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Yankees Offseason Notes: For Kuroda its the Yankees

Earlier this week, it was looking as if Hiroki Kuroda‘s chances of coming back to the Yankees were slim. The LA Dodgers were in the race as well as the LA Angels. Well, on Tuesday evening, a source claimed that the Dodgers were no longer in the mix for Kuroda. The Angels soon followed the Dodgers lead and weren’t interested in Kuroda. Now Kuroda has one of two choices–the Yankees or Japan. If Kuroda wants to pitch in the states, he could choose the Yankees. If he wants to go to Japan, he can sign there. This is relatively good news for the Yankees–and bad news for the Dodgers and the Angels. Now all Brian Cashman has to do is make Kuroda an offer he can’t refuse.

BREAKING NEWS: The New York Yankees have signed Hiroki Kuroda to a 1 year, $15 Million contract for the 2013 season. The Yankees prevented one of their worst fears from happening. Now, Yankees need Pettitte.

In Other News:

– The New York Yankees claimed RHP Mickey Storey off waivers from the Houston Astros.

– The Yankees added LHP Manny Banuelos, OF Ramon Flores, RHP Brett Marshall, RHP Jose Ramirez, LHP Francisco Rondon and LHP Nik Turley to the 40 man roster.

– RHP Dave Herndon elected for free agency instead of being outrighted to Triple-A Scranton thus making the 40-man roster a 39-man roster.

– There’s still no word about if Andy Pettitte will return next year. Although Pettitte could most likely return, it’s not guaranteed.

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Manny Banuelos to have Tommy John Surgery

Manny Banuelos to have Tommy John Surgery

By Delia E.

The Yankees have just announced that Manny Banuelos will have Tommy John Surgery on Thursday after missing most of the season with elbow injuries. The procedure will be done by Dr. James Andrews. Banuelos is scheduled to miss the 2013 season which was somewhat of a blow for the Yankees since he could have been an inexpensive rotation fixture come 2014.

Morning Bits: Nova not sharp, Prospect notes, Joba and more…

Good morning all.  Verlander was just nasty last night striking out the Yankees left and right.   On the other hand Nova was poor again and I am starting to worry if he is running out of gas.   The game tonight is for 7:05 on the mound will be Hughes and Porcello.

Enjoy the day.  Now for some links…

Wallace Matthews of ESPN NY says that Nova looks lost on the mound.  He mentions his ERA after the all-star break is 8.36!!!!!!

Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY has some minor league notes including Banuelos, Austin, Williams and more.

Bryan Hoch of MLB.com has a few notes from last nite including that Joba hit 97mph.

Morning Bits: Banuelos & Campos to return in 2012, Yankees looking for good health

Good morning all.  Today is another day of no baseball.  Then the Yankees will begin a home series tomorrow with the Angels.

Let’s get right to the links….

Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY reports that both Banuelos & Campos will both pitch in 2012.

Bryan Hoch of mlb.com writes that the Yankees are poised for big things after a strong first half.

Pete Caldera has an article about how the Yankees believe they are due for some good health.

Minor Night Cap: Banuelos shines, Trenton wins behind Three 2-Run Homers

Empire State Yankees L 3-1

PTF Romine (DL)

Kevin Russo – 1BB, 1K, .283

Colin Curtis – 2K, .178

Steve Pearce – 1R, 1H (Double), 1BB, 1K, .361

Jack Cust 1H, 1BB, 2K, .281

Ronnier Mustelier – 1H, .286

Brandon Laird – 2K, .223

Cole Garner – 2K, .128

Ramiro Pena – 1BB, 1K, .243

Gustavo Molina – 2K, .091

Pitching
PTF Dellin Betances (DNP)

Manny Banuelos - 6.0IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 7K, 3.15era

Chase Whitely (L, 4-2) – 1.0IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 2.75era

Adam Miller – 2.0IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 1K, 4.50era

Trenton Thunder W 7-4

PTF Zoilo Almonte (DNP)

