Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chase Wright: Possible Callup?

The Yankees have been struck with some untimely injuries of late and may need a pitcher to fill in for Mussina for a few starts. The main idea is to start KArstens when healthy, but what about if he and Rasner arent ready? You have the young guys like Hughes, Clippard, and Ohlendorf, who all show great potential but are not MLB ready and not on the 40-man roster. This leads me to my main man, Chase Wright. Those of you who watch a lot of Spring Training may remember himas the guy who held the Tigers starting lineup to 3 runs in 6 innings. He had another good appearance in spring too. He is a lefty pitcher with a fastball about 91 that he can spot well. He has an outstanding changeup and decent curve. He was kind of a late bloomer as he won the single A pitcher of the year in Tampa last year at age 23. He had a 1.89 ERA as a starter during the season. Many thought he wouldnt be able to keep it up this year in AA and, Ill admit, even I had my doubts but he has shown nothing but good stuff and poise on the mound. So far this year, he has pitched 14 innings allowing 5 hits, 1 walk, and NO runs. He has also collected 17 Ks in those two games. I understand its only two starts but he has an advanced approach and oozes confidence that pitchers need to have to survive at the ML level. A thing to remember about Wright is that he is already on the 40-man roster. He was put on it to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Being on it means to call him up wouldnt cost the Yankees anything but if they wanted to call up someone like Hughes they would have to put someone on waivers. If the Yankees indeed look to the minor league system for a spot start, they should take a look at Wright who wont buckle under pressure and has the hot hand.

Hughes Pitching Tonight

Tonight, top prospect, Phil Hughes will be pitching against Richmond. With Mussina going down, who knows, maybe if he pitches very well he might get a spot start. You can follow his progress here: Look on the scoreboard and click Scranton.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Minor League Update

Who's Hot

Jose Tabata(High A)- 14 ABs, 8 Hits, 1 3b, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 SB, .571 AVG

Eric Duncan(AAA)- 13 AB, 4 Hits, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 Walks, 308 AVG

Chase Wright(AA)- 1 Win, 7 Innings, 4 Hits, 9 Ks, 0 Walks

Wilmer Pino(Low A)- 15 AB, 5 Hits, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .333 AVG

Yankees Minor League Starting Pitching(All Levels)- 69 Innings, 45 Hits, 18 Walks, 70 Ks, 2.48 ERA, 0.91 Whip

Who's Not

Bronson Sardinha(AAA)- 12 AB, 0 Hits, 3 Walks, 2 Ks, .000 AVG

Tim Battle(High A)- 17 AB, 1 Hit, 1 RBI, 3 Ks, .059 AVG

Mitch Hilligoss(Low A)- 19 AB, 4 Hits, 1 2B, 5 Ks, .211 AVG

Reegie Corona(High A)- 17 AB, 3 Hits, 1 2B, 5 Ks, .176 AVG

Ross Ohlendorf(AAA)- 5 Innings, 7 Hits, 4 Walks, 3 Runs, 0 Ks, 5.40 ERA

Monday, April 9, 2007

My Trip to Scranton

I have not been posting for the last few days as I have been in Moosic, PA watching the AAA Yankees. This trip had been planned out for a while and I lucked out when I discovered that I would be seeing Hughes and Ohlendorf pitch. I live in the middle of Long Island so it was about a 3 and half hour trip which isn't bad all things considered. The trip went very smoothly and wse did not hit much traffic even going over the GW bridge. It really is a nice area that is pretty rural, until you get to the area where the stadium is. In a very small radius around the stadium, their is a full town. Their is a HUGE shopping outlet that has almost every kind of store you can think of, a nice Marriot hotel, a really nice movie theater, and 4 or 5 restaurants to eat at. This is all within 30 seconds of each other. So needless to say, their is plenty to do for 2 days their.

