The Yankees AAA team at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre opens its season Thursday night at home against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies). A lot of new faces are on this year’s team and they have a very good pitching staff that should help them defend their Division Championship from last year. Here's a brief preview of some of the players:
This is the team’s strongpoint. The pitching here at SWB could be better than some ML teams.
Steven White: White's a holdover from last year’s rotation. White had a very good ERA in 07 --3.34. He throws hard and worked out of the pen in the fall league. He's going to start the year in the rotation but he's perfect material for the long-man, spot starter role and could be moved to the pen easily at some point.
Kei Igawa: He did not have a good camp this spring, giving up 7 runs in 11 innings. My suggestion, keep him at extended spring training in Tampa and let Nardi Contreras fix him once and for all or trade him. He's blocking a rotation spot for a younger guy. Will they do that? I doubt it.
Darrel Rasner: He's competing for the long-man role in NY but still hasn't gotten back his sharpness after his injury from last year. He could use some time at SWB and will be in the rotation.If he pitches well the first few weeks he'll probably be called up to NY.
Alan Horne: Last years Eastern League Pitcher of the Year certainly deserved this promotion. He'll be the one starter everybody will be watching this year. He's really come on his last 3 games at minor league camp, throwing 9 IP, and allowing no runs and 4 hits, while striking out 11. We could see him in NY this season.
Jeff Marquez and Chase Wright are vying for the last spot. One of them, probably Wright, will be back at AA for at least the start of the year.
Scott Patterson: The 28 year old was very impressive at ST. He opened up a lot of eyes and was the last pitcher cut. He'll certainly see action in NY at some point. He had a great spring: 7.2 IP, no runs, 1 hit, 7 K's and no walks.
Jose Veras: He was my biggest disappointment of ST. He throws hard and has good stuff but did not pitch well this spring, in 6 IP; he allowed 6 runs on 6 hits, and a walk. He did strike out 5 along the way, though.
Edwar Ramirez: Edwar picked up a cutter this offseason and really needs to perfect that pitch to go with his deadly changeup, if he's ever going to be consistent at the ML level. Look for him to improve with that pitch as the season goes on.
Chris Britton: Britton had a very good year in 07 at SWB. He pitched pretty well this spring at camp going 5 IP, 2 runs, 3 hits, 3 K's--0 walks.
Heath Phillips: Phillips was in the mix for the lefty reliever role in NY but really did not pitch well this spring (6.1 IP, 5 runs, 11 hits, 7 K's--3 walks).
Brett Gardner: My favorite player at SWB. He really impressed everybody this spring. The speedster hit .324 with 6 stolen bases. He could have made the team, but the Yankees want him to get regular AAA at bats to improve on his .260 AAA average of last year. If anything happens to Melky, he'll surely be called up. Expect to see him at some point later in the year.
Eric Duncan: Former 1st round draft pick has to pick it up this year with the bat. He hasn't hit over .250 in the last 3 seasons, and was left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. He just turned 23 a few months ago, but this is a crucial year for him. He's had a very good minor league camp. in 11 games, .325, 9 rbi, 2 homers.
Juan Miranda: The power hitting lefty from Cuba will share 1st base duties with Duncan. He has good power to all fields, but has to hit lefties much better than he did last year. He also needs work on his defense at 1st base. He's no ballerina out there. Started off very slow in minor league camp but drew a lot of walks. In 10 games he hit .200, with 3 doubles, but has picked it up the last couple games.
Alberto Gonzalez: Holdover slick fielding shortstop has to improve with the bat in 08. He only hit .247 at AAA last year. He's had a very good minor league camp hitting .391, 5 rbi, 1 homer.
Cody Ransom: Ransom opened up some eyes at spring training. He hit .282 at ST Camp. He'll start at 3rd base for SWB. Last year was his best power year with 28 homers and he has a career minor league average of .240.
Justin Christian: Good defense, very good speed, he'll be one of the outfielders this year. Christian had a very nice minor league camp in 6 games hitting .333, 1 homer, 4 rbi.
Jason Lane: Lane was in the mix for the final position player on the NY roster. He'll be a good insurance policy if any of the NY corner outfielders have an injury.
Greg Porter: He'll be in the mix with Lane for a corner spot in the SWB outfield.
This is the complete SWB roster from Chad Jennings.
|Steven White RHP ||Chad Moeller, C|
|Alan Horne RHP || |
Jason Brown, C
|Jeff Marquez RHP ||Eric Duncan, 1B|
|Darrell Rasner RHP ||Juan Miranda, 1B|
|Kei Igawa LHP ||Bernie Castro, 2B|
|Chris Britton RHP ||Nick Green, INF|
|Scott Strickland RHP ||Cody Ransom, 3B|
|Dan Giese RHP ||Alberto Gonzalez, SS|
|Heath Phillips LHP ||Brett Gardner, OF|
|Edwar Ramirez RHP ||Jason Lane, OF|
|Jose Veras RHP ||Greg Porter, OF|
|Scott Patterson RHP || |
Justin Christian, OF
-- Thanks to Chad Jennings for his Spring Training AAA game reports, and list of where players were assigned.