Abraham Almonte – 2R, 3H (2-Run Homer), 2RBI, 1BB, 1K, .289

Corban Joseph – 1R, 1H, 2BB, .296

David Adams – 2H, 1BB, .231

Cody Johnson – 1R, 2H (2-Run Homer), 2RBI, 1K, .280

Melky Mesa – 1R, 3H, 1RBI, 1BB, 1K, .254

Luke Murton – 1H, 2K, .273

Kevin Mahoney – 1R, 1H (2-Run Homer), 2RBI, 1BB, 1K, .273

Jeffrey Farnham – 2BB, 1K, .150

Addison Maruszak – 1R, 1BB, .207

Pitching
PTF Brett Marshall (DNP)

Craig Heyer – 3.0IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 4.17era

Francisco Rondon (W, 2-0) – 2.0IP, 3H, 3.55era

Ryan Flannery – 1.1IP, 3H, 1BB, 0.98era

Ryan Pope – 1.oIP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 1K, 6.27era

Lee Hyde – 0.2IP, 1K, 2.13era

Preston Claiborne – 1.0IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 4.03

Charleston River Dogs L 3-1

PTF Dante Bichette Jr. – 2K, .246

Mason Williams – 0H, .310

Cito Culver – 1K, .206

Tyler Austin – 1K, .299

Gary Sanchez – 1R, 1H, 1K, .358

Angelo Gumbs – 1K, .270

Reymond Nunez – 0H, .250

Kelvin De Leon – 1H, .292

Nick McCoy – 1BB, .333

Pitching
PTF Bryan Mitchell (DNP)

Scottie Allen – 6.oIP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 4K, 4.98era

Wilton Rodriguez (L, 1-1) – 2.0IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 1K, 2HR, 4.15era

Yankees Prospect Watch: Manny Banuelos

The monthly series continues with a Prospect Profile: this week it’s Manny Banuelos.

Manny Banuelos

Throws: Left

Height: 5’11″

Weight: 155

DOB: 3/13/91

* Our very own writer Fishjam ranked him the #2 overall prospect when his rankings came out which was before the Montero trade.  Here is what he had to say about him, “Had control issues in AA/AAA but most believe it’s just a matter of trying to be too fine as he has solid mechanics and repeats his delivery well. Threw a career-high 130 innings so will be in line for 150-160 this year and could be ready to pitch for NY in 2nd half.”

* Mike Axisa from River Ave Blues rated Banuelos number 1 for this year.  Here is what he had to say, “A strong showing in Spring Training fueled speculation that he could break camp with the big league team last season, but Banuelos was ultimately returned to Double-A to start the year. He was the fourth-youngest player in the Eastern League, though his trademark command and control were nowhere to be found. He walked 52 of the 422 batters he faced with Trenton (4.9 BB/9 and 12.3%), then walked another 19 in 34.1 IP after a late-season promotion to Triple-A (5.0 BB/9 and 12.3%). Banuelos walked more batters in 2011 (71) than he did in the three previous seasons of his career combined (66, or 7.4%). He did maintain a high strikeout rate though (8.7 K/9 and 21.7%), and aside from a blister issue in April, he took the ball every five days and logged a career best 129.2 IP.

Despite the walk troubles last year, the scouting report hasn’t changed. Banuelos still sits anywhere from 90-95 with his fastball, backing it up with a knockout changeup and a hard curve that has flirted with the low-80s. He generates swings and misses with all three pitches, and can be untouchable when he’s dotting the edges of the zone like he did from 2008-2010. Banuelos is the Yankees’ best left-handed pitching prospect in what feels like ages, which is kinda surprising given their long history of quality southpaws. A return engagement to Triple-A is in the cards, and a midseason call-up to the big leagues isn’t out of the question. Banuelos can be a worthy left-handed complement to Pineda and Nova, the club’s two young power right-handers at the big league level.

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Spanning the Yankee Blogs: Heathcott, Granderson, Pettitte, Swisher

I span the Yankee Blogs and give you the best from the past week.  Here we go….

