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Tuesday, July 27, 2004
 
THEY SHOULD BUILD MINOR LEAGUE STADIUMS WITH ROOFS...   ...it'd be really expensive, but then we wouldn't have nights like tonight where the Clippers are rained out and the SI Yanks have a doubleheader rained out. There were mixed prospect results for clubs that did play.   Ramon Ramirez was not outstanding tonight, 7-7-4-4-1-6-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR), but his numbers since coming back from injury have been: 54.2-53-24-24-15-64-3. That would be a nice low HR rate, a K:BB ratio in excess of 4, and 10.5 K/9. I take that as more indicative of Ramirez's ability than anything else he has done this season, as it is the only time he has been healthy. That type of work from a 22-year-old is pretty solid and worthy of a promotion to AAA. Sean Henn had another poor outing. Usually Henn mixes up good and bad outings, but this time around he had consecutive forgettable starts. Henn's line for the night was 5.2-7-4-4-2-5-1. I would say something about where he truly belongs, but at this point I think everyone knows where I stand on that issue.   While tonight's Trenton pitching was nothing to write home about, Bronson Sardinha had himself a huge night. The error prone 3B, he added another during the course of two games today, was 7 for 10 with 3 doubles and a home run. After a brief resting period, Sardinha's average has shot all the way up to .328 in 134 AA at bats. He has 16 walks and 31 strikeouts in that span along with a .515 slugging percentage. He might not have a defensive position, but if he continues to hit like this someone will find somewhere to put him.   Coming off of an embarrassing loss to Daytona that saw them get two-hit, the Tampa offense was somewhat better. They only put 2 runs on the board, but did manage 9 hits. Melky Cabrera was 2 for 4 with 2 singles and no strikeouts and at .299 is once again on the cusp of .300 though his power numbers have taken a bit of a hit as of late. Eric Duncan was 1 for 4 with a double and no strikeouts as his average sits at .253. Though he did not get one tonight, the most impressive aspect of Duncan's 75 Tampa at bats has been his 15:19 BB:K ratio as he has cut down on his Ks while dramatically improving his walk rate. The power indicators are also very nice as 10 of his 19 hits have been of the extra base variety. If he could get his batting average up, his numbers would truly stand out. While Duncan and Cabrera have, for the most part, been doing the kind of work that will have them considered for starting '05 in AA, Rudy Guillen has struggled to find himself following an initial hot streak. Guillen was 1 for 4 with a single as his average dropped to .258. Guillen does not have the walks or power numbers of Duncan to make that a productive average so he may be looking at a return to Tampa to start '05, barring a long season ending hot streak. Though 2 runs and 9 hits wouldn't rank as any type of great offensive production, a big part of the reason it did not hold up is that Jeff Karstens, who was hot for a long time, burning like a candle, has cooled. Tonight's start, 7.1-10-8-7-0-3-1, was a disastrous one for the righty. Karstens ERA ballooned to 3.87, which is nothing to write home about in the FSL. The one positive that can be taken from this start is that Karstens continues to be very stingy with walks. Battle Creek won on the strength of their offense, 7 to 6. The team pounded out 14 hits and is just really rolling right now. Despite the bevy of hits to be had, Erold Andrus was 0 for 5 as he continues to come back to Earth following a 14 game hitting streak. Hector Made is headed in the other direction. The SS was 2 for 5 with a single and his 24th double of the year and has his average up to .276. The 24 doubles are good for 6th in the MWL. Today's GCL Yankee game saw Danny Borrell make his 2004 debut. For those of you who don't know, Borrell was one of the top pitching prospects going into 2003 for a very weak Yankee farm system, but fell to a shoulder injury. Were it not for that he probably would have debuted in the majors already. Regardless, the now 25-year-old left-hander started the game for the GCL squad and went 3-3-0-0-0-5-0. Nice comeback. With a little over a month left in the minor league season it will be interesting to see how quickly the Yankees get him back to AAA. Borrell is a good candidate for an AFL stint. The GCL line of the day belonged to Christian Garcia. The 18-year-old RHP had a performance of 4-0-0-0-1-7-0. Thus far in the GCL, he is a cartoonish 19-5-3-2-11-22-0. Yes, he has control problems, but he's also limited opponents to a ridiculous 5 hits in 19 innings. Considering this is Garcia's 1st year on the mound, he is definitely one to keep an eye on. While the selection of Garcia was one 2004 draft pick that I definitely agreed with, the Jon Poterson pick was one I was not too pleased with, as I have said several times on this site. That said; Poterson had a decent day at the plate, as he was 2 for 4 with 2 singles. As is always the problem with Poterson, he struck out twice. That gives Poterson 37 strikeouts in 107 ABs. To his credit he has drawn 14 walks and has shown some pop with 3 doubles and 4 home runs despite a .187 average. Anderson Amador, another K prone GCL Yankee I don't think much of, was 3 for 4 with a home run. Amador has run his average up to .260 in 100 at bats, though he still only has 2 walks while striking out 32 times. The power, 4 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 homers, has also been nice. The best post-Battle/Vech hitter on the GCL Yanks has probably been 2B Reegie Corona. In an odd turn of events, Corona was recently added to the Tampa roster. This is odd because Corona was certainly playing well, .328/.361/.414 in 58 AB, but not dominant enough that he should get a 3 level promotion. The other odd thing is that this type of promotion was given to a guy, Corona, who doesn't turn 18 until November. Lastly, despite still being on the Tampa roster as of this writing, Corona is listed as having gone 0 for 4 for the GCL Yanks tonight. The moral of this story is that the GCL is really hard to get a handle on. Hector Gonzalez and Irwil Rojas were a combined 0 for 7 with a sacrifice fly. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Monday, July 26, 2004
 
WHY?   That is the question on my mind right now. Why did the Yankees promote Dioner Navarro to AAA? Whether it was because they felt he was genuinely ready or whether it was just to enhance his trade value, he would have to play to accomplish these goals/ideas, right? In the beginning when he wasn't playing I blamed it on his struggles. He wasn't hitting much so the Clippers, who are in a pennant race, had reason to bench him.  Well, today Columbus played a doubleheader. In game 1, Navarro was the C went 1 for 3 with a single and a strikeout, which made him 6 for his last 19 with 5 walks. So, of course, he was benched for the second game. I can understand not wanting Navarro to play 2 games at C, so DH him, don't bench him. Not when he seems to be figuring things out, what is the point? "Tiger" Wang made his AAA debut as pure trade bait in game 1, and did not do so swell. Wang gave up too many hits and homers, but at least seemed to be in the strike zone as he went 6-8-5-5-0-6-2 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR). As is usual after a Wang start I have to once again plead for his placement in a bullpen. While Navarro sat out game 2 after playing in game 1, Cano played in game 2 after sitting out game 1. Cano sat for a legitimate reason; he had been slumping badly as of late, but had a decent capper by going 1 for 3 with a single. Tampa went down to one of the best pitchers in the FSL, Jon Connolly. The hitters' performances were not pretty as the team was 2-hit.  From bad to horrific: Melky Cabrera was 0 for 3, Rudy Guillen was 0 for 3 with 1 strikeout, and Eric Duncan was 0 for 3 with 3 strikeouts. Not much else needs to be said about this game. Battle Creek continued their winning second-half ways as they pulled out a 4 to 1 victory. Hector Made had the day off, perhaps the string of 1 for 5 nights was a sign of fatigue, but Erold Andrus did get to play. Unfortunately, Andrus was 0 for 4 with a strikeout as his 14-game hitting streak came to an end. Staten Island even managed to pick up a rare victory on the night. Jesse Hoover, who had been phenomenal out of the SI bullpen all season, made his starting rotation debut and got knocked around to the tune of 3-5-5-5-5-4-0, but was bailed out of picking up the loss by Eric Abreu who went 4-2-1-1-1-7-0 in relief. Abreu has now K'ed 21 men in 10.2 NYPL innings while allowing 4 hits. Tim Battle and Marcos Vechionacci, both recent slump victims, both had good nights. Vech was 2 for 5 with 2 singles while playing an errorless 3B and Battle was 3 for 5 with 3 singles, a strikeout, and a stolen base. This night means more to Battle in my estimation, as his slump had been direr. The strikeout for Vech means that for the first time in his NYPL career his Ks (12) outnumber his walks (11). In the most important piece of GCL news, Hector Gonzalez was 3 for 4 with 3 singles and is now hitting .333, though it is an empty .333. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Sunday, July 25, 2004
 
LIGHT DAY   Columbus' game was postponed, the GCL Yanks never play on Sundays, nothing was scheduled for Tampa, and the Tampa box score from the doubleheader capper is still not available. The result of all this is there only being 3 games to recap today. Bronson Sardinha seems to have hit a bit of a snag. Most hitters would take getting hits in consecutive games, but in each game Sardinha was only able to manage 1 hit in 5 at bats so his average has dropped to .298. On the positive end, Sardinha did not make an error today and every game he goes without making an error is a small victory. The biggest star of the night, as far as Yankee prospects are concerned, was Tyler Clippard. Clippard had his best game as a pro as he pitched a 6-3-2-1-0-12-0 gem. Clippard was dominant from start to finish, as he struck out 4 of the first 6 hitters he faced and 2 in his last inning. Clippard's ERA is now 3.28 and he has leapfrogged Abel Gomez for the 5th spot in the MWL K crown race. Since struggling 3 starts ago, Clippard has gone 21-10-3-2-2-25-1. This is the kind of dominant season closing stretch that can lead to a promotion and/or some nice publicity in major magazines. It is very nice to see this happening for Clippard. Hector Made had a decent game, 1 for 5 with a single and a walk, and has seen his OPS drop as of late, but since the walks are coming in, expect him to start tearing things up again. Erold Andrus continued his emergence as a prospect by going 2 for 4 with a single, a double, and a walk. Andrus' was a guy I liked last year, based on his 2002 numbers, but soured on him after concluding he was a singles hitter with no discipline or patience. Perhaps I was a bit hasty, I certainly hope so. Tim Battle, 1 for 4 with a single, had his best game in a while for SI. Yeah, it's been that bad. Marcos Vechionacci did not play at all, which automatically makes that team a lot less exciting. At this point, Deivi Mendez has played 7 games for SI, following a stint in the GCL. Do the Yankees just not like him or does he really need this much rehab? Is it really worth it to have Ferdin Tejada playing SS at Tampa? These are the questions of the moment. Perhaps the most important news from the SI game was Kevin Brown's supposed final rehab outing. Brown had his best statistical outing, 6-6-4-2-1-6-0, which should be expected considering it was against mostly fresh college draftees, and you can look for him in a Yankee rotation near you very soon. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Saturday, July 24, 2004
 
PRETENDERS AND CONTENDERS   Going over some of the prospects I have been very high on this season and observing their recent progress has taught me something. One of the beliefs that I hold very firmly is that at any moment prospects can have the switch turn on. They can go from a middling player into a small-scale version of the superstar they are bound to become. Well, it seems that as a result of the Yankee farm being so barren to begin the year, I was over-anxious in finding the prospects ready to turn the light on. I say this because, as of late, some of the guys who have been highly mentioned on this site have begun showing major cracks in the armor. A great, and somewhat confusing, example of this is Robinson Cano. During his stint in the AA Eastern League, Cano was one of the league's best players and improved his power, patience, and discipline from years past, allowing him to receive an initially well-received promotion to AAA. Well, after going 8 for his first 10 at AAA, Robinson is just 12 for 74, including going 0 for 3 with a sac fly and a sac bunt today. The silver lining for Cano, and my reason for hope that this is just a slump, is that he has drawn 9 walks against 9 strikeouts in his 84 AAA at bats, which is an improvement on the 24:40 BB:K mark he had in 292 AA at bats. The opposite of Cano's situation would be that of Dioner Navarro. After starting off doing nothing in AAA, which followed a controversial promotion from AA, Navarro is 5 for his last 16 with 5 singles and 5 walks. Navarro, for whatever reason, has played very sporadically since coming to the AAA level, but is still just a few more solid games away from surpassing Cano's AAA performance and his own AA performance. Who this is most reflective of is up to debate. Coming into the season I had a small amount of faith in Brad Halsey, but not enough to think very highly of him, he then started off slowly in AAA. Somewhere along the line he caught fire and after mowing down batters for about a month he was promoted to the majors. His promotion to the majors followed me proclaiming that the Yankees should free him on whichever Internet message board I found myself. While I was impressed with Halsey's performance while freed, the Yankees apparently were not as they sent him back to AAA in short order (No, I don't care for organization rhetoric about getting him prepped for the future or rampant RJ speculation, these things will be believed/acknowledged when they happen). Since that demotion Halsey has pitched very poorly. Today was the poorest of his post-demotion outings. While pitching against the Devil Rays' AAA club Halsey finished with a line of 3.2-8-7-7-2-3-3 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR). Halsey does not have overpowering stuff and as a result must survive on precision, add 2 HBP to the numbers I gave before and I doubt Halsey had his control with him today. The result is a disaster start and 3 home runs allowed after allowing 3 home runs in the 90+ AAA innings previous to tonight's start. Every pitcher goes through slumps and hopefully this is all it is for Halsey, at the least his seasonal numbers still look very good and I still have faith he can be a decent-to-good starter for the Yankees at some point. Not to mention that I wouldn't mind having him in the bullpen as The Run Fairy™ serves no purpose. Bronson Sardinha, .316/.395/.482 (AVG/OBP/SLG), had been making a general mockery of AA pitching coming into tonight, but met his match. The result was a night where his teammates piled up 11 hits and 5 walks and he managed neither in 5 at bats while striking out once. Sardinha still looks like a good hitter though, if only he could get it together on defense, 11 errors in 29 AA games, he would be a part of the phalanx of 3B quality 3B prospects currently in the minors and the Yankee farm system. Immediately on Sardinha's trail, as far as competition level in the Yankee system, is Eric Duncan. Duncan also has error problems, he's already committed 5 at Tampa and is nearing 30 on the season, though 12 occurred in the first 21 games, but is a better hitter than Sardinha. After going 1 for 3 with a single and an RBI in the first game of a doubleheader yesterday (I have no information for anyone from the second game, so keep that in mind; I will report on the second game tomorrow), Duncan is hitting .265 in 68 A+ at bats along with an excellent 15:16 BB:K ratio. It's also not as if he is a slap hitter, consider that half of his hits have gone for extra bases. Melky Cabrera was the victim of a recent slump that saw his average drop below .300 for the first time, but in the first game of the doubleheader he came back with a vengeance. Cabrera was 3 for 3 with 3 singles to pull his average up to .300 exactly. Rudy Guillen, the team's other top Latin talent, had also been mired in a recent slump and seemingly broke out last night. The first game saw him go 1 for 1 with a double and 2 walks. He had been lacking both extra base hits, weird for him, and walks, typical for him, so it was a very productive night. Abel Gomez did not have his best control with him tonight, but as is usually the case, got the job done regardless: 5-5-2-2-4-7. Gomez now has a pretty ridiculous 114 strikeouts in 103.1 innings. As is always the downside with him though, his K:BB ratio is barely over 2 as he has also walked 55 men in the same timeframe. Tomorrow Tyler Clippard will attempt to better Gomez's start as these two continue their season long "rivalry". Hector Made was only 1 for 5 with a single tonight, but had been hot as of late and his average is currently .276. He had even reached the .700 OPS mark before tonight's game dropped him to .697. As paltry a mark as that may seem it is actually decent for a SS in his first full season. The other major prospect left on the Battle Creek roster, is Erold Andrus. Andrus has become a different hitter of late; he walks, hits for power, hits for average, and has just been a huge part of Battle Creek's recent rise to mediocrity. Following a night where he was 2 for 4 with a single, a double, a walk, and a strikeout, the CF now has a .727 OPS. Last year Rudy Guillen had a .725 OPS. Anyone who bet against me when I made my statement about what Andrus' year-end numbers would look like should start searching for some money to pay me. In terms of what experts think versus what is said on this blog, the most hyped prospect has probably been Marcos Vechionacci. In fact, while I have been wildly supportive of Marcos, when I asked John Manuel about him in a recent BA chat he had the lukewarm response that "[Vechionacci]  doesn't have one tool that really stands out, but he can hit from both sides, can play the left side of the infield, has good hands and poise for a player his age ". Despite this and despite Vech's recent slump, an 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts performance dropped him to .279 in the NYPL, I will continue to defend his greatness. It is not time to jump ship yet. He still plays good defense (recent ball-handling struggles at 2B be damned), he is still second on the SI team in walks, and perhaps most importantly, he is still 17-years-old. *** I think my writing inspiration has returned after a troublesome hiatus. Also, I will only write about the guys I want to focus on each day rather than trying to get to everyone. If I miss anyone that you would particularly like to hear more about, say something in the Comments and I will be sure to get to it. Lastly, for anyone who has not heard, "Tiger" Wang was promoted to AAA and is getting a start since the Diamondbacks have expressed some interest in acquiring him. *** For a site with some good minor league discussion, check out MLBCenter.com and this site, could be great. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
 
WHAT'S HAPPENING   Lately, I find myself ready to start an entry, only to lose all my energy. As a result, I have not posted in a while. I will do my best to post more consistently in the near future, but I really feel like I've hit the wall when it comes to juggling this blog, work, and life, we'll see. Also, be prepared for te blog to go "silent" around the second half of August as I get used to college life. Thanks for your patience. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
 
SINCE I LAST WROTE...   There is a lot of stuff to catch up on. For clarity's sake, all stats referenced will be composite from Friday's games through Monday's, unless otherwise mentioned. Enjoy.   When I last wrote about Columbus, I was in the process of lamenting Navarro's lacking AAA performance while praising Cano's. As is often the case over small sample sizes, the tables have turned. Since that wonderful night of Yankee prospect goodness, Cano has slumped down to a .292 AAA average by going 0 for 10 with a walk and a strikeout, until last night's game where he broke out with a 2 for 5 with a single, double, and strikeout performance.  He then quickly followed that up with an 0 for 4 performance tonight.   Dioner Navarro, meanwhile, is as hot as he has been during his brief AAA stay. Navarro is 4 for his last 9 with 4 walks and 1 strikeout. All 4 hits are singles, as his luck seems to be evening out, which is what I hinted at in my last post. Navarro also has an excellent 8:7 BB:K ratio in AAA and my faith in his being ready for the promotion he received is being reaffirmed. When it comes to certain prospects I like, Navarro would qualify, I can be an eternal optimist. That said, while Navarro has not hit for the power you would like and his average is very mediocre he has shown sensational strike zone discipline and patience in both his stops. Considering he is 20, I'll give him leeway on the other things to start showing up.   Andy Phillips is suffering through one of his worst stretches of the year, 5 for 23 with a walk and 2 strikeouts. His average has dropped all the way down to .319 and none of his hits were for extra bases. Through this all, he is still the most useful immediately available player in the Yankee farm system. Unfortunately for him, his position is easily filled at the ML level.   Brad Halsey, who has been OK, but not dominant, since returning to AAA had a decent start last Friday. In that game, Halsey went 5-4-2-2-3-5-1 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR). Before I cover the rest of the minor league pitchers, it's rant time. Not starting Halsey yesterday was stupid. Sending Halsey back down was stupid. Some will look at Halsey's ERA in his 4 starts and think he was bad, however, if anyone either watched his games or has a decent handle on some sabermetric principles they would realize his defense cheated him. A lot of the scoring done against Halsey was the result of mental errors by players in the field, plays that are normally made, but were not called errors when the players did not make them. With this in mind, and taking Halsey's much superior AAA season, when compared to Alex Graman, into account, there is no reason Halsey should not have been on the mound against the Rays, purported enhancement of trade value be damned. End rant.   Colter Bean has been Colter Bean, which means getting the job done without so much as a whimper about a potential promotion, to the tune of 3.2-5-2-1-1-6-0. If Juan Padilla can get a shot, with no offense meant to him, then Bean should at least get consideration for a shot.   Trenton Thunder=Bronson Sardinha. Bronson Sardinha=Hitter who has to leave the dugout when the opposing team comes to bat. Simple enough. In his last 5 games, Sardinha has 3 errors, which brings him to 11 in 26 AA games. In his last 5 games, Sardinha is 6 for 23 with 3 singles, a double, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts. His AA OPS continues to hover around the .900 mark. I've said it all season long and I'll say it again; Sardinha can and should be a valuable trading chip, especially if someone can find a position for him to play.   Ramon Ramirez, Sean Henn, and "Tiger" Wang all respectively had solid starts. Ramirez was 6-7-3-3-3-10-0, Henn was 7-3-4-2-3-3-0, and Wang was 7-6-2-2-0-8-0. According to nj.com Wang may be on the verge of a scheduled promotion. Matt DeSalvo ended the string of solid starts by decent pitching prospects tonight. The short right-hander had struggles with his control and command, which were not aided by a very inconsistent umpire strike zone. The end result was 3.2-5-6-6-4-2-0.   Tampa's game tonight was canceled due to inclement weather, but in the period of time between my last post and this, their prospects had been doing a decent job on the whole.   Eric Duncan has led the offensive charge by going 5 for 15 with 3 doubles, a home run, 5 walks, and 4 strikeouts. I had my reservations when the Yankees decided to promote Duncan, but thus far he has made the organization look smart, at least offensively (Also, when last I checked, Baseball America's stats for Duncan were incorrect, just so you all know, they missed a couple of his games). In the field, it seems his fielding yips may have returned.   Melky Cabrera has only been decent, going 4 for his last 16 with 3 singles, a double, 3 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Despite an overall mediocre stretch, his last game was the one where he drew all 3 of those walks and has me one big game away from calling for his promotion to AA. Whether or not Melky does get that promotion to AA, I would still like him to start next year at the AA level.   While Melky Cabrera and Eric Duncan were both making their strides in the proper direction, Rudy Guillen was stalling a bit. He came off the DL hot, but is now just 2 for 16 with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. Guillen's average has now dropped to .276 and his power production is personally non-existent. Of these two things, the one I care about is the average. With the memory of Bronson Sardinha fresh in my mind, all I want out of FSL Yankee prospects is a decent to good average as it's pretty clear that it's really tough to show serious pop in that league, which just makes Eric Duncan's performance all the more impressive.   Jose Valdez and Jeffrey Karstens both continued their late season surges, though Karstens did so in much more impressive form. Karstens' volley was an incredible 9-2-0-0-1-9-0 outing. Valdez responded to this with an effective, but not overly impressive 7-7-2-2-1-1-0 performance. Karstens' ERA is now 3.38 and Valdez is at 3.48. While Valdez has the advantage in home run prevention, he needs to refine his control and up his K rate tremendously to keep up with Karstens. Karstens will take the mound tomorrow and attempt to continue the streak.   Karstens and Valdez are a decent pitching duo in this system, but the truly impressive one is the Clippard-Gomez tandem. Their last turn through the BC rotation, each had one of their best starts of the year. This time through the rotation though both followed up with very good performances. Gomez was able to pick up his 8th win as a result of a 6.2-6-1-1-2-3-0 night and Clippard got a no-decision despite going 7-5-1-1-1-5-1. On several occasions in the past I've mentioned how close the two are in terms of the final result of their performances, so I would like to take the time to point out that Clippard's ERA is now 3.38 and Gomez's is 3.39. If Battle Creek were not in a pennant race, I would confidently advocate the promotion of both players to Tampa. However, BC is and Clippard and Gomez are needed.   Outside of the pitching duo, the other thing to keep an eye on at BC is the hitting duo of Hector Made and Erold Andrus. In the 5 game stretch Made was 7 for 24 with 4 singles, 3 doubles, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Made's ISO Power is now nearing .100, which isn't impressive by itself, but he has had to come a long way as he started the season very slowly. Andrus on the other hand has just been hot and cold all year and this 5-game stretch, overall, was one of his hot ones. The switch-hitting CF was 9 for 23 with 6 singles, 2 doubles, a home run, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts. More than anything else, the walks are encouraging to see, my prediction about Guillen's 2003 numbers and Andrus' 2004 ones also seems to be coming closer and closer to fruition.   Now it's time for Staten Island. While Tim Battle's GCL production, in terms of counting and rate stats was impressive, his K rate laid doubt as to whether or not he could maintain that level. Despite this the Yankees promoted him to SI and at first he did well, since then, his lack of strike zone command has been his downfall. In his last 5 games he is 3 for 23 with 2 singles, 2 walks, and 10 strikeouts. Yeah, that's pretty bad and unfortunately, indicative of SI as a whole, other than Vechionacci that is. Vechionacci is 4 for 18 with 3 singles, a double, 5 walks, and 3 strikeouts. The average is down, but the discipline is there and he has been hitting some line drive outs so I am not worried about him in the least. Though, his flawlessness in the field HAS come to a conclusion it would seem considering he's mad a couple errors of late. Estee Harris still has not gotten it going by the way; witness his 3 for 17 with 7-strikeout stretch.   Due to a combination of rainouts and the GCL being ridiculously hard to get information from, there is no new Rookie League info to mention.   ***   Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Thursday, July 15, 2004
 
'TWAS A GOOD NIGHT   The Columbus offense continued putting tons of runs on the board tonight. Sadly, 7 runs and 13 hits were not enough for the team to pull out the victory. Happily, Dioner Navarro and Robinson Cano decided to get involved this time. Cano was 2 for 5 with 2 singles and a strikeout. Cano has clearly impressed the Columbus coaches as he has been moved from the 8-spot in the lineup, all the way up to number 2.   Meanwhile, Dioner Navarro continues to have one of the most bizarre "slumps" I have ever seen. While in AA, Navarro collected singles and walks, but could not hit for power for some reason. Since being promoted to AAA, he has 0 singles in 36 at bats, but 5 hits. Those 5 hits consist of 3 doubles and 2 triples. This is after hitting only 14 doubles and 1 triple in 255 AA at bats. Because Navarro still has a decent walk rate and is not striking out excessively while hitting for power, I am going to assume that he is simply hitting into bad luck. Hopefully, I'm right.   Aside from the major prospects, Andy Phillips continues to just hit. Phillips, the day after hitting the game-wining home run in the AAA All Star Game, was 1 for 2 with a single and 3 walks. As Phillips walks begin to really distance themselves from his strikeouts his performance becomes more and more impressive.   Jason Anderson has really struggled since being reacquired from the Indians earlier this year. Tonight was a continuation of that struggle. In just 2 innings, Anderson managed to give up 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, and a home run. He did not walk any and struck out 1. His ERA is a very poor 4.82.   Going into tonight's Trenton game, the big story was Kevin Brown's return to the pitching mound. That went horrendously, to the tune of 2 innings, 7 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned runs, and no strikeouts, at least he didn't walk anyone either. The results of Brown's start aren't that important in the long run though, as rehab starts are often to work on specific things rather than to attempt to get the best results. Plus, it's not as if Trenton's playoff chances, long ago shot, could get worse as a result of Brown's disaster.   Coming out of tonight's Trenton game, two things are becoming clearer. One is that Bronson Sardinha cannot field. Sardinha made his 8th error in 20 games at 3B. He is thought not to have excellent range so it's not as though this is a case of a guy getting to tons of balls others would not reach. He just seems to be shaky in the field. In the earlier portion of the season I was more worried about Sardinha's defense, because I felt 3B was his last shot because he was not a good enough hitter, especially in the power department, to man a COF position, which seemed to be the real last resort. Well, Bronson Sardinha went 3 for 5 with 2 singles and a home run last night. The home run was his 5th in 79 AA at bats, strangely; he only has 2 other extra base hits. I think it's fair to say the man has power. So, while it is becoming clearer that Bronson Sardinha can't field, it is also becoming clear that he CAN hit.   The Tampa offense had themselves a feast. In just 9 innings of work they managed to put up 9 runs and 16 hits. Most importantly, all 3 of the major position prospects were a major part of the offensive outburst.   Melky Cabrera was 4 for 5 with 3 singles and a double. I think it is fair to say that he has awoken after a slump that saw him drop below .300 for the first time in...a really long time. On the season, Cabrera now has 171 Battle Creek at bats, and 172 Tampa at bats. At Battle Creek he hit .333/.383/.462/.288 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA) and at Tampa he has hit .314/.365/.471/.282. Considering that the FSL has been slightly tougher to hit in, that is just great consistency. His combined BB:K ratio is 27:48, which is solid, and his combined extra base hit total is 40. A very nice year for the 19-year-old CF.   Eric Duncan, who had been struggling in his brief FSL stint, continues to break out. The 3B was 2 for 5 with 2 doubles and most importantly, did not strike out. He also did not make an error over 3B. Though he struggled for a few games, Duncan already has 5 extra base hits in 37 at bats.   Rudy Guillen was 2 for 5 with a single and a double. After hitting for a low average and not much power to begin the season, Guillen has come back with a vengeance. Since the injury, Guillen is 16 for 47 with 5 of his hits being doubles. Unfortunately, he only has 2 walks over that same stretch though he has managed to keep his strikeouts, 7, under control.   In a terrific turn of events, Tyler Clippard did exactly as I was hoping he would. Last time through the Battle Creek rotation, he and Abel Gomez both spit the bit. Gomez then followed up one of his worst performances of the year with a gem. Clippard did the same tonight; following his second worst start of the year, Clippard pitched arguably his best. In 8 innings, the right-hander limited the opposition to just 2 hits, both singles, and 1 walk while striking out 8. Clippard and Gomez seem destined to stay neck-and-neck in the Yankee system. Unfortunately, Battle Creek had some serious scoring issues so he could not pick up the win.   Hector Made, fortunately, was not part of the offensive problem. The SS was 2 for 5 with 2 singles and a walk and a strikeout. With the walk making an appearance, expect Made to go on another tear. Erold Andrus, was a part of the problem as he went 0 for 5 with a strikeout to start the game. Then, he made up for it by collecting the game winning single.   Staten Island won, which is incredible in and of itself, and they won by a lot, which is just mind-boggling. The final score was 7 to 0, and since the offense put up 7 runs and 13 hits, you would figure Vech had something to do with it. If you would/did, you were right of course. Playing his second game at 2B, Vech did not commit an error and was 2 for 5 with 2 singles and a strikeout. His average is up to .361 and he now holds an even 5:5 walk to strikeout ratio in 36 NYPL at bats.   Tim Battle was 1 for 5 with a single from the leadoff spot. He also attempted a steal, but was caught doing so for the first time in the NYPL, and 3rd time overall this season. Estee Harris was 1 for 3 with a single, a walk, and a strikeout.   In a wild game, the GCL Yankees went down to the GCL Phillies by a score of 16 to 12. The pitching was horrendous, obviously, and not worth mentioning. On the other hand, Hector Gonzalez was 1 for 3 with a single, Anderson Amador was 3 for 5 with 3 singles and a stolen base, and Jon Poterson was 1 for 4 with a single and a walk. Poterson and Amador were able to limit themselves to strikeout apiece today. One small step for prospect-kind.   ***   Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
 
I REALLY DON'T LIKE THE RAIN I'll get the sad news out of the way first. The SI Yanks game got canceled due to inclement weather and I was left with no Vech to watch, thankfully there was "I Love The 90s". While there is still no word on the GCL Yanks game from Tuesday, 3 Yankee affiliates did play today. First was Tampa. Tampa won their game 9 to 1 as Steven White picked up the victory. White pitched 5 innings and allowed 5 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and struck out 6. The offensive prospects were the highlight though as 2 of the 3 had great nights. The one hitter who did not have a great night had a mixed one. Eric Duncan was 1 for 5 with a double and 2 strikeouts. He played 3B and did not make an error. Hopefully, the double is a sign of good things to come since it did not occur until his 4th at bat and was to CF. Melky Cabrera and Rudy Guillen, on the other hand, had excellent nights. Melky was 2 for 4 with a single, a home run, a walk and a strikeout and seems to be back on track after falling below .300 for the first time in a while. Guillen was not as patient, no walks or strikeouts, but collected 4 RBI by going 3 for 5 with 2 singles and a double. He has been hitting much better since coming off the DL and is up to .286 average. Though due to a lack of walks and extra base hits, it is a very empty .286. Moving down a level, Abel Gomez made quite the statement. Following arguably his worst start of the year, Gomez put together one of his top 3 starts this year. In 7 innings, Gomez only gave up 2 hits and 3 walks while striking out 8. There was nothing else on his line. I have played down Gomez's season because of how many walks he was giving up and because I felt at some point, he had to start giving up more hits. Well, as the season has gone on Gomez has continued to limit hits, walk a lot of people, and strike out a ton. His K/9 is now north of 10 and he has a history of limiting hits, throw in being left-handed, and I am about to become a big Gomez fan. (GCL Results coming at some point...hopefully). *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
 
ALL STAR GAMES AND SUCH Due to the AAA and AA All Star Breaks, there is not much to report on today. Only Tampa, Staten Island, and the Gulf Coast Yankees saw action tonight. After some recent defensive struggles at Tampa, Eric Duncan found himself back in the DH role, but still hitting 3rd despite also experiencing offensive woes as of late. Since he couldn't have a poor defensive game, Duncan just made sure to have a poor offensive one at the least. Duncan was 0 for 4, but at the least did not strike out. Melky Cabrera, hitting ahead of Duncan, was not much better. Cabrera's 0 for 4 game, also with no strikeouts, was part of a less than stellar game for Tampa offensive prospects. The lone exception to this was Rudy Guillen. Of the 8 hits, Guillen had 3 of them. For the game, Rudy was 3 for 4 with 2 singles and a double and no strikeouts. At least everyone is making contact. Now, on to the highlight of my day, Marcos Vechionacci. Staten Island lost again, as usual, but Vech was a stand out amongst the rubble, as usual. Marcos was 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and no strikeouts. On top of hitting well, Marcos also moved over and played 2B without making an error. He can play 3B, he can play SS, he can play 2B, he has an excellent approach to hitting, he gets great results at the plate, he is still 17, he once pinch-hit for the Gulf Coast League Yankees then ran all the way back to Staten Island and played in a game that same day only to run back to the GCL for a pinch-running appearance before running back to SI for tonight's game. So, what is there that he can't do? I fashion myself a "stats guy", as such I should know the dangers of small sample sizes and the statistical anomalies they lead to. Despite this, I can't help, but smile at everything Vech has done so far. He is a special prospect. Tim Battle and Estee Harris have great tools, but have not come close to putting it together like Vech seems to be doing. Battle was 1 for 4 with a single and, surprisingly, no strikeouts or steals. Harris was 0 for 3 and was not lucky enough to avoid the strikeout; he went down by K once. In addition, Harris also made an error in the field. According the NY Daily News, the SI Yanks will be on YES, Wednesday at 7 PM EST so everyone should probably check that out just for more Vech. (Insert GCL Yankees Update here, when the info becomes available). *** On a non-Yankee note, I would just like to point out that David Wright got absolutely SCREWED on the Baseball America mid-season top 100 update, which is what upset me earlier today. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Monday, July 12, 2004
 
YOU ARE NOW COMPLETELY UPDATED Columbus has played 3 games since the last update, they won one and lost two. Navarro and Cano only played in one of the 3 games, the Friday one, as both players headed to the Futures Game, which was played yesterday. In their lone game, Navarro and Cano continued their recent AAA slides...well, Navarro can't really slide since he has yet to get started at the level. In the game, Navarro was 0 for 4 with a walk and Cano was 0 for 3 with 2 walks. Don't get me wrong, Navarro has not been good in AAA, he only has 4 hits in 31 at bats, but he has been impressive in the sense that as a 20-year-old he has drawn 3 walks while only striking out 3 times. Of course, this is what you must be careful with when it comes to younger prospects. How long should they be given leeway in terms of less-than-great performance because they are so young for what the ARE managing to do? I have yet to come across an answer to this question, but I am still willing to give Navarro more leeway. One thing I have noticed about Navarro in the games I have seen him play in is that he has a tendency to top the ball and hit a lot of groundballs or low line drives. This can be a very effective hitting strategy, if you are a speed demon, but if you are not a very fast guy, this often leads to ground outs. Navarro needs to get the ball in the air more. Cano's 2 walks gave him a 6 walk to 4 strikeout ratio in 45 at bats, compared to the 24 walk to 40 strikeout one he held in 292 AA at bats. Seeing this statistic in addition to watching Cano at the Futures Game, it is clear that he is developing as a hitter. Each time I have seen him he has gotten more patient. He is no Frank Thomas, but he is looking more and more like he will not suffer from a Soriano-esque lack of plate discipline. If he keeps this up for the final month and a half of minor league ball that is left he will have a legitimate case for being mentioned amongst the best 2B prospects in the game. Andy Phillips has kept on hitting since the last post. 4 for 10 with 3 singles, a home run, 1 strikeout, and 3 walks. In 245 AAA at bats Phillips has managed a line of .327/.402/.576/.325 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA) with a 32:31 BB:K ratio. That is great, but it seems that Phillips has a hitting style of line drive groundball or home run. Why do I surmise this? Well in those 245 at bats he has a ridiculous 14 GIDP and only 10 doubles compared to 15 homers. I could be completely wrong, but then again, if I am not, I wonder how effective Phillips' hitting style would be in the majors as I would assume the low line drives or groundballs are the types of plays that major leaguers are markedly better at than minor leaguers. The most interesting Columbus pitching development has to have been what took place yesterday. Brad Halsey made his AAA return and was poor; 5.2 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 1 walk, and 1 strikeout. Then came the real shock, after Halsey left the game, Alex Graman came on in relief. This could be one of two things. One is that the Yankees just figured they would get Graman some work in before the AAA All Star Break to avoid him missing too much playing time. Two is that the Yankees are considering Graman as a LOOGY because they have finally come to the realization that The Run Fairy™ is terrible and are looking for a cheap replacement. If they are, this is a good idea in my opinion. While I think Halsey is a better prospect and will eventually be a solid starter somewhere, I think Graman, because of his higher strikeout rate, would work better in this type of role. The remaining members of the endless supply of potential relievers down at Columbus all got some work in. Colter Bean experienced a hiccup as he went 3 innings and struck out 6 while walking only 1, but allowed 4 hits, 1 home run, 2 runs, and 2 earned runs. Scott Proctor also struggled some: 2 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, and 1 walk. Bret Prinz made his AAA return and threw .2 of an inning where he struck out 1 and allowed no hits, walks, or runs. Jason Anderson went 1 inning and gave up 2 hits and struck out one. Scott Proctor went 2 innings and gave up 3 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, and 1 walk. C.J. Nitkowski managed to lose some serious ground in the LOOGY race by not registering an out in 2 appearances, but taking that time to give up 2 hits, 2 runs, and 2 earned runs. Nice. Lastly, Steve Karsay had another scoreless outing where he went 1 inning and allowed a hit with an otherwise clean line. Karsay has a 0 AAA ERA thus far, and seems to be doing well enough. Sean Henn and "Tiger" Wang continued their inconsistent performances-to-date. On the one hand, Wang went 7 innings and struck out 8 while allowing 4 runs, 3 of which were earned; on the other hand, he gave up 10 hits. Henn went 4.1 innings and gave up 8 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned runs, 1 walk, and struck out 5 in his disaster start. This is part of an interesting thread noted by nj.com, "[Henn] has come up empty on every odd-numbered start since...May 27. In those outings, Henn is 2-1 with a 6.75 ERA, while in the even-numbered starts...Henn is 1-0 with three no-decisions and an ERA of 0.87." Call me crazy, but that screams bullpen. Bronson Sardinha giveth and he taketh away. On offense, he has been a godsend for the Thunder, who have gotten nothing out of 3B this year. In the recent 3 game stretch he was 2 for 10 with a home run, a single, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts. Unfortunately, he also made 3 errors in the 3 games. So, through the first 20 games of his AA career he is hitting a very nice .297/.395/.500/.303 with a solid 12:22 walk to strikeout ratio. Unfortunately, once again, he also has 7 errors in 19 games at 3B. In their most recent performances, Jose Valdez continued to surpass Jeff Karstens...kind of. Karstens went 5.2 innings with 9 hits allowed and 4 runs, all earned, let in. He also walked 1, struck out 1, and gave up a homer. Valdez went 6.2 innings with 6 hits allowed and 5 runs, only 1 of which was earned, let in. He also walked 1, struck out 2, and gave up a homer. Basically, you like Karstens strikeouts and wonder why so many hits fell in and like Valdez's low hits allowed, but wonder why more hits didn't fall in. Over the 3 game stretch since I last updated, Melky Cabrera was decent. The CF was 3 for 11 with a double, 2 singles, a HBP, a walk and no strikeouts. Melky has cooled down to a .304 average, but I would expect him to start rising once again. Eric Duncan was a mixed bag, 1 for 10 with a single and 4 strikeouts, which is bad, but he also drew 3 walks, which is very good. Unfortunately, Duncan also made 2 errors in the 3 games. Rudy Guillen, following a hot start to his return to action, has cooled down considerably. This was evident in his 1 for 13 with 5 strikeouts stretch. Hector Made and Erold Andrus are the sole position player survivors left to the BC team that has lost Eric Duncan and Melky Cabrera this year. Made had a non-descript 2 day stretch; he was 2 for 9 with a single, a double, a walk, and 2 sacrifices. Made had 2 errors in 3 games. Erold Andrus was 3 for 12 with 3 singles, a walk, and 2 strikeouts. He has cooled down recently, but hopefully will still finish the season strong. As we move on to Staten Island, Tim Battle was 0 for 13 with 5 strikeouts and Marcos Vechionacci was 1 for 11 with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. Having seen the team play over the weekend, I'm not so sure about Tim Battle being at SI. Staten Island needs a lot of things right now as they are really struggling, but I don't think Battle is ready to help them. You can see that he has a ton of baseball talent, but for someone from a warm weather state he is not very polished. Battle's "plan" at the plate seems to be to simply flail at everything, which leads to a lot of strikeouts. On the other hand, he occasionally makes contact, and when he does, his live bat allows him to put a charge in the ball. This is the type of player I would rather see in the GCL, learning to work on plate discipline, rather than in the NYPL where he is up against advanced college competition. Though Vechionacci is a year younger than Battle, I feel perfectly fine with him being at SI. Watching him, he seemed like the best hitter on the team by a good margin. He is an incredibly patient/disciplined hitter, especially considering his age. Vech's approach is the ideal one of simply waiting for your pitch and putting a solid line drive swing on it. Vech also has no problem taking borderline pitches, which was very impressive. In addition, SI also called upon Marcos to play SS yesterday and he did so without making an error. On the season he has now played 2 games at SS without any errors and 16 at 3B with 1 error. Very nice. The combined hitting line is 28 for 76 with 7 doubles, 1 home run, 10 walks, and 13 strikeouts. Once again, very nice. Marcos...is the man. Estee Harris also seems to be showing some signs of life. Behold his 2 for 4, 2 singles, 3 walks, and a HBP performance over the weekend. In recent GCL Yankees news, Jay Stephens continues to get the job done without huge strikeout totals. Stephens went 5 innings and allowed 4 hits, 2 walks, 0 runs, and struck out 4. In 20.2 innings Stephens has struck out 13, but has otherwise been dominant. Christian Garcia continues to pitch "ok", but not great, his rawness is still evident. In today's game, Garcia went 3 innings and allowed 2 hits, 2 runs, and 1 earned run. Garcia also walked 2 and struck out 2. As for the hitters, they continue to do what they have done all season, which means Poterson and Amador are striking out and Perez is struggling, and so on and so forth. (One oddity about the GCL as of late, is that Marcos Vechionacci was credited with a pinch AB on Saturday, which is impossible you would think, considering he played for SI later that day. In addition he was credited with a pinch-running appearance in this afternoon's game. Hopefully, there is an explanation coming for this.) *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Thursday, July 08, 2004
 
