Friday, February 12, 2016

Breaking News? Vinny Milano Will Not Return to Bleachers in 2016?

I have no words. At first I thought he was kidding. He's not. GOFUNDME and now! Damn :(

New Helmets For Pitchers

Last year Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb, who has been hit in the head by a line drive in 2013, tried a mock-up of the above helmet design and had this to say about them...
“It felt great and looks good, similar to a helmet with the top cut off,” Cobb said.
It turns out that only 20 MLB pitchers will try out the helmet in 2016, and there's no word on which ones. Furthermore, the headwear will not be mandatory to wear, however if they prove to be useful in preventing injury I hope all pitchers will wear them. Especially when you consider how much pitchers are making these days, I imagine all teams would want to protect their investments.

TGP Prospects Night Open Thread featuring John Ryan Murphy

John Ryan Murphy can learn to hate the New York Yankees? Say it isn't so John Ryan, say it isn't so.

The Next Wave of Cuban Imports & Stars

The New York Yankees cannot sign an international free agent for more than $300,000 during the current IFA signing period and the next IFA signing period due to the fact that the team blew past their league-mandated restrictions during the 2014-2015 signing period. Just as an FYI the international signing periods go from July 2nd to July 2nd so the current signing period ends on July 2nd, 2016 and the next signing period ends on July 2nd, 2017. After this date the Yankees will be allowed to spend again and you have to wonder if the next two latest Cuban defecting imports will be available before that date or after that date.

The top two prospects left in Cuba reportedly defected the country recently and will look to latch on with major league teams in the United States. Yulieski Gourriel was an infielder playing in Cuba before him and his younger brother, Lourdes, slipped away from their hotel in the Dominican Republic and defected from their native country Cuba. Yulieski has been one of the most highly sought after Cuban players after showcasing his talents during the World Baseball Classic in 2006 which his brother wasn’t considered to be a slouch either drawing rave reviews from many around the Cuban game and MLB scouts alike. Yulieski is not attached to the international spending cap and prefers to play for the Yankees while his brother will have to be fit into the international spending cap handed down by the league.

Yulieski is now 31-years old and was recently seen playing for the Yokohama Dena Baystars for $1 million as well as playing for the national team in Havana. Yokohama terminated his contract this spring after Yulieski told the team he was injured and needed to recoup and rehab back in Cuba. Yulieski and his brother Lourdes went on to play for Team Cuba in the Caribbean Series but their team fell to Mexico just short of the finals. It was after the series and their exit that they defected.

Whether they will establish residency, presumably in the Dominican Republic, and be declared free agents during this signing period, the next or the next remains to be seen. This takes quite some time unfortunately and can be delayed for a slew of reasons so whether or not the Yankees have a shot at either of these latest Cuban imports remains to be seen. You would think that they would come in a package deal though so stay tuned as this all gets figured out. 

Fantasy Baseball: So You Need a Catcher?

If you have played Fantasy Baseball one time or 100 times you know one thing for sure, there are certain positions you have to get a little bit early or you won’t get them at all. One position that immediately comes to mind is the closer position as there is basically a finite amount of them (unlike an outfield that has three per team and a total of 90 outfielders not counting bench pieces) and another one of them is the catcher position. There just aren’t that many run producing offensive catchers that you can snag for fantasy purposes so you may want to grab them early if you want a good one. Everyone knows the Buster Posey’s of the world as he sits atop the position but what about below him? That’s where I come in, hopefully.

Buster Posey is the best catcher in real life and in fantasy but if I were to fill out a Top 5 list behind him I would have Salvador Perez, Yadier Molina, Kyle Schwarber and Jonathan Lucroy in some order behind him. Brian McCann comes to mind as well only because he possesses 20-25 home run power and plays inside Yankee Stadium where the runs and RBI opportunities are as plentiful as the beer and the suits in the stands. If McCann is 6th on my list then in some order behind him Matt Wieters, who should be better in his second year removed from Tommy John surgery, Travis d’Arnaud, Russell Martin, for his power only, and Yan Gomes probably fill out my Top 10.

