MLB teams finalized their 40-man rosters Friday. Only teams with spots still remaining can partake in the December 10th Rule 5 Draft, where teams can basically steal players from other organizations that are not on their 40-man roster, to give these players a fair chance. In this case, the Yankees filled up 7 of their 8 remaining spots on the 40-man, leaving one empty, giving them one selection in the Draft. The 7 players added to the 40-man from the Minor Leagues were OF Austin Jackson, right hander pitchers Ivan Nova, Romulo Sanchez and Hector Noesi, and 2B Reegie Corona, SS Eduardo Nunez and 2B Kevin Russo; keeping them all safe for another year.
Austin Jackson is now safe, which is most important, because it would ensure him a spot on the 25-man roster in the event that the Yanks don’t sign another long-term outfielder. Note: DH/OF Shelley Duncan was dropped from the 40-man roster, making him eligible to be drafted by another team. After winning IL MVP with 30 HR and 99 RBI, it is likely that we can say goodbye to Shelley.
Hey readers, my name is Dan Reiner; I did a couple posts late in the season covering the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. I’m a die hard Yanks, Giants, Knicks, Rangers, Sentinels and PSU Nittany Lions fan. Though I am only in high school, I have complete knowledge of the MLB, and hope to someday study journalism in college, and follow my dream to be a sports writer. I’ll continue to write about the minor league teams and players on here, so read up to see how the kids are doing, as well as all of the posts!
Well first off, I’d like to say that DH/OF Shelley Duncan and 2B Kevin Russo were named to the 2009 TOPPS Triple-A All-Star team for their great seasons. Duncan led the International League with 30 HR and 99 RBI, and Russo was third in the IL with a .326 batting average.
And now with the IL season finished and players needing to improve to try to take the next step in the organization, the Fall Leagues come around. I’ve been following the key players in the Yankee organization that are taking part. So..how are the kids doing?
–RHP Ian Kennedy (AFL) has 6 games and starts with a record of 1-1 and a 4.74 ERA; In 24.2 IP hes allowed 25 hits 23 K and the key.. just 5 walks.
–RHP Josh Schmidt (VWL) hasn’t looked good. 7 games, 5 starts 1-3 4.63 ERA. In 23.1 IP, 22 H and 20 K
–LHP Mike Dunn (AFL) has looked shaky. In 8 games, a record of 0-2 4.32 ERA with 1 save. In 8.1 IP, 8 hits but a remarkable 15 K.
–RHP Romulo Sanchez (VWL) has looked solid. 11 G 2-2 3.83 ERA 14.1 IP, 10 H, and a very good 20 K with only 4 walks.
–LHP Zach Kroenke (AFL) has pitched 10 games. A record of 1-0 with a 5.02 ERA. 14.1 IP 13 hits 12 K and 4 BB
–RHP Ivan Nova (DWL), who we saw get a few postseason starts in AAA, has 5 games, 4 starts with a 1-0 record. A 1.05 ERA in 25.2 IP, with just 17 hits 4 walks and 17 Ks is exactly what scouts are looking for.
-1B Juan Miranda (DWL), just joined the league, and in 13 at-bats already has a 5 hits, 1 HR and 4 RBI
-C Jesus Montero (VWL) has been extremely disappointing to say the least. In 9 games, just 3 hits, a .115 BA, and 1 RBI.
-3B Brandon Laird (AFL) is tearing up opponents right now. In 20 games, he has a .313 BA, and is tied for 2nd in the league with 6 HR and 24 RBI
-2B Reegie Corona (VWL) has played 17 games, with a .314, 0 HR and 5 RBI
-OF Colin Curtis (AFL) has played 17 game, with a great .388 BA, 3 HR, 14 RBI, and 2 SB
AFL= Arizona Fall League, VWL=Venezuela Winter League, DWL=Dominican Winter League
Look for some of these guys in trade talks or even on the big club come next season.
I realize that this is pretty bad but this is the best I can do. If you have a better version of it send me along a copy of it here.
In the photo are Ramiro Pena, Shelley Duncan, Kevin Russo, and Juan Miranda.
Please click to enlarge it….yes, I do realize how horrible this is.
With the promotion of Ian Kennedy, the Yankees now have a thirteen man bullpen (including the injured David Robertson.)
I know this usually isn’t a problem, but do the Yankees have too many pitchers? With Alfredo Aceves, Jon Albaladejo, Ian Kennedy, Sergio Mitre, and Josh Towers all available as long relievers…can’t they let one of them go?
My solution is once again to DFA Sergio Mitre. This time I would like the Yankees to promote either Kevin Russo, or Austin Jackson.
Both are just sitting at home right now, when they could be getting a valuable MLB pennant race experience. Personally, I prefer Russo, only because they are more in need of infielders than outfielders.
Mitre is basically useless right now. Aceves has not pitched since September 14th, Kennedy needs work, and Towers has not pitched since September 12th.
They can handle losing Mitre.
The New York Yankees have a great farm system. They develop great players. One thing they cannot say, however is that they hold on to those great pitchers. Most of the AAA Yankees’ roster is now on the MLB Pirates (seriously.) Lets name a few:
At the time it looked great for both sides, maybe better for the Yankees.
Now Tabata is a top-prospect outfielder (which the Yankees can use besides Austin Jackson,) Ross Ohlendorf is an innings-eating starter in the MLB (Yankees can use that) Jeff Karstens is injured, but a solid 5th starter, and Daniel McCutchen is getting a trial in the MLB.
Meanwhile Nady is hurt and Marte has a horrible contract and a horrible ERA.
I would not be ranting if the Yankees had reasons for these moves. Do the Yankees REALLY need Freddy Guzman? They’re just going to DFA him in the offseason when Kevin Russo, Austin Jackson, Zach Kroenke, etc need 40-man spots. Why not DFA Juan Miranda? They should try to trade him in the offseason. They have first base locked up for the next 7+years.
For all we know Claggett can be a valuable MLB pitcher in the future. The Yankees did not give him, or Jackson, or Hacker, or Patterson a decent shot. That is my problem.
Every year in September the MLB rosters expand to 40 players, rather than 25. Here’s who I believe the Yankees should call-up for the pennant race.
*Most teams call up 3 or 4 players before the AAA and AA playoffs end, then call up more*
1. Zach Kroenke, LHP, AAA Scranton. Kroenke has been lights out in AAA this year, with a sub-2.00 ERA. Kroenke would help the bullpen by giving them another lefty reliever and by giving them length.
2. Ramiro Pena, INF, AAA Scranton. Pena has seen a lot of time in the MLB this year and could help with the infield depth. We don’t want Jose Molina being the backup third baseman, do we?
3. Mark Melancon, RHP, AAA Scranton. Melancon has had limited time in the MLB this year, but has had pretty good results in his time there. Melancon can help out with depth.
4. Shelley Duncan, OF, AAA Scranton. Duncan had one day in the majors this year before being sent down in favor of Jerry Hairston Jr. Duncan has been stellar in AAA.
AFTER THE AAA PLAYOFFS:
5. Josh Towers, RHP, AAA Scranton. Not on the 40-man but could be a spot-starter or a long reliever if needed.
6. Jon Albaladejo, RHP, AAA Scranton. Closing in AAA, has seen time in the MLB.
7. Juan Miranda, 1b, AAA Scranton. One and done this year in the MLB.
8. Kevin Russo, INF, AAA Scranton. One of the most consistent players in AAA this year, needs a spot on 40-man.
9. Austin Jackson?!?!?! OF, AAA Scranton. This is one I am uncertain about. He could use the experience, but they don’t want to rush him.
10. Francisco Cervelli, C, AAA Scranton. Was great in his time in the MLB. Currently on the 7-day DL in AAA.
This would give the Yankees 35 players, 36 with Brett Gardner returning. That is more than enough.
PROBLEM: 4 of these players (Kroenke, Towers, Russo, Jackson) do not have spots on the 40-man roster.
WHO WOULD LEAVE THE 40-MAN:
1. DFA Kevin Cash. With Cervelli, Molina, and Posada all healthy, and Cash on the DL in AAA, he is completely not needed.
2. DFA Sergio Mitre.
That still leaves 2 extra spots needed, so two of those (I suspect Towers and Russo) wouldn’t be called up.
*This is pure speculation*
Chad Jennings is the beat writer for the Scranton W/B Yankees. He was kind enough to answer 10 questions for me. Here is the interview:
1. Out of all the players in AAA this year….who has impressed you the most? Who has dissapointed you the most?
Chad Jennings: Austin Jackson has probably impressed me the most. For a guy his age to hit like this in the International League is pretty amazing. He’s also a lot faster than I expected, and he uses his speed well on the bases and in the outfield. He’s terrific driving the ball to the opposite field. Kevin Russo, Shelley Duncan and Zach Kroenke deserve some honorable mention here. I guess there’s some disappointment in the way Doug Bernier and Justin Leone have struggled. Great guys, both of them, but the bat just hasn’t been there all season. Eric Duncan has really struggled, too.
2. Do you see Shelley Duncan as a capable MLB every day player, or just another AAAA player?
CJ: I absolutely see him as a capable MLB everyday player. I would love to see what would happen if a big league team stuck with him for a season. He would strikeout quite a bit, but he could be a 35 home run guy. And if he got himself locked in, he could be really valuable.
3. Can you give us some information on Zach Kroenke?
CJ: Lefty. Low 90s with his fastball. Mixes a slider and splitty, using both as an outpitch. He’s not a huge strikeout guy, but he doesn’t allow many hard-hit balls. And he comes from a major college program at Nebraska. There’s talent there, it’s just a question of how much the other pitchers in the system have him overshadowed.
4. The AAA Yankees got off to an 11-0 start this year and are currently the 2nd best team in the IL winning-percentage wise. Who would you attribute this to the most? The players? The manager?
CJ: I think there’s a lot to be said for this coaching staff. The Yankees have been one of the best teams in the league each of the three years they’ve been in Scranton, and that’s happened with constantly shuffling rosters. Dave Miley and Butch Wynegar really know what they’re doing and the pitching coaches the past three years — Dave Eiland, Rafael Chaves and Scott Aldred — have track records that speak for themselves. Aaron Ledesma has been a great addition this season. That staff has helped create a loose, easy going clubhouse. In the end, though, I think it falls on the players. These guys have largely bought into the idea of winning being important, even at this level, and I think that’s helped.
5. After seeing the whole Tony Bernazard and Binghamton Mets story play out and the Mets be repeatedly chastised for their lack of depth how do you feel the Yankees are at the same thing? Do you feel they have good enough depth in the system?
CJ: For the most part, yes. The Triple-A roster has long-term and short-term solutions in the infield, outfield and catcher. The relief depth is such that it’s been hard to get everyone innings. The starting pitching depth has dwindled considerably, but that’s only after a ton of injuries and just-for-now bullpen conversions. It’s deep enough to fill some holes.
6. How is the Redsox farm system this year?
CJ: I don’t really follow it too closely. I know Lars Anderson hasn’t been too good, but Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Daniel Bard are legit. Junichi Tazawa looks like a solid signing, as well.
7. Who would you say is the best prospect you’ve seen this year (Yankee or non-Yankee) and do you feel he has lived up to the hype?
CJ: I missed a lot of them. Didn’t get to see Gordon Beckham or Tommy Hanson or Andrew McCutchen. I did see Matt Wieters, and what struck me was his size and athleticism. He looks like an NFL tight end. He just looks like a better athlete than everyone else. I also thought Michael Bowden looked good against the Yankees. He’s really boosted his stock the past year or two.
8. Is Kei Igawa just another minor-leaguer?
CJ: Maybe. I think Kei can get big leaguers out, but when he makes a mistake, it gets crushed. And it’s tough to learn anything new from watching him pitch in Triple-A. He’s been good at this level for three years now. He seems to be better at keeping the ball down this year, but I have no idea if that will be enough to make a significant difference at the big league level. He’s had Triple-A success in the past but not been able to carry it to New York.
9. Give us a background on Austin Jackson?
CJ: It seems most people know that he was a terrific athlete in high school who turned down a basketball scholarship to Georgia Tech, but when Tyler Kepner wrote about him in the Times, Kepner wrote about the batting cage that was in Austin’s backyard as a kid. The idea of him as a terrific athlete who just happens to be playing baseball is false. He’s always been a baseball player, he was just too good of an athlete to focus on one sport in high school. He’s doing that now and he seems to be getting better and better. Plus, he’s a good guy. He seems to work hard and his teammates seem to really like and respect him. There’s been a lot of buzz about him this season, but Austin has handled it as well as possible.
10. Last question: Give us one story that you find interesting in your time covering the Scranton Yankees?
CJ: Hard to pick one. The first that comes to mind is a story I’m working on right now about Shelley Duncan’s personality. There’s a lot more depth to him than most people realize.
I liked writing about Cody Ransom this season, simply because I like it when long-time minor league guys get a real shot in the big leagues. Cody’s not an everyday player, but I think he’s fine in that utility role and I think there are a lot of guys like him who could play a role in the big leagues if given a shot. Dan Giese did it last year. Chris Coste during the Red Barons years. Nick Green’s doing it with Boston. I’ve also really enjoyed all the random big leaguers pulled out of obscurity — Edwar Ramirez and Alfredo Aceves especially — because we all spend a ton of time reading about “prospects” but there are always guys completely off the radar who can make a surprising run to the majors. Covering last year’s playoffs was fun because there were so many walk-off wins and tide-turning moments.
Thanks to Chad for answering the questions and also to Mike Ashmore for answering his questions!