The Yankees are riding high as they head into Fenway Park this weekend. With 9 wins in the team’s last 12 games, things are looking up for the Bombers. Winning the division is still a longshot, though a great weekend in Boston could significantly close the gap. A four game sweep, as difficult as that would be to achieve, would bring the Yankees within 3 games of the Red Sox. Hey, we can dream.
As Bobby noted this morning, this series begins an extremely difficult seven game stretch. The Yankees have already handled some tough opponents in the last week or two, but going on the road again will present a big challenge. Hopefully, the Yankees can get some guys back from the COVID-IL before this road trip ends. That would be a huge boost. But for now, the sole focus is on this weekend’s series against their rivals, regardless of who’s available or not.
Other organizations love to pillage the Yankees’ farm system in the Rule 5 draft. In recent years, the Yanks lost players like Luis Torrens (San Diego – 2016) and Rony García (Detroit – 2020). Others like Jake Cave, Nick Green, Nestor Cortes, and Mike Ford have been selected but returned to the Yankees too. This year, there are three Rule 5 selections to keep tabs on: Garrett Whitlock (Boston), Trevor Stephan (Cleveland), and Kyle Holder (Cincinnati via Philadelphia).
With opening day just two weeks away, it’s worth checking in on all three of these players. It’s possible that any one of them could return to the Yankees before camp breaks, but if not, not all hope is lost. Remember, Rule 5 draftees must remain on the major league roster all season in order to stick with their new organization. So while making the majors out of spring training is an important first step, there’s still a long season ahead.
As expected, the Yankees lost a few prospects in today’s Rule 5 draft. Garrett Whitlock, Kyle Holder, and Trevor Stephan will start 2021 in new organizations, though there’s still the possibility that they will return to the Yankees before season’s end.
Boston, badly in need of any sort of pitching, took righty Garrett Whitlock with the 4th overall selection. Whitlock had Tommy John surgery mid-2019 but should be a full go come spring training. Perhaps he cracks a spot in the Red Sox rotation. The former 18th round pick in 2017 made 14 Double-A starts in 2019 and posted a 3.07 ERA and 3.14 FIP.
The Phillies grabbed shortstop Kyle Holder, the Yanks’ first round pick in 2016. Holder spent time at the Alternate Site this summer and now possibly could replace Didi Gregorius as the Phillies’ shortstop. He’s best known for his defensive chops at short.
Lastly, Cleveland selected righty Trevor Stephan. He was the Yanks’ third round selection in the 2017 amateur draft. Somewhat surprisingly, he wasn’t at the Alternate Site this summer as he seems prime for a big league relief gig soon. Granted, 2019 was a bit of a roller coaster for him. The year included a demotion from Double-A to High-A, but he did look better and returned to Trenton by the end of that season.
These three aren’t lost for good, so you know. They must stick in the big leagues for the entirety of the 2021 season, so all three could be back in the Yankees’ organization before too long.
The Yankees will also lose a few players in the minor league phase this afternoon. That said, the minor leaguers taken during this phase rarely are notable prospects. I’ll update this post if there are any surprises.
Meanwhile, because the Yankees have an open 40-man roster spot, the team could have made selection in today’s draft. But to no surprise, the organization passed. The Yanks haven’t made a pick in the Major League phase since 2011 (RHP Brad Meyers, Nationals).
We’ve got a timeline for Didi Gregorius’ return: Aaron Boone thinks the shortstop will be back for the Friday series opener in Cleveland. That will involve three more rehab games with a day off on Monday. Lindsey Adler has the details.
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: (7-4 win over Lehigh Valley) … The Railriders are now up five games in the loss colum on second-place Lehigh Valley.
Didi Watch: Sir Didi Gregorius got his first hit in the Triple-A portion of his rehab, going 1-for-4 with an RBI single. Here’s video of the single. He played all nine innings at shortstop and is set to DH on Sunday.
Starting Pitcher: RHP Drew Hutchison: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 5/3 GB/FB — 65 of his 99 pitches (66%) were strikes … Gave up a leadoff homer and didn’t look back … The veteran righty has a 5.65 ERA in Scranton this year.
In Relief: LHP Stephen Tarpley: 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K — After Rex Brothers gave up three ninth-inning runs to cut the game to three, Tarpley stepped in to save the contest.
Hitting Star: CF Billy Burns: 3-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 0 BB, 0 K — His first homer of the season
On Deck: 1B Mike Ford and DH Logan Morrison: Each went 1-for-4 with a homer — Second straight night with a dinger for Ford, while Morrison comes straight from a suspension to a dinger.
Other Notables: 3B Breyvic Valeradoes not stop hitting, going 2-for-3 with a walk … 2B Brad Millerhad an RBI double.
Double-A Trenton Thunder: (2-1 win over Harrisburg) … Thunder now sit 1.5 games up in the Eastern Division with 16 days left in the first half.
Starting Pitcher: RHP Garrett Whitlock: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 8/4 GB/FB — 61 of 94 pitches (65%) were strikes … Best start since starting the year with three straight quality starts … Keeping the ball on the ground.
In Relief: RHPs Will Carter and Daniel Alvarez combined for three scoreless innings of relief … Carter went two frames … Alvarez now has eight saves.
Hitting Star: DH Mandy Alvarez: 2-for-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R — First homer of 2019 for Alvarez.
On Deck: 2B Hoy Jun Park: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 K — Fifth stolen base for Park.
More to know: RF Ben Rutahad an RBI single to open the scoring … This is kind of Trenton’s fourth straight win, but the Thunder look poised to lose their suspended game from Thursday.
Starting Pitcher: RHP Luis Medina: 4 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 7 K, 2/3 GB/FB — 41 of his 85 pitches (48%) were strikes … Two wild pitches … His ERA is 9.64.
In Relief: RHP Wellington Diaz: 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2/1 GB/FB — Allowed a go-ahead, three-run homer.
Hitting Star: CF Brandon Lockridge: 2-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R — 8th homer for last year’s fifth-round pick. Solid in the leadoff spot.
On Deck:LF Canaan Smith: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K — His .327 average after the doubleheader is third in the South Atlantic League.
Other Notables: CF Pablo Olivareswent 2-for-4 with a run scored
Single-A Charleston RiverDogs Game 2: (7-2 loss at Lexington) … Despite the sweep, still in first place in their division.
Starting Pitcher: RHP Roansy Contreras: 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 5/2 GB/FB — 56 of his 86 pitches (65%) were strikes … One of his runs scored as an inherited runner by Jefry Valdez, who allowed three runs of his own and let the game get out of hand.
Hitting Star: 1B Michael Gasper: 2-for-3, 2 RBI, 1 BB
On Deck:Lockridge: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB — 10 stolen bases this season for the center fielder.
Other Notables: 2B Kyle Grayhad a pair of hits in the loss.