Results tagged ‘ Yankees ’

Just who did the Yankees get for Burnett?

The deal is now official and A.J. Burnett is a Pirate. I think this was a good deal for the Pirates, a flier worth taking. Rather than get into that into too much detail, I suggest you read my colleague Matthew Leach’s take on it. He’s smarter than I am anyway.

One of the things that does make it a positive is that the Pirates didn’t give up too much from their ever-improving farm system to get him. Not that long ago, of course, any trade that sent minor leaguers away from Pittsburgh hurt. But there’s so much more depth now. Even if the Pirates don’t have the top system in baseball, it’s come a long way. I noticed it particularly when I was constructing their Top 20 prospects list. It used to be difficult to find 20 guys worthy of being listed on such a rankings. Now there are leftovers who could be legitimate prospects in the future.

When you have some depth, you can trade a couple of pieces away and not have it derail efforts to build a system up. In the past, a player like Diego Moreno, the pitcher going to the Yankees in the Burnett deal, may have been protected on the 40-man roster. But not this past offseason.

The 25-year-old Moreno, signed back in 2006 for $6,000 out of Venezuela,  hasn’t exactly moved quickly, with just a smattering of games above A ball. And yes, he had some disciplinary problems earlier. But he does have arm strength that’s allowed him to strike out 9.8 per nine batters. He’s also walked only 2.3 per nine and a scout I spoke with said he’s generally a strike-thrower. When he first signed, he was throwing about 86-88 mph. Today, he’ll touch 98 mph and couples it with a wipe-out slider that breaks bats. He’s started and relieved, with most thinking that his plus two-pitch mix is ideal for bullpen work.  He still needs to show he can get hitters out at higher levels, but perhaps his strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason will help.

The Pirates spent much more to sign the second player in the deal, outfielder Exicardo Cayones. Both Cayones and Moreno were signed by Latin American scouting director Rene Gayo and scouting supervisor Rodolfo Petit in Venezuela. The Pirates gave Cayones $400,000 in 2008, the most they had paid any player from Venezuela (It had been noted it was the largest payout given to any international amateur player by the Pirates and that was true, at least until they gave Mexican RHP Luis Heredia $2.6 million in 2010.

Cayones is still just 20, so there’s time for him to tap into his solid tools. He’s a graceful player who still needs to develop and mature physically. He’s received comps to Carlos Beltran, both in terms of his actions and temperament. For him to reach his potential, though, he’ll have to show a little more intensity, a little more sense of urgency in his game. He’s spent two summers in the Gulf Coast League and will have to show soon an ability to move up and face the challenge of a more advanced league.

So while the Yankees largely made this deal to rid themselves of Burnett and a chunk of his salary, and while the Pirates didn’t give up anyone “of note” for Burnett, there is the chance that this pair of Venezuelans could pay some dividends. The chances might be slim, the payoff might not be huge and it may take some time, but there is a little talent there to keep an eye on in the coming years.


The Burnett deal: Who the Pirates won’t include

Well, it looks like this A.J. Burnett to the Pirates trade is all but official. One thing that’s not known at this point is who the Pirates are sending to the Yankees in return, other than what are being considered “low-level prospects.” So the question is: What does low-level mean?

There are some obvious prospects who won’t be on the table either, starting with names on the Top 20 list.I’ve been told by a source that no one on that current Top 20 is involved in this deal. So, Pirates fans who were worried that “low-level” for one person might not be for someone else, you can relax. Anyone from the 2011 Draft is excluded anyway — you can’t trade them yet — so here are the rest of the names of Pirates prospects who will not be included in this deal:

Jameson Taillon

Starling Marte

Stetson Allie

Luis Heredia

Tony Sanchez

Robbie Grossman

Jeff Locke

Justin Wilson

Kyle McPherson

Nick Kingham

Rudy Owens

Bryan Morris

Alen Hanson

Colton Cain

Zack Von Rosenberg

Jarek Cunningham

More as I can get info…

Thoughts on the Montero deal and much, much more

Believe it or not, this is my first post of 2012. But I have a good reason, honest. First, I was traveling overseas with my family. Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture as proof (Yes, that’s the Dome of the Rock behind my Dome):

The B3 brood in the Old City of Jerusalem (Mrs. B3 is the official family photographer)

Then it was on to the Rookie Career Development Program outside of Washington, D.C. Don’t believe me? Well, proof is in this link, our overview of the Program (with player interviews galore beneath that).

