Wednesday, March 19, 2014

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

It was the Ivan Nova show at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, as the Yankees right hander was on top of his game, tossing 6.1 scoreless innings Wednesday afternoon in the Bombers' 7-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Carlos Beltran had a good day at the plate, picking up a pair of RBIs, as well as Adonis Garcia, who also drove in two runs in the game.

Brett Gardner walked and stole second to begin the ball game, then after a flyout by Derek Jeter, who went 0-for-4, Beltran singled into right field to score Gardner, putting the Yankees up 1-0 three batters into the game.

Beltran's second RBI of the game came later in the 7th inning on another single into right field, scoring Antoan Richardson from third base.

Garcia's two RBIs extended the Yankees' lead from 1-0 to 3-0 in the 4th inning when he ripped a two-out double into left field off of Braves starter David Hale, who gave up three runs in 4.1 innings.

The Yankees plated one run, in the 7th, after the Beltran RBI single, Brian McCann grounded into what should have been a double play, but after getting the out at second, Andrelton Simmons' throw to first base went wide, letting Yangervis Solarte come around to score.

New York scored one more run in the 9th inning when Zelous Wheeler drew a bases loaded walk against Ryne Harper

While the offense was doing it's job to score runs, Nova was doing his part -- from what I could tell, the game was not on TV today.

He set down the Braves in order through the first tow innings, picking up three strikeouts. Atlanta didn't pick up their first hit until a Simmons single to open the 3rd inning.

Nova pitched his way into the 7th inning, retiring the first batter of the inning before most likely reaching his pitch-limit. His final line was 6.1 innings, two hits, zero runs, five strikeouts, no walks. It was the Nova that the Yankees are hoping to see a lot of this season.

Danny Burawa, Shane Greene, Cesar Cabral and Dellin Betances combined to toss the final 2.2 innings without giving up a run. Betances closed out the game in the 9th and issued the only walk of the day by a Yankees pitcher. The Braves, on the other hand, walked 11.

The Yankees are on the road again tomorrow, this time taking the trip down south to face the Boston Red Sox at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers. David Phelps gets the call for the Yankees, and you can watch the game on ESPN.

By: Josh Sabo | Minor League Writer

Robert Refsnyder, 2B:

Rob Refsnyder was the Yankees 5th round pick in 2012. He was technically drafted as an outfielder but the Yankees always intended to move him to second. His stock has really taken off as a second baseman. The team will soon need a good long term second baseman, and as of now Refsnyder is looking like he can become that player. He will begin the 2014 season in Double-A.

Vital Statistics:

Born:   March 26, 1991
B-T: L-R.
Ht.: 6-2 
Wt.: 195
Drafted: University of Arizon, 2012 (5th round).
2012 A-ball stats( 46 GMs): BA/OBP/SLG/WOBA/WRC+                       .241/.319/.364/.319/91
2013 A-ball stats(13 GMs)                                                                           .370/.452/.481/.434/173
2013 Hi-A stats(117 GMS)                                                                          .283/.408/.404/.384/140  


Refsnyder was born in South Korea, but was adopted when he was three months old. His adopted parents raised him in California, where he attended Laguna Hills High. Refsnyder was actually high school teammates with Royals lefty John Lamb, but was no where near as good of a prospect..
Refsnyder wasn't even drafted coming out high school, and really only bloomed as a prospect once he got into college.

With that said he really came into his own in college where he never had an OPS under .800 and had an OPS of 1.000 in his junior year. Rob was a key part of Arizona's, College World Series run. He ended up with the MVP of the College WS, and signed with the Yankees soon after.

Refsnyder's college coaches all seemed to be very high on Refsnyder and his coach was quoted as saying that his outfielder has "the aptitude to hit,”... “he has good bat speed; he’s just a good hitter".  Scouts agreed that he could hit but questioned if he had enough power to be a corner outfielder.

A lot of scouts wanted Refsnyder to field groundballs as an infielder, but he did not feel that was fair to his teammates. In an interview with Chad Jennings, Refsnyder said that he that he felt it would be disrespectful to the teams current secondbaseman if he took grounders at the position. He apparently knew his refusal to take grounder would hurt his draft stock, but was willing to put his team first.

This means that the Yankees took a bit of risk, as they had no way of knowing how he would look at secondbase. So far the risk has paid off as he dominated minor league ball last year, and looks like he can make the majors pretty soon.

2013 Performance:

His 2013 performance was both good and bad. He showed that he has a good bat for second, and a decent amount of pop, but he was very shaky on defense. This isn't entirely surprising, as he hadn't played the position since high school, but it is still a reason for concern. It probably is one of the reasons that he was ranked higher on prospect lists, including my own. If he gets his defense down, he will shoot up the organization's prospect ladder.