I know many will call me crazy but if I had to stretch the list to a #11 I may go with Francisco Cervelli of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yes I know I am ignoring the likes of Yasmani Grandal, Devin Mesoraco (little protection behind him and no reason to pitch to him), Derek Norris (Petco Park), and Stephen Vogt (see Derek Norris) to name a few but they all have legitimate reasons to worry about their offensive production. Plus I like Cervelli and the player he has become since leaving New York and heading to Pittsburgh, I admit though that I may be higher on him than most. I think I’m also pretty high on Yadier Molina as well and that’s okay.

If you don’t grab one of these catchers you are taking a true risk in your league. You may get something out of J.T. Realmuto in Miami, especially with the fences drawn in a bit, or John Ryan Murphy in Minnesota over the course of a season but if you have to rely on a Wilson Ramos of Washington, Miguel Montero of Chicago, Nick Hundley of Colorado or Blake Swihart of Boston to name a few you may be in trouble just a tad. My strategy over the years, for better or worse, was to grab a catcher early so I knew that I had one. That’s the best advice I can give you, reach for Posey and settle for a guy in the Top 5. If you miss then you’re in trouble. Don’t miss. 

TGP Top 29 Prospects List - #18 Luis Torrens

What a difference a year can make in someone's life, especially the life of a prospect inside a Major League Baseball farm system. Last season Luis Torrens was listed as my 10th best prospect on my Top 28 Prospects List for Prospects Month 2015 but he has fallen all the way down to the 18th slot this season. Why? Well Torrens underwent a torn labrum surgery in his throwing shoulder and missed the entire season, sound familiar?

At one point Torrens was considered to be the best catcher inside the Yankees farm system, the same farm system that included John Ryan Murphy and Gary Sanchez at the time. Torrens turns just 20-years old in May of this year and has gotten clearance by doctors to start throwing and working out with his eye on the prize for the 2016 season.Torrens seemed to be on the fast track before the injury reaching the Charleston Riverdogs in just his second professional season.

The Yankees will likely be slow with Torrens this season and probably won't let him get past Tampa but New York knows a thing or two about catchers and torn labrum surgeries. Their starting catcher, Brian McCann, is proof positive that a catcher can recover from the injury and still control the running game and hit home runs. Torrens has youth on his side and youth and aggression, no matter what older people tell you kids, sometimes is a match for experience and wisdom. Especially when it comes to health.

With a strong 2016 showing Torrens could easily be back in the Top 10 on my list for Prospects Month 2017.

18. Luis Torrens
19. Cale Coshow
20. Chance Adams
21. Miguel Andujar
22. Jonathan Holder
23. Tyler Wade
24. Nick Rumbelow
25.Jordan Montgomery
26.Trey Amburgey
27. Ben Gamel
28. Austin DeCarr
29. Thairo Estrada
30. James Pazos

Meet a Prospect: Jared Mitchell

The New York Yankees are loading up on depth this offseason and are seemingly signing any and every former first round pick or high-ceiling draft pick that they can. It’s their new Meta, their new strategy and a new way of thinking that hasn’t been proven or disproven to work. These are uncharted territories for the Yankees but I have to say as a fan I’d much rather see the team take chances on the likes of Pete Kozma, Ronald Torreyes, Donovan Solano, Aaron Hicks and others rather than an aging veteran who has seen his better days pass him by. One player that fits that mold is the latest member of the organization to sign a minor league deal with the team in hopes of latching on with the Yankees. This is Meet a Prospect: The Jared Mitchell Edition. 

