Yankees Extended Spring Training Report

Just as important as any level of play are the prospects who stay in extended spring training to start the season. Some are a bit of a surprise, while others are there to make changes, recover from injuries or just because this is for their first season in the U.S. We'll look at some of those players now.

To start things off, the idea of extended spring training can be a nightmare for some players. It is the case for various reasons, but for older players, it is often times to the begin of the end. Whether it is fair or not is another issue, but for guys that are 23-24 years old, it certainly isn't a good sign.

The first surprise we heard of when the Yankee Minor League camp broke was PJ Pilittere. A veteran college player from Cal State Fullerton, PJ was left off every full season roster. Although he wasn't one of the biggest spring training performances by any means, it is surprising that the Yankees would leave out a 23 year old polished player. In all likelihood, he could be called to full season duty if there is an injury but this certainly doesn't bode well for his future. The second shocking move would definitely have to be Evan Tierce. The Gulf Coast League batting champion from 2004 was left in extended spring training. Here is a guy who opened a lot of eyes and figured to be a lock for full season ball this year. Well, apparently, the 22 year old didn't have a strong enough spring training to earn a full season job.

The players mentioned above, for those guys, extended spring training isn't a good thing considering the stage they are at in their careers. Fair or not, it doesn't exactly do wonders for their prospect status. But, on the other hand, there are some players that are left in extended simply to make adjustments that could better their careers in the long run. One guy who falls into this category is Yankees #27 prospect, Mario Holmann. Initially very disappointed, the speedy infielder was approached by Farm Director, Pat Roessler for an explanation as to why he wouldn't be joining the Charleston squad. The reason was simply, the Yankees saw more potential they could bring out of the 20 year old. With some adjustments to his stance to help him hit more balls on the ground, they wanted him to be in Tampa, under their supervision. The hope is that he can make the adjustments and join full season ball in no time at all.

When the Minor League rosters were announced, one of the biggest question marks in everyone's mind was the disappearance of Abel Gomez. But, it turns out it wasn't a disappearance at all, not even an injury. The Yankees spotted a flaw in Gomez' delivery that they wanted to clear up right now. It is also possible that this flaw may have a lot to do with the hard throwing lefty's control problems. In a nutshell, he is short arming the ball like an infielder might do. So, they are going to keep the wiry youngster back for a while, clear up this problem, and hopefully he will be able to jump back to full season ball in short order.

There is also the case of Nate Phillips. We heard from him over the winter about his transformation into becoming a catcher. That is what he is up to now in extended spring training. He'll catch all the innings he can, and then hopefully break camp in June with either the Gulf Coast League Yankees or the Staten Island Yankees.

Now, for the newcomers. No matter how weak the Yankees farm system was ever said to be, their scouting system in Latin America never has failed them. And, once again, here in 2005, they are bringing in a new crop of talent to play at their rookie ball level in the Gulf Coast League. Tops on the lists is Mexican shortstop, 19 year old, Ramiro Pena. With a tremendous glove at shortstop, the $125,000 signing adds depth and star prospect status to the system. Also joining him will be star teenage righthander, Jonathan Angola, 2004 International signee, Jose Tabata as well as highly touted outfielder, Wilkin de La Rosa.

News and Notes: Mario Holmann has been trying to play through a sore wrist, but finally the pain became a little too much. So, starting Monday, the organization told him to take a seat for a week to get that wrist totally healed. Mario was forced to miss the first exhibition for the extended spring training squad. Abel Gomez started for the squad, but they fell to the Phillies by the final score of 2-1.

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