These days, I’m knee deep in prospect ranking work. Don’t believe me? (Perhaps I’m overusing the theme). Proof is the first list that was released today: The Top 10 RHP Prospects, the story as well as in Prospect Watch (with video of each player). Oh, and if you didn’t notice, there’s a brand new central location for all things prospect called Prospect Central. Check it out early and often.

In the midst of all of this, there was the news of the big Yankees-Mariners trade. It’s not official just yet, so no movement on the ol’ 2011 Postseason lists, but it’s coming. And we’re making sure all the 2012 lists are up to date (Top 100 overall coming out on Jan. 25), Top 20 per team coming in February (that’s right, folks, twice as many names!!!! So you understand why the B3 Blog had taken a back seat).

So, the trade… my first gut reaction was that the Mariners gave up too much. But then I talked to a bunch of people who’s opinions I trust in the scouting industry and I’ve come around to this perhaps being a win-win. The Yankees needed starting pitching help and they can, if they so desire, have Michael Pineda for a long time. Jose Campos is a legit prospect as well and even if he’s young and hasn’t pitched in full-season ball, I had one scout tell me he thought he’d be ready by 2014.

The key, though, is Montero (Hector Noesi will contribute, tho). The M’s have wanted him for a while, remember? So now they got their man, the middle of the order (young) bat to put with Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak. But, the $64,000 question is, can he catch?

My thinking is the Yankees didn’t think so, or else they didn’t want to, in the pressure cooker of New York, find out. There was no room for Montero on that roster unless he was going to be a DH at age 22. To me, the writing was on the wall when late last year they needed a catcher, Montero was up, but they brought up Austin Romine instead. Having made the determination that Montero wasn’t going to catch for them anytime soon, they were more willing to part with his bat. This, by the way, is just a theory.

I thought  that most in the scouting world agreed that Montero would never have the stuff to catch every day in the big leagues. But it turns out I was wrong. I know, shocking. But in an informal survey I did of some high-level scouts, most actually thought he’d eventually be OK behind the plate. No one was ready to etch his name on Gold Gloves, but those I talked to made comparisons to Javy Lopez (he came up several times), Jorge Posada and, of course, Mike Piazza (Yes, many think Montero’s bat could be THAT good). Here’s some of what they had to say:

“There are a bunch of ex-catchers that made their mark with their bats and figured out the catching position the more they played. Remember, this kid is 22 years old and he can really throw. That’s a good start for his continued development.”

“Yes [he’ll be able to catch]! The team will need patience. He’s better than Mike Napoli was at the same stage!”

“Not now (will he be able to catch full-time), but Javier Lopez did! All catchers that stay there get better if they try!”

“If he hits enough — remember Javy Lopez?”

Told you about the Lopez comps. And scouts really like to use exclamation points in text messages. But that’s neither here nor there.

So, Mariners fans, don’t expect defensive miracles right off the bat. But stick with your soon-to-be new catcher. Sounds like most think he’ll be acceptable back there and the bat will more than make up for any deficiencies with the glove.

Yankees sign Mason Williams

I’ve just learned the Yankees signed 4th rounder, high school outfielder Mason Williams. As they have with several later-round picks, they’ve one over slot, signing Williams for $1.45 million.

Yankees-Braves trade: Prospects

In addition to getting Melky Cabrera from the Yankees in return for Javy Vazquez and Boone Logan, the Braves got a pair of pitching prospects. Here’s some more info on the Minor League arms.

Arodys Vizcaino, RHP

The Yankees have been very active in Latin America of late, particularly on the pitching side of things. Following the 2009 season, they were particularly pleased with the progress of Vizcaino, Jose Rodriguez and Manny Banuelos.

Vizcaino signed with the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in July 2007 and made his debut in the United States a year later, in the Gulf Coast League. The 6-foot right-hander went 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA over 44 innings that summer, allowing 38 hits and just 13 walks while striking out 48. He moved up to short-season Staten Island in 2009 and was dominant against largely older hitters. At age 18, Vizcaino finished with a 2.13 ERA and .211 batting average against in 10 starts. Over his 42 1/3 IP, he gave up just 34 hits and 15 walks while racking up 52 strikeouts.

Vizcaino gets hitters to swing and miss with a fastball he can crank up to 96 mph. He’s got a hammer curveball, a power breaking pitch that could be a plus offering in time. Like with many young pitchers, the changeup lags behind the other offerings. It needs development, but it is emerging as a third pitch for him. He’ll make his full-season debut in 2010 at age 19 and looks like a high-end rotation prospect with a ton of upside.

Michael Dunn, LHP

Before the trade, it looked like Dunn was the most likely in-house option to be the Yankees’4025441565_781e55dddc_m.jpg second lefty out of the bullpen, behind Damaso Marte, in 2010. Instead, perhaps that role will fall to the newly acquired Boone Logan.

Dunn hasn’t taken a typical path up to the big leagues. The Yankees drafted him in the 33rd round of the 2004 Draft as a draft-and-follow. Dunn was a two-way player at Southern Nevada Community College and wanted to hit. He signed in May 2005 as a first baseman. When he hit .178  over 152 at-bats that summer, his pitching career began (though he did get in 35 more ABs in 2006).

He spent most of 2007 and 2008 as a starter. In ’07, he had a solid year for Charleston, going 12-5 with a 3.42 ERA, good for sixth in the South Atlantic League. In 2008, he made 22 starts, but also nine relief appearances as the transition began to a bullpen role. By 2009, he was a full-time reliever, posting a 3.31 combined ERA at two stops before making his big-league debut.

The biggest reason for shortening Dunn up has been command. He’s got great stuff that’s allowed him to strike out 390 in 375 1/3 career minor-league innings (9.4 K/9). But he’s also walked 166 (4.0 BB/9). The 24-year-old lefty does have a power arsenal that could work well in the back end of the bullpen if he can refine his control. He’s got a big fastball that tops out at 97 mph and a nasty power slider that he throws up to 91 mph with depth and quickness.

Wednesday: Hit streaks

Hey all. Those two matchups yesterday turned out pretty well, didn’t they? Bryan Augenstein beat Aaron Poreda, 2-0, in the kind of duel you hoped for. Casey Kelly finally gave up a run (two earned, to be exact), but pitched well enough to win his third game, as Greenville beat Savannah and Jeffrey Kaplan, 4-3.

What about today? No real jump out at you kind of pitching matchups, so we’ll take a different approach…

Game of the Day

Tampa at Lakeland, 7 p.m. ET

OK, so what’s so special about this game? It’s not even on Gameday Audio, so what’s the deal, right? Well, I have to admit, I love hit streaks. They fascinate me. I’m a big fan of the Minor League version of Beat the Streak (I’d have an eight-game streak going now if it weren’t for Gordon Beckham, of all people). Anyway…

OF Jordan Newton has had a fairly non-descript since the Tigers took him in the sixth round of the 2006 draft out of Western Kentucky, with a .250 average and a difficulty in staying healthy. But, he does have a hit streak going. He’s had it going all season, starting in West Michigan and extending to his first two games in Lakeland. It goes back further than that, to the end of the 2008 season. It started on August 17, 2008 and it now stands at 25 games.

