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Monday, August 30, 2004
 
LONG TIME COMING Columbus emerged victorious in their contest Sunday afternoon by a score of 8 to 1. Offensively, Robinson Cano had another poor effort, going 0 for 3 with a walk, and Dioner Navarro was solid with a single in 3 at bats to go along with a walk. Cano has really struggled overall since his promotion to AAA, especially considering how hot he was to begin the stint and his average now sits at .247. The struggles have led to my finding some merit in Baseball Prospectus' statement that any team interested in Cano would be sure to find "Yankee Fool's Gold". Navarro, despite being in a bit of slump that dropped his average to .254, has gotten more comfortable as his time in AAA has increased. With that in mind, I would say he is a better bet going forward than Cano, though because of the big league team's needs, I would still like to see Robinson have a shot at platooning at 2B. The starting pitcher for the game was Chien-Ming Wang. The start was Wang's first since returning from a very good Olympic performance and he continued to roll at AAA, as he went 6-3-1-1-2-6-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR). After being in my doghouse since midway through the '03 season, he is really starting to make me rethink my view of him. Such is the case when you combine great stuff and a 31.1-24-9-9-6-27-3 start to your AAA career. Coming on to relieve Wang was Brad Halsey. The reason the lefty was pitching in relief was in hopes of getting properly slotted for the soon-to-start IL playoffs. The left-hander went 2-0-0-0-1-2-0 as he lowered his ERA to 2.74. Any discussion of top pitching prospects in the Yankee organization has to include Halsey, regardless of his lack of overwhelming stuff. Moving down to AA, the Thunder actually managed a victory on Sunday. They defeated the Binghamton Mets 6-3. Bronson Sardinha, who had been in a slump that saw him lose .060 odd points of average and get dropped from 3rd in the order to bottom of the lineup, had a good offensive game. The 3B was 2 for 4 with a single, a double, and a strikeout, getting his average back up to .282. On the negative side, he also made an error, which was his 19th in 53 games at 3B in Trenton. This is after he made 23 errors in 61 games at 3B in Tampa. If you feel like being REALLY optimistic, there is some improvement there. Battle Creek lost their Sunday game, but Erold Andrus continued to roll. Andrus seems to be firmly entrenched in the 3-hole now, and with good reason. The CF was 2 for 5 with 2 singles on Sunday and now has his average all the way up to .283. Hector Made was given the day off, which usually happens about once a week. The SI Yankees produced an exciting extra-innings victory in their Sunday contest. They scored a run in the bottom of the 10th to close a game that starred Jesse Hoover, as is usually the case whenever he starts. The hard-throwing right-hander went 5-2-0-0-1-5-0. For the season his line is now 52-26-13-10-23-83-0. To say that I am expecting a big 2005 from him would be an understatement. Estee Harris had a productive day and Tim Battle not so much. Harris was 2 for 4 with a single and his fourth home run while striking out twice. Battle was 0 for 3 with a walk and 3 strikeouts. For the NYPL season, Battle's average stands at .236 and Harris' is at .235. Neither has been great at SI, which could be said about almost any position player on that team, but Harris' superior control of the strike zone and greater power has him ahead of Battle in regards to productivity. Tampa did not have a Sunday game and the GCL Yankees start their GCL Championship Series today. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Friday, August 20, 2004
 
OPERATION SHUTDOWN This is the final update for the next week...ish. I might post something here and there in "Comments", but don't look for any full updates. That said, here are the updates for the past couple days of action: Columbus lost on Wednesday and split a doubleheader Thursday. The doubleheader victory was almost solely the result of Brad Halsey. The Columbus offense could only manage 2 runs, but Halsey was up for the job and went 6-4-0-0-0-5-0, which gives him his second streak of 20+ innings without allowing a run this season. The 23-year-old left-hander's ERA now sits at 2.88, which is good for 2nd in the IL. I will be very upset if Halsey is not given a spot in the '05 rotation, much less having to compete for one. On the offensive side, the last 3 games have seemed to illustrate the cream rising to the top theory. The cream, in this case, is represented by Dioner Navarro. Navarro has had a disappointing season overall, but of late he has really come on. Navarro was 2 for 4 with a single, a double on Wednesday and 1 for 2 with a single and a walk in the capper of Thursday's doubleheader. Conversely, Robinson Cano has gone 2 for 10 with a single, a double, and 3 strikeouts. Just like that, Cano's batting average is currently .264 and Navarro's is .270. Clearly, batting average is not the most telling stat, but considering where their AAA careers started it is noteworthy. Tonight was a momentous one as Sean Henn picked up a victory for the first time since July 5th. Yeah, it's been that long. The victory was not particularly pretty either as the left-hander's final line of 7-6-2-2-4-1-1 can attest. Understanding that he did get the job done by allowing only 2 runs, 4 walks and 1 strikeout in 7 innings is just deplorable. The Trenton offensive attack placed 18 runs on the board through the strength of 16 hits and 12 (!) walks. Of this, Bronson Sardinha had a single in 4 at bats and walked twice. Tampa lost Wednesday and pulled out the victory on Thursday. In the first contest, Melky Cabrera was 1 for 4 with a single and in the second he was 1 for 5 with a single and a strikeout. Cabrera's average now sits at .300 and it is becoming increasingly clear that he is magnetically attracted to that number as far as A+ is concerned, never straying too far in either direction from it. Another thing of note is that after having a ridiculously high double rate early in the year, Melky saw his doubles turn into homers for about a month and is now just hitting singles. It is probably just sample size fluke, but something to keep an eye on nonetheless. Eric Duncan was 1 for 4 with a single and 2 strikeouts on Wednesday and then had a more typical Duncan performance on Thursday by going 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, a single, and a strikeout. Of course, the "typical" aspect I am referring to is the extra base hits. Duncan is averaging an extra base hit every 7.17 at bats during his FSL stint. Rudy Guillen's season continues to be stuck in neutral. The RF was 2 for 9 with a single, a double, and 3 strikeouts. Another prospect not doing enough to enhance their status, Jose Valdez, was the starter on Thursday and could only muster 3-6-4-4-1-2-2. The Battle Creek Yankees are in the midst of their most impressive series of the season. Facing the Kane County Tigers, the team that annihilated them by the combined scores of about 40-3 in a 3-game set earlier this year; they have won 2 of the 3 games they played the past 2 days. The one game they lost was only a one-run loss and bad luck more than anything else. Tyler Clippard, who had been owned by the Kane County Tigers, producing the worst line of his pro career, came out of the gate rolling, continuing his recent stretch of dominance and through the first third of the game had compiled a line of 3-0-0-0-0-2-0...and then the game was suspended. When the game continued Wednesday afternoon, Abel Gomez, who was the lone pitcher with success against the Tigers in the earlier series, went 5.1-6-2-2-2-9-0 for his most impressive performance to date, only to have the man who relieved him allow the 2 runners he left on to score. That brought his runs and earned run