Archive for March, 2009

Gardner Wins James P. Dawson Award

March 31, 2009

(PR) The Yankees today announced that outfielder Brett Gardner is the recipient of the 2009 James P. Dawson Award, given annually to the outstanding Yankees rookie in spring training. Gardner will receive the award in a pre-game ceremony on Wednesday, prior to the Yankees’ 1:15 p.m. game vs. the Philadelphia Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Gardner, 25, is batting .390 (23-for-59) in 24 games this spring, with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs and 7RBI. He is leading the team in hits and stolen bases (5), while tying for the team lead in home runs. A third-round pick by the Yankees in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Gardner hit .228 (29-for-127) with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 16RBI and 13SB in 42 games with the Yankees in 2008 in his Major League debut.

The award was established in honor of James P. Dawson (1896-1953), who began a 45-year career with The New York Times as a copy boy in 1908. Eight years later, he became boxing editor and covered boxing and baseball until his death during spring training in 1953.

Two winners of the honor, Tony Kubek in 1957 and Tom Tresh in 1962, went on to win the American League “Rookie of the Year” Award. Last season’s winner was infielder/outfielder Shelley Duncan. The award first was presented to rookie Norm Siebern by Manager Casey Stengel in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the conclusion of spring training in 1956. New York Yankees beat writers vote on the winner.

In conjunction with the award, Gardner will receive an engraved Tissot watch from William Barthman Jewelers.

Previous winners:

· 1956…Norm Siebern OF

· 1957…Tony Kubek SS

· 1958…John Blanchard C

· 1959…Gordon Windhorn OF

· 1960… John James P

· 1961…Roland Sheldon P

· 1962…Tom Tresh SS

· 1963…Pedro Gonzalez 2B

· 1964…Pete Mikkelsen P

· 1965…Arturo Lopez OF

· 1966…Roy White OF

· 1967…Bill Robinson OF

· 1968…Mike Ferraro 3B

· 1969…Jerry Kenney OF/Bill Burbach P

· 1970…John Ellis 1b-C

· 1971…None Selected

· 1972…Rusty Torres OF

· 1973…Otto Velez OF

· 1974…Tom Buskey P

· 1975…Tippy Martinez P

· 1976…Willie Randolph 2B

· 1977…George Zeber INF

· 1978…Jim Beattie P

· 1979…Paul Mirabella P

· 1980…Mike Griffin P

· 1981…Gene Nelson P

· 1982…Andre Robertson SS

· 1983…Don Mattingly 1B/OF

· 1984…Jose Rijo P

· 1985…Scott Bradey C

· 1986…Bob Tewksbury P

· 1987…Kevin Hughes OF

· 1988…Al Leiter P

· 1989…None Selected

· 1990…Alan Mills P

· 1991…Hensley Muelens OF

· 1992…Gerald Williams OF

· 1993…Mike Humphreys OF

· 1994…Sterling Hitchcock P

· 1995…None Selected

· 1996…Mark Hutton P

· 1997…Jorge Posada C

· 1998…Homer Bush INF

· 1999…None Selected

· 2000…None Selected

· 2001…Alfonso Soriano 2B

· 2002…Nick Johnson 1B

· 2003…Hideki Matsui OF

· 2004…Bubba Crosby OF

· 2005…Andy Phillips INF

· 2006…Eric Duncan INF

· 2007…Kei Igawa P

· 2008…Shelley Duncan INF/OF

· 2009…Brett Gardner OF

Nova’s Back, Sent To Trenton

March 30, 2009

The San Diego Padres have returned Ivan Nova to the Yankees, who have assigned the right-handed pitcher to the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

A big, 22-year old Dominican Republic native, Nova throws a low 90’s fastball, curveball and changeup. 

Nova spent last year with Tampa, where he put up less than impressive numbers.  Overall, he has a losing record at the minor league level (17-22) with a 4.09 ERA in 68 appearances.

He will likely serve as the Thunder’s fifth starter, although it is entirely possible he could actually return to Tampa to start the season as well.

