Last week, I looked at the starting rotation across the Yankee system. This week, I start to look at individual teams. It is very difficult to predict the full roster of a minor league team, because the Yankees bring in organizational players to fill holes all the time. I can track the prospects, and then offer a guess at positional players. In the end, the anonymous additions only really stand to make an impact on the Triple-A team, and are simply fillers in other spots. I am not going to try to represent the bench.
The 2009 Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees:
Catcher: P.J. Pilittere
1st base: Juan Miranda
2nd base: Kevin Russo
Shortstop: Ramiro Pena
3rd base: Justin Leone / Angel Berroa
Left field: Melky Cabrera / Colin Curtis
Center field: Austin Jackson
Right field: Shelley Duncan
Designated Hitter: Eric Duncan
Others: John Rodriguez, Todd Linden, Doug Bernier, Kevin Cash
Starting Pitcher: Phil Hughes
Starting Pitcher: Ian Kennedy
Starting Pitcher: Alfredo Aceves
Starting Pitcher: Jason Johnson
Starting Pitcher: Kei Igawa
Relief Pitcher: Mark Melancon
Relief Pitcher: J.B. Cox
Relief Pitcher: Steven Jackson
Relief Pitcher: Anthony Claggett
Relief Pitcher: Dan Giese or Brett Tomko
Relief Pitcher: Jon Albaledejo or David Robertson
That includes 25 players. This roster is difficult to predict in part due to the influx of new veterans, but also because of major league roster battles. While some players are listed as bench warmers, it should be noted that minor league reserves receive significantly more playing time than major league ones.
The Yankees Triple-A affiliate once again boasts a strong, veteran-laden team. Juan Miranda returns for a second season, but feels much less important now that the Yankees have Mark Teixeira thoroughly blocking him. He’s not bad as injury insurance, but the Yankees should probably investigate trading him while they can. He’ll be out of options following this season.
The biggest prospect name in the batting lineup is Austin Jackson. There is a chance that the Yankees keep him at Double-A, but I’m betting that they continue to push him forward. He will probably be expected to fill some kind of vacancy in 2010 after Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady, and Hideki Matsui vacate. I’m projecting Melky Cabrera to fill left field, but the Yankees could defer to Melky’s major league experience and let him man center. Jackson’s future is as a center fielder though.
Yankee pitchers will love sending their ground balls to a double play combination of Kevin Russo and Ramiro Pena. They won’t be so excited when Angel Berroa gets bumped from the majors by Alex Rodriguez’s return, because he’s a huge step down from Pena. The Yankees may push Berroa to 3rd base to help combat that.
P.J. Pilittere will bring his game-calling reputation to the highest minor league level. We’re still waiting for him to retire and become a coach.
The pitching staff is ridiculously strong. Scranton’s opponents aren’t going to be excited about facing any pitcher in any inning all year. While guys like Kei Igawa and Jason Johnson have been major league flops of late, they have excelled at Triple-A and would be strong front-line starting pitchers if they were Scranton’s best guys. Luckily for Triple-A fans, they are the back-end, not the front.
It is always important for a Triple-A club to carry spot starters. Major league callups and frequent double headers necessitate their frequent use. The loser of the Brett Tomko / Dan Giese battle, Anthony Claggett, and Steven Jackson will all share that role. If the Yankees intend to keep Kei Igawa as a relief pitcher, he can also to that.
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