APPARENTLY, THERE ARE SOME OTHER PLAYERS IN THE SYSTEM If I told you that Columbus scored 14 runs on 20 hits and both Navarro and Cano played, you would assume they were a part of the offensive attack, right? Well, if you did so, you were wrong and I would understand your shock, as I did the same thing. Of the 20 Columbus hits, 18 belonged to the first 5 hitters in the lineup, a group that does include the aforementioned duo. Cano was 0 for 4 with an RBI on a sac fly. For his part, Navarro was 0 for 4 with a walk, and no, I am not fully ready to say he is over his head yet. Andy Phillips did his part in hoarding the hits; the 1B was 4 for 6 with a single, 2 doubles, and a home run. He had a huge night, to say the least. C.J. Nitkowski, who must smell blood with every poor outing by The Run Fairy, pitched 1.2 innings of clean work while striking out 1. Jason Anderson came on to close out the game, in the absence of 2 of his fellow replacement level relievers. Anderson pitched 2.1 and allowed 2 hits while striking out 1. Matt DeSalvo evened his AA record at 2-2 with what amounts to a sub par outing for him. In 6 innings, the right-hander allowed 4 hits and walked 2, which led to 2 runs, both of which were earned, and struck out 2. At the least, this was an improvement over DeSalvo's last outing, which was his only disastrous one in 4 AA outings. There are probably people who either don't believe the FSL is as much of a pitcher's league as it's reputation says it is, for those of you who subscribe to this line of thinking, I give you Bronson Sardinha. Bronson went 2 for 4 with a double, a homer, and a walk today. The homer was his 3rd in 64 AA at bats. This is on the heels of him managing 2 homers in 248 FSL at bats. What a difference a league makes. Sardinha could make some very good trade bait for the Yankees considering he will be about 3rd on the 3B organizational depth charts (Funny how as soon as A-Rod comes to man the hot corner for the next decade or so the system starts producing quality 3B like nobody's business). The Tampa Yankees won, 6 to 4. Steven White started, but performed poorly. In 4 innings, the righty out of Baylor gave up 6 hits and 6 walks, which led to 4 runs, all earned, while striking out 2 and giving up 2 homers. This is pure speculation on my part, but I am inclined to believe he did not have his control this afternoon. Melky Cabrera got right back on the horse, so to speak, by going 1 for 4 with a single and a walk, he also managed to avoid the strikeout today. Eric Duncan, much more prone to the K than Cabrera, did not strike out either. Instead, the 3B was 1 for 3 with a home run and 2 walks. Duncan is 4 for his first 13 with 2 singles, a triple, a homer, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts at Tampa. Perhaps a change of scenery is just what he needed. Tyler Clippard had a poor outing for BC. He struggled with his control early and when he got the ball in the strike zone he got hit pretty well. This added up to him having to gut through 6 innings of work while giving up 12 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned runs, 3 walks, a home run, and striking out 3. Clippard and Gomez now have the same ERA, 3.83, but have gotten there in very different ways. It would be great if both guys could go on a nice season-ending run and bring them down to at most 3. Erold Andrus is apparently now in a slump after being hot for a while. After going 0 for 4 with a strikeout, Andrus has had back-to-back poor nights for the first time in a while. Hector Made has kept on trucking though; the SS was 1 for 4 with a single and a walk. Much to my chagrin, the SI Yanks did not play so technically I can't really talk about Marcos Vechionacci and how he is the best thing since sliced bread and how if he does fail, and it is possible, I will look pretty foolish. So, yeah, on to the GCL we go. Jose Perez seems to have found his stroke. The 18-year-old OF was 2 for 4 with 2 singles, 2 stolen bases, and a walk today. In 30 at bats, Perez, who is more known for his tools than his production, has drawn 7 walks while striking out 7 times, an impressive handling of the strike zone. The Anderson Amador-Jon Poterson strikeout contest also intensified today. Amador was 1 for 4 with a double and a strikeout, while Poterson was 0 for 5 with 2 strikeouts. Poterson now has 18 in 57 at bats, compared to 21 in 57 for Amador, this could go down to the wire folks. Perhaps the most exciting news of the day out of the GCL involves two the return of two players. Deivi Mendez appears to be on his way back from injury and should be in Tampa shortly where he can continue what was looking like a breakout season. The other return was more of an arrival. Irwil Rojas made his debut and went 2 for 3 with 2 singles. Rojas is a C who did well on one of the Yankees' DSL teams last year and has been talked about for some time now. I will try and have more on him tomorrow. Now all the Yankees need is a Cordova or Holmann sighting. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
 
MARCOS VECHIONACCI IS BABE RUTH, ALEX RODRIGUEZ, BARRY BONDS, AND ROGER CLEMENS ALL ROLLED INTO ONE...EXCEPT BETTER Columbus lost again, which gives them back-to-back defeats. While common in years past, this is not a familiar position for this model of the Clippers. Dioner Navarro did not play as the Yankees continue to play Sal Fasano ahead of him. When the Yankees promoted Navarro he was struggling. All season long he had been getting singles and drawing walks, but had shown little extra base power. Near the end of his Trenton stint the singles disappeared. Despite this, the Yankees chose to promote him and I supported the move based on his strong plate discipline helping to carry him. I also figured that the minor injury he incurred near the end of his AA stint was healed, since he WAS being promoted. Since being promoted to AAA Navarro has played in about half the games, with this in mind I have no idea why the Yankees promoted him. If Navarro is injured and that is why he has not played as much, then it was stupid to promote him in the first place. If Navarro is not being played because the front office truly believes Sal Fasano is the best C for Columbus and Navarro only makes a better backup than Parrish and nothing else, then it was stupid to promote him in the first place. Basically, this move looks dumb right now and not through Navarro's fault, as he has not fallen flat on his face. 20 or so plate appearances where he has barely struck out and has sent all of his hits for extra bases, but not collected many hits, is not falling flat on ones face. At least not to me. Robinson Cano, on the other hand, has played every night and is doing a good job. Tonight was just a continuation of this. Cano was 2 for 4 with a single, a homer, and 2 strikeouts. The homer was off of a lefty, which is always nice to see from your left-hand hitters. Cano now has an even 4 walks to 4 strikeouts in 38 at bats, to go along with 4 extra base hits. Overall the 2B now has 39 extra base hits on the season, the breakdown is 22 doubles, 8 triples, and 9 home runs. Andy Phillips was 0 for 5 with 2 strikeouts and his average has plummeted to .314. The lowest it has been in quite some time. Alex Graman took the mound and probably wishes he hadn't though I suspect some poor defense was at work today. Clearly, the Clippers were attempting to emulate the major league club. In 6 innings Graman somehow gave up 10 hits, none of which were homers, though he struck out 7. So, of 21 balls in play, 10 fell in for hits. Something does not seem right about that. Graman only walked 1 and all those baserunners turned into 5 runs, all of which were earned. 2 of the 3 relievers that followed Graman fared better. Colter Bean was the first out the gate and the best of the night. In 1 inning, Bean allowed 1 hit and struck out 2. Karsay then came on in relief of Bean, which is a pretty nice change of pace for Columbus, and threw an inning with a hit and a strikeout. Finally, Jason Anderson came in, was not as much of a change of pace, and sucked. Anderson only managed to get one batter out, but that was enough time to give up 3 hits and the game-winning run, which was earned. Ramon Ramirez's control was off, and so was his performance. His string of dominance ended after 4 starts, as tonight all he could manage was 6 innings where he allowed 8 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 4 walks, and struck out 6. The silver lining comes in the form of the strikeouts and the lack of giving up any longballs, which is a Ramirez vice. Bronson Sardinha managed his first non-home run extra base hit of his AA career by hitting a triple in 6 at bats. Sardinha also struck out twice and saw his average drop to an even .300. Tampa lost in 10 innings tonight. It almost doesn't feel like a Tampa game unless it goes extra innings. Melky Cabrera showed that his struggles are not over as he was 0 for 5 with a strikeout to fall to an even .300 in his FSL stint. Eric Duncan's problem, the strikeout, resurfaced in a big way tonight. The strikeout was the conclusion of 3 of Duncan's at bats. In his other 2 at bats he singled once and made out once. Rudy Guillen seems to have benefited from the time off. He went 2 for 5 with a single and a double. The RF is now 7 for 17 with 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 2 doubles since returning from injury. Abel Gomez, an example of a pitcher that qDIPS was showing as being lucky, finally had his luck catch up to him today. The left-hander only lasted 3 innings and gave up 8 hits, 9 runs, 9 earned runs, 4 walks, and struck out 3. Gomez' ERA skyrocketed from a little under 3 to 3.83. I wouldn't make too much of this disastrous outing though, and just chalk it up to being Gomez's equivalent of Tyler Clippard's infamous Kane County outing. Clippard will look to get back on his A-game tomorrow night as he faces a tough Beloit squad. Peoria managed to control Erold Andrus, something that has not happened much lately, as the CF was held to just 0 for 4 with a strikeout. Hector Made had a decent day by going 2 for 5 with a single and a double, but there were also 2 strikeouts thrown in. Now, on to the game and player I have wanted to get to. Staten Island won, but more importantly, Marcos Vechionacci continued to show why he is The Game. The 17-year-old 3B was 3 for 4 with 3 singles and a walk. He now has 16 NYPL at bats and has gotten a hit in 8 of them, while not striking out, and walking 3 times. The one negative thing you could say is that only one of those hits, a double, was for extra bases, but really, when you're 17 and playing in a league that is normally reserved for college draftees, you're allowed SOME leeway. Tim Battle was 2 for 4 with 2 singles and a walk and a strikeout from the leadoff spot. Combining the singles and the walk, Battle was on 1B at least 3 times today. That being said, I am shocked, absolutely SHOCKED, that the man with 5 stolen bases in his first 3 games at SI did not make any pilfering attempts today. Estee Harris, he of the 0 for 4 with a strikeout performance, continues to be a party pooper amongst the young and the talented. This has been a lost year for a guy who I had huge hopes for heading into the season. Unfortunately, I did not see/acknowledge the signs that were apparent last offseason. The GCL Yankees won again, as they are proving to be, as a team, too good for the GCL. Christian Garcia was wild but effective. In 2 innings, he walked 3, but struck out 5 while allowing no hits or runs. Jose Perez seems to have finally gotten it going and was 1 for 2 with a single, a sacrifice fly, and 2 walks. Perez has 6 walks in 26 at bats, demonstrating a good eye at the plate. Jon Poterson showed why the Yankees drafted him by knocking his 3rd homer of the season, one of two hits in 5 at bats. Poterson also showed why I am worried about him, by striking out for the 16th time in 52 at bats. Speaking of strikeouts and GCL hitters I worry about, Anderson Amador was 1 for 5 with a single and 3 of the 7 GCL strikeouts on the day. Amador now has 20 strikeouts in 53 at bats. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
 
JULY 2004 Players who are in the majors are not eligible for the list and this list is more performance based than scouting based. Here's the new top 10, taking into account performances and scouting reports as of last night, please feel free to criticize, agree, theorize, etc in the Comments: 1. Eric Duncan 2. Robinson Cano 3. Dioner Navarro 4. Melky Cabrera 5. Bronson Sardinha 6. Tyler Clippard 7. Abel Gomez 8. Matthew DeSalvo 9. Jose Valdez 10. Marcos Vechionacci *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
 
IT TOOK ME A WHILE So, last time, I addressed the top 10 Yankee prospects I reviewed the guys who made up the June list. This time around I will look at players who did not make the last list, but have been making positive gains as of late. Jose Valdez, SP, 21, A+ Tampa (Name, Position, Seasonal Age, Level) I have been critical of Valdez all season and he has been deserving of this all season. As of late, though, he has been hot and hopefully is hitting his stride. The reason I am so unforgiving with Valdez is he is a guy whose talent I heard BA rave about in 2002 and since then I have been waiting for him to explode, not literally, and this has yet to happen. He has yet to harness his good fastball into dominant results. With a qDIPS that is now better than Jeff Karstens' and having 3 starts in a row that have produced a combined line of 19.2 innings pitched, 12 hits, 3 runs, 1 earned run, 3 walks, 14 strikeouts, and 1 home run. Hopefully, this change is for real. STOCK: Up Rudy Guillen, RF, 20, A+ Tampa Rudy Guillen, a toolsy OF prospect, fell of the top 10 and disappeared from this site not due to poor performance, though he was not exactly lighting up the FSL earlier this year, but due to injury. Guillen suffered a leg injury in May and did not resurface until late June. Since his return to the FSL Guillen has been on fire. Guillen is 5 for 15 with 4 singles, a double, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. Guillen has historically been a free swinger so it is nice to see him do a good job with walks and strikeouts thus far in an extremely small sample. STOCK: Up Marcos Vechionacci, 3B, 17, SS-A Staten Island I began mentioning Vechionacci on a consistent basis on June 17th. In 49 GCL Yankee at bats Vech proved to be too much for the league. He played defense, hit for average, hit for power, got on base, even did some aggressive baserunning. Since being promoted to the NYPL Vech has continued to destroy short-season pitching. He is just 17, but could be headed for Battle Creek if he keeps this up. At this point the only thing that could hold him back is Steinbrenner's desire to win at SI and the best shot they have of winning consistently involves Vech manning 3B consistently. I tried thinking of a negative with Vech, but at this point I don't see any, maybe next time. STOCK: Up Tim Battle, CF, 18, SS-A Staten Island Tim Battle was seen as one of the steals of the 2003 draft, but the Yankees did not get much immediate use out of that steal since Battle was diagnosed with cancer. Since overcoming that, Battle has gotten back into the swing of things. Battle is probably the best power speed combo in the system as demonstrated by his 10 extra base hits and 10 stolen bases. The one concern with him is that though he has a solid 5 walks; he also has 21 strikeouts so he may not be able to hit well at the upper levels. It remains to be seen. STOCK: Up *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
 