After we arrived at the hotel, we checked out our room and rested up. We knew it was going to be very cold outside so we dressed warm and went out. After the 30 second drive we got to the stadium and went in. I noticed that the merchandise was still grossly overpriced as I thought it would be cheaper because it is a AAA team. I still bought a hat anyway. Nice Logos. We did have good seats, but it is not that bug of a stadium so there were not really bad seats. Their are 2 decks, upper and lower, the lower seeming about 3/4's full and the upper seeming about 1/4 full. I was in the upper. Phil Hughes was pitching this game so I didn't care about the seats. Hughes came out to a huge ovation. People got really charged when he would K someone or just get an out, myself included. In 5 innings, in almost freezing weather, he pitched 5 innings giving up 2 hit and runs while K'ing 6. The 2 runs were scored the same way. He either walked or hit the batter. The runner advanced to second and the were driven in with a single. The interesting thing was the same guy got both rbi singles. Hughes couldve pitched more as he was only at 74 pitches , 50 strikes, after the 5th but the Yankees decided to pull him because of the cold. In the bottom of the 5th Eric Duncan hit a huge homer to put Hughes in good position to win. After that the bullpen finished them off going 4 innings with only 1 run aloud. Chris Britton got the save. Other notables were Alberto Gonzalez going 2 for 3 and the latest callup, Kevin Thompson, had 2 hits and 3 stolen bases. They won 6-3.

The next day it was Ross Ohlendorfs turn to pitch. I was excited to see the new young arm who was an important part of the RJ deal. Before the game, a bunch of others and I were waiting for autographs on the third base line. You could tell everyone was pulling for Hughes to come out and sign but he never did. Most of them didn't. The autos I got were Shelly Duncan, Alberto Gonzalez, and Ben Kozloski. Eric Duncan ran right passed me so I was a little disappointed he didn't stop to sign. Ross looked shaky off the bat. His control wasn't there and it didn't seem like his sinker was very effective. On the bright side he was throwing with good velocity, constantly sitting between 90-94. He managed a line of 5 innings 7 hits 3 runs. A little disappointing but not horrible. The big hit came when Eric Duncan hit another big homerun over the right field wall. The crowd went crazy. The crowd also seemed to go crazy when any player who has spent time in the ML came in. Guys like Kevin Thompson, TJ Beam, and Andy Phillips all got huge cheers. Especially from the one woman who seemed particularly enamored with Andy Phillips, constantly yelling his name. The bullpen did good once again as Justin Pope and TJ Beam pitched 4 scoreless innings. Scranton won 5-3.

Overall, my trip was a a lot of fun. I would suggest to you who like to see the young guys play to take a trip to Moosic. Their is plenty of things to do their and you are sure to have a good time. I would suggest you go when it is a little warmer though.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Starting Rotation

Enters the 2007 season ranked by Baseball America as the seventh-best prospect in the Yankees' organization...also rated by Baseball America as having the "Best Changeup" in the Yankees' system...Led all Yankees' minor-leaguers with 175 strikeouts while posting a 12-10 record with a 3.35 ERA in 28 starts with Double-A Trenton...led the Eastern League in strikeouts and games started (28), ranked fourth in innings pitched (166.1) and seventh in ERA (3.35)...his 12 wins were tied for second-most among all Yankees' farmhands...became the first Trenton pitcher in the 13-year history of the franchise to toss a no-hitter in a 9-0 win vs. Harrisburg on 8/17...won his final nine decisions of the season from 7/4-8/27, surpassing the Trenton-franchise record of eight straight wins held by Carl Pavano (1996) and Tomo Ohka (1999).

Enters the 2007 season ranked by Baseball America as the top right-handed pitching prospect throughout all of baseball...ranked as the Yankees' number one prospect for the second straight year and rated as having the "Best Curveball" and "Best Control" among all Yankees' farmhands...Capped a noteworthy season with multiple honors and accolades, including the 2006 "Kevin Lawn Minor League Pitcher of the Year" Award, given annually to the top pitching prospect in the Yankees' organization...posted a combined record of 12-6 with a 2.16 ERA in 26 starts with Class-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton...led all Eastern League pitchers with a 2.25 ERA and ranked fourth in the league with 138 strikeouts... was selected to participate in the Eastern League All-Star Game and was named to the U.S. team for the "Futures" All-Star Game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Spent most of the season with Double-A Tennessee, going 10-8 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts (177.2IP, 180H, 70R, 65ER, 29BB, 125K)...won a season-high seven straight decisions in a span of 11 starts from 5/11-7/3 and was named the Diamondbacks' organization "Player of the Month" for June, going 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA...led all Southern League pitchers with four complete games, ranked second in innings pitched and shutouts (two), ranked fourth in wins and fifth in games started...following the Smokies' season, was promoted to Triple-A Tucson for the Pacific Coast League playoffs and made one start, recording no decision (5.0IP, 1ER).

