Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Former Yankee Prospects Looking to Make Contributions to Their New Teams

Here's a look at how some former Yankee prospects are doing as we head into the final week of spring training.

Ian Kennedy (left via the Granderson trade):

Recently announced as a member of the Diamondbacks starting rotation. In fact The Sporting News lists him as the number 4 starter. He has had a solid spring with a 2.79 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. This will be the second time in his career he will break major league camp in the starting rotation. This time around he is looking to do a little better. "IPK" as the players call him, now has a few more years of experience under his belt. Combine that with the fact he will be facing weaker lineups in the National League, and he may be headed for a break out year. Maybe he will finally start to show some of the potential the Yankees saw when he was picked in the 1st round of the 2006 draft.

Austin Jackson (left via the Granderson trade):

The number 1 Yankee prospect last year is also having a solid spring. He is currently tied for fourth in the Grapefruit League with a .339 average and 19 hits, including a .413 on-base percentage. The biggest sign of improvement is that he has struck out only 8 times in 56 at bats. In his last two seasons in the minors he had high amount of strikeouts, which caused the Yankees a lot of concern.

According to Jorge L. Ortiz, Jim Leyland has anointed Jackson the lead off hitter and starting center fielder. He quotes Leyland in his USA Today article as follows:
"He pretty much would have had to fall on his face not to make the team, and he certainly hasn't done that,'' Leyland said. "Let's face it, we (traded) a real good player, a very popular player (for Jackson). He would have had to really show us he's not ready, and he hasn't shown that. He's done very, very well. I've been very impressed.''
He will begin the year as the Detroit Tigers starting center fielder, not only because of his good hitting, but for his defensive abilities. He has good speed and can cover a lot of ground. His fielding skills and range will be necessary in order to offset the deficiencies of the other Tiger outfielders: Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, and at times Carlos Guillen, who will be roaming the outfield with him.

Shelley Duncan (left via free agency)

A Yankee fan favorite, known for his forearm bashing and long home runs. Duncan signed on with the Indians in the off season. He had a decent start to the spring getting 7 hits in 21 at bats, one of those a HR. Duncan looked like he had a good shot at a spot on the Tribe bench, by helping out in the corner outfield positions and at first base. But an elbow issue late in the spring significantly curtailed his chances, and he was sent down to minor league camp last Tuesday. Duncan was a lot of fun to watch and added some excitement to the Yankees back in 2007. I hope things turn around for him and he gets an opportunity at some point this season with the Indians.

Russ Ohlendorf and Daniel McCutchen (left via the Nady/Marte trade)

Ohlendorf has been roughed up somewhat this spring and has an ERA close to 10. He still appears to be set as the Pirates number 3 starter, primarily based on the good season he had last year. McCuthen is also making a name for himself in Pittsburgh where he's been named the team's fifth starter. He's had an impressive spring going 0-1, with a 3.38 ERA.

Some other former Yankees looking to make their mark:

Scott Proctor is a little less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery (probably as a result of overuse; really?) and is working hard to latch on with the Braves as a reliever when the season starts. His fastball has been clocked in the mid 90's, but he has an 11.25 ERA in 4 spring training innings.... Jeff Karstens is still in the running for the last spot in the Pirates pen, but has had a rough spring, going 1-1, with a 6.23 ERA... We are still waiting for Jose Tabata to live up to the top prospect billing he had with the Yankees. He was optioned down to Triple-A last week by the Pirates after a .250 batting average this spring.... Brian Bruney has a 4.50 ERA and 5 strikeouts in 8 innings this spring. The Nationals' depth chart lists him and another former Yankee, Tyler Clippard as the main set-up men for closer Matt Capps. If Bruney can find the strike zone, he could be first in line for saves if Capps struggles.... Chien-Ming Wang is still on the mend. Last week he had his session postponed due to shoulder soreness, but tossed 30 fastballs Friday without any setbacks. Sounds like he is still on track to join the Nationals rotation in May.... Will Nieves is also on the Nats and will likely be Ivan Rodriguez's main backup. He's only hitting .220 this spring.... Arodys Vizcaino is heading into his first full season of pro ball. Many are ranking him at the top of the Braves prospect list and expect a bright future for the 18-year-old.

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