He was 0-0 in eight spring training games for the Padres, putting up a robust 8.31 ERA in the process.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Top 30 In 30: #1 Austin Jackson

March 29, 2009

Thunder Thoughts month long look at the New York Yankees top 30 prospects, as rated by Baseball America, wraps up with a look at Austin Jackson, who spent all of last season in Double-A Trenton.

#1 Austin Jackson
Position: CF
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 185 lbs.
Age At Start of 2009 Season: 22

Career statistics: 433 GP, 26 HR, 189 RBI, 100 SB, 183 BB, 399 K
Seasons: 4
Highest Level Reached: AAA

Jackson has been under the watchful eye of Yankees fans ever since he was picked in the eighth round in 2005 after spurning a scholarship to play basketball at Georgia Tech.  Rated as both the best athlete and defensive center fielder in the Yankees system by Baseball America, Jackson does many things well, but does not necessarily have a standout tool.  Likely ready for the big leagues right now, many would like to see Jackson develop a little more power before he debuts in Yankee Stadium, a debut that’s very, very possible to occur by the All-Star break this year.

Thunder ETA: Played for the Thunder in 2007 and 2008, unlikely to return in 2009

It was a pleasure getting to watch Austin Jackson play for a full season in 2008.  It was also a pleasure getting to know him as well, and getting an insider’s perspective on what made him such a highly regarded prospect.  Jackson is an easy going kid with a strong work ethic who is liked by his teammates and is rarely seen without a smile on his face.  On the field, Jackson would occasionally go through stretches of inconsistent play, but still put together his best full season numbers, hitting .285 with nine home runs and 69 RBI.  But just like in 2007, when he joined the team late in the year, it was the postseason where the blue-chipper shined.  He seemed to make dazzling defensive play after dazzling defensive play, and set the tone for the Portland series by taking no less than Clay Buchholz deep in a crucial game.  Jackson is set to start 2009 in Scranton, and barring a colossal series of struggles, is highly unlikely to ever set foot in Double-A again.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Spring Training Photo Gallery

March 29, 2009

David Fenster, WIMG sports director, was kind enough to send along these shots from Tampa…


Mike Dunn


Christian Garcia


Group shot…


George Kontos


Zach McAllister


Marcos Vechionacci and Eduardo Nunez

Yankees Acquire Righty Reliever Nolte For Jones

March 29, 2009

Jed Weisberger, who writes the Baselines pieces on the Thunder website and whose work can be found numerous other places, was kind enough to send an e-mail letting me know the Yankees have acquired RHP Charles Nolte in exchange for RHP Jason Jones.

This occured after Jones was offered back to the Yankees according to Rule 5 protocol.

Nolte, who is listed as the Twins sixth best righty reliever prospect by Baseball America, was 4-3, 2.05 at Beloit in 2008.

Jones was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the trade.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Top 30 In 30: #2 Jesus Montero

March 28, 2009

There’s just one more player left in Thunder Thoughts month long look at the Yankees 30 best prospects as rated by Baseball America…

#2 Jesus Montero
Position: C
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 225 lbs.
Age At Start of 2009 Season: 19

Career statistics: 165 GP, .318 avg., 20 HR, 106 RBI, 49 BB, 101 K
Seasons: 2
Highest Level Reached: Low A

Montero has had Yankees fans excited over the past two seasons, and for good reason.  He’s established himself as the best catching prospect in the organization, and perhaps has the best power of anyone in the system.  He put up ridiculous numbers last season in Charleston, hitting .326 with 17 home runs and 87 RBI, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be able to match or exceed those numbers as he progresses through the system.  One observer of a recent Montero BP session was raving about what he saw, and after seeing him with my own eyes at the Futures Game, it clear to see that he’s more than just hype.  The 19-year-old is likely to start the season in Tampa, and some experimentation may begin with trying to find him a long-term position other than catcher, as he’s just too big to succeed back there.

