Yankees trade for San Diego 3B Headley

San Diego Padres' Chase Headley, right, is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

It’s a trade that’s been years in the making, but the Yankees finally pulled the trigger on Tuesday, acquiring third baseman Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres. New York sends Yangervis Solarte and minor league pitcher Rafael De Paula to San Diego and the Yankees also receive $1 million in cash from the Padres.

Headley, 30, a switch-hitter with a history of hitting for power, solves a problem for the Yankees, as he should be the everyday starter at third base for the rest of the season. His best year was 2012, when he hit .286 with 31 doubles, 31 homers and an NL-best 115 RBI. He finished fifth in the MVP voting and won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

But he’s struggled since.

He hit just .250 with 13 homers in 2013. This season, a slow start has him at well below those peak numbers. Headley hit .186 in April, .212 in May and .205 in June, but he’s had a scorching July, hitting .323 with four doubles, one triple and one homer to go along with nine RBI through 15 games this month.

A free agent a season’s end, Headley wasn’t going to cost much. A strong second half in New York could propel the Yankees to a playoff berth and it might give New York an edge in contract talks with perhaps their third baseman of the future.

As for what the Yankees gave up, we’ll start with Solarte. He had a red-hot start in April, hitting .303 and following that up with a .296 average in May to go along with five homers and 13 RBI. He’s cooled off considerably since and has lost playing time to Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. Solarte, 27, a minor league veteran of the Rangers and Twins systems, is probably no more than a capable reserve infielder at the major league level, so Headley will be a major upgrade here.

De Paula, 23, is in his second season at High-A Tampa. In three minor league seasons, he’s 21-12 with a 3.58 ERA and has struck out 11.4 batters per nine innings. The right-hander has shown plenty of promise, but he will still need to prove himself at Double-A and Triple-A before he gets a chance in the majors. So time will tell whether the Yankees regret giving him away.

Like the Brandon McCarthy trade right before the All-Star break, the Yankees have made themselves better via the trade market, without having to give up much in return. McCarthy has pitched well in his few starts so far – and we’ll see how Headley performs down the stretch – but you have to tip your cap to Yankees GM Brian Cashman for finding ways to make the team stronger without sacrificing the top prospects in the system.

Headley gives Joe Girardi another switch-hitting bat, so he could hit anywhere in the lineup, probably sixth or seventh depending on who’s playing. He also allows Kelly Johnson to focus on his duties at first base with Mark Teixeira out and puts Brendan Ryan and Brian Roberts in a platoon at second base.

Do the Yankees have any moves left to make? I would think Cashman is still looking for starting pitchers. The latest rumor is John Danks of the Chicago White Sox, a serviceable veteran lefty, but a pitcher who has struggled since being sidelined with a shoulder injury in 2012.

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Yanks add vet Francis

Colorado Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis throws against the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 5-4. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Not to be overshadowed by LeBron James’ decision to return to Cleveland, the Yankees made a roster move of their own today.

In a trade with Oakland, the Yankees acquired veteran lefty Jeff Francis and cash. Oakland receives a player to be named later.

Francis is a 10-year MLB veteran, most notably serving in Colorado’s rotation 2004-13 with one season (2011) in Kansas City in between. This year, he’s pitched a total of 18 1/3 innings with Cincinnati and Oakland. He made one start with the Reds before transitioning to a bullpen role in Oakland. The results haven’t been great. He’s allowed 12 runs on 16 hits, but he has struck out 14 against three walks.

Since he wasn’t being used in the A’s rotation, I’d imagine Francis starts off as a swingman in the Yankees bullpen and might later build up the arm strength to start again.

For his career, he’s 70-80 with a 4.95 ERA. His best season was 2007, when he went 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA, finished ninth in the NL Cy Young voting and helped lead the Rockies to the World Series.

Like the Brandon McCarthy move, it’s a low-risk, low-reward type of trade for the Yankees. Francis won’t cost much at all, but he almost certainly won’t be the piece that puts the Yankees over the top in the AL East race. He’s just a veteran presence that can help eat some innings and try to keep the club in ballgames until they figure out to do with the starting rotation.

With 80 percent of the opening day starting rotation on the disabled list – Nova, Pineda, Sabathia and now Tanaka – the Yankees need some warm bodies to take those innings. You can expect Brian Cashman to make a few more deals like this, or even more significant trades, as he addresses the rotation before the trade deadline at the end of July.

