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April 25, 2005

Minor League Notes: 4/23&24/05
by Fabian

Note: Park Factors are courtesy of Baseball Prospectus 2005 and “they are actually adjustments for teams, based on their own mix of home and road parks…relative to the league”. Numbers in parentheses are hitters’ totals in the respective category at this point of the season and counted across levels. A pitcher’s line consists of IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR.

AAA Columbus (International League):

Park Factor:

On Saturday afternoon Robinson Cano had his 2nd poor game in the last 4 outings prior as he faced off against LHP and former Yankee prospect Randy Kiesler. Though he had a couple hard hit balls, Cano finished the game with no positive results, as he was 0 for 5. He followed this disappointing game with his 2nd three hit game of the last 4 games. Once again, all 3 hits were singles and Cano’s average now sits at .354 with an OPS still above 1.000. This is a very critical portion of the first month for Cano as he has clearly cooled off from the offensive heights that he began the season at and will need to show that he can still be an effective player when not white-hot.

Ramon Ramirez started the Sunday game and did not have his control, as the results will show. Ramirez’s final line of 4.1-5-4-4-3-4-0 was not one to write home about and he has yet to get on one of his customary rolls where his walk to strikeout ratio is spectacular.

In Columbus promotion news, Colter Bean has been freed, at least temporarily and Chien-Ming Wang will be starting on Saturday. I’m excited about Bean’s promotion and hope he will get a legitimate shot as I have been waiting for this day to come since I first started the Minor Yankee Blog. In addition, while I’m excited that Wang will get a shot, my expectations for him are not too high and while he may be a better prospect than Brad Halsey was last year, I was more sure/excited of/about Halsey’s promotion then than I am Wang’s now; he should still outdo whatever Jaret Wright would have given the Yanks though. Lastly, Andy Phillips was given the start at 1B today and performed, as his numbers from the past year+ would indicate. Hopefully, Phillips sees more time in place of Tino and/or Giambi, as he should be given the shot to at least take Ruben Sierra’s role.

AA Trenton (Eastern League):
Park Factor:

The Trenton Thunder, after starting the year off in horrid fashion, are on a roll and the starting pitching has played a large role in the goodness. Jeff Karstens has been dominant all season long and the case was no different in his 4th start of the year on Saturday; Karstens’ final line was 8-4-1-1-1-6-0 and now sports a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings of work There is no fault to be found with any of Karstens’ ratios and he has made the transition to AA in spectacular fashion thus far. I’d give it another month or so of similar work before any noise about promotions should be made.

Matt DeSalvo worked a dominant outing on Sunday as well, though for not nearly as long and with a messier line. DeSalvo went 5.2-2-0-0-5-6-0 to lower his ERA to 3.79. According to Frankie Pilliere of Pinstripes Plus who attended the game, DeSalvo worked his fastball mainly at 89-93 with most of them hitting 90 or 91. In addition, he says that of the 5 walks DeSalvo gave up, only 1 was “legitimate”. Still, DeSalvo’s control has been the most alarming aspect of his game thus far. In 19 innings, the RHP has walked 15. His control has never been something to be overly positive about, but never this bad when considering that some of last year’s AA control issues can be blamed on his injury.

On Saturday Eric Duncan followed a terrific Friday night with a forgettable game. With yet another LHP on the mound, Duncan could only muster an 0 for 3 with 2 strikeout (12) night. Then on Sunday Duncan had another terrific game; 2 for 4 with his 1st home run of the year. The overall numbers are still pretty bad, but with 2 good games in his last 3 and overall better hitting of late, Duncan is definitely picking up the pace as he attempts to recover from a horrendous start.

Melky Cabrera was also disappointing on Saturday as he was 0 for 3 with 1 strikeout (9). He then recovered in the Sunday game as Duncan did by going 1 for 3 with his first double of the year and his first unintentional walk of the season (2). Cabrera taking until April 24th to get his first double of the year may be the most surprising aspect of the Yankee minor league performance thus far considering his history of racking up 2 baggers.

Bronson Sardinha did not start on Saturday and was not especially effective on Sunday as he finished that contest 0 for 3 with a walk (4) and 2 strikeouts (17).

A+ Tampa (Florida State League):
Park Factor:

Tampa’s game was rained out on Saturday, but they played on Sunday and Tyler Clippard authored his best start of the year; 6-1-0-0-3-8-0. Clippard’s control, at least based on box scores, still seems to be off thus far. His hit rate has been better than last year though so perhaps it’s a case of a guy learning that a little bit of wildness may increase effectiveness or it could just be small sample size effect.

Hector Made definitely appears to be back on the correct track following a long cold spell. The SS was 2 for 5 with a double (3) and is now 7 for his last 19. Erold Andrus also picked up a double (4) in his 4 at bats to get back to .200 and Rudy Guillen was 1 for 4 with a strikeout (18) to get his average up to .197.

A- Charleston (South Atlantic League):
Park Factor: .966

Christian Garcia started the Sunday game, Charleston’s 3rd in the last two days, and had his longest, most effective outing of the season. Garcia went 5-5-1-1-1-4-0, but was not able to pick up the win, as the offense did not arrive until a little after he left the game. While Garcia’s control has been reason for concern at times he has been one of the most exciting pitchers to follow thus far due to his spectacular curveball.

Marcos Vechionacci played in the first half of the Charleston Saturday double header and was 0 for 2 with a walk (7) and a strikeout (11), but hurt his back on a play at the plate and did not appear for the rest of the weekend’s games.

Irwil Rojas played both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader, a surprising move, but did not play on Sunday. On Saturday, Rojas was 1 for 5 with a double (4) and a walk (6). Rojas currently has more walks, 6, and extra base hits, 4, than strikeouts, 3, an impressive mark. His approach at the plate is indeed a thing to behold and while it does make one want to feel like Dioner Navarro is forgettable, you also have to consider that Navarro is 3 levels higher and only about a year older. In addition, while Navarro has been described as a lazy receiver, his actual defensive skills did garner praise, while Rojas seems to have a major problem as far as setting a target or blocking pitches.

Jon Poterson had arguably his best 9 at bat stretch of the season and it involved only picking up 2 hits. The RF was a combined 2 for 9 with a walk (2) and 2 strikeouts (16) with one of the hits being his 1st home run of the season and just 2nd extra base hit overall. Since Poterson and Eric Duncan are the first names that come to mind as far as best power potential in the organization it is interesting that both are sitting on just 1 double and 1 HR at this point in the season, granted Poterson’s overall struggles have been more serious.

Estee Harris did not play on Sunday, but had a very good Saturday where he went 2 for 6 with a double (2) and a walk (5). Harris has actually done a better job of making contact this year despite already accumulating 13 strikeouts in 43 at bats while not being a productive hitter. The team’s other multi-talented strikeout prone young OF also had a good weekend. Tim Battle played in all 3 games and was 5 for 12 with 2 strikeouts (26). After striking out 18 times in his first 36 at bats, Battle has “only” struck out 8 times in his last 28 at bats. His average is also up to .246 and his OBP has eclipsed the .300 mark. I was extremely concerned about him early on given the ridiculous K rate, but am now more confident in him validating me placing him as high on my preseason list as I did.