Category Archives: Minor Leagues

Yanks to sign Jon Niese.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Pending passing a physical tomorrow, the Yanks are expected to sign Jon Niese to a minor league contract.

Niese has spent most of his career for the other NY team, the Mets.

The lefty pitcher is 30, and had a rough 2016 for the Pirates and Mets. From 2010-2015, he averaged 10-10, 3.86 per year for the Mets but last year saw 8-7, 5.50 for the Pirates and Mets before he needed knee surgery.

Niese will battle Adam Warren, Luis Severino, Chad Green, Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell for a spot in the rotation as a #4 or #5 starter behind Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia and Michael Pineda. Of those five guys battling for two spots, Niese is the only lefty and if he wins a spot would join C.C. as the lefties in the rotation.

Niese could also go to the bullpen if he doesn’t make the rotation.

He pitched for the Mets in the 2015 postseason when the Mets went to the World Series. In six postseason games, he was 0-0, 5.06.

For his career, Niese is 69-68, 4.07, ERA+ 93. His 162 g. average is 12-11, 4.07, ERA+ 93. Average ERA+ is 100.

UPDATE: The Yanks announced that they are considering him solely for relief.

Eovaldi officially gone. What does ST mean for Refsnyder, Williams, Austin?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Nathan Eovaldi wouldn’t have pitched for the Yankees this year anyway, being as he had Tommy John surgery (for the second time) last August and won’t be ready until 2018. Which is why he was released by the Yankees. Any chance of re-signing Eovaldi went out the window when Tampa Bay signed him yesterday.

As spring training begins with pitchers and catchers reporting tomorrow, I can’t help but wonder what this spring training means for a couple of Yankees on the cusp, so to speak. It may be their last spring training to make an impression or stick with the club because of some prospects breathing down their necks.

Rob Refsnyder. With Ronald Torreyes expected to be the utility man in the majors, Tyler Wade being groomed as a utility man, and other infielders in the system like veterans Pete Kozma and Ruben Tejada, and prospects Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, and Kyle Holder, not to mention Miguel Andujar at 3B, I wonder what the future holds for Refsnyder and others listed below. Trade bait? If sent to AAA, there are those other infielders (and outfielders, see below) he would be battling just to get minor league playing time.

Tyler Austin and Mason Williams. With Aaron Judge expected to win the right field job and Aaron Hicks as his backup, and Chris Carter signed as an insurance policy for Greg Bird at 1B, not to mention Matt Holliday as 1b/DH/OF, what happens with Austin and Williams, especially since if they are sent back to AAA, where Clint Frazier and Dustin Fowler will also be there for OF playing time?

For these players, I wonder if the window of oppotunity could be closing fast, what with prospects on the come.

In any case, there is going to be some serious competition for playing time soon. Not only in the majors, but in AAA and AA too.

It could mean freeing up some room by making a deal.

Yanks sign Tejada to minor league deal.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Ruben Tejada had 66 at bats last year between the Cardinals and Giants. For all intensive purposes, the last time we really saw him in the major leagues, he was getting his leg broken on a hard slide by Chase Utley of the Dodgers in the 2015 playoffs while playing SS for the Mets.

The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal today. As far as how much range he may have lost at SS due to the broken leg, we’ll see. Derek Jeter was 38 when he broke his ankle in the 2012 ALCS, but at 38, had already lost range anyway so after a wasted year of 2013, we already knew his range would not be the best during his final season of 2014 when he turned 40.

I expect Tejada, even with a spring training invite, to not make the team in 2017 but to go to SWB as insurance in case something happens to Didi or Castro. His 162 g. average is .252-3-40, OPS+ of 83. Good glove, weak stick.

A move for depth, nothing more.

Tejada has played mostly SS, some 2B and a little 3B in his major league career.

Torres becomes youngest ever to win AFL batting title and AFL MVP.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Yankees’ prospect SS Gleyber Torres was named the MVP of the Arizona Fall League today. Torres, just 19, became the youngest player to win the AFL batting title. He hit .403.

Torres is also the youngest MVP in league history.

Hello, Goodbye. Yanks make roster moves.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yankees made a couple of roster moves, deleting some players, trading one, and adding some youngsters to the 40 man roster.

Added were:

3B Miguel Andujar, who just finished an impressive  AFL stint and who hit .273-12-83 between HIgh A and AA in 2016.
LHP Dietrich Enns, who went 14-4, 1.73 between AA/AAA in 2016
RHP Gio Gallegos 7-2, 1.27, 4 saves 106 K in 78 IP, AA/AAA
RHP Ron Herrera 10-8, 3.94 AA/AAA
SS Jorge Mateo .254-8-47, 36 SB at High A Tampa.
RHP Yefrey Ramirez 3-7, 2.84 at Tampa.

These all were Rule 5 draft eligible this offseason. Now they are not.

Released were:
Dustin Ackley, Utility, who missed most of 2016 with an injury and who hit .148-0-4 in 28 games with the Yanks in 2016.

Designated for Assignment:
RHP Nathan Eovaldi, 9-8, 4.76 but who will miss all of 2017 due to TJ surgery
LHP Joe Mantiply, who the Yanks claimed off waivers from the Tigers on November 8 (that didn’t last long…) and
RHP Nick Rumbelow,who missed almost all of 2016 due to injury. Rehabbing from TJ surgery.

Traded LHP James Pazos to Seattle for RHP Zack Littell. Pazos was 1-0, 13.50 in 7 games for the Yanks in 2016. Littell, 21, RHP, was 13-6, 2.66 between low and High A this past year.

Outrighted Brandon Pinder, RHP to AAA. Pinder got in only 1 game, 1 inning, for the Yanks in 216, giving up 2 runs. Rehabbing from TJ surgery.

Earlier this month the Yanks added C Kyle Kigashioka and RHP Domingo German to the 40 man roster. The addition of Higashioka is more important now what with the trade of McCann to the Astros.

Higashioka .276-21-81 between AA/AAA

German 1-3, 3.08 between Low and High A ball.

Some players left exposed to the Rule 5 draft are: Jake Cave, Cale Coshow, Brady Lail, Luis Torrens, Tyler Webb, Tito Polo, Stephen Tarpley.

My thanks to the excellent River Avenue Blues blog from which most of this report is taken.

Yanks trade McCann; MVPs announced; AFL ends.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

 

The Yankees traded Brian McCann to the Astros for two young righty minor league pitchers. In his three seasons with the Yankees, McCann hit 69 HR but only hit .235. The emergence of Gary Sanchez made McCann expendable. The Yanks will pay the Astros $11MM of the $34MM remaining on his contract.

In return, the Yanks get Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. Here is what MLB Trade Rumors has to say about them:

Abreu is the more highly regarded of the two; as J.J. Cooper of Baseball America explains, he throws a live fastball that occasionally nears the triple-digits. With a four-pitch arsenal, he perhaps has a chance to stick as a starter. Still, he only just turned 21 and struggled with his command last year at the Class A and High-A levels.

Guzman, meanwhile, has even more velocity, with his heater ticking up to 102-103 mph at times. Cooper notes, though, that he’s more effective when he’s operating at a slightly lower velocity (in his case, the upper-nineties). While the long-term outlook suggests that Guzman will end up in the pen, he is said to have a promising slider and also a change-up that’s in the works. The 20-year-old has yet to move past Rookie ball, but showed big strikeout ability (12.2 K/9) in his time in the Gulf Coast and Appalachian leagues last year.

Abreu, 21, was 3-8, 3.72 between low and High A in 2016. 16 starts, 8 relief appearances. 115 K in 101 2/3 IP.

Guzman, 20, was 3-4, 4.05 in Rookie League ball. 8 starts, 5 relief appearances. 54 K in 40 IP.

MLB announced its MVPs yesterday, Mike Trout of the Angels and Kris Bryant of the Cubs.  For Trout, it’s his second MVP (he won in 2014) and he has finished 1st or 2nd in MVP in each of his five full seasons in the bigs. He is still just 25 years old.Bryant, 24, was the ROY last year and now wins the MVP in just his second MLB season.

No Yankee received MVP consideration (meaning at least a 10th place vote).

The Arizona Fall League ended yesterday. They have a championship game Saturday but Scottsdale and Yankees’ prospects will not be playing in it. Only Tyler Wade played in the final game, and he went 1 for 3, scored a run and drove in two in a 6-6 tie. Wade ended the AFL at .241. He had a SF yesterday and stole 3 bases, giving him 10 for the AFL.

Former MLB catcher and manager Russ Nixon died recently. He was 81. He played from 1957-1968 for Cleveland, Boston, Minnesota, and Cleveland again. He was the catcher when Roger Maris hit his 61st HR. Nixon later managed the Reds and Braves. He hit .268 with an OPS+ of 84.

Kaprielian, Torres, and others shine in AFL. Tanaka 7th in CYA voting, Miller 9th.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Arizona Fall League will be coming to an end soon, and in his final appearance, James Kaprielian was great.

Kaprielian (2-3, 4.33) pitched 4 1/3 innings, gave up 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 walks and struck out 4 in Scottsdale’s 4-0 win.

Here is how other Yankees’ prospects did in the game.

Nestor Cortes, 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 3 K. 4.70.

J.P. Feyereisen 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks, 5 K.  2.57.

2B Gleyber Torres 3 for 4, scored 2 runs, had a double, drove in a run, struck out once. He is now hitting .403 in the AFL. Nope, that is not a typo. .403! The 19-yr.-old, acquired in the Chapman trade, has already won AFL player of the week twice and seems to be a shoo-in for the AFL MVP.

LF Tyler Wade 0 for 3, walked, struck out. .235

3B Miguel Andujar 0 for 4, RBI, struck out. .284.

MLB announced the Cy Young Awards. In the AL, Rick Porcello. In the NL, Max Scherzer. Scherzer had won one previously in the AL with Detroit. Justin Verlander’s fiancee, model Kate Upton, wasn’t too happy about Verlander losing out, as shown by some Twitter posts she made. Verlander actually got more first place votes than Porcello, but less total points. Two writers left Verlander off the ballot. Hmmm, maybe Verlander and Upton now understand the electoral college as well? (Just kidding). The key is that although Verlander had 14 first place votes to Porcello’s 8,26 voters had Porcello 1st or 2nd, while only 16 voters had Verlander 1st or 2nd.

The Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka came in 7th in the voting. Andrew Miller, who started the season with the Yankees then was traded to the Indians, came in 9th.

One thing that hurt Tanaka (14-4, 2.07) was that so often he pitched well, but wound up with a no-decision because of the Yankees’ struggling offense.

The AL and NL MVP’s will be announced tonight.