Friday, May 21, 2010

Minor League News And Notes

Here are some minor league notes as the Subway Series hype and Yankee paranoia machines steam towards game time:
Yesterday, the Yankees extended their playing development contract with Scranton through 2014; it was set to expire at the end of this season. This seemed less likely last year, when a rainy summer and drainage problems at PNC Field combined to cause a large amount of delays and postponements. As part of the press release announcing the extension, the Yankees pledged their support to help improve or replace the existing complex.

In extending their agreement with Scranton, the Yankees ensure that they keep their top two farm clubs relatively local, with their third club being located at their Tampa headquarters, and their short-season A team being owned by the franchise and located just over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. This seems to have been a concerted effort over the past decade, relocating affiliates to be closer to the home club. It's beneficial to the Yankees in that replacement and rehabbing players are relatively close at hand, and it's beneficial to the affiliates in that there's already a local fanbase.

It's a day late now, but yesterday Donnie Collins had an outstanding and in depth look at all the cons, and the few pros, that would come with promoting Jesus Montero in the wake of Jorge Posada's injury.

All the injuries at the Big League level are having a trickle down effect as the minor league clubs shuffle players around to fill the holes. To that end, the Yankees made two minor league signings yesterday, inking utility guy Jeff Natale and catcher Rene Rivera. Chances are these guys are around only as long as the injuries persist. The Rivera signing is a bit puzzling. It would appear P.J. Pilittere has fallen down some sort of rabbit hole.

In his pre-game media session yesterday, Brian Cashman said that were he not injured, outfielder Colin Curtis would have been considered for a recall. Loyal commenter Jimmy speculated as much yesterday. Curtis is not currently on the 40 man roster and has been out of action with a high ankle sprain since April 28th. Curtis was considered a middling prospect as recently as last year, but a torrid stay in the Arizona Fall League, an impressive Spring Training, and a hot start to the AAA season had his stock rising. We may see him before 2010 is out.

This is one specifically Yankee related, but Times of Trenton writer John Nalbone has a great interview with Chris Pittaro, Oakland's Director of Professional Scouting. Pittaro had a brief cameo in Moneyball and his role in the Oakland front office has grown in the years since. Check out the interview both at the Times and at Nalbone's BareBones blog.

We're a couple days late on this one, but Trenton has placed starting pitcher and 2008 supplemental first round pick Jeremy Bleich on the DL with a shoulder problem. His has returned to the Yankee complex in Tampa. His start in New Britain last week notwithstanding, Bleich has struggled over the past year. Whether the shoulder issue is the cause or whether it's an excuse to give him some downtime and try to get him back on track in Extended Spring Training, it's not a good sign.

Lastly, and not minor league related at all, but if you're near a TV right now turn on the MLB Network. My buddy Gripp informs me their currently showing this game from the Yankees' disastrous 1990 season, featuring Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, and the notorious Andy Hawkins. I won't spoil the surprise, but this was an outstanding game, featuring some rare and impressive feats. Plus, it'll remind you that the events of this past week are nothing compared to what the Yankees suffered through twenty years ago.


  1. I need to speculate more often - or at least in Atlantic City this weekend.

  2. Keeping with the Minor League news motif, here's an interesting tidbit on Austin Romine from Steve Goldman:

    "Trenton’s Austin Romine picked up three hits last night to raise his rates to .316/.385/.496 with 12 doubles and three home runs. The thing to keep in mind with Romine is that he’s doing even better than you think he is. He plays in one of baseball’s toughest hitting environments at Trenton. In his home park on the cool, cool Delaware, he’s hitting just .255/.359/.382; on the road, he’s hitting .371/.409/.597 with all three homers. In my comment on Romine in this year’s Baseball Prospectus book, I wrote, 'if the cold Delaware River breezes can teach him to hold back on close pitches instead of swinging at them, he'll have accomplished something more valuable than just hitting home runs.' To his credit, he’s doing exactly that, taking his walks at home and doing his swinging on the road."

  3. Good luck in AC Jimmy.

    That's good news Larry. I had read elsewhere that Romine's H/R splits this year were very impressive away from Trenton. It's somewhat analagous to his time at Tampa in FSL last year. He won Player of the Year, but his .276/.322/.441 line seems pretty modest. However, the FSL is the lowest run scoring environment of any minor league. Adjusted for context, that's a pretty impressive line, especially considering he spent the summer toiling behind the plate in the hot Florida sun.

    As I said in the post about Montero last Friday, it's too early to tell what the future holds for Romine, Montero, Cervelli, and all the other good young catching prospects the Yankees have. But it wouldn't surprise me at all if Romine emerges as the catcher of the future. He doesn't have the bat of Montero or the defensive skills of Cervelli, but he may be the most complete overall package.