Jobu shines the spotlight on the fresh faces that are keeping the Yankees atop the American League East.
I know we usually pick one player to profile in these, but I honestly didn’t feel like writing up three or four different posts, so I just looped it into one. Frankly, It’s nice to be able to write about Yankees rookies having an impact like this. The Yankees are known for their hefty veteran contracts creating logjams for upcoming players, so this is rare. I’m pretty sure this is the most impactful rookie class (as far as having multiple guys making impact) since the early 90s. We all remember those couple of years where Kevin Maas, Jeff Johnson, Wade Taylor, Jim Leyritz, Pat Kelly and Oscar Azocar came up? There’s a new class in 2013.
While not all of them have had a major impact, the Yankees have used seven rookies this year. They are, in alphabetical order: David Adams, Preston Claiborne, Corban Joseph, Brett Marshall, Vidal Nuno, Austin Romine and Adam Warren. Let’s meet the key players now, shall we?
David Adams – 3B
The 26-year old hasn’t been around for long, but his impact has been plentiful. The Yankees originally drafted adams in the third round of the 2008 draft, and he began his climb through the system. When this offseason began, the Yankees were expected to have Alex Rodriguez at third base. When he had hip surgery, the team signed Kevin Youkilis to man the hot corner. If you’ve been following the Yankees, you know Youkilis has been out quite a while with back problems. After watching Jayson Nix get the majority of playing time at third, the Yankees called up Adams the first chance they had. He joined the team on May 15th.
Why so late, you ask? After all, the Yankees had Nix and even Chris Nelson floundering away at the plate for a month and Adams was in Scranton hitting .316/.407/.490. Why wasn’t he up with the big club? Enter treacherous Jobu villain Ben Francisco. Granted, it was technically the Vernon Wells trade that got Adams bumped off the 40-man, but the Yankees insistence on carrying “Gentle Ben” made them have to kick someone else out, and Adams was that casualty. Luckily, Adams went unclaimed and thus the Yankees were able to sign him back to a minor league deal, but the fact that he had been released made it impossible for him to be called up before May 15th.
Adams’ play since being called up is definitely making the Yankees brass look stupid now, isn’t it? Again, it’s a small sample size of just seven games, but Adams has done just about everything right. he’s 8/26 so far (.308), and his OPS is .949. Of his eight hits, 2 are doubles and 2 are homers, and he’s driven in three runs. He even hit a home run the other day against a really tough righty, side-arming Darren O’Day of the Baltimore Orioles. In the field, Adams hasn’t made an error and has pretty much made every play, including some tough ones to boot. He’s played so well overall, in fact, that it might be tough to send him back down once Youk finally comes back. Adams can also play 2B, which could give the team a little versatility, and a better bat than Nix.
For those of you who are wondering why Warren is on this list despite having played with the Yankees last year, stop it. Learn the rules. the 25-year-old Warren wasn’t on the team long enough in 2012, only making one spot start and getting sent back down after being shellacked by the White Sox. Nice debut, buddy. Anyway, because of his inauspicious beginnings, and a unspectacular Spring Training, I was curious as to why he had made the team over a guy like David Aardsma. It didn’t help that he basically didn’t leave the bullpen for the first couple of weeks of the year either. Girardi has a bit of a habit of burying rookie relievers until he’s forced to use them, doesn’t he?
Soon after Iván Nova’s injury forced long man David Phelps into the rotation, Warren actually started getting into some games on a regular basis as the Yankees’ long reliever. Since then, he’s been virtually un-hittable. Look out Matt Harvey (or Matt Jones, if you ask the K.C. Royals), there’s another young former tar heel pitching pretty well in New York too (the Yankees drafted Warren out of UNC in the fourth round of the 2009 draft).
Anywho, Warren has gotten into nine games this year, racking up 23.2 innings. In that time he’s 1-0 with a 1.14 ERA and has even earned an old timey four inning save! According to whiny old fogy Goose Gossage, that automatically makes him better than Mariano Rivera, so that’s really something! Warren’s other numbers are equally impressive. He’s only allowed 6 walks and 20 hits during those innings, which gives him a 1.099 WHIP, and he’s punched out 17 hitters. It’s nice to know that, when Nova’s back in the rotation next week (because that’s what The Binder says to do), someone will be there to pitch innings 4-8 if need be. Congratulations, Adam!
Here’s a guy I’d never heard of in my life until Spring Training. I like to think I’m pretty read up on Yankees minor leaguers and prospects, but this guy took me by surprise. He posted a 3.48 ERA this spring but, more importantly, he apparently made a pretty big impression on the Yankees. When Joba Chamberlain went down with a diarrhea of the mouth, ahem… a strained oblique, most “insiders” figured the Yankees might give prospect Mark Montgomery the call up. Instead, they went with Claiborne. I’m pretty glad they did too.
The Yankees originally drafted Claiborne in the 17th round of the 2010 draft out of Tulane University, so it actually didn’t take the 25-year old too long to get the call to go to the bigs. He made his big league debut with two scoreless innings in a loss to the Oakland A’s on May 5th, and it took him 8 appearances and 9 innings to give up his first run. That came in the form of a three-run home run by Matt Wieters the other day (only Wieters belonged to Claiborne though, as he came in with two men on). He pitched two full innings with no runs allowed the rest of that game too, showing some good bounce-back ability in the process.
His overall numbers are pretty minuscule: 8 games pitched, 11 innings, 9 hits, 0 walks and 8 strikeouts. Sure, it’s a small sample size, but the 1.00 ERA and 0.818 WHIP look impressive no matter how many innings you’ve thrown. Throw in the fact that this has been his major league debut, and it becomes more impressive. It’s unknown if he’ll remain with the team once Joba is healthy enough to come back (especially since Shawn Kelley is now the best pitcher in the world), but It’s nice to know the Yankees have that option for them back in AAA if they need him this year, and possibly for many years into the future.
The guys above have definitely made the most impact, but the Yankees have some other guys that could help them this season too. We mentioned him before, but I think Nuno could be one of these guys. He’s pitched in three games this season and only allowed one run in eight innings of work. This included 5 shutout innings in a spot start against the Cleveland Indians, who have one of the better offenses in all of baseball right now. Nuno might need to fill in for Andy Pettitte‘s next start, so he’ll probably get another chance to show his stuff pretty soon.
Another guy that we might see this season is the aforementioned Mark Montgomery. By all reports, this guy is the real deal. Call him David Robertson 2.0. If he ends up half as good as Robertson has been, the Yankees will have a very big weapon coming out of the bullpen. It might not be this year, but it will definitely be soon.
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