Combined to post a 6-10 record with a 6.40 ERA in 27 games (24 starts) with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Columbus...began the season with Columbus and went 1-6 with a 7.68 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) before being transferred to Trenton on 6/7...earned the win in his first appearance (on 4/9 vs. Scranton-WB) before losing six straight decisions from 4/14-6/5...tossed a season-high 7.0 innings and surrendered just one earned run on 4/19 at Scranton-WB, but still suffered the loss in a 2-1 Red Barons 16 starts with Double-A Trenton from 6/10-9/3, posted a 5-4 record with a 5.77 ERA...won each of his final two starts of the season (on 8/29 at Erie and 9/3 vs. Reading), allowing just two earned runs in 11.1 IP.

Posted an 8-11 record with a 2.65 ERA in 24 starts with Double-A Tennessee...ranked second among all Southern League pitchers with his 2.65 ERA and he limited right-handed batters to a .204 batting average (68-for-333) six starts with Surprise in the Arizona Fall League, posted a 0-2 record with a 7.11 ERA.

Short Dellin Betances Pitching Video

I know its not much but it is cool to see him if you never have before.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Yankees Prospect Sleeper: Cody Ehlers

Ehlers has been a personal favorite of mine for a while. Not because of his stats but because every report I have read on him says he has a great work ethic and is always trying to get better. Though he is old for his league, 25 in AA, he still has the potential to be a very good player if he can hit like he did last year in Tampa, where he was the hitter of the year.
Here is a scouting report influenced by pinstripes plus:

Age: 25
Position: 1st base
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 185 lbs
Drafted: 11th Round in 2003 out of the University of Missouri
Bats: Left

Batting: Ehlers is an extremely good gap hitter as he hit 38 doubles last year. He also knocked out 18 homers. Also remember this is all playing in a park that waters down offensive production by 12%. Ehlers has very good strike zone judgement and has the ability to walk more then strike out in any given season. He seems to rise to the occasion with RISP as he hit 322 last year and came through in many clutch situations. Ehlers projects to be able to hit over 300 and hopes some of those 38 doubles will become homers.

Speed: Ehlers is not really a base stealer but is an intelligent base runner who wont hurt team on the base paths.

Defense: Ehlers defensive game is extremely smooth. He has great footwork and range at first. He also has a solid throwing arm at first which may seem unimportant but after watching Giambi butcher throws for 4 years its important. He has the potential to be a gold glover.

Projection: Ehlers has been flying under the radar for most of his career due to not having the tool set of a usual top prospect. He has shown now that he does have the potential to be a big league starter if he can develop a little more power. Even if he were to stay in the 15-25 range it would be suitable because the Yankees already have tons of power. He is a very steady player who will always give 100 percent and strive to be better. He could be compared Don Mattingly who never hit for huge power in the majors but was consistent with the bat and a clutch hitter.

Phil Hughes Crystal Ball

Awhile back John Sickels of did one of his crystal balls on Phil Hughes. Here it is:

I think this is a decent prediction. People may be expecting 300 wins and such with all the incredible hype around him but this is an extremely successful career. Sickels has him peaking early, having his best years in his early 20s, and then tailing off a little later. He also has him injured in 2013 which he has no way of telling. So overall he has him having a great career with maybe a cy young or 2. But remember this is just one mans prediction.

Yankees Get Postponed 4/4

No makeup date has been set.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Minor League Rosters

Scranton Yankees
Pitchers: TJ Beam, Colter Bean, Chris Britton, Erick Burke, Tyler Clippard, Matt DeSalvo, Phil Hughes, Steven Jackson, Ben Kozlowski, Charlie Manning, Ross Ohlendorf, Justin Pope

Cathchers: Raul Chavez, Omir Santos

Infielders: Chris Basak, Andrew Beattie, Angel Chavez, Eric Duncan, Alberto Gonzalez, Andy Phillips

Shelly Duncan, Kevin Reese, Bronson Sardinha, Kevin Thompson

Players to Watch: Phil Hughes, Eric Duncan, Ross Ohlendorf, Tyler Clippard, Alberto Gonzalez

Trenton Thunder
Pitchers: Gerardo Casadiego, Michael Gardner, Alan Horne, Jason Jones, Jeff Kennard, Jeff Marquez, Scott Patterson, Edwar Ramirez, Brett Smith, Paul Thorp, Kevin Whelan, Steven White (DL), and Chase Wright.

Catchers: Jason Brown, J.T. LaFountain, P.J. Pilittere.

Infielders: Aarom Baldirs, Cody Ehlers, Juan Francia, Gabe Lopez, Carlos Mendoza, Ramiro Pena.

Outfielders: Matt Carson, Justin Christian, Brett Gardner, Shawn Garrett.

Players to Watch Jeff Marquez, Kevin Whelan, Chase Wright, P.J Pilittere, Cody Ehlers, Brett Gardner.

Tampa Yankees
Pitchers: Erick Abreu, Wilkins Arias, Joba Chamberlain, Anthony Claggett, Phil Coke, Ian Kennedy, George Kontos, Zach Kroenke, Mike Martinez, Elvys Quezada, Josh Schmidt, Jose Valdez, Bryan Villalona, and Eric Wordekemper.

Catchers: Francisco Cervelli, Jared Greenwood, Joe Muich

Infielders: Reegie Corona, Mario Holmann, Juan Miranda, Tim O'Brien, Kevin Russo, and Marcos Vechionacci.

Outfielders: Tim Battle, James Cooper, Colin Curtis, Edwar Gonzalez, and Jose Tabata.

Players to Watch: Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, George Kontos, Franciso Cervelli, Reegie Corona, Marcos Vechionacci, Tim Battle, Colin Curtis, Jose Tabata

Charleston Riverdogs
Pitchers: Eric Hacker, Garrett Patterson, Edgar Soto, Gabe Medina, Paul Patterson, Mike Dunn, Nick Peterson, Tim Norton, Jonathan Hovis, Luke Trubee, Grant Duff, Angel Reyes, David Robertson, Brady Martinez

Outfielders: Austin Jackson, Josue Calzado, Seth Fortenberry, Brian Aragon, Andres Perez

Infielders: Chris Malec, Eduardo Nunez, Wilmer Pino, Mitch Hiligoss, Chris Kunda

Catchers: Jose Gil, Kyle Anson, Bryan Baisley

Players to Watch Mike Dunn, Jon Hovis, Angel Reyes, Austin Jackson, Josue Calzado, Wilmer Pino, Mitch Hiligoss

Monday, April 2, 2007

Yankees Win On Opening Day

The Yankees beat the D-Rays 9-5 to become 1-0 on the season.

Carl Pavano started the game and didnt look half bad for the first few innings. He was really trying to get into a rythum but Yankees horrid fielding disrupted it. His was keeping his fastball down for most of his outing but towards the end of his outing his fastball was staying up in the zone and gettting hit. Overall he did better then I expected but by no means did a good job. His final line was 4.1 innings, 6 hits, 4 ER, 2 walks, 2 Ks.

Bruney then came in a looked pretty good. He let up a hit that scored a run but it was Pavano's run.

Henn also looked decent. He pitched an inning, giving up 1 hit, and being helped out by a double play.

Newly aquired Luis Vizcaino looked sharp pitching a hitless inning and collecting the win.

Farnsworth wasnt throwing as consistently fast as he usually does but managed to throw some nice pitches. He pitched a scoreless inning giving up a hit and strikeing out 1.

Rivera looked dominate strikeing out the side with ease.

Damon went 1 for 2 with a walk and left early due to cramps in his leg.

Jeter went 1 for 4 with a clutch 2 rbi single that tied the game.

Abreu went 2 for 5 with an rbi but did leave 6 on base.

Arod didnt look sharp early but finished 2 for 5 with a 2-run homer.

Giambi went 2 for 5 with 2 rbis.

Matsui had a rough day going 0-3 but did have a walk.

Posada had a great day going 2 for 4 with a solo homer.

Cano went 1 for 4 with a run.

Phelps worked 2 walks before being taken out for Minky.

Minky laid down a great bunt and went 1 for 1, although, it was more of an error then a hit.

Yankees Farm Preview


Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre

Eric Duncan, 1B
With everything Duncan has been through, it's hard to imagine he'll play the 2007 season at the ripe old age of 22. The Yankees' first-round pick back in 2003 was perhaps rushed a bit through the system, but he's still ahead of the curve in terms of his level and age. If someone had said he'd be in Triple-A at 22 back when he was drafted, everyone would've been thrilled. But because he stalled a little in Double-A and took a step backward last year when his first taste of Triple-A didn't pan out, people think of him as a disappointment. Most of his struggles, however, have been injury-induced, including dealing with a bad back for much of 2006. He'll need to work hard to keep that from being a chronic problem so he can reach his considerable power potential. Defensively, he's made a fairly smooth transition to first base and should be at least average there in the future. The Yankees are still confident he'll hit, but also understand that this is an important season for Duncan to show he's more than just potential.

