New York Yankees pitching coach impressed with Gerrit Cole: “He’s close to game speed”

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The New York Yankees made the splash of the offseason when they secured the services of ace pitcher Gerrit Cole on a record-breaking nine-year, $324 contract. The right-hander was utterly dominant in 2019 with the Houston Astros and will now lead the Bombers’ rotation for years to come.

He made a great impression on Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, sitting in the mid-to-high 90s and touching 99 miles per hour on the radar gun against live hitters such as Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Luke Voit. Needless to say, pitching coach Matt Blake was impressed.

Blake said that Cole was already in midseason form, filling the strike zone with fastballs for three innings. The righty had remained active in the stoppage by throwing occasional bullpen sessions, but Thursday was the first time he faced live hitters since the action was halted in mid-March.

“He looked good,” Blake said. “He’s moving right along in his progression. We kind of set the bar for kind of what we’re going to build on, targeting three weeks out and getting ready for the regular season. He’s in a really good spot, and the nice thing is it doesn’t take fans in the stands to get him amped. We’re good there.”

The Yankees’ ace stole the show

Reliever Adam Ottavino also took the mound and threw a couple of innings. Radley Haddad was the catcher, and manager Aaron Boone and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere were among those looking at the action.

Yet, the New York Yankees’ frontline starter was the one who stole the show, evidently.

“He’s pretty close to game speed,” Blake said of Cole. “I think we’re game-ready with velocity. Now it’s kind of just fine-tuning it and sustaining over longer pitch counts. I think he feels good about where he is. He’s always a critic of himself, tightening things up [like] a certain pitch to a certain location. I think we’re building a nice baseline for him.”

New York Yankees News: Gerrit Cole is father to a baby boy, “he’s absolutely adorable”

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

New York Yankees ace pitcher Gerrit Cole announced today in a conference call with reporters that he and his wife Amy have given birth to a baby boy. Caden Gerrit Cole was born on Monday at 6 pounds and 13 ounces.  Cole added that he was a mix of him and his wife and was strong and healthy.  The blue-eyed Caden was called “adorable” by his dad.  Amy stayed active during the pregnancy, even playing catch with her husband.

He added, “Amy is doing excellent, and he is doing excellent,” Cole said. “He’s got big blue eyes, and gosh I just can’t stop staring at him.” When he was asked if he was fearful of the birth and playing baseball in a coronavirus pandemic, he pointed out that the Angels superstar Mike Trout’s wife was also pregnant and that he was still not comfortable playing during the coronavirus season. New York Yankees Gerrit Cole wants to play and made the following statement.

“I think everybody is going to see how these first few weeks play out,” Cole said. “So far, the testing has been robust. I certainly have confidence in my teammates, in the staff with the Yankees to keep us safe. My gosh, we worked like five months on this protocol with a lot of outside counsel. Both of us want me to play. If there’s obviously some significant breakouts or something that would really kind of put us in danger, we may adjust. But I have faith that we can get through this and get through it safely. We’re taking certainly all the necessary precautions here when I go to and from the field and who I interact with, as I guess I have been when I go to the grocery store or the drug store while she’s been pregnant. We’ll just be on high alert and stay vigilant. We’re both be excited to get this season going.”

New York Yankees: The Future Looks Bright For These Three Youngsters

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

The New York Yankees just released their summer camp rosters so let’s look and see who on the list we might see in Pinstripes one day. Three players come to mind.  All of them are pitchers. 

Let’s begin with the 20-year pitching machine Deivi Garcia (currently ranked 92nd on MLB’s top 100). Garcia has everyone talking about him and is closer than ever to getting his shot in the big leagues. He has a nasty arsenal of pitches with a screaming fastball and a knee-buckling curve ball. He has climbed up the minor league ladder quickly in the last 3 years and was the youngster most consistently in the spotlight this past Spring. Let’s look at the numbers. 

He started getting attention in 2018 when he put up an astonishing 1.27 ERA in 5 starts with the Tampa Tarpons. In mid-2018 he optioned to the Charleston River Dogs where he struggled in his first few starts but finished strong enough to be called up to the Trenton Thunder late that season. He had just one outing, but pitched a very productive 5 shutout innings.   

Garcia again received an invite to extended Spring Training with the Tampa Tarpons in 2019 where he finished with a 3.06 ERA over 17.2 innings. He was again called up to the Trenton Thunder and held his own finishing with a 3.86 ERA in 11 starts. 

