Keith Law puts two Yankees in his “Top 100 prospect list”

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Keith Law’s unveiled his “Top 100 Prospects” a little while ago, and the Yankees have two prospects on the list; Aaron Judge is #25 on the list and Gregory Bird is at #80.

If you want to read what Law has to say about all of the prospects, you have to be an ESPN Insider, but here’s a quick look on what he said about Judge and Bird:

Law on Judge:

“He showed outstanding plate discipline and ability to make contact in his first full year in pro ball while giving glimpses of the huge raw power you’d expect from someone of his build…

… He’s an above-average defender in right, faster than you’d expect, with the arm to profile there and the potential to post strong triple-slash numbers if he can make that one big adjustment.”

Law on Bird:

“Bird’s swing is very short to the ball, and he accelerates his hands quickly for hard contact to all fields, rarely putting the ball on the ground because he squares it up so frequently. He’s a high-IQ hitter with outstanding plate discipline and understanding of how to work a pitcher, giving reason to think he’ll continue to post high OBPs even though he’ll probably hit only .250-260 with a lot of strikeouts.”

Last year, Law ranked Gary Sanchez #68, Tyler Austin #85 and Mason Williams #87. The biggest omission from the list was the Yankees top prospect Luis Severino, who ironically is a prospect Law was never high on. Law believes Severino will eventually become a ..read more

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Brian Cashman still views Stephen Drew as a starter

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When the Yankees signed Stephen Drew to be their starting second basemen for the 2015 season, many were confused, especially with Drew’s awful 2014 campaign. However, Cashman believes Drew is an everyday player and expects him to play to “the back of his baseball card”.

“Hopefully, he can put last year behind him and be the player he was before then,” Cashman said during a conference call to the New York Daily News. “He has a history of being a really good player prior to a season that didn’t play out the way anybody expected.

“It was just something that’s so far out of the norm for his capabilities. The contract reflects that and we’re certainly hopeful that he can revert back.

“At very least, he can play multiple positions and he’s a helluva defender.”

Drew has a slugging percentage of .443 in 2013 with the Boston Red Sox, but when Drew turned down a $14.1 Million qualifying offer at the end of the year, he had a slow start to his 2014 campaign, not beginning the season until May with Boston. Drew was traded to the Yankees on July 31st in exchange for Kelly Johnson.

The signing of Drew put a competition between Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela on the back burner, but Cashman said they shouldn’t worry about what the signing of Drew does to their chances of winning a big league job out of camp. Cashman used the example of a rookie Robinson Cano winning the second base position in May of 2005, all while the Yankees expected Tony Womack to win the job.

“They’re on a ..read more

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Hot Stove Rumor: Yankees show “strong” interest in 2B Hector Olivera

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More than 200 scouts reportedly went to see second basemen Hector Olivera in the Dominican Republic for a two-day showcase on January 21st and one of the teams that were in attendance were the Yankees.

Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com said the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees, the San Diego Padres, the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves have shown strong interest in Olivera. Baseball America had video of the 6-foot-2, 220 pound second basemen during his showcase and described what Olivera did during the two-day showcase.

That combination of talent and uncertainty drew hundreds of scouts to a two-day showcase at the Giants’ academy in the Dominican Republic last week. The first day of the showcase featured Olivera running the 60-yard dash, fielding grounders in the infield and taking batting practice. The next day, he faced live pitching, and recorded three hits in seven or eight at-bats.

Scouts said Olivera looked good, perhaps a little tired on the second day, but he appeared to be in good physical condition, with more weight (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) than he had during his prime years on the national team, but carrying it in a good way. He ran the 60-yard dash in around 6.7 to 6.8 seconds, depending on the stopwatch, showing slightly above-average speed. He’s not flashy at second base, but scouts said he looked like a steady defender. Olivera also took groundballs at third base, and while he’s shown a plus arm in the past, he didn’t seem to be airing it out quite as much at the showcase.

Olivera has a quick bat and showed a tick above-average power, hitting the ball hard to all fields and generating loft with his swing. Like a lot of Cuban ..read more

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Report: Masahiro Tanaka says elbow feels good

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Masahiro Tanaka is preparing for his sophomore year with the Yankees, and while he has a small tear in his elbow, he’s reporting there’s no pain whatsoever.

“So far so good — including that (the elbow),” the Japan Times quoted Tanaka.

Tanaka was working out with his former team the Rakuten Golden Eagles last week in Japan and made it through all his workouts with no lingering effects from the elbow injury. While the tear in his elbow is small, there’s a legitimate chance he’ll need Tommy John Surgery down the road, which could keep him out anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

Tanaka missed most of the summer with the elbow tear before making two starts in late September, and Tanaka isn’t the only starter who is returning from an injury-plagued season. CC Sabathia (knee surgery) and Michael Pineda (shoulder injury) both missed time last year and hope to begin the season healthy.

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What to expect from Masahiro Tanaka

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Yesterday we discussed what the Yankees could expect from CC Sabathia as he bounces back from knee surgery. Today, we’ll discuss what the Yankees can expect from Masahiro Tanaka who is coming off an impressive rookie All-Star season.

When the Yankees won the bidding war for Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka, many were skeptical on whether or not Tanaka could pitch in the Major Leagues. For the first few months, Tanaka was all anyone kept their eyes on, hoping the $155 Million right-hander would pan out. In the end, Tanaka had a great rookie season, going 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA, a 3.04 FIP and a 1.056 WHIP in 136.1. Not only did Tanaka have an impressive season, he also made the All-Star team.

However, while Tanaka was dominant, he also missed at least 10 starts because of a small UCL tear in his elbow. The Yankees and Tanaka opted for the starter not to have Tommy John Surgery and instead rehab the elbow. Tanaka made two starts at the end of the 2014 campaign to give the Yankees peace of mind, but they were Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starts.

— In his first start after coming off disabled list, Tanaka went 5.2 innings, giving up one run on four hits while striking out four.

— In his second and final start after coming off the disabled list, Tanaka went 1.2 innings giving up seven runs (five earned) on seven hits and striking out two.

It’s possible Tanaka’s second start was just rust, or it could have been the elbow. There’s tons of speculation about Tanaka’s last two starts, but we won’t know what Tanaka has to offer until heads to Florida for Spring Training.

So what can ..read more

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Yankees minor leaguer Tyler Palmer suspended for amphetamine use

Yankees minor leaguer Tyler Palmer has been suspended 50 games without pay for amphetamine use, Major League Baseball reported on Wednesday. They added Palmer recently recorded a second positive drug test. Palmer’s suspension will be effective when the Gulf Coast League season begins.

Palmer hit .262 with three homers and 24 RBI’s between two Yankees rookie league teams and stole 17 bases combined. Palmer was a fourth round pick by the Miami Marlins back in 2011 but needed three surgeries to recover from a hand injury.

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2015 BBDP Wildcard Prospect: Chris Gittens

Chris Gittens

Now that I have selected my six “breakout candidates” for 2015, it’s time to delve into a new group of players. These are the “deep REM sleepers” if you will. These are the guys who are not just under the radar, they are currently off the grid.

Be that as it may, the Yankees farm system has become so deep (just ask Kiley McDaniel) that there are several such players who have enough talent and potential that they could someday soon put themselves on the map.

The wildcards as I like to call them. The guys who could emerge to take the system to the next level. The guys who have some talent hiding beneath the surface of either poor stats or inexperience. The guys who could be this year or next year’s breakout candidates if things go well. These are the guys no one can predict, not even the best prospect gurus.

Introducing my new series; Wildcard Prospects. The first prospect we will highlight is Chris Gittens, a 2014 draftee.

The basics:

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 250-pounds

Position: First Base

Bats: Righty

Throws: Righty

Age: 20

He was taken in the 12th round out of Grayson County College. There he hit .404/.463/.532/.995 with nine doubles and three homeruns in 41 games. After being drafted, Gittens was a late signee, and played in just 11 games with the GCL Yankees. In those 11 games he played well, batting .286/.400/.400/.800 with four doubles.

Gittens did not get an invitation to instructs, and didn’t play any winter league baseball. My guess is that the Yankees have told Gittens that his main priority is to lose weight, work out, and gain strength while making sure to keep hitting. Apparently Gittens has had conditioning issues in the past.

Based on his twitter feed he has been doing just that (@gittensome). At least 1/3 of his ..read more

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What to expect from CC Sabathia

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Yesterday, we discussed what the Yankees could expect from Michael Pineda as he prepares for his sophomore season with the ball club. Today we focus on another pitcher in the starting rotation, a player that was formerly the Yankees ace, CC Sabathia. With Sabathia having a horrid 2013 and an injury plagued 2014, what can the Yankees expect from Sabathia in 2015?

When CC Sabathia signed an extension following the 2012 season, many Yankees fans rejoiced. And why wouldn’t they? Sabathia had been absolutely flawless since the 2009 season, and was known as the Yankees workhorse and “ace”, not to mention he kept his ERA under 3.50 from 2009 – 2012. But everything changed when he lost weight during the 2012 – 2013 offseason and took the mound the following year. Sabathia went 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA, a 4.10 FIP and a 1.370 WHIP in 211 innings of work, baffling the fans and causing the Yankees disappointment. Sabathia blamed the sub par 2013 campaign on his offseason regimen and aimed to have a better 2014 campaign.

In 2014, Sabathia was once again lackluster, going 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA, a 4.78 FIP and a 1.478 WHIP in 46 innings of work. Sabathia later complained of knee discomfort which forced Sabathia to ultimately have knee surgery the Yankees to shut down Sabathia for the remainder of the season.

Sabathia comes into camp with a healthy knee and hopes to put his sub-par back-to-back seasons behind him, but what can the Yankees actually expect from Sabathia? Sabathia isn’t going to be the pitcher the Yankees signed back in 2009 and he may have given up his “ace” title to Masahiro Tanaka or Michael Pineda, but he ..read more

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