Pitching: Who is left in the minors, and who is Kikuchi?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

As the Yanks seek to add another starter (Free agents Corbin? Keuchel? Eovaldi? Trade for Kluber or Carrasco?) in addition to the recently acquired James Paxton, and also look to find a suitor for Sonny Gray, we look at the second tier—those pitchers who may be called up to make an emergency start, or a couple, in case a member of the starting rotation goes down with injury. With the fragility of this rotation, a certain possibility.

I thought this would be especially interesting now that the Yanks have traded away Justus Sheffield.

Some guys I will be discussing are years away. Some, I will miss out on in discussing them in this article. But I hope to tackle a lot of prospects in this article, and give you an idea of who is left for AAA, AA and maybe one or two at High A.

First off, what will be done with Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga? As for German, he was 2-6, 5.57 in 14 starts, 7 relief appearances. 26, he has good stuff, but in looking at his career, he has a 6.19 ERA as a starter, 3.13 in relief. I wonder if the Yanks would be best off in making him a middle reliever, and in hoping his stuff plays there as it has for Chad Green. He can be pulled out of the bullpen for an emergency start if necessary. Stretch him out in spring training but he then goes into the bullpen to be used as the new “Adam Warren” if you will.

As for Loaisiga, 24, I really like his stuff but feel he needs a full year as a starter in AAA. His splits last year were opposite German’s. Four starts, ERA 3.00. In relief at the end of the year, 10.80. (Overall 2-0, 5.11, 4 starts, 5 relief appearances). He needs to build up his arm. He only pitched a total of 80 2/3 innings last year (6-1, 2.98 in the minors), and that is majors and minors combined. He hasn’t even pitched in AAA yet, the Yanks having brought him up from AA. Give him AAA experience, stretch out that arm. Bring him up only if doing well and if someone goes on the DL and prepare him to take over in the rotation for the retiring CC in 2020.

Michael King. This is a guy to watch out for. I see him starting the year at AAA and he could be a sleeper. 23, he started last year at Tampa (A+), and ended with AAA SWB, going a combined 11-5, 1.79. If he does well again at AAA in 2019, he could get a callup in case of an emergency.

Chance Adams, meanwhile, took a step backward in 2018. He’ll probably start at AAA in 2019. He had one start (in Fenway) and two relief appearances for the Yanks in 2018, going 0-1, 7.04. He was 4-5, 4.78 in AAA in 2018 after going 15-5, 2.45 between AA/AAA in 2017. Back to AAA and hope for a rebound.

Then of course, we have Luis Cessa, 26, and A.J. Cole, also 26, neither of whom I am high on. I don’t know how many options Cessa has left. He was 1-4, 5.24, in 5 starts and 11 relief appearances with the Yanks in 2018 and is 5-11, 4.71 in his MLB career (19 starts, 24 relief appearances). Cole was 3-1, 4.26 for the Yanks, overall 4-2, 6.14 (Wash/NYY) in 2018. I can see both on the SWB/NYY shuttle or see both eventually DFA’d. Neither thrill me.

So a possible AAA rotation in 2019 could conceive of Loaisiga, Adams, King and Cessa, all “on the ready” for a callup in case of an emergency.

In AA, I can see Albert Abreu, 23, who was 4-6, 5.20, mostly at High A Tampa, and also Domingo Acevedo, 24, who was 3-3, 2.99, mostly at AA Trenton.

Garrett Whitlock, 22, I can also see at AA. He, like Deivi Garcia (see below), went through Low A, High A and AA last year, and he had a combined record of 8-5, 1.86.

Deivi Garcia, 19, went 5-4, 2.55 between Low A Charleston, High A Tampa and AA Trenton. I can see him starting out at High A Tampa. (The one game he DID pitch for AA Trenton last year had him pitching five no-hit innings and striking out seven!). But no use in rushing the kid, which is why I have him at A+ because he is 19, while I have Whitlock at AA because he is 22. The Yanks may think differently, however. Maybe both at AA, maybe both start at High A Tampa.

Two other pitchers I think could be targeted for AA are Nick Nelson, 23, and Adonis Rosa, 24. Nelson went 8-6, 3.55 at all three levels, A, A+ and AA last year, while Rosa was 14-6, 3.93 between A+, AA and AAA last year.

