A couple weeks after being released to clear room on the 40-man roster for Chris Leroux, the Yankees are bringing back left-hander Nik Turley, according to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo. Turley has been dealing with an arm injury that has kept him out all season so far, and it's unknown when he'll be able to return to action, but he had been continuing to rehab at the Yankees' complex in Tampa even after being released.
This is pretty much, as others have noted, just like the David Adams situation last season when the Yankees released him, instead of designating him for assignment off the 40-man roster, giving them the best opportunity to get him back.
Turley is not one of the Yankees' top pitching prospects, but being a lefty with quality stuff, he might be able to break his way into the big league rotation within the next couple of years as a decent starter.
Turley had a 3.88 ERA (4.30 FIP) in 139 innings at Double-A Trenton last season, and some speculate that he'll join the Triple-A Scranton squad when back to full health.
Here are some other notes from around the Yankees' farm system, with a lot of the information coming from Chad Jennings at LoHud, who recently talked with Yankees VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman.
- First baseman Greg Bird just came off the DL for High-A Tampa this past week, and the Yankees are also hoping that a handful of other talented minor leaguers get healthy fairly soon, including outfielder Slade Heathcott, who will "most likely" join the Double-A squad when ready to go. Heathcott has been rehabbing from a knee surgery that he underwent in the fall. He did with some with the Yankees' big league team during spring training, but wasn't able to do very much physically at the time. Heathcott was once a promising player in the Yankees' system, but injuries have derailed his career quite a bit, and if he's able to stay healthy for once, a move to Triple-A by the end of the season would be very likely.
- Newman also said that Tyler Austin and Bryan Mitchell are about a week away from coming off the disabled list. Austin has been battling with a groin injury, while Mitchell has been dealing with some elbow soreness that the Yankees don't seem to be too concerned about, even with the increasing number of Tommy John surgeries happening around the league.
- Manny Banuelos has been working his way back from Tommy John this season, and he has looked pretty good so far between stints with the High-A Tampa Yankees and Double-A Trenton Thunder. The Yankees have kept Banuelos on a innings limit that has him going no more than three innings per starter because, as Newman says, the Yankees don't want him to run out of innings too early in the season, so this way, the Yankees might be able to call him up in September is they feel it's a good move for him and the club. “He’ll increase over the course of the year,” Newman said. “We don’t want to cut back at the end of the year. You never know, if he makes great progress, maybe he’s a major league option (at some point). We don’t’ want to run out of innings by September 1 or August 1.”
- I got a chance to see Peter O'Brien play for the Tampa Yankees once this season, and I call backup the claim that this kid has light tower power. However, the problem is that he is a below-average catcher, in a system that currently has enough catchers to last them the next decade. With Brian McCann signed for the next five years, and Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy, who the Yankees really like, backing him up, there is no place for O'Brien to show off his power at the big league level. The Yankees experimented with O'Brien at third base last season, but Newman said that is more of a "last resort" for him, so for the time, O'Brien's only real chance to make it to the big leagues would be as a first baseman or right fielder.
- Dante Bichette Jr. has made a great impression down in High-A Tampa so far this season, hitting .308 with 19 walks through his first 32 games. Bichette was terrible during his two years with the Low-A Charleston Riverdogs after a good showing in rookie ball, and now he seems to have finally found his stride this season with Tampa. “He’s doing things he’s done in the past,” Newman said. “He’s doing things he did in high school when we saw him before we drafted him. Basically he’s changed his approach somewhat. He’s using the field more. He’s cut down on the extreme forms of body movement in the box. His movements have gotten more compact, his approach has become more simple. … He’s done this before. I think he was just searching for who he was as a hitter. His case was extreme, though, because as a rookie he really swung it well, and then for two seasons he struggled.”
- One of the Yankees' three first round picks from last June's draft, Aaron Judge is getting his first taste of pro ball this season -- he didn't play after being drafted because of a quad issue. His most valuable skill is the intense power that he carries with him to the plate, however, Judge has not shown much of that power so far this year. He's hitting .311 in Charleston right now, which is good, of course, but the homerun numbers haven't been there yet. Newman said that he's not at all concerned with Judge's power numbers, and I'm not either. I still think that given the chance to developed more, he can be a great fit in Yankee Stadium a few years down the road.
- Rafael De Paula was great with Low-A Charleston last season before he moved up and took a step back in High-A Tampa. De Paula's biggest issue has always been control, and trying to limit walks. He walked six people in three innings in his most recent start, but Newman complimented his breaking pitches, citing improvement in his stuff. Hopefully those pitches, along with his control, continue to develop well enough to make him a quality starter for the Yankees some time in the future.
- The Yankees' top draft pick from 2013, Eric Jagielo, hasn't been too impressive at the plate in terms of batting average this season, sporting just a .253 average as of Thursday, but Newman doesn't see that as a problem. He said the Yankees think that Jagielo is advanced enough as a player to make the adjustments needed to hang around with the higher quality of pitchers in the Florida State League, with that being part of the reason the Yankees started him in High-A Tampa this season, skipping Low-A Charleston altogether.
- A couple more injury notes before wrapping up: Ty Hensley, a first round pick in 2012, is currently throwing bullpens down at the minor league complex in Tampa as he works back from an injury. Newman said that "he's coming along" and is scheduled to face live hitters next week. Tommy John surgery was something that the Yankees were really trying to avoid with right-hander Jose Campos, who had been dealing elbow issues all the way back to 2012. The Yankees were trying to rehab him back, but eventually, enough was enough and the decision was made to put him on the operating table.
Alright, I believe that was all there was from Jennings and Newman worth sharing. Overall, things couldn't get much worse for the Yankees' farm system after the terrible year it had in 2013, but I think that things are starting to look a lot better this season, with a lot of players putting together much better years. And as long as people can stay healthy, the Yankees could be very happy with the minor league system at the end of the season.