* An A-blog for A-Rod has a piece about Slade Heathcott being out till May.   That’s sad.  We recently interviewed him you can click the interview tab above to find that.

* Bleeding Yankee Blue asks if Granderson has a long term fit with the Yankees.

* Bronx Baseball Daily has an article about what scouts have thought about Banuelos this spring.

* It’s about the Money Stupid asks what about Nick Swisher?

* Lady Loves Pinstripes has the 2012 preview of the Boston Red Sox.

* New York Baseball Digest lists the stacked rotation of Empire State Yankees (AAA team).

* Pinstripe Alley compares the second baseman in the AL East.

* River Ave Blues is sorting out the rotation.

* Sliding into Home has an article about the Yankee fan stereotype.

* The Captain’s Blog is figuring out what to do with Freddy Garcia.

* The Greedy Pinstripes says don’t trade anybody.

* The Yankee Analysts asks how good is Dante Bichette Jr.   We interviewed him as well.  Again click the interview tab above to read that.

* Yanks Go Yard mentions that Yankee fans will be represented in the fan cave.

Garcia pitches well, then leaves due to injury in Yankees 7-5 loss to Blue Jays

Freddy Garcia made his case as to why he should be in the starting rotation during a Yankees 7-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. Garcia pitched 3 innings of 1 run ball until he was forced to come out of the game in the 4th after he misplayed the baseball and it hit him in the right hand. Garcia had his fingers stretched out and refused to move his hand as Girardi took him out of the game.

Cory Wade gave up a solo HR to J.P Arencibia while Manny Banuelos was lit up, giving up a 3 run HR to Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion also hit a solo shot against Garcia in the second inning. Garcia was taken back to Tampa where he will have precautionary x-rays.

WHAT’S NEXT: Brett Gardner, Russell Martin & Andruw Jones will make the trip to play the Washington Nationals tomorrow. Fans who are interested in watching Nationals prospect Bryce Harper (along with the Yankees of course), the game is on MLB Network tomorrow at 1:05pm. Michael Pineda is slated to pitch for the Yanks.

Spanning the Yankee Blogs: Granderson, $189, Banuelos, Logan

Good afternoon all and welcome to Spanning the Yankee Blogs.  I take a look around the blogs and link an article from each site.  Please read them all as everyone does a great job.  Enjoy.

* An A-blog for A-Rod has his take with the latest rankings.

* Bleeding Yankee Blue is talking about the dilemma with Cano and Granderson.

* It’s about the Money Stupid has something for all you Boone Logan haters.

* Lady Loves Pinstripes has a preview of the 2012 Tampa Bay Rays.

* New York Baseball Digest thinks the MLB schedule should be 154 games.

* Pinstripe Alley has an AL East Preview of the Blue Jays.

* River Ave Blues has A-Rod’s role in the $189 million plan.

* The Captain’s Blog writes about a contract extension for A-Rod? Why 714 is more important number than 2014.

* The Greedy Pinstripes ask if you believe that the Yankees will get to $189 million?

* The Yankee Analysts writes about Banuelos and the 5th spot in the rotation.

* Yanks Go Yard asks if Granderson’s 2011 season was a fluke.

Yankees pitching stifles Braves in 3-0 Win

After coming off a rough start in his last outing, Freddy Garcia was able to blank the Braves in his 3 innings of work as the Yankees were able to shut out the Braves 3-0. Garcia who is in competition for the 5th spot with Phil Hughes was able to spot his pitches and got a lot of hitters on lazy fly balls. Rafael Soriano, Manny Banuelos, D.J Mitchell, Juan Cedeno & Kevin Whelan were also able to blank the split squad Braves. The other half of the Braves lost to the New York Mets today at Disney.

Derek Jeter had an infield single in the first and scored on a Nick Swisher opposite field double. Jeter then walked again in the 5th and scored on a Sacrifice Fly by Robinson Cano. The final run came on a Melky Mesa RBI which scored Doug Bernier.

A lot of the news was surrounded by David Robertson who hurt his foot after tripping over a step in his Tampa residence on Wednesday. Tests came back during the game and revealed that Robertson had a bone bruise, which eased concern among the Yankees. David Robertson will take off the walking boot on Monday & start getting ready to get back to baseball form next week.

WHAT’S NEXT: Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira & Alex Rodriguez are going to Disney World! Okay…they aren’t really going to Disney World but they will lead the Yankees to Disney Park where the Yankees will play the Atlanta Braves for the second day in a row. Michael Pineda is slated to pitch.

More on tonight’s Spring Training report.

Spring Training Notes: 3/3/12

Ivan Nova pitching today for the Yankees

The Yankees are fresh off their 8-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Clearwater today, but there was a lot that happened today. So let’s get to the notes of today!

– When Raul Ibanez was greeted at the plate, it sounded as if it was a lot of boos going around. As a matter of fact, it was just the Phillies fans saying “Rauuuul!” his old chant when he was a Philadelphia Philly. “I’d like to think those are Rauuul’s.” Ibanez joked. “I think that those were good ones.”

– During today’s game David Phelps was extremely sharp while Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances looked a bit shaky during their starts today. Banuelos left a bases loaded jam while Betances issued 2 walks in the inning and only used fastballs. Although Banuelos had struggles, Girardi says that he looks better this season than last season.

– Joe Girardi met the father of Steven Smith, a minor league broadcaster who was tragically killed in December of 2010 today in Clearwater. He was on the field with Girardi before the game and even had the whole Yankees team sign the sign that Matthew Smith was holding before the game. It was Matthew Smith’s first game since his son died. “I just didn’t want Steven to be forgotten.”

Just a reminder that tomorrow’s game is a televised game. The game will be televised on the YES Network. Freddy Garcia is slated to get the start.

Use the comment section below to talk about whatever you like. Have a good night everyone!

Yanks defeat Phillies 8-5 in Spring Training Opener

Fresh from their predictable win against the University of South Florida, the starting outfield, Raul Ibanez & Russell Martin made the trip to Clearwater where they were going to get a taste of Major League action from Cole Hamels & the Philadelphia Phillies.

After Raul Ibanez’s bloop double that scored Curtis Granderson in the top of the 1st, Hunter Pence of the Phillies quickly made the score 2-1 with a towering HR to right field (thanks to the wind).

Raul Ibanez looks up at his bloop RBI single as Yanks win 8-5 vs. Phillies

Granderson answered back in the third inning with an opposite field HR to left off of Dave Bush which gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead. After scoring 1 run in the 6th, 3 in the 7th (a 2 run shot by Cole Garner) & 2 in the 9th, the Yankees looked set and stone to secure the win, but the Phillies attempted to bounce back in the ninth all starting with a Juan Pierre single. Although he gave up 3 runs in the inning, Michael O’Connor was able to regroup and got Cesar Hernandez swinging for the final out of the ball game.

One thing that made the Yankees look a little sloppy on the field today was errors. Eduardo Nunez had an E-6, Ivan Nova had an E-1 & Jayson Nix had an E-3, all in the first inning.

Ivan Nova pitched 2 innings giving up 1 earned run, David Phelps pitched 2 innings giving up no runs, Manny Banuelos (1-0, 0.00 ERA) pitched 2 innings, gave up no runs and secured the win, Dellin Betances pitched 1 inning with 2 walks, Cesar Cabral pitched 1 inning giving up no runs and Michael O’Connor pitched 1 innings giving up 3 runs.

WHAT’S NEXT: The starting infield and Andruw Jones will take on the Phillies tomorrow as the Phillies make the trip to George M. Steinbrenner Field. Freddy Garcia is slated to start tomorrow.

(Photos Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports)

S2S 2012 Team Prospect Lists: New York Yankees

This article is being syndicated from our friends over at Seedlings to Stars.  I will provide some of the article and at the bottom just click the link to read the rest.  Enjoy!!

With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!

Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.

New York Yankees

The Yankees system is undoubtedly somewhat down from where it was in years past. Their vaunted “Killer B” trio–Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Brackman–all ran into trouble in 2011, and Brackman ended up released while Betances looks like he may be headed for the bullpen. Jesus Montero was traded away to Seattle, further damaging the top talent, although New York did receive the Northwest League’s top prospect, Jose Campos, in that trade.

There’s still plenty to like here, though. This system has an abundance of two things: upper-minors arms and low-minors bats. Banuelos, Campos, and Gary Sanchez could be excellent contributors even by the lofty standards of Yankee fans.

Position Player Upside: B
Position Player Depth: B-
Pitching Upside: B+
Pitching Depth: B+
System Grade: B

Catcher: Gary Sanchez. You don’t come across a whole lot of 18-year-old catchers with ISOs of .229 in full-season ball. Sanchez also boasts a strong arm and a good eye at the plate, and has superstar potential. He has some major problems with blocking pitches, but at his age, that’s not cause for alarm just yet, and neither is his elevated strikeout rate. At some point, those are going to need to come around, but he’s got plenty of time, and his overall potential is enormous. Grade: A-

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Top 5 Spring Training Storylines

It is creeping up on us very quickly. In a little over two weeks Yankees pitchers and catchers will report to Tampa, Florida. The Giants deep run in the playoffs has probably made the time go by quicker for everybody (not me of course as I am a Packers fan). The offseason storylines have picked up of late and they should lead to an intriguing spring training.  I will breakdown my top five storylines going into camp. Feel free to add more that you guys think are important in the comments.

1)  The 5th starter competition

This spot would seem to be the only one up for competition this spring, other then the usual few bullpen spots, unless an injury crops up.  It will probably come down to how Freddy Garcia. A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes pitch in the spring. The Yankees have a lot more invested in Hughes and Burnett, which is why I do not give Garcia much of a shot, despite his solid year last year.  I do think Garcia would be a successful long man and can fill in the rotation at a moments notice, like Bartolo Colon did last year. I do not see Burnett or Hughes being traded. Nobody want’s Burnett’s contract, even if the Yankees would pick-up a large portion of it. As with Hughes, I don’t think the Yankees should trade him until they get his value back up. Why trade somebody when their value is way down, like it is now? So I do see it coming down to how Hughes and Burnett perform in their spring starts. Hughes needs to come into camp in much better shape than last year. There was no excuse for him coming in the shape that he did and it probably was not a coincidence that he got hurt. We all know Burnett’s issues, but maybe having to pitch for his job will light a fire under him.

2) Who will DH?

I am not in favor of rotating the DH spot. Obviously you have to give Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter DH AB’s, but when they are in the field the Yankees should sign or trade for somebody to DH. Andruw Jones will get most of the DH AB’s against lefties, but the Yankees need to find somebody to face righties. Also, if Brett Gardner hits lefties like he did last year it would not be a bad idea for Jones to play left and have a DH. Gardner only hit .233, with 0 homers, 6 RBI, a .272 slugging percentage, and a .616 OPS against lefties last year. Those are not acceptable numbers. Obviously Gardner is not a power guy, but if you are only going to have a .272 slugging percentage against lefties your average must be higher than .233.

I thought Carlos Pena was an ideal option to DH vs. righties, but he is no longer available. Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Hideki Matsui are all options. I do not see Jorge Vazquez as a legit option because of his high Triple-A strikeout numbers. If they do not sign anybody I would let Jones or even Nunez DH against righties before the 29 year old journeyman.

3) Mark Teixeira Bunting

This is a new story that has crept up and I find it very interesting. Wally Matthews wrote about it on ESPN New York.com. Texeira has said he will work on bunting in spring training and may try to get bunt hits against the shift. I will believe that when I see it. I am not opposed to him dropping a few bunts down against the shift in certain spots, but the Yankees do not pay Teixeira to lay down bunts.  The Yankees pay him to hit home runs, knock runners in, play gold glove defense, and perform in the playoffs. He did 3 out of 4 of those things last year. The Yankee Analysts wrote a great article on Teixeira that everybody should take time to read. I was surprised to learn that Teixeira batted .337 and slugged .837 when pulling the ball against righties. When going the other way against righties Teixeira batted .086 and slugged .103. Those numbers suggest that if Texeira can’t fix his swing going the other way against righties that he should just continue to pull everything. He did do well going the other way hitting right handed so hopefully it can translate to the left side.

