New York Yankees: 4 Minor Leaguers Who Could Be Promoted Soon
The New York Yankees have experienced numerous injury setbacks in 2013 and will need to depend more upon players promoted from the minor leagues to remain in the race for a playoff berth.
Manager Joe Girardi has been handcuffed at several key positions, and yet somehow has the team contending in the AL East. It is arguably his finest season at the helm of baseball's most storied franchise.
However, not all is rosy in the Bronx.
The team's lack of depth is starting to show as it struggles to score runs from night to night. The club currently ranks ninth in the American League in runs and twelfth in home runs—a far cry from the Yankees of the past decade.
The fourth (.215) and fifth (.191) spots in the order rank thirteenth and last respectively in the AL in batting average. That's not the kind of production one would want to see at the heart of the order.
Rather than continuing to look for quick-fix signings of players whose best years are behind them, the team will need to look within the organization for some of their solutions.
Here is a look at four Yankees currently in the minor leagues that could be playing in Yankee Stadium soon.
All non-referenced statistics courtesy of MLB.Com
If their attempts to offload Hughes are successful, a spot in the current rotation opens up.
One likely candidate to move into that role is Michael Pineda.
The 24-year-old hurler was acquired by the Yankees in a trade with the Seattle Mariners in January of 2012. Shortly after being named to last season's rotation, and before throwing a single pitch in Yankee Stadium, Pineda went on the DL with a torn labrum and was lost for the year.
It has been a long road back for him, but in his first start at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre the right-hander went five innings yielding two runs on four hits while striking out seven.
Given the ongoing struggles the Yankees are having at the plate and the never ending issues with injuries that the team has dealt with in 2013, Michael Pineda's first appearance on the mound in New York is likely right around the corner.
As the saying goes, "Every cloud has a silver lining," and for Dellin Betances the cloud was his performance as a starting pitcher.
While a starter at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Betances ERA was never better than 5.14, and he suffered from control issues, walking 100 batters in 26 starts. As one of the organization's top pitching prospects he was not living up to his hype.
The Yankees decided to try a different approach with the 25-year-old and made him a reliever.
Welcome to the silver lining.
In nearly 34 innings of work at the back end of games, the new relief pitcher has struck out 43 while walking only 12. Over his last 10 appearances he holds a 0.52 ERA and a microscopic 0.75 WHIP.
Should the Yankees move Joba Chamberlain it could mean an opportunity for Betances to once again reach the major league level. Only this time it will be as a reliever.
He is perhaps the least well-known of the New York Yankees catchers, yet J.R. Murphy's appearance in the Bronx may not be far away.
Thanks to a subpar performance by Austin Romine (hitting .132 in 32 games and has thrown out just two of 14 runners) as a backup to Chris Stewart and a setback in Francisco Cervelli's recovery from a broken hand, the Yankees are woefully thin behind the plate at the major league level.
Since phenom Gary Sanchez is still a couple of seasons away, the door has never been more wide open for Murphy.
After being promoted to Triple-A Scranton, Murphy has hit .308 with three HR and 11 RBI in 21 games, and in 2013 he has thrown out 32 percent of runners trying to steal.
As the Yankees grow weary of not having a viable backup to Stewart while Cervelli recovers, look for the team to give Murphy a shot in the second half of the season.
By all accounts Ronnier Mustelier had a great spring. He hit .314 with a .940 OPS in 21 spring training games and appeared headed for a spot on the major league roster.
Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury that kept him from making the squad. After recovering from that, and hitting well at the Triple-A level, he suffered another injury. He has just started his second road to recovery.
If he can pick up where he left off when he hit .280 with 23 RBI in 39 games for Scranton/Wilkes Barre, there certainly is room for a hitter of his caliber with the major league club.
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