New York Yankees: Bronx native pitcher draws comparisons to Randy Johnson

In recent years, the New York Yankees have been very active in the International Free Agency market. In 2019 they signed the phenom Jasson Dominguez, this year, they latched onto the number one prospect Rodrick Rias. But in 2021, they signed a very good pitcher in Henry Lalane, a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic that has received very little publicity.

Some of the other international prospects that the Yankees hired are Bernie Williams, Robinson Cano, and the only player to be unanimously selected to the Hall of Fame, Mariano Rivera. This year, other international signings include SS Luis Suarez, catchers Diomedes Hernandez, Ricardo Rodriguez, and Enyer Urena. Add to that right-handing pitcher Xabier Marte and Omar Gonzalez.

Today, we delve into the now 17-year old that has been compared to the likes of Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. Henry Lalane is a lefty pitcher in the Yankees farm system. He is 6′ 7″ weighing in at 211 pounds. Signed out of the Dominican, he pitched in twelve games for the rookie-level Dominican Summer League when he posted a 3.70 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 41.1 innings pitched. When asked about his resemblance to the Hall of Famer Johnson, he had this to say:

“Since I started pitching, everybody would say ‘look, it’s Randy Johnson,’” Lalane explained via translator. “Then I started watching videos of (him) and tried to imitate and be like him because I liked the way he was very potent on the mound and very aggressive.”

The now 17-year-old Lalane throws a fastball in the low-90’s, a change-up, and a devastatingly severe curveball which he considers his best pitch. Fellow player Manuel Palenca said he has great execution with pitches that he exactly knows where to throw and is near impossible to hit. His fastball has sink and late-life. He also has a great curveball.

Lalane, also born in the shadow of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, has lived both in the Bronx and in the Dominican Republic at different times while growing up. His father played Division l basketball at St. Francis College in New York and went on to play for the Dominican Republic National Team. His sister also played for the same league and today currently plays Volleyball at Indian Hills College in Iowa.

In one of his returns to the Bronx at the age of six, he became a strong Yankee fan. He frequently attended games with his grandfather. At eight, he returned to the republic and played little league baseball at the Javillla Academy in Santo Domingo. in his early years, he was an outfielder, but when he turned 14, he began pitching. It wasn’t long before he realized pitching was his game.

They put him against more challenging and tougher teams as he advanced pitching. Lalane said that that was when he gained more confidence and started to feel better about his pitching abilities. He took advantage of his dual citizenship by playing in several tournaments and showcases in the United States. That’s when Yankee scouts and others first noticed him. He traveled to America, and the New York Yankees signed Lalane on May 4, 2021; it was the first day he was eligible. Lalane had this to say:

“It means the world to me since I dreamed (as) a little child to play for the Yankees one day,” Lalane said. “I’m super happy and ecstatic that my dream is coming true to pitch in a Yankees uniform.”

This season when the rookie-level Florida Complex League begins its season that is scheduled to start in late June, he is expected to show off his pitching skills. It will be fun to watch this young player, that has been compared to Randy Johnson develop and hopefully advance in the minor leagues and start to fulfill his dream of playing at Yankee Stadium sometime after the 2025 season.

Yankees News: No Yankee games in Montreal, Robot umpires inch closer and much more

kris bryant, yankees

The New York Yankees won’t be playing in Montreal this season.

MLB and the Tampa Bay Rays have been working on splitting home games between Tampa and Montreal for years. MLB has formally rejected the idea, meaning the New York Yankees will not be playing any games in Montreal this season. The Tampa team has been suffering from a lack of revenues for years as they don’t have a large enough attendance at Tropicana Field. This rejection means the Rays are back to square one in their endeavors.

Thursday’s news that Major League Baseball’s executive council that put the no-no on the club’s zealous “sister city” timeshare did little to answer the question that’s dogged the Rays for decades: Many Tampa Bay fans that attend games at Tropicana Field sounded a sigh of relief, but did little to resolve the teams need to increase revenues. At the same time, it was devastating to baseball fans that love the game in Montreal and have been without a major league team since the exit of the Montreal Expos in 2004. The Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

Although the Tampa team will be playing all their games at the outmoded solid roof Tropicana Field this season, the MLB decision puts the time in limbo as to where they will be playing future games. Will it be a new Stadium, or will the Rays move out of Tampa altogether and search for a new city?

“I think partial seasons are going to be the future of sports,” says Sternberg, the Rays owner, “and probably would have served the fans of this community well. They do deserve a full-time team. But I believe the split-season concept is the future.

MLB: Robot umpires inch closer to major league games.

MLB’s idea to include calls and strikes by computer has been in the works as both players and owners have wanted to “improve the game.” In recent seasons the idea has been gaining support. Last season for the first time, robot umpires were used in some minor league parks last season. Now MLB has announced that it will expand this season to some AAA teams after favorable results.

It has been announced that MLB is recruiting employees to operate the system for the Albuquerque Isotopes, Charlotte Knights, El Paso Chihuahuas, Las Vegas Aviators, Oklahoma City Dodgers, Reno Aces, Round Rock Express, Sacramento River Cats, Salt Lake Bees, Sugar Land Skeeters, and Tacoma Rainiers. No Yankee affiliates were in the grouping. One thing for sure is that this move indicates that universal use of the robot umpires is getting closer and closer for the major leagues.

Players and owners to have second meeting Monday.

With only one meeting between players and owners since the MLB lockout on December 1, it seems there is not much urgency to come to a new agreement to allow a 2022 season. Spring training is just a few weeks ago, and it appears that the sides are no closer to an agreement. Earlier this month, the only meeting had the owners presenting their proposal, and the players rejected it. Now this coming Monday, the MLBPA (Major League Players Association) will present their counter-proposal.

According to multiple reports, the MLBPA is preparing a proposal that will be submitted to MLB on Monday. Unlike the previous meeting, this bargaining session will take place in person.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman noted the players were disappointed that MLB’s most recent proposal did not cover several important issues to them. It ignored free agency, revenue sharing, and the Competitive Balance Tax—three pressing issues for the MLBPA. So, it would not come as any surprise for the players to focus on these areas in their counter. 

Who will join the YES Network, partially replacing David Cone?

Earlier in the month, it was announced that Michael Kay and David Cone would be on the YES Network less as they assume new jobs with ESPN. Kay will still be calling games, but Ryan Ruocco will share that duty. The big change is that we may not see David Cone doing his color commentary for weekend games as he will be manning ESPN’s weekend coverage.

David Cone will look to integrate analytics as part of ESPN’s new ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ team. David Cone is a popular analyst for Yankees games on the YES Network, and he still will be on that job in 2022. But Yankees fans will have to share him with a national audience on ESPN. With the loss of Cone for some games, the retirement of Ken Singleton from the broadcast booth, and Buck Showalter taking the Mets job, YES will need more staff. The YES Network will have some new faces, some say it will be CC Sabathia, while others think it will be ex-Mets manager Carlos Beltran. The addition of Betran would be controversial, although a delight for the Puerto Rican fans, others aren’t in favor due to his involvement in the 2017 Astros cheating scandal. The YES Network has not announced replacements.

Would the Yankees make a move for Kris Bryant?

One of the lingering subjects to be handled by the Yankees when and if a new CBA can be reached is what to do at first base. The Yankees held onto Luke Voit, but he is not the best option considering other options. There has been discussion about resigning Anthony Rizzo, who became a free agent at the end of the season or even going after Oakland’s Matt Olson. Recently another name has come up, Kris Bryant.

Although several remaining free agents on the market are capable of filling the Yankees’ positional needs at first base, the Yankees could go after free agent Kris Bryant. That move would likely put DJ LeMahieu in the permanent position at first base with Geyber Torres at second and Bryant and Gio Urshela sharing duties at the hot corner. In 2021 Bryant, while playing for both the Cubs and Giants last season, Bryant was named to the fourth All-Star game of his career, slugged 25 home runs, drove in 73 RBIs, and produced a .835 OPS in 144 games. Bryant also won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award and 2016 NL MVP Award while helping the Cubs capture their first World Series title in 108 years. If this solves a problem for the Yankees, it also means that Luke Voit would be traded away for some other Yankee addition.

New York Yankees: A year makes a difference; view 2022 top prospects

New York Yankees, Jasson Dominguez

The New York Yankees are blessed with one of the best lists of prospects in both leagues. One of the reasons is that they have made good use of the international markets. This year they have picked up the number one international prospect in Rodrick Arias, yet another shortstop to bolster the minor league position. In 2019 they acquired phenom Jasson Dominguez, their number one prospect since then. But as time marches on, so do those rankings.

Here is a look at the rankings from FanGraphs in February 2021:

  1. Jason Dominguez, center fielder. Age 17.10, expected arrival 2025, FV 50.
  2. Deivi Garcia, starting pitcher. Age 21.7, expected arrival 2021 FV50.
  3. Oswald Peraza, shortstop. Age 20.6, expected arrival 2022 FV50.
  4. Clarke Schmidt, starting pitcher. Age 2025, expected arrival 2021 FV50.
  5. Alexander Vargas, shortstop. Age 19.3, expected arrival 2023 FV50.

Since then, there have been some significant changes. Jasson Dominguez has slipped out of first place and now sits at number four on the list. The main reason for the slip is that he didn’t have an overwhelming 2021 at the Tampa A level, even though he remains a powerful hitting from both sides of the plate.

Deivi Garcia slipped from number two to number ten. After a promising season at Scranton and at the Stadium, he had a horrible season at the AAA Railriders in 2021. So here are the 2022 FanGraph rankings.

  1. Antony Volpe, shortstop. Age 20.7, expected arrival 2024 FV60.
  2. Oswald Peraza, shortstop. Age 21.6, expected arrival 2022 FV50
  3. Luis Media, right-hand pitcher. Age 22.7, expected arrival 2022 FV50.
  4. Jasson Dominguez, center fielder. Age 18.9, expected arrival 2025 FV50.
  5. Alexander Vargas, shortstop. Age 20.2, expected arrival 20.2 FV50.

The 2022 list is quite a turnaround from just a year ago. Anthony Volpe wasn’t even in the top ten last year and now sits at the best the Yankees have to offer. He had a stellar year between two teams, Tampa Tarpons and the Hudson Valley Renegades; he hit 27 homers driving in 86 and with a .294 batting average while remaining a good defender at short.

Also, Oswald Peraza and Luis Media had good years last season as well. Peraza advanced three steps to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. He hit 18 home runs between the three teams, driving in 57 with a .297 batting average. Luis Media had a 6-4 record with an ERA of 3.81, with two teams advancing to the Somerset Patriots.

My only problem with these rankings is that they placed Deivi Garcia ahead of Luis Gil. Gil made great strides for the Yankees last season, striking out more hitters than Garcia. Gil pitched in six games with an ERA of just 3.07 and a higher (0.4) WAR than Garcia. Look for other Yankees prospects to make an impact this season. You will surely see Clarke Schmidt on the mound sometime this season. You may also see Stephen Ridings on the mound.

New York Yankees: Will Nestor Cortes Jr. stand tall in the 2022 rotation?

New York Yankees, Nestor Cortes Jr.

It was August 28, 2021, and the New York Yankees faced the Oakland Athletics, with Nestor Cortes Jr. on the mound trying to win the Yankee’s 14th win in a row. A win would have been the longest consecutive winning streak since 1941. But, unfortunately, the victory was not to be had, as Cortes gave up three runs through the sixth inning, and the Yankees, as so often last season, could only muster up two runs of their own.

Although Cortes didn’t win that game, he had been a Godsend for the Yankees with the injury to Corey Kluber. Cortes started the season as a reliever out of the bullpen but gradually stretched out to a starter to fill the gap.

Cortes was a strange pitcher that didn’t have an overpowering fastball or no particular put-out pitch. What he did have was an ever-changing delivery that mystified opposing hitters. He finished the season 2-3 in 22 games. He struck out five players a game and amassed a tiny ERA of just 2.90. However, like other Yankee pitchers, he suffered from little run support.

The question now is, what part will he play in the 2022 season? Will we see him back in the bullpen or again as a starting pitcher in the rotation. If the Yankees can’t pull in a significant number two starter to back up Gerrit Cole, you could see Cortes standing tall right in the middle of the rotation, either in front or behind Jordan Montgomery. Was last season an anomaly, or is he the real deal? Much of how the Yankees treat Cortes will be based on his performance in spring training, if and when that starts.

An excellent example of Cortes on the mound happened in a game against the Angels. Cortes Jr. is an old fashion pitcher, a real pitcher that constantly surprises his opponents with a whacky windup and throws any pitch at any time. He keeps hitters off-balance, often making them laugh. In a game against the Angels, he faced the great Shohei Ohtani. When Cortes made a bunch of strange moves on the mound, Ohtani laughed, thinking that Cortes was afraid to pitch to him; the fact was that he was playing with Ohtani. Cortes is scared of nothing and always has fun on the mound. He can’t blow away hitters, but his mental game wins.

Cortes Jr. throws a four-seam fastball that averages approximately 89 miles per hour. He also throws a slider and a curveball. His curveball has been registered as slow as 47 miles per hour. Hitters never know what they are going to get from Cortes. He throws all of his pitches in any situation. His style has given Yankee fans something to enjoy.

Cortes was born in Surgidero de Batabano, Cuba. His father won a lottery when Nestor was just a baby, and his father moved the family to Hialeah, Florida. Cortes started playing baseball at the age of 5. He pitched for Hialeah High School and Florida International University. The Yankees selected Cortes in the 36th round of the 2013 draft. He started in the Gulf Coast League, but the Yankees didn’t protect him, and the Orioles claimed him in the Rule 5 draft. He made his Major League debut as a Baltimore Oriole on the first day of the 2018 season.

On April 13, 2018, he was returned to the Yankees. He played in one game for the Trenton Thunder, but he advanced to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, combining a 6†“6 record and a 3.68 ERA in 24 games. In spring training in 2019, he didn’t make the team and started the season in Scranton. On May 9, he was advanced to the Stadium. On June 15, he earned his first Major League win but again was sent down to Scranton, where he completed the season 5-1, but in November, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners. He bombed with the Mariners and selected free agency.

The New York Yankees signed him to a minor league contract in a third stint. He came up to the Stadium on May 20, 2021. In nine games at the beginning of the season, he won no games but recorded a 1.05 ERA. The Yankees won both of the games that Cortes started. Where he ends up in the rotation this season, one thing will be sure he will surely entertain.