4) The Health of Alex Rodriguez

Everybody will be watching Alex Rodriguez this spring to see what his health is. Of course, just because he is healthy in the spring does not mean he will stay healthy the whole year. Last spring A-Rod was hitting the cover off the ball and a lot of people thought he could compete for the MVP again. Unfortunately, that was not the case and he had an injury plagued season. I am optimistic about the results of the knee therapy that A-Rod had in Germany, that Kobe Bryant suggested to him. It is called platelet-rich plasma therapy and is becoming more popular among athletes. Anybody that has watched Kobe in the NBA this year knows he got a lot of explosion back and looks a lot more spry after this surgery. The Yankees need A-Rod back healthy and producing.

5) Which Young Guy Will Shine?

Every spring training a young player will make a splash. That splash usually does not put them on the major league roster, but they do catch the eyes of the Yankees brass and the fans.  Last year Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos had great springs and gave Yankee fans a glimpse of the future. It will be interesting to see them again, but it also will be interesting who else steps up.

Morning Bits: Banuelos, Betances, Girardi

Good Morning all.  Back to the work week.  We are now less than 3 weeks for pitchers and catchers to report.

Also to note Matthew B will be hosting a live chat tonight at 7pm.  Stop on by and bring your questions.

Here are the links. Enjoy.

* ESPN’s Andrew Marchand asks When will the Killer B’s arrive?

* Lohud reports that Girardi draws fans to Harrison library fundraiser.

An interview with Seedlings 2 Stars

Our friends over at Seedlings 2 Stars were kind enough to answer a couple questions about the 2012 Prospect list they put out.  The questions were sent out before the trade but I think the answers are still interesting to hear.

For a bio on both the writers who answered these questions click the below links.

Q1: Tell us what you feel about the projections of Jesus Montero. You ranked him pretty low, in my opinion, on your 2012 Prospect list at #42.  I feel that will be the lowest ranking we will see of him all year from any source.

Nathaniel: Montero is likely to be a very good major league DH. The reason he’s ranked 42nd on the list is because he’s not going to provide any value aside from his bat, so he’s going to have to be one of the top dozen or so hitters in the game if he’s going to attain true stardom. He’s not going to grow much more, and his statistics got worse as he advanced through the minors, so it would seem to be awfully difficult to be confident that he’s going to be a top-15/20 hitter. That said, he’s still just 22 and has a very good track record. He should be a very good hitter. The thing is, there’s a significant chance his offensive production is closer to Billy Butler‘s than Miguel Cabrera‘s.

Q2: A prospect that won’t make many lists is Jorge Vazquez. While he can mash the ball, he tends to strike out quite a bit and doesn’t seem to take many walks. I feel he could be a MLB player (like a Shelly Duncan) but he is blocked by Mark Teixeira at 1B and DH by Montero. Could you see a team wanting him in a trade? Or is he a career minor leaguer?

Wally: Jorge Vazquez is 29-years old and has a dreadful career SO-to-BB of 710-to-173. In 2011 with Triple-A he drew just 30 BB to 166 SO in 118 games. If you’re a fan of percentages his K% was a whopping 33.2 and that’s just not major league material, especially coupled with a 6.0 BB%. The other thing that limits his value on the market is that there are no shortage of younger 1B/DH type guys with better plate discipline and a better track record scattered around the minor leagues. Off the top of my head we have; Clint Robinson (26) – Royals, Bryan LaHair (29) – Cubs, Kila Ka’aihue (27) – Athletics, Brandon Allen (25) – Athletics, Chris Davis (25) – Baltimore. Then you have guys that may be a little older but have a better profile like Luis Terrero (31) – Mexican League. Vazquez may get a look as a bench bat at some point but he’s awfully long in the tooth and with his issues on the plate discipline front, the presence of Teixeira really doesn’t impact his chances of getting major league at bats. The Yankees could be starting Travis Ishikawa at 1B and Vazquez would still be blocked. Bottom line, he has little trade value and is most likely a career minor leaguer who may get a cup of coffee at some point.

Q3: You have Gary Sanchez #17 ranked ahead of Manny Banuelos #26. The majority of Yankees projections will have Banuelos ahead of Sanchez. Can you explain to our readers why you have your rankings this way and how you see Sanchez and Banuelos as MLB players?

Nathaniel: Sanchez has more upside than Banuelos does, and, being a position player, he also has less of a chance of suffering a career-altering injury. His track record, at least on offense, has also been excellent thus far, whereas Banuelos hit some serious speed bumps in the upper minors with his command. I absolutely love Banuelos–he was top-10 on my list last year–but he’s not physically projectable, so his stuff probably “is what it is,” so to speak. Therefore, it could be a couple of years before he refines things enough to get his walk rate back down, and he’s almost certainly not an ace in the end–more of a #2/#3 starter. Sanchez, on the other hand, could be the best catcher in the American League if he can figure out the defensive side of the game. Of course, the same could be said for Montero, but while there’s skepticism surrounding Sanchez’s defensive capabilities, I don’t think it’s quite at the level of the disregard for Montero’s catching.

Q4: What are your thoughts of Dante Bichette Jr.? Some Yankee fans were scratching their heads when he was selected so high in the draft. That being said, in his first season in rookie ball he hit .342 with 3 HRs and 47 RBIs. Do you see him cracking your prospect list in the future?

Wally: I believe in the value of having major league bloodlines and selecting a player of his profile 51st overall was far from head scratching to me. In fact I was surprised he didn’t go earlier. That said, I was surprised by how quickly he transitioned his game to affiliated ball. He was one of a select few players to hit better than 0.300/.400/.500 in 2011 and he did so at 18 years old. I don’t think there is any question that if he puts forth another strong season in 2012 he will land in the 51-100 range of the vast majority of Top-100 lists. He’s got the bat, the projectable power, a strong throwing arm, decent speed and a strong work ethic. In short he’s an outstanding prospect that just needs to show what he did in rookie ball will translate to A-ball and beyond.

Q5: You have Betances ranked at #88 for your 2012 Prospect Rankings.  Some see him as just a back of rotation guy – where do you see him fitting in with the Yankees?

Nathaniel: Tough to say. Betances has very good stuff, so there’s always the chance that he figures out his mechanics, gets the ball down and in the zone more, and takes off. At this point, though, he looks more like an eternal frustration a la A.J. Burnett. He could be a Burnett-type starter with his fastball/curve mix, but probably fits better as a power reliever. If he doesn’t get things together in 2012, he won’t be on the list again.

Q6:  Can you give us a top prospect who could make an impact next year for each team in the AL East that Yankee fans should be aware of?

Wally: For Baltimore there just aren’t a lot of options close to the majors that are likely to have an impact. In fact there’s really just one and that is 2B-turned-outfielder L.J. Hoes. He doesn’t have any standout tool but he is coming off of hitting 0.305/.379/.413 for Bowie (AA) in 2011 with his typically strong SO-to-BB rates. While he lacks the pop you’d like to see in a corner OF, his bat is legit and he should hit for average in the majors. He will likely get on-base at an above average rate and bring good speed to the table.

Like the Orioles much of Boston’s top tier talent is further down in the system but there is one player in particular that will most likely make an impact for the Sox in 2012. C Ryan Lavarnway made his major league debut in 2011 after hitting 32 HR between AA and AAA. Once in the majors he didn’t shrink from the spotlight and handled himself well hitting 0.231/.302/.436. He should push for playing time in Spring Training and have a chance to become a “Napoli-esque player” (to borrow a phrase from Nathaniel’s lexicon).

Tampa Bay has the top-pitching prospect in all of baseball and there is no player I am looking forward to watching more in 2012 than LHP Matt Moore. Everyone knows about him by now but he’s going to make a loaded Rays rotation even better. I may be over the top but I consider Moore a serious threat to win the AL Cy Young Award this year.

Toronto has the best farm system in the division and Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia have already made their presence felt in the majors. There is more impact talent on the way. C Travis d’Arnaud and OF Anthony Gose will likely both start in Triple-A and be just a step away from making an impact on the major league roster. Gose will likely take a little more time to round out his game but d’Arnaud could advance quickly and make Arencibia a tradeable commodity in short order.

Q7: Based on the recent trades of Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos, could the Yankees have come up with a prospect package to match what Washington & Cinncinati gave up WITHOUT including Montero and Banuelos?

Wally: Well to recap. For Washington it took RHP A.J. Cole, C Derek Norris, LHP Tom Milone and RHP Brad Peacock to get Gio and Robert Gilliam from the Athletics. Cincinnati needed to give up C Yasmani Grandal, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Brad Boxberger and RHP Edinson Volquez to pry Mat Latos away from the Padres. Those are 2 serious prospect hauls that the Nationals and Reds surrendered respectively and it’s hard to imagine that the Yankees could have gotten a deal done without including one, if not both, of Montero and Banuelos. If they had packaged Banuelos with Gary Sanchez and probably two other guys a bit further away I think they could have pulled it off for either starting pitcher. Likewise a package fronted by Jesus and Betances and some other guys further away may have worked but Montero’s value to the Padres was significantly less due to the uncertainty surrounding his ability to play catcher.

To put it more bluntly, no. I don’t think they could not have pulled off either deal without giving up either Montero or Banuelos.

Q8: Would a package of Betances, one of Romine or Sanchez, one of Warren or Phelps and another C-level prospect be enough for the Cubs to trade Matt Garza?

Wally: Ah, see now were getting to a more realistic target as Matt Garza isn’t on the same level as Mat Latos or Gio Gonzalez. He’s several years older and closer to free agency which makes him a less valuable trade commodity. If the Yankees were to step up with a Betances, Sanchez package and maybe another C+ prospect I have to believe the Cubs would jump at the chance. If they opted to try and move Romine instead of Sanchez than I think Phelps, Betances and another piece would have to be involved.

Q9: I love Tyler Austin as a sleeper prospect. I think he possesses the same skill set of Dante Bichette but doesn’t get near the publicity. Have you seen him play? What do you think of him? And is there a sleeper or two you like in the Yankee organization that might not get a lot of press?

Nathaniel: I’ve seen a bit of video of Austin. I agree that he’s definitely worthy of being talked about along with Bichette and Williams–they form a formidable trio of short-season guys you don’t find in many organizations. I think Nik Turley and David Phelps are two good sleepers. I see both as capable fourth starters in the big leagues.

Q10: With most of their top pitching prospects in the upper levels (AA and above), what young pitchers in the Yankee system do you like to step forward in the coming years to replace Banuelos, Betances, Noesi, Nova, Phelps, Warren, etc…

Wally: Of the guys pitching below AA the two I think have the best chance to step forward are RHP Brett Marshall (21) and LHP Nik Turley (22). Both have now reached High-A and both could develop into mid-rotation guys. Outside of those two there’s not a whole lot else to dream on right now in the lower levels.

Q11: I expect to see Mason Williams crack a lot of Top 100 lists this yr. BA rated him the top prospect in the NY Penn Lg and he’s got all kind of tools in his shed. Was he considered for your top 100 and what is your overall opinion on him?

Nathaniel: Yes, Williams was considered for the top 100. He was around the 110s on my list, and that’s no insult. I was very hesitant with a lot of short-season guys on the list this year, sort of as a reaction to going too crazy with them on the list the year before. I do think he was the top prospect in that league, he has a very good skillset, and he’s certainly a prospect to watch. He, Austin, and Bichette will all rise up my rankings next year if they continue to hit in A-ball.

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