totals to 4, obviously, and made his night look so-so, when it was one of his finer moments this season. T-Clip is now 9th in WHIP and 6th in strikeouts while Abel is 2 strikeouts ahead of him for the 5th spot on that list. Erold Andrus heated up a bit in the past 3 games while Made cooled off a bit, which makes sense considering how hot Made had been and how relatively mediocre Andrus was. Made was 2 for 11 with 2 singles and 2 strikeouts as his average dropped to .282, and Andrus was 4 for 12 with 3 singles, a double, and 2 strikeouts, raising his average to .277. In typical SI fashion, Jesse Hoover was at least solid, Tim Battle was inconsistent, and the team lost. To be more exact, Hoover started Wednesday's game and battled control issues, which resulted in a final line of 4-1-1-1-4-6-0. That was the game in which Estee Harris was 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts and Tim Battle was an even worse 0 for 4 with 4 strikeouts. Then, on Thursday, Battle woke up to go 2 for 3 with a strikeout and 2 singles. Something very important to keep in mind with Battle is that despite being drafted in '03, he is the age of a typical '04 draftee. Therefore, him hitting as he has in SI is not a big negative considering that it would be similar to the Yankees sending Jon Poterson, their top high school positional pick this year, to SI. So he will require more patience as far as day-to-day performance, but it should be validated with a very good '05. In GCL news, Marcos Vechionacci has slowed somewhat, 1 for 7 with a homer and 2 strikeouts in his last couple games, but still has a lofty .320 batting average and the star pitchers continue to do well. On Wednesday, Christian Garcia went 4-0-0-0-3-6-0 in relief of Jay Stephens who went 4-2-0-0-1-5-0. BC and Tampa should be loaded next year as the system continues to work its way back to prominence. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
 
LETDOWN Columbus won on Monday and Tuesday as Robinson Cano and Dioner Navarro continue making progress in different aspects of their offensive games. On Monday, Cano had a poor game as he went 0 for 3 while Navarro was decent, 1 for 3 with a single and a strikeout. Then on Tuesday, Cano had a huge game where he went 2 for 4 with a single, a home run, a walk, and a strikeout. The home run was a monster shot over the CF fence that according to "Sam M" of BTF went 410 feet. Navarro had a quieter Tuesday night, but still showed some progress by going 1 for 5 with a double and 2 strikeouts. Clearly, the progress is in the increased power he is showing in his AAA stint. I expect Navarro to have a very good 2005 at AAA. TLE™ continued his confusing 2004 by pitching a gem last night. The final line of 9-2-1-1-1-7-0 is pretty much all you could ask out of Ramon Ramirez. I've probably said this a ton of times already, but it'd be really great if this was the start of a great stretch. That 4.61 AA ERA is just not right. After going 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout on Monday night, Bronson Sardinha found himself demoted from the 3-spot in the lineup. Tuesday he hit 7th and was 0 for 3 with 3 strikeouts. Following that, he was moved down to 8th for today's game and went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk (more on Sardinha further down this entry). In a seemingly futile quest to make up all the games lost due to weather, the Tampa Yankees played a doubleheader yesterday after playing one game on Monday night. The star pitching performances during this stretch were turned in by Jeff Karstens and Steven White. Karstens, the 21-year-old RHP went 6-8-2-2-1-9-0 to pick up his 6th win of the year and lower his ERA to 3.78. White, a 23-year-old RHP went 7-2-0-0-2-4-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.83 while picking up his 5th win. Much like he was near the end of his MWL stint, White has really been rolling. He has no shot at a promotion this year, but ending the season on a hot stretch is always good. Melky Cabrera was a disappointing 3 for 10 with a walk, 2 strikeouts, and 3 singles. I say disappointing, as there were no extra base hits for him in the stretch. Still, at .303, he has his average back to its more normal levels and is hitting better than Eric Duncan has been of late. Duncan has been inconsistent since his promotion to High-A, destroying the ball in stretches and then seeming very lost in others, then again, I guess this should be expected of any teenager playing in A+; Duncan was 1 for 7 with 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. No matter how disappointed I have been in Duncan's batting average, currently at .233, the secondary skills he has shown since his promotion to Tampa keep me very interested. The forgotten Tampa prospect, Rudy Guillen, was 2 for 7 with a double and a single. Battle Creek and SI both had their lone games suspended. *** Today, the Yankees, through Baseball America, released their 2004 Arizona Fall League rosters. The AFL is seen as a prospect finishing school, where guys go to put the final touches on their games. With that in mind, I am very disappointed in the 6 players chosen to represent the organization this fall. The names include Sean Henn, Ben Julianel, and Javier Ortiz on the pitching side and Bronson Sardinha, Mitch Jones, and Kevin Thompson on the position player side. Perhaps my lone pitching complaint is that I would have liked to see Matt DeSalvo in the AFL, provided he recovers from his back problems in time. That said, I don't have that much of a problem with the pitching selections due to a combination of lack of upper level pitching prospects and not wanting to wear out the decent arms, but the hitting...that's another story. Bronson Sardinha, I don't mind because he needs to work on his fielding and I want him to get more ABs in as he refines his offensive game. In fact, I had him on my theoretical AFL Yankee representatives team. It's the other two that make me scratch my head. Kevin Thompson looks like a decent 4th OF defensive replacement type and Mitch Jones could be a nice PH with pop off the bench, that said, I think the Yankees had better choices for the AFL available, namely, Robinson Cano and Dioner Navarro. Cano is in position to get at least a shot at the big league 2B job in 2005 and I think the AFL would have been a great place for him to continue to refine the rougher aspects of his game. Also, while Navarro's major league contribution is not as close to being on hand, considering the amount of rest he has gotten in the latter parts of 2004 due to Sal Fasano I would have liked to see him get some more ABs in before the year was over. Overall, the announcement of the AFL rosters, something I look forward to each year, was very disappointing for me in '04. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Monday, August 16, 2004
 
OLYMPIC UPDATE Here is a report on Chien-Ming Wang's first Olympic outing, courtesy of reader Ching-Chih Lu:
Wang went 7-3-0-0-0-1-0, and picked up the win against Australia. Among those 21 outs, there [were] 16 ground outs and 4 fly outs. He hit low-90s consistently, with occasional mid-90 fastballs. [The] Aussies [were] not patient tonight. Wang [used just] 84 pitches to go through 7 innings, 61 strikes, 23 balls. The lineup of Australia includes 5 minor leaguers (3 Class A, 1 AA, 1 AAA), 2 independent league players, the former major leaguer Dave Nilsson, and one player I couldn't find any info [on]. BP has MjEqA for those minor leaguers and independent league players. The highest is Glenn Willimas (Jays AAA player) at 0.228. The others are around .200, with van Buizen (LA A player) only 0.093. The competition is lower than AAA, so the results can't tell much. In Wang's AA stint, it looked like he became a groundball specialist at one point, then he found the way to strike out people in AAA suddenly. G/F at 4 tonight is crazy, I don't know if that's what he's going to do in the future.
*** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
 
AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME (This entry is being typed with a malfunctioning "b" key, you have been warned) With about 2.5 weeks left in the minor league regular seasons for Yankee affiliates it is time to get caught up on what transpired this past weekend. But before that, it is time to talk about something else. Columbus, Tampa, and Battle Creek are the three Yankee affiliates in serious postseason contention. Often, when minor league teams are in playoff contention, something that will happen is that players will be promoted or demoted to help with the playoff push, so if any type of completely unanticipated transactions with the aforementioned clubs occurs in the next few days, you know why. Now, on to the action. On Friday, Brad Halsey was outstanding against the Mets' AAA farm team; the 23-year-old left-hander went 7-5-0-0-1-8-0 and lowered his ERA to 3.02. After struggling following his demotion from the major league club, it seems that Halsey has gotten back into the pre-promotion groove he was in with 15 straight scoreless innings. I will be shocked if Halsey is not back in NY come September as, at the very least, he deserves to have the job of one of CtJ™, PP™/TTAS™, or _____™ from here on out. Andy Phillips, who I had given up covering due to there seemingly being no hope for him making the majors, went 1 for 4 with a single on Friday and was promptly promoted. He leaves after hitting .357/.383/.738/.357 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA) in 42 AA at bats and .294/.368/.537/.300 in 367 AAA at bats. He also sported a combined UiBB:K ratio of 43:49 and17 doubles, 5 triples, and 26 homers. Phillips is not much of a defender, but has significant experience at all non-SS infield positions and should definitely hit more than Enrique Wilson, which is valuable. I think where Phillips could/should pick up some playing time is at 1B against LHP because Olderud™ and Pumpkin™ have struggled against the portsiders this year. Robinson Cano's hot streak has halted. In his last 3 games, Cano is 0 for 9 with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. The clearest sign that it is over is the 3 strikeouts as Cano is a tough guy to strikeout despite being a relatively free-swinger and even in his worst days of controlling the strike zone he never struck out much. Dioner Navarro only played in the Saturday game and continues to chug along after an extremely slow start to his AAA career. The 20-year-old C went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk in the lone game he played in. If he manages to get a little hotter, Navarro, currently at .257 in 101 AAA at bats, has a decent shot at a .300 BA in AAA. I hope he gets there, as that is impressive for someone so young. I also hope he plays in tonight's game, which should happen since he didn't play on Sunday as I want to get a close look at what he's doing both at and behind the plate these days. Trenton played on Friday and Saturday before enjoying an off-day Sunday. They lost the first game and won the second. Fittingly enough, the games were started by pitchers moving in opposite directions as Sean Henn went 7-6-4-4-4-4-0 for the Friday loss and Justin Pope went 6-5-1-1-2-4-1 for the Saturday victory. Henn has not had a dominant outing in a while and could really use one, as his year just seems to be looking worse and worse based on preseason expectations. A lack of much, if any, preseason expectations is the greatest reason why Pope's stock is going up. It's all about perspective in the prospect world, and really, this time next year, when Henn is as old as Pope is now, his stock may be going up too. Bronson Sardinha, the team's star hitter, seems on the verge of righting the ship, as far as hit prolonged hitting slump. In the two games, he was 1 for 6 with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. The strikeouts are a small concern, but I'm looking past that and at the walks as reason for hope that he's regained his strike zone control and will start mashing again. Tampa did not play once during my down time, for obvious reasons. The Made and Andrus show at Battle Creek continued through the weekend. While Andrus has been good, 4 for 10 with 3 singles, a double, and 2 walks, Made, 4 for 9 with 3 singles, a double, 3 singles, and a walk has been slightly better for slightly longer. That their current numbers are so close are a testament to how far Made has come in a short time. That, coupled with his more positive reviews from scouts going into the season make me lean towards him as a better prospect. It would be icing on the cake if he could get to a .300 BA by the end of the season; he is currently at .284. The highlight of Friday's SI game was Jesse Hoover's continued domination of the NYPL. I have been cautious about mentioning Hoover on the site because of my personal bias against "old" prospects, but Hoover's numbers are so dominant that I can't really ignore them anymore. On Friday he went 5-2-0-0-1-9-0. In total, his NYPL numbers are 33.1-20-11-9-17-57!!!-0. The Yankees need to put the 22-year-old on the Matt DeSalvo path and I think they will. If he can perform like DeSalvo has, barring the back injury of course, he will begin garnering even more hype here. On Saturday, SI had a doubleheader and Jeff Marquez did his job in the opening game, but SI could not win. Marquez, who turned 20 on August 10th, has been arguably the most impressive Yankee draftee thus far. On Saturday he went 5-2-0-0-3-4-0 to bring his NYPL numbers to 32-29-13-8-12-22-2 after going 14.1-10-1-1-4-18-0 in the GCL. It'll be interesting to see where the Yankees place Marquez to open '05 because he has performed at the level of a college draftee despite being a very young JUCO pick. The last, and most important to the major league club, bit of pitching news to come out of SI in recent days is the performance of Steve Karsay. Karsay did well on back-to-back days going 1-0-0-0-0-1-0 on Friday and 1-0-0-0-0-1-0 on Saturday. I hope I don't jinx anything, but Karsay could be back as soon as the Yankees return from their road trip. Both young SI OFs, Tim Battle and Estee Harris, struggled over the weekend. Harris was 1 for 7 with 2 strikeouts before being benched for the doubleheader capper and Battle was 1 for 9 with a triple, a walk, and 4 strikeouts as he managed to get into all the games. The GCL Yankees did not play, for obvious reasons. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Thursday, August 12, 2004
 
MAKE UP Columbus lost in 13 innings by a score of 7 to 4. Robinson Cano and Dioner Navarro would like to forget the game though. Despite both recently being hot, Cano was 0 for 5 and Navarro was just 1 for 6. Navarro's lone hit was a single and he struck out once while Cano did not strike out at all. Trenton went down to New Britain by a score of 7 to 3, but there was no pitching prospect damage done, so that helps, and Bronson Sardinha had a good night, which helps even more. Sardinha had his best game in days by going 2 for 3 with a single, a double, and a walk. The night put his average at .299. Tampa had a "doubleheader" today. I say so with trepidation because the first game was a completion of a suspended game from some time back. In the completion, Eric Duncan was 0 for 3 with a strikeout to drop his average to .239. Then, in the second game, Duncan made a pinch-hitting appearance and was promptly intentionally walked. That he was intentionally walked despite a .239 batting average shows a lot of respect for Duncan and the power and patience that does not show up in the AVG. Melky Cabrera was 2 for 3 with a single and a double in the completion and then 1 for 3 with a single and a walk in the second game of the day. Cabrera seems allergic to hitting below .300 as every time he has dipped below that mark this season he has quickly gotten himself back above it. After today's games he is sitting at .303. Rudy Guillen did not play at all in the first game, but was very good in the second. The struggling RF was 2 for 4 with a double as he attempts to salvage his season. The completion was that of a suspended game started by Steven White. While he was in the game, White was solid and produced a line of 4-4-1-1-1-2-0 and his fast-plummeting Tampa ERA is now 3.32. The BC game was rained out and will be made up as part of a doubleheader in two weeks. Staten Island won and Tim Battle and Estee Harris were "ok". Harris went 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout and Battle went 1 for 4 with a single and a strikeout. Harris also stole a base and was caught stealing. The Gulf Coast Yankees were victorious today and decent-to-good offensive performances were had by many on this 7-run 12-hit day. Marcos Vechionacci was 1 for 4 with a single and a strikeout and Hector Gonzalez was 2 for 4 with 2 singles and a strikeout. Vech has been playing more SS of late due to the presence of Gonzalez and I wonder how that will work out when both are on Battle Creek to start next season. Jon Poterson was 1 for 4 with a double and a strikeout. An encouraging sign about Poterson is that despite his struggles and they have been plenty, the Yankees still have him hitting 4th so the organization clearly has a ton of faith in him. Whether that faith is misplaced has yet to be truly seen. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
 
BEAST FROM THE EAST It was an all-around very successful night for Yankee prospects. The good vibes began at the highest level, AAA Columbus. The starter for tonight's game was Mike Mussina, making his first rehab appearance; the right-hander went 3-2-0-0-0-5-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR). The most shocking thing about Moose's start, as far as I was concerned, was that the organization let Navarro catch him, more on that later. After Mussina left the game, the regularly scheduled starter entered. I had thought Chien-Ming Wang had been whisked away for the Olympics already, but apparently not. This means one of two things, either Taiwan just doesn't do anything for a little while longer, or perhaps the Yankees were intrigued by how well Wang was doing during his first 3 starts and decided it was better for the organization that they got a longer look at him at AAA. I hope it's the latter. Tonight's game further enhanced Wang's AAA credentials, as he was very good in relief, 6-3-1-1-1-3-0. I had already written off Wang's career as a starter, but his AAA success, 25.1-21-8-8-4-21-3, is giving me food for thought. I would still love to see him in a Yankee bullpen sometime soon though. The Columbus offense, 8 runs and 18 hits, had another great game, and this time Navarro and Cano were involved. Navarro is still hitting in the last spot in the order and managed to go 1 for 3 with a single and a walk. Robinson Cano is moving up the lineup again and tonight was 3 for 5 with 3 singles and a strikeout while hitting out of the seven-hole. Cano has his average up to .294 and Navarro is at .261. Navarro, seems to be on track as all 3 balls he put in play were up the middle. If Jose Contreras was The Big Enigma™, then Ramon Ramirez, the smallish AA Trenton right-hander, should be considered The Little Enigma™. Tonight was yet another outing where he struggled with his consistency and the end result was a line filled with both positives and negatives, 5-3-2-2-5-9-1. Since his injury return Ramirez's totals are now 70.2-70-38-37-21-87-8. The ERA shown by those numbers is rather ghastly (4.71), so I took it upon myself to calculate his DIPS and it came out to a much more comforting 3.16. Based on this I think it'd be a good idea to get Ramirez to AAA and see what he does with a seemingly superior defensive squad as that might be skewing his numbers. For those of you who may think I'm crazy for clearly still having a liking for Ramirez, I present this to you: 11.08. That is Ramirez's K rate since returning from injury and that is just something I won't give up on. Bronson Sardinha showed a sign of life, barely, by going 1 for 4 with a single and a walk. It's a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. In a small step in the direction of making up for the time lost to inclement weather, the Tampa Yankees had a doubleheader today. The first game showcased just what makes Eric Duncan so exciting. In that contest, the Yankee 3B was 3 for 3 with a double, 2 home runs, and a walk. Since moving to the FSL, Duncan has a ridiculous extra base hit percentage of 59.3. That is coming on the heels of a MWL campaign that saw him send 49.3% of hits for extra bases, which is about as ridiculous. On the year, 52% of Duncan's hits have been of the extra base variety. Considering that the big-time power prospects generally have rates in the 40% area and that Duncan has played in severe pitcher's leagues, he easily has the most power potential of anyone in the Yankee system and is, in my opinion, one of the top power prospects in all of minor league baseball. He's also managed to cut down dramatically on his strikeouts while walking more at Tampa. Those things coupled with his recently getting raves for his defense leave me with only one leg to stand on as far as any criticism I want to make about Eric Duncan at this moment. His BA is low. After the first game it was .252, and then he went 0 for 3 in the second game to bring it down to .245. Melky Cabrera had a decent day by going a combined 2 for 7 with 2 singles. Cabrera now holds the honor of being the third place hitter in the Tampa lineup following his power-surge. Rudy Guillen did not play in the second half of the doubleheader, but managed a good game in the first by going 2 for 4 with 2 singles. Danny Borrel, who is still rehabbing, started the first game. Borrell could only manage 1-2-3-3-1-2-1. Steven White started the second game. White had not started in a while, but showed little to no signs of rust as he rattled off a 6-4-1-1-1-3-0 performance. The right-hander now has a 3.44 ERA in 36.2 Tampa innings. Abel Gomez had his first truly poor outing since July 7th's disaster against Peoria, the wild left-hander put up an unsightly line of 5-6-6-6-2-5-2. I was confused as to why the Yankees did not just let Abel pitch last night's completion of the game he had started and only thrown 3 pitches in, but assumed they were going to just skip his turn in the rotation. Clearly, they did not, and I have to wonder whether his performance was affected by his routine being off. The BC hitting duo of Erold Andrus and Hector Made produced non-descript nights. Andrus led off and went 1 for 5 with a single while Made hit second and was 1 for 4 with a single, a walk, and a strikeout. SI's scheduled game was rained out. Phil Hughes made his third start of the year for the GCL Yankees and was dominant. The 18-year-old right-hander went 2-1-0-0-0-4-0. Going into the draft it was said that Hughes was extremely advanced for a prep pitcher and it has shown, as he has not walked a batter in 5 pro innings while striking out 8 and allowing 4 hits. Following Hughes in the game was Christian Garcia. Garcia is much more raw as a pitcher despite being a year older and his results last night were not as impressive as Hughes'. Christian posted a line of 3-4-3-3-2-4-0 as he had his second bad outing in recent days. Despite this, Garcia still has only allowed 20 hits in 29 pro innings. Offensively, Marcos Vechionacci was 1 for 4 with a single. He was also caught stealing for the third time, but still had a better night than Anderson Amador. The toolsiest of the toolsy OF was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts. The most encouraging hitting news of the night was the work done by Jon Poterson, though. Poterson was 2 for 3 with a single, a double, a walk, and a strikeout. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
 
LINKS FOR EVERYBODY! Inspired by this great piece, I went link happy. If you want to know why I do what I do, that article pretty much sums it up. Check it out and check out all the new links on the side. I put the team that each site is affiliated with in parentheses and MiLB stands for Minor League Baseball, just in case you don't know. Happy clicking. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
 
BACK TO THE ACTION Columbus won on Monday, before dropping their Tuesday night game. In Monday's win, Dioner Navarro and Robinson Cano continued to pick up the AAA baseknocks. Navarro was 1 for 4 with a single and Cano was 2 for 4 with 2 singles and a strikeout. Despite Cano's solid night and Navarro's recent hot streak, both players found themselves on the bench for Tuesday night's effort. Despite the absence of the team's top two prospects Columbus went on to win with an offensive outburst as 6 hitters had 2 hits and Alex Graman provided a strong outing 7-5-2-2-2-8-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR). With Mike Mussina taking the hill for the Clippers tonight, I wouldn't expect Navarro to play, but Cano should definitely be back in the lineup and continue his quest for 50 extra base hits, he currently has 47. Trenton lost their last two games as their disappointing season continues downhill. In addition to the struggles of the team as a whole, Bronson Sardinha has also been mired in a deep slump. The slump began almost immediately after his 7 for 10 doubleheader and continued through yesterday's game, he sat out Monday. On Tuesday night, the DH was 1 for 5 with a single and 3 strikeouts. I might have to take back my statement about him breaking out and just observe the situation. Ramon Ramirez will take the mound for the Thunder tonight as he attempts to correct his own struggles. Tampa won on Monday and Tuesday. Monday's game was a shortened 5-inning affair (I wonder why), while Tuesday's went the customary 9-innings. On Monday, Melky Cabrera went 1 for 2 with a single and a strikeout, but could only muster an 0 for 4 with a strikeout on Tuesday. It was encouraging to see him take a walk in Tuesday's game though. Eric Duncan was 1 for 1 with a double and a walk on Monday, and followed that up with an 0 for 5 with 2-strikeout