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Yanks add McCarthy to the rotation

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy (32) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh Thursday, July 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Yankees made a trade over the weekend, acquiring starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy from Arizona for pitcher Vidal Nuno in a straight one-for-one swap.

McCarthy, who rose to prominence on the World Series champion White Sox in 2005, later became Oakland’s opening day starter by the beginning of the 2012 season. He was struck in the head by a line drive toward the end of the 2012 season but returned in 2013 after signing a free agent deal with Arizona. He went 5-11 with a 4.53 ERA last year for the Diamondbacks, a long way off from his peak years in 2011 and 2012. It hasn’t been much better for McCarthy this season, who went 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 18 starts for a dreadful Diamondbacks team. He’s allowed more hits and more earned runs than any pitcher in the National League.

Nuno, on the other hand, had an equally frustrating season with the Yankees, pitching mostly in the No. 5 starter role. He was 2-5 with a 5.42 ERA in 17 games, 14 of which were starts. It’s unlikely that he ever exceeds this station in the major leagues, although he could become a useful long man or swing man out of a bullpen for years to come.

So why would the Yankees give up a guy who still has some years of team control to take on McCarthy and the money left on his contract? There’s reason to believe he’s starting to turn things around despite his ugly stats.

If you take a look at McCarthy’s page on FanGraphs, click here for the link, take a look at the right hand side of the page. His FIP (fielder independent pitching) and xFIP (expected fielder independent pitching) paint the picture that McCarthy is a much better pitcher than his won-loss record and ERA indicate.

Let’s take a deeper look at McCarthy’s numbers. He’s in the middle of posting the best strikeout rate of his career, mowing down 7.63 batters per nine innings. His walk rate per nine (1.64) isn’t a career best, but it’s still an excellent figure. He’s inducing 55 percent ground balls, which is the highest mark of his career. The number that’s shocking is his home run-to-fly ball ratio, which sits at 20 percent. That’s double his career average.

When you look at FIP, which tries to balance out through math what a pitcher can control and what he can’t – FanGraphs has a better and deeper explanation here – it’s clear that McCarthy has had some bad luck behind him this year. Maybe he had poor fielders in Arizona that weren’t necessarily making errors, but weren’t getting to balls they should have gotten to, either. Maybe he’s had some bad luck with fly balls not dying on the warning track and winding up in the seats instead. All signs are pointing toward McCarthy bouncing back at some point soon, which is why the Yankees pulled the trigger on this trade.

I don’t think McCarthy is going to join Tanaka at the top of the rotation, but he should offer a bit more consistency out of the No. 5 spot in the rotation. By all accounts, McCarthy seems like a smart guy who won’t be rattled by New York and should add a veteran presence to the clubhouse.

After all, the Yankees only had to give up Nuno to get him and the remainder of his salary isn’t so large that the Yankees had a financial issue with the move. And if McCarthy can just pitch a little better than Nuno – at the very least – it’ll be a positive trade.

McCarthy makes his first start on Wednesday.

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Athletics and Cubs kick off summer trade season

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, June 23, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Oakland A’s and the Chicago Cubs made the first big trade of the 2014 season on Friday. Chicago sends two of its starting pitchers, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, out west for a big haul of prospects in Oakland’s Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and a player to be named later.

For Oakland, at 53-33 the best record in baseball, it’s a major sign that the A’s are in it to win it this year. For the Cubs, it’s another step in the rebuilding process. Off the bat, it seems like a win-win for both teams, although time will be the judge of that.

Samardzija, the former Notre Dame wide receiver, is 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA this season, although that won-loss record is more a factor of the Cubs’ poor offense and horrendous bullpen than it is of his talent. In 108 innings, Samardzija has allowed 99 hits, and struck out 103 against 31 walks. He’s the kind of No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher that Oakland needs at the top of its rotation in a tough playoff series.

Hammel is kind of a wily veteran in the middle of a career year. He’s 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA with 104 strikeouts, 23 walks and 88 hits allowed in 108 2/3 innings. Again, those numbers would probably be even better if he played for a team that gave him run support and had a bullpen that didn’t blow leads.

Adding these guys to the Oakland rotation should help the A’s hold on to their AL West division lead and will give them a big boost in a playoff series.

But the move certainly came at some long-term cost to Oakland. Hammel is a free agent at season’s end. Samardzija is under contract through the end of the 2015 season.

