October baseball, the back end of their bullpens were anything but a sure thing. As it became apparent that the Yankees were not going to factor into the postseason race, both organizations called General Manager Brian Cashman in hopes of fortifying their ultimate weakness. Both teams were able to reach agreements in separate deals for the Yankees available left-handed closers and have now found themselves in an improbable match-up for the ultimate prize in baseball beginning on Tuesday night in Cleveland.

Gleyber Torres with the Tampa Yankees (Bryan Green)
Gleyber Torres with the Tampa Yankees (Bryan Green)

The movement began on July 25, when the Bombers shipped flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman and his expiring contract to the Cubs in exchange for shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, outfield prospects Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford and big-league reliever Adam Warren.

The 19-year old Torres was viewed as the centerpiece of this deal and the Yankees believe that he is their shortstop of the future. He was the top-prospect in the Cubs organization and was ranked as the number 27 prospect in the mid-season top 100 list by Baseball America in mid-July. He has the size and frame that could allow him to move over to third base if the Yankees opt to keep Jorge Mateo at shortstop.

In 125 games in High-A between Myrtle Beach and Tampa, Torres hit .270 with 11 homers, 66 RBI and 21 stolen bases and is the current Arizona Fall League batting leader at .429 after six games of action. He should begin next season at Double-A Trenton where he will get his first taste of the minor leagues upper-levels.

Meanwhile, the 28 year-old Chapman pitched 28 innings for the Cubs down the stretch and struck-out 46 batters and surrendered just three earned runs while converting on 16 of 18 save opportunities.

Billy McKinney (Photo by Martin Griff)
Billy McKinney (Photo by Martin Griff)

Chapman recorded a save in each of the Cubs three NLDS victories over the San Francisco Giants and was on the mound to close out the teams 5-0 National League pennant clinching victory over the Dodgers at Wrigley Field on Saturday night. The win ended a 71-year World Series appearance drought for the Cubs; to say the win was meaningful for a deprived fan base would be the understatement of the last seven decades.

Six days after Chapman was shipped to Wrigley, the Indians pulled the trigger on a deal that netted them southpaw Andrew Miller. The price tag on Miller was heftier than that of Chapman because he was signed to a contract through 2018 at a bargain rate of $9 million per season. Manager Terry Francona has long been praised for his use of the bullpen and Miller’s name was at the top of his wish list for a variety of reasons. He is versatile reliever; a closer who is satisfied with not closing, he can get both righties and lefties out while going multiple innings with ease, and he is viewed as the ultimate teammate in the clubhouse.

Clint Frazier . (Photo by Cheryl Purcell)
Clint Frazier . (Photo by Cheryl Purcell)

Indians President Chris Antonetti and General Manager Mike Chernoff knew that 2016 could be their year and they opted to ship a plethora of very talented prospects to the Bronx to get a deal done. Miller headed to Cleveland in exchange for outfielder prospect Clint Frazier and pitching prospects Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen. All four prospects are at the Double-A level or higher and possess the upside of an above average big leaguer.

The 22-year old Frazier was ranked as the number 21 prospect in all of baseball in the mid-season top-100 list by Baseball America and he helped lead Scranton to the Governors Cup and National Championship titles this past September. In 119 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Scranton, Frazier hit .263 with 15 homers and 55 RBI.

In addition to Frazier, the Yankees badly wanted Sheffield in any deal that they would potentially make with Cleveland. The Bombers had been scouting both players heavily in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. The 20-year old power lefty had pitched all season at High-A and even reached Double-A before his season came to a close. Sheffield was ranked at 67 in the Baseball America mid-season top-100 and proved to be dominant after coming over to the Yankees.

In five games with the Tampa Yankees, Sheffield went 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA and fanned 27 in 26 innings of work; opponents hit just .157 against him. The organization promoted him to Trenton for his final regular season start and he shutout the Reading Phillies, the best team in the Eastern League, over four innings. The lefty struggled with control in two postseason starts for the Thunder but the experience will prove to be valuable as he projects to be the team’s ace in 2017.

Left-hander Justus Sheffield shows excellent mound presence for a 20-year-old in Double-A (Photo by Martin Griff)
Left-hander Justus Sheffield shows excellent mound presence for a 20-year-old in Double-A (Photo by Martin Griff)

Both Heller and Feyereisen are above average relievers and have closer-caliber stuff in the back end of the bullpen. Heller spent a majority of his him after the trade in the big leagues while Feyereisen went 5-of-5 in save opportunities and struck out 78 batters in 58 innings of work for Trenton.

An argument could be made the Miller has been the best player in all of the 2016 postseason. He was named the MVP of the ALCS after throwing 11.2 shutout innings with 21 strikeouts in the playoffs for the Tribe. He has pitched at least two innings in four of his six appearances and has gone longer than one inning in every outing.

While Chapman and Miller have put their respective teams in prime position to end historic championship droughts, the Yankees hope that their choice to sell them off will put them in the very same boat in the very near future.



End of the Year Review Spencer Mahoney

With the minor league season wrapping up it’s time to start reviewing and analyzing some of the Yankees organizations better performers. These wrap-ups serve to give readers a glimpse in some of the Yankees strongest statistical performers. The first article will discuss the season of Spencer Mahoney, a member of the Pulaski Yankees.

This past off-season the Yankees signed right-handed Spencer Mahoney out of Interdependent baseball. Normally such signings aren’t noteworthy, but Spencer’s story is rather exceptional. That’s because Spencer was a position player before spending time at the Driveline facility a year ago. Driveline is a data-based training program, which uses EMG sensors, wearable computers, and high-speed cameras to help analyze training regimens. This program by both hitters and pitcher; pitchers could use it to improve both their velocity and command.

With the program’s help, Mahoney was reportedly throwing 100 MPH. Spencer attended the facility last year and happened to have had a throw-day, the same day that Danny Borrell—the Yankees minor league pitching coordinator was visiting the program. Borrell helped get the process started and soon enough the Yankees signed Mahoney to a minor league deal.

Spencer’s interesting background put him on my watch list, and I was very curious to see how he would perform in his first season as a pitcher. Now that his season appears to be over—The Pulaski Yankees wrapped up their season last week—it’s a good time to review his season.

Mahoney started the 2016 season as a starting pitcher and pitched 23.2 innings in 6 games before moving to the bullpen. With that said it wasn’t a big change as he was used in multiple innings as a reliever, and managed to pitch 15.2 innings in 6 appearances upon moving to the pen. One would think a pitcher as raw as Mahoney would have trouble throwing strikes, but that has not shown to be the case.

Mahoney had a 2.52 BB/9 this season and walked just three batters in the 15.2 innings that he threw as a reliever. In addition to seemingly having good control, Spencer also had great strikeout numbers; he put up a 12.81 K/9. Overall his K/BB rate of 5.09 was the 20th best ratio in the Yankees system, and it’s even better if you limit it to actual prospects and that’s including guys like Anthony Swarzak and Vinny Pestano, who have better rates but aren’t prospects.

Mahoney’s other stats are just as impressive he has a: FIP of 2.06, an ERA of 2.52, an HR/9 of .23, and a WHIP of 1.02. Overall his debut season as a pitcher went about as well as you could hope, and he could be on his way to prospect relevancy.

Charleston RiverDogs 2016 Year In Review

Dillon Tate in hist Yankees debut with the Charleston RiverDogs (Charleston RiverDogs)

Charleston RiverDogs manager Luis Dorante was in good spirits before the 2016 season began. While talking to reporters on the field on media day, he joked about last year’s constantly changing lineup. “This year with the club that I have, we’re going to spend more time with this club now, hopefully we can win the first half and then they can take my players. The last two years they’ve been taking my players way before the first half ends. It seems like this year we’re going to keep them,” Dorante said.

The RiverDogs finished five games ahead of second place Greenville to clinch the first half Southern Division championship with a 42-27 record. The RiverDogs would appear in the playoffs for the first time since 2005 as a result.

By the time the playoffs rolled around, the roster had turned over quite a lot with only a few players remaining from the first half champions. Charleston went 34-36 during the second half and fell to second half Southern Division champion Rome in an exciting three-game playoff series, 2-1.

The RiverDogs path to the playoffs started with a sizzling start to the season. Charleston went 16-6 in April and the pitching staff would establish itself as the backbone of the team. The pitching staff ended up leading the South Atlantic League with a 3.03 team ERA.

Domingo Acevedo was impressive with his fastball he could throw into the upper 90s with a nasty slider. Acevedo went 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in eight starts before being called up by Tampa in the middle of June.

Brody Koerner started off strong with a 1.74 ERA in three starts with Charleston, consistently throwing strikes. Left-handed James Reeves, was impressive out of the bullpen pitching to a 2.70 ERA in 10 innings with 15 strikeouts in 10 innings. Reeves, from nearby Summerville, SC, was familiar pitching at Joe Riley Park, home of the RiverDogs, as he also pitched there for The Citadel in college. Both Koerner and Reeves were called up to the Tampa Yankees on April 26.

Josh Rogers would join Koerner and Reeves in Tampa two days later on April 28. The lanky left-hander went 2-1 posting an ERA of 1.59, striking out 25 batters in 22 and two-thirds innings.

Travis Hissong started the year in Charleston and quickly moved up to the double-A Trenton Thunder during 2016. He opened the year with the RiverDogs with a 0.54 ERA while striking out 23 batters in 16 and two-thirds innings. He moved up to Tampa from Charleston on May 9.

Despite the ever-changing pitching staff, the RiverDogs remained strong with pitchers such as Christian Morris, Nestor Cortes, Luis Cedeno and Yefrey Ramirez.

Cortes, Morris, and Cedeno would earn South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week honors for the RiverDogs. Cortes went 6-2 in 13 games with Charleston. He put up a microscopic 0.79 ERA striking out 75 batters in 68 and a third innings. His WHIP was a mind-boggling 0.746. He’d end up the year with Tampa, but made spot starts for Trenton and Scranton along the way. He earned his Pitcher of the Week honor for May 16-22.

Morris would be a mainstay all year long with the RiverDogs. He went 8-5 with a 2.99 ERA. Morris wasn’t afraid to pitch aggressively posting an impressive 1.07 WHIP in 120 and one-third innings in 22 starts. He won his Pitcher of the Week honor for the week of June 6-12.

Cedeno would join the fold from extended spring training on May 16. He earned his Pitcher of the Week honor for July 25-31. He ended up going 9-9 with a 3.68 ERA for the RiverDogs. On July 28, he was perfect through six innings against Lexington before allowing a walk and a hit to start the seventh. That was the only hit he allowed in seven innings pitched in a 1-0 RiverDogs victory. He was called up right before the playoffs to Tampa.

Ramirez went 4-2 in 11 starts with the RiverDogs with a 2.80 ERA. He struck out 66 batters in 61 innings allowing only 14 walks. He earned his spot on the Tampa Yankees roster on June 30.

Andrew Schwaab would be the right-handed sidearm closer for Charleston most of the season. Schwaab saved 20 games for the Dogs and ended up with a 4-1 record out of the bullpen with a 2.27 ERA. He made the South Atlantic League All-Star Team for the Southern Division, along with teammates Cody Carroll and Daris Vargas.

Carroll worked 91 and 1/3 innings out of the bullpen in 26 games. He struck out 90 batters with a 3.15 ERA. Vargas was 10-8 with a 2.95 ERA on the year. Vargas features a 97 mile per hour fastball along with a nasty slider and change.

The RiverDogs received an infusion of pitching talent courtesy of the Carlos Beltran trade. Dillon Tate, Erik Swanson, and Nick Green came over from the Texas Rangers organization on August 1. Tate was the biggest prize of the haul being the 4th overall pick of the 2015 amateur draft.

Tate showed great velocity on the mound with a biting slider in the mid-80s and a fast ball that reached as high as 96. There were reports that his velocity was down with Hickory this year, but that was not the case when he came over to the RiverDogs. Tate worked exclusively out of the bullpen putting up a 1-0 record with Charleston with a 3.12 ERA. He struck out 15 batters in 17 and a third innings pitched.