So I have Cessa, Loaisiga, Adams, King, and maybe German or Cole at AAA, with either German or Cole having a chance to make the Yankees as a long man (of course, we have to see what other moves are made between now, November 25 and the start of spring training).

At AA, I have Nelson, Rosa, Abreu, Acevedo and Whitlock. Nick Green, 23, could also slot in here, or at A+. Last year, he went 8-7, 3.32 between Tampa (A+) and AA Trenton.

Deivi Garcia I have at A+.

So there is your depth for now. Maybe you can get a couple of prospects for Sonny Gray that you could fill in at Tampa along with Garcia.

Now for some bullpen guys.

J.P. Feyereisen, 25, I have going back to AAA. He was 6-6 there with a 3.45 ERA last year.

Anyelo Gomez, 25, only pitched in 7 games for AAA last year due to injury. 0-1, 2.45. So back to AAA for him.

Raynel Espinal, 27, was 7-2, 3.09 for SWB last year. Another reliever at AAA waiting for the call.

James Reeves, 25, 2-2, 2.88 between AA/AAA, could be a lefty in the AAA bullpen.

A lefty at AA could be Phillip Diehl, 24, 2-3, 2.51 between A+ and AA.

Joe Harvey, 26, is on the Yanks’ 40 man roster, and was 3-2, 1.67 between AA and AAA last year and if he doesn’t make the Yanks, should start the year at AAA.

So there is a lot of pitching in the minors, and we’ll see in 2019 which pitchers separate themselves and really show the potential.

Getting off of pitching for one moment, it’ll be interesting to see how infielder Thairo Estrada does next year. Estrada, 22, hit .301 for Trenton in 2017 but missed most of last year after getting shot in the leg during the 2017-2018 offseason.

Another free agent pitcher to keep an eye on: Japan is expected to post Yusei Kikuchi, 27, a lefty who in Japan has gone 74-48, 2.81. Last year, 2018, he went 14-4, 3.08. The Yanks have interest, but even though the Yanks have had success with Tanaka, when I think of Japanese lefties, the nightmare of Kei Igawa crosses my mind. We’ll see.









Corbin AND Happ? Six-man rotation?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Interesting comment.

MLB Network Radio’s Steve Phillips thinks Cashman could sign at least two more pitchers:

“Paxton is somewhat unpredictable with his health. In fact he is predictable, in that he’s never made more than 28 starts in a season. So you have to think he’s gonna have some time that he needs to be backed off. And Sabathia, too. He’s probably in that 25-to-28-start range as well. We saw Severino run out of gas late, right? Some questions about whether he in August was dinged up a bit. Tanaka, another year of wear and tear on that elbow. I could see them getting Happ AND Corbin. That they could get both of those guys and try to make that fit and make it work. And they could manage it like the Dodgers have done, using that 10-day DL to their advantage.”

Signing both would give the Yanks six starters: Severino, Corbin, Tanaka, Paxton, Happ and CC.

Four lefties, never bad at Yankee Stadium.

6 x 27 starts each equals, you guessed it, 162.

I don’t see it happening, but just to think about it,

Severino, 24, 32 starts last year, but seemed to peter out down the stretch.
Corbin, 29, had 33 starts.
Tanaka, 29, 27 starts on the nose, and of course he has been battling that ligament issue for a while now.
Paxton, 30, 28 starts, most of his career, has battled injuries the past few years.
Happ, 36, had 31 starts.
CC 38, 39 next July, had 29 starts last year, and that knee will still be a concern in his final season.

Interesting concept, don’t see it happening, but if the Yanks COULD get both Corbin and Happ…. nice rotation.

Meanwhile, the Yanks won 100 last year with

Domingo German 14 starts (AAA in 2019? MLB as a middle relief/spot starter?)
Sonny Gray 23 starts (Yanks to trade him away soon)
Lance Lynn 9 starts (Free agent who most likely is gone)
Luis Cessa 5 starts (AAA?)
Jordan Montgomery 6 starts (will miss all or most of 2019, TJ surgery)
Jonathan Loaisiga 4 starts (AAA? emergency starter?)
Chance Adams 1 start (AAA?)

Ok, those 7 combined for 62 starts of the 162 games (and another 34 relief appearances). A combined record of 21-22, 374.66 IP, ERA 4.95. That is like the equivalent of two starters each giving you 10-11, 4.95 and 182 innings each. Not good enough.

I like Loiasiga, 23. Others will be gone (Gray, Lynn) or unavailable (Montgomery). But getting more starts out of the established starters, and keeping them healthy, is important.

And by established starters, that means the newly acquired Paxton as well as one or TWO other established starters.

So maybe Phillips is on to something. Who knows? Worth a look.






Yanks make minor deal.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From the NY Post:

The Yankees acquired outfielder Tim Locastro from the Dodgers on Wednesday for minor league right-hander Drew Finley and $75,000.

The 26-year-old Locastro made his big-league debut with the Dodgers in 2017, appearing in three games, and hit .182 (2 for 11) this year with one double and four steals in 18 games, including three starts in center field. He batted .286 with 23 doubles, four homers, 29 RBIs and 19 steals in the minors this year, mostly at Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Locastro is a native of Auburn, New York, and played at Ithaca College.

Finley, 22, spent the past three seasons with the Class A Staten Island Yankees and was 2-4 with a 7.24 ERA this year in one start and 15 relief appearances.

Locastro has played in only 21 MLB games, going 2 for 12 (.167) with 5 SB. A .292 hitter in the minors, it appears he has little power, about 7 HR, 50 HR per year if about 120 games, but has some speed, about 40 SB a year if at that pace. Bats righty.  Mostly 2B, CF and SS.  Put on the 40 man, now full. Basically minor league depth. Of course, with future moves and free agent signings, that 40 man will be very flexible this offseason.

Yanks add Joe Harvey to 40 man roster, make a minor deal.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From the NY Post:

The Yankees added right-hander Joe Harvey to their 40-man roster on Tuesday. The 26-year-old split 2018 between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  ….  The team’s 40-man roster is now at 39 in advance of next month’s Rule 5 draft. The Yankees also acquired minor league RHP Jefry Valdez from Colorado in exchange for RHP Jordan Foley.

Harvey turns 27 in January, and the Post actually had his numbers (deleted above) wrong. He was 3-2, 1.67 with 11 saves between AA/AAA.

Foley, 25, who probably wouldn’t have been protected from the Rule 5 draft, was traded to get something for him instead. He went 4-4, 2.98 at AA Trenton with 10 saves but was 0-2, 9.15 in the recently concluded Arizona Fall League.

Valdez, 23, went 3-1, 5.82 at Low A.

Beltre, one of the greatest 3B ever, retires.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Adrian Beltre announced his retirement from baseball today, and will most likely be a first ballot HOF in 2024.

Beltre, listed on baseball-reference.com as the 4th greatest 3B ever (behind Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews and Wade Boggs, and ahead of George Brett, Chipper Jones, Ron Santo and Brooks Robinson) finishes his career with 3166 hits (16th on the all-time list) and 477 HR (30th). He was a 4x All-Star, 5x Gold Glove, 4x Silver Slugger, and 2x Platinum Glove winner. Six times he finished in the top 10 for MVP voting, including a runnerup finish in 2004 and a 3rd place finish in 2012. He played for the Dodgers 1998-2004, Seattle 2005-2009, Boston 2010, and Texas 2011-2018. My guess is he goes into the HOF as a Ranger. His 162 game average was .286-26-94, OPS+ 116. In 28 postseason games, he hit .261-5-11.

A passing. Ken Howell, who pitched in the majors from 1984-1990, passed away November 9 at the age of 57. He pitched for the Dodgers 1984-1988 and the Phillies 1989-1990. His best season was in 1989 for the Phils, when he went 12-12, 3.44, ERA+ 103. He went 38-48, 3.95, ERA+ 92 in his MLB career, 162 game average 9-11, 3.95, ERA+ 92. He got into one postseason game with the Dodgers in 1985 against the Cardinals in the NLCS.

I’ve seen some news about the Yankees and Manny Machado that make me laugh and want to shake my head.

First off, Reggie Jackson is raising some concerns about the statements Machado made that he isn’t “Johnny Hustle”. Now I do agree that Reggie has the right to question Machado’s remarks, and mentioned that a lack of hustle wouldn’t play in NY. But lest we forget June 18, 1977, when REGGIE’S lack of hustle after a bloop single made Billy Martin pull him from a game in Fenway and which almost caused a brawl between Billy and Reggie in the dugout? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Also, A-Rod apparently is calling Machado a “fine young man.” So a guy who was suspended from baseball for an entire year due to steroid usage is being a character witness for Machado? (Shaking my head).


Yanks trade Sheffield and two other prospects to Seattle for James Paxton

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yanks wanted to add two starting pitchers this offseason (and subtract one, in Sonny Gray) besides re-signing CC Sabathia.

Step one has been accomplished. The Yanks traded top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, along with P Erik Swanson and OF Dom Thompson-Williams, to Seattle for lefty starter James Paxton.

Paxton, 30, is a Canadian who threw a no-hitter against Toronto last May. While talented, he has had trouble staying healthy. In 2018, he started 28 games, the most of his career, and pitched 160 1/3 innings, also the most of his career, in going 11-6, 3.76, ERA+ 108. In those 160 1/3 innings, he struck out 208.

In the past five seasons, he has started 13-13-20-24-28 games. A progression, but you can see the injury issues. His IP have been 74-67-121-136 and 160.3. When healthy, he has been good, ERAs of 3.04, 3.90, 3.79, 2.98 and 3.76.

Last season, he led the majors in CG (2) and shutouts (1). His MLB record is 41-26, 3.42, ERA+ 117. The ERAs show potential. He needs to stay healthy. His 162 g. average, if healthy, is 14-9, 3.42, with that ERA+ of 117. In four starts against Boston, he is 2-0, 2.49.

Paxton is extremely affordable, having made $4.9MM in 2018 and is projected to earn $9MM in 2019. He isn’t a free agent until after 2020.

To get him, the Yanks gave up top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, LHP, 22, who in a brief MLB tryout last year was 0-0, 10.13 in three games. He spent most of 2018 at AAA SWB, starting 15 games and relieving in 5 more, going 6-4. 2.56. He also started 5 games for AA Trenton, going 1-2, 2.25. (7-6, 2.48 overall in the minors). He probably would have started 2019 at AAA, and being “on call” in case of an injury.

Also going to Seattle was P Erik Swanson, who is 25, a RHP,  who was 8-2, 2.66 between AAA SWB, AA Trenton and short season Staten Island in 2018. 22 starts, 2 relief appearances.

OF Dom Thompson-Williams is also headed to Seattle. A lefty hitter, 23, he spent 2018 between Low A Charleston and High A Tampa, going .299-22-74 in 100 games, with 20 SB.

Step one is getting Paxton. Step two is getting another starter, even BETTER than Paxton. Patrick Corbin? Bring back Happ? Dallas Keuchel?

Betts (AL) Yelich (NL) win MVP honors. Yanks finish 12, 19, 20 and 22. Final AFL stats for Yanks’ prospects.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Mookie Betts of Boston won the AL MVP quite handily, getting 28 of the 30 first place votes. Mike Trout of the Angels finished as the runnerup for the fourth time (Trout has won the award twice). Trout got one first place vote, and Betts’ teammate, J.D. Martinez, who finished fourth, got the other.

As for Yankees, Aaron Judge finished 12th, Giancarlo Stanton 19th, Didi Gregorius finished in a tie for 20th (he was also 20th last year) and Aaron Hicks finished in a tie for 22nd.

Christian Yelich of Milwaukee won the NL MVP, getting 29 of the 30 first place votes (the only other one going to Jacob DeGrom of the Mets, who finished fifth). Javier Baez of the Cubs was the runnerup.

The Glendale Desert Dogs Arizona Fall League season is over with a 12-18 record. Here is how Yankees’ prospects did:

SS Thairo Estrada .238-0-7
1B Steven Sensley .197-0-9
CF Estevan Florial .178-0-8

SP Jordan Foley 0-2, 9.15
RP Hobie Harris 1-0, 4.20
RP Matt Wivinis 0-1, 1.50
RP Kyle Zurak 0-1, 11.57