night on Tuesday. Duncan has had a very inconsistent FSL-stint, but that is to be somewhat expected with young players, especially one as relatively inexperienced as Duncan, who hails from the Northeast. Unlike the other two notable position prospects on the team, Guillen did not manage one positive game out of the two played; the RF was 0 for 5 with a walk and 2 strikeouts, his average is now down to .255 and without much of a walk rate or extra base hit total, he has had a lost season. The major Tampa hitting prospects had bad nights, but the offense still managed 8 runs. The way Jeff Karstens pitched, all those runs were unnecessary. The right-hander had one of his best outings of the year 7-5-2-2-0-10-1 as he lowered his ERA to 3.82. Karstens does not have any particularly eye-popping numbers, but is one of my favorite prospects in the organization, call it a hunch, I'm anticipating a big season at AA next year. Battle Creek's Monday game was rained out and made up as part of a Tuesday night doubleheader. They actually managed to play the top of the first inning on Monday night and after Abel Gomez threw straight balls to open the bottom of the first (credit to ICEBERG18) and the game was stopped. When play resumed on Tuesday, Tyler Clippard was in for Gomez. Pitching in front of his family (once again, credit to ICEBERG18), Clippard had another solid outing, 7-4-1-1-3-5-1. His ERA is down to 3.21, .004 behind Gomez. Picking up the victory allowed T-Clip to even his record at 9-9, but more importantly, to me at least, he is still tied for third in the MWL strikeout rankings. Over his last 6 starts his line is 40-28-9-8-8-42-3, pretty good for a guy who lacks an "overpowering out pitch". Erold Andrus had a solid doubleheader and Hector Made, the team's best performer in recent weeks, had an outstanding one. Andrus was 2 for 8 with a single, a double, a walk, and a strikeout. Made was 4 for 8 with 3 singles, a double, a walk, and a strikeout. Made was named as the organization's sleeper prospect by BA before the season and after starting off incredibly slow has been rolling for some time now. Since SI was last discussed on this site, Jesse Hoover (4-3-1-1-2-5-0), Eric Abreu (5-6-1-1-0-7-0), and Jeff Marquez (5-2-1-1-1-4-1) all had good starts. This trio of right-handers, 22, 21, and 19-years-old, respectively, are the shining stars of the SI pitching staff. All sport sub-3 ERAs and good-to-outstanding peripherals in addition to possessing good raw stuff. Look for Hoover and Abreu to open 2005 in Tampa while Marquez is likely Battle Creek bound. With the demotion of Marcos Vechionacci, the hitters of greatest note at SI are easily the outfield duo of Harris and Battle. This past week was great for Battle as he begins digging out of the hole he got himself into early in his SI campaign, the CF was 7 for 19 with 4 singles, 3 doubles, a walk, and 7 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Harris started slow, got hot, and is cold again as evidenced by his 2 for 13 with 2 singles, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts week. Then again, those numbers don't include last night's 3 for 4 with a double, which is hopefully a harbinger of another extended hot streak. The Gulf Coast Yankees won a pitching duel 1-0 yesterday afternoon. Befitting of such a contest, not many hitters had good nights, Vech was 0 for 4 with a strikeout, dropping his average to .325, Poterson was 0 for 3 with a walk and no strikeouts, and Amador was 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts. Poterson, who is hitting .169, has 50 strikeouts in 154 at bats and Amador, who is hitting .234, has 49 strikeouts in 141 at bats. To Poterson's credit, he also has 18 walks while Amador has 3. In case anyone is wondering, the guy that ICEBERG18 wanted badly over Poterson, H.S. left-hander Gio Gonzalez, went 24-17-8-6-8-36-0 in the White Sox's equivalent of SI before being promoted to the A- South Atlantic League where he went 5-3-0-0-0-3-0 in his first start. The guy I wanted badly over Poterson, H.S. right-hander Jay Rainville, has put up 25.1-28-15-6-3-28-1 in Rookie-ball. It is going to be about half a decade before the draft can be properly assessed, but Poterson already has some ground to make up on these two. *** Just as a disclaimer, I don't mention a lot of guys who are on the GCL team because I can't get any completely assured DOB. Yankees.com use to have that data in season's past, but has taken that feature away for some reason this season. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Monday, August 09, 2004
 
LOTS AND LOTS OF STUFF (Player ages referenced are their "seasonal ages". I would also like to apologize ahead of time if any of the information is too difficult to read, I really need to learn some more HTML) Let me preface everything that will follow by saying that in general I love Baseball America and that when it comes to their treatment of Yankee prospects, I am one of their biggest defenders. That said, I found great fault with some of the analysis presented by one of their columnists, Kevin Goldstein, in regards to the Yankees farm system during this past Friday's chat. In response to someone's question about Tyler Clippard's future, Goldstein states "Clippard has great control and a good feel for pitching, but still lacks the overpowering out pitch to project him as a star". I'm not saying that Tyler Clippard is a star-in-the-making, but to say that he has no "overpowering out pitch" seems a bit off to me. Every scouting report I have read on Clippard, who I have not had the chance to see play, has said that he has a very good curveball. In addition, when hitters from opposing teams have commented on Clippard following his starts, a common sentiment has been to point out how unhittable his curveball is. In fact, the general sentiment seems to be that Clippard's curveball is so advanced that he can use it to take advantage of younger hitters and resultantly his performance may not be truly assessed until he reaches a higher organizational level where can no longer fall back on that. The item relating to the Yankees that shocked me the most though was Goldman's choosing the Red Sox farm system over the Yankees. He felt justified in doing that "because of what they have at the lower levels". This immediately struck me as odd because most of the talent in the Yankee farm system is located in the lower levels so if a system is going to be better than the Yankees at anything, I had assumed it would be upper level talent. In addition, I was just of the general opinion that the Red Sox farm system was horrid at this point. Like any good "stathead", I decided to look into what Goldstein said. The names he brought up in defense of his choice were Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Moss, Mickey Hall, David Murphy, Jeremy West, Jon Palpebon, Manny Delcarmen and Hanley Ramirez. Let's see what we have here (The stats I will use to look at hitters are AB/AVG/XBH%/UiBB:K/AB:UiBB/AB:K): Moss: 430/.342/29.93%/1:1.76/10.24:1/5.81 Hall: 323/.241/46.15%/1:2.23/6.73:1/3.02 Both Moss and Hall are OF on Augusta Greenjackets squad, the Green Jackets are in the South Atlantic League, which is the other Low-A league. Though it is a Low-A league, like the Midwest League, it is different in that hitting standards there are higher. If you have a .255 BA, .329 OBP, and .382 SLG you are a league average hitter in the MWL. To be a league average hitter in the SAL you have to hit .260, .340, .401 respectively. This would mean that at first glance, the 19-year-old Hall would be an above average performer, due largely to his power, and the 20-year-old Moss is way above league averages. The Augusta home park playing as basically neutral, .994 Park Factor over the last 3 seasons, legitimizes these performances.. Moss did not make the Red Sox preseason top 30, as per BA, before the season so I don't know much about how he grades out according to the scouts. Hall did make the list, at number 11, and with a positive report along with decent stats I'm inclined to like him as a legit prospect. Not a stud that you put the hopes of your farm on, but a guy who while he might not hit as he goes up, unless he corrects his worrisome strikeout rate, has obvious projectability. Regardless of scouting reports, Moss's performance is too good to ignore so I definitely like him as a prospect. Thus far, BA seems to be 2 for 2 as far as the BoSox's lower level talent. Moving on to Sarasota, the Boston organization's FSL squad, here are the players mentioned: Murphy: 188/.255/22.92%/1:2.12/11.06:1/5.22:1 West: 371/.291/39.81%/1:2.38/12.79:1/5.38:1 Ramirez: 239/.310/17.57%/1:2.44/14.94:1/6.13:1 Firstly, Sarasota has a PF of 1.015 over the past 3 seasons, so it is a slight hitters park in the FSL. League average performance in the FSL would mean a BA of .257, OBP of .333 and SLG of .375. Ramirez and West have been above average performers in this regard while Murphey has been poor. Placing age into consideration, Ramirez is 20, Murphy is 22, and West is 22. Entering the season