I know, it’s not exactly Joe D, but it’s still pretty cool. Here’s a look at the top hit streaks in Minor League history:

Streaking in the Minors
The longest hitting streaks in Minor League history:


Joe Wilhoit
Joe DiMaggio
Roman Mejias
Otto Pahlman
Jack Ness
Harry Chozen
Johnny Bates
Jim Oglesby
Eddie Marshall
Orlando Moreno
Howie Bedell
Jack Lelivelt
Herbert Chapman
Lorenzo Gray
Frosty Kennedy
Mitch Hilligoss
Paul Owens
Hubert Mason
Joey Cora
Bobby Trevino
Team (League)

Wichita (WL)
San Francisco (PCL)
Waco (BSL)
Danville (III)
Oakland (PCL)
Mobile (SA)
Nashville (SA)
Los Angeles (PCL)
Milwaukee (AA)
Louisville (AA)
Big Spring (LHL)
Rochester (IL)
Gadsden (SEL)
Edmonton (PCL)
Plainview (WT-NM)
Charleston (SAL)
Orleans (PONY)
Binghamton (EL)
Las Vegas (PCL)
El Paso (TL)


Why, you ask, is Hilligoss bolded? Well, the chart comes from this story about Hilligoss’s 2007 streak.Why is this relevant, other than the whole streak things? Well, it just so happens that Hilligoss plays for the Tampa Yankees, Newton’s opponents tonight.

Need other reasons to care about this game? How about Tampa catcher Jesus Montero, who’s coming off a two-homer day and is off to a .371 start as a teenager in the Florida State League? Oh, and by the way, the pitching matchup isn’t bad — it just isn’t marquee. Tampa’s starter Lance Pendleton is 8th in the FSL in ERA (1.62 ERA). Lakeland’s Thad Weber is even better, with a 1.06 ERA, good for fourth.

Prospect Impression for March 31

Hey folks —

Sorry I haven’t been able to be as diligent in filling you in about prospects I’ve been seeing. But between the Reds coverage, finishing up the last couple of organization previews last week, the draft reports… and my kids coming to visit over the weekend, time has been at a premium.

But I wanted to jump on quickly and talk about someone I saw at the Yankees-Reds game today. It’s not often we can talk about a Yankees prospect, right? OK, that’s an unfair shot, but still…

Starting for the Yankees in this game, as he will on Opening Day, was Brett Gardner, who was named recently as the starter in center field over Melky Cabrera, had three hits in the game, though he was doubled off of first following the first one (not his fault, it was  rocket line drive) and getting caught stealing after the second one. Overall, he’s had a terrific spring, hitting .390 in 59 at-bats. He’s stolen five bases and had a .446 OBP.

Those last two stats are what makes him interesting. His best tool is his speed, and it’s a plus. He’s stolen 153 bases in his Minor League career. Even better is that he seems to know what he’s doing as well, with just 31 caught stealing for an 83-percent success rate. Of course, having speed doesn’t help if you don’t get on base. Gardner seems to understand that. He’s hit a respectable .291 in the Minors, though batting average in the Minors for speed guys is always called into question (fair or not) because, especially at the lower levels, guys with Gardner’s kind of wheels can hit groundballs and leg them out consistently for hits.

But Gardner’s managed to continue hitting as he’s moved up the ladder, including a .296 mark last year in his first full season of Tripole-A last year. More importantly for his leadoff potential is his career .389 OBP. He may not hit for much, if any power, but he’ll use his speed on the bases and in center field whie trying to get on base as much as he can for the big boppers. He’s a fun guy to watch play because of his effort and his speed and you know he’s not going to get outworked.  It should be fun to watch him patrol that new center field when they get going up there in the Bronx.

Day 3: Tampa

Sorry I’m a little later with the entry today, but there was night baseball at George M. Steinbrenner Field between the Yankees and Pirates. Filling in for the esteemed Jen Langosch on the Pirates beat (I’ll see them tomorrow and Friday to boot. Go Buccos!), I wrote a story about Xavier Nady’s reunion with his old team on the Major League side of things. But lets move on to what we’re all here for, right? Today’s Prospect Impression.

I really wanted to be able to write about Virgil Vasquez and his quest to be a serious contender for the No. 5 starter spot. While one start does not a competition end, he can’t really be the focus here after giving up six runs on seven hits over 2 1/3 IP. I saw VV pitch in the 2006 Arizona Fall League championship game and he’s always been a good dude to talk to, so here’s hoping he gets back on the horse — assuming he’s given the chance to — and shows the club how he can bounce back from a bad outing.

