Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yankees AAA Team Temporarily Renamed The Empire State Yankees

Being borrowed from our friends over at River Ave Blues

Via Mike Ashmore, the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees will be renamed the Empire State Yankees for the 2012 season. The club will play all of its home games on the road this summer because of extensive renovations to PNC Field, including 60 games throughout New York. The new logos can be seen here and here, and will be featured on the team’s caps this season. They’ll go back to being the SWB Yanks in 2013. Pretty neat, guess I have to buy a hat while they’re available.

Spring Training Day 18

A new catcher arrived at Yankees camp today and maybe you have heard of him, his name is Yogi Berra? He comes down to Yankees camp every year so it is not like it is a huge deal but spring training just does not feel the same without him down there. With that said let us get to today's news.

Mariano Rivera threw another bullpen session today and is expected to get into his first game sometime this weekend. Rafael Soriano pitched in today's game along with Hiroki Kuroda so Mariano is the last Yankee "regular" to not make it into a game yet this spring. Also, in Mariano Rivera news, he announced that he would announce his retirement decision before the All Star game this year. Why he cannot just tell us now is beyond me but I kind of do not like the anti Mike Mussina approach but when you are Mariano Rivera you do what you want, right?

The Yankees played the Tampa Bay Rays today and the bats apparently did not get the memo in a 4-0 loss. Granted the only regular Yankees in the lineup were Nick Swisher (doubled) and Russell Martin (singled)and it is Spring Training though so you do not get all that excited about a shut out but I am a Greedy Pinstripe fan so I never want to lose! Anyway, Kuroda pitched a great first inning using only 9 pitches on his way to a 1-2-3 inning. The second inning was a , for lack of a better word, disaster piece. Allowing three straight hits he allowed a two run triple. If you want to look on the bright side though he did retire his next three batters in order though. Most importantly though Kuroda got a feel for real life baseball situations and got that first one out of the way as a Yankee.

Introducing Your 2012 Charleston River Dogs. Part 2/3: The Relief Pitchers

Being, once again, borrowed from our friend Greg over at Evil Empire Prospects. Greg brings you part 2 of a 3 part series looking at the most exciting farm system in 2012 for the New York Yankees and thats the High A Charleston Riverdogs. Enjoy and check out his site!

It would stand to reason that the segment of this three part series that everyone is most looking forward to would be the hitters. In the interest of keeping everyone on the edge of their seat, in eager anticipation of the hitters post, I have decided to save the best for last. That said, the relief corps at Charleston this year will be very impressive and each significant piece of that bullpen deserves some ink. This is the list of relievers I believe will be pitching in Charleston this year, with a little bit of information on each. The official rosters haven't been submitted yet, so this is only a projection. A common theme for most of the players in this post is that they are all capable of becoming fast movers.This is for two reasons. First of all, the relievers the Yankees draft are often older, necessitating quicker movement through the system to get full value. Secondly, the Yankees tend to be less cautious with relievers. If they have the stuff, they will move up.

      Looks Happy!      
1. Branden Pinder, RH, CP: This is the most obvious choice. He's 23 years old. There's a strong possibility he's ready for Tampa, but the Yankees generally move their prospects one level at a time, with few exceptions. One advantage of this for Pinder is he will likely get to close for the River Dogs, where he might have to fight for saves with Mark Montgomery in Tampa. Look for Pinder to have a big year in Charleston, given that the level of competition isn't all that different from Staten Island. He's not huge but he's a big guy, at 6'3, 210 lbs.

He owned batters over 31.0 IP in Staten Island this year with 38 strikeouts and a miniscule 1.16 ERA. Teams had to face him in the 9th inning, where he accrued 14 saves in his first season. He throws a fastball with an average velocity of 93 with a knockout slider that serves as his major strikeout pitch. His fastball can get up to 97 mph, and he has a sneaky delivery with great extension, much like David Robertson. He's working on a change up as well. Pinder's control of his fastball and slider are excellent, which is represented by his 5 walks in 31 IP. He may not last too long in Charleston, and I'd be surprised if we didn't see him pitching in Tampa before the end of the season.

  Smiling not allowed!
2. Philip Wetherell, RHP: Phil Wetherell is a very large man. He is very much in the mold of other recent draftees Kahnle and Burawa. He's 6'5, 225 lbs. His fastball ranges from 91-95 (reaching 96 mph), and he came to Staten Island already armed with a "fall off the table" splitter to complement his fastball. Drafted in the 8th round out of college, he will be 22 years old this season. He is also in the process of developing a slider. It's not a plus pitch yet, but it could become a pitch he uses to keep hitters honest. He is a true power pitcher, with all three of his pitches coming at you at above 87 mph.

This year he used those tools to throw 30.0 IP with 41 K's. He did walk 15 batters though, and struggled with control at times. Overall his ERA was 2.40, and he had a successful first year in the minors. Wetherell, at his size, doesn't need a sneaky delivery to have a heavy fastball. He does need to work on his control though. He currently projects as a late inning reliever because of that "Philthy" splitter. If that slider develops into something more than a fringe pitch, we could be looking at a setup man, or even a closer in the future. He's another potential fast mover, especially if he can gain some control and make some progress with that slider.

Teeth show weakness
3. Zach Arneson, RHP: Another 23 year old, he's 6'2 and 190 lbs. He's a 9th round draft pick out of college, and sits at about 94 mph with the fastball that can get up to 97 mph. Arneson also throws a power slider in the upper 80's that generates a lot of swings and misses. Much like Pinder, he is working on a change up to keep batters honest. He's actually a very similar pitcher to Pinder, except he's a little bit smaller, and needs to work on his control. He walked 8 batters in 17.1 IP for Staten Island last year, while pitching to a 3.57 ERA and striking out 17 batters.

The scouting report is better than the results so far, so if he puts it all together this year, he's going to move quickly. I can't imagine teams are going to be too thrilled about facing these three at the end of the game when Charleston is winning, and it speaks to the great job the Yankees have done drafting college pitchers who end up making excellent relievers. The funny thing is, these three don't even begin to demonstrate the depth of relief pitching at this level.

4. Robert "Ben" Paullus, RHP: This 22 year old, 6'1 190 lb hurler was a 19th round draft pick last year. His statistics were great, but he fell off towards the end of the season, but that was due in part to a 5 run outing late in the season. He finished the season with a 3.86 ERA and 41 strikeouts over 30.1 IP. He walked 12 batters in that span, and held hitters to a .186 average. When he was drafted, he was throwing a low 90's fastball that could hit the mid 90's, and an 80 mph curveball, as well as an 82 mph change up. Paullus had some good success with that repertoire year one, but he still needs significant work on his mechanics and his control. It may take Paullus a bit longer to develop than the guys above him on this list, but he's still a potential fast mover and he has great stuff that could allow him to really mow down hitters in Charleston and Tampa this year.

5. Caleb "Gotham City" Cotham, RHP: 24 year old Cotham saw his first action since shoulder surgery in 2011. Shoulder surgeries are tricky, but it would be easier to come back from that as a reliever than as a starter, and so far he has impressed. When he first came up, he was sitting at 90-93 mph, topping out at 95 mph. He also threw a change up and a curve ball. Surprisingly, he seems to have maintained his velocity in 2011, hitting 90-91 regularly. There's a chance that number will increase even more as he is let loose this year. He throws a sinker with late movement as well. He throws an 85 mph power slider that he had trouble commanding this year, but that command may come with time. His results were excellent in 2011, with 32 K's in 23 innings and a 1.96 ERA. He'll be one of the older guys in Charleston, and he's still got a lot to prove. He may be the biggest sleeper in this crop of bullpen players.

Some of the other players worth noting who may appear in Charleston this year or may not include the following: Brett Gerritse is a big, softer throwing RHP who is still young enough at 21 to add some MPH's to his fastball. Cory Cowsert was an independent league signing who saw some success last season in the GCL. Corey Maines is another guy who could see some significant innings for this team. Michael Recchia and John Brebbia also looked sharp in 2011 for Staten Island, although I don't know much about their scouting reports except that they will be 23 and 21 respectively this season. Both struck out greater than or equal to one batter per inning last season. Never sleep on a young prospect, that's what I always say.

Overall, we are looking at a very solid bullpen in Charleston this upcoming season. The one thing that is missing is a left handed pitcher, but who needs that when you have 5 relievers as good as the guys above with some others who have had plenty of success filling out the rest of the innings. 

Up next, the ever-exciting hitters of Charleston. It's crazy to think that this team has a potential all star at every position in the field, except maybe catcher.

Meet A Prospect : Nik Turley

Okay the kid is 6'7", throws three plus pitches, is left handed, and has drawn comparison to Andy Pettitte... Do you really need to hear anything else? I didn not think so, so that concludes this episode of Meet A Prospect, thanks for tuning in we will see you all next time...

Okay now really there is so much more to be said about this kid. Nik Turley was drafted in the 50th round of the 2008 draft after graduating from Harvard Westlake high school  in California and after signing a letter of intent to BYU. As a 6'7" left hander that throws nice speed with amazing control and three plus pitches I find it hard to fathom that he fell to the 50th round.

Turley is a definite breakout candidate for 2012 as his 2011 season got cut early after a broken hand. We are fully expecting Turley to start in High A ball this season and if he can replicate there what he did in Low A Tampa then I think he will be opening  a lot of eyes this season and I could easily see him moving on to Trenton next season. I know that the Yankees drafted him knowing that he was a project and has been treated as much, with this being the 4th season in the Yankees farm and his age 22 season, but I think this is the season we finally start seeing real dividends from Nik.

Nik Turley comes to mound sporting a 2 seam fastball, sits around 91 or 92 mph, a changeup, sits around 79-81 mph, and a big looping curveball. The curveball is by far his best pitch, which is evident in how much command and control that he has when throwing it. Unlike a lot of big and tall pitchers Turley has shown , with consistency, an ability to repeat his mechanics and stay on top of the ball. He is also a ground ball machine which always works well in Yankees stadium, see Ivan Nova and Chein Ming Wang. Turley's ceiling is probably a middle of the rotation starter and has a great possibility, if everything goes as planned, to be that starter in the Bronx.

New Twitter Accounts Page

I'm always looking out for players' Twitter accounts, and I figured I wasn't the only one. So why not put together a page with a listing of them? So check it out, and help us keep it updated if you notice any mistakes, exclusions, or whatever.