Garcia made his Triple-A debut with the Rail Riders bullpen in late 2019. While he struggled in his first two starts there, he improved over time and ended with a 5.40 ERA.

He got his first invite to Spring Training in 2020. He finished with a 7.36 ERA after 7 innings pitched in a season cut short by COVID-19.  That was not the performance Garcia wanted, but the spotlight hasn’t shifted and the Yankees know he gets better with time. Despite his Spring Training performance, the higher-ups are expecting Garcia to positively impact the Yankees very soon.  At just 20-years old, he has plenty of time to do just that.  Look to see Deivi Garcia’s name in the big leagues at some point in the future. 

The next pitching stud that is opening eyes in the organization is 23-year old pitching phenom Clarke Schmidt (currently ranked 88th on MLB’s top 100). Schmidt is another player that’s climbed the Yankees ladder quickly after being drafted by the Yanks in 2018. Schmidt’s nasty breaking ball makes players whiff. 

The first rounder has surprised everyone in the organization with his quick development.  In 2018 he pitched in the Gulf Coast League and also played for the Staten Island Yankees. He finished the year with a 3.09 ERA in 23 innings.  With shockingly good numbers in 2018, he was invited to Tampa for extended Spring Training. He had great numbers with the Tarpons, finishing with a 3.84 ERA in 12 starts. He returned to the Gulf Coast League where he started three games finishing with a 3.24 ERA. From there, he was pulled up to Double-A to play with the Trenton Thunder. His time with the Thunder was short due to the late call-up, but he started 3 games and finished with a phenomenal 2.37 ERA leading to an invite to join the Yankees in Tampa for his first Spring Training. He was a member of the bullpen for the beginning of Spring Training and handled that adjustment with ease, finishing with a 2.57 ERA in 7 innings.

Schmidt looked great in Tampa and used his breaking ball effectively. Clarke Schmidt is definitely one of the names to watch in the future. 

The final stud on the list is 22-year old, right-handed pitcher, Miguel Yajure. There are higher ranked pitchers in the organization but I see something special with Miguel’s ability to dominate deep in counts and get players to swing and miss. Miguel has some nasty pitches in his arsenal.  During our recent interview, he told me he is most confident throwing his change-up. He is creeping up in the rankings and gaining recognition but still doesn’t get talked about enough. 

He has been with the Yankees since he was 17-years old and has improved every year. In 2018, started 14 games with the Charleston River Dogs and finished with a 3.90 ERA. He played the majority of his 2019 season with the Tampa Tarpons and pitched in 22 games (started in 18) and finished with an incredible 2.26 ERA in 127 innings of work. Heads were turning quickly and he was called up to Double-A to play with the Trenton Thunder. While he only started in 2 games he dominated both, finishing with a 0.86 ERA over 11 innings. Based on his performance in 2019, he was invited to join the Yankees down in Tampa for Spring Training where he pitched in 2 games, giving up 3 runs over 2.1 innings pitched. 

Yajure’s resume speaks for itself and he is really due to make some noise soon.  

All three pitchers are extremely talented and trending up in the rankings.  Don’t be surprised to see one or more in the Bronx soon. Their future truly looks bright!

New York Yankees: 3 burning questions heading into spring training 2.0

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees enter spring training 2.0 in the Bronx with multiple questions left to be answered. Prior to the shut down of baseball, the Yankees were dealing with a bevy of injuries to star players like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Hicks. Let’s not forget about James Paxton and Luis Severino already scheduled to miss the entire 2020 campaign after succumbing to Tommy John surgery.

However, the Yankees have one of the deepest teams in Major League Baseball. Players like Miguel Andujar are waiting in the wings for an opportunity. Andujar lost his starting position at third base to Gio Urshela last season after he went down with a torn labrum. With general manager Brian Cashman stating that Stanton could fill the DH spot, Andujar might not have much of an opportunity with the Bombers, unless he’s featuring in left field.

“I feel that Stanton would be a legitimate choice for that DH role starting from the beginning,” Cashman said on a conference call Tuesday. “The question is whether he would be any choice at all in the beginning as an outfielder or not. I don’t know that answer.”

Nonetheless, let’s take a look at three burning questions for the New York Yankees:

1.) How will the Yankees utilize Miguel Andujar?

As stated, the Yankees have a decision to make with Andujar. He played in just 12 games last year after posting a .297 batting average with 27 homers and 47 doubles in his rookie campaign. He was the runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 2018, and returning to that form is his ultimate goal.

Andujar spent the spring attempting to learn how to play in the outfield. While the Yankees have several players ahead of him, he could be used as a depth piece and rotational hitter in the DH spot.

I see manager Aaron Boone rotating Andujar and Stanton and DH, attempting to limit fatigue and keep their high price slugger healthy for the shortened season.

New York Yankees Analysis: Will Miguel Andujar struggle to make his mark in a short season?

The New York Yankees players reported yesterday to famed Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City for a baseball camp that starts tomorrow. The regular season will begin on July 23rd when new Yankee ace Gerrit Cole will face the World Champion Washington National’s ace Max Scherzer in the nation’s capital. Yankees slugger Miguel Andujar has no idea whether he will be playing in that game.

Miquel Enrique Andujar was born on March 2, 1995, in San Cristobal, the Dominican Republic. Not much is known about his parents as he lived his childhood with his Grandmother. He played baseball in the sandlots near his home. As a child, his baseball hero was Adrian Beltre, a fellow Dominican that was with the Texas Rangers. His other hobby as a kid was fishing.

Miggy didn’t finish high school where he was learning English, as, when playing baseball locally, he was seen by a Yankee scout that was impressed with his hitting. The New York Yankees signed Miggy to a minor league contract at the age of just 16 in 2011. After a short time at the Yankees training facility in Boca Chica, he was sent to Florida. In 2012 he made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast Yankees.

In 2014 Andujar was promoted to the Charleston River Dogs. In 2015 he played for the Tampa Yankees and then promoted to the Trenton Thunder in 2017. He ended his season with a .312 average, hitting 7 homers and batting in 52 in 67 games. But up at Scranton, Gleyber Torres suffered an injury, and Miggy was promoted to the Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders. After playing just seven games with the Rail Riders, he was called up to the Stadium to replace the injured Matt Holliday as DH. In his game, he went 3-4 with four RBIs and a walk, breaking the Yankees’ record for most RBIs in a player’s first game. So that he could continue to play daily at third base, he was sent back to the Rail Riders, where he had batted .317 with nine home runs and 30 RBIs in 58 games.

He began the 2018 season with the Rail Riders but was promoted to the Yankees on April 1, 2018. He hit his first major league home run on April 17. On April 23, Andújar hit a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins, marking his 7th consecutive game with an extra-base hit. On June 5, he hit his first major league Grand Slam. On September 29, Andujar hit his 45th double of the season, breaking the Yankees’ record for most doubles by a rookie, previously held by Joe DiMaggio.

He finished the season batting .297 with 47 doubles, 27 home runs and 92 RBI’s. Yankee fans were calling him a doubles machine. If it wasn’t for Aaron Judge’s 52 homers that season, he would have been the number one star of the team. But there was one glaring flaw. His defense of the hot corner at 3rd. He committed 15 errors, showing that he lacked range and an accurate throwing arm. That probably caused him to come in second for the rookie of the year award.

As the 2019 season started, on April 1, he injured his shoulder and was put on the 10 day IL. On April 30, he was sent to the Florida Tarpons to rehab, but on May 4th, reactivated, but he again injured the shoulder on the 13th. On the 21st, he was transferred from the 10 day to the 60 day IL due to a discovered torn Labrum, which caused him to have season-ending surgery.

He was reactivated on November 4, 2019. Now the question for the Yankees is what to do with him since while he was out, Gio Urshela became the Yankees man in the hot corner with his Gold Glove type play and above average hitting. GM Cashman, at the time, speaking to the subject, suggesting they may try him at first or in the outfield.

As spring training 1.0 progressed, and before the MLB imposed shutdown, the coaches tried Andujar mostly in the outfield, but he also got games at 1st and 3rd base.  But with an only two-week camp, he hardly had any time to solidify his abilities at any of those positions.

Fast forward to summer camp 2.0 at New York Yankee Stadium.  Manager Aaron Boone will continue to put Andujar in the outfield to give him the experience to fill in for either Giancarlo Stanton or the less likely need in the right field for Aaron Judge.  General Manager Brian Cashman and manager Boone have already said that they expect to use Stanton as the DH at least, at the beginning of the season.  With the recent positive developments with Judge, he will now likely start in right field.

Andujar took part in an intensive, three-day clinic in the postseason in Tampa designed to focus on defense. Ulises Cabrera of Octagon, who represents Andujar, employed Mariners first base/infield coach Perry Hill to work with Miggy. Hill has among the best reputations in the game when it comes to improving the defensive work of infielders, and Cabrera recognized questions linger about the fielding work of Andujar. Andujar worked exclusively at third base with Hill, but in gym sessions is beginning to work on items like footwork to better prepare for first base and the outfield if necessary. “Andujar is giving himself a shot by making himself as versatile as possible,” Cabrera said.

Wherever they place Andujar it will be interesting to see how this highly talented player adapts to the changes.  This writer feels with Andujar’s less than cat-like defensive abilities; he will see little time at 1st or 3rd.  It seems that the New York Yankees will want to keep his bat in the lineup, so it appears he will spend most of his time in the outfield or as DH.

In this shortened season, Miguel Andujar will have little time to make his mark.  If he doesn’t defend well in whatever position he is placed and doesn’t equal his 2018 hitting abilities, the Yankees will have to make a difficult decision with their talented player that once looked like the future of the Yankees.  Will they hold on to him or with all the bases covered, will the nine-year veteran be more valuable to the organization as a talented trade piece?

Yankees’ Gerrit Cole faces off against Aaron Judge in live batting practice (must watch)

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

While initial reports indicated that New York Yankees star slugger Aaron Judge was simply hitting off of a tee, video captured on Thursday suggests otherwise. The team joined management in the Bronx on Wednesday morning, but simple rehabilitation and batting practice occurred on Thursday, which included star pitcher Gerrit Cole and a bevy of recovering players.

Cole, who is yet to pitch an active game for the Yankees after signing a nine-year, $324 million deal this off-season, pitched a three-inning simulation with a quality lineup, consisting of Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Luke Voit.

The informal work out gave Cole a chance to take the mound at Yankee Stadium and several players recovering from injuries to take live at-bats against a quality arm.

Matt Blake, pitching coach for the Yankees, was excited to see Cole on the mound for the first time, stating:

“He looked good today. He’s moving right along [with] his progression so we actually went three [innings] today and kind of set the bar for what we’re going to build on,” Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake said of Cole being ready for the regular season in three weeks.

“A good baseline to kind of face some hitters from our own team. So, it’s good to see some of those guys out there as well. But yeah, [he’s] in a really good spot and the nice thing is it doesn’t take fans in the stands to get him amped, so we’re good there.”

The New York Yankees are getting their pitchers some action:

Gerrit wasn’t the only one to enjoy some action, with Masahiro Tanaka and Adam Ottavino both partaking in workouts. Ottavino actually faced off against the same batters as Cole, over two simulated innings.

At 29 years old, Cole is coming off a fantastic campaign in 2019. He finished second in voting for the American League Cy Young award, leading the AL with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts. The Yanks will be depending on him to act as the team’s No. 1 pitcher for 2020 and beyond.

As for Judge, who GM Brian Cashman is optimistic about, regarding his potential return to the active team on Opening Day, is making excellent progress in his progression to game-form.

Yankees Owner Hal Steinbrenner Expects Fans at Yankee Stadium

New York Yankees, Hal Steinbrenner

New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is very optimistic that the Yankees will have some sort of fan presence at Yankee Stadium this year.

In an interview earlier today with YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits, Steinbrenner said, “I do expect to see fans in our stadium at some point to some degree, and that’s going to be a great day as well.” 

He went on to say the stadium will “at first” be 20-30% full. He is confident that management can provide the proper precautions for fans to stay safe in the stadium. 

Teams can create their precautions regarding fans in stadiums. However, Commissioner Rob Manfred must approve them before they can be put into action. 

The MLB put out a statement that read, “The commissioner has made no decisions regarding permitting fans at games. The decision will be based both on whether local health authorities approve fans to attend games and whether our medical advisors believe it is appropriate to do so.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been very vocal about allowing sports venues to hold sporting events but hasn’t talked about allowing fans in attendance. 

The Yankees will stay in their home stadium for workouts and simulated games leading up to July 23rd. From there they will travel to Washington to take on the defending champs in primetime action. 

New York Yankees: What should fans expect from Gerrit Cole in shortened 2020?

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The New York Yankees are officially back in business, and they were shown on the field Thursday afternoon. Of course, the standout that everyone was excited to see is the Yankees ace, Gerrit Cole. The Yankees 326 million dollar man threw on Thursday against the likes of Aaron Judge and Luke Voit.

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You can feel the excitement from Yankees fans everywhere about Cole’s debut later this month. Of course the expectations are high for Cole, but what should fans expect in this shortened season from the ace?

The reality is that fans need to be realistic with their expectations for Cole. In a 60 game season, Cole is currently scheduled to get 12 starts assuming he stays healthy. Cole is not going to go 12-0 with a 0.00 ERA. It will only take one bad start to really inflate the numbers to give the appearance that Cole isn’t having an elite season.

New York Yankees & Gerrit Cole realistic expectations

If we are looking at the 12 starts, I think that 8-3 with a 3.37 ERA is a realistic line for Cole in his first season in pinstripes. Yes, the ERA is significantly higher than it was last year, but you have to keep in mind that Cole will be pitching in a new environment with less room for error. He’s still going to show everyone that he is arguably the best pitcher in the game, but there might be a slip-up here or there.

I think the Yankees need to go into this season with a World Series or bust mentality. However, fans should be realistic on the expectations for the individual players. Aaron Judge is not going to hit 300 with 25 home runs, and Gerrit Cole is not going to have an ERA under one. This season is going to be fast and furious, and with less room for error, fans’ patience is going to be running thin in the pressure cooker that is New York. I think Cole is going to show out this year, but it’s important to be realistic about what we should expect as fans.

Yankees and Mets’ stars played “secret” games in recent weeks to stay sharp

New York Yankees, Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

Coronavirus forced MLB to suspend the start of the season, which was scheduled for March 26, indefinitely. Uncertainty then broke into the scene, and players had to figure out ways to keep themselves in shape in case baseball came back eventually, which it did. That’s why a group of stars, including some in the New York Yankees and New York Mets, found creative solutions.

According to Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic, New York Yankees’ outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and New York Mets’ pitchers Robert Gsellman and Michael Wacha took part in “underground” baseball games in recent weeks to stay sharp with the start of the season in mind. Other known players to participate were aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander of the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, respectively.

The group of players was led by Eric Cressey, who the Yankees hired this season to supervise their training, strength and conditioning programs. His wife Anna worked alongside him, and they all trained at Cressey’s gyms while eventually playing games.

“If people knew what we were doing, we would have had 10,000 people at Palm Beach Gardens High School to watch us,” Cressey told Ghiroli.

The Mets had several players taking part

The games featured strict social distancing rules that forbade sliding and included the use of up to 56 different baseballs. In one of those games, per SNY.tv, the Mets’ Gsellman started opposite his now-teammate Wacha.

Also in attendance were New York Mets’ hurler Noah Syndergaard, who was present to rehab his surgically-repaired right elbow. He will miss the 2020 season but will come back in 2021 in what will be his final year of arbitration eligibility.

Training camps are opening and all teams, including the Mets and the Yankees, will start hosting “Summer Camp” in preparation for the season that is slated to start on July 23.

New York Yankee News: Watch Aaron Judge Crushing Home Runs today

It was this morning in Ramsey, New Jersey that a guy showed up at Don Bosco Prep School field, the guy was New York Yankees Aaron Judge. Judge was dressed in a Yankee cap, a white T-shirt and dark blue shorts. The apparently secret practice was arranged by Jason Ferber, the well-known New York-based baseball coach.

Aaron Judge got behind the plate and started hitting homer after homer that laughed at the field fences before the ball traveling into the woods.  Ferber said: What fractured rib he looks super healthy right now.”

Looking at the video below has to be heartened to New York Yankee fans. But be warned not to take too much stock in what you see.  Playing a grueling 60 game season in 66 days with the stress involved is very different than a short batting practice.

Aaron Judge suffered a stress fracture in his first rib diving for a catch at Yankee Stadium late last season.  It started showing up as shoulder pain that Judge endured during the offseason and continued in spring training 1.0.  It was finally found to be a collapsed lung and rib fracture after a battery of tests and MRIs.  The collapsed lung has resolved itself, but the rib fracture has been slow to heal.

Both General Manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone have indicated that they are optimistic that Judge will be ready to start the season, but have not ruled out that he may miss at least a few games. Boone yesterday said that summer camp 2.0 would be telling with many of the previously injured players.

Players started to arrive at Yankee Stadium yesterday to begin two days of physical exams and testing, including Masahiro Tanaka that has arrived back from Japan.  It appears after watching the video of Judge today that the Yankees may be being conservative with their comments on Judge’s recovery.  Time will tell.