Since I was writing about Nady, though, I thought it only fitting to write about the guy here fortabata_curve.JPG the Pirates who came to Pittsburgh on the other end of that deal. I’m talking, of course, about Jose Tabata. The young outfielder’s had a real nice spring, hitting .391 through 23 at-bats. It’s a big reason why he’s still in big-league camp and made this trip. He didn’t seem fazed by  coming back to Yankee-land, though things didn’t go so well for him here, particularly at the end. Using his ever-improving English — he was apologetic at the end, but I always make a point of giving kudos to a guy for trying (I couldn’t conduct an interview in another language, could you?) — he talked about how happy he was to be a part of the Pirates organization and how he felt like it was a family. He also spoke of how he idolized Roberto Clemente, seeing a video of him when he was a kid (not that he’s so old now, mind you). He’s even got a tattoo of Clemente’s picture more or less over his heart. Only seems fitting he should become the Pirates’ right-fielder in the future, a cast-off of sorts from another team (the Pirates got Clemente, you may remember, from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft).

Anyway, as for tonight’s performance, Tabata showed a bit of everything. He singled off of C.C. Sabathia in his first at-bat, got balked to second, stole third and scored to make it (briefly) a close 2-1 game. He made a real nice catch up against the right-field wall to snare a Johnny Damon drive in the third. He picked up another hit against Alfredo Aceves in the seventh. He went 2-for-4 overall, making him 11-for-27 this spring, a .407 average for those of you scoring at home. I think Tabata was targeted for Double-A at the start of this spring. It wouldn’t shock me after this to see him go to Triple-A Indianapolis to play in the same outfield as Andrew McCutchen to begin the 2009 regular season. 

A worthy cause

Hey guys —

Will catch up with some more info on a bit (I’m tardy with a few of my “One More Things…” that go with the organizational reviews and I plan to get to them. But I was so gosh-darn busy in Arizona then swept up in election fever, that I haven’t had much time to blog.

Before I get to some of that other stuff, though, I wanted to direct people to check out Kevin Czerwinski’s blog Minor Leagues, Major Thoughts. He recently wrote about Scranton manager Dave Miley and The Cody Miley Memorial Art Scholarship Fund, named for Miley’s son, who was tragically killed in a car accident in August.

Go check out Kevin’s blog and contribute if you can.

Back with more baseball stuff later on…

Deadline day commences with … Matt Cusick?

Sure, there are bigger names from the Minor League perspective being mentioned out there — and I’ll be blogging all day on prospects both rumored to be and actually dealt — but the one deal overnight that was official was the huge LaTroy Hawkins to the Astros deal. The Yankees had designated the reliever for assignment, but then found a taker in Houston.

In return, the Astros sent their 10th-round pick from the 2007 draft, Matt Cusick, to New York.Lexington at bat (r to l).jpg The USC product was hitting .285 with a .365 OBP and .462 SLG in his first full season with Lexington in the South Atlantic League. The left-handed hitting second baseman was a SAL All-Star this year as well as a New York-Penn League All-Star in his pro debut with Tri-City last summer, when he hit .306 with a .422 OBP and .446 SLG.

Cusick is one of those slightly undersized, gritty middle infield types. He’s not blessed with the greatest tools in the world, but has a makeup that’s off the charts and constantly works to improve all facets of his game. He doesn’t have much power and isn’t blessed with great speed, though he’s used his smarts and plus instincts to go 8-for-9 in stolen-base attempts. What he does bring to the Yankees is an ability to make consistent contact — he doesn’t strike out much (43 K vs. 40 BB in 94 games) — and get on base. He’s largely been used as a leadoff hitter in Lexington, where he’s hit .322 in that role with a .394 OBP and .513 SLG (mostly 16 doubles, 4 triples, a suprising seven homers in 236 AB), but might profile better as a No. 2 hitter with a terrific approach at the plate.

%d bloggers like this: