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A Times Leader Special Section

Thursday, April 7, 2011

SWB YANKEES

Don’t miss a game Complete schedule for the 2011 season, including promotions. Pages 6-7

Making a pitch for No. 5

Yankees set sights on fifth consecutive IL North title

Future still in Big Apple Jesus Montero remains one of Yankees’ top prospects. Page 8

The man in charge Veteran manager Dave Miley returns for another season. Page 9 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitcher Lance Pendleton


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S C R A N T O N / W I L K E S - B A R R E YA N K E E S 2 0 11 YA N K E E S C O A C H E S DAVE MILEY Position: Manager Age: 49 Now in his 25th season of minor league managing, Miley long ago proved himself a huge success in both developing players and giving them something to shake hands about. He has 17 winning seasons on his resume, including the 2008 Governor’s Cup championship and four straight International League North Division titles. Last year, Miley recorded his 1,500th minor league victory, and guided SWB to the IL’s second-best record. SCOTT ALDRED Position: Pitching coach Age: 42 Now in his third season with the SWB Yankees, New York’s top pitching prospects just keep getting better under Aldred’s tutelage. The former major league pitcher who finished his career with the Philadelphia Phillies developed a staff that earned four IL pitcher of the week awards in 2010. Over his past two seasons in Triple-A, Aldred help develop current New York Yankees starters Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova.

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BUTCH WYNEGAR Position: Hitting coach Age: 51 Under his guidance, the SWB Yankees ranked second in the International League last season with both a .277 batting average and a .353 on-base percentage. But those numbers don’t begin to reflect what he’s meant to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s hitters. His knack for turning struggling swings into big hits has proven invaluable to New York’s top minor league players. The former big league catcher who caught Dave Righetti’s no-hitter and Phil Niekro’s 300th career victory with the Yankees has proven a big hit with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s lineup. FRANK MENECHINO Position: Coach Age: 40 A veteran of 450 major league games, Menechino begins his first season at the Triple-A level after serving as the hitting instructor for Double-A Trenton the last two seasons. His big league appearances came with Oakland and Toronto over seven seasons, and he also spent time in the Yankees organization in 2006.

A different path

By PAUL SOKOLOSKI | psokoloski@timesleader.com

NEW YORK – Throughout his one season at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Austin Jackson spent countless hours dreaming of days like Sunday, where he was racing through center field at Yankee Stadium awing the crowd with spectacular catches. That he’d be doing it AGAINST the home team? Well, that wasn’t in his plans. “Yeah, but it’s a business,” Jackson said. “Things happen all the time. You just have to move on.” Quickly and abruptly, the New York Yankees moved Jackson out of their plans. He was traded away before the start of last season as part of a package that brought Curtis Granderson to patrol the outfield for New York. And it left Jackson wondering why it wasn’t his job instead. “That’s over with,” Jackson said. His reputation as a future big league star went over the top with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Jackson only added to his billing as the Yankees top prospect in 2009 when he hit .300 for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with 23 doubles, nine triples, 67 runs scored and 65 RBI. He became a valued commodity during trade talks, and his performance in Triple-A ultimately helped the Yankees acquire a proven All-Star center fielder in Granderson. The standout season at Scranton/WilkesBarre also helped Jackson get to the big leagues – even if it had to be with another organization. “It wasn’t just that year in Scranton,” Jackson said. “I got a lot chance to learn and develop in the (Yankees) minor leagues. Every at-bat I got at every stop

helped me grow.” The talent the Yankees foresaw from Jackson blossomed in Detroit last season. The center fielder became just the fourth player in major league history since 1901 to score at least 100 runs, steal 30 bases and collect 180 hits, 30 doubles and 10 triples as a rookie. And his play in center field was as silky-smooth as Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre fans remember. As a reminder of that, Jackson showed New York fans what they were missing during the seasonopening weekend of 2011. He spent Sunday’s series finale showing off his glove for Detroit against the Yankees. He went deep to the warning track to track down a shot from Granderson — the man he was traded for – with a pretty over-the-shoulder catch. Later in the game, which turned into Detroit’s first victory of the season, Jackson robbed Mark Teixeira with a shoestring catch of a sinking line drive. “I dreamed about myself making plays all the time,” Jackson said. “Any time I take the field, everywhere I go, I’m thinking I’ve got to get to balls (in the outfield) and score some runs (at the plate).” He used to envision doing all of that in the big leagues. That part of his plan hasn’t changed, even when Jackson’s expected path to New York took a detour and sent him from Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre to Detroit.

AP PHOTO

Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson, a member of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 2009, hauls in fly ball during a game at Yankee Stadium in New York last Sunday. Jackson had expected to make it to the big leagues with the Yankees, but he was traded to the Detroit Tigers last season.

“It wasn’t just that year in Scranton. I got a lot chance to learn and develop in the (Yankees) minor leagues. Every at-bat I got at every stop helped me grow.” Austin Jackson Former SWB Yankee and current Detroit Tiger


Yankees may have some new faces, but it’s the same old goal

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PETE G. WILCOX PHOTOS/THE TIMES LEADER

From left: fans can expect to see plenty of infielder Kevin Russo, infielder Brandon Laird, pitcher Brian Anderson and pitcher Fernando Hernandez.

Ready for another run By PAUL SOKOLOSKI | psokoloski@timesleader.com

SWB Yankees skipper Dave Miley

Their record-setting closer and one of their biggest winners