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April 8, 2005

Minor League Notes: Opening Night
by Fabian


Robinson Cano was 2 for 5 with 2 home runs and 2 strikeouts as he begins his quest to force the Yankee organization’s hand in promoting him. One homer was to left-center and the other was a straightaway shot.

Chien-Ming Wang had a very middling performance. He walked a man and then gave up a home run in the 1st inning, but managed to pick up the victory by settling down. All told he went 6-6-4-4-1-5-2 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR). The line seems similar to what he did in his first AAA start last year, so we all know he’s about go on a run of dominance.


Steven White was terrible in his AA debut. He threw fastballs on the first 8 pitches of the game and all told he used his fastball about 80% of the time, though he did not have much control of the pitch. His curveball was worse though and it seemed to land in the dirt on about every try and since White does not use his change-up much, if ever, at this point, the Erie hitters were able to sit fastball. It’s a testament to the quality of that pitch that the Erie hitters did not have a complete field day, often having to foul off or miss on a couple pitches before driving the ball fair. The final line was 1.2-4-6-6-4-4-1.

Eric Duncan was 2 for 5 with 2 singles and a strikeout. Duncan displayed his customary terrific approach, as he worked the count. The highlight for him was, surprisingly, in the field. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the scouting consensus is that Duncan’s arm only plays at about average from 3B due to a hitch in his throwing motion that had not been fixed. If last night’s game was any indication, that hitch may have been fixed as the announcers had no qualms raving about Duncan’s arm…or it could just be homer-ism, we shall see.

Duncan’s plate approach was in direct contrast to the hitter in front of him in the lineup, Melky Cabrera. Other than one loud lineout to near the CF warning track, Melky appeared lost. He was not able to parlay a hot spring training finish into a productive opening night, as he was 0 for 4 with a HBP and 2 strikeouts, the product of seemingly swinging at every pitch.

Bronson Sardinha started the game off in spectacular fashion as he lined the first pitch he saw down the right field line for a triple. After that, his night was not so memorable. From there he would go 0 for 3, striking out once, and…(drum roll please)…making a 3 run error in RF to blow the game open.


Tyler Clippard was Tyler Clippard in his FSL debut. The lanky right-hander put up a line of 6-4-0-0-1-6-0. One start does not a season make, but I feel pretty confident that Clippard will enjoy his time in the FSL and that he won’t be there all year.

Erold Andrus, playing LF in a surprise move, was 2 for 4 with 2 singles. I’m encouraged to see that the switch to 1B hasn’t taken place yet, at least not permanently, and though I’d prefer it were he a CF, just being in the OF will do for now.

Rudy Guillen showed some pop in his first game in his return FSL campaign. The RF was 1 for 3 with a double, a HBP, and 2 strikeouts. With the Yankee organization deciding that it would actually be a better idea for Guillen to prove himself at High A he’s going to have to put together a very good campaign to be promoted.

Hector Made had a poor A+ debut going 0 for 5 with a strikeout.


Brett Smith authored a dominant pitching performance for the Charleston Riverdogs, which should be the case with this team 4 out of 5 games. The ’04 college draftee made his ’04 debut by going 4.1-2-1-1-2-7-0. This was an impressive showing following a disappointing instructional league and spring training, which caused the right-hander to go from probable starter for Trenton or Tampa to head of the Charleston rotation. Smith, like most other Yankee pitching prospects at the moment, was on a strict pitch count so he was not able to rack up gaudier totals.

Despite scoring 5 runs, none of the Riverdog hitters had a good night as their offense was more a result of taking advantage of the opposition’s poor showing in the field. Tim Battle was 1 for 4 with 2 strikeouts and a stolen base. Marcos Vechionacci was 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout; he worked the count well, but was not able to get any results. C Irwil Rojas was 1 for 3 with a single and a walk. Estee Harris was 0 for 4 with a strikeout, a stolen base, and a caught stealing as he hit the ball hard on this night. Jon Poterson was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts (no snide comments…yet).