Phil Hughes, RHP
The Hughes clock, at least among Yankee fans, has already begun in earnest as everyone wants to know when the right-hander -- arguably the best pitching prospect in the game -- will get his chance. He'll get a nice long look in big-league camp this spring before heading to Triple-A at least to start the year. There are a few reasons why he may not be there long. First is his package of stuff and command. Just 20, Hughes has ridiculous pitchability while offering up two plus fastballs and a nasty curve. He's got a slider which can be an above-average pitch, but he rarely throws it anymore. His changeup is still a work in progress, but no one doubts it will come. Second, when people look at the Yankee rotation, they see age and question marks behind Chien-Ming Wang. No one knows what the Yankees will get from Carl Pavano or Kei Igawa, while Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte aren't spring chickens. The time will come -- and it could very well come by midseason -- where Hughes will join Wang as a very dangerous and effective 1-2 homegrown punch.

Others to watch: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre could very well have the deepest pitching staff in all of the Minors. Behind Hughes, there's Humberto Sanchez, Ross Ohlendorf and Tyler Clippard, just to get started. Steven Jackson, Steven White and Matt DeSalvo all want to be there as well. ... OF Brett Gardner reached Double-A in his first full season and stole 58 bases across two levels. He's a hustler who is simply fun to watch. ... Bronson Sardinha, who's been slowly making his way up the Yankee ladder since 2001, will join Gardner in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfield. He set a career high with his 16 homers and played well in his first taste of Triple-A last year.

Double-A Trenton

Cody Ehlers, 1B
As an 11th-round draft choice in 2004, Ehlers would have been a perfect choice as a sleeper or Cinderella story. Then he went and won the Florida State League MVP and kind of blew the door off of that secret. Yes, an argument can be made that he was a touch old for the level -- he'll play this season in Trenton at age 25 -- but the FSL is notoriously pitching-friendly and Ehlers led the league in total bases, RBIs, extra-base hits and doubles while finishing in the top 10 in a host of other offensive categories. The lefty-swinging/throwing first baseman will be the type who has to prove himself at each level, but any time a guy drives in over 100 runs in a season, it's worth watching what the follow-up year looks like.

Kevin Whelan, RHP
While Humberto Sanchez was the top young arm acquired in the Gary Sheffield trade, Whelan wasn't exactly a throw-in. Since the Tigers took him out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2005 draft, he's saved 42 games, posted a 2.30 ERA and struck out 110 (against just 37 walks) in 78 1/3 innings. Last year, he spent all season in the FSL and had 27 saves to go along with a .178 batting average against. This is all coming from a guy who was a catcher and closer for most of college and didn't commit to pitching only until that 2005 season. He's got an above-average fastball that hits 94 mph and a killer splitter which is his true out pitch. He'll spend much of this year simply learning the nuances of pitching while developing his slider to go along with his other offerings. It could click for him soon and, as much as it hurts Yankee fans to hear this, Mariano Rivera will not be New York's closer forever. Whelan could be the heir apparent.

Others to watch: There likely will be some trickledown from the Triple-A pitchers listed above. They may not be happy about it, but any of the aforementioned arms who end up in Trenton could dominate the competition. ... RHP Jeff Marquez doesn't have to worry about Triple-A yet. Despite a shoulder strain that cost him to miss a month, he finished the season strong, then pitched in Hawaii. His stuff is still raw, but could start coming together this season. ... Yet another intriguing arm is RHP Alan Horne. A Tommy John surgery recipient while in college, he finished last season in Tampa very strongly and hopes to build off of that in Trenton.

Class A Advanced Tampa

Jose Tabata, OF
You almost get the sense the Yankees are trying hard not to giggle when they talk about Tabata, who'll move up to the Florida State League and won't turn 19 until August. The Yankees have had some success developing some Latino hitters with Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera the current examples on the big-league roster. Tabata is one to two years ahead of that duo in terms of development and has been a better hitter than either was in the Minors. Simply put, Tabata is the best hitting prospect among the young Latino players they've had coming through the system. And he's not just a bat, though that is special. He can run and has flashed a plus-throwing arm from the outfield. There really is no ceiling for a player like this and the Yankees have been stressing things like discipline, work ethic and pre-game routines with Tabata to help ensure he can maximize his considerable talents. If he stays healthy this year -- he got dinged up a bit in 2006 -- he could really start taking off, allowing Yankee fans to start the "Tabata clock" by 2008.

Joba Chamberlain, RHP
At some points during last year's draft season, Chamberlain looked like a possible Top 10 pick. But some injury concerns allowed him to drop to the Yankees in the supplemental first round. He signed too late to make his debut last summer, probably a good thing because of the workload he shouldered at Nebraska. He did sign in time to go pitch in the Hawaiian Winter League and was named the league's top prospect. He touched 97 mph there and his fastball sat in the 93-95 range. He complements that plus-fastball with a slider, curve and changeup, all of which are usable pitches. Part of what scared some teams off were his conditioning and past knee surgery and Chamberlain will have to continue to focus on conditioning to stay healthy and maintain his power-command combination. Already making some adjustments to the pro game in terms of his delivery and his pitch selection, he could move up extremely quickly and join the upper-level pitching logjam in the near future.

Others to watch: RHP Ian Kennedy was another college right-hander the Yankees took in the first round. He barely got his feet wet in Staten Island last summer before joining Chamberlain in Hawaii, where he struck out 45 in 30 1/3 innings. He's not a power pitcher, though. Kennedy has outstanding command, mixes his pitches well and keeps hitters off-balance, helping him maximize his average stuff. ... Reliever Anthony Claggett came over along with Whelan and Sanchez in the Sheffield deal. He's coming off a season in which he finished with a 0.90 ERA and a .175 batting average against. ... Joining Tabata in the lineup should be 3B Marcus Vechionacci, another Venezuelan product. He'll play the season at age 20 and has nearly as high a ceiling as Tabata and is a plus, plus defender to boot. There's a chance that OF Colin Curtis will make the leap to Tampa in his first full season after being a fourth-round draft choice out of Arizona State last June.

Class A Charleston

Austin Jackson, OF
An all-around athlete, the Yankees took Jackson in the eighth round of the 2005 draft and convinced him to give up on playing basketball at Georgia Tech. His first full season was a learning experience as he showed some positive things -- 37 steals, 61 walks and some raw power -- as well as some negative things -- 151 strikeouts and a relatively poor ability to make adjustments. Some of that, of course, is to be expected from a relatively raw high school outfielder and the Yankees are hoping his athletic ability translates into better performance in 2007. There's a good chance he could be pushed to Tampa, in which case Curtis would probably start in center for Charleston.

Dellin Betances, RHP
Betances, a local product out of Brooklyn, was surprising enough in his debut when he posted a 1.17 ERA and 27 K's in 23 1/3 IP in the Gulf Coast League. Then he was touching 98 mph last fall, making the Yankees clearly realize they made the right decision by drafting Betances in the eighth round and throwing enough money at him to get him to give up his commitment to Vanderbilt. If that weren't enough, Betances showed up early to camp looking like a different person. The 6-foot-8 right-hander was around 205 pounds last fall. He showed up this spring at close to 230 pounds. What that can do for his fastball and his stamina is a little mind-boggling. He's also shown an above-average curveball and a changeup that's usable now but will get better. With his height, he has a significant downhill plane with a good delivery. He's a quiet, hard-working kid who the Yankees can't wait to watch develop. Of all the pitching the Yankees have in their system currently, there may be no one with a higher ceiling than Betances.

Others to watch: Catcher Francisco Cervelli had a nice year in the New York-Penn League, hitting .309 for Staten Island. But the Yankees like his catch-and-throw skills even more. ... He'll get a chance to catch lefty Angel Reyes. The Yankees aren't nearly as deep on the left side of the rubber, so they'll be watching the 20-year-old closely. ... RHP George Kontos went from Northwestern to Staten Island as a fifth-rounder last summer and helped the Yankees win the NY-Penn League title by posting a 2.64 ERA during the regular season and winning two playoff starts. OF Josue Calzado got a brief taste of Charleston last year and fared well and should at least get the chance to compete for a job there to start the season this spring.

Under the Radar

Tim Battle, OF
The Yankees have been excited about and patient waiting for Battle's tools to turn into performance ever since they took him in the third round back in 2003. There have been some glimpses, like when he hit 16 homers and stole 40 bases in 2005, his first try at full-season ball. Of course, he also struck out 195 times that year. The move up to Tampa didn't go well for him last year, and he ended spending most of the season back in Charleston. His makeup and resolve are off the charts. Just a month into his pro career, he was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma and underwent six months of chemotherapy. While there are some players who have tremendous tools who never quite put it together, the Yankees are going to continue to be extraordinarily patient with Battle, not just because of his potential, but because of his work ethic and attitude. The Yankees liked what they saw in him during their winter program, where he made some nice strides with his overall game. This could be a big year for him to get back on the map at the ripe old age of 21.

Juan Miguel Miranda, 1B
Back in December, the Yankees quietly signed Miranda, a Cuban defector, to a four-year contract worth $2 million. While it didn't garner that much attention, it was a Major League deal that required the Yankees to put the lefty-swinging Miranda on the 40-man roster. Miranda, 23, played on the Cuban national team from 2001 until 2004 when he successfully defected to the Dominican. He had tried twice previously to leave by raft. He left his parents and three brothers behind to chase his big-league dream. Now he's in Major League camp and has picked up a couple of at-bats so far this spring. The Yankees think he could be a guy who'll hit 20-plus homers annually and could push Eric Duncan in the near future in the upper levels of the system.

Francisco Cervelli, C
Signed out of Venezuela just shy of his 17th birthday in 2003, Cervelli initially played first base for the Yankees' Dominican Summer League team. He spent 2004 there as well -- as a catcher -- before making his United States debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2005. Nothing really made him stand out in any of these three seasons outside of his defense. He hit .239 back in 2003, .216 in 2004 and dropped to .190 in 24 games in the GCL in 2005. Then came last year. Catching for the New York-Penn League champion Staten Island Yankees, Cervelli hit .309 and had a .397 OBP in 136 at-bats. He'll give full-season ball a try at age 21 this season and the Yankees just might have a bona fide catching prospect on their hands.

Justin Christian, OF
Simply making it to Double-A as a non-drafted free agent is enough to put Christian on most Cinderella-type lists. He not only made it there, he played extremely well. After two seasons in the independent Frontier League, Christian was signed with the Yankees as a middle infielder. He's moved fairly quickly since with a .304 career average, .375 OBP and 182 steals. Last year with Trenton, he swiped 68 bags while hitting .276. He did all of that while playing outfield for the first time. Don't get too excited yet. Christian didn't even get a non-roster invitation to big-league camp this spring and will play this season at age 27. But wherever he is this season -- perhaps patrolling the outfield in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- you can be sure he'll be running all the time and continuing to try to defy expectations.

2006 Draft Recap

OF Colin Curtis (fourth round), hit .311 with a .374 OBP, almost entirely for Staten Island. He hit .333 in the playoffs. ... RHP George Kontos (fifth) turned it around from a subpar final season at Northwestern to help lead the Staten Island Yankees to the NY-Penn League title. He went 7-3 with a 2.64 ERA in 14 regular-season starts, striking out 82 and walking only 19 in 78 1/3 innings. ... INF Mitch Hilligoss (sixth) hit .292 and went 12-for-14 in stolen-base attempts for Staten Island. ... RHP Tim Norton (seventh) had a 2.60 ERA in 15 starts for Staten Island, striking out 83 and walking 14 over 72 2/3 IP. He didn't allow an earned run over his final four regular-season starts, then tossed seven shutout frames in a postseason start. ... RHP Dellin Betances (eighth) really opened some eyes in the GCL, posting a 1.16 ERA and striking out 27 over 23 1/3 innings. ... RHP Daniel McCutchen had a 1.86 ERA over 29 innings for Staten Island and Charleston. He struck out 29, walked six and held hitters to a .175 average. He'll start the season serving a suspension for testing positive for a performance enhancer, something he said was a result of a prescription he was talking. ... C Brian Baisley (24th) was probably too old for his levels, but he did hit .326 over 23 games, mostly in the Florida State League. His brother, Jeff, plays in the A's system.

Opening Day Lineups

Carl Crawford LF
Ben Zobrist SS
Rocco Baldelli DH
Ty Wigginton 1B
Delmon Young RF
Akinori Iwamura 3B
Dioner Navarro C
Elijah Dukes CF
B.J. Upton 2B
Scott Kazmir LHP

Johnny Damon CF
Derek Jeter SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jason Giambi DH
Hideki Matsui LF
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Josh Phelps 1B
Carl Pavano RHP

No huge surprises exceot maybe Phelps getting the call. I think its a good move on Torres part becasue it sets up righty vs lefty and Phelps has the hot bat.