Ramirez was, as usual, highly rated, the number 1 Sox prospect according to BA, because of his immense physical talents while Murphy was also highly ranked within the Sox system, number 3. At 22, Murphy is said to have solid raw power, but has not displayed any statistical signs of good power in his pro career while struggling mightily since leaving the NYPL; I am going to pass on him as a solid prospect. Ramirez will retain his shine due to outstanding tools and solid performance. West, unlike the other two, did not make the Sox preseason top 30 and has been solid this season, but rates a bit below a solid prospect in my opinion because he is 22 and as a 1B I would like to see a bit more offense. I'll give BA 1 out of 3 here. The BA Chat in question also mentions Dustin Pedroia, but I will not rate Pedroia's performance this season as he has only had about 70 pro at bats and I don't feel comfortable rating someone with that few at bats. Prior to the draft, Pedroia was considered a David Eckstein type talent as he is a small SS whose main "tool" seems to be outperforming what scouts feel his ceiling is. Pedroia is 20. In addition to hitters, Goldstein also brings up some Sox pitchers that he feels are of note. Jon Papelbon, Jose Vaquedano, and Manny Delcarmen. All three are right-handed pitchers currently on the Sarasota Sox roster said to have good stuff with good pitcher's builds and all three were ranked amongst the top 30 in the preseason. Delcarmen was 10th, Papelbon 14th, and Vaquedano 28th. While Papelbon is 23, the other two are 22, so none of them is the ideal age for their league. When a player isn't ideal age for a league, I consider 20-21 ideal for the FSL, I want to see amazing performance for me to consider them legitimate. Here is what these three have done in the FSL (The stats I will use to look at pitchers are IP/Kper9/Hper9/UiBBper9/HRper9/K:UiBB): Papelbon: 104.2/11.09/7.22/2.75/0.52/4.03 Vaquedano: 43.0/7.53/9.42/2.30/0.42/3.27 Delcarmen: 57.2/10.14/10.46/2.65/1.25/3.82 Statistically, the pitcher that stands out the most is Papelbon, but he is also the oldest at 23-years-old, which takes some of the luster off his performance. It does help him that he has very good stuff and build. Delcarmen gets some slack because he is coming off surgery and Vaquedano is a non-factor in my estimation. Papelbon is interesting and Delcarmen has a track record so I will say those two have solid prospect status, or slightly below. I'll give BA 2 out of 3 in the pitchers. Keeping the guys who've earned solid prospect status based on performance this year and past scouting views the list becomes Hanley Ramirez, Jon Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen, Brandon Moss, and Mickey Hall. A comparable list of lower level Yankee prospects would give you the names Matthew DeSalvo, Tyler Clippard, Abel Gomez, Melky Cabrera, and Eric Duncan. The progress all of these players has been chronicled for some time on this blog and if you would like to learn about them feel free to go through the archives, I think the information there will say that the Yankees group deserves to be ahead of the Red Sox. I'm going to have to disagree with Kevin Goldstein here though I love his work. Also, in case you think I'm biased (That's unpossible!), here is a look at what Baseball Prospectus projects for the players during their prime big league years (hitters are done by AVG/OBP/SLG and pitchers by ERA with league used for projection in parentheses): H. Ramirez (FSL): .295/.351/.402 B. Moss (SAL): .309/.371/.509 M. Hall (SAL): .236/.323/.454 J. Papelbon (FSL): 4.37 M. Delcarmen (FSL): 6.30 M. DeSalvo (FSL): 3.75 E. Duncan (combined MWL and FSL): .248/.339/.489 T. Clippard (MWL): 4.69 A. Gomez (MWL): 4.27 M. Cabrera (MWL and FSL): .297/.356/.423 and .285/.344/.496 *** This "rant" was a lot harder to do than I thought. I *might* manage an update later, but starting Wednesday you should be prepared for about 9 days worth of consistent coverage followed by some slowing down around August 20th. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Sunday, August 08, 2004
 
RISING Columbus has played 6 games in the past 4 days, thanks in large part to two doubleheaders. The most important pitching appearances in this stretch of games were the starts made by Brad Halsey and Chien-Ming Wang. Wang and Halsey are the premiere pitching prospects on the team and pitched like it this week. Wang went 8-5-0-0-1-4-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR) in his most dominant outing of his short AAA career. His Columbus line of 19.1-18-7-7-3-18-3 might equal a September call-up, as long as he continues his progress through the end of this month. While I'm not completely sold on him as a starting pitcher, I think Wang could prove to be a dominant middle reliever and would like to see what he can do in the major leagues. Brad Halsey has been inconsistent since returning to AAA, but today's start was the high point of the inconsistency as he went 7-4-0-0-1-5-0. Halsey is a guy who I think could be a decent starter in the majors, with the ceiling of a 3, but wouldn't mind seeing him as a reliever. Either way, I would like to see him back in the bigs in September, partly because though it could be a small sample size issue lefties only hit .188/.176/.313/.157 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA) against him in 16 ABs and one of the hits was a David Ortiz double that was botched by Hideki Matsui. If that performance is for real, the Yankees may have the LOOGY they have been searching for. Knowing them, they will probably stick with The Run Fairy™ and his Proven Veteran™ status, making all this moot. Robinson Cano and Dioner Navarro have both hit at least decently in the 6-game stretch and this hitting is a continuation of the work they had been doing for a little while now. The 21-year-old Cano, likely to receive a September call-up, has gone 5 for 18 with 4 singles, a triple, a walk, and a strikeout. 20-year-old Navarro, who I don't expect to be as lucky come September, is really on a tear, going 6 for 13 with 5 singles, a home run, and a strikeout. After a promotion that struck many as unwarranted and a slow start that made even more question his abilities, Navarro now finds himself hitting .259/.315/.390. That isn't much to in and of itself, but considering where he was just a week ago, it would seem that Navarro has righted the ship. On a side note, both Navarro and Cano were honored by Baseball America this past week as both were name the top defenders for their positions in the Eastern League. Trenton's 4-day schedule featured one less game than Columbus. Coming off the best day of his career, when he was 7 for 10 with extra base hits galore, Bronson Sardinha has struggled. These past few days have been a continuation of that struggle; Sardinha was 2 for 14 with a strikeout and 3 walks. While any hitting slump is bad news, what is positive is that Sardinha has been making contact and taking his walks. That all 3 of the walks came in today's game is a sign to me that Bronson may be headed in the direction of a hot streak that pushes his average back above .300, it currently sits at .297. Usually, when pitchers strike out a lot of batters and have good control, they tend to prevent runs at at least a solid rate. This has not been the case with Ramon Ramirez. A prime example of this is his last start, 4-8-7-7-1-6-1. This is not a random occurrence either, since coming back from injury Ramirez has totals of 65.2-67-36-35-16-78-7. Since I have had not the pleasure of seeing any of Ramirez's starts, this would tell me that while he's been throwing strikes, he has not always thrown quality strikes and hitters have been taking advantage of this, he may want to move out of the strike zone a bit. Another thing that could be at work here is that Ramirez may just be tiring later in his starts. Whatever the problem is, it spells trouble for Ramirez's career as a starter and could mean that those who pigeonholed him as a reliever due to his small stature may be correct. That would also mean that my touting him as the Official Sixth Starter of the Minor Yankee Blog was poorly thought out, or just a poor decision. The continued downward spiral of Sean Henn's AA season was on display Sunday. Henn's 5.2-7-5-4-3-5-1 performance was disappointing, which is fitting because that exemplifies his season. That the Yankees have allowed him to tread water in the AA rotation for so long is a testament to his considerably physical talent. It seems this talent would be better served in the bullpen though as Henn's season has gotten worse in the second half and he struggles to put together back-to-back solid starts. The Florida State League is troublesome to follow. Unlike the Gulf Coast League, the trouble is not a result of mysterious players and results, but rather a result of poor weather combined with roofless stadiums equaling tons of rainouts. This produces stretches like the past 4 days where the top two Yankee affiliates played 6 and 5 games while Tampa only got in 2 games. Eric