He may never be a Robinson Cano type player, but he may become a solid regular. His performance last year allowed him to pass two levels and now he may only be a year away from the majors.He really excelled on offense, especially when you consider he played in two pitcher friendly parks. His power numbers were actually a better on the road, not that he will need much power anyway.

Scouting Report:

He has decent pop, which comes in the form of doubles, and he has a good hit tool.Refsnyder is a line-drive hitter who uses the entire field.  But the best part of his hit tool is his ability to get on-base. Last season he had 8 more walks than strikeouts. His 84 walks last season wasn't a fluke as he has a good eye at the plate.

Refsnyder's biggest weakness is his defense. Though it is more of question-mark than a weakness. After all he hasn't played second since high school. But many people believe that his defense will improve or is improving. Jim Callis, from wrote that Refsnyder is a prospect "who's  making strides at his new position". He also tweeted the following comment about Refsnyder at second: He "started slow there, nice improvements 2nd half last yr, can be adeq to avg. . Additionally Baseball America and others feel that he can be a decent defender at second.


Refsnyder is projected to be major league ready by 2016, and could very well be the Yankees starting second baseman by that time. Refsnyder doesn't project to have the highest ceiling, or even be an all-star, but he has talent. He could probably hit about 10 homerun a year, and would be able to get on-base at a good clip. I believe he'll become an average defender, which probably means his projections is along the line of a Freddy Sanchez type player.It's really hard to tell what type of player he will become until he plays in AA, and gets more experience at second.

2014 Level:

Refsnyder is going to begin the 2014 season in Trenton(AA), and probably spend some time there. Even if he shows he is ready for a promotion, the Yankees have a lot of infielders in AAA that will need time at second. The team has a logjam of infielders in AAA, and while most of those players aren't all that great they need to play. For instance players like Scott Sizemore and Jose Pirela, have to play in order to compete for a job on the Yankees. However, he will probably end up playing half of the season at AAA.

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

The Yankees make their first trip up to the Disney Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida today for a Grapefruit League game against the Atlanta Braves. Ivan Nova takes the mound for the Yankees, while the Braves hand the ball to David Hale.

Nova is making his fifth start of the spring, and we can assume that he'll throw at least five innings, or until he reaches his pitch-limit.

Even though spring numbers don't matter at all, Nova enters the game with an ERA of 5.40 through his first four starts. However, Nova has been showing some great control and feel for his pitches, with 16 strikeouts and only two walks in 13.1 innings.

Nova has really on had one good outing, in terms of giving up runs, so far this spring. He last took the mound in a split-squad game against the Philadelphia Phillies, getting knocked around for three runs on nine hits in five innings of work.

Regardless, he's penciled in to be the Yankees' fourth starter this season behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka, although recent speculation could have Tanaka making his first start in the fourth or fifth game of the season, which means Nova's first start could be against the Houston Astros in the Opening Series.

Today's lineup at Atlanta:

Derek Jeter made the trip up Orlando today, the first time this spring that he has actually gone on the road with the team. The lineup card had a "2" listed next to his name as if he was going to be behind the plate today, but it was just a silly error; he's starting at shortstop.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

Jacoby Ellsbury was held out of Tuesday's game against the Boston Red Sox because of some tightness in his right calf that has not gone away, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the game that Ellsbury wouldn't be back in the lineup until Friday, at the earliest.

Ellsbury won't play in Wednesday or Thursday's game because of the calf issue; the Yankees won't play him again until at least two days after the centerfielder feels 100 percent.

Girardi also said that Ellsbury still felt some of that tightness after going through a workout Tuesday morning.

“We just want it 100 percent,” Ellsbury said before the game today. “It’s just one of those things that when I step on that field … it'll be fine when I play in that game. That’s how we want it.”

Ellsbury was hoping to play today against the Red Sox, his former club, but wasn't able to get that chance. If the plan to keep him out for a few more days hold up, then it looks like he'll also miss the second and last meeting against Boston this spring when the Yankees travel down to Fort Myers on Thursday.

The first regular season meeting between the Yankees and Red Sox will be on April 10th when Boston comes to the Bronx for a four-game weekend series that starts on a Thursday.

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

There's no other way to look at it: Michael Pineda is all but certain to be the Yankees' fifth starter this season. In his second start of spring training, Pineda added to his brilliant spring resume by tossing 4.1 scoreless innings in the Yankees' 8-1 win over the Tuesday Boston Red Sox Tuesday afternoon in Tampa.

The Yankees used a four-run inning against Red Sox starter Felix Doubront to put them ahead big early in the game, and they never looked back, beating Boston in the first of two spring meetings.

