Camp Report: Let The Games Begin

After weeks of preparing, the Yankee Minor Leaguers finally hit the field for their first exhibition game of the spring. The first action was between the low A Charleston squad and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays affiliate. All this, news and notes, and much more in this Camp Report.

Well, the action finally has begun and the players are the first to say that they are happy the games are finally here, exhibition or not. The first bit of action took place at the Tampa Complex between the Charleston squad and the Devil Rays affiliate. And, in style, the low A Yankee squad came out victorious. 5-3 was the final score as the young group of some of the most talented players in the Yankee farm system put in a strong effort in their first time out.

As for the pitching, the final score shows that there wasn't much hitting on the part of the opposition. However, things started out a little shaky. Brett Smith got the nod for the start in this game and in his first game action as a Yankee, the righthander was knocked around a little. Smith tossed two innings, giving up three runs. But, not to worry, it is only an exhibition. "He gave up three runs in two innings but he really didn't look bad," said an on looking Phil Hughes. In relief of Smith came Hairo Solis, one of the Yankee's rule five picks of the past year. His debut was a strong one as he did not allow a run. Joey Watts and Justin Berg followed suit, turning in shutout performances of their own.

On the offensive side of things, the RiverDogs squad looked solid at the plate in their first time out as well. Leading the charge was center fielder, Tim Battle, as he went 2-3 in this one. Not to mention, he also swiped two bases in the game. Despite the strong all around effort by the offense, you must give them even a little more added credit considering what their lineup was missing. The starting lineup was without three of their strongest components, Marcos Vechionacci, Jon Poterson and Mario Holmann. (See: News and Notes) But, all in all, they gelled quite well in their first game as a team in 2005. Also pitching in were Yosvani Almario Cabrera and Ben Jones who each hit doubles off the wall. Hector Gonzalez also lined two base hits up the middle for Charleston.

News and Notes. As promised, we bring you an explanation as to why three of the biggest stars did not start for Charleston on Saturday. Mario Holmann didn't start as a precaution for his bruised wrist. But, again, it is not something to be concerned about. "I didn't start because of my wrist," Holmann says. "I just can hit left handed but not right handed because its sore. So, they told me to rest and Monday I'll start hitting again right handed." Now, onto Jon Poterson. He sat out on Saturday as a result of some irritation in his hamstring but we are told that this is also a minor problem and that we can expect to see him back in the lineup for the next game. As for Marcos Vechionacci, there is a much happier reason as to why he did not play in Saturday's exhibition; he had other plans. It turns out that "Nacci" was playing with the big club in their action against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even at the age of 18, Vechionacci replaced Alex Rodriguez at third base, going 1-1 in the contest. What a debut for such a young, yet talented player. "I got word Friday that I would be with them on Saturday," explains Vechionacci. "It was just so great to be able to play with them and contribute."

But, perhaps the biggest news coming out of Yankee camp is the man who replaced Marcos Vechionacci at shortstop for the day. His name is Ramiro Pena. Ramiro is perhaps the biggest International signing of the year, and also the first they have ever signed out of Mexico. The 19 year old Pena was inked to a $100,000 bonus and is projected to be about as talented as they come. "He is really good with the glove," said Christian Garcia. "He has some good speed and he looks like a real good prospect." A switch hitter, Pena is a tremendous fielding shortstop that can make some acrobatic plays. The Yankees are excited to have him aboard since they signed him back in late February. But, don't expect to see him stick with the Charleston squad, but rather in extended spring training until June before he begins rookie ball. Stay tuned as we will be following up this story on the newest Yankee prospect.

That will do it for the Camp Report, but first we look ahead to Sunday. Starting Sunday for Charleston will be Phil Hughes and following him will be Christian Garcia. Jon Poterson also should be back in the lineup, along with Marcos Vechionacci.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories