Yanks looking for prospect pipeline to deliver
Future payroll goals makes adding homegrown talent imperative
TAMPA, Fla. -- The pipeline that leads new talent to the Bronx figures to be front and center on the Yankees' radar over the next few seasons, as the club talks about ways it can reduce its payroll below $189 million for the 2014 season.
That could mean opportunities for talented young players like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and David Phelps, all of whom were mentioned this spring by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner as names that he is expecting contributions from in the near future.
"We'll see how these young kids perform toward the end of this year and into next year," Steinbrenner said. "The young kids are going to play a big part of being able to lower this payroll. I am going to need some of these young pitchers to step up."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi mentioned recently how impressed he has been with the club's young pitching this spring, adding names like D.J. Mitchell and Adam Warren to the mix. It is possible that several could play a role at the big league level this season.
"Last [spring], at times, I thought they almost looked like they were a little overwhelmed or a little nervous to make a mistake," Girardi said. "I don't question that now."
There will be plenty to watch for this season at the Minor League level for New York. Third baseman Dante Bichette Jr. and outfielder Mason Williams are among two of the brightest up-and-coming players in the Yankees system, and both got tastes of big league life with the club this spring.
where to watch
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"This makes me more hungry," Williams said. "The adrenaline doesn't stop here. It keeps going to tomorrow. I want to come back here and I want to play as hard as I can, and hopefully make an impact."
With the Minor League season getting under way, fans can keep track of the Yankees' top prospects throughout the year on Prospect Watch. And get scores, stats, news, schedules, tickets and more for all of the Yankees' Minor League teams on the Yankees' affiliates page.
The Class A Charleston RiverDogs figure to be the Yankees' most talent-heavy roster, boasting a strong lineup and several promising pitchers. Jose Campos, acquired from the Mariners along with Michael Pineda in January, has been turning heads all spring in camp, while Bryan Mitchell boasts impressive stuff and will continue to work on his command. Catching prospect Gary Sanchez, Williams, shortstop Cito Culver and third baseman Bichette Jr. all should be starring in Charleston this year as well. Scouts will also be keeping an eye on outfield prospect Ravel Santana, who suffered a serious ankle injury last season in the Gulf Coast League.
Debuts and Draftees
The Yankees selected Bichette Jr. with the 51st overall pick last year and were thrilled by his performance in the Gulf Coast League, where he assembled a 16-game hitting streak and won the league's MVP honors after finishing with a .342 batting average. After a late-season promotion to Class A Staten Island, Bichette Jr. is getting his first taste of long-season ball this year with Charleston. Williams, a prize from the 2010 Draft who starred last year at Staten Island and has five-tool potential as a center fielder, may rise quickly through the system as well. He's starting the year at Charleston but could soon be back in Tampa, in the Florida State League.
Teams on TV
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees -- who will also be called the Empire State Yankees this season while PNC Field in Moosic, Pa., is renovated -- are among a growing number of teams whose games are available on MiLB.TV. The 2012 MiLB.TV package will include more than 2,500 Minor League games streamed live, as well as games archived for on-demand streaming soon after completion.
The team will play most of its home games in Rochester, N.Y., and you can catch all the action live as Dave Miley is back at the helm of the Yankees' top farm affiliate. The club has Banuelos, Betances, Mitchell, Phelps and Warren all just a call-up away from Yankee Stadium. The Empire State Yankees visit the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Thursday for their first game, and head to Syracuse, where they will be the home team for a series against the Chiefs begininning on April 14.