KEEP ON TRUCKIN Personally, I'm running on fumes with all the updates I've been doing lately, but I'll get this one out today and try and finish the updated top 10 tomorrow. I promise. Now, on to the action. Columbus lost a marathon of a baseball game as they went down by a final of 2 to 1 in 12 innings. Andy Phillips managed a single in 5 at bats while striking out once. Dioner Navarro was held in check as he was 0 for 4, but did not strike out. Combining the lack of AAA strikeouts with the lack of AAA walks, I am going to assume that right now Navarro is one of his periods where he presses and just hacks without attempting to properly work the count. Robinson Cano, despite not gathering many base hits of late, continues to impress me. While 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly and a strikeout is nothing to brag about, Cano did collect a walk. His AAA walk rate, in an admittedly small sample, is ahead of his AA walk rate, which was improving as the season went along and was already the best of his career. Cano still has wild at bats, but he has made great strides in controlling the strike zone. Scott Proctor made a dominant appearance in tonight's game. In 2 innings, he had a clean line while striking out 3. This was on the heels of C.J. Nitkowski striking out the one batter he faced and before Sam Marsonek lost the game by allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 1 walk in 1 inning of work. Trenton lost tonight as "Tiger" Wang continues to be maddeningly inconsistent. Wang will have one nice start, you'll think he's going to get it going and begin harnessing his considerable raw ability, and next time out he implodes. The implosion this time came in the form of a 6 inning start that saw him give up 7 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned runs, walk 3 and strike out 5. He has a 4.17 ERA. At this point, in his second season of AA, and not making nearly as much progress as he should be, I think Wang needs to make the move to the bullpen. The Yankees spent a ton of money on him, about 1.9 million, but it looks like the only return they may get on that is a reliever. I'll try and update this situation tomorrow morning, but it seems as though Bronson Sardinha may have been injured in last night's game. The 3B got in one at bat, in which he struck out, and that was all the playing time he got tonight. Hopefully, it is nothing too serious as Sardinha was really beginning to make some progress in terms of proving his ability to handle AA pitching. Jose Valdez has now put together back-to-back good starts for the first time in forever. Perhaps the hard throwing right-hander has found "it". Perhaps he is just in a mild hot streak. Either way, he went 7 innings and gave up 3 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, and 1 walk while striking out 5 to earn his 6th victory of the season. For all the Valdez bashing I do compared to the Karstens praising, Valdez actually has a 3.33 qDIPS compared to Karstens 3.43. Perhaps I am being tainted by expectations. Melky Cabrera was moved from the 3 slot to the 2 slot, not because of his slump, but rather because Eric Duncan has finally arrived in Tampa and was immediately given the 3 slot. Cabrera was 2 for 5 with 2 doubles and an uncharacteristic 3 strikeouts, while Eric Duncan made his A+ debut as the DH and went 2 for 5 with a single and a triple. Most importantly, Duncan did not strikeout. Rudy Guillen also continues to swing a hot bat since his return from injury and went 2 for 4 with a single, a double, and a strikeout. There wasn't much news from Battle Creek. The game was shortened due to rain and the action that they did get in was not full of prospect excitement. Hector Made was 1 for 3 with a single and a strikeout while making an error in the field, and Erold Andrus was 0 for 3 after making his return to the leadoff spot. Staten Island finally won a game. Their pitching finally showed up and held the opposition to 3 runs, while their offense continues to roll as they put 8 runs on the board. The leader of the offensive attack was none other than Marcos Vechionacci. Vech was 3 for 4 with 3 singles and a walk. In his first 3 games in SI he has 4 RBI and 2 walks while going 5 for 12 with a double. Yes, he is still 17. Tim Battle had a Tim Battle type game, which means productivity, with some strikeouts thrown in. Battle was 1 for 5 with a double and 2 strikeouts. I'm going to attempt to put what Battle has done in 2004 into perspective. If you take his combined GCL and SI numbers and put them over and adjust so that he plays a 150 game schedule, he would end the season with 50 doubles, 30 triples, 20 home runs, and 100 stolen bases. He would also strike out 210 times. This is all to say that he is an extremely talented individual and though he may go into deep slumps, as his player type is prone to do, his raw talent should be worth the wait. Estee Harris had the best game of his SI stint by going 1 for 4 with a single and no strikeouts. This has been a trying season for him and I hope his confidence holds up, as he is one of the more physically gifted players in the system. The GCL Yankees continued to get by on the strength of their pitching this afternoon. Abreu picked up the win by going 4 innings and limiting the opposition to only 1 hit, while striking out 6. Abreu has now allowed 1 base runner in 7 innings of work while striking out 9. Jose Perez had one of his stronger games thus far as he went 2 for 4 with 2 singles from the leadoff spot. Anderson Amador was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts as he races for a strikeout crown along with Jon Poterson. Poterson went 1 for 4 with a single and did not strike out in this game. Nate Phillips was 1 for 4 with a double, his first extra base hit of the season. *** There are 2 posts that were just done today below this one, just so you know. Check them out. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
 
NO TITLE Columbus' offense carried them to a 13 to 3 victory yesterday, but most of the focus was on the mound. This is acceptable as Orlando Hernandez started the game, and he was relieved by Steve Karsay. Hernandez had another effective AAA outing by going 7 strong innings, in which he allowed 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, and struck out 5 while giving up a homer. Karsay came on and pitched 1 inning with a clean line other than collecting a strikeout. Karsay has yet to allow a run. Following Hernandez and Karsay was the much less established Jason Anderson. Anderson did not do a great job of placing himself in their company as he allowed a run in his inning of work by giving up 1 hit and a walk while not managing any strikeouts. Though the Columbus offense had a huge night, there were no real exciting numbers put up by The Duo. Navarro, for one, did not play. The Yankees seem to be resting him a lot, or just having Sal Fasano, Proven Veteran, catch the big guys. Robinson Cano DID play but was only 1 for 4 with a single; at the very least he did draw a walk. In 32 AAA at bats he has 3 walks and 1 strikeout, which is just excellent. Potential Replacement Player Andy Phillips had himself a fine showing by going 2 for 4 with a triple and a home run. The 1B also threw in a sac fly for good measure. After a brief slump he is back up to .324. Sean Henn got a career high 4th victory yesterday, despite pitching poorly. In 7.2 innings, Henn allowed 8 hits, 4 walks, and a homer, but that only turned into 2 runs, both of which were earned. The left-hander also struck out 5. His ERA stands at 3.67. Bronson Sardinha was elevated to the 3-spot in the lineup, which was almost inevitable, and had a solid debut there. In 5 plate appearances, Sardinha made out twice and walked three times. His rapidly improving AA BB:K ratio now stands at 8:16. Tampa the team lost, but 2 of the 3 prospects did well, so it was a positive game. The one prospect that did not do well was Melky Cabrera who is suddenly ice cold and striking out, something that he just does not do on a regular basis. Cabrera was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts and has seen his average drop about .010 points to .313. Rudy Guillen on the other hand, seems to have learned to walk while injured. Considering he had a leg injury, this is mildly fitting...or not, whatever. Guillen was 1 for 3 with a walk while playing RF and hitting 5th. Jeff Karstens had the best night of all. Karstens went 7.1 innings and only allowed 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, and 3 walks while striking out 7. Karstens ERA is 3.54. Hector Made was 2 for 4 with a single and a double as Battle Creek had a decent offensive night putting 5 runs on the board. Made, thankfully, seems to be hitting again. Erold Andrus seems to have found "it" as he is hitting for average, power, and taking his walks. Last night was a continuation of this as the CF went 1 for 3 with a triple and a walk. Staten Island lost again as their offense continues to show up, 6 hits and 14 runs, while their pitching lags behind, 9 runs and 12 hits. Tim Battle has had little problems with NYPL pitching thus far as he had his second multi-hit game by going 2 for 4 with a double, a single, and a walk. He also struck out twice, and those strikeouts may become a concern at some point. Battle also stole 3 bases for good measure though, this guy is just an incredible talent and were it not for the strikeouts my man-crush on him would be as strong as the one I hold for Marcos Vechionacci. The same Vech who last night was 2 for 5 with a double as he begins on his quest to prove to the Yankees that yet another level of the puny minor leagues is not good enough to hold him. Amidst all this offensive goodness Estee Harris managed to go 0 for 5 with 3 strikeouts, which gives him about 1,035 Ks on the year. With most of their offense, Battle and Vechionacci, elevated to the NYPL, the GCL Yankees will now have to win on the strength of their pitching, which they are very capable of doing as they showed last night. The starter was Jeffrey Marquez, who is making the Yankees front office look like a bunch of geniuses so far. Marquez went 5 innings, struck out 5, walked 1, and allowed 3 hits and no runs. In his first 14.1 innings he has allowed 10 hits, 4 walks, 1 earned run, and struck out 18. His dominance of the league combined with the pitching disaster known as NYPL could lead to a quick promotion. Coming on in relief of Marquez was Jay Stephens. Stephens line was completely clean in 2 innings of work. Stephens is having a solid sophomore season with a 1.72 ERA through 15.2 innings. Jose Perez took over in CF for Tim Battle and failed to live up to the performance of the player he was replacing. Perez was 0 for 2 with a walk. Jon Poterson, who is thus far not making the front office looking like geniuses, was 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts. Anderson Amador, who seems to be heating up, was 2 for 3 with a double and a caught stealing, and Nate Phillips went 1 for 3 with a single, both players struck out once. Phillips also threw in a trademark error for good measure. *** I MIGHT be able to get some more stuff posted, but I am not sure right now. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
 
THE JEFF HEM SPECTACULAR Since I don't live in Michigan I don't get to see the Battle Creek Yankees on a regular basis, or ever. To quench my thirst for more information about them, other than what is apparent statistically, I asked Battle Creek Yankees announcer Jeff Hem some questions. Here is what he said about the team that started the season as the most prospect loaded of any Yankee affiliate: FM: Eric Duncan, who was recently promoted to Tampa, has had one of the best bats power-wise on the Battle Creek team all season. However, in the last month his average has gone down as his strikeouts have gone up. What happened? JH: Duncan, for whatever reason, became less patient at the plate than he had been most of the season. He was swinging at balls out of the strike zone that he normally lays off. That can start to happen, especially for someone as young as he, when you have a couple of struggling nights. What was impressive about Duncan, though, is even when his average was sinking he still found ways to contribute offensively. He still drew some walks, would reach on a fielder's choice here and there, and ran the bases very well. He did drive in a lot of runs for Battle Creek, but he also scored [a lot] of them as well. FM: Many baseball insiders have speculated that Eric Duncan has no chance of sticking at 3B, but after making 12 errors in his first 21 games, Duncan has really calmed down defensively. What do you make of Duncan's progress in manning the hot corner? What are the best and worst aspects of his defensive game? JH: His glove is great. He's worked extremely hard defensively. His work ethic is top-notch. Andy Stankiewicz was working with him when he was with the team as a roving infield instructor, and Duncan continually works both on his own and with the coaching staff. His arm is plenty strong enough to play third base[;] he just needs to become a little more accurate. If you base his future on his work ethic, I see no reason why he can't play third base. FM: Tyler Clippard, though he has great walk, strikeout, and home run numbers, has given up a lot of hits. Is this a case of dribblers and weak hits getting by his defense, or a case of legitimate hard hit balls falling in? Also, do you know what the velocity on Clippard's fastball is? JH: Clippard's fastball ranges from about 88-92 mph. He can go a little harder than at times, but it's mostly 88-92. He has given up [a lot] of hits, but his ERA has remained pretty well under 4.00 all season. He hasn't gotten consistent run support (which occurs for all pitchers at some point) this season, and I know that's been frustrating for him. FM: Abel Gomez has had a very nice season, despite an unseemly walk rate. What type of pitches does he throw and with what velocity? Do you have any idea what leads to his wildness? JH: Gomez is a very talented young pitcher who is still very much learning how to throw strikes consistently. His fastball is upper 80s to low 90s, and he throws a curveball and a cut fastball/slider. He is most effective when his change-up is in the zone (usually about 8-10 mph slower than the fastball). FM: Eric Duncan, Hector Made, Melky Cabrera, Tyler Clippard, and Abel Gomez are probably the 5 biggest prospects to pass through Battle Creek this season. If you had to peg one of these guys as a future major league superstar, who would it be and why? JH: Wow, what a tough question, as all five of those guys are 19 [years old]. Superstar is a word that is too premature for them. The first guy to get to the big leagues, I would say, could be Melky Cabrera. The Midwest League was not challenging enough for him, and he's done well at Tampa too. He has all the tools, and if he can develop a little more power in his bat, he can make it to the majors. Great speed and glove to go along with his ability to hit for a high average. To be perfectly honest, each of these five guys has the potential to get there. Cabrera may just get there first. *** I want to thank Jeff Hem again for taking the time out to answer my questions. I hope everyone enjoyed his insight as much as I did, and I will try to update some more later tonight. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Monday, July 05, 2004
 
EVEN MORE PROMOTIONS Columbus won yesterday on the strength of the offense. The Columbus hitters put 9 runs and 12 hits on the board. Despite this type of offensive explosion, Cano and Navarro did not have incredible games. Cano continues to cool after a torrid start to his AAA career. The 2B only managed to pick up a single in 5 at bats. Perhaps the most encouraging statistic about Cano's AAA performance thus far is that he has only 1 strikeout in 28 at bats, which is pretty incredible. Dioner Navarro did not collect many hits, only 1 in his 4 at bats, but it was a triple. The triple was his 4th extra base hit in 19 AAA at bats. This is coming on the heels of him only managing 18 extra base hits in 255 AA at bats. If Navarro can only start throwing in some singles and walks here and there, that sounds weird to say this year, he can make the Yankees look for very smart for promoting him. In addition to making me look smart for condoning that promotion. After suffering through a power slump that turned into a hitting slump, Andy Phillips broke out in yesterday's game. In 3 at bats, the 1B hit a home run and walked once. Three members of The Relief Corps took the mound last night. Scott Proctor had the worst performance of the three. In 1 inning pitched, the right-hander allowed 3 hits, 1 run, and 1 earned run while walking none and striking out 1. Colter Bean pitched a clean inning while picking up a strikeout and C.J. Nitkowski picked up 2 strikeouts in 1 inning of work while walking none and allowing only 1 hit. Trenton lost again yesterday. This time it was by a score of 5 to 3. Any hopes they had of making the playoffs are pretty much gone. The hopes disappeared once word that Kevin Reese, the best player on the team this year, was promoted to AAA got around. Reese isn't much of a prospect at this point, but he has been very productive this year. To counteract this loss Tommy Winrow, the best Tampa hitter this year, was promoted to AA. If Winrow struggles, and his numbers this year would say that's not likely, it will be interesting to see if Melky Cabrera is considered. As for hitters that are currently on the Trenton roster, Bronson Sardinha had a very encouraging game. By going 1 for 2 with a single, 2 walks, and a strikeout, Sardinha took a step in the direction of righting his BB:K numbers. Now it's time for the doubles and triples to start showing up. Tampa won their game in 10 innings by a score of 5 to 4. In addition to those 5 runs, the Tampa offense also picked up 12 hits. Shockingly, Melky Cabrera was not a huge part of this. The normally more productive CF was only 1 for 5 with a single and 2 strikeouts. Rudy Guillen picked up the slack in his second game as the DH by collecting 2 singles in 4 at bats and even got himself a walk (!). The recently promoted Eric Duncan was nowhere to be found, but should be in the lineup today. The Battle Creek offense had a big night in their first game P.D. (Post Duncan) by putting up 9 runs on only 9 hits. Rather than every hit being a homer, the key to scoring so much for BC was that they drew 10 walks and only struck out twice. Hector Made, unfortunately, picked up one of those strikeouts and was only 1 for 4 with a single. Erold Andrus had a great game by going 1 for 3 with a single and 2 walks, though 1 of the walks was intentional. By the time the year is over, don't be surprised if Erold Andrus 2004 looks a lot like Rudy Guillen 2003. While the GCL Yankees did not play a game yesterday, their players were the big newsmakers. Tim Battle and Estee Harris were promoted to Staten Island. So was Marcos Vechionacci. He's 17, in case you forgot. I don't know how much more excited I can get about a prospect so I won't try to put my feelings into words. In their NYPL debuts Harris and Vech were held hitless. Vech was 0 for 3 with a walk and an RBI while Harris was 0 for 4 with a strikeout. Tim Battle, on the other hand, hit the ground running. Battle was 3 for 5 with 2 singles, a homer, 2 stolen bases, and 2 strikeouts. He strikes out a lot, but he has the looks of a legit 5-tool player. *** Back to updating the top 10 next time around. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Sunday, July 04, 2004
 
LATEST TOP 10 My monthly top 10s will be based more on production than potential, whereas the year-end rankings will take scouting reports into further consideration. First, we start with the review process: 1. Eric Duncan, 3B, 19, A+ Tampa (Name, Position, Seasonal Age, Level) A month ago Eric Duncan was flying high. He was hovering around the .300 mark, he had been playing errorless defense, and was easily one of the organization's most impressive offensive prospects. Then things fell apart. Duncan's average plummeted about .040 points in a month and the strikeouts piled up and his BB:K ratio went from the neighborhood of 1:1.5 to 1:2+. One good night later, he has found himself promoted to the FSL where he will join former teammate Melky Cabrera as two of the younger everyday players in that circuit. My initial reaction to the promotion was that Duncan would be eaten alive because he was not exactly excelling at the time of promotion, but sometimes numbers, a major factor in my judgment of players, can be misleading. Perhaps this is the case with Duncan and his promotion will only serve as a starting point for a new hot streak. This would be a repeat of what happened late last summer as I questioned the Yankees promotion of Duncan to the NY-Penn League only to see Duncan go on and tear that league apart. Through all the ups and downs, one thing that has remained constant is Duncan's power as he is amongst the MWL leaders in extra base hits. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to display his extra base hit prowess in the FSL, if so, he may in fact have the legitimate 35-40 home run power that some had mentioned in the offseason. In addition to watching the power, the other thing to keep an eye on will be the BB and K rates. Stock: Down 2. Dioner Navarro, C, 20, AAA Columbus Though Navarro was not riding nearly as high as Duncan around this time last month, June was a disappointment for him, in terms of production, as well. Navarro's average fell and his extra base hit power continued to be absent, though he did manage to continue drawing his walks while making contact. Then, similarly to Duncan, he was promoted. While Navarro's promotion has only fueled speculation about whether or not he would be traded, I would rather believe it is because the Yankees felt he was ready. Thus far, he seems to be proving the minor league directors correct. While he has only collected 4 hits in his first 19 AAA at bats, Navarro does not seem to be overmatched judging by his only striking out 3 times. His walk total, 1, should also begin to increase. The most encouraging aspect of Navarro's AAA time thus far is that of his 4 hits, all 4 are for extra bases. He has 3 doubles and 1 triple. Hopefully, the re-emergence of his extra base power is real and not a fluke. Stock: Neutral 3. Melky Cabrera, CF, 19, A+ Tampa Last time around I basically gushed about all aspects of Melky Cabrera's game. My one really negative comment was about his lack of homers. Seeing as Melky went and hit one of those, I can't really say anything bad about him. Sure it kind of sucks that he only has 1 home run thus far, but then you consider that he has played in the 2 worst offensive full season leagues and still managed to lace 29 doubles, 5 triples, and that 1 home run while .329 and you don't feel so bad. Add in a 24 walk to 41 strikeout ratio on the season and you feel better. Mix in some great defensive tools and you feel even better. Consider that he has the looks of an All-Star type top of the order hitter and you're smiling ear-to-ear. Simply put, Melky Cabrera is the man and has shown no signs of slowing down this season. Don't be shocked if he makes it to AA sometime in the next month, during his age-19 season. Stock: Up 4. Robinson Cano, 2B, 21, AAA Columbus If you are a prospect and you are promoted amidst a whirlwind of trade rumors, only to have those trade rumors become speculation about how you will fit into the big club's lineup in the near future, you know you're tearing it up. Consider how much I gushed about Melky and then consider that Cano's 2004 has basically been Melky's, but at the two highest levels of the minors, and with home run power. Cano is probably the most big-league ready Yankee prospect, though he is not quite there yet and could still use another month of seasoning. If around August 1st he is hitting .300 with power and discipline and Cairo is coming back to Earth (something that is thankfully not happening so far, knock on wood), give this man a job. If not, let him stay in AAA until September call-ups. Either way, he should be the starting 2B for the Yankees for most of 2004 barring anything drastic such as trade or injury. Stock: Up 5. Tyler Clippard, RHP, 19, A- Battle Creek While Clippard still has not run off a dominant stretch, like I would have expected, he is still very much in control of his MWL opponents. Once again, the only statistical hole that remains for Clippard is his high hit rate, but is this a concern? Seemingly the answer is no. Consider that of the 33 MWL pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched, Clippard's qDIPs of 2.66 ranks fourth to Brad Knox, 22, who has a 2.50, Adam Harben, 20, who has a 2.47 and Michel Simard and Calvin Medlock, 22 and 21 respectively, who have 2.37s, rank ahead of Clippard. This all brings me to my next point, which I have expressed on previous occasions. Tyler Clippard should be promoted, there is nothing left at the A- level for him to learn. He needs to face better hitters, hitters who stand a better chance against his outstanding curveball, which would force him to work on fleshing out his entire array of pitches. Stock: Neutral 6. Bronson Sardinha, 3B, 21, AA Trenton As he continued to hit single after single, take walk after walk, and commit error after error, Bronson Sardinha received something for the first time. Despite being a former supplemental 1st round draft pick, Sardinha's promotion to Trenton in mid-June was the first in-season promotion of his career. Since being promoted, Sardinha has hit single after single, taken his walks here and there, and committed error after error. He has essentially remained the same player, with a little boost in SLG, which is a very good thing for a prospect to do when promoted. Sardinha needs to continue to develop his power and improve his AA BB:K numbers for this season to be his first successful full season of minor league baseball. Stock: Up 7. Abel Gomez, SP, 19, A- Battle Creek While Abel Gomez has both a superior strikeout rate and ERA to Tyler Clippard, his qDIPs of 3.33, owing to high walk totals and luck on balls in play shows that Clippard has in fact performed better. Despite this, I think Gomez would also be best served by a promotion. In his last 4 starts, Abel has pitched 23.1 innings and walked 8 while striking out 28, which is his best stretch of the season. He has used this run to lower his ERA to 2.98. Whether this is a hot streak or a real turn of the corner remains to be seen, but it is the type of moment, when coupled with seasonal performance that would seem right for promotion as hopefully the player would continue to play well at his new level. The bottom line in all of this for Gomez is that if the improvement in walk rate is real, then he is going to dominate for the rest of his MWL tenure, as walks have been the only thing holding him back. Stock: Up 8. Brad Halsey, SP, 23, ML Yankees In the June update I made my case for Brad Halsey to get his shot at the major league level. Since then he has, and has been very good in 2 of his 3 starts, with his other one being a disaster that was a byproduct of his wildness and his defense. Overall, Halsey has turned many heads due to his poise on the mound and effective pitching. He will get a couple more turns in the rotation and if he continues to impress he may find himself sticking with the Yankees...or being traded. Stock: Up 9. Jeffrey Karstens, SP, 21, A+ Tampa Karstens has yet to take off as much as I thought he would following a hot start to the season. What he has done is remain a very effective A+ pitcher. With the recent promotion of Matt DeSalvo to AA, Karstens has effectively become the Tampa staff ace. To fully assume that role, and to build up his prospect status, Karstens, who has very good control and a decent homer rate, is going to up his strikeout rate. That will be the key for him, as is the case with many pitching prospects. Stock: Neutral 10. Matthew DeSalvo, SP, 23, AA Trenton Matthew DeSalvo has been old for "good prospect" status at every level he has played at in the Yankee organization. At around 6'0'' tall he is a short pitcher. Making that worse, he is a short RIGHT-HANDED pitcher. He didn't pitch in a big-time college program. Despite all this, I have a lot of faith in Matt DeSalvo's ability. Of course, it doesn't hurt when you have a fastball that clocks around 91 to 95, contrary to John Sickels belief and according to BA and other sources, and when you have been as utterly dominant as he was in the FSL. After destroying the FSL, DeSalvo was promoted to the EL and in his first two starts he was dominant. His 3rd start saw him have trouble with the gopher ball as he doubled his career home runs allowed total, but that will likely not be a long-term problem. Look for him to get right back on track and put himself in position to enter 2005 with an outside shot at helping the big club sometime that season. Stock: Up *** I will not review last night's games right now, but rather sometime later...or not at all. *** The guys over at PinstripesPlus.com, a wonderful site for Yankee minor league info and views, recently did an interview with Battle Creek Yankees announcer Jeff Hem. Feeling inspired by them, I set out to interview someone within one of the Yankee minor league affiliates and lo and behold, "somebody" turned into Jeff Hem. If there is some overlap between our questions and answers, I apologize as I merely intended to get some questions I had been interested in answered. Hopefully, there are no hard feelings. That interview should be up sometime tomorrow. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
 
THAT'S UNEXPECTED (Please forgive me. I suspect the spelling/grammar will be worse than usual as I am having some spell/grammar-check issues.) I've been really busy lately, but I'll try and get you caught up on all the important happenings of the last 3 nights of minor league action. Without further ado, here we go: Columbus has played 4 games since my last update. Despite almost going an entire turn through their rotation, only one of their games was started by a pitcher of note. That pitcher was Alex Graman, who started one half of a July 2nd doubleheader. Graman pitched 6 innings and allowed 5 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and struck out 3. The start dropped Graman's ERA back under 3 after a bit of a rough stretch that had caused his ERA to rapidly rise. Unfortunately for Graman, Brad Halsey has done a better job of seizing opportunity at the major league level and his best chance for that type of success may lie in another organization. Causing Graman's start to hold even more importance was the name of the pitcher who came in to relieve him. Steve Karsay made his second minor-league appearance of the season, as he attempts to recover from a series of arm injuries, and was impressive. In 1 inning of work Karsay had a clean line other than the one batter he got to strike out. Bean, Proctor, Marsonek, Nitkowski & Anderson, the most notable members of the Columbus relief corps, all saw action during the course of the last 4 games. Bean pitched 1.1 inning and struck out 2 while allowing 1 hit as he attempts to get his ERA back under 2. Proctor pitched 1.2 inning and struck out 2 with an otherwise clean line as he attempts to place his ERA under 2. Marsonek pitched 1 inning, walked 1, and struck out 1 as he put his ERA at an even 3. Nitkowski pitched 1 inning and allowed a walk and a strikeout, his goal is to become the next in line for a Yankee LOOGY job. Jason Anderson was the worst of The Firm as he allowed 2 hits and 1 run, which was earned, during his lone inning of work. On the bright side he did manage 2 strikeouts. 1 for 8 with 3 walks and a strikeout. Those are Andy Phillips' numbers as the IF has played in all, but one of the last few games. For him, not only is that cooling off considerably, it is one of his worst stretches this season. Dioner Navarro played in 2 of the 4 games and managed to go 1 for 6 with a double and a strikeout. In his first 15 AAA at bats, Navarro has 3 hits, all of which are doubles. You'd love to see him get some more hits, but at the same time there's some joy in the extra base power apparently working it's way back. Robinson Cano played in every game over the same stretch and went 3 for 13 with 3 singles. After a blistering first two games, Cano has cooled down considerably. He should get it going again sometime soon though, considering he deserved his promotion any way you want to look at it, so look at this as a blip on the map to the majors for him. Though Trenton only played 2 games since I last reported on any action, they had twice as many minor league starters of note pitch for them in comparison to Columbus. First up was Ramon Ramirez, who continues to reel off quality starts since coming back from injury. In this particular one, Ramirez went 8 strong innings in which he gave up 7 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, and struck out 8. Ramirez also gave up a homer, which is about his only real performance weakness as a prospect. Here are the newly updated, post-injury Ramon Ramirez numbers: 28.2 innings pitched, 24 hits allowed, 11 runs scored, 11 earned runs scored, 4 walks allowed, 31 strikeouts , and 2 home runs. Promote this man. Matt DeSalvo made a go of it last night and it appears he may as well not have. In his first poor start out of 3 AA efforts, DeSalvo was shelled. DeSalvo took 4.2 innings to give up 9 hits, 7 runs, 7 earned runs, and 1 walk. The silver lining is the 6 strikeouts. Because of the small sample size of his AA work, DeSalvo's ERA ballooned from being in the very respectable 3s, to an ugly 6.11. His biggest problem in this game was one he is not used to, DeSalvo gave up 3 homers. Considering that DeSalvo, before tonight's game, had pitched 159.1 pro innings and given up exactly 3 home runs, this was a shocking development. Bronson Sardinha continued to do what he has done thus far in AA during the 2 games. That would be to hit for average, 3 for 9, not much power, all 3 hits were singles, and strike out, 3 times to be exact. Unless he starts improving his K:BB ratio or his power, just 2 extra base hits, though both are homers, I don't see Sardinha continuing his current run of AA success for much longer. Tampa also had 2 games since I last wrote, as one of their contests was rained out. In the second of the two contests, yesterday's game, Steven White started and picked up his first A+ victory. In 6 innings of work White handed out 3 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, and struck out 6. White has, for the most part, kept up the momentum he gained near the end of his A- stint, which is critical as at his age, 23, he needs to move through the system quickly. Two Tampa games pass and sure as day, Melky Cabrera continues to pile up the hits. The CF was 3 for 7 with a double, 2 singles, a strikeout, and a HBP. Cabrera has just been outstanding this year. The second Tampa game was important as Rudy Guillen made his return from a leg injury. Guillen stepped back into the lineup as the DH, while Melky played CF, and he hit 5th, while Melky hit 3rd. Though Guillen was just 0 for 4 with a strikeout in his return, his presence doubles the legitimate position prospect total. There's also word that that population may increase further, more on that later. Abel Gomez and Tyler Clippard started 2 of the 3 Battle Creek games played since my last post. In his start, Gomez was outstanding, while in his, Clippard was decent. Gomez posted his second best start of the year 6.2 innings and allowing 7 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, walking 1 (!), and striking out 10. When Gomez is on, he can be dominant, case in point. The problem is, as noted numerous times, his control is often not there. While Clippard also one his game, his performance was not as good as Abel's. In 5 innings, the Florida native gave up 6 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, walked 2, and struck out 6. Gomez and Clippard have now firmly placed themselves amongst the MWL top 10 in strikeouts and could both vie for the league lead as the season winds down. If nothing else, the last 3 games have proven that Erold Andrus is an avid reader of the Minor Yankee Blog and he takes my advice to heart. After my bemoaning his recent lack of power, Andrus' power swing has awoken. In his last 3 games, the switch-hitter has gone 5 for 13 with 1 single, 3 doubles, 1 home run, and 2 strikeouts. That's the best stretch he's had in quite some time as his SLG is about to cross over into respectability once again. Hector Made was also very good over the last few games. The SS went 5 for 12 with 4 singles, a home run, and 2 strikeouts. Made seems to have established a pattern of sucking for a while, then taking a walk or two or three, and all of a sudden becoming good, unfortunately the process has been cyclical. Eric Duncan was 2 for 12 with 2 walks and 5 strikeouts, which is bad. Fortunately, the two hits were both of the extra base variety, one was a double and one was a home run. Those numbers would indicate that Duncan is still struggling, but last night was his best night in a while as he got both of his hits previously mentioned in the course of his 4 at bats, while also walking and striking out once. The Yankees were seemingly just waiting for one good night, as after the game, Eric Duncan was promoted to Tampa. I, for one, think this is a bad move and would not be shocked to see Duncan get abused for the remainder of the season, though I would love to be wrong. Hopefully his confidence can handle the hit it could potentially take. The GCL Yankees played 3 games as they continued their schedule of every day, but Sunday. Outside of Phil Hughes, Christian Garcia, and Jeff Marquez, I will not comment much on the GCL pitchers as many of them are unknowns to me. With that said, Christian Garcia DID make an appearance in one of the games. Garcia pitched Thursday afternoon, and in his second pro start the right-hander went 2 innings and allowed 1 hit, 1 walk, and struck out 2. Garcia is a work in progress, but I like what scouts have said of him and I like what I have seen of him. Tim Battle was 4 for 14 with a sacrifice hit and 4 strikeouts during the last 3 games. With 15 strikeouts in 50 at bats, Battle is going to have to really work on that part of his game. Marcos Vechionacci is much more polished at that aspect of the game, and over his last 3 is 6 for 12 with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. For the season, Vech has 9 strikeouts in 49 at bats. Though I see there being 0 chance of it happening, I would love if the Yankees promoted him to Battle Creek to take over for Eric Duncan. P.S., whatever "it" is, Vech is radiating it. Jon Poterson is 1 for his last 7 with a homer, his second, 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. That is now 13 strikeouts in 40 at bats, for those of you keeping score at home. Over the same stretch, Anderson Amador is 4 for 13 with 4 strikeouts and his second homer of the season. That would be 14 strikeouts in 41 at bats, for those of you keeping track of Amador. *** Updated top 10 coming this weekend. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
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    Alfonso Soriano

    Batting Average:.279
    On-Base Percentage:.322
    Slugging Percentage:.464
    Gross Production Avg:.261

    Alex Rodriguez

    Batting Average:.284
    On-Base Percentage:.372
    Slugging Percentage:.536
    Gross Production Avg:.301

    Nick Johnson

    Batting Average:.258
    On-Base Percentage:.365
    Slugging Percentage:.404
    Gross Production Avg:.265

    Javier Vazquez

    Earned Run Average:4.16
    Strikeouts:111
    Walks:37
    Home Runs:23

    Brandon Claussen

    Earned Run Average:4.02
    Strikeouts:9
    Walks:7
    Home Runs:2