Thunder ETA: 2010

The Yankees future is so bright, Brian Cashman’s got to wear shades.  Specifically, it seems there’s going to be a pretty constant flow of blue chippers into Waterfront Park over the next few seasons.  People were asking if Montero was going to play in Trenton last year, so those questions will likely continue into this season as well.  And this year, it’s actually possible.  Very unlikely, but possible.  People forget that with all the talk about him, Montero is just 19 years old and would likely be the youngest player in the Eastern League if sent there.  Maybe they challenge him with a late season call-up if he continues to put up video game numbers in Tampa…but the more likely option is to see him start the year in Mercer County in 2010.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

JJ On The Way Back?

March 28, 2009

Chad Jennings, who has been doing an excellent job down in Tampa, reports that rumors have been flying around that the Minnesota Twins have offered former Thunder standout Jason Jones back to the Yankees.

Jennings asked Yankees GM Brian Cashman about this, and all Cashman would offer is: “I wouldn’t comment at this stage.”

According to this just published article on the Twins bullpen situation in the Minneapolis Star Tribune — an article that points out Sean Henn got cut, by the way — Jones is still in camp.

Were Jones to be offered back to the Yankees, I’m not sure they’d take him back, and I’m not sure he’d want to come back.  Both the Trenton and Scranton rotations are overflowing with candidates, and both the Yankees and Jones know he’d just be buried behind many of them again.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Fan Favorite Hall Returns To New Jersey

March 27, 2009


Noah Hall, one of the more popular players on the 2007 Trenton Thunder, has re-signed with the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League.

You may remember that the Yankees signed Hall out of Somerset after just one day in the Atlantic League season two years ago.

Hall emerged as an unlikely offensive contributor on that Thunder team, hitting .292 with nine home runs and 50 RBI in 82 games.  Last season, the likeable 31-year-old spent time in the White Sox and Mariners organizations.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Please Don’t Stop, Joe Muich

March 27, 2009


That play on words of Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop The Music” doesn’t entirely work anymore.  Joe Muich got stopped.  Well, released, really.

Chad Jennings is reporting that Muich is one of six Yankees to be released, joining Braedyn Pruitt, Nick Montgomery and Clint Preisendorfer as the known names.

Muich spent three seasons in the Yankees organization, and was with the Thunder for all of last season.  A good guy in the community and the clubhouse, Muich earned a championship ring by playing in 45 games and hitting .218 with no home runs and 10 RBI.

Chad’s also got the updated Double-A work group, which has seen a few additions.

And yes, I saw that another one of my Jose Tabata photos ended up on Deadspin.  Kind of weird having my work associated with such a wacky story… 

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Top 30 In 30: #3 Andrew Brackman

March 27, 2009

With 27 prospects in the books in Thunder Thoughts look at the Yankees top 30 farmhands as rated by Baseball America, it’s time to look at a pitcher who has yet to throw a single, official minor league pitch.

#3 Andrew Brackman
Position: P
Height: 6′ 10″
Weight: 270 lbs.
Age At Start of 2009 Season: 23

Career statistics: None
Seasons: 0
Highest Level Reached: N/A

The former two-sport stud at NC State — he’s 6′ 10″, it was basketball — has yet to register any statistics thanks to Tommy John surgery and an appendectomy.  He throws a fastball that’s touched 100 MPH, and two versions of his plus curveball.  Already signed to a big league contract and on the 40-man roster, Yankees officials would love to see what Brackman can do over the course of a full season, but are also very likely to put him on a relatively small innings limit, based on his injury history and inexperience.

Thunder ETA: 2009

Is anyone not salivating at the thought of Andrew Brackman pitching at Waterfront Park?  The Yankees first round pick in 2007, it seems the day would never come when he would appear in a Thunder uniform after two seasons without throwing a single official pitch.  The huge, hard throwing righty is expected to start the season at either Charleston or Tampa, but at 23 years old and with the investment the Yankees have in him, it seems very, very likely that Brackman will be in Trenton at some point during the 2009 season.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT