(List courtesy of the Thunder’s T-Mail; thanks for saving me a few seconds of typing, Bill Cook!)
RHP: Paul Bush, Michael Gardner, Justin Pope, Humberto Sanchez, Jay Stephens, Jose Valdez
Analysis: Bush enjoyed being a part of the Yankees organization and would like to return in 2010, but given his injury history and the fact that he couldn’t stay healthy last year makes that unlikely…although he did pitch well when he was actually out there. Given his age, unless he got on a ridiculous hot run, he’s probably not much more than filler to the organization…Gardner didn’t pitch at all last season after recovering from arm issues, but as far as I know he does want to pitch in 2010. This is a guy who was picked in the Rule 5 just two years ago, so there is some talent there, but the control often wasn’t. Is there a spot for him in the Double-A bullpen as he pitches his way back to health?…Pope is essentially a coach now, I don’t think he has any intention of pitching again…Sanchez is an interesting name as well, as he was in the big leagues with the Yankees in 2008 and seemed to make strides in the minors last year after being removed from the 40-man roster while being held back to work on his conditioning. I think the Yankees are probably tired of waiting for him to get into the kind of shape they’d like — and he made huge strides in that department as well last season — and will allow him to move on…Jay Stephens…I liked him a lot, but is there a spot for him? In all honesty, I don’t think the Yankees really treated him as any more than a guy they could shuttle around to fill a spot at a different level, and I think he was better than that. He’d be better suited in a different organization unless the Yankees can promise him a set role at a set level…Jose Valdez was probably one of the Thunder’s better relievers at times last year, and he saw some time at Triple-A Scranton as well. His velocity was pretty impressive for a guy who could stand to eat a cheeseburger or two as well. But is he ultimately replaceable? Probably..
C: Brian Peterson, Chris Stewart
Analysis: Both Peterson and Stewart probably fall into the same boat. There are about 30 of the exact same type of veteran minor league catcher out there each year, and you can pretty much interchange any of those guys into the spots that these two filled. Stewart played very well for Scranton and did bring some big league experience to the club, but given the embarrassment of riches the organization has behind the plate, there doesn’t seem to be a scenario in which he can add to that experience in pinstripes next year.
3B: Eric Duncan, Carlos Mendoza, Cody Ransom, Marcos Vechionacci
Analysis: Eric Duncan, what a waste. It would have been a great story, the local kid gets picked by the local team in the first round and becomes a Yankee. Instead, he only showed occasional flashes of what people thought he could be and people knew he was a bust for the past few years. The fact he made it this long with the organization is somewhat surprising, but I guess they wanted to get every at-bat out of the foolish investment they made in him. Without question, Duncan should be sending out his resume to the other 29 MLB teams…Mendoza has been coaching in Staten Island for a whole season now, so his inclusion here is pretty irrelevant…Ransom, wow. I can’t remember a guy who Yankee fans seemed to loathe more than him. He’ll be elsewhere…Marcos Vechionacci was once a top prospect in the organization, but his stock sank over the past few years thanks to injuries and inconsistent play. I could see him coming back, but he simply isn’t what he once was.
SS: Doug Bernier
Analysis: Bernier hit .181 with no home runs and 20 RBI in 227 at-bats with Scranton last year. I don’t really need to say much else here, correct?
OF: Edwar Gonzalez, Freddy Guzman, Richie Robnett, John Rodriguez
Analysis: Here’s an interesting little behind the scenes story for you on Edwar Gonzalez. After the last game of the season in New Britain, I waited in the dugout to give the guys the appropriate 10 minutes to cool down before going in there and talking to Tony Franklin and a few of the players like I usually will after the game and so on. I noticed that Edwar had left his hat on the railing of the dugout, so I picked it up and brought it in with me to give back to him on my way into Tony’s office. When I went to give him the hat, he told me to just throw it away. He didn’t want to remember anything about this season, he said. And it makes sense. After somewhat of a breakout year in 2008, Gonzalez wasn’t the same last year after agreeing to come back to the Yankees organization. I don’t think he showed enough to warrant getting an opportunity in Scranton next year, and he probably can’t come back to Trenton, either. He’ll likely move on…Guzman managed to get a World Series ring out of his tenure with the Yankees, but probably won’t be coming back to the organization either. They have a speedy outfielder already in the big leagues, they don’t really need two. Granted, I felt the same way before they brought him to the big leagues this year, but it doesn’t matter what I think…Robnett was a decent option at the plate for the Thunder this year and was probably their best power threat at times, but he was a defensive liability. I could see him returning, but his days as a prospect are pretty much over.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com