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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The most wonderful time of the year is here. Yes, the holidays equal family time and higher meanings beyond, but this is also when the biggest blockbuster moves get made in the sporting world’s greatest off-season – baseball’s hot stove.

General managers that get it right might feel a bit like Clark once his lights finally kick in with the whole Griswold clan watching.

Arguably the biggest and certainly (as of this blog entry’s creation) the latest huge move had Wil Myers moving again, this time from Tampa Bay to San Diego as part of a three-team, 11-player deal. Myers, you may recall, endured a difficult first season in the IL in 2013 before he straight crushed the RailRiders over two series from May 24-26 and May 31-June 3. He hit .438/.441/.906/1.347 with three homers and 12 RBIs in seven games against SWB to ignite his rise. As of June 18, he was in the bigs to stay the rest of the way and became the AL Rookie of the Year.

The third team in this trade was Washington and 2014 IL MVP Steven Souza, who led the IL in batting average (.350), OBP (.432) and SLG (.590), is now property of the Rays. Souza, for what it’s worth, did not play well against the RailRiders (.200/.333/.440/.773).

The RailRiders have added another utility man who recently played for Tampa’s team in the IL. Cole Figueroa spent the last three seasons in the Bull City of Durham and got big league time last season. SWB beat man Donnie Collins gave his reaction to the move and highlighted some of the others that may affect NEPA’s team including the re-signing of pitcher Jose Campos, the arrival of free agent catcher Juan Graterol and the earlier additions of the versatile Nick Noonan and Jonathan Galvez. Collins’ predecessor, now on the Yankees beat in the bigs Chad Jennings, gave his views while River Ave Blues examined Noonan’s numbers and threw out the possibility of a Yangervis Solarte comparison.

The Rule 5 draft came and went with zero impact on the Yankees. Nobody added, nobody lost.

MiLB.com released its list of Yankees minor leaguers who had the best 2014 seasons by position and five of the 12 honorees saw extended time with SWB including first baseman Kyle Roller:

In terms of pinstriped moves, the Yankees biggest recent splash had them inking Chase Headley to a four-year, $52-million contract. What does that mean for the young guys like 2014 RailRiders Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela? Joel Sherman gave his take in the NY Post while River Ave Blues calls it a positive for the up-and-coming prospects.

Per Yankees GM Brian Cashman, there’s no concern about a position battle at third base. A-Rod is now a full-time DH.

Cashman offered some other insights recently like: the Yankees don’t believe Didi Gregorius is a finished product and stated, “I don’t think Yankees fans will be looking at Max Scherzer”. Cashman also demonstrated complete confidence in first baseman Mark Teixeira.

One of the game’s great guys, SWB alumnus Dellin Betances, keeps on giving back to the community and spoke about the possibility of closing games for the Yankees.

The Yanks added some starting depth by signing Chris Capuano to a one-year deal.

What do these moves mean? Jennings gave his best guess with this organizational depth chart.

YESNetwork.com’s Lou DiPietro tossed out his ideas on possible trade chips that rest on the farm.

LINE OF THE WEEK: Braves GM John Hart has riled up some fans of his club by breaking them down to build them back up. His reaction to the criticism was blunt:

- “Let’s be honest: This team finished 29th in offense,” Hart said. “It’s not like I’m breaking up the ’27 Yankees.”

Read more care of Mark Townsend and Yahoo!’s Big League Stew blog.

Considered by some the greatest team in the history of the franchise, “Murderers’ Row” inspired a funny tale by one of the game’s true legends in Tommy Lasorda:

Best of luck to a name that still resonates in NEPA, Jimmy Rollins. The Phils traded him to Lasorda’s longtime club, the Dodgers.

As far as some other moves involving SWB alums: Scott Sizemore has signed with the Marlins while Antoan Richardson has joined the Texas Rangers.

Another excellent Breakfast with Santa took place at PNC Field last weekend. Several hundred folks made their way to the Mohegan Sun Club for food and pictures with Jolly Old St. Nick himself. Check out the pictures on our Facebook page.

Please follow us on Twitter and spread the word of PIP far and wide. Have a safe, happy, healthy holiday season and we will talk to you again in 2015.

Piping Hot Stove Report

The stove, the stove…the stove is on fire. With baseball’s winter meetings taking place this week in perhaps PIP’s favorite American city, San Diego, the comfortable confines of Ron Burgundy’s homeland have aided a number of moves.

Let’s start with one of the bigger changes for the Bombers. Shane Greene getting dealt in a three-way trade that yielded a former top prospect that some believe might be the heir to the shortstop role. SWB beat man Donnie Collins gave his thoughts on the deal. Did you know? Didi Gregorious’ first major league home run came in Yankee Stadium in his first at-bat as a Diamondback in 2013. It came against SWB alumnus Phil Hughes. Don’t look for Gregorious to assume everyday shortstop duties right away. He very well might platoon at the position per GM Brian Cashman. No matter what, you know he respects his predecessor and this hand-drawn homage tells the tale.

In a few years, there’s another rising young shortstop who has been tearing up Venezuelan winter ball that might play into the Yanks’ plans.

Down a starter in the young and talented Greene, how does that affect the pinstriped rotation? Manager Joe Girardi said there are some “question marks” with who gets the ball at the start of games in 2015.

One of the greatest joys of the Hot Stove season – the questions marks for the next season.

What were some of the biggest questions facing the Yankees when they entered the winter meetings? The Daily News’ Anthony McCarron gave his view including the then-interrogative involving David Robertson. Collins tossed out his summary of what had happened so far and what was possibly still to come, including some highlight names that could be taken in tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft.

The Yankees will also have a new closer since David Robertson signed with the White Sox. Apparently the Yankees never made an offer to Robertson beyond their one-year qualifying offer. They seem content with southpaw Andrew Miller and in-house talent/SWB alumnus Dellin Betances. Miller is just fine with not closing for the Yankees though he is confident he can handle closing if need be. Both Cashman and Girardi have confidence in the Bombers’ bullpen as it stands.

There are conflicting reports, but at least some have cited that Marcus Thames will be named the Yankees’ assistant hitting coach. There was some speculation that Thames could have been promoted to Butch Wynegar’s former role with SWB.

Congrats to SWB alumnus Kevin Cash. The man who once played for Dave Miley in 2009 has joined him on the short list of six Tampa natives to ever serve as a big league manager. Cash takes over for NEPA’s own Joe Maddon with the Tampa Bay Rays.

With Chase Headley out, who takes over at the hot corner for the Yanks? The Post has some ideas. But ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews cited a source that pointed the finger at 2014 RailRider Rob Refsnyder as a possibility.

IMDB, or the Internet movie database, names names for just about everything that’s been produced on the big screen and small. How detailed is it? RailRiders manager Dave Miley and pitching coach Scott Aldred each have entries for their screen time on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball back in the day.

A name that might be a 2015 RailRider? Infielder Jonathan Galvez. Read more about Galvez and the new homes for a number of SWB alums in Chad Jennings’ blog entry or in Donnie Collins’ piece.

Could the RailRiders play 2015 with a “pitch clock”? Indeed. Read on my friends.

In case you missed it, a number of minor leaguers reacted to the Ferguson dynamic on Twitter, including quite a few IL veterans.

Who has the best dog in the minors? Puppy love and more in this look at the latest in social media musings of MiLB players.

This year’s Pinstripe Bowl should be a fun one for us in NEPA with Penn State facing Boston College.

The RailRiders’ Fit Track program is back in 2015 and looking for area schools to round out its remaining open slots.

The team’s front office has grown with a number of additions and an in-house promotion.

Know someone who gives to the NEPA community in a significant way? Nominate him or her for the team’s Banners of Honor program.

Don’t forget, the big man himself, Santa Claus, is coming back to PNC Field this weekend.

Until next time true believers…

A Legg Up On The Competition

Hey RailRiders fans! Welcome back to the latest and greatest in all things SWB, NEPA, Yankees – and more (perhaps a fantastic recipe for brownies for your holiday parties). Can you believe a week from today will be Thanksgiving? When we think of what we’re thankful for one of the first people that springs into our heads – SWB legend Greg Legg.

The Greg Legg bobblehead doll box cover from the 2013 season.

He still calls the Phillies his employers. Although in 2015, he’ll have a new home. Oddly enough, he’s going back to where it all started. Legg first coached with Clearwater in 1994 and returned to do so again in 1995, but was later activated as a player and finished the year…in SWB. Read more in the Threshers’ official release.

There’s new life for another SWB alum. Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte has signed with the Oakland Athletics and the deal includes an invite to Major League spring training. Demonstrating that he is in fact kind of a big deal, Sports Illustrated picked up the story. (No word on if he has many leather-bound books or if his apartment smells of rich mahogany).

Are the Yankees copying the Kansas City Royals? Bill Madden of the NY Daily News thinks so.

From the mouth of the man himself, hear what Yankees GM Brian Cashman has to say about the 2014 season and his efforts for the 2015 squad in this sit-down chat with Jack Curry of the YES Network. (For the record, PIP loves Cashman’s off-season facial hair). SPOILER – he sees big things ahead for the farm system.

When SWB alumnus Francisco Cervelli was traded to the Pirates last week, Mark Feinsand speculated that the move made 2013-14 RailRider John Ryan Murphy the new back-up backstop for the Bombers. But a few days ago, RiverAveBlues’ Michael Axisa pulled a Lee Corso on that thought process.

What will be the impact of the Cervelli for Wilson deal? Check out the breakdown care of the YES Network’s Yankees Hot Stove or Brendan Kuty’s thoughts on NJ.com

It is the off-season, but still games go on. Recently, an on-field collision injured prospect outfielder Tyler Austin. Read about that and huge news with MVP status for Greg Bird in the AFL from Chad Jennings’ lohud blog. The piece includes the final numbers for all of the Yankees entrants in the AFL this year. MLB.com columnist Jonathan Mayo offered his thoughts on how Bird’s efforts in the desert have raised his prospect profile all the more. Bird led the way in Sam Dykstra’s blog recap of the AFL’s “good” this year. Pinstriped players went out with a bang in the AFL’s final game of the year.

Do you have trouble keeping up with all of the free agent moves? Check out this handy, dandy minor league free agent tracker from our friends at MiLB.com.

How have moves already altered the Yankees roster? Here’s Jennings’ take on it from last week. Kuty reported that recent acquisition Jose De Paula could be a starter. The “Cal Ripken of Japan” is coming to America. But don’t expect the Yankees to have interest according to Joel Sherman. However, it sounds like both New York teams have interest in Stephen Drew. CBS’ Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees called the Angels to ask about Howie Kendrick.

Today’s the day. Who will the Yankees protect from the Rule 5 draft? Take a look at Jennings’ breakdown of some possible names including a few with SWB time.

What do members of the SWB coaching staff do in the off-season? It appears that pitching coach Scott Aldred grooms Division I baseball players.

Breakfast? Awesome. Santa? Super cool. Combine the two? Oh my. Be sure to block time on Saturday, Dec. 13 for the annual Breakfast with Santa at PNC Field.

It’s a must-click each time out – the latest Minoring in Twitter post from Danny Wild including a poll for which minor league has the best Twitter account in all the land.

Many of the game’s best prospects, broken down by organization, have been announced by MLB.com. The Yankees’ names hit the interwebs on Dec. 17.

Former SWB shortstop Doug Bernier has re-signed with the Twins.

We leave you the same way Yankee Stadium does…

Free Fallin’

While our autumn days fade away, free agency has hit and it has come some SWB casualties along with related heartbreak as some clubhouse favorites depart:

Zoilo Almonte now calls the Atlanta Braves his employer, as does former Yankee/RailRider Chien-Ming Wang. NEPA’s own Russ Canzler? He’s back with the Phillies. He spoke very highly of his employers and the loyalty he felt he owed them. Dean Anna has signed with the Cardinals who placed him on their 40-man roster. Want to see who else declared for free agency? Check out this composite list thanks to the folks at Baseball America. It appears that Andrew Bailey has already re-signed with the Yankees and there are some other names not on the Baseball America’s list due to timing, but they do appear in this Chad Jennings piece on the lohud blog.

What will happen with Hiroki Kuroda? Apparently he is mulling three options.

Not all former RailRiders have new teams though. Yoshinori Tateyama has retired from baseball. He announced it via his own Twitter account:

The Yankees might not blow everyone away at quite the same rate as they did a decade ago for MLB talent, but they still annihilate the competition in pursuit of pieces that bolster the Triple-A roster. Check out this insightful piece from Kiley McDaniel of fangraphs and this look from Jennings with some direct SWB flavor from his days on the NEPA beat.

There’s a new name to learn for the 2015 campaign – Jose De Paula has signed with the Yankees.

A number of former and some possible future RailRiders are mentioned in his Jennings look at winter ball exploits highlighted by the stellar efforts of Ramon Flores.

Take a look back at a number of RailRiders relievers (highlighted by Chase Whitley) and their impact on the big club’s bullpen thanks to Michael Axisa of RiverAveBlues.

The legend of Greg Bird grows.

Who will replace Derek Jeter as the Yankees’ shortstop? Elvis may enter the building. It’s something that drew speculation from the Texas media during Jeter’s farewell tour during the season. It could also be Alexei Ramirez.

The Bombers may also look to Cuba to help their infield.

