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

Posted in 2014 MLB Draft, BBDP, Down on the Farm, Minor League Monday, Prospect Profiles | Tagged | Leave a comment

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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David Carpenter looks to thrive in Yankees bullpen

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When David Carpenter was traded to the Yankees on New Years Day, no one was a bigger supporter of the deal than Carpenter’s old Atlanta Braves teammate Brian McCann. And now that he’s reunited with his old teammate and friend, Carpenter hopes to back-up McCann’s praises and impress the Yankees front office once the season gets underway.

“B-Mac is the kind of guy that you love going to battle with,” Carpenter said on Tuesday to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. “He’s a team guy, he busts his butt out there, he’s everything you could ask for in a leader, especially a catcher. To be reunited with him, it’s going to be really, really special. The kind of words he shared with the front office, wanting to pull the trigger on trying to get me, it really boosts your confidence, that’s for sure.”

While Carpenter was good in his back-to-back seasons with the Braves, he credits McCann’s experience behind the plate for his superb 2013 season, posting a 1.78 ERA in 56 outings.

“He told me, ‘When you come in and blow through the order and just attack people, your stuff is good enough that you can get these people out,'” Carpenter recalled. “‘As soon as you truly believe that, you’re going to go on and do some big things.’

“So then there was one game, and I think I struck out three guys in a row and we’re going off the field. He kind of got excited and goes, ‘That’s what I’m talking about right there! That’s what I need!'”

Carpenter said he has spoken to Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild about what role he’ll have in the pen, ..read more

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Top 10 DSL players likely heading stateside

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Let me preface this article by saying that the below list does not include the 2014 International signings the Yankees went nuts on this year. That means there are 5-10 additional names that will likely be stateside this year who are not on this list. I will have more information on them when the rookie leagues start up.

These are players who played in the DSL and had some success last year. There are some guys who will not be on this list that will come stateside, and some may even play better than anyone on this list. Thus is the uncertainty of ranking the players in the DSL, where information is scarce. Note also that Yancarlos Baez and Cesar Diaz are excluded from this list because they made it stateside late last season.

1. Carlos Vidal – LF, 5-foot-11, 160-pounds, LHB, 19 years old – when you look at his attributes and his stats, you will be reminded of Ramon Flores. That is a fair comparison, with one caveat. Carlos Vidal is an inch taller and much faster than Flores. He has the same kind of patience at the plate, and similar power potential. He absolutely dominated the DSL this year, hitting .361/.482/.498/.979 with one homerun, 13 doubles and seven triples. He also stole 13 bases, but has the potential to steal many, many more with his speed. This guy has the type of hit tool where he might just win the GCL batting title next season.

2. Kevin Gonzalez – 1B, 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, LHB, throws RH, 17 years old – At just 17 years old Gonzalez raked in the DSL, hitting .329/.408/.422/.830 with ..read more

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Hot Stove Rumor: Yoan Moncada blocked by MLB from signing

If the Yankees wanted Yoan Moncada in pinstripes, they might need Major League Baseball’s cooperation, especially since they’re the ones blocking Moncada from signing with any ball club.

Ben Badler of Baseball America is reporting MLB is the reason Moncada hasn’t signed with any teams and said it’s not the United States Government’s doing. The United States and Cuba have an embargo which means Cuban nationals must be regarded as unblocked by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets control (OFAC) before they can work in the United States.

Moncada has met with the government’s requirements to work in the United States, since he has a “general license” for residing in Guatemala. However, Major League Baseball no longer honors the “general license”. Here’s more from Badler:

The holdup is that MLB won’t let Moncada—or any Cuban player, for that matter—use the general license any more. That wasn’t always the case. Yasiel Puig, for example, signed using the general license. It’s not clear what exactly changed, but at some point in 2012 after Puig signed in June that year, MLB no longer allowed Cuban players to sign using the general license and instead required them to apply for the specific license, which is a written document from OFAC. That goes beyond what the government requires from Cuban players to be able to begin their careers, and with some players waiting six months to receive their licenses, MLB’s policy has added a significant bottleneck for those players.

Major League Baseball then issued this statement following the announcement

“MLB is confident with the current plan we have in place regarding signing foreign born players and will abide by the guidelines of the OFAC requirements.”

This means it could take Moncada longer to sign, ..read more

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What to expect from Michael Pineda

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Yesterday, we discussed what the Yankees could expect from Ivan Nova as he continues to rehab his elbow. Today, we move to Michael Pineda, who was part of the famous trade that sent Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners. After making his Yankees debut in 2014, what can the Yankees expect from Michael Pineda this season?

When the Yankees traded Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners, many were outraged. There was a notion Montero was to be part of the organization for years to come and he would be the catcher to replace the retiring Jorge Posada. But, the Yankees received Michael Pineda in return, and at the time it was hard to determine which team actually won the trade. If the Yankees wanted that answer, they had to wait a year before Pineda could take the mound since he suffered an shoulder injury in Spring Training.

When Pineda finally pitched for the Yankees in 2014, all eyes were on him. He had a good start to his season until he was suspended for using pine tar (twice) against the Boston Red Sox and as Pineda pitched a bullpen session in preparation to come off the suspension list, he suffered an arm injury (related to his previous shoulder injury) which kept him out for a good portion of the season.

Pineda eventually returned to the rotation, posting a 1.89 ERA, a 2.71 FIP and a 0.825 WHIP in 76.1 innings. With Pineda redeeming himself and Montero nowhere to be seen on the big league level, it’s safe to assume the Yankees easily won the Pineda/Montero trade. But now that the Yankees have seen what Pineda can do, what are they expecting ..read more

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