Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte continue to open eyes at Yankees Spring Training. Mesa hit a three-run home run in the top of the sixth, adding to his single from earlier in the game. Almonte exited the game with a pair of singles and an RBI. With Curtis Granderson out 10 weeks, the competition is on to make the big league squad out of Spring Training.
Brett Marshall, who put up great numbers at Double-A Trenton last season, dominated Houston hitters. He tossed three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three. Marshall has been impressive in both of his outings this spring. He’s rated as the sixth best prospect in the Yankees system by Baseball America.
Dellin Betances, who Brian Cashman has said will start the year at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, pitched a scoreless fourth inning with a couple of strikeouts. Betances is rated as the 18th best Yankee prospect by Baseball America.
Brandon Laird, a prominent member of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre squad last season, hit a grand slam in the sixth inning for the Astros. He is currently competing for a big league roster spot in Houston.Rick Ankiel has also homered for the ‘Stros in an offensive contest so far in Kissimmee, Fla.
Spring Training may be the only baseball setting where fans flock to see who is coming out of the bullpen before the ninth inning. The Baltimore Orioles squared off against the New York Yankees in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon, and many fans came out to see Orioles phenom Dylan Bundy showcase why he is one of the most talked about prospects in quite some time.
Bundy did not disappoint Orioles and neutral fans, as he tossed two scoreless innings, striking out a batter while allowing one hit and walking one. His efforts stifled the Yankees offense while Baltimore seven runs in the opening two frames. Hazleton native Russ Canzler drove in one run for Baltimore in the early stages of the game.
The offensive highlight for the Yankees came in the bottom of the second inning when Brett Gardner tripled to right field, plating three runs. Much has been made about Gardner moving to center field, and he has played well both at the plate and in the field in the opening handful of games. NEPA baseball fans may remember Gardner rehabbed with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre squad last season.
Yankees bullpen prospect Mark Montgomery pitched the sixth inning. Montgomery, a fast rising prospect who is rated 11th in the Yankees system by Baseball America, threw a scoreless inning while walking a batter and striking out one.
Thursday marks the final day of February and the Yankees will field split-squads in Spring Training action to close out the month. They will take on the Astros and Blue Jays, with both games beginning at 1:05 p.m.
Adam Warren, who has made 53 starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre the last two seasons, was dominant in his 2013 spring debut on Sunday. Battling for a spot with the big league club, Warren kept Blue Jay hitters off balance, tossing two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts (Checkout the highlights of his outing here). Warren has been a fast riser since being drafted by the Yankees in 2009, and made his Major League debut last June.
After Warren’s first inning, the game turned sour, as Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch. The diagnosis didn’t take long, and Grandy Man will be out of action for 10 weeks with a broken forearm. Ronnier Mustelier, who spent 2012 with SWB, replaced Granderson in yesterday’s game and went 1-3 with a single.
Other members of the 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team to play in yesterday’s game include Preston Claiborne and Jayson Nix. Claiborne worked the final two outs of the fifth and the entire sixth inning. Claiborne spent half the season with SWB last season, so he figures to be a big part of the RailRider bullpen in 2013. Nix came off the bench with a single and a walk.
The Yankees now head to Sarasota, Fla. to face the Baltimore Orioles later today. Vidal Nuno will get the nod for the Yankees against Brian Matusz. Nuno made one start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the International League playoffs last season, and will likely begin the year in the RailRider rotation.
If you’ve ventured outside the past few days, you’ll know it doesn’t exactly feel like baseball is right around the corner here in NEPA. I assure you, Opening Day at the new PNC Field is in just under six weeks! Full squad workouts have been underway all week at Spring Training, and the first slate of games are being played today. David Phelps, who made a start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, will get the start in the Yankees Spring opener on Saturday.
With the news that Phil Hughes has to sit out because of a back injury, local Yankees fans have to be looking for good news. That came in the form of World Baseball Classic roster additions. Melky Mesa and Juan Cedeno were both added to the Dominican Republic roster. Mesa was huge down the stretch for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, and Cedeno was a reliable lefty out of the bullpen.
That brings us to this week’s edition of Becoming a Ballpark. In this episode, Cameron and I take you inside the spacious press box, give you a glimpse of the office space and ticket windows, and show you the progress of the 150-foot long, high-definition LED wall going in right field. We have a special guest in this week’s episode as well, as Jeremy Ruby, the executive vice president for operations, stops by to talk about the limitless opportunities at the new PNC Field.
Spring Training is in full force; pitchers are now throwing simulated games, and hitters are getting up to speed with some of their earlier reporting teammates. On Tuesday, the New York Yankees announced their first two starters of the spring schedule, both of which had connections to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season.
David Phelps will start the opener on Saturday against the Braves. He will face off against Paul Maholm, a mid-season acquisition by Atlanta from the Pirates last season. Phelps threw his first simulated game of the season, and Ronnier Mustelier, a SWB teammate from last season, gave him quite the scare. Phelps made one start last season for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and is competing for a rotation spot with the Yankees.
Another guy competing for a spot with the big league club is Adam Warren, who spent all of 2012 with SWB. Warren, who compiled a 7-8 record in the International League last season, will get the nod on Sunday for the Yankees against the Blue Jays in their spring home opener.
The countdown continues, and we now stand at 44 days until opening day at the new PNC Field, which is slated for April 4 against the Pawtucket Red Sox. Spring Training action should help that date arrive just a little bit faster.
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While the sight of snow from the last storm melting away here in Northeast Pennsylvania was a welcomed one, the fact pitchers and catchers reported to their respective training facilities last week made every baseball fan’s heart warm. The Yankees organization, dispersed by the off-season, has made its way to Tampa, Fla., and a look at the schedule reveals the first Spring Training game against Atlanta coming on Saturday.
Derek Jeter made the biggest splash in Yankees camp by telling reporters he would be in the lineup on Opening Day. Barring any setbacks, the Captain will begin his 17th full season with the Yankees. This is welcome news considering the seriousness of his injury incurred in last year’s playoffs.
The big league club made a move to bolster their bullpen, and it could have a ripple effect on the RailRider pen. New York acquired righty Shawn Kelley from Seattle by trading outfield prospect, Abraham Almonte. Kelley, a native of my home state in Kentucky, piled up 45 strikeouts in 44.1 innings of work in 2012. Kelley’s four-seam fastball/slider combination could help an already stellar Yankee bullpen. Stay tuned on how this affects both the RailRiders, and the big league club.
PNC Field continues to steam towards completion, as the last of the seating bowl is being installed as I type. A successful weekend at the Steamtown Mall in Scranton produced a number of great national anthem candidates. With the blistery conditions and cold temperatures outside, it’s hard to believe we stand just over six weeks away from opening day! For everybody here at the RailRiders, it can’t come soon enough.
If you’ve had a chance to look at the live construction camera the past week or so, you’ve probably noticed the sections filling with seats. The seating bowl is almost done, with bleacher seating to be installed next. This week, Cameron Wengrzyn, Rob Galdieri, and I race out to right field to show you the Budweiser Railhouse, and the soon to be installed right field wall video board (That’s right, I said wall!).
The club level and suites are starting to take shape, and the clubhouses are steaming towards the finish line as well. We decided to stay out of the counstruction crew’s way, but did manage to sneak in the first base party deck. Next week we will head back inside to track the progress. For those that attended our open house, or have had a tour, the progress has been remarkable. Enjoy the stunning views of the field this week!
One of the best perks of being a broadcaster is seeing the acts that entertain fans between innings throughout the season. I’ve seen my fair share, from large, dancing inflatables to a bat retrieving dog. When the RailRiders’ 2013 promotional schedule landed on my desk, even my mind was blown by all that is going on at PNC Field this season.
Living on a farm for 21 years of my life instantly draws me to the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo on June 22. Remember how I mentioned the bat retrieving dog? The Cowboy Monkey Rodeo features monkeys RIDING dogs. Let that digest for a second. It’s the cuteness of the zoo meeting the Westminster Dog Show. And these dogs aren’t just parading around in a circle, they’re herding sheep! As the owner of a Collie/Shetland Sheep Dog that just bites my feet when walking with no herding intention (sorry Ernie), I have a soft spot for these animals. As the video below shows you, the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo is something you don’t want to miss.
This is just my personal favorite of our upcoming promotional calendar. It’s jam packed with promotions and giveaways, 18 giveaways to be exact. That’s 11 more giveaways that PNC Field has seen in the last five seasons combined. These items include everything from bobbleheads, baseball bats, pet water bowls, replica jerseys, and much more. A link to the full list can be found below, as well as a video previewing my personal favorite, the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo.
A quick gaze at the countdown to Opening Day clock reveals just 55 days, and the progress inside the new PNC Field is astounding. The seating bowl is almost entirely installed, and inside, the suites, club level, and concourse are coming along fast as well. In less than eight weeks, the first pitch will be thrown against the Pawtucket Red Sox, a welcomed reminder that spring is right around the corner.
I took a break from my Winter Storm Nemo preparations (which constitutes me buying almost every tub of chocolate fudge ice cream within a 15-mile radius of Dunmore, Pa.) to join Cameron Wengrzyn for the latest episode of Becoming a Ballpark. In this episode, Cameron and I head to the outfield to show you some of the ways the RailRiders are taking advantage of PNC Field’s new 360-degree concourse.
Whether you’re sitting in the Kost Tire Party Pavilion, the NEPA Honda Dealers Assn. Lawn Area, or the Budweiser Railhouse, you’re sure to get a great view of all the action on the field, as well as the entertainment going on around you. Unfortunately, the inflatable slide has not been installed due to the cold weather, but John Sadak and I will be the first ones to test it out. Join us next week when we head back inside to check on the progress at the new PNC Field on Becoming a Ballpark.
Russ Canzler, a name that many NEPA baseball fans will recognize, was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. Canzler, a Hazleton, Pa. native, was recently claimed by the New York Yankees, but was designated for assignment to clear room for the recently signed Travis Hafner. Canzler has made the big leagues the past two seasons with Tampa Bay and Cleveland respectively, and has dominated the International League the past two seasons as well.
Canzler, 26, was selected in the 30th round by the Chicago Cubs in the 2004 draft, and played in the Cubs system through the 2010 season. The Rays then picked him up as a minor league free agent, where he began his International League domination. Canzler hit .314 with 18 home runs and recorded 83 runs batted in on his way to winning the International League Most Valuable Player award with Durham in 2011. He then appeared in three games with the Rays at the conclusion of the regular season, playing for fellow Hazleton, Pa. native, Joe Maddon.
Canzler joined the Indians organization following the 2011 campaign and proceeded to hit 22 home runs with Columbus. He was called up by Cleveland when the rosters expanded, and earned 93 at-bats in 26 games with the Indians to close out the 2012 season. He hit his first career Major League home run at Target Field against the Twins on Sept. 7. He finished the month with a .269 average, three home runs, and 11 runs batted in.
Canzler will have an opportunity to make the Orioles opening day roster, in large part to his defensive versatility. He has played first base, third base, left, and right field. With a healthy Brett Gardner joining Ichiro and Curtis Granderson, it would have been a tall order to get significant playing time with the Yankees this season.