Pineda looked just as sharp as he has all spring. He struck out five in before hitting his 60-pitch limit with one out in the 5th inning, giving up just four hits and no walks.

In 9 innings pitched this spring, Pineda has struck out 14 while issuing just one walk. One very noticeable thing is that when he misses on pitch, it's usually down in the strike zone, which is a good thing. I don't know how he wouldn't be named the fifth starter at this point.

The Yankees jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the 1st inning on a soft liner to center field off the bat of Alfonso Soriano, who is coming into form after missing a decent chunk of time early in camp with the flu. After flying out the wall in center field in his second at-bat of the game, Soriano hit a three-run homerun to left field in his third at-bat, which extended the Yankees' lead to 8-0.

Soriano went 2-for-4 in the game with four RBIs. I have liked the way he's been swinging the bat this spring, and don't have any worries about him be a more-than-half decent hitter in the Bronx this season.

The Yankees did most of their damage against Doubront and the Sox in the four-run 2nd inning.

Both Ichiro Suzuki, who hasn't played too badly this spring, and Derek Jeter singled home runs, and then Mark Teixeira came up a couple batters later and singled into left field to plate two more.

As the spring has gone on, Teixeira has been playing well enough to make most of the questions surrounding his right wrist go away. Like a lot of others, he is swinging the bat well down here in Tampa, and assuming he can stay healthy, he should have a pretty good season.

After Soriano's homerun in the 4th inning, the Red Sox would end up tallying the only other run of the game in the 7th inning on a Jonathan Herrera single off of David Henderson.

In all, the Yankees collected 14 hits this afternoon -- 13 in the first four innings. This was one of the few times this spring that they played with almost their complete Opening Day lineup, minus Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann.

Out of the bullpen, David Robertson took over for Pineda in the 5th and gave up a single to the first hitter he faced, but came back to strikeout the next two. Shawn Kelley, Fred Lewis and Matt Daley all pitched perfect innings in the 6th, 8th, and 9th.

The Yankees will travel up to Orlando tomorrow to take on the Atlanta Braves. Ivan Nova will start that 1:05pm ET matchup, and Jeter will also be making the trip for his first road game this spring.

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

The Yankees announced a thick handful of roster cuts before today's game against the Boston Red Sox. Opening Day is just 14 days away, so we can't say that any of this comes as a surprise.

Outfielder Ramon Flores, who played pretty well with the big league squad, was optioned to Triple-A Scranton. He was the only player cut that is on the 40-man roster, so they had to assign him somewhere.

The following players were sent over to the minor league camp across the street:

C Francisco Arcia
OF Tyler Austin
RHP Bruce Billings
RHP Robert Coello
RHP Brian Gordon
INF Corban Joseph
RHP Mark Montgomery
C Pete O'Brien
INF Jose Pirela
OF Mason Williams
RHP Chase Whitley

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

The Boston Red Sox travel up to Tampa today for their first of two meeting against the Yankees this spring. The Red Sox are a team that has not changed much since winning the World Series last season, though many of the regulars won't be playing in today's game.

Probably the most notable player taking the field for the Yankees today will be Michael Pineda, who is making his second start of the spring, and his third appearance overall.

Pineda made his first start of the spring last week against the Baltimore Orioles in a split-squad game in Tampa. He wasn't as sharp as he was in his spring debut, but he was still very impressive, striking out five in just over two scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and a walk.

Like we've mentioned before, his off-speed stuff is looking good, and the velocity might not get up into the high-90's, where it was before his surgery, but it's been looking fine in the 91-93 range, and should continue to build up as the season goes on.

Joe Girardi is expected to name his fifth starter by the end of the week, and the way things stand, Pineda looks to be the front-runner in that race with David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno not far behind.

Today's lineup against Boston:

As expected, Jacoby Ellsbury is not in the lineup today as he continues to nurse some tightness in his right calf that the Yankees do not believe to be very serious.

Ellsbury was scratched from Sunday's lineup and had a full day of rest on Monday. His plan is to to have a normal day of hitting, running and throwing workouts on today, while he is not certain if he would be able to play tomorrow.

"I don't want to say yet, just because I haven't talked to them," Ellsbury said. "I'm going to go hit, throw, hit off the tee - just kind of do my normal routine. I'll go stretch out in the weight room and report back to them."

For the most part, the Yankees are playing a lot of their regulars today. There was a handful of roster cuts this morning that have yet to be announced, so the Yanks will also be playing with a lot less no-names for the rest of the spring. We'll have more details on who was cut later in the day, so stay tuned here.

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

Exactly two weeks from today, the Yankees will be in Houston, playing the Astros to open the 2014 season at Minute Maid Park. Between now and then, Joe Girardi will have quite a few decisions to make regarding who he would like to have with him for the opening series.

As I did last week, I'm picking this roster off of the assumption that the Yankees will bring 12 pitchers and 13 hitters with them to Houston.

The hitters: Brian McCann, Francisco Cervelli, Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts, Derek Jeter, Kelly Johnson, Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Ichiro Suzuki, Eduardo Nunez, Brendan Ryan.

A lot of the same coming over from last week. I put Nunez on the roster this time around because he is actually playing well lately, and even though you could make a case for Yangervis Solarte, he's never played in the majors before, and his career minor league numbers kinda tell you why that might be.

Without realizing it, I left Ryan off of my list last week, so he's on there now. He was pretty much a lock to make the team coming into camp, especially after the Yankees gave him that two-year contract in the offseason.

You could also make a case for Scott Sizemore, who has been able to stay healthy this spring as he comes back from a second torn ACL. He probably won't be 100 percent ready until a couple weeks into the season, and has an opt-out on May 1st, so the Yankees could wait until then to bring him up, giving Nunez one last chance to prove himself, or else the Yanks won't hesitate to give Sizemore a chance.

The pitchers: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Matt Thornton, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral.

The starting five was a pretty easy choice. Michael Pineda, I think, will be the fifth starter. He's had a very impressive spring so far and the Yankees don't know if he'll be able to pitch out of the bullpen as well as David Phelps and Adam Warren can.

In the bullpen, David Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton were basically locks, and even though Girardi said in the offseason that Preston Claiborne would have a spot in the pen, his performance this spring has been below that of many other pitchers fighting for job. Phelps and Warren will start in the bullpen, and their roles will probably be ironed out through the first month of the season.

Dellin Betances hasn't done anything but show me that he's ready to be a reliable arm for Girardi this season. I really like the way he's been throwing the ball, and has more than earned his spot.

I had a tough time filling the final bullpen spot. I figured that with Thornton, the Yankees might find it useful to have a second lefty in the bullpen, and you could make a case for that to be Vidal Nuno, but I went with Cabral because he has been throwing the ball well down south, too. Like I said before, the Yankees have had a lot of pitchers throwing well this spring, and Cabral is one of them.

Monday, March 17, 2014

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

As spring training continues to wind down, we're going to start seeing a little more how the roles of players on the Yankees' roster will play out. By the end of the week, we should know who will be the Yankees' fifth starter this season.

From the NY Daily News, manager Joe Girardi plans to announce who the fifth starter will be at the end of the week so he can start ironing out the rest of the bullpen.

With that said, I'd be pretty shocked if Michael Pineda doesn't win the job with the impressive pitching he has done this spring as he continues to work back from shoulder surgery. He's going to beat out David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno, who have all had good springs as well.

Pineda has made two appearances, in start, so far this spring and hasn't given up a run in the 4.2 innings he's pitched, while striking out nine. Even better than that, he's only walked one, which shows good control early on.

While Masahiro Tanaka was been getting a lot of praise for the way he's looked this spring, Pineda has been highly talked about, too.

His velocity continues to build up -- he's been sitting in the 91-93 range -- which is expected. And his offspeed pitches, especially the slider, have looked very good.

A lot of the decision to have Pineda as the fifth starter would likely come down to who can pitch out of the bullpen, and who can't.

The Yankees had both Phelps and Warren in the bullpen last season, Warren more then Phelps, and both were very solid.

Phelps has had a good spring, with an ERA of 2.63 in four starts. His stuff has also looked good, and the Yankees know that he can pitch out of the bullpen, and even though he would be a good fifth starter, we don't know who well Pineda would pitch out of the bullpen.

Warren has really made himself know this spring with the way he has pitched. A lot like Phelps, he can be a pretty good back-end of the rotation starter in the big leagues, but on this Yankees squad, his stuff is best suited for the bullpen, where he can have a lot of success this season.

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

Assuming the rain doesn't ruin the field of play, the Yankees will travel to Bradenton today to face the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 1:05pm ET matchup at McKechnie Field.

Hiroki Kuroda will be on the mound for the Yankees making his fourth start of the spring. After two very good showings in his first couple of starts, Kuroda was far from impressive, getting hit hard by the Detroit Tigers. He gave up four runs in the first inning of the game.

His control was one of the biggest problems. He was leaving a lot of pitches up in the zone during the first inning, giving up a lot of hard hits. He gave up a total of six runs on 10 hits in 3.1 innings.

As you would expect, the terrible outing caused many to worry that Kuroda might be doomed for a bad year after the way he finished last season, but realistically, it's spring training, and the only pitching performances that should matter are the ones in the regular season.