Jared Christopher Mitchell was born on October 13, 1988 and began his baseball career at Westgate High School. While at Westgate Mitchell was named the 3rd best high school athlete and 43rd best overall high school baseball prospect in the nation for 2006 according to Baseball America. Mitchell caught the eye of the Minnesota Twins who drafted him in the 10th round of the 2006 MLB Draft while in high school and turned down a $700,000 signing bonus from the club to attend LSU University and to play college baseball and football for the Tigers. Mitchell led the Tigers to a 2009 College World Series title after leading the Tigers to a 2007 BCS National Championship just two years prior as a wide receiver. Mitchell was in rarified air winning a college national championship in two different spots and that attention led the Chicago White Sox to come knocking on his door come draft time again, this time in the 2009 MLB Draft and this time in the first round, 23rd overall. 

Mitchell immediately signed with the White Sox after being drafted and started his professional career down in Class-A Ball. Mitchell finished his first season with a .296 batting average with 12 doubles, two triples and 10 RBI setting the bar high for himself in his first full professional season. Mitchell unfortunately had to wait for his first professional season though after undergoing a surgery to repair the tendon in his left ankle during spring training of 2010, a surgery that ended his season. Mitchell was back in 2011 and while his batting average took a significant dip down to .222 his speed game took a step forward proving to the organization that the ankle was fully healed and healthy. With a strong 2011 Mitchell earned a promotion to Double-A and was in Triple-A by the end of the season as he began knocking on the door to the big leagues. 

2013 did not go as planned for Mitchell as he stumbled out of the gate and earned a trip back down to Double-A where he combined to hit just .167 with only eight doubles, a pair of triples and five home runs. Despite the lackluster performance Mitchell was back in Triple-A for a second shot in 2014 and was also added to the team’s 40 man roster. Unfortunately for Mitchell his struggles continued and was released by the team on May 3, 2015. Mitchell signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim two weeks later but never reached the show with his new club. Mitchell is now on his third club of his short professional career and is still looking for that first MLB at bat. Will it be the Yankees? I guess you’ll have to stay tuned. 

Jared, welcome to the team and welcome to the organization but most importantly, welcome to the family. 

Sorting Through the 15 New Minor League Deals

The New York Yankees finally announced their non-roster invitees to spring training camp last week and with it came technically 15 new minor league deals for the team. I say technically because the Yankees had already announced deals with these players prior to the announcement last week but on paper and according to the transactions page on the blog these just became official. With these 15 new faces vying for spots either with the big league club, the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders or whether they are auditioning for another gig with another team it’s best to have all the information on them that you can to best make your personnel decisions. We will attempt to lay that out to you today.

Pete Kozma 
Kozam is a former St. Louis Cardinals infielder with the flair for the dramatic. Kozma is a defense-only type shortstop that will look to break camp on the Yankees roster as a middle infielder and final bench piece. He is a poor man’s Brendan Ryan although he comes at about half the price and is only 28-years old.

Vinnie Pestano
 Pestano will look to break camp with one of the presumably many wide open positions inside the Yankees bullpen for this season. Pestano is now 31-years old and will look to join his third MLB club after breaking out with the Cleveland Indians and after pitching with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last season. Pestano is a big guy with a heavy strikeout pitch but walks and ineffectiveness has dampened his career as of late.

Anthony Swarzak 
Swarzak is listed as a starting pitcher but if he makes the team it will be as a reliever. The former Minnesota Twins product will likely fall victim to a numbers game inside the Yankees rotation and either start the season in the bullpen, down in Scranton or searching for another team. I can’t see him breaking the rotation without a lot going wrong first in the injury department. I see Swarzak as the 2016 version of Kyle Davies circa 2015.

Tyler Cloyd 
The Yankees enticed Cloyd away from Korea to come back to the states and compete for a bullpen spot with the club. Cloyd had MLB experience and he has decent minor league stats to back them up so he is hoping a year in Korea can help him pursue his dream of playing in the Major Leagues. If it’s with the Yankees though he is going to have to pitch his butt off because if there was a pecking order or a depth chart he wouldn’t be very high on it right now.

Diego Moreno 
This is more of a procedural move than anything after the Yankees snuck him off their 40 man roster this winter. Moreno pitched well for the Yankees last season in limited action before an injury ended his season prematurely. If he’s healthy he has a very legitimate shot at making the roster because the Yankees always seem to go after the devil they know versus the devil they don’t know. They know Moreno.

Richard Bleier 
Bleier joins a long list of left-handed relief pitchers the Yankees will be looking at this winter. You have to think he is at least behind Jacob Lindgren, James Pazos and Tyler Webb on the pecking order and is a longshot for the bullpen this season. There’s nothing wrong with being Triple-A depth though because as the Yankees showed last season there is always room for you on the roster if the bullpen gets gassed out over the course of a weekend.

Carlos Corporan 
Corporano has a legit shot at becoming the team’s backup catcher this spring, it all depends on what the team thinks of Gary Sanchez. Sanchez had 35 games at Triple-A last season, one more than Greg Bird when he was called up to the show, and an impressive showing at the Arizona Fall League this winter but the team may want to stick him back in Scranton for another half of a season. If this is the case the team could easily designate Austin Romine for assignment and give “Corpy” the 40 man roster spot and the backup job. If not he could head to Triple-A and wish and wait. This signing, as a Sanchez fan, has me worried.

Francisco Diaz 
The Yankees invited a lot of pitchers to camp this season and they generally bring a lot of catchers for the beginning of camp. That’s why Diaz is here, just to catch all the pitchers. He has no real shot at making the team in my opinion and he knows it.

Kyle Higashioka 
Higashioka seems destined for a job in coaching and/or managing and has become a staple at Yankees spring training camp for that reason. He’s a special advisor without the fancy title and a spot within the organization. This may be his final spring training before hanging up his playing spikes for some coaching spikes with the organization.

Eddy Rodriguez 
See Francisco Diaz. Rodriguez is destined to be either the starter or backup in Scranton.

Sebastian Valle 
Valle is a former top prospect and has a very outside shot of making the team. If Sanchez struggles and the likes of Corporan, Rodriguez or Diaz don’t impress than Valle might work his way in with a strong spring. He’s a long shot and he’s an underdog and I always tend to root for the underdog.

Jonathan Diaz 
Diaz is a middle infielder with a lot of Yankees depth in front of him. He can play all the positions the Yankees need help at but is likely one of the last on the depth chart in my opinion. He’s organization depth at this point and needs an absolute ton to go wrong or a fantastic spring to win a job with the big league club this spring.

Deibinson Romero
 Romero is another one of those players that spent a year in the Korean Baseball Organization hoping to catch the eye of a MLB team. That MLB team was the New York Yankees this winter and Romero couldn’t have come at a better time. Romero can be a suitable backup at third base and other positions of need for New York keeping Starlin Castro and company at the positions where they feel most comfortable rather than playing out of position. Romero is just versatile enough to win that last bench spot he just needs to show a little bit with the bat to convince the Yankees and the front office.

Donovan Solano 
See above with Deibinson Romero. Solano has MLB experience with the Miami Marlins and experience at third base, first base and all over the infield. The Yankees are building a team around depth and versatility and Solano checks a lot of boxes in that department for New York.

Cesar Puello
I don’t think Puello has a legitimate shot at making the major league roster this spring and will likely spend the season at Double-A or Triple-A with the squad. With the likes of Ben Gamel, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Aaron Hicks and others in front of him New York just wanted to see what they had in the former Mets product. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/12: Bud Chastises A-Rod

On this day in 2009, only three days after Alex Rodriguez shocked the world with his steroid use admission, Commissioner Bud Selig chastised the Yankees star, and all players who have used steroids, for bringing shame to the game. The same game that was revived by steroid users like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa after the game was run into the ground by a salary cap wanting greedy Bud Selig that cancelled the season and the World Series because the Yankees were doing well.