Could Raul Ibanez become the Yankees next hitting coach? If they want him, they may have competition.

Until next time RailRiders fans…

It’s a bird, it’s a…no wait, it really is a Bird

Hello there RailRiders fans. Can you believe it’s November already? The Feb. 20 report date for pitchers and catchers draws all the closer.

While the 2014 MLB season has come and gone, congrats by the way to the San Francisco Giants, baseball is still being played and the news surrounding a number of names associated with SWB continues to swirl.

What’s the latest? Perhaps the biggest news comes out in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League where Greg Bird has been making himself quite well known. His latest claim to fame? Grabbing MVP honors in the annual Fall Stars game. The highlight moment – when he blasted the longest home run ever hit in the contest’s nearly decade-long history. Jonathan Mayo of MiLB.com took a closer look at Bird and his heroics. The seers at Baseball America did the same before the game was even played.

Also in the AFL, 6’7″ outfielder Aaron Judge claimed Player of the Week honors for a supreme seven days including his first multi-homer game as a pro. Judge opened 2014 with Low-A Charleston but finished with Adv.-A Tampa.

Ben Hill’s epic 2014 tour of minor league stadiums all across America? It ended in SWB and resulted in this fantastic look at the PNC Field experience.

Baseball America has unveiled its list of the Yankees’ Top-10 prospects based on the 2014 season. Former SWB beat man, now on the big league beat in the Bronx, Chad Jennings gave his reaction to the list and had a heads up on some transactions with thanks to Matt Eddy of Baseball America including word that Chris Leroux and Cesar Cabral elected free agency.

Jennings also examined the latest exploits of the pinstriped players in winter ball led by the RailRiders’ lone 2014 All-Star, Jose Pirela, who has enjoyed a splendid start to his play in Venezuela. Pirela isn’t the only winter star who truly treasures the summer.

What is it like to be traded? MiLB.com’s Robert Emrich takes us on the journey of several such instances from the 2014 season including when Double-A power phenom Pete O’Brien was shipped by the Yankees from the Trenton Thunder.

Two great Minoring in Twitter posts by Danny Wild in recent time: a look at the social media outpouring of emotion following Oscar Taveras’ tragic death and a potpourri that starts with arguably the most awkward post-game moment from the World Series.

Remember 2013 RailRider Dan Johnson? The 35-year-old former IL MVP has decided to add a unique skill this off-season – pitching.

Doug Williams with YESNetwork.com gives his thoughts on why Rob Refsnyder should be the starting second baseman in the Bronx. Congrats also go out to Refsnyder for winning the 2014 Home Run of the Year MiLBY.

Antoan Richardson is back in the news. Alas, it has him taken off the 40-man roster by the Yankees.

Eric Chavez is back with the Yankees…as a scout. Remember when he hit former SWB man Cody Eppley in the head with a throw?

The folks at Yankees on Demand created some reflective videos on a number of Yankees with SWB ties including Shane Greene, Michael Pineda, Dellin Betances and Brett Gardner – who recently had abdominal surgery.

Speaking of Betances, he is a finalist for American League Rookie of the Year. The Yankees have had eight Rookies of the Year in their history. The last one? In 1996, a rising young shortstop named Derek Jeter.

One of the game’s more electrifying players, and the fourth member of baseball’s elite 40-40 club, Alfonso Soriano has retired.

Until next time RailRiders fans/Penny’s uncle…

Clash of Clans: World Series Edition

How did the Royals make the World Series? Part of it involved putting down the phone and avoiding a wildly popular game.

Normally on PIP, we lead with all things RailRiders. And we will get to SWB in just a bit. But with the Fall Classic underway, we found an article of particular interest. Who wouldn’t want to play Major League Baseball? Who didn’t spend hours upon hours playing in the backyard or in the street imagining a World Series pitch or at-bat? For this year’s Kansas City Royals (who saw their eight-game post-season winning streak shattered in a 7-1 thumping last night), the playoffs nearly never were thanks to…Clash of Clans?

For those unaware, Clash of Clans (per the 100% accurate Wikipedia) is “an online multiplayer game in which players build a community, train troops, and attack other players to earn gold and elixir, which can then be used to build defenses so as to protect the player against other players attacking them.” For the Kansas City Royals, Clash of Clans became mind control. As this IGN piece details, first-base coach Rusty Kuntz “remembered coming into the locker room after a tough loss against Boston — their third in a row in the middle of the season, putting the team below .500 — and seeing a handful of players fixated on Clash of Clans”. Getting the Royals to tone it down turned their season around. (Clash of Clans is a lot of fun though).

The Royals made one change to their roster for the World Series. They dropped 2010 first-round pick Christian Colon, and added an SWB alumnus in Jayson Nix. The Dallas, Tex. native played eight games for the then-SWB Yankees early in the 2012 season. He spent a good deal of the 2014 campaign in the IL with Durham. He played in 55 games for the Bulls and started at six different positions. The Giants, however, made no changes to their roster for the World Series which means former SWB hurler George Kontos remains off the active roster.

In 2011 the tradition of rookies dressing up for the season’s last road trip included George Kontos and many other former SWB players with an 80’s pop stars theme. From L-R: Andrew Brackman/Dellin Betances (Milli Vanilli), Kontos (George Michael), Hector Noesi (Prince), Joe Girardi (himself), Austin Romine (Madonna), Jesus Montero (MC Hammer), Brandon Laird (Slash).

Do you like watching San Francisco second baseman Joe Panik? According to this piece by former SWB/current New York Yankees beat man Chad Jennings, some scouts believe Panik is very similar to the RailRiders’ best position player prospect in 2014 – Rob Refsnyder.

Jennings also took a look at a number of former SWB players who are among the Yankees that could be looking at arbitration or being non-tendered and the money they’re likely to make in 2015 with help from MLB Trade Rumors.

Tonight, it’s Game 2 of the World Series as the hard-throwing young gun Yordano Ventura faces longtime veteran Jake Peavy. Click away for MLB.com’s preview of the game. It will be a special night at PNC Field as well. Season ticket holders and sponsors will gather in the Mohegan Sun Club for what’s become an annual tradition – watching the World Series in Moosic. It’s one of the many benefits afforded to STH and sponsors of NEPA’s favorite team.

The Mohegan Sun Club will become NEPA’s World Series HQ for season-ticket holders and sponsors.

The Arizona Fall League has served as a launching pad for many of baseball’s biggest stars. What’s the latest when it comes to the Yankees and some former/likely future RailRiders? Check out Jim Callis’ overview of the Yankees in the circuit, read up on how Tyler Austin sparked a huge late rally, and check up on Greg Bird who claimed Player of the Week honors.

Yes, the chill has arrived and winter will soon follow. But warm up with the release of the Yankees spring training schedule. Pitchers and catchers report to Tampa Feb. 20 and work out starting Feb. 21. The other position players arrive Feb. 25 with a first full-squad the next day. The 33-game Grapefruit League slate starts March 3 in Clearwater against the Phillies.

Per Mark Feinsand of the Daily News, it appears that Gary Denbo will take over as the top man running the Yankees’ minor league system. He has had a long-running relationship with Derek Jeter and has been known as a brilliant hitting coach. He served as the Yankees’ hitting coach in 2001. Some thought Trey Hillman was in line for the position previously held by Mark Newman, but the Astros hired Hillman to be their bench coach.

As for the Yankees’ current hitting coach, CBS’ Jon Heyman reports that former Yankee Chili Davis turned down the Bombers in favor of the Red Sox. Dave Magadan reportedly interviewed for the gig in the Bronx, but was told he is no longer a candidate. Magadan is still in the running for the hitting coach role with the Mets, however, along with the man recently axed by the Yankees, Kevin Long, who is set to meet with the team today according to the NY Post.

Over at MinorLeagueBall.com John Sickels took a look at the breakout effort by one of the nicest guys in SWB baseball history, Chase Whitley.

How the heck is CC Sabathia doing? Apparently, he’s “pretty much back to 100%” according to Bryan Hoch.

Do you want baseball to pick up its pace? The Arizona Fall League is conducting experiments in an attempt to accomplish that with mixed results per Mike Axisa.

Are you awake all night wondering what could have been with the SWB Black Diamond Bears? Lose the diamond, but another team is going to help you out.

Love AMC’s The Walking Dead? So do minor league baseball players.

Refsnyder Honored, Wynegar Departs – PIP’s Week In Review

Remember Rob Refsnyder‘s walk-off homer on the Fourth of July? So does the rest of MiLB. And you could help its memory live on all the more. His blast is a finalist for a 2014 MiLBY award as the “Top Home Run” in the minors last season. CLICK HERE to vote.

With his new deal in hand, what’s on Cashman’s plate? A loot from former SWB beat man/current Yankees reporter Chad Jennings at Cashman’s to-do list including the names of a number of former SWB men including coach Frank Menechino and possibly adding longtime manager Dave Miley to the big league staff on his LoHud blog.

