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Sticky: Offseason Outlook: New York Yankees
1 day ago  ::  Feb 28, 2017 - 10:38AM #1641
Posts: 20,920
Yankees’ rotation options an embarrassment of riches so far

Yankees starting rotation candidate Chad Green N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

SARASOTA, Fla. — All five candidates for the final two spots in the Yankees’ rotation have worked two innings each and provided no signs manager Joe Girardi won’t have to wait until the final week of spring training before making a decision.

Right-hander Chad Green was the final hurler to throw Monday against the Orioles at Ed Smith Field, and he matched Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Severino and Luis Cessa.

In two innings, Green allowed the group’s first hit and second walk.

The quintet has hurled 10 innings without allowing a run while fanning six.

“The first time through everyone has been good and that’s what you want to see,’’ Girardi said. “Hopefully their off-speed [pitches] will become sharper and they will get through lineups where they will have to face them twice to get a better evaluation of them using all their pitches. The first time through they all did their job.’’

Warren and Severino have been vocal about their desire to start, although each has tasted success in the bullpen. Green’s preference is also to start, but a spot in the pen wouldn’t be awful for the 25-year-old right-hander who last season appeared in 12 games (eight starts) and went 2-4 with a 4.73 ERA.

“I wouldn’t say pressure. Those guys are pitching well, but I am just trying to focus on myself,’’ Green said. “Get ready for the season and whatever happens, happens. I am ready to do whatever they want me to. I threw out of the bullpen last year so I don’t mind it, obviously I want to start, that’s my goal. I will be glad to do what they want me to do.’’

Green started throwing a cutter in the middle of last season while with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A) and worked on developing it more this winter.

“I am getting more comfortable with it,’’ Green said. “It was a new pitch for me last year. Throwing it all offseason made me more comfortable with it.’’

Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro TanakaN.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Masahiro Tanaka will make his first start of the spring Tuesday and unlike some of his teammates, doesn’t figure to have much of an adjustment following the departure of Brian McCann, who was traded to Houston in the offseason.

Tanaka had significantly better numbers with Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine behind the plate than with McCann.

“I’m on the same page as Sanchez and Romine from last season,” Tanaka said through a translator.

In 15 starts pitching to McCann last season, Tanaka had a 4.17 ERA, while he had a 1.94 ERA in seven starts with Sanchez catching and a 2.16 ERA in nine outings with Romine.

“More than anything, I want to get my mechanics and the feel of the ball right when I’m actually in game action,” Tanaka said. “I feel good.”

CC Sabathia threw a two-inning simulated game Monday at GMS Field. He is scheduled for one more simulated session before pitching in a big league exhibition game for the first time. The Yankees are taking it slowly with the veteran lefty because he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee following last season.

Minor league infielder Thairo Estrada hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth that lifted the Yankees to a 4-1 win over the Orioles.

Clint Frazier hustled a leadoff single into a double to start a three-run rally in the ninth inning. Frazier has three hits in five spring at-bats.

Hyun Soo Kim lost Aaron Judge’s fly ball in the sun leading off the fourth inning that went for a triple. That isn’t unusual in the Florida sun, but Kim had his sunglasses perched on top of his hat instead of covering his eyes.

Judge went toward the foul line in right field, gloved Kim’s grounder and threw out Kim trying to stretch a single into a double for the final out of the second inning with a one-hop throw to shortstop Jorge Mateo.
1 day ago  ::  Feb 28, 2017 - 11:25AM #1642
Posts: 20,920

Yankees prospects: The New York media needs to start tempering expectations

We still have a long way to go before Bryce Harper and Manny Machado become available

1 day ago  ::  Feb 28, 2017 - 11:33AM #1643
Posts: 20,920

New prospects who could contribute in 2017

This is a special year for the Yankees and their prospects. This year, of all of the years I have ever followed the Yankees, is the first year they are truly going to be rebuilding from day one. With that in mind, the list of potential contributors to the major league team is going to be much longer. It’s different when you have $80 million invested in every position. Then prospects are not going to get opportunities. This year, most of the positions on the field will be open. The Yankees will have rookies manning many positions. They will be trotting guys out there who may or may not cut it in the majors. This will be at times fun to watch and undoubtedly at times frustrating, but for the first time in a long time we will get to see some homegrown talent.

Needless to say, I am extremely excited to watch the games this year. Just for clarification, this group does not include guys like Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Chad Green, Luis Cessa, and Greg Bird. These players have already contributed at the major league level. This list is for those who have not yet done so, and for your information it’s in no particular order.

  1. Kyle Higashioka – Every team uses at least three catchers throughout the year, because inevitably one of the major league catchers needs some time off for one reason or another. Higashioka is the guy who will come up when that happens. He’s on the 40-man roster and he hit 21 homers last year with a solid average. Defensively he’s solid too. He might even be better than Romine.

  1. Mike Ford – He’s not the biggest or strongest guy. He’s not going to hit you a ton of homeruns. Ford is a solid first basemen though and he can hit and get on base. Those are useful talents, and he finds himself behind an injury prone Greg Bird and an also injury prone Tyler Austin on the depth chart. There’s a chance he gets some at bats in the majors this year. He might surprise everyone too.

  1. Tyler Wade – He’ll likely start in Triple-A this year and as long as Gleyber Torres is in Double-A, he’s first in line for a promotion if Didi or Castro go down. Right now he’s light hitting, but he’s got a good hit tool and his power numbers have improved every year in the minors. An above average defensive shortstop, if he continues his upward trajectory with the bat he will be a starter somewhere in the league. Don’t be surprised to see him play for the Yankees this year when a need arises.

  1. Gleyber Torres – If and when Torres owns Double-A, he might not stay there long. Then he’s one step away from the majors. Don’t be surprised if he gets a September call up this year. If he does he’ll be a pretty dynamic player, and one the Yankees might choose to build the future around.

  1. Miguel Andujar – I read an article today that said Andujar could end up being the reason the Yankees don’t go after Manny Machado in 2019. That’s a tall task, but not as farfetched as it sounds. He’s a fantastic defensive third baseman, and had a breakout season in High-A and Double-A with the bat in 2016. He’s probably a bit too raw yet for the majors, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities if he has a big year and Headley either goes down with injury or blows it performance wise.

  1. Clint Frazier – Perhaps one of the most likely guys in Triple-A to get a shot next year, and also one of the guys the Yankees will be building the future around. He’s got as much now power as Aaron Judge, and he’s a solid fielder to boot. If he can get a grip on Triple-A this year, he’ll quickly put himself in the conversation for a major league job, especially if Judge flounders. He’s ripping the ball in Spring Training already.

  1. Dustin Fowler – Of the upper level outfielders, Fowler is one of the most unheralded guys. Make no mistake about it though, he has major league talent. Whether he taps into that is another story. If he continues to improve his power and patience though, he’ll be a sure thing. It’s gonna be tough for him to break in this year, but if Ellsbury or Gardner get hurt he might get a shot. He might end up sneaking up on people this year and making some waves.

  1. Jake Cave – Cave is probably about as likely as Fowler to get a shot in the majors this year. Only problem is he’s not on the forty man roster and the Yankees left him exposed to the rule 5 draft this year. He has some fourth outfielder type talent but it doesn’t seem like the Yankees are too high on him anymore now that they have such high end upper level outfield prospects. Still, he might get a shot this year and could surprise people if he does.

  1. Chance Adams – With nothing left to prove at Double-A, Adams likely starts in Triple-A and will be one step away from the majors. The rotation is going to be filled with inexperienced guys, and there are always injuries. I’d say there’s a good chance he gets the opportunity to start in the majors this year. If he does, don’t be surprised when he takes the league by storm.

  1. Jordan Montgomery – The Yankees only have one lefty in the rotation right now, which could leave an opening for Montgomery, who has a starter’s repertoire. On paper he has one of the best combinations of stuff coming from the left side in the minors, but he’s not highly rated on prospect lists. At least part of that is because of where he was drafted and his age. I’d be surprised if we don’t see some of him in the majors this year, and even more surprised if he squanders his opportunity.

  1. Dietrich Enns – Another lefty in the upper minors who has dominated the scene. He has nothing left to prove in Triple-A, so I expect, to see him as either a starting option or a relief option for the Yankees this year. Most likely he’ll be a part of the Scranton shuttle.

  1. Ronald Herrera – A small righty, Herrera is as major league close as they come. He is no fireballer, but he has a starter’s repertoire and he paints the corners well. All of this foreshadows a guy who will perform well once he gets to the majors, and might even turn some heads along the way.

  1. Jonathan Holder – Now we get to the relievers. Holder already got a decent amount of innings last season, but still way too small of a sample size. I expect him to break camp with the team, and likely fill out the middle innings at first. He could find himself in a swingman role because of his deep repertoire.

  1. Giovanny Gallegos – Gallegos also isn’t your typical power reliever. He is a paint the corners guy who will get you out, and strike you out, with deception and movement. That has been more than enough to catapult him to Triple-A though, where he was unhittable. He’s on the short list for the majors, and will certainly be on the Scranton shuttle at least this season.

  1. Ben Heller – Heller is more of a power reliever, and he too performed well in Triple-A. He’ll most certainly be back and forth between Triple-A and the majors, unless he proves he can stick.

  1. J.P. Feyereisen – A real fireballer, Feyereisen could find himself in the majors this year if he shows he can handle Triple-A well enough. With his stuff, he should be an option for the late innings, but only time will tell if he can handle the pressure of the major leagues, and New York.

18 hours ago  ::  Feb 28, 2017 - 6:50PM #1644
Posts: 20,920

Sanchez, Carter hit first spring homers

Sanchez went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Gary Sanchez and Chris Carter hit their first homers of the year while Masahiro Tanaka worked two scoreless innings in his spring debut, helping the Yankees beat the Tigers, 9-5, on Tuesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Left-hander Daniel Norris started for Detroit and permitted a hit and a walk over 1 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out one. Dominic Ficociello hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning off the Yanks' Jonathan Holder. Ian Kinsler went 1-for-3.

Sanchez launched a two-run shot in the third inning off Drew VerHagen and Carter added a solo shot in the fourth. Sanchez hit 20 homers in 53 games last year, while Carter tied for the National League lead with 41 homers as a member of the Brewers.

Ruben Tejada stroked a RBI single in the fourth inning while Starlin Castro, Chase Headley and Clint Frazier all drove in runs during a four-run New York fifth.

Tanaka looked sharp as he begins to gear up for his third consecutive Opening Day assignment. The right-hander did not permit a hit as he induced four ground balls and struck out two in a 25-pitch outing (16 for strikes).


New York is under the lights for the first time this spring on Wednesday, hosting the Braves in a 6:35 p.m. contest at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Right-hander Bryan Mitchell is set to make his second Grapefruit League start, with left-hander Jaime Garcia going for Atlanta. Catch all the action on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio.

2 hours ago  ::  Mar 01, 2017 - 10:40AM #1645
Posts: 20,920

The Long-Term Future in Center Field

This is an exciting time to be a Yankees fan. The big league team might not be any good this season, and frankly they haven’t been all that good over the last four years anyway, but at least now the farm system is loaded and there are a ton of quality young players in the organization. Soon young guys like Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier will join Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird in the Bronx.

At some point in the near future, perhaps sooner than anyone realizes, the Yankees will have to figure out their center field situation. The two best center fielders on the roster, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, will both turn 34 later this year. Over the last ten years there has been one full-time center fielder age 34 or older: Mike Cameron, who continued to play center full-time from ages 34-36 in 2007-09. No one else has done it.

Center field is a young man’s position because it involves lots and lots of running, day after day after day. The Yankees had Johnny Damon begin the process of moving to left field at age 33 because Melky Cabrera was the superior defensive option, remember. By center fielder standards, Gardner and Ellsbury are pretty darn old, and it stands to reason they won’t be viable options at the position much longer. Speed usually doesn’t age all that well.

This creates two questions for the Yankees. One, who plays center field long-term? And two, what do the Yankees do with Gardner and/or Ellsbury? I’ll answer the second one first: they’re probably going to trade Gardner at some point. Would they prefer to trade Ellsbury? Yeah, I’m sure of it. But that’s not happening, so Gardner it is. They’ve been listening on him for over a year, and it feels like only a matter of time until a trade goes down.

I get the feeling the eventual outcome here is Gardner gets traded away, then Ellsbury slides over to left field for the tail end of his contract, similar to Damon back in the day. (Or worse, to designated hitter full-time.) That creates an opening in center field, and as good as the farm system is these days, the Yankees don’t have an elite center field prospect. Torres is a shortstop, Frazier and Aaron Judge are corner outfielders, and so on.

That doesn’t mean the Yankees lack potential center field options, however. Not at all. They actually have quite a few, both short-term and long-term. That’s good. Multiple options are good. As much as we all love the prospects, the reality is they won’t all work out, and you’d hate to pin your hopes on that one guy to take over a position long-term. Here, in no particular order, are the club’s various long-term center field options.

The Almost Ready Option

Fowler. (Presswire)
Fowler. (Presswire)

When the 2017 regular season begins, Dustin Fowler figures to roam center field for Triple-A Scranton. Fowler is New York’s best pure center field prospect — I ranked him as the 12th best prospect in the system overall — and last year he hit .281/.311/.458 (109 wRC+) with 30 doubles, 15 triples, 12 homers, and 25 steals in Double-A. He really fills up the box score. Fowler is also a very good defender with plenty of range.

There are two glaring weaknesses to Fowler’s game. One, he doesn’t have much of a throwing arm. And two, he’s pretty undisciplined at the plate. Minor league walk rates aren’t everything, though his career 4.4% walk rate in over 1,500 minor league plate appearances is emblematic of his approach. Those are negatives, clearly, but Fowler also offers enough positives to be an everyday player. He makes contact, has some pop, steals bases, and defends well. Similar skill set to peak Ellsbury now that I think about it.

For all intents and purposes, Fowler is a call-up candidate right now. He’s going to start the season in Triple-A and will be added to the 40-man roster no later than next winter (when he’s Rule 5 Draft eligible), and any time those combination of things exist, there’s a chance for the player to wind up in the show. Fowler is, by far, the Yankees’ best close to MLB ready center field prospect. He is easily the favorite to take over the position in the short-term.

The Square Peg, Round Hole Option

Although his tools point to a long-term future in left field, Frazier has enough speed and athleticism to handle center field right now, if necessary. He has plenty of experience at the position — he’s played more minor league games in center (260) than he has in left and right combined (117) — and still possesses enough speed to cover the gaps. Would Frazier be a perfect fit in center? No, but it’s doable. The question is whether mid-30s Ellsbury in left and Frazier in center is a better defensive alignment than mid-30s Ellsbury in center and Frazier in left. It’s not so cut and dried.

The Conversion Candidates

Wade. (Presswire)
Wade. (Presswire)

The Yankees are loaded with shortstop prospects at the moment, so much so that they’ve had Tyler Wade and Jorge Mateo get acquainted with the outfield. Wade played all three outfield spots in the Arizona Fall League last year and he’s been out there this spring as well. Mateo worked out in center field in Instructional League and is doing the same this spring. He’s yet to play an actual game out there, however.

Wade, like Fowler, will open this season in Triple-A, though he’s not an immediate center field option given his inexperience at the position. He’s not someone the Yankees could call up and stick in center for two weeks in May to cover for injuries, you know? That’s a little too soon. Besides, it seems the Yankees are looking to make Wade a super utility player, not a full-time outfielder. He’s too good defensively on the infield to throw that away entirely.

As for Mateo, I am pretty intrigued with the idea of putting him in center field full-time. He’s a good defender at shortstop, that’s not much of a problem, but his truly elite speed may be put to better use in center. Mateo is a good defender at short. He might be a great defender in center. Either way, Mateo is not close to the big leagues like Fowler, Frazier, and Wade. He’s yet to play above High-A and has to answer some questions about his bat before we can start to think about him as a realistic center field option. (And, you know, he has to actually play some games in center too.)

The Reclamation Candidate(s)

Earlier I mentioned Gardner and Ellsbury are the two best center fielders on the roster, which is true when taking all things into account. The best defensive center fielder on the roster is Aaron Hicks (despite a few funky routes last season). He’s got top notch closing speed and a rocket arm. Right now, in the year 2017, Hicks is a better gloveman than either Gardner or Ellsbury in center.

The best defensive outfielder in the entire organization is another reclamation project: Mason Williams. He’s a premium runner who gets great reads, and while his arm isn’t Hicks caliber, it is comfortably above average. Even after shoulder surgery two years ago. It’s unclear whether Williams will ever hit enough to play regularly, but his glove is unquestioned. The Yankees could play him everyday in center and he could handle it defensively.

That “will he ever hit?” question is a big one though, and it applies to Hicks as well. Hicks and Williams are so talented that you can never rule out things coming together, especially at their ages, but for them to have any shot at replacing Ellsbury in center field full-time, they’re going to have to do more at the plate. No doubt. (To be fair to Williams, he’s been hurt more than ineffective the last two seasons.)

The Far Away Options

Fowler and Frazier (and Wade) are knocking on the door. Mateo is a little further away. Ever further away are Blake Rutherford and Estevan Florial, two high-upside center field prospects. Both figure to start the season at Low-A Charleston. They were teammates with Rookie Pulaski last year, where Rutherford played center field and Florial manned left. (First rounder gets priority.)

It goes without saying there is a lot of risk involved with players this far away from the big leagues. There’s so much that can go wrong these next few years. The obstacles facing Rutherford and Florial are very different too. The expectation is Rutherford will shift to a corner spot at some point as he fills out and adds some bulk. Florial is a graceful defender who happens to be a total hacker at the plate. He might not make enough contact to reach MLB.

Give the Yankees a truth serum and I’m sure they’d tell you they want Rutherford to be their long-term center fielder. Frazier, Rutherford, and Judge from left to right would be the perfect world long-term outfield picture. The odds are against that actually happening though, mostly because prospects have a way of breaking hearts. Rutherford and Florial are definitely long-term center field candidates. They’re just far away and carry a lot of risk relative to the other guys in this post.

The External Options


These are the Yankees, and even though they’re trying to scale back spending to get under the luxury tax threshold, you can never really rule them out going outside the organization for help. I, personally, am hoping for a Rob Refsnyder for Mike Trout trade. Fingers crossed. If that doesn’t happen, here are some potential free agent center fielders:

  • Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutchen (if option is declined)
  • Charlie Blackmon, Adam Jones, A.J. Pollock, McCutchen (if option is exercised)

A few of those guys would look pretty good in pinstripes, no? Cain is pretty damn awesome. He’s a fun player and I am pro-fun. Blackmon hit .324/.381/.552 (130 wRC+) with 29 homers and 17 steals last season, you know. Pollock missed a bunch of time with an elbow injury last year, but he’s quietly been one of the best players in baseball the last three or four years.

There’s also Bryce Harper, who will become a free agent following the 2018 season, when he’ll still be only 26 years old. He’s a really good athlete and has played center field for the Nationals at times. Could the Yankees view him as a potential center fielder? That’d be interesting. It’s not like he’d be over the hill or anything. Perhaps Harper in center could work for a few years. Frazier in left, Harper in center, Judge in right? Sign me up.

Anyway, the problem with the non-Harper free agents is the same problem that currently exists with Ellsbury. The Yankees would be paying big money to someone over 30 and in their decline years. Before you know it, we’d be talking about moving Cain or Blackmon or Pollock or whoever to left in favor of a better defensive center fielder. Signing a free agent center fielder is definitely possible. It just seems unlikely given the team’s direction at this point.

The Worst Case Scenario

This is going to sound mean, but the worst case scenario would be keeping Ellsbury in center field through the end of his contract. Maybe he can make it work defensively in his mid-30s like Cameron did once upon a time. He’d be an outlier in that case, but hey, stranger things have happened. I’m sure the Yankees would prefer to keep Ellsbury in center as long as possible too. That’s where he’s most valuable. History suggests his days in center are numbered, however. There simply aren’t many players age 34 and over roaming center nowadays.

* * *

The center field situation is not a pressing matter, fortunately. The Yankees don’t need to figure this out right now. They can let the season play out, see how Ellsbury handles it defensively and how the kids progress in the minors, then figure out what’s next. And maybe nothing is next. Maybe keeping Ellsbury in center through the end of his contract is plausible. The Yankees do have some center field options, both short and long-term, just in case things don’t work out. Sooner or later the team will have to go in a new direction in center field, and odds are it’ll be before the end of Ellsbury’s contract.

2 hours ago  ::  Mar 01, 2017 - 10:42AM #1646
Posts: 20,920

Open Thread: February 28th Camp Notes

The Yankees played a pair of (untelevised) split squad games today and they won them both. They’re now 5-1 this spring. Masahiro Tanaka threw two perfect innings at home against the Tigers, in his first outing of the Grapefruit League season. Gary Sanchez and Chris Carter both went deep, and Clint Frazier doubled in a pair of runs as well. Thairo Estrada also went yard again. The Summer of Thairo 2.0 is well underway. Here’s the box score for that game.

On the road against the Red Sox, Greg Bird smacked two home runs, pulling one to right and lifting the other over the faux Green Monster in left. Aaron Judge singled and drew a walk, and Gleyber Torres had a single as well. Here’s video of Gleyber. Luis Cessa, the first rotation candidate to make his second appearance of the spring, allowed two runs in two innings. Chance Adams tossed two scoreless frames and Justus Sheffield allowed a run in 1.2 innings. Here’s the box score for that game and here’s the rest of the day’s notes:

Here is the open thread for the evening. MLB Network is showing the Angels and Cubs on tape delay at 9pm ET tonight — Manny Banuelos started and Vicente Campos pitched in relief for the Halos that game (life comes at you fast) — plus the (hockey) Rangers are playing. There are a few college hoops games on as well. Talk about those games or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics. Thanks in advance.

2 hours ago  ::  Mar 01, 2017 - 10:44AM #1647
Posts: 20,920

Why Masahiro Tanaka’s radar gun issue isn’t alarming Yankees

Masahiro Tanaka AP

TAMPA — Larry Rothschild isn’t going to fret over the readings coming out of the speed guns tracking Masahiro Tanaka’s pitches.

“I know he will pitch whatever the velocity is. A lot has been made of it,’’ the Yankees pitching coach said of Tanaka’s fastball velocity ever since he suffered a small tear to the right ulnar collateral ligament in July 2014. “He’s not a velocity guy, he’s a pitcher. He knows what to do with the ball in his hand.’’

Tanaka made his first start of the exhibition season Tuesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field in a 9-5 win over the Tigers, and the gun readings weren’t much different than they were last March 6.

That’s when Tanaka, who had a bone spur removed from the right elbow the previous October, threw his fastball in the 87-to-88-mph range in the first inning and 90 to 91 in the second frame. On Tuesday, his fastball ranged from 89-92 mph.

According to PITCHf/x, Tanaka’s fastball averaged 92 mph last season. In 2014, it was 93.

“I liked everything except for the very first pitch,’’ said Tanaka, who sailed the first pitch of the game over Tigers leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler’s head.

In two innings, Tanaka pitched around third baseman Chase Headley’s fielding error to start the game and faced the minimum six batters. He fanned two on splitters that were clocked in the 86-87-mph range.

“He was sneaky fast and sharp with good command,’’ a scout in attendance said of the 28-year-old Tanaka, who can opt out of the final three legs of a seven-year deal for $155 million after this season. By doing that he would be leaving $65 million on the table.

CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Tanaka are rotation locks if they can leave the palm trees behind without a medical problem. There are five candidates for the final two spots, which makes it the best competition in camp.

Yet, the one thing that has stood out for a long time is this: Tanaka is an ace of a rotation that needs him to at least be the pitcher he was last season, when he went 14-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 31 starts and hurled 199 ²/₃ innings. The victories, starts and innings were Tanaka’s highest in the three years as a Yankee.

Catcher Gary Sanchez, who homered, said there was room for improvement from Tanaka.

“The split was really good and the slider,’’ Sanchez said. “The location of the fastball was a little off today. It’s the first start. I know he’ll locate better, especially the fastball.’’

A year ago at this time, the Yankees didn’t know what they had in Tanaka because of the elbow procedure and how it would affect him. This past winter, with no rehabbing in the offseason program, Tanaka arrived in Florida further advanced.

“He was able to throw more this winter. He worked on stuff and got ready in a little different fashion than last year,’’ Rothschild said. “He can work on things without worrying where his stuff is and have a peaceful mind.’’

Bench coach Rob Thomson, who managed the club because Joe Girardi was in Fort Myers running a split squad, said Tanaka’s day was a success on several levels.

“For the first time out, if they’re maintaining their delivery, throwing strikes and using their secondary pitches and when they hand the ball off to the next guy they say they are fine, it’s been a good day,’’ Thomson said. “That’s what he did, and his stuff was good. All his stuff was good. His velocity seemed to be up more than it was last year at this time. … His stuff was sharp.’’

2 hours ago  ::  Mar 01, 2017 - 10:47AM #1648
Posts: 20,920

Yankees ‘caged bull’ rookie stud dying for shot at real hitters

James Kaprielian Charles Wenzelberg

TAMPA — James Kaprielian is convinced he will be ready to start the season for one of the Yankees’ minor league clubs.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean the Yankees’ top pitching prospect isn’t eager to get into a big league exhibition game.

“I feel like a caged bull, I just want to go out there and compete and be with the guys,’’ Kaprielian said after throwing live batting practice Tuesday on a back field at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “Right now the plan is what it is and my job is to be a baseball player. I’m not the GM or the pitching coach.’’

The reason Kaprielian is being brought along slowly is that his 2016 season was limited to three starts for Single-A Tampa because of a strained right flexor tendon injury suffered in April. The next time the 2015 first-round pick worked again was in the Arizona Fall League.

Because he pitched just 18 innings last year, it’s likely the soon-to-be 23-year-old will open the season at Tampa, where the weather will be decidedly better than at Double-A Trenton or Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in April.

Kaprielian said he doesn’t know when he will pitch in a game, but isn’t worried about not being ready for the start of the season.

“Absolutely, definitely,’’ Kaprielian said when asked about the subject. “I’m feeling good.’’

Yet, the exhibition season is in its infancy stage, so there isn’t an urgency to push such a valuable commodity.

“It’s early right now, I think that’s the biggest thing and that comes from talking to the older guys,’’ Kaprielian said. “I was talking to CC [Sabathia] and he just told me, ‘It’s early right now. You don’t need to worry about the season too much. Take it slow, take it one day at a time. Take care of what you have to take care of and you’re going to be ready in no time.’ ”

Luis Cessa’s first start and second outing of the spring was “OK,” according to Girardi after the Yankees beat the Red Sox 5-4 in Fort Myers.

The right-hander, who is vying for one of the Yankees’ open rotation spots, surrendered two runs on three hits in a 40-pitch, two-inning outing.

“He was OK,” Girardi said. “He had some long counts, but he battled. I was OK with what he did.”

Luis Cessa delivers a pitch during his exhibition outing against the Red Sox on Wednesday.AP

Cessa, one of five hurlers bidding for two rotation vacancies, said he hung some sliders and gave up an opposite-field RBI double to Pablo Sandoval on a fastball that was down and away.

“He had a good swing,” Cessa said.

Sabathia threw a bullpen session Tuesday. According to the veteran lefty, he will work one more simulated game and then make his spring training debut.

Dellin Betances will make his spring training debut Wednesday night against the Braves at GMS. Betances likely will get one more outing before leaving the team to join the Dominican Republic club ahead of the World Baseball Classic.

Tuesday was the first Yankees-Red Sox game since David Ortiz retired and Girardi said he was happy to see the slugger go — to a point.

