Archive for December 23rd, 2009

Jay Stephens Signs With Phillies

December 23, 2009

Baseball America is reporting that former Thunder starter Jay Stephens has signed a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Stephens was drafted in the sixth round by the Yankees in 2003, and was brought along pretty slowly considering the numbers he put up.  Over the past two years, Stephens was treated as an organizational guy, shipped back and forth wherever he was needed. 

The soft-spoken Ohio native made 13 appearances for the Thunder last season, including eight starts.  He posted an ERA under three and struck out 21 batters while walking 14 in 45.1 innings of work.  He also made his Triple-A debut last year, appearing in three games with Triple-A Scranton in early May.

I’d written many times last year that I think Stephens is a better pitcher than how he was ultimately handled by the organization.  Do I think he’s a future big leaguer?  Maybe yes, maybe no…but he deserved more than being on the organizational shuttle.

I’d imagine he’ll start next season at Double-A Reading, and hopefully he’ll get a real opportunity to progress through the Phillies system. 

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Yankees Cut Smith, Nine Others

December 23, 2009

Brett Smith, who fired a five-inning no-hitter on July 4th, 2007 at Waterfront Park, was among ten players the Yankees have released.

According to Baseball America, Smith is joined by : RHP Pablo Hernandez, RHP Alejandro Martinez, RHP Paul Patterson, RHP Jeff Williams, LHP Edwin Walker, 1B Chris Smith, OF Tommy Baldridge, OF Mitch Delaney and OF Chad Gross.  Additionally, the team has signed former Oakland farmhand OF Javier Herrera.

Of the ten players released, Smith is the only to have played for the Thunder.  After a strong start to his 2007 season, Smith was sent down to High-A Tampa in mid-July despite a 7-4 record and 2.97 ERA, complete with a .192 batting average against.  Things spiraled downward from that day forward, as Smith struggled in Tampa and missed all of 2008 and most of 2009 with an arm injury.

He returned to official action in early July, 2009, appearing in four games with the GCL Yankees.  He finished the year with Low-A Charleston, going 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts, but he walked nine batters and struck out just three in 15 innings of work, hitting two batters and firing three wild pitches along the way.

Smith was the Yankees second round pick, 42nd overall, in 2004.  His career once appeared to be very promising.  Now, you have to wonder if it’s over.

As for the others, let’s take a quick look…

Hernandez last popped up in 2007 with one of the Yankees Dominican Summer League squads, making one appearance.

Martinez appeared in two games for the Yankees Gulf Coast League affiliate last year, his first outings on American Soil after spending 2006 and 2008 in the DSL.

Patterson pitched for the Yankees farm system in 2006, 2007 and 2009.  He never got any higher than Low-A Charleston, where he made two appearances last year.

Williams was signed out of independent ball last year and made 13 appearances for Low-A Charleston and one with Triple-A Scranton at the end of the year.

Walker was also signed out of independent ball last year, and he was 2-0 with an 0.78 ERA in 14 appearances with Low-A Charleston in 2009.

Smith had two dismal seasons with the GCL Yankees, hitting a combined .127 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 53 games.

Baldridge spent two seasons in the Yankees farm system, splitting time between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa last year.  He ends his tenure in the Bronx Bombers organization as a career .225 hitter.

Delaney also spent two rather uneventful years with the Yankees Gulf Coast League affiliate, hitting .203 with three home runs and 22 RBI in 66 games.

And Gross spent two years in the Yankees farm system as well.  Last year, he hit .145 with a home run and four RBI in 21 games with Short Season-A Staten Island.

So, uhhh…for Thunder fans, it was more or less Smith and nine guys you’ve never heard of, right?  Right.

Moving on, there are some other transactions to report as well…

The Florida Marlins have re-signed former Thunder starter and Yankee Matt DeSalvo, who still ranks as one of the most memorable athletes to interview in my career.

The Kansas City Royals have signed former B-Mets stud Philip Humber, while the Philadephia Phillies re-signed former Thunder backstop Kevin Nelson.  The Pirates also re-signed former Thunder slugger Brian Myrow, while former Portland Sea Dogs David Pauley and John Otness went to the Mariners and Rangers, respectively.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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