As long as Kuroda can stick to having better control today, and keep the ball down, he should have a lot more success against today's Pirates squad.

Today's lineup vs Pittsburgh:

Jacoby Ellsbury was scratched from yesterday's lineup with some tightness in his right calf, though no one believes it to be serious. Ellsbury was hoping to be back in the lineup tomorrow when the Yankees host the Boston Red Sox in Tampa, but it looks like Joe Girardi doesn't expect him to play tomorrow, either.

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

In Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo's latest Sunday column, the baseball insider discussed a few topics surrounding the Yankees, including the trade rumors involving catcher Francisco Cervelli.

Starting with Cervelli, Cafardo says that the Yankees are a little cautious about dealing him because they feel that if something should happen to Brian McCann, then Cervelli would be the best option the start in his place.

As Cafardo writes, "There appears to be a market for Cervelli on the trade front as the Yankees try to whittle their catching options and add a reliever. Austin Romine could serve as Brian McCann’s backup."

Cervelli has been having a great spring both in the field and at the plate for the Yankees. He continued his hot-hitting in Panama on Sunday with a 3-for-3 game, raising his spring average to .480 (12-for-22).

Chad Jennings of Lohud first reported last week that several teams had been watching Cervelli.

Here's what Jennings had to say:

"Cervelli’s trade value is seen as fairly limited. A non-Yankees source suggested a team might be willing to trade one of its own out-of-options player for him; basically an excess-for-excess swap. It seems that teams realize Cervelli could be expendable, so they're checking on him."

My thoughts: Keeping Cervelli would be best for the team to start the season, at least. Every team has depth somewhere on the diamond, and the Yankees just happen to have that at the catcher position, and it's often best to hold onto that depth.

Remember when the Los Angeles Dodgers had more starting pitchers than they could handle last spring before getting rid of a couple of them? Well, a couple injuries later and they found themselves with a huge hole in their rotation.

On Stephen Drew: Even though the Yankees don't have any interest -- at least not publicly -- in signing the free-agent shortstop, others around the league see it as a good fit, as Cafardo writes:

"There are scouts and front office people who feel the best fit for Stephen Drew is the Yankees. With the short porch for a left handed pull hitter “he could hit 20 home runs there,” said one American League East adviser. With Derek Jeter retiring after this season and the injury-plagued Brian Roberts at second base, the feeling is they could get Drew at-bats at shortstop, DH, and second base, and then have him take over shortstop next season. One major concern for the Yankees has to be the range of their infield, which Drew could improve."

Although they might not be too fond of their current infield situation, the Yankees look ready to head into the season with an infield core of Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts, Derek Jeter and Kelly Johnson start at the four positions, with Brendan Ryan and maybe Eduardo Nunez and Scott Sizemore are potential backups.

Lastly, on Michael Pineda: Cafardo also took a little bit of a look at the Yankees' fifth starter competition, including Pineda, who ash been looking pretty impressive in his first couple of spring outings.

"If spring training ended today, he would likely win the No. 5 starter job, which has been up for grabs among Pineda, Adam Warren, David Phelps, and Vidal Nuno." Cafardo wrote. "One or two of the losers will likely find spots in the bullpen. They still have a need for a lefty reliever with Matt Thornton being their one and only for the moment.

By: Josh Sabo | Minor League Writer

Throughout spring training, we here at Yanks Beat Blog will be updating you on the the progress of the team. In this series, I will give weekly updates on the stats and performances of the Yankees prospects.

The term prospect will be used loosely here and will include a lot of fringe prospects, and some players that shouldn't be considered prospects. When this feature continues on into the year I will be more restrictive in my usage of the word prospect. The players will be listed in random order and the player stats will be listed after their names.

The following stats will be given to position players: games played, AVG, OBP, and SLG. Pitcher's stats will be: innings pitched, strike outs, ERA and WHIP.

1. Yangervis Solarte,  14/.517/.563/.724: Solarte has been one of the hottest, if not the hottest Yankees this spring. But he still needs to displace Eduardo Nunez on the Yankees roster. Considering that Nunez has done well this spring, has played in the majors and is on the Yankees roster, Nunez has an advantage.As of now it looks like he is on equal footing with Scott Sizemore and Adonis Garica, but ahead of ahead of Dean Anna.

2.  Adonis Garcia, 14/.455/.455/.500: Garcia has been very steady this spring, but hasn't blown people away to the same degree that Solarte has.Like Solarte he is better suited as a super-utility player, and most likely would only make the team later on into the year.

3. John Ryan Murphy, 12/.083/.120/.208: There was little doubt that Murphy would be starting the year in the minors, but his performance is still surprisingly poor. Fortunately no good GM will think less of him, but it would have been nice if he could have impressed a few scouts. He won't be an early cut, so he has some time to turn his spring around.

4. Dean Anna, 13/.250/.379/.250: Anna is still getting on base, but his overall numbers are done since his hot start. I think everyone realizes he can get on base, but his power has to greater than it has been so far. With that said he is on the 40-man roster, so I wouldn't be surprised if he is a Yankee at some point. Of course it's also possible that Anna would be one of the first players the Yankees DFA if they need a roster spot.

5. Gary Sanchez, 8/.364/..364/.909: Thanks to a few split-squad games Yankee fans have gotten the chance to see a bit more of the team's best prospect. He has really done well against decent competition. Hopefully his performance is a sign of what he can do in AA, where he will spend most of his year.

6. Jose Pirela, 14/.381/.409/.571: Pirela is quietly having a very nice spring, but then again all the Yankees infielder are doing well. I personally consider him more of a prospect than the previous infielders; because he is younger, but he is still a long shot to make the team. He should finally start in AAA, and could be more valuable to the Yankees than Anna or Nunez.

7. Ramon Flores, 14/.269/.310/.423: Flores was really impressive in yesterday's game. Flores knocked two hits versus solid competition. His first hit came against Julio Teheran, and the second came against Atahualpa Severino. His performance may mean that he gets an opportunity to start in AAA, but either way he is expected to play there at some point next season. It's interesting that he has shown more power than on-base potential this spring, but that's what we get when we use small samples.

8. Mason Williams, 15/.174/.192/.261: Williams also had a hit versus Teheran yesterday, and looked pretty good at the plate the past few games; though the results are still not there. Perhaps more important than his spring stats is that he looks to be in good shape, and is hustling. It's nice to see him attempt to beat out grounders, because his attitude was considered a major problem for him. Williams will get to play with the big league camp for a few more games, but will probably be cut sometime soon. He is slated to begin the year in AA.

9. Austin Romine, 11/.200/.259/.200: Romine has started playing more games this past week, and has looked slightly better, but is not ready for the season. He will get more and more opportunities to play but he most probably won't begin the season with the Yankees. Unless the Yankees decide to trade him or another catcher.

10. Russ Canzler, 9/.158/.200/.158: Canzler wasn't playing well, and now he has to deal with a hip injury. He will have to battle a few other players for playing time in AAA.

11. Dellin Betances, 9/8/1.00/0.67:  Betances was a bit shaky yesterday, but I don't think anyone expected him to perfect for the rest of his career. He deserves a spot on the team, and he could play a huge role in their playoff race.

12. Cesar Cabral, 7.1/8/0.00/0.82: Cabral really looks good this spring, though he has walked a few more batters than one would like. Cabral is a virtual lock to make the team, but he will have to hold off Fred Lewis and Vidal Nuno for the entire season.

13. Fred Lewis, 6.1/5/0.00/1.26: Lewis has looked pretty this spring, but I don't think the Yankees will open up a spot for him just yet. Lewis has been getting praise from Joe Girardi, so it does look like he has a future on team. The late bloomer will begin the season in AAA.

14. Manny Banuelos, 1/2/63.00/7.00: Manny is back, but he's clearly very rusty. He will begin the season in Tampa to avoid cold weather, and it might take him some time to get back to form. The Yankees just need to be patient, the important thing is that he is back.

15. Danny Burawa, 6.2/2/2.70/1.20: I don't think they keep track of ground ball outs in spring training, but I have really been surprised on just how many grounders Burawa has induced. Most of the hits off of Burawa have been groundball singles as well. He and Matt Daley have looked very good this spring.

16. Mark Montgomery 4.1/2/2.08/0.23: Montgomery hasn't really shown that he has recovered his velocity, but his command seems to have bounced-back. That might be enough to make him a good prospect again, as he was mostly a slider guy anyway.

17. Chase Whitley, 4.2/4/13.50/2.57: Whitley has really had a bad spring, and his struggles continued in Panama versus the Marlins. Despite allowing a run in his one inning of work his ERA went down. That probably tells you all you need to know about his spring. It's nothing to really be concerned about but he'll have to bounce-back in AAA.

18. Vidal Nuno, 6/6/1.50/.67: Nuno pitched a very good game versus a good Orioles lineup. He looks like he is could actually be a decent starter, though time will tell if he ever gets that chance with the Yankees. At a certain point you have to ignore stuff and just look at a player's performance, and Nuno always seems to perform well. He should begin the 2014 as a starter in AAA.

19. Bryan Mitchell, 3/5/0.00/1.00: His opponent quality is 9.2 out of 10, but you wouldn't know that by looking at his performances.  He has looked really good and confident this spring. He has struck several major league players, including Jose Bautista. He has yet to walk a single batter, which was his main weakness in his career. Of course this is a tiny 3 inning sample, but I like the way he has looked this spring. This has probably been said about Mitchell before; but this might be the year he plays to his potential.

20. Shane Greene5/7/3.60/1.00: Pretty much everything I just wrote about Mitchell can be said about Greene. Greene has shown that he has good movement on his 2-seamer and that his off-speed stuff is pretty good. Green really did well versus the Braves starting lineup, though one bad pitch resulted in a Justin Upton homerun. Greene will begin 2014 in AA with Mitchell but will probably move faster than him.

21.Peter O'Brien: 10/.000/.063/.000 O'Brien is clearly trying to do too much at the plate, and is swinging at way too many pitches. He had a nice at-bat yesterday versus Teheran, which shows he has some talent, but he has too be more patient. Just because he has power doesn't mean he should swing at everything. He'll be fine once he gets back to being himself, he just needs to go the minors.

22. Tyler Dugas: 4/.250/.250/.500: Dugas had a very good at-bat versus Darren O'day. He fought off a few tough pitches and ended getting a double. This at-bat pretty much shows the type of hitter he is; he is a pesky hitter that makes the pitcher work. I really hope the Yankees give him a shot, as he just keeps on hitting.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

By: Josh Sabo | Minor League Writer

We're entering the part of spring training where stats start to mean slightly more. Teams are beginning to bring out out their real lineups, and are starting to allow their pitchers to throw more. Today the Yankees essentially faced the Braves starting lineup and Masahiro Tanaka was allowed to throw 74 pitches.

The Braves lineup didn't seem to faze Tanaka, as he looked excellent. He allowed one run in 4.1 innings, and struck out six batters. He struck out the following batters: Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, Ryan Doumit, B.J Upton, Ernesto Mejia, and Tyler Greene. The one run he did allow was greatly aided by the wind, and probably should have been a fly out.

The Braves other three runs came in the 5th, 8th and 9th innings. In the fifth Matt Thornton allowed Jason Heyward to hit a double and then gave up a single to B.J Upton that scored the Braves second run. Thornton was throwing 93, but didn't look great. Considering that Heyward is a lefty Thornton really didn't do his job. I'd still feel comfortable using him as the primarily loogy, but he hasn't missed many bats this spring.

The Braves third run came in the 8th when Shane Greene allowed a homerun versus Justin Upton. The homerun was Greene's only bad pitch, as he looked very good versus the Braves starting lineup. Greene was able to strike-out Tyler Greene, Andrelton Simmons, B.J Upton, and Ernesto Meija. He really has nice off-spead stuff to go with a pretty good 2-seamer. Greene will start in Trenton and based what I've seen this spring should be Yankee eventually.

The final run came off Dillon Betances who finally had a shaky outing. He allowed a walk and a hit-by-pitch, but overall still looked solid. The run scored on a force-out and he got out of a jam with a strike-out. I think he has already won a bullpen spot, but he still shouldn't be hitting and walking people.

The Yankees scored most of their runs in the 5th, as they exploded for 6 runs, their other run came in the 2nd and gave them a early 1-0 lead.  The second inning run came off a RBI from Ichiro Suzuki which scored Ramon Flores. It should be noted that Flores and Mason Williams singled off of Julio Teheran; this is a pretty impressive feat for two of the team's better prospects.

The Yankees scored the rest of their runs in the fifth as Atahualpa Severino, was pretty wild. He began the inning by walking Ichiro and Eduardo Nunez. He recovered slightly by getting Mark Teixeira to pop-up. But Mccann came through with a 1 out double, to score two runs. Kelly Johnson then hit a line-drive single, which moved pinch-runner, Kyle Roller to third. Another hit by Ramon Flores scored Roller, and a wild pitch scored Kelly Johnson one batter later. A sac fly by Mason Williams and a fielding error allowed the Yankees to score two more runs, which was enough to win the game.

Other notes should include the fact that Shawn Kelley  had a perfect inning in the sixth and has really had a good spring, and that Mccann and Johnson really look good at the plate. But the main takeaway from this game is that Tanaka looks like a legitimate number 2 starter. He barely threw his fastball but was able to to throw it hard when he was in a jam. For this reason people shouldn't be that concerned with his velocity readings from Japan, as he knew what he was doing there. He saves his velocity for when he needs it.

It should also be noted that Ichiro, Flores and Williams all looked good today and show just how much depth this team has in their outfield.

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

After coming into spring training with an outside shot at making the Yankees' bullpen to open the season as the second left hander behind Matt Thornton, Manny Banuelos was optioned to the Single-A Tampa Yankees Sunday afternoon.

It's worth noting that just because he was optioned to Tampa, it doesn't necessarily mean he'll start the season there.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that he is still thinking about Banuelos will actually begin his 2014 season, though, it could be in Tampa.

“We’re still talking about (where to have him start the season), so whatever team we assign today, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the team he’s going to be with,” Cashman said. “We’re going to take into account weather and everything else and what’s best. Obviously the arm strength’s there. I think he’s a little rusty, which is understandable. We’ll see how the rest of minor league camp goes before the actual placement will take place.”

Banuelos last took the mound for the second time this spring on Friday, facing the Minnesota Twins in Tampa. He entered the game in the 6th inning and loaded with bases with a single and two walks. He was able to get a strikeout, but a ground-rule double that plated a pair of runs was where he day ended.

Fred Lewis replaced him and gave up a pair of runs that were charged to Banuelos, putting him at four earned runs on the day, seven total this spring in one full inning worth of work.

Banuelos struggled with him control from the start, obviously, with the two walks.

“I think at the start it looked like he was scattered a little bit, and then he found it,” Yankees manager for the weekend Rob Thomson said after the game. “They got some soft hits off him, too. I’m just, for me, I’m just happy to see him out there.

“He’s been out for a long time. He hasn't had many outings. So I’m just happy that he’s out there and he’s throwing the ball. He’s going to have success because he’s got a good arm and he’s a tough kid, and we've just got to wait a while, that’s all.”

Coming back from an elbow surgery that he underwent almost two years ago, it was a long-shot for Banuelos to actually make the Yankees’ bullpen out of spring training. He first appearance last week was his first game action since the surgery, so he still has a ways to go in his comeback.

Banuelos is rated as one of the best pitching prospects in the Yankees’ farm system, and as a projected starter — a possible No. 2 or 3 — it could be key for him to pan out the way people think he should.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

A lot of the talk surrounding Masahiro Tanaka this spring has been about what he'll game start for the Yankees to open the season. While many believe that it'll be the third game, in Houston, that might not be the case.

Though indirectly, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild may have hinted that Tanaka is currently being set up to start the fourth or fifth game of the season.

If that were the case, Tanaka would make his first Major League start against AL East rivals the Toronto Blue Jays.

The reason being that if Tanaka were to start in the fourth or fifth game, it would allow him to get some extra rest early in the season because of how the Yankees' schedule is set up to begin the year.

“I think we weigh the schedule a little bit, where he can get extra rest in the season to try to keep him strong through the year,” Rothschild said. “We've got the 13 games in a row to start. That’s going to impact when we decide to pitch him.”

In Japan, Tanaka would only pitch once a week, compared to the every five days he'll pitch in America. Giving him some early rest would help in stretching him out so pitching every five days won't be a big issue as the season goes on.

So right now, it would be CC Sabathia as the Opening Day starter, with Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova pitching the other two games in Houston. Tanaka starts in Toronto and pitches five days later in the Bronx. He'll then be able to make his third start of the season on an extra day worth of rest.

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

While most of the big names prepared for a match against the Miami Marlins tonight in Panama, the Yankees have sent a bunch of minor leaguers to take care of business in Sarasota today as the face the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.

Vidal Nuno will make his first start in a while. He came into the spring as a far outside shot to win the Yankees' fifth starter job, and even though he pitched well in his first two starts of the spring, it seems as if he is already out of the race with about two weeks left in Florida.

Nuno's last start was against the Toronto Blue Jays back on March 2nd, and he pitched pretty well, tossing two innings of one-run ball, giving up two hits while striking out three. His only blemish of the day was a solo homerun off the bat of Jose Bautista in the 1st inning.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the game that it's possible Nuno could be placed in the bullpen to start the season if he doesn't win the fifth starter job.

“I think you have to consider him, too,” Girardi said. “I think you have to. He’s left-handed. He can give you some innings. He can get left-handers and right-handers out. I think you have to look at it.”

Today's lineup against Baltimore:

Only a few unknown names in the starting lineup, but it gets worse with the second string players listed below. Eduardo Nunez will cleated in the leg during yesterday's game, but he wasn't scheduled to play today anyway, so that is not why he isn't playing today. Russ Canzler was suppose to travel with the team today, but stiffness in his neck that came up the other day have kept him out.

Today’s second string: C Pete O’Brien, 1B Zach Wilson, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Cito Culver, 3B Rob Segedin, LF Ben Gamel, CF Jake Cave, RF Taylor Dugas.

Today’s scheduled relievers: Brian Gordon, Mark Montgomery, Danny Burawa, Diego Moreno and Joel De La Cruz (Shane Greene, Manny Barreda, Graham Stoneburner, Branden Pinder and Charlie Short are also making the trip).