Posted on: September 14, 2009 1:48 pm

Governor's Cup

For the second straight year, the Scranton Yankees and the Durham Bulls will meet for the International League Championship.

The best of 5 starts tomorrow night at 7PM.

No word on the Durham starters, but Romulo Sanchez will start game 1 for the Yankees, and Ian Kennedy will start game 2.

Yankees won't have one of their relievers from the last round, as Anthony Claggett was DFA'ed off the 40 man to make room for another player who won't be with Scranton -Freddy Guzman, who was called up to the big club.

Only in the minors.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 8, 2009 1:59 pm

International League playoffs get underway

Tomorrow at 7PM the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees begin their quest to repeat as International League champions against the Gwinnett Braves.

The matchups for Games 1 and 2:

Game 1, 9/9 7PM

Romulo Sanchez (6-5, 4.09) @ John Halama (4-7, 4.48)

Game 2 9/10 7pm

Ivan Nova (6-8, 3.68) @ Jo-Jo Reyes (4-2, 2.86)

Gwinnett's 3-4-5 starters have yet to be named, but the three Yankee pitchers for the Scranton games (if necessary) will be

Game 3   Kei Igawa (10-8, 4.15)

Game 4   Zach McAllister (7-5 2.23 at AA Trenton)

Game 5   Anthony Claggett (7-7 3.08)
Category: MLB
Tags: AAA Playoffs
Posted on: September 1, 2009 8:52 am

Romine named FSL Player of the Year

Following in the footsteps of his more celebrated fellow catching prospect Jesus Montero, Austin Romine has been named the player of the year in the Florida State League (High A).

Considered the best all around catching prospect in the system, the 20 year old Romine posted a .274/12/70 season in '09. His defense also showed a drastic improvement, as he raised his CS% from 20% last year to a more than respectable 32% in 2009.

Yanks look to be flat loaded for the future at one of the more difficult positions to fill.
Category: MLB
Tags: Romine
Posted on: August 31, 2009 10:44 am
Edited on: August 31, 2009 10:45 am

Betances goes under the knife

Becoming a Yankee prospect pitcher right of passage of late. According to Mike Ashmore, the beat writer for the AA Trenton Thunder, 20 year old Dellin Betances had TJ surgery several days ago. Many in the system felt it was inevitable with the recurrent elbow problems the local NYC product has had since being drafted, but some were hopeful he'd be able to avoid that measure. No such luck, and now the next time we can hope to see the 6'9 right hander is late 2010.
Category: MLB
Tags: Betances
Posted on: August 27, 2009 10:35 am

Newman discusses Yankee prospects

Chad Jennings, SWB's terrific beat-writer had a sit down with Mark Newman, VP of Baseball Operations. Some good stuff:

Jesus Montero's offseason

  • Seemed to be a candidate for the Arizona Fall League, despite the fact not a lot of Latin players go to the Fall League.
  • Montero is committed to winter team back home in Venezuela. That's where he should play this offseason.
  • “We’ll see," Newman said. "His finger’s got to heal.”
  • Newman said he expects the finger to heal enough for Montero to play.

Ian Kennedy's rehab

  • Throwing really well in Tampa.
  • Bullpen sessions this week. Facing live hitters next week.
  • Remains unlikely to pitch in a minor league game this season. Even the playoffs are doubtful.
  • "The smallest of chances," Newman said.

The contracts of Juan Miranda and Jorge Vazquez

  • Miranda has been optioned three times, but I wondered if he might qualify for a fourth option.
  • "I don’t believe so," Newman said. "But I’d have to look that up."
  • Vazquez was signed to a player development contract, not a one-year minor league deal.
  • That means Vazquez will be back in the organization next year. They don't have to resign him.

Alan Horne's rehab

  • Looked very good in his last Gulf Coast League outing on Thursday (seven scoreless innings, seven strikeouts).
  • Struggled last night with Charleston (nine runs, eight earned, seven hits, four walks through 4.1 innings).
  • “He’s still rehabbing, and he looked like a rehab guy last night," Newman said. "Shoulder strength. Command. They all go together."

Various injured players

  • Brad Suttle (right) is not going to play this year. Not even in winter ball. "Next year," Newman said.
  • Wilkin De La Rosa is in a throwing program. "He'll be back pitching, we think, in a week," Newman said.
  • Dellin Betances is very much up in the air with what I believe is an elbow injury. Newman said simply, "I don't know" when asked when Betances might throw again. 

September call-ups

  • Obviously Newman's not going to say who's going up in September, but I asked if Scranton/Wilkes-Barre would get players from Trenton.
  • “I can’t tell you who those are," Newman said. "But we’ve got Plan Bs and Cs to deal with whatever September call-ups we may or may not have.”
  • That said, there is no one in Trenton who is guaranteed a call-up to Triple-A regardless.
  • “There’s nobody that’s coming here absolutely," Newman said.

Hawaii Winter League

  • There is no Hawaii Winter League this year.
  • Everyone else might have known this. I did not.
Category: MLB
Tags: Jennings
Posted on: August 20, 2009 10:57 am

Nardi speaks

Nardi Contreras, that is-Yankee minor league pitching guru- sat down with Trenton Thunder beat writer Mike Ashmore to discuss the state of the pitching in the Yankee minor leagues:

On Ian Kennedy pitching a regular season game somewhere: “I don’t think so.  At least not in the minor leagues, unless the Triple-A team goes to the playoffs.  Because he’s going to first BP that I’ve got him for on August 31st.  So, that’s a BP, his first BP.  So he’ll have another BP, then we’ll get him into some type of simulated games or something.  Is it possible?  Possible.  A two inning job or something like that.  But to be ready to pitch six, seven innings any place?  No.”

On Alan Horne: “He pitches tomorrow in the Gulf Coast League.  We’ll see how he does.  I think his last outing, he went six innings and gave up three runs.  But (Trenton’s staff) is set, there’s a lot of pitching.” 

On Wilkin De La Rosa returning: “Our throwing program has him ready to pitch the last week of the season.  But again, that’s on paper.  He has to go out and see how he feels.  Paper wise, with his rest and the work we’ll do with the sides and the long toss programs, we could get him to pitch in the last week and the playoffs, possibly.  He’s got something wrong with the biceps tendon, that’s what it is.”

On Humberto Sanchez: “He’s coming along good.  He’s lost weight, he’s pitching well, he’s competing, he’s regaining his arm strength.  When I saw him in Harrisburg, it was the best I’ve seen him since we’ve had him.”

On Grant Duff: “Things are clicking for him.  He’s got a power arm.  We have Romulo Sanchez, who hits 99.  Melancon’s hit 97.  He’s in the top three or four (with velocity).  At least second for sure.  Romulo Sanchez is hitting 99 every game.  He’s come really well, though.  His delivery has really improved.  The slider’s good, the split’s there.  He’s done well.”

It all sounds very, very good.

Category: MLB
Tags: Contreras
Posted on: August 2, 2009 6:36 pm

Montero out for the year

Or 4-6 weeks-which takes us to the end of the AA seaon.

Broke a bone in his finger catching a pitch last night. Frustrating for him, I imagine, as he was finding AA pitching to his liking. .909 OPS and 9 HR in only 167 AB's at that level.

He's still only 19.

Category: MLB
Tags: Montero
Posted on: July 28, 2009 9:10 am

The next Yankee?

Bio piece on Austin Jackson from

In an age where baseball experts and fans are prospect-crazed, New York Yankees outfield prospect Austin Jackson has been on scouts' radars for a long time.

In 1999, Jackson was rated by Baseball America as the best 12-year-old baseball player in the country. That same year, the righty was approached by a scout from the Yankees after hitting three home runs in a 14-year-old league.

"He gave me his card and told me he'd come out to a couple more ballgames because his son played in the same area," Jackson said. "He told me he'd keep in touch and to call if I had any questions, which I don't know what kind of questions a 12-year-old would have at that age."

The Texas native's encounter with the scout didn't let it affect him mentally and, despite being approached by the Yankees -- who were in the midst of winning their third World Series title in four years -- he was still just a kid.

"I think age has something to do with it," Jackson said. "If I had been a freshman in high school and approached by him, it would have been different. At the age I was at, I was not mature enough to know what any of it meant or that I could possibly play for the team one day. I was excited for the moment, but after that it was just like any other thing at 12 years old."

Jackson's parents always made sure to keep their son focused, they even built him a batting cage in their backyard so he could work on his swing. Despite the hype surrounding him, he wasn't even a teenager yet.

"They cared more about my grades first," Jackson said. "They kept my head on my shoulders. They wouldn't let me get a big head if I started to ever get one. They would let me know and bring me back down to Earth real quick."

Ten years later, the 22-year-old is now Baseball America's No. 1-ranked prospect in the Yankees' system. In 2008 at Double-A Trenton, Jackson hit .285 with nine homers and 69 RBIs while swiping 19 bases to help improve his prospect status. He was named the Eastern League postseason MVP after going 6-for-16 with a homer and five RBIs.

"I always envisioned myself in situations like this," said Jackson. "It's what always made me want to get to the Major League level, thinking about what it would be like when I get to my ultimate goal. I think about that and hope that I can one day reach it."

When exactly that day will come is still uncertain, but Jackson tries not to concern himself with the Yankees' timetable.

"I try to always stay consistent and keep my eye on my goal," Jackson said. "Talking to players and coaches that are there or have been there let you know that all the work will pay off. It's not going to be easy. They just let me know that once you make it, you still have to work hard and, in the end, it will all pay off."

A lifelong baseball fan, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder grew up watching his favorite player, Ken Griffey Jr., roam center field, Jackson wanted to be like and hit like Griffey. Jackson is athletic and a smart base runner with very good range in center with a strong and accurate arm, much like Griffey was in his early days. The power numbers aren't yet there, but as Jackson matures, he will likely put up solid numbers.

"As you move up in levels of the sport you play, players are going to be better, bigger and stronger," Jackson said. "So you've got to work hard and always be doing something to improve."

So far this season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Jackson is hitting .311 with four homers, 38 RBIs and is 17-for-19 in stolen base attempts.

Jackson still needs to improve on his plate discipline -- through 92 games, he has already struck out 89 times.

"You have some guys up there now who made it based on natural talent and for the rest of us, it takes a little bit more work," Jackson said. "You can be going good for a long time, then all of a sudden you meet people in the sport you play who are just as good, if not better. You have to keep working hard to try and better your game."

Jackson was a two-sport star until he turned professional as a baseball player. He committed to play baseball and basketball at Georgia Tech when he was in high school, but decided to sign with the Yankees for $800,000 after getting drafted in the eighth round by the Bombers in 2005.

"I think if I had taken the other route then it would have been a lot harder juggling two sports, my grades and college, where you don't have anyone telling you to do your work," Jackson laughed. "I think I definitely made the right choice and I am happy to be where I am today."

Jackson's athleticism and work ethic has allowed him to blossum into the player he is today, a call away from the Bronx. He has played Hawaii Winter Baseball and in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he earned a spot on the AFL All-Prospect Team. Jackson is motivated to do whatever it takes to make it to the Majors and doesn't want to take any breaks in getting there.

"I really don't want to," Jackson said. "If I have a bat in my hand, then I am satisfied. If working on my skills is what it's going to take to get to my goal, then I'm going to play year-round."

Category: MLB
Tags: Ajax
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