Some hires have to be made because the Yankees fired hitting coach Kevin Long and first base coach Mick Kelleher. An excellent composite look at moves has been assembled by Michael Axisa of River Ave Blues.

His matrix includes word from RailRiders beat man Donnie Collins that Luis Sojo will not return to NEPA. He also caught a glimpse of some poor bald man while on his other beat covering Penn St. football:

The only hitting coach the SWB franchise has known since becoming Yankees affiliate in 2007, the incredibly likable Butch Wynegar, has been let go by the Yankees according to WFAN’s Sweeny Murti:

It should be noted – the RailRiders led the IL in batting average in 2014 and paced the circuit in home runs in 2013.

Where might Long wind up? The New York Post’s Mike Puma reports he could go to the Mets.

The NY Post’s George King asked former Mets GM Omar Minaya if he’s been in talks to join the Yankees and has the skinny on some names the Yankees have talked to about their top minor league position vacated by the retiring Mark Newman.

Want a breakdown of each Yankee/Met participating in winter ball in Venezuela and Mexico? Newsday’s Cody Derespina has you covered with a list that includes SWB alumni Francisco Arcia, Francisco Cervelli, Ramon Flores, Adonis Garcia, Jose Gil, Mark Montgomery and Diego Moreno.

ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand had multiple men with SWB time on his list of 11 “Young Yankees on the Rise”.

Chip Hale has moved from Oakland bench coach to Diamondbacks skipper. In his wake, a former Yankee may benefit. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that ex-Yank/current Oakland hitting coach Chili Davis is under consideration for the hitting gig with the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs along with a possible bump to bench man for the A’s.

The RailRiders won a SAGE Award in 2013 for Best Practices in Community Involvement. This year the team is a finalist for “Pride & Progress: Exterior Renovations” for the reconstruction of PNC Field. The SAGE Awards (Scranton Awards for Growth and Excellence) recognize the outstanding efforts, talent, creativity and innovation within the northeast Pennsylvania business community. They are administered by The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and MetroAction and are announced annually at the Chamber Gala.

John Sickels broke down the numbers on Shane Greene’s coming of age in 2014.

Shane Greene became a key part of the Yankees rotation after everything clicked with SWB.

“It’s A Major Award!”

While it may be the off-season for the RailRiders and Yankees alike, there’s still quite a bit going on these days.  Let’s take a trip around the latest news and notes:

The RailRiders laid claim to a “major award” (granted, not quite the Christmas Story leg lamp) for the second time in as many years by grabbing a Golden Bobblehead. The team’s website took a look at the accolade while the Times Leader gave it some praise as well.

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Community relations manager Rachel Mark (fourth from left) assembled a prize-winning effort with the team’s HOPE Week in 2014.

Antoan Richardson has received his share of pub in recent days. There’s this piece on his positive approach to the game and his “Jeter moment” and a multi-part look at his efforts of late from Tribune 242, the paper of his native Bahamas. Part 1 looks at how he never gave up on his big league dreams while part 2 examines the mark he’s made at the highest level. Another chapter with a more personal twist is due out later today.

Former RailRiders beat man Chad Jennings does an excellent job covering the big club these days. Among PIP’s favorites from his recent work are this look at the Rule 5 possibilities for the organization, this take on possible minor league impact for next season including Hal Steinbrenner referencing a 2014 RailRider, and Jennings’ own personal examination of minor leaguers that could help the 2015 Yankees.

How could Rob Refsnyder be a Yankee in 2015? NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty offers his thoughts.

Bad news? Rising prospect Eric Jagielo was forced out of the prestigious AFL due to injury when he took a fastball to the face. Good news? His surgery went well including photo proof per his personal social media. Read more from MiLB.com.

Jagielo’s tweet/instagram were among those that made Danny Wild’s latest post in the “wildly” fun “Minoring in Twitter” blog. The list includes another Yankees farmhand in Cito Culver.

Eric Jagielo gave the “thumbs up” after a successful surgery.

The Yankees have a number of names in the AFL this year including former RailRider Caleb Cotham. Jennings looks at each pinstriped entrant while Greg Bird got things started with a bang yesterday. The second piece also mentions the exploits of a former power bat on the Yankees’ farm and how his new life with the Diamondbacks halted after his in-season trade.

Former SWB Yankees pitching coach Rafael Chaves has been named minor league pitching coordinator for the Phillies.

Speaking of SWB’s former parent club, the baseball world lost a legend when the great Bill Campbell passed away Monday at the age of 91. The dean of Philadelphia sportscasters saw many of the greatest moments in the history of Philadelphia sports during his days calling games for the Phillies, Eagles, Sixers, Warriors, Big 5 and more.

What did the baseball world expect from a young Derek Jeter? Baseball America was kind enough to post its look at the then-young gun from 1994.

Transactions time – the Yankees have re-signed a member of the RailRiders’ 2014 rotation and bullpen, Joel de la Cruz. Reliever Diego Moreno and catcher Francisco Arcia have also been re-signed by the organization.

One of the newest New York Rangers, goalie Cédrick Desjardins, has woven Jeter and Frank Sinatra into the artwork on his mask.

Everyone is giving Jeter love these days. Even the “People’s Champion”, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

In case you missed it, Abington Heights took the inaugural RailRiders Bowl over Valley View, 26-15. Below are some pics of the celebration and of a Yankees flavor to the event’s sidelines:

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The Comets raise the trophy on PNC Field.

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Sideline protectors used during football games at Yankee Stadium were brought in from the Bronx.

Jeter’s Goodbye Loaded with SWB Flavor

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And so, The Captain’s curtain call has come and gone. While his final at-bat (CLICK HERE for video) fittingly saw him deliver a hustle RBI single, the 3,465th hit of his career, it’s impossible to top his storybook final moment in the Bronx. CLICK HERE to watch the magic over and over.  When you do, realize that quite a bit of SWB flavor added up to the recipe for that Hollywood finish.

It was a 5-2 lead for the Yanks entering the top of the ninth. There are no theatrics for Jeter if SWB alum David Robertson (2008-09, 12) doesn’t suffer his fifth and final blown save of an otherwise excellent season (he finished 3rd in the AL with 39 saves) thanks to a pair of homers that tied it up. The game-tying homer? That was struck by 2012 SWB slugger Steve Pearce. In the bottom of the ninth, the lone 2014 RailRiders All-Star, Jose Pirela, set the stage with a leadoff single. His NEPA teammate this season, Antoan Richardson, then came on as a pinch runner. Brett Gardner, an SWB outfielder from 2007-09 and in 2012, followed with a sacrifice. Worth noting, Gardner led the AL with 13 sacrifices and blasted a career-best 17 home runs on the season. Jeter then singled and the speedy Richardson, who led SWB with 26 stolen bases this season, scored from second as Jeter went out a monumental hero. Pun intended, are they working on that monument yet?

CLICK HERE for a fun look at how Boston gave Jeter the royal treatment in his final act.

Did Jeter make a mistake by playing in Boston? A famous New Yorker thinks he did. CLICK HERE for Jerry Seinfeld’s thoughts. The link also has a YouTube clip of Jeter’s appearance on Seinfeld when he and Bernie Williams got hitting lessons from the assistant to the team’s traveling secretary, George Costanza.

Boston hurler Joe Kelly took a selfie with Jeter. But his wife’s tweet about the selfie is the real story. CLICK HERE for the social media joy.

CLICK HERE for a pretty cool collection of tweets from minor league players, including some with direct Yankees ties, saying goodbye and giving their memories of Jeter.

Jeter has already hit the ground running in retirement. CLICK HERE for more on his first effort post-baseball.

The primary SWB catchers in 2014 each had a Q&A on their 2014 seasons with NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty. CLICK HERE for the chat with John Ryan Murphy and CLICK HERE for Austin Romine’s session.

Hal Steinbrenner, managing general partner of the Yankees, apologized for the Bombers failing to reach postseason play for the second time in as many seasons. He also confirmed that a new contract is in the works for GM Brian Cashman. For more, CLICK HERE.

ABOVE: Cashman gives a high-five to his SWB counterpart, Rob Crain, after inking a PDC extension on PNC field during a game this season

Manager Joe Girardi talked about the 2014 season and highlighted minor leaguers as the near future for the Yankees. Could that mean any recent or soon-to-be RailRiders? CLICK HERE for more.

Carlos Beltran had surgery on his elbow and spoke about his latest condition. CLICK HERE for quotes and video.

Where do the Yankees stand for the 2015 season? CLICK HERE for a position-by-position breakdown.

The AL wild card game provided some amazing baseball theater to get postseason play underway. CLICK HERE for the crazy finish thanks to one of the game’s best catchers, Salvador Perez. The plucky Royals are back at it tonight as each ALDS gets underway. CLICK HERE for the full MLB postseason schedule.

How much have the RailRiders given back to NEPA this year? CLICK HERE for the 2014 Community Report to learn more.

Don’t forget, the first-ever RailRiders Bowl comes to PNC Field this Saturday night at 7 p.m. as Valley View faces Abington Heights. CLICK HERE for a listen to RailRiders president/GM Rob Crain’s interview with Joby Fawcett about the game. CLICK HERE to buy tickets. Check out the initial look below.

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Under My Pirela

SLOWING DOWN, STARTING UP: The off-season is upon the minors, but the big clubs are still coming down their home stretches. While it marks an end for most, this week saw a big beginning for a RailRider. 2014 IL All-Star Jose Pirela made his Major League debut on Monday and made history in multiple ways. Serving as the DH, he became the 57th different man to play for the 2014 Yankees, setting a new single-season franchise record. He then tripled to drive in a run and became the first Yankee to triple in his first big league at-bat since Steve Balboni in 1981. CLICK HERE to read more about his smashing debut, which saw him post a pair of hits, his post-game quotes and a video highlight of the three-bagger.

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR: Pirela led the IL with 11 triples, 163 hits and 87 runs scored while also ranking among the league’s best in batting average (5th, .305) and total bases (2nd, 236). Despite potent line-drive power that helped him slam 10 home runs in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, Pirela served as the leadoff man in 99 games for Dave Miley’s squad.

RECORD KEEPING: The 56-man record that Pirela broke was set in 2013 with SWB alumnus Mike Zagurski serving as the 56th man in a Sept. 15 game against the Red Sox at Fenway. Before the 2013 campaign, the franchise record was 51 – set in 2005 and tied in 2008. The 52nd Yankee that broke the record? Another SWB alum in catcher John Ryan Murphy who also notched a hit in his debut. CLICK HERE for some post-game quotes including Murphy acknowledging some nerves.

WHAT IF: Pirela’s opportunity seemingly only came about due to circumstance. He got the call when Martin Prado got struck with illness and had a season-ending appendectomy. Even before his big debut, Chad Jennings forecast the possibility of Pirela staying on the 40 in his blog. CLICK HERE to read more.

BYE-BYE: Steve “Bye Bye” Balboni was a second-round pick by the Yankees in 1978. He tripled off Detroit’s Howard Bailey in a 7-2 win at the stadium in a game started by Ron Guidry. He spent most of his 11-season big league career with the Royals, but had two separate tours of duty with the Bronx Bombers. He crushed 181 homers in 960 career big league games. However, the beefy first baseman only tripled 10 more times on his career after starting his big league tenure with a triple.

RECORDS ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN: A big part of the puzzle for the 2014 IL North champion Syracuse Chiefs could crack Pirela’s record. Eury Perez was claimed off waivers from the Washington Nationals and would be the 58th different Yankees of the season if he plays before the campaign comes to a close. The Chiefs led the IL with 81 wins but lost to the eventual Governors’ Cup champion Pawtucket Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs. The PawSox swept the set in three games, but two of the contests came down to a single score.

END OF AN ERA: As first reported by the New York Post’s George King, the Yankees’ longtime senior VP of baseball operations, Mark Newman, is retiring. Newman has spent over a quarter century with the Yankees including the last 15 as the top man on the farm. CLICK HERE to read King’s original report and CLICK HERE for Baseball America‘s look at the story. CLICK HERE to read Mark Feinsand‘s chat with Newman including news that his retirement was decided upon months before the season even started.

BREAKING IT DOWN: How did the 2014 RailRiders fare? CLICK HERE to check out the full report card from the outstanding longtime beat writer, Donnie Collins.

SIMPLY THE BEST: For the second straight year, the RailRiders led the IL in a major team offensive category. Last year the squad led the loop with its 133 home runs. The 2014 incarnation paced the circuit in team batting average at .273. The league’s overall average was .261. SWB also ranked second in slugging percentage at .413. Only Charlotte, which plays in by far the most home-run friendly stadium in the IL, enjoyed a better season at .436. The league average was .393. Charlotte had definite power, but also slugged .467 at home compared to .406 on the road. The RailRiders slugged .407 at the expansive PNC Field and .419 on the road.

MUST SEE: For all of the hoopla surrounding Derek Jeter’s final season, a commercial has made for one of the more poetic examinations of the Yankees’ longtime leader. CLICK HERE if you’re not among the millions to see Gatorade’s 90-second look at Jeter with his fans and history.

ON DECK: For those that missed it, the RailRiders 2015 schedule has been announced. CLICK HERE to check it out.

COMMUNITY LOVE: Earlier today the team announced its annual community report with all of the year-to-date fun facts. It includes over $360,000 of cash or in-kind donations, over 550 hours of volunteerism and more. CLICK HERE for the full story.

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