Green went 3-0 during the regular season with a 1.06 ERA and earned the Game 1 start in the playoffs. Swanson ended up with a 3.60 ERA pitching in five games, two of those starts, with Charleston.

Offensively, the RiverDogs had many impressive performances that landed much of the roster in Tampa. Thairo Estrada would be the first position player to earn a promotion to Tampa on May 22. In 35 games with the RiverDogs, Estrada hit .286 with five home runs and 19 runs batted in. He stole 11 bases in 14 attempts.

Connor Spencer was the next RiverDog to head up to Tampa after being called up on June 14. Spencer only hit five home runs in his time with Charleston, but that may be due to Joe Riley Park, a notorious pitcher’s park. He hit .253 while drawing 19 walks in 45 games.

Jeff Hendrix started off the year in center field for the RiverDogs and fought through two injuries in his time in Charleston. He injured his hamstring and spent time on the disabled list. After he came off the DL on May 28, he ended up winning Player of the Week honors for May 30 – June 5. During that stretch, he went 15-for-24 with three doubles and five RBI. He then sprained his wrist and landed on the DL again on June 14. However, when Hendrix came back, he picked up where he left off, earning a promotion to Tampa on July 17. Hendrix plays a very good center field and gets on base. He ended up hitting .299 with an on-base percentage of .401 with Charleston. He stole 11 bases in 14 attempts before his promotion.

Kyle Holder was another standout for Charleston. Holder is a sleek fielder who can play second base and shortstop. Holder ended up batting .290 in 88 games. He did have an undisclosed upper body injury and an ankle injury that landed him two disabled list stints. He was teamed up the middle with Hoy Jun Park, who also swapped between second base and shortstop.

Park is a solid fielder with a strong arm but seems more suited to second as he needs to work on his footwork. He also struggled at the plate hitting .225 while striking out 120 times. He did end up with 12 triples which led the league. He also needs to improve his base running instincts as he made many mistakes on the base paths. While Holder seems to be a good bet for Tampa next season, Park may need some more time in Charleston.

Chris Gittens had a very good season at first base for the RiverDogs. He hit .253 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI and was voted to the South Atlantic League’s Postseason All-Star Team. Gittens also won the 2016 Top Dog award as voted on by the fans. Gittens at times struggled with curveballs but improved against breaking stuff as the year went on. He has tremendous power and great pop off his bat.

Highly regarded Luis Torrens came back from a shoulder injury that sidelined him in 2015. Torrens did struggle offensively and defensively which was most likely a result of his time away from the game getting his shoulder back in shape. Torrens struggled with passed balls (16) during the season. At the plate, he hit .230 in 40 games.

In the playoffs, the RiverDogs faced a hot Rome Braves team built on pitching. In game one at Rome, Nick Green faced touted Braves prospect, Mike Soroka. Rome broke out first against Green, scoring on an RBI triple from Ronald Acuna that scored Ray-Patrick Didder.  Didder scored on an Austin Riley groundout to make it 2-0 Braves after one inning. Soroka shut down the RiverDogs, allowing only one run on a Hoy Jun Park RBI single in the fifth. Soroka went seven and two-thirds innings allowing seven hits, while striking out four, walking only one batter, picking up the win in the 3-1 Braves win.

In game two back in Charleston, the RiverDogs were on the brink of elimination down 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh. Kolby Allard, who was picked 14th overall in the 2015 amateur draft by Atlanta, shut down the Dogs for six innings, allowing no runs and only three hits. In the seventh, Chase Johnson-Mullins came in to relieve Allard and the Dogs furiously rallied to score four runs to take a 4-3 lead. Cesar Diaz scored Kane Sweeney with an RBI single for the first Dogs run. Vince Conde then scored Park and Diaz on a single to right field to tie the game at three. The Braves then went to the pen again and brought in Corbin Clouse. Jhalan Jackson scorched a grounder to third base that Austin Riley could not handle for the Braves which scored Holder for a 4-3 lead. Taylor Widener would earn the win in relief and Andrew Schwaab shut the door on the Braves for the save to secure the win and tie the series at 1-1.

Another promising prospect for the Braves would take the mound in game three. Max Fried would shut down the RiverDogs for seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 11 batters and allowing only one run. The Dogs only run came in the first when they took a 1-0 lead on a Park double that scored Sweeney. Christian Morris started for the Dogs and ran into trouble in the fifth. Riley doubled in Alejandro Salazar and Didder to give the Braves a 3-1 lead. Justin Ellison then drove in Riley with a double to left-center field to extend the lead to 4-1, which would end up being the final score and the RiverDogs season came to an end. Rome would end up defeating Lakewood two games to one in the South Atlantic League championship series.

RiverDogs defensive coach Travis Chapman summed up the season, “It’s been great. You look at the Kyle Holders, the Chris Gittens, and Jhalan Jacksons, the guys who have been here all year, Hoy (Jun) Park, those guys and the new guys who came in, they kept teaching how the RiverDogs play and kept them learning… It’s been a very successful season for the RiverDogs.” Chapman also had praise for pitching coach Justin Pope and the RiverDogs pitching staff, which was the strength of the team all year long.  “(Justin Pope) did a great job and really all the pitchers. They came in, Popey got them working, throwing strikes. We played defense behind our guys and our pitchers really battled. We got a lot of strikeouts, ground balls, got a lot of weak outs. You know Popey and really all of our pitchers did an excellent job.”

RiverDogs middle infielder Kyle Holder also reflected on the season and had this to say, “We had a great group of guys, we changed a lot, but somehow we were able to stay close as a team no matter who came into the clubhouse and I think that’s a big reason why we were so successful. Great group of guys and look forward to playing with them in the future.”

The RiverDogs had plenty of support in 2016, as the team broke its previous single-season attendance record set in 2015. 293,161 fans came through the turnstiles.

Before game two of the playoffs at Joe Riley Park in Charleston, the New York Yankees and RiverDogs announced they had renewed their player development contract for four years. The Yankees will supply Charleston with prospects through the year 2020.

2017 will see the RiverDogs open up the Riley Park Club. The addition is being built to the right of the press box and will provide 6000-square feet of event space that will be available not only during RiverDogs games but during the off-season as well. It will not only overlook the field but also give views of the Ashley River beyond the right field wall and the sunset over the wetlands along the first-base side of the ballpark.

On the field, the Yankees will field another strong team in Charleston for 2017 if the Staten Island Yankees 2016 season is any indication. Staten Island once again made the New York-Penn League playoffs, bowing out to State College in the first round.

Staten Island Yankees 2016 Year in Review

Nick Solak  (Robert M. Pimpsner/RMP Sports Media, Inc.)

The 2016 season was a year of transition and prosperity for the Staten Island Yankees. Under veteran manager Dave Bialas, the Baby Bombers qualified for postseason play for the second consecutive season as the New York-Penn League’s wild-card finishing 3.5 games behind the Hudson Valley Renegades with a 44-31 record. Off the field, the club prepared to retire the Yankees team nickname and develop an identity of their own to attract a new legion of fans.

With a blend of recent draft picks and returning contributors, Staten Island set a franchise record with an 11-2 start and added to the history books during the first months of the season. Following a 20-inning marathon victory in Brooklyn in the season opener, pitchers Drew Finley and Josh Roeder combined for a ten-inning no-hitter in their first game at Richmond County Bank Ballpark. The no-hitter was the club’s first since Jason Arnold blanked the Vermont Expos in June 2001.

“It was an honor,” Roeder told Pinstriped Prospects. “It feels to a be a part of this organization and its history and to do this with one of my buddies Drew Finley, it’s a good feeling too. We went out there and did our job. We were successful in getting a no-hitter and now we are a part of history.”

Dominant pitching set the tone for Staten Island throughout the season, thanks to a rotation where 13 pitchers recorded at least one start. Kolton Mahoney, a key member of the pitching staff in 2015, emerged as the club’s ace with a 2.92 ERA in 61.2 innings and pitched a complete game shutout on July 31 against the Auburn Doubledays.

The rotation also received a boost in late June as former 3rd round draft pick and Foxboro native Austin DeCarr made a successful return from Tommy John Surgery. DeCarr took a few starts to regain his form but allowed just three runs in 19.2 innings between July 28 and August 18 showing marked improvement.

Other notable pitchers included Freicer Perez, a 6’8” righthander who stood tall making the jump from the Dominican Summer League and emerged as one of the organization’s top 30 prospects and Delaware alum Chad Martin, who went 4-0 in five late-season starts. Staten Island finished third in the NYPL with a 2.82 ERA and finished tied for first in the circuit with ten shutouts.

At the plate, Staten island took an opportunistic approach throughout the season and displayed a propensity to capitalize with runners in scoring position and support the strong efforts on the mound. First baseman Dalton Blaser opened the year with 7 hits in his first 11 at-bats and Mandy Alvarez batted .364 in his first 13 games to earn a quick promotion to Charleston.

Catcher Luis Torrens would also join Alvarez in Charleston in mid-July after a triumphant return from shoulder surgery. Torrens, who missed the entire 2015 season returned to form as the best catching prospect in the Yankees’ organization after Gary Sanchez, showing no ill-effects from the injury. In 12 games in Staten Island, Torrens threw out 39 percent of potential base stealers and recorded a .760 OPS at the plate.

“Luis can hit. He has a short stroke to the ball and his arm is healthy now. He is a future major league ballplayer without a doubt,” Bialas said prior to Torrens’ promotion to Charleston.

Throughout the summer, the Baby Bombers established a variety of offensive contributors despite a constantly shifting roster. Outfielder Timmy Robinson, a 21st round draft pick out of USC, led the New York-Penn League with 52 RBIs and paced Staten Island in five offensive categories, including home runs (8), triples (4), and total bases (111). Robinson broke out on July 21 against the Tri-City Valley Cats with a 2 HR, 5 RBI performance and was a potent offensive force throughout the season.

Third baseman Drew Bridges, a returning member of the club in 2016, had the finest season of his professional career, batting .258/.321/.377 with 5 HR and 32 RBIs in a team-high 67 games. The Carthage, Missouri native was one of three Staten Island players to receive a NYPL All-Star selection and sustained his impressive play into the postseason with an extra inning home run to stave off elimination against the State College Spikes.

Lauded for his consistency and makeup, second baseman Nick Solak made the biggest impression on most observers. A 2nd round draft pick out of Louisville last June, Solak led Staten Island with a .412 on-base percentage in 64 games and exceeded expectations defensively recording a .975 fielding percentage. Solak was also adept at hitting to all fields and finished fourth in the NYPL with a .321 average.

On September 3, Staten Island clinched the wild card spot in the NYPL postseason with a victory in Tri-City. The Baby Bombers would face top-seeded State College in the semifinals and lost to the eventual league champions in three games, falling one game short of pursuing their seventh NYPL title. Although Staten Island did not return to the championship series, there was a sense of accomplishment for their postseason journey.

“I know it meant a lot to me and a lot to these kids,” Bialas said. “These kids have battled every day and worked hard, putting in extra work when they needed to and busted their tails playing to him. These kids deserved to be in the playoffs and that chance to compete for a championship.”

Staten Island became the 5th team in the Yankees’ organization to qualify for postseason play after clinching the NYPL wild card. With the 2016 season in the books, Staten Island will officially retire the Yankees moniker after 18 seasons and embark on the next chapter of their history. By year’s end, the club will officially have a new name and rebrand with an eye towards the future and generate local interest for their product on the field, while remaining a Yankee’s affiliate.

Yankees Facing Rule 5 Draft Decisions

The best guess is outfielder Jake Cave will be left unprotected in this year's Rule 5 Draft. (Photo by Martin Griff)

The Yankees will be debating who to protect in December’s Rule 5 Draft with more intensity this tine around.

Players have been lost and returned over the past few years – pitcher Ivan Nova and outfielder Jake Cave for example – and one has even stuck, as reliever Tommy Kahnle, taken in 2013, grabbed a roster spot with the Colorado Rockies (now with the White Sox) in 2014.

Cave almist made the Cincinnati Reds roster in 2016 after being taken in December 2015, but was sent back to the Yankees and is Rule 5 eligible again this year after returning to a system loaded with outfielders which already traded Ben Gamel.

The Yankees have cleared roster space already, as relievers Blake Parker and Kirby Yates were waived and picked by the Angels, reliever Anthony Swarzak declared free-agency as did infielder Donovan Solano and outfielder Eric  Young Jr. after both were  outrighted to Scranton.

Here are the key Rule 5 eligible candidates in the Yankees system and what we believe the club will do with them. This is just our view, and certainly can change in the next several weeks with trades and other moves:

IF Jorge Mateo – He had his issues with a suspension that cost him a spot in the 2016 Futures Game, and there has been talk he could be traded, but the Yankees certainly will protect this talented prospect in Rule 5.

IF Miguel Andujar – Good guy who hustled at Trenton after he got there in 2016. His fielding needs to improve, but given he is the top 3B prospect in the system – there has been talk of moving Glyber Torres there in Trenton in 2017 – he likely will be protected.

OF Jake Cave – Given the presence of OF Dustin Fowler, the guess is Cave will be left unprotected.

IF Cito Culver – His fielding, and a bat that showed better in 2016, may earn protection. It also may not. Culver could go either way.

C Kyle Higashioka – After a breakout season with 21 homers and 81 RBIs, earning the praise of Yankees talent guru Gene Michael, the Yankees announced last week Higashioka would be protected and added too the 40-man roster.

LHP Dietrich Enns – After going 14-4, 1.73 in 135 innings, Enns will be protected. A crafty southpaw who is a converted reliever. He can either start or relieve.

LHP Tyler Webb – Has velocity and potential as a late-inning reliever. Maybe yes. maybe no.

RHP Brady Lail – One of our favorites and a serviceable starter. Can see him getting a chance with another organization.

RHP Ronald Herrera – Still young at 21, with superb control. Can see Yankees protecting him over Lail. Combined on a no-hitter in Trenton.

RHP Giovanny Gallegos – Another reliever with potential. Whether or not he is protected will come down to how he compares with other right-handed bullpen options.

Those are the key players who will be exposed. Higashioka certainly earned his 40-man spot with his breakout season. The feeling here is Lail could get caught in the numbers game and Cave will be exposed. Both could benefit from a chance with other organizations. RHP Mark Montgomery, who has seen better days, can be left unprotected easily.

The players we feel definitely need to be protected are Mateo, Andujar, Enns and Herrera, who was obtained from San Diego for Jose Pirela and has an advanced approach to pitching.






Big Stein, Sweet Lou and Davey Added To Special HOF Ballot

georgeFive former big league players, three executives and two managers comprise the 10-name Today’s Game Era ballot to be reviewed and voted upon Dec. 5 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Md., the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced today.

George Steinbrenner, Lou Piniella, and Davey Johnson  join Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Mark McGwire, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig  as candidates that the Today’s Game Era Committee will consider for Hall of Fame election for the Class of 2017.

Baines, Belle, Clark, Hershiser and McGwire are included for the contributions as players. Schuerholz, Selig and Steinbrenner are included for their contributions off the field, and Johnson and Piniella are included for their work as managers. All candidates except for Steinbrenner are living. Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-member Today’s Game Era Committee will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 30, 2017, along with any electees who emerge from the 2017 Baseball Writers’ Association of America election, to be announced on Jan. 18, 2017.

The Today’s Game Era was one of four Eras Committees identified in July when the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors announced changes to the Era Committee system, which provides an avenue for Hall of Fame consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons.

The 10 Today’s Game Era finalists were selected by the BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee from all eligible candidates among managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players whose most significant career impact was realized during the time period from 1988 through the present. Eligible candidates include: Players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list, and have been retired for 15 or more seasons; and managers, umpires and executives with 10 or more years in baseball. All active executives age 70 or older may have their careers reviewed as part of the Era Committee balloting process, regardless of the position they hold in an organization, and regardless of whether their body of work has been completed.

The Today’s Game Era ballot was determined this fall by the Historical Overview Committee, comprised of 11 veteran historians: Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Jim Henneman (formerly Baltimore Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Bill Madden (formerly New York Daily News); Jack O’Connell (BBWAA); Jim Reeves (formerly Fort Worth Star-Telegram); Tracy Ringolsby (; Glenn Schwarz (formerly San Francisco Chronicle); Dave van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); and Mark Whicker (Los Angeles News Group).

The 16-member Hall of Fame Board-appointed electorate charged with the review of the Today’s Game Era ballot will be announced later this fall. The Today’s Game Era electorate will meet to discuss and review the candidacies of the 10 finalists as part of Baseball’s Winter Meetings, Dec. 4-5 in the Washington, D.C. area.

The Today’s Game Era Committee will meet twice in a five-year period, with the next meeting scheduled for the fall of 2018.

The 10 candidates for Today’s Game Era consideration for the Class of 2017:

• Harold Baines played 22 seasons for the White Sox, Rangers, Athletics, Orioles and Indians, totaling 2,866 hits and 1,628 RBI, an RBI total exceeded by only 31 players in history. A six-time All-Star as an outfielder and DH, Baines was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1977 MLB Draft and was a two-time winner of the Designated Hitter of the Year Award, now named the Edgar Martinez Award.

• Albert Belle was a five-time All-Star outfielder and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner in his 12 MLB seasons for the Indians, White Sox and Orioles in a career cut short by a hip injury. He drove in 100-or-more runs nine times, including three seasons when he led the AL, and led the league in total bases three times. In 1995, Belle became the only player in MLB history to post at least 50 doubles and 50 home runs in the same season.

• Will Clark played 15 years for the Giants, Rangers, Orioles and Cardinals, winning two Silver Slugger Awards and a Gold Glove Award at first base. A six-time All-Star, Clark compiled a .303 batting average while driving in 100-or-more runs four times and finishing in the Top 10 of his league’s MVP voting four times. He was named the 1989 NLCS MVP after hitting .650 with two homers and eight RBI for the Giants against the Cubs.

• Orel Hershiser pitched 18 seasons for the Dodgers, Indians, Giants and Mets. A three-time All-Star, Hershiser won the 1988 National League Cy Young Award and pitched the Dodgers to the World Series title that fall. The owner of 204 regular season wins, Hershiser was 8-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 22 Postseason games, winning series MVP honors in the 1988 NLCS and World Series as well as the 1995 ALCS.

davey-johnsonDavey Johnson managed 17 seasons for the Mets, Orioles and Dodgers, posting 1,372 wins. His winning percentage ranks 12th all-time among managers with at least 10 years of service. A 13-year veteran player whose 42 home runs as a second baseman in 1973 still stands as the big league record, Johnson led the 1986 Mets to the World Series title and led his teams to the playoffs in five other seasons. He was named his league’s Manager of the Year in both 1997 and 2012.

• Mark McGwire played 16 seasons for the Athletics and Cardinals, electrifying the baseball world in 1998 when he hit 70 home runs to break the single-season record of 61 set in 1961 by Roger Maris. McGwire set a rookie record with 49 home runs during his AL Rookie of the Year season in 1987 and was named to 12 All-Star Games at first base. His career mark of one home run per 10.61 at-bats is the best in MLB history.

medialy-birthday-boy-lou-piniella-shares-a-classic-george-steinbrenner-storyLou Piniella managed 23 seasons for the Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Rays and Cubs, winning 1,835 games – good for 14th on the all-time list. Piniella skippered the Reds to the 1990 World Series title and led the 2001 Mariners to an American League record 116 victories. Piniella guided his clubs to seven Postseason appearances and was named Manager of the Year in his league three times (1995, 2001, 2008) following an 18-year playing career that saw him hit .291 and take home World Series rings with the 1977-78 Yankees.

• John Schuerholz laid the groundwork for the Royals 1985 World Series championship team as farm director and general manager, then moved to the Braves, where as general manager and later president he built a club that qualified for the Postseason in 14 straight years, advanced to five World Series and won the title in 1995. He was the first general manager to lead teams to World Series titles in both the American and National Leagues.

• Allan H. “Bud” Selig was Baseball’s ninth commissioner, serving as acting commissioner starting in 1992 before being named commissioner in 1998. Selig oversaw two rounds of expansion, the creation of Wild Card playoff teams and interleague play as well as the creation of the World Baseball Classic.

George Steinbrenner purchased the New York Yankees in 1973 and oversaw the team’s path to seven World Series titles before his passing in 2010. An early adopter in baseball’s free agency era of the 1970s, Steinbrenner’s Yankees compiled a winning percentage of .565 and totaled 11 American League pennants in his 37 full years as the team’s owner.

More information on the candidates is available by visiting

About the Era Committees

The Eras Committees consist of four different electorates: Today’s Game (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1988 to the present); Modern Baseball (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1970 to 1987); Golden Days (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1950 to 1969); and Early Baseball (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball prior to 1950).

The Today’s Game and Modern Baseball eras will be considered twice each in a five-year period, with the Golden Days era considered once every five years and the Early Baseball era considered once every 10 years.

Eras considered for yearly induction over the next decade are as follows: 2017 – Today’s Game; 2018 – Modern Baseball; 2019 – Today’s Game; 2020 – Modern Baseball; 2021 – Both Golden Days and Early Baseball; 2022 – Today’s Game; 2023 – Modern Baseball; 2024 – Today’s Game; 2025 – Modern Baseball; 2026 – Golden Days. The Early Baseball era returns for induction consideration in 2031.

Both the ballot and electorate are created anew with each cycle for consideration.

Four separate electorates consider by era a single composite ballot of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players. Candidates remain eligible in perpetuity through the Era Committee process, with new ballots constructed by the Historical Overview Committee the fall prior to each election.

A-Rod Move Among Best Yankees Made in 2016

Alex Rodriguez will be excellent in his new role helping Yankees prospects improve their games. (Photo by Maritn Griff)

The 2013 season was moving toward its inevitable conclusion. Alex Rodriguez, then a 37-year-old (soon to be 38) with hip issues, was both battling his way back to the Yankees in their farm system and facing what became a full-season suspension for 2014.

Under the surface, it was Rodriguez’s start on the path to being a minor-league instructor, which just may prove to be one of the Yankees’ best moves of 2016. Some may say this is only because the Yankees must fulfill his contract, but wanting to help young players is quite legitimate with Alex.

At the time, we were assigned to cover this carnival of a rehab, which involved all the Yankees full-season farm teams – Charleston, Tampa, Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Some of the games were at home parks, where Alex heard mostly cheers, others at visiting parks, like Reading in the Eastern League, where he heard choruses in boo-flat.

Most of the questioning was about his hearings with MLB and the upcoming suspension that was handed down, rather than his health.

“We are just following the process,” was Alex’s answer, reminding the gathered media, adding he was working to get back to “helping the Yankees.”

On the field, he had trouble moving laterally at third base, but his swing and pitch recognition was as solid as ever. That, however, was not what was impressive about what was going on under a hot summer sun. What was, at each stop on this trek, perhaps not all that important at the time to many of the writers following Alex, was they way he worked with young players.

He showed patience. He gave advice. He answered questions, He stressed fundamentals. He talked about winning.

“It was great simply having him around to talk to,” said 2013 Trenton outfielder Ramon Flores, who would see time with the Yankees in 2015 before being traded to Seattle and settling in with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he has played in 104 games in 2016. “He has so much knowledge (about the game) and he wants to win.”

That Thunder team never stopped talking about A-Rod’s visit with their club, how it affected their clubhouse and how it helped them win the Eastern League championship in 2013.

“It’s such a bonus having a player like with us, even for a short time,” said then-Thunder manager Tony Franklin, who now pilots the kids at Appalachian League Pulaski. “Our guys just suck up all the knowledge he has when he talks with them. He loves working with the kids.”

The Yankees are presently operating their Instructional League in Tampa. with several of the club’s top prospects getting some extra work in. Rodriguez was in camp with youngsters like Clint Frazier and Jorge Mateo for a few days. Frazier told reporters “just having A-Rod visit us,” changed the atmosphere of the whole camp.

We heard some chuckles when A-Rod was released by the Yankees and it was announced he would assume an instructor’s role. Yes, he has a contract for millions and can’t swing the bat like he used to, or play the field like he used to. Yes, he’s obviously dabbled with PEDs, for which he paid quite a price.

But, next to actually playing the game, what Alex enjoys doing most is helping young players, He is as valuable in this role to the Yankees as he once was hitting home runs and accumulating RBIs.




2016 Season-in-Review: Tampa Yankees Part One

James Kaprielian (©Mark LoMoglio/Yankees)

The most consistent part of the Tampa Yankees 2016 season was by far their pitching.Tampa started the season with all very young arms in their rotation, and they would just continue to get better and better.

The four primary starting pitchers in the rotation were Vicente Campos, Ian Clarkin, Chance Adams, and James Kaprielian. Only one of them ended the season healthy and pitching for Tampa, but by no means was it a lost season for any. Clarkin and Kaprielian would both be shut down before seasons’ end.

Kap’ only pitched three games in the season before being shut down due to elbow inflammation. Though it was a possibility he’d return in September; some setbacks would have him shut down for the rest of the season and have his sights set on 2017. His three starts were still stunning, and a great preview of what was to come for the first-round draft pick. In three games he threw 18 innings, giving up three runs and striking out 22.

Clarkin was in for the Yankees up until mid-July, he also got better as the season went on, but the 21-year-old would be shut down as well. He hit 98 innings and finished with a 3.31 ERA; the injury did hinder Tampa, though. Clarkin was an arm the Yankees very well could’ve used in the playoffs, and it was likely he’d be their number one pitcher to start the Dunedin series.

Vicente Campos and Chance Adams would go on to have two of the best 2016 campaigns in all of the Yankees’ system. Campos was traded after being promoted to Double-A, then Triple-A ball. The Yankees received former Tampa Yankees pitcher Tyler Clippard in return from the Diamondbacks, and trading Campos was a bit of a head-scratcher to some fans who saw just how solid he was this season, but the Yankees still needed bullpen arms after trading Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. Campos pitched 59 1/3 innings for High-A Tampa, in that time he held a 3.49 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.

As for Chance Adams, he’d be promoted to Trenton just about two weeks after Campos, and he’d stun Trenton the same as Tampa. Before Josh Rogers and James Reeves, Adams was the Yankees’ automatic arm from the rotation. Adams pitched a similar 57 2/3 innings for Tampa and sported a 2.65 ERA, paired with a .96 WHIP. He also totaled 73 strikeouts and gave up just 17 earned runs in his time as a Tampa Yankee. Adams would give up more than two runs in a start just twice on the season and those two starts came in two of the first three games. In fact in his last month and a half at High-A, he didn’t give up more than a run in each of his last seven starts before continuing his success in Trenton.

After promotions and injuries, Josh Rogers and James Reeves would lead the Yankees to a majority of their second half success. After 22 2/3 innings in Low-A Charleston, he’d contribute 113 2/3 for High-A, finishing the season with a 2.53 ERA. At one point, Rogers would go 27 2/3 innings with giving up just a run in that five-game span. Rogers was up for promotion throughout the second half, but there was always just one other guy ahead in line. Rogers was another player who headlined the Yankees 2016 top-farm-performance-list. He did end the season somewhat sluggish, but he was just about as his innings limit come to the last couple of weeks. Rogers will be a name to follow throughout the fall as he could very well start in Trenton come 2017.

Not only did Rogers have a huge part in Tampa’s second half pitching success, but James Reeves was probably the biggest shocker in the Yankees’ farm this season. He started 12 games for Tampa this season and pitched in 25 games overall. His 2.27 ERA might be somewhat of a blemish on how strong he was. He allowed more than two earned runs in a start just once, and it was his last start of the season before he was moved back to the bullpen.

Reeves still has much to work on if the Yankees choose to move him back into a rotation, he pitched over 80 pitches just four times, and perhaps having him work this offseason as a starting pitcher was the reason for moving him back in Tampa. Reeves spent most of the last season doing that, trying to evolve his slider into an above average finishing pitch. Reeves will most likely start next season in Tampa, but I feel he could be up in Trenton after a couple of dominant starts. He struck out eight in his four innings he pitched for Trenton during the playoffs.

Supporting arms for the Yankees came in Domingo Acevedo, Domingo German, and Nestor Cortes.The trio finished with a 3.22, 3.04, and 3.21 ERA for Tampa this season. Injuries hindered Acevedo and German’s season as both were on and off the DL. German would be able to come back and make two more starts to finish the season, which wouldn’t be the case for Acevedo.

Before Acevedo’s injury struggles, it was confirmed he was set to be promoted to Trenton as it was, at the tail-end of the season after pitching 50 1/3 innings for the Yankees. With this in mind it means he’ll most likely start the 2017 season in Trenton should his off-season plan take its correct course. As for Cortes, he’d play from Low-A Charleston all the way up to Triple-A SWB. He helped the Yankees immensely in the little time he was there and was quite the pitcher to watch. Cortes has a lot of tools to work with, and none will necessarily blow by batters as he works with more off-speed variations. His fastball is mainly from 85-90 mph, but he also carries a changeup, curveball, and slider. Cortes is likely to start with Tampa or Trenton next season; he’ll be just 22 in December.

Nick Green Looks Forward To 2017 After Successful 2016

Nick Green (James Snook/ Spokane Indians)

Nick Green was a pitcher the New York Yankees had on their radar for a long time. Green was originally drafted by the Yankees in the 35th round of the 2013 Amateur Draft. Green felt he wasn’t ready for professional baseball and chose to go to Indian Hills Community College in Iowa instead.

“I didn’t think I was ready to start a career. I wanted to be more mature, more developed physically I would say,” Green said of the decision to play college baseball rather than accept the Yankees offer at the time.

The time at Indian Hills turned out to be invaluable and helped prepare him for his pro career. “They were actually an international scouting team as well. I played with a lot of Latin guys on that team. I played with older guys. I got to travel, go to a different state, so it was good,” Green said.

That year at Indian Hills helped catch the attention of scouts and once again, Green was drafted. This time, the Texas Rangers came calling in the seventh round. Green felt more ready to start his career by this point. “I did not know (the Rangers) would take me but I was really excited. I knew they were interested, but I wasn’t really sure how interested,” Green said.

The Rangers assigned him to their Rookie Arizona League team where he got his feet wet. Green went 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 14 games, five of which were starts. For 2015, the Rangers bumped him up to class A short-season Spokane. Green struggled going 0-3 with a 7.11 ERA. His struggles though were in part due to an injury that slowed him down. “I went through an injury and I came back not as confident really. I had a really good first half and then after my injury, I kind of went downhill after that and my confidence went down after that,” Green said.

For 2016, Texas sent Green back to Spokane where he went 2-2 in 12 starts with a 4.98 ERA in seven starts striking out 65 batters in 62 innings pitched. Then on August 1, Green received a call he wasn’t expecting. “(Rangers Assistant Director of Player Development) Paul Kruger called me and just said he’s happy with what I’ve been doing with them, he said I had been traded. I was pretty excited for the new experience, but I knew I was going to miss some guys with the Rangers of course,” Green recalled.

The Yankees received Green, along with Dillon Tate and Erik Swanson, in return for Carlos Beltran. Green was happy not only about the trade but about who he was traded for, as Beltran may someday be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. “That was pretty exciting, that was awesome. I was pretty excited about that,” Green said.

The Yankees assigned to Staten Island where Green got off to an excellent start. He was 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA with the Baby Bombers. Those numbers earned him a quick promotion to Charleston, where Green kept up his momentum. “I was really excited just to get started and meet everybody. I was really excited to start with another team (Staten Island) as well because that’s just another group of guys I got to know. The guys down there were awesome, so I was really happy to move up and start here with the new guys and get to know them,” Green said. With the RiverDogs, Green’s numbers were even more impressive going 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA, striking out 14 batters in 17 innings. Those numbers earned him the game one start for Charleston in the South Atlantic League playoffs. “I mean all these guys here are unbelievable, so to get that was a really really big blessing and an honor. I was excited to go out there and I gave them my best.”

Green struggled in the first inning of that start in a 3-1 RiverDogs loss. The Rome Braves ended up putting up two runs in the first inning. They would tack on another run in the third to make it 3-0. Green went five innings and took the loss. “It was exciting, it was really fun. I had a great time even though I didn’t produce what I should have, but I had a really fun time. The guys out there were unbelievable, they had my back. They swung the sticks the best they could and it was great,” Green said of his start. “I went out there and I just pitched my game. I’ve been working on a couple of things. Going out there and just continuing to do what I’ve been doing and trying to continue. That’s what I went out there with that mindset. Nothing really changed, it was just a bad outing.”

Green throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. He ends up striking out a lot of hitters and tries to pitch aggressively, throwing lots of strikes. “I just try to stay aggressive. I usually like when hitters are aggressive because they’re swinging. I like to throw my curveball out there, mix in a changeup every couple of times. I really like when they’re aggressive and I really like to just attack,” Green said.

One of the things the Yankees are looking for Green to work on is having a consistent throwing motion. “I guess like any other pitcher, more consistent mechanics. Continuing the same mindset every game. Just trying to be consistent over all, just like what any other pitcher would do,” Green said. “I’ve been working with Popey (pitching coach Justin Pope) and a couple of the coordinators around here. They’ve talked to me a little bit, but nothing too specific. I’ll be going to instructs so we’ll see what they have for me there.”

As for 2017, Green has a game plan in mind. “Getting bigger, stronger, obviously those are the two great things. Continuing my mental preparation every day and just getting better, confidently. I guess just to continuing to keep consistent mechanics. Make sure I don’t fall out of my every day routine,” Green said. “I’m going to go in and just obviously do my best, just like I do every year. I’m just going to go in with a plan and I’m going to go prepared.”

Green’s effort is what drives him to be successful, “I’m going to give my best every time I go out on the mound so you’re going to get what you came for.”

Parmelee, Montgomery Help RailRiders Rule Triple-A

Chris Parmelee's three-run homer got the RailRiders started in Memphis Tuesday night. (Photo by Martin Griff).

Memphis, Tenn. – Chris Parmelee blasted a first-inning homer and four pitchers took it from there as the SWB RailRiders (International League/New York Yankees) defeated the El Paso Chihuahuas (Pacific Coast League/San Diego Padres) for the 2016 Gildan Triple-A National Championship at AutoZone Park on Tuesday night. SWB’s first-ever overall Triple-A crown proved the first for the International League since the Columbus Clippers in 2011.

Three straight hits started the home first for the RailRiders, who enjoyed home field by virtue of the IL’s victory over the PCL in the Triple-A All-Star Game. Mark Payton singled, Clint Frazier followed with a single of his own and Parmelee sent them all home with a blast to right field off starter Walker Lockett (0-1).

SWB starter Jordan Montgomery fired a pair of perfect innings before a Jose Rondon double and a single by former RailRider Nick Noonan started the third. Montgomery retired the next three in order to quell the threat.

Montgomery (1-0) was lifted after three straight El Paso hits sparked the sixth, successive singles by Michael Margot, Carlos Asuaje and an RBI blow by Austin Hedges. Former San Diego prospect Johnny Barbato entered from the bullpen and started a string of 12 straight retired down the stretch by SWB relievers.

Phil Coke was perfect in the seventh and eighth while Giovanny Gallegos fired a 1-2-3 ninth to cement the hardware and record the save.

Season tickets for the 2017 season are now on sale. PNC Field in Moosic, home of the RailRiders, will be the place to be for the 2017 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game on Sept. 19. The Mohegan Sun Pocono Hotel and Casino and PNC Field will serve as hosts of the two-day event. To purchase tickets or to find out more information, call 570-969-BALL (2255) or visit