Duncan was 2 for 8 with 2 doubles and 3 strikeouts as he attempts to hit his way out of his most recent slump. It bears noting that no matter how deep his different slumps have been this season, the constant with Duncan has been his considerable power. In addition, despite striking out more as of late, his Tampa strikeout rate is still below his Battle Creek one. The most encouraging news to come out of Tampa, through all the rainouts, is the emergence of Melky Cabrera's over-the-fence power. While he has been hitting doubles and triples all season long, I have "critiqued" Melky for being a 4-tool player. He could run, hit for average, throw, and field, but I didn't think the power would really come. Lo and behold after going 2 for 3 with a home run, a walk, and a strikeout yesterday, Melky has 6 home runs in the FSL. In about the same amount of FSL at bats, Bronson Sardinha hit 2 home runs and had about half as many doubles and triples yet has gone on to show a lot more power at AA. This is a roundabout way of saying that Melky's stock should skyrocket in '05. Rudy Guillen, one of the organization's stars as recently as last offseason, is now in the shadow of two players in the FSL alone. He had a solid couple of games by going 3 for 7 with 2 singles, a double, a walk, and a strikeout. Guillen has had a lost season due to both injury and ineffectiveness, but could do himself a lot of good by ending the year strong. Tyler Clippard's poor outing a little over a week ago seems to have just been a blip on the radar as he was back to mowing them down on Thursday. The 19-year-old right-hander went 7-6-0-0-2-8-0 in his last start, and even factoring in his poor outing the previous start he has kicked things into high gear to close the season. The product is a line of 33-24-8-7-5-37-2 in his last 5 outings, very impressive. Hector Made and Erold Andrus were both solid to close the week. Neither player did anything to make you stand up and take notice, but both continued on their way to fine season ending numbers. Made was 3 for 12 with 2 singles, a triple, a walk, and a strikeout. Meanwhile, Andrus was 4 for 18 with 3 singles, a double, and 5 strikeouts. Rookie ball and Short Season leagues tomorrow, in addition to a rant! *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
 
(I CAN'T THINK OF A TITLE) Columbus was off tonight, but played Wednesday afternoon. Dioner Navarro did not play in that game, as I expected, it seems he is on the extreme version of the Joe Torre "Who's Hot"™ rest plan. I guess it's a Yankee organizational thing with Cs. Robinson Cano, who has been allowed to play through slumps and everything else in his time with the Clippers. This is paying off because after enduring a deep slump, Cano is on fire once more. In Tuesday's game the 21-year-old 2B was 2 for 4 with a single, a double, and 2 strikeouts. His average is up to .265 in 113 ABs and he has only 1 error in 31 AAA games. Brad Halsey continues to be off his game since returning to AAA. His outing produced the disappointing line of 5-10-5-5-2-5-2 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR). Following Halsey both last year and this, I am developing a theory about him. When he strikes people out (AA '03, MLB '04, since demotion '04) he struggles, when he lets his defense handle more chances (A+ '03, pre promotion '04) he gets good results. The only exception to this is SS-A '02. Why this happens, I'm not sure, but it's something to keep an eye on. Perhaps he's one of those pitchers that needs to pitch to the defense, as announcers are fond of saying. This is too comfy of a reason for me though, and I will try to see if I can find a more tangible explanation. Trenton played 3 games in the last two days, and won two of the three. Sean Henn pitched the first and was mediocre. The hard-throwing left-hander finished with 5-7-3-3-1-6. His ERA is up to 4.39, and after an encouraging start to 2004, he is going to have to go on a tear to salvage his year, at least statistically. Meanwhile, Bronson Sardinha is in the process of cooling off offensively, 1 for 8 with a single, a walk, and 3 strikeouts in the 3-game stretch. His defensive struggles, 1 error in the last 3 games and, 16 errors in 40 AA games, and 39 errors in 101 games on the season, have gotten to the point where Sardinha is now being replaced in the late innings of ballgames. I would really have liked to see Bronson make some more strides with his defense at the hot corner to enhance his trade value, but it seems as though he may not be long for the position. One turn through the rotation ago, it seemed as though Tyler Clippard was beginning to pull away from Abel Gomez in terms of overall 2004 performance. This was an intriguing development as the two had been side-by-side almost all season long. Now, one bad start by Clippard and a decent one by Gomez had Abel in the performance lead. Tonight, the left-hander padded his edge. Gomez, not one for long outings, went 7-3-1-1-2-5-0 as he stifled the Lansing Lugnuts. Abel's ERA is down to 3.17 and he is coming close to getting his walk rate in the 1 every 2 innings range, which is MUCH more acceptable. He did not pick up his 10th win though, as the Battle Creek offense was only good for 8 hits and 1 run in a 13-inning affair. (Tampa report forthcoming) Hector Made, 1 for 6 with a double and a strikeout, was decent, and Erold Andrus, 3 for 6 with 2 singles and a double, was very good. Made is now tied for 3rd in doubles and Andrus is 6th. Due to promotions for other players, both hitters have a shot at taking the league doubles title. In the shock of shocks, SI has lost their last two games. The "offense" has managed 0 runs and 10 hits over the stretch. This is the same offense that could somehow do without Marcos Vechionacci of course. Estee Harris has cooled off a bit, going 0 for 6 with 2 strikeouts in the 2 contests. Tim Battle, meanwhile, seems to have settled around the .250 range for batting average, though he was just 1 for 6 with a walk and a strikeout over the two games. Jeff Marquez, the 19-year-old RHP who was a first round selection of the Yankees this year, had one of his worst NYPL starts. He could only muster 4-7-5-3-2-2-0. His ERA rose to 2.86. After dominating the GCL, Marquez has been solid in the NYPL. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Monday, August 02, 2004
 
THE FINAL PUSH For those of you who don't know, August is the final month of the minor league season. As I've previously stated, it is a month that holds a lot of weight both in offseason prospect rankings and organizational thought process. As far as organizational thought process, players who are successful on the lower levels sometimes find themselves promoted to a higher level, if that level makes the playoffs and the organization feels they need more firepower. For example, Bronson Sardinha has played very well for Trenton, but Trenton has no chance of making the playoff, however, if Columbus does make the playoffs and feel they need one more hitter, Sardinha may get called up. Due to a combination of this and how prospect evaluators often look for progress, August is an extremely important month. With that said, let's see what's happened in the first two days of this critical month. Robinson Cano continued his recent hot streak the past two days. The 2B, who seems determined to get to the Bronx this September, was a combined 3 for 8 with 2 singles, a double, a walk, and 2 strikeouts. Cano, coming into the season, was criticized for offensively being nothing more than a singles-hitting, contact-making, hacker. In response he's put 25 doubles, 8 triples, 11 home runs, 34 walks, and 52 strikeouts on the board in 401 at bats. In addition, Cano was criticized for inconsistent defense at 2B, after being solid at AA, an error about every 7 games; Cano has been outstanding at AAA, 1 error in 30 games. Cano has had his character/work ethic questioned in the past, but with the huge strides he's made this year one could be inclined to take those whispers with a grain of salt. After not playing on Sunday, Navarro played in tonight's game and did what I feel would do on a more regular basis were the Clippers to give him the chance, hit. Navarro went 2 for 4 with a double and a single and continues to give the Clippers reason to stop and think why they keep benching him (though he did allow a passed ball, an error, and 3 stolen bases), especially in favor Sal Fasano. That said, expect him to be benched tomorrow as winning in the minors is what's most important, right (though it's debatable who gives that team a greater chance of victory)? Trenton's Monday game was canceled, but they managed to get their Sunday one in. The Thunder did better against Matt Cain than I thought they would, as they managed 5 hits, 3 walks, and included in the 5 hits was a home run. Unfortunately, Bronson Sardinha's 1 for 4 with a single and a strikeout did not include any of the "damage" to Cain. Sardinha also made his 15th error in 38 games. Eric Duncan has been very streaky thus far in his Tampa career. He started off in a way that had many wondering whether the Yankees promoted him too quickly, then turned it around and made the Yankees brain trust look like geniuses, and is once again slumping. Tampa's Sunday game was postponed and then in today's game he went 0 for 3 with a walk. He is now 1 for his last 12 with a walk and 2 strikeouts. At the very least, he is making contact. As of late, that contact hasn't been typical Duncan as it has featured a lot of groundballs. I never thought Melky Cabrera would be a big time home run hitter, despite his gaudy doubles totals, and I still don't, but it seems as though he may be beginning to turn his doubles into home runs. After hitting none in 171 A- at bats, Cabrera has knocked 4 in 227 A+ at bats, including 1 in each of his last 2 games. Power is the only average or below tool in Cabrera's current arsenal, so it will be interesting to see if this is an anomaly or a harbinger of great things to come. In the past month or so of games, Erold Andrus and Hector Made have begun turning into superstars up the middle for Battle Creek. Made had a recent 15-game hitting streak snapped and was poor on Sunday, 0 for 5, but came back strong Monday night. The solid young SS was 4 for 5 with 2 doubles and 2 singles. Made is now 4th in the league with 26 doubles. Andrus was not as poor as Made on Sunday, he was 2 for 5 with 2 singles, and not as spectacular on Monday, 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. The double was Andrus' 25th. In today's telecast of the SI Yankees game, Joe Girardi let the audience know that Marcos Vechionacci had been demoted. Marcos will most likely finish the rest of the season in the Rookie-Gulf Coast League. It might just be my man-crush on Vech talking here, but I don't see how this is a good move. There tend to be two schools of thought on minor league assignments. One is that you assign players in order to challenge them and accelerate development, and the other is that you assign players in order for them to be successful and contribute to winning teams. If the Yankees want to take SI in the player development route, then you obviously keep the 17-year-old there. If the Yankees want to take SI in the winning route, Vech still belongs. Despite my displeasure with the move Vech playing in the GCL will not be that huge of a disappointment as he was destined to start 2004 in the MWL regardless and now he will be able to dominate more readily, despite still being young for his league. The Vech-less SI Yanks lost a heart-breaking game today. After leading for most of the night, they fell behind and in the latter innings of the game and were eventually pummeled by a score of 10 to 5. Tim Battle had a decent offensive outing, 1 for 4 with a single, 2 strikeouts, and a stolen base. SI has stuck with Battle despite his offensive struggles, a .250 average and 31 strikeouts in 100 at bats, and hopefully it will pay off. Watching Battle play, it is obvious why scouts like him so much; he just oozes tools. The "other" tools-oozing SI outfielder is Estee Harris. After a rough MWL half-season, and a rough GCL trial, followed by a rough NYPL beginning, Estee is finally starting to hit again. Estee was 2 for 3 with a home run, a single, a walk, and a strikeout in the 10-5 loss. According to reader ICEBERG18, Harris has altered his stance, which is probably just part of the process for a player attempting to find himself. Though HS draftees as a whole tend to be raw, Harris rawer than normal as he comes from NY state, and this must be kept in mind when evaluating his progress. Harris also displayed his speed tonight by stealing 2 bases to bring his NYPL total to 6. Jesse Hoover made his 2nd start since being freed from the bullpen and was more impressive than the first go-round. Hoover had a final line of 5.1-3-3-2-3-7-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR). I'll let the words of MYB reader Phil the Thrill describe Hoover's performance:
Hoover was great in innings 1,2, 4 and 5. In three[,] he walked the lead off guy and gave up two hits, then in the 6th he walked the leadoff guy again...He has the goods though[,] including a 12-6 curveball he used as an out pitch. He had 7K's... and myriad of pop-ups.
Hoover has been exciting many of the readers of this blog, but at 22, will need to move quickly. In other words, he will need to be on the Matt DeSalvo track, without the injuries of course. The GCL Yankees had their game postponed. When I received this news I was shocked, absolutely stunned. Them losing a game to inclement whether is incredible. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Sunday, August 01, 2004
 
THE GANG'S ALL HERE I like prospects. I like following their progression through the minor leagues and dreaming of how good they can be. I like when they get called up to the big club and I can officially begin associating them with the organization. So of course, I don't like the trading deadline. Sure there are guys I would deal and there are players worth acquiring, but ideally, I would like to build a majority homegrown team. That said, I am extremely happy, and shocked, that no one left the Yankee system during all the trade rumblings. Hopefully, those guys can justify the Yankees keeping them...for now. Robinson Cano got off to a fast start at AAA before slumping horribly. The slump lasted for nearly a month, but it seems that Cano is back on track. His last two games, Cano has gone a combined 4 for 7 with a single, a double, and 2 home runs. His average is up .025 points to .248 and he still has a very good BB:K ratio of 9:10 in 101 AAA at bats. If he can close the season with a hot month of August he should receive a September call-up. It also helps his case that he's only made 1 error in 28 games at AAA. Dioner Navarro got off to a fast start at AAA, extra base hit wise, while otherwise slumping. Since then he has begun hitting singles and taking walks. Through all this, and after yesterday's 1 for 4 with a single and a strikeout performance, Navarro is only sitting at .200. That .200 average has been compiled in just 65 at bats though, as Navarro has played very sporadically since his promotion. In the recent 5 game stretch, he did not play in games 1 and 3. Brad Halsey had his best start since returning to Columbus, and right on schedule too. Halsey went 6.2-4-0-0-3-8-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) to lower his ERA to 3.25. This is important for Halsey, because with the recent trade of The Big Enigma™ and the arrival of Profoundly Pedestrian™, he may work himself into a rotation shot by September, or at the very least guarantee himself a shot at the 2005 rotation. And by guarantee I mean make sure the Yankees will give him a shot when Brown goes down to injury. Chien-Ming Wang was very good yesterday in his second AAA start. Wang had a line of 5.1-5-2-2-2-8-1 and has struck out 14 in 11.1 AAA innings. If he keeps up a strong K rate I would like to see him get a shot in September. Justin Pope is not a pitcher that regularly gets much publicity on this blog, but his Friday performance was too great to completely ignore. Pope pitched a gem, 9-1-0-0-1-10-0, and it was needed as the Thunder offense was also 1 hit, though they did pick up 2 runs and the victory. Since his huge night, Bronson Sardinha has just been ok. The result of this effort is 4 for 15 with 3 singles, a double, a walk, and a strikeout. Still, his average is at .322 despite playing his home games in what has thus far been the most severe pitchers park in baseball. His EL average would rank 4th if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. I wouldn't expect him to do much, if anything, tonight because he and the rest of the team are facing Matt Cain. Jose Valdez, 4.2-5-4-4-5-6-0, continues to have a rather mediocre season. Sure the ERA is only 3.90 (which isn't even all that great for the FSL), but he's yet to put together one long stretch where he not only is effective at stopping runs and, but also maintaining good peripherals. Tampa has played 2 games since the last update and the results aren't compelling one way or another. Eric Duncan was 1 for 9 with a single and 2 strikeouts, Rudy Guillen was 1 for 3 with a single, a walk, and 2 strikeouts, and Melky Cabrera was 3 for 9 with 2 singles, a home run, and 3 strikeouts. Melky is now hitting an even .300, while the others are down in the .250ish range. Abel Gomez, 6-2-2-1-3-4-0, was so-so and Tyler Clippard, 5-8-5-5-1-4-2, had a poor outing as the BC Yanks fell twice in their last 3 outings. Hector Made, 3 for 7 with 3 singles and 2 walks in the first two games, but 0 for 4 with a strikeout last night, saw his hitting streak of 2+ weeks come to an end. Made is still doing a great job of finishing the season strong, which is key when evaluating prospects and deciding whether or not they kicked into a higher gear or are a good candidate to do so going forward. Erold Andrus, 4 for 13 with 4 singles and 2 strikeouts, seems to be of the same philosophy as Made. *** 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