Oakland also gave up top prospect Addison Russell, a shortstop who’s at Double-A this summer. His rise to the majors won’t take long, although his path in Chicago is currently blocked by Starlin Castro. It’s quite possible the Cubs wind up flipping Russell for other assets before he ever dons a Cubs uniform.

McKinney, 19, is a long way from the bigs, as he’s currently playing in High-A this year. An outfielder, McKinney has some power potential with 10 home runs, 12 doubles and two triples through 75 games this season.

Straily is a pitcher with some major league experience and he was a strikeout machine on his way up through the minors. He’ll join Jake Arrieta as up-and-coming arms in the Cubs’ rotation.

The American League no longer looks up-for-grabs. The AL East is full of strong teams, but they’ve spent all season beating each other up. I would imagine the AL East race comes right down to the wire, so will any of those teams have anything left for October? The Tigers looked unbeatable coming out of spring training, but a down year from Justin Verlander dampens Detroit’s expectations for the postseason. Oakland figured to get plenty of competition from Texas this year, but a litany of injuries have made it a lost season for the Rangers. So this trade makes it look like the AL pennant is Oakland’s to lose.

Someday, the Cubs are going to be a team to contend with…but we’ve been hearing that just about as long as we’ve been hearing that soccer is America’s sport of the future. Still, Chicago is hoarding top prospects and could make a few more moves before the trade deadline later this month.

How does this relate to New York baseball?

Well, the Yankees had been hoping CC Sabathia would return at some point after the trade deadline. He’s been on the DL since mid-May with inflammation in his right knee. He made a rehab start in Trenton earlier this week, but was removed after 3 1/3 innings. A follow-up exam revealed lingering problems in the right knee and the Yankees appear set to shut down Sabathia for the rest of the season.

And perhaps the rest of his career.

With Ivan Nova already out for the year and Michael Pineda still no sure bet to return in 2014, either, the Yankees could certainly be in the market for starting pitchers later this month. They had been linked to both Samardzija and Hammel, but the Yankees just didn’t have the talented prospects to make a deal happen with the Cubs.

David Price, the Tampa Bay Rays ace, remains on the market, but he’ll demand an even greater haul than the Samardzija and Hammel duo. I’m not sure if Tampa Bay would be willing to trade him in the division, even if they got fair market value.

Really, what the Yankees do the rest of this month will tell you a great deal about what the front office thinks about this team. If the Yankees wind up picking up a No. 4 or No. 5 starter-type – or two – it’s the very minimal commitment to winning in 2014. A pitcher or two of that caliber might help the Yankees to a playoff berth, probably as the second Wild Card team, which means a one-game playoff on the road. Even if Tanaka starts that game, the Yankees would begin the divisional round in a major hole with Tanaka unavailable for a few days.

With such a poor offense – although that could conceivably turn around any time now – and an injury-riddled starting rotation, what the Yankees really need to be competitive in October makes for a long shopping list. Simply put, the Yankees don’t have the pieces in the farm system to make the major moves necessary to make this a playoff contender.

So what will the Yankees do as the trade deadline approaches? Will they find a way to make a big splash, even with a fairly thin farm system? Are they willing to sacrifice the future for the now? Or would they even consider becoming sellers at the deadline and trying to stock up the farm system for the point when Teixeira and Beltran and McCann aren’t around anymore?

Most likely, the Yankees make a few minor moves, addressing the rotation and second/third base. That keeps them in the race for a while, but it won’t make them any better for October, even if they do qualify for the postseason. And it won’t make the Yankees any for 2015 or beyond, either.

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Renegades rundown: June 29

In today’s Times Herald-Record, I had a piece on Hudson Valley Renegades second basemen Coty Blanchard and Jace Conrad. There’s no rivalry between these two players, however, as Blanchard was one of the first people to take Conrad under his wing when Conrad signed a pro contract earlier this month.

Here’s the link to the story.

The Renegades enter tonight’s game at Aberdeen tied with Brooklyn for the McNamara Division lead at 11-5. Staten Island is two games back at 9-7 and Aberdeen is already almost hopelessly behind at 1-15.

Hudson Valley opens July with eight straight games against Brooklyn and Staten Island, flip-flopping between Dutchess Stadium and the venues in New York. After that, they play Staten Island just twice and will not see Brooklyn again, so this is a crucial stretch of schedule coming up for Hudson Valley. The Renegades would have plenty of time to catch up if they fall behind in the division race, but without those head-to-head games, they’d just be hoping the other teams lose to really make up ground. So I think the Renegades’ playoff chances will hang in the balance of how the next week plays out.

Here’s a quick look at Hudson Valley’s statistical leaders prior to Sunday’s game.

Batting average: Coty Blanchard, .340, sixth in NY-PL

Home runs: Casey Gillaspie and Hunter Lockwood, 2 ea., t-10th (trailing State College’s Rowan Wick, who has 10 HRs in 16 games!)

RBI: Lockwood, 9, t-12th

Walks: Alec Sole, 9, t-9th

Stolen bases: Coty Blanchard, 7, t-1st (Bralin Jackson, Alec Sole and Elias Torres have 6 each, tied for third)

Wins: Isaac Gil, Nolan Gannon, Edgar Gomez and Josh Kimborowicz, 2 ea., t-2nd

Saves: Isaac Gil, 2, t-5th

Innings pitched: Nolan Gannon, 16, t-11th

Strikeouts: Enderson Franco, 19, t-3rd

WHIP: Nolan Gannon, 0.44, 1st

 

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Renegades rundown: June 23

Our weekly Renegades stories ran in Sunday’s paper. Here are the links.

First round draft pick Casey Gillaspie makes his pro debut this summer for Hudson Valley. For Gillaspie, he’s entering the family business.

Another of Hudson Valley’s power hitters, Hunter Lockwood, is off to a hot start this year. Two walkoffs in the team’s first games have helped developed chemistry for a clubhouse that’s a mix of fresh-out-of-college players and guys who have been together in the Rays’ system for a few years.

As for the team, Hudson Valley used another walkoff win on Sunday evening, beating Staten Island 4-3 in 11 innings. That helped boost the Renegades to 6-4 through their first 10 games. After winning four straight against Aberdeen to open the season, Hudson Valley lost three in a row to Brooklyn. The Renegades won two of three against Staten Island to close out the second week of the season.

In roster news, Tampa Bay has released first baseman John Alexander, who was in his second go-round with the Renegades this year. An 8th round pick out of high school in 2011, Alexander hit .232 with seven home runs in 521 minor league at-bats. With Gillaspie on the roster, the Renegades simply didn’t have space for another first baseman and Tampa Bay apparently hadn’t seen enough improvement from Alexander to keep him in the organization.

For more Hudson Valley Renegades coverage, check out the Times Herald-Record every Sunday.

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Renegades rundown: June 16

Hudson Valley Renegades' Hunter Lockwood (23) connects with a pitch during their home opener against the Aberdeen IronBirds at Dutchess Stadium on Friday, June 13, 2014.

 

The Hudson Valley Renegades’ first series of the season wraps up tonight with a game against McNamara Division rival Aberdeen. Before I take a look at the team’s performance so far, here’s a recap of the Renegades coverage we’ve had in the Times Herald-Record over the last few days. Click on the links for the full stories.

The 2014 season really could not have started better for the Hudson Valley Renegades.

On opening night, outfielder Hunter Lockwood hit a two-out, walkoff home run over the left center field fence in a 2-1 win over Aberdeen. That backed up a strong pitching performance by starter Hunter Wood (4 IP, 4 H, 6 K, 1 BB, 0 R).

On Saturday, the Renegades won in walkoff fashion yet again as Coty Blanchard singled in Elias Torres with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning. Lockwood hit his second home run of the season in the game. Enderson Franco started and gave up one unearned run on five hits over five innings, striking out six in the no-decision.

On Sunday, a 4-2 Renegades win, first round draft pick Casey Gillaspie hit his first professional home run. Orioles top prospect Dylan Bundy had pitched the first five innings for Aberdeen. Nolan Gannon gave up one hit and walked two and struck out two over five innings of work to earn the win for the Renegades.

For a team that’s a mish-mash of recently drafted college players and guys who have been together in extended spring training for a couple of months, the two walkoff wins to open the season must be huge team-building experiences. Those might go a long way in the Renegades competing for a New York-Penn League playoff spot throughout the summer.

Look for more coverage of the Renegades each and every Sunday in the Times Herald-Record and on www.recordonline.com.

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Hudson Valley Renegades media day wrap-up

Hudson Valley Renegades first-year manager Tim Parenton talks about the prospects of this year's team. Parenton has more than 20 years coaching experience in collegiate baseball, most recently as an assistant at University of North Florida. (Judy Connelly photo/Times Herald-Record)

The Hudson Valley Renegades hosted their annual media day at Dutchess Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

With the MLB draft getting pushed back and stretched out to compete on television with the NFL and NBA draft coverage, and the New York-Penn League season starting earlier than ever, it was a weird media day by Renegades standards. Many of the players picked in last week’s draft have yet to arrive as they negotiate signing bonuses and work out physicals. So we missed some players, including Tampa Bay’s first round pick, Casey Gillaspie, who will play in Hudson Valley this season. I plan to catch up with Gillaspie at some point after he arrives in Fishkill.

Speaking of Gillaspie, he has some ties to new Renegades manager Tim Parenton. Parenton and Gillaspie’s father, Mark, were teammates at Mississippi State in the early ’80s. Gillaspie is the younger brother of Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie.

I’ll have a story on Parenton in tomorrow’s Times Herald-Record, so keep your eyes open for that. We’ll also have a team preview page in Friday’s paper to coincide with opening night.

Here are some leftover notes from my interview with Parenton today.

I asked Parenton what differences there might be between college coaching and pro ball. His answer? Very little, other than the fact that they players get to focus on baseball 24-7 in this environment.

  • “In college you’re dealing with 17-21 year-olds and that’s what I’m dealing with here,” he said. “I’m just catching some at the later end where they’ve finished their college and are starting out with professional baseball. The one thing we try to instill in them is time management. They don’t have to go to classes. They don’t have to do anything. It’s just professional baseball. Get a plan a stick with it and see where it takes you.”

For the players that have already been in the organization, either with the Princeton (W.Va.) Rays or the Gulf Coast League team, things don’t change that much when they’re with the Renegades. It’s the same routine and the same philosophies, which will help Parenton adjust to the new role and some new players pretty quickly.

  • “The focus in the Rays organization is to do the same thing at every level,” he said. “We start with them at extended spring and rookie ball and teach them the Rays way. That’s what we expect out of them every day we step on the field. The way we take our leads on the bases, our bunt defense, everything is the same from A-ball up to the big leagues. That’s one thing I think that they’ve been successful with, is keeping consistency throughout the organization.”
Parenton also has some ties to the Hudson Valley area. He recruited Matt Quatraro, Jim Tyrrell and Denis McLaughlin to Old Dominion in the early ’90s. Quatraro, from Bethlehem in the Albany suburbs, later became Renegades hitting coach and manager himself in the mid-2000s. Tyrrell, a former Spackenkill player, went on to become Marist head coach. McLaughlin, a former Warwick player who was Times Herald-Record Player of the Year in 1991, also went on to ODU and later pitched in the Red Sox farm system.
  • “My first seven years in my coaching career were at Old Dominion. One of the old managers, Matt Quataro played for me. I recruited him. Jim Tyrell was another kid from around here. Dennis McLaughlin. I recruited in this area a little bit in the 90s. This stadium wasn’t here, but I was in the area.”
This made my story…but it was the quote of the day and it’s too good not to share here. The players sound like they already love Parenton’s laid-back New Orleans style.
  • “I’m comfortable with him,” said left-handed pitcher Darren Fischer. “He’s a chill coach, too, which makes everything easier, not just on me, but on everyone. He’s not a pitching coach, so we didn’t work on much, but he runs the show and he’s a good dude and we’re all excited to play for him.”
Here’s the roster I got today, which I’m sure is subject to change as more college players complete their deals in the coming weeks.
PITCHERS
Oscar Armenta
Ely Echarry
Mario Fernandez
Enderson Franco
Nolan Gannon
Tyler Gauthier
Isaac Gil
Edgar Gomez
Joshuah Kimborowicz
Ryan Pennell
Chris Pike
Gerardo Reyes
D.J. Slaton
Anthony Tzamtzis
Bradley Wallace
Hunter Wood
CATCHERS
Wilmer Dominguez
Mac James
Chris Talley
INFIELDERS
John Alexander
Coty Blanchard
Leopoldo Correa
Douglas Duran
David Garcia
Casey Gillaspie
Daniel Miles
Hector Montes
Alec Sole
OUTFIELDERS
Clayton Henning
Bralin Jackson
Hunter Lockwood
Elias Torres

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Rays draft results: future Renegades?

The Major League Baseball first-year player draft concluded on Saturday. In addition to two local players getting selected – Kingston’s Pat Dorrian and Goshen’s Quinn Carpenter - a quick look at the Tampa Bay Rays’ draft might give us some clues as to who we can expect to see wearing Hudson Valley Renegades uniforms this summer.

The Renegades open the 2014 New York-Penn League season on Friday night at Dutchess Stadium.

Here are some quick notes on the college players picked by the Rays. The Renegades hold their annual media day on Wednesday.

Casey Gillaspie, Wichita State

A switch-hitting first baseman with power, Gillaspie will bring some much-needed thump to the Rays’ light-hitting farm system. He was taken 20th overall by Tampa Bay after hitting .389 with 15 doubles, 15 homers, 50 RBI, 50 runs scored and a .520 on-base percentage this spring.

He led the Cape Cod League with eight home runs in 2013.

Gillaspie is the younger brother of Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie. Their father, Mark Gillaspie, was an 11th round pick of the San Diego Padres in 1981. Mark Gillaspie reached Triple-A a few times but never cracked a big league roster.

Gillaspie still has yet to sign with Tampa Bay, so he might not be in Fishkill to open the season, but expect to see him here at some point.

Brent Honeywell, Walters State, Tenn.

I’d be surprised if Honeywell plays for Hudson Valley this summer, but he might be here next year. Taken with the 72nd pick, Honeywell, 19, had a strong season on the junior college level this spring. He went 10-3 with a 2.81 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 83.1 innings. Not only does he hit the mid-90s with his fastball, he also has a screwball as a secondary pitch. I can see him playing rookie ball this year before he moves up to the NY-PL.

Michael Russell, North Carolina

Russell was the Tarheels’ shortstop this year, hitting .339 with a .424 OBP, a .496 slugging average and 20 doubles, four home runs and 43 runs scored.

He probably profiles as a second baseman moving forward, but he will likely get a shot to play every day somewhere in the infield for the Renegades this year.

Mac James, Oklahoma

James played a number of positions for the Sooners this spring, but he’s mostly a catcher and first baseman. He hit .330 with 15 doubles, five homers and 41 RBI in 57 games. He has already signed, so I will expect to see him on Wednesday and in the Hudson Valley lineup for most of the upcoming season.

Mike Franco, Florida International

Another Friday pick who has already signed, Franco is coming off a spring in which he went 9-3 with a 1.09 ERA and 112 strikeouts and 27 walks over 99 innings.

I’m not sure how many more innings Tampa Bay wants him to throw this year, so he might fall into a piggyback relief role to keep his innings in check.

Chris Pike, Oklahoma City University

A Long Island native and a former Fordham pitcher, Pike had a tremendous season after transferring to an NAIA school. He went 10-3 with a 1.89 ERA and struck out 125 in 90.2 innings.

Like Franco, college starters rarely fall into that same role during their first pro season in the Rays’ system. He might get some time out of the bullpen.

Braxton Lee, Ole Miss

An outfielder, Lee hit .287 with five doubles, 20 RBI and scored 39 runs. He got on base at a .379 clip and went 22-for-25 in stolen base attempts. He sounds like he could fit in at the top of the lineup for the Renegades this summer.

Jace Conrad and Matthew Plitt, Louisiana-Lafayette

These two players still have some college baseball left on the schedule. They play Ole Miss in the third game of a three-game Super Regional series tonight – the game airs on ESPN2.

Conrad, a second baseman, is hitting .369 with 65 RBI, 20 doubles and nine home runs.

Plitt, a right-handed reliever, is 2-0 with 5 saves and a 3.52 ERA in 56.1 innings in relief.

They may not arrive until later in June, but they seem to fit the mold of players who have come to Fishkill in recent years. Plitt, with his relatively low innings count, might get a bit more mound time than some of the other 2014 draft picks.

Brian Miller, Vanderbilt

Another guy who might be showing up later is Vanderbilt reliever Brian Miller. Miller, who set the Vanderbilt record in career saves last season – he had 16 that year – is 1-1 with a 1.82 ERA and five saves in 2014. The Commodores head to the College World Series on Wednesday.

Steve Ascher, Oneonta

A Long Island kid from Mattituck High, Ascher was the SUNYAC Pitcher of the Year in 2014, going 6-4 with a 1.82 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched over 10 starts.

Ryan Pennell, Elon

An even closer local connection, Pennell played high school ball at Rye Neck in Section 1. A reliever in college, he had a 3.53 ERA in 21 relief appearances spanning 30.2 innings. He struck out 32, walked 19 and picked up 12 saves this past season.

Nic Wilson, Georgia State

Wilson was one of college baseball’s top power hitters this spring, as he slugged 18 homers to rank No. 4 nationally. He also had 52 RBI, scored 50 runs and hit .322. His father, Carter Wilson, was Georgia State’s head basketball coach from 1994-97.

Trevor Dunlap, Washington

The latest in the Tampa Bay Rays’ pipeline of players from the Pacific Northwest, Dunlap also has a college basketball connection. His father, Bill Dunlap, played at Gonzaga.

At 6-foot-7, Dunlap certainly has some of those basketball genes. As a reliever for the Huskies this spring, he went 2-2 with a 3.36 ERA and 50 strikeouts, 23 walks and 49 hits over 59 innings.

Chris DeMorais, New Haven

DeMorais is coming off a strong spring in which he hit .336 with 10 doubles, one triple, one homer and had 32 RBI and scored 24 runs. At New Haven, he was a teammate of former Pine Bush shortstop Tommy Walraven.

I’ll have more coverage of the Renegades in the Times Herald-Record in the days to come. For the latest, check out my Twitter feed: @THR_Montgomery.

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Beltran to the DL; Tanaka dominates Mets

New York Yankees' Carlos Beltran, left, scores past Los Angeles Angels catcher Chris Iannetta on a sacrifice fly by Yangervis Solarte during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The Yankees placed outfielder Carlos Beltran on the disabled list this afternoon. He had complained of elbow pain after taking practice swings in the batting cage between at-bats on Monday.

The hope is that Beltran feels better after 15 days and can rejoin the team at that point. Worst case scenario, Beltran needs surgery to shave a bone chip in his right elbow, which would keep him out for another six to eight weeks.

Through 33 games this season, Beltran had hit .234 with 10 doubles, five homers and 15 RBI. He had 21 strikeouts against nine walks for an on-base percentage of .286.

Ichiro Suzuki figures to get the bulk of the playing time in right field until Beltran returns, but Ichiro is fighting through a back injury of his own. Alfonso Soriano and Zolio Almonte could also see some time in the outfield. Ichiro is hitting .364 with four doubles and two RBI through 55 at-bats in 30 games.

Ichiro is out of the lineup again tonight as the Yankees and rookie Chase Whitley take on Mets and rookie Jacob deGrom in the final game of the Subway Series at Citi Field. For more on that matchup, check out my blog from Wednesday afternoon.

Masahiro Tanaka had a terrific game against the Mets last night, striking out eight and giving up four hits and no walks in a complete game shutout. Tanaka also added a hit at the plate in the top of the ninth.

Check out Tanaka’s game charts from last night via Fangraphs.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s sort of neat to look at these after the fact. Tanaka certainly throws hard, topping out right around 95 MPH with his fastball in four of his starts this season. Yet unlike many power pitchers, he doesn’t throw inside a whole lot. He lives on the outside edge and beneath the knees, letting the hitters get themselves out. Either they’ll swing and miss or they’ll just pound it into the ground for an easy out at first base.

For another example, here is Chris Sale’s pitch chart from his April 6 start against Kansas City. Sale is a hard-throwing lefty for the White Sox. I’m showing just his chart against righties since the Royals didn’t have many lefties in the lineup that day.

Even against opposite-handed batters, Sale pounded the inside part of the strike zone, staying away mostly with his change-up as a strikeout enticer.

I wonder how long Tanaka will be able to get away with living on the outside edge, especially when things start to heat up and the baseballs start flying out of the ballpark. Does he have enough on that fastball to beat hitters inside with it? Is he comfortable with challenging batters inside? Watch where the catcher sets up for Tanaka’s next few starts. That might tell you something about how he’s making adjustments to hitters making adjustments to him.

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    Will Montgomery

    Will Montgomery covers boys' soccer, girls' basketball, boys' and girls' swimming and diving, boys' lacrosse and baseball (including the Hudson Valley Renegades) for Varsity845.com and the Times Herald-Record. Prior to joining the TH-R in November ... Read Full
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