Sunday, September 2, 2012

Monthly Minor League Report (August): The Lower Levels

(They just keep finding these great relief prospects.  Courtesy of

With the big down year had by the top prospects in the upper levels of the Yankee system, the spotlight turned to the higher-profile kids in the lower parts.  The Austins, Williamses, and Sanchezes of the world got the lion's share of the coverage, and justifiably so.  Now that we've come to the later part of the MiL season, and the end of the road for some teams, those big names have been promoted and the focus turned to a different batch of players in the lower levels.  Some of them made good impressions, especially guys from this year's draft, but the major theme for the top hitting and pitching names down here this past month, and for most of this season, has been underperformance.

Game 132 Wrap-Up: NYY 4 BAL 3

(Somebody's glad to be back.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

The heat is getting turned up on the Yankees as they begin the final month of the regular season.  They've been mediocre for weeks now, lost a major chunk of their division lead in the process, and got their asses handed to them in the first game of a very key series against Baltimore on Friday night.  They weren't showing any signs of turning things around anytime soon, and called up a larger-than-expected group from Triple-A yesterday to try to bring some fresh arms and legs in to inject a little life into the club.  David Phelps was on the mound yesterday afternoon against Wei-Yin Chen, trying to do what Hiroki Kuroda couldn't the day before and get the Yankees back in the win column.

Game Notes:

- It wasn't a good start for Phelps, who didn't have nearly the command he's shown all season.  He walked 3, gave up 2 hits, and hit a batter on his way to allowing a run in each of the first 2 innings.  Only some well-timed double plays helped limit the damage.

- The Yanks had another injury scare when Curtis Granderson left after the bottom of the 2nd with hamstring tightness, but all indications are that it's nothing serious and he could play today.

- Phelps got through the 3rd in order, but started off the 4th by giving up a home run to Matt Wieters to make it 3-0 Baltimore.  He still wasn't locating, the lineup still wasn't hitting, and it looked like another beatdown in the making.

- Fortunately, Robinson Cano started the turnaround quickly in the bottom of the 4th by getting the Yankees on the board with a homer of his own.  It was just a solo shot, but with 2 outs and in an 0-2 count, it was a boost the Yankees needed.

- Phelps didn't make it out of the 5th, and it was up to the Yankee bullpen to hold the Orioles at 3.  Boone Logan was brought in to pitch the 6th and the 7th and he came up big, pitching around a walk, a hit, and an error to throw 2 goose eggs on the scoreboard.

- After laying dormant for most of the first 6 innings, the offense finally came alive with 2 outs in the 7th.  Jayson Nix drew a walk to put 2 runners on, Eduardo Nunez singled a run in on the first pitch he saw to make it 3-2, Ichiro and Derek Jeter walked to force in the tying run, and a fielding error by J.J. Hardy helped Nunez score the go-ahead run.  It wasn't pretty by any means, but it was enough.

- The Yankees switched to their better defensive lineup to preserve the lead, and D-Rob and Sour Puss did the job in the 8th and 9th.  Soriano looked especially nasty for the second straight time after his last blown save.