“I’m not going to miss him, I can tell you that,” Girardi said. “I’ll miss his personality and what he brought to the game. I’m not going to miss him hitting in the box.”

Miguel Andujar at third and Gleyber Torres at short booted grounders. Each has two errors on the spring.

Thairo Estrada, a minor league infielder who isn’t on the Yankees’ big league spring training roster, homered for the second straight day. He was joined by Chris Carter and Gary Sanchez against the Tigers. Greg Bird hit two homers against the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

Even those who believe baseball doesn’t require a makeover when it comes to pace of game would have agreed Tuesday’s tilt had the same effect as a handful of Quaaludes. The Yankees’ 9-5 win over the Tigers took three hours and 13 minutes to complete. It was worse in Fort Myers where the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 5-4, in three hours and 24 minutes.

Much has been made of Jacoby Ellsbury’s dwindling stolen base totals and attempts, but he swiped second in the first inning.

Bryan Mitchell starts against the Braves on Wednesday in the first night game at GMS this spring. Mitchell had the team made last year when late in spring training he suffered a left big toe fracture pitching against the Braves that required surgery and limited the righty to six minor league outings and five big league games in 2016.

2 hours ago  ::  Mar 01, 2017 - 10:59AM #1649
Posts: 20,920

Yankees Miguel Andujar Reminds of a Young Adrian Beltre

The world is finally getting its first real look at Yankees third base prospect Miguel Andujar. And already, people are wondering if his emergence will stop the team from pursuing Manny Machado after the 2018 season.

If you follow me on Twitter, then you know I’ve been driving the Miguel Andujar bus for the past six months. Last summer, all I had to go on was a few YouTube videos of Andujar’s Minor League performances and a scouting report or two. But then the No. 7 Yankees prospect according to MLB Pipeline made the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game.

Not even a week after debuting in Spring Training with a triple and a double, fans and media alike want to know how long until Andujar unseats Chase Headley as the everyday third baseman.

Andujar is about to turn 22 — the prime age for a prospect. Coming off a superb 2016 season at Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, he well exceeded offensive expectations (.273 BA, 12 HR, 83 RBI).

If you’ve watched Andujar play at all this spring, you’ve witnessed his electric ability. The way he whips the bat through the strike zone. How he hustles out of the box — stretching a double into a triple. But you’ve also spotted that he’s a bit overzealous on defense.

His quick feet allow him to gracefully reach balls in play, yet his cannon for an arm needs to be calibrated for better accuracy. Last Friday, Andujar made a terrible overthrow that led to two runs scoring against fellow prospect Jordan Montgomery. Then on Monday, he was bailed out twice by leaping grabs by the first baseman.

I get it — the kid is wound up. And rightfully so. But if he keeps this up we’ll be calling him Miguel ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn. In the minors last season, Andujar combined to make 22 errors, though he curtailed his mistakes from 15 down to seven after his promotion to Trenton. In five seasons down on the farm, Andujar has made a total of 99 errors. That’s a lot.

Overall, Andujar’s ability, demeanor, and recklessness remind of another third baseman — Adrian Beltre. I have no idea if Andujar doesn’t mind being touched on the head or not — but if the kid who grew up idolizing Alex Rodriguez can be half as good as the future Hall of Famer, then the Yankees may not need to spend an excess of $200M on Machado after all.

Beltre’s throwing accuracy has always been a bit suspect, having made 296 errors in 19 seasons for a .959 fielding percentage — yet he’s won five Gold Glove Awards. More times than not, Beltre makes the brunt of the routine plays — surprises with a dazzling grab here and there — and flat-out rakes. The ball explodes off the bat of the four-time Silver Slugger. And at age 37, there doesn’t appear to be any drop off in his game.

If I were the Yankees, this is the player I’d have Andujar emulate. Yankees vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring told Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News that Andujar is “one of his favorite players to watch.”

“He can do things at third base,” Naehring continued. “Is he a finished product? No. But he’s got the tools to be impactful on the defensive side. And obviously if you watch him taking batting practice and you look at his physical size, I think he’s a guy that can hit for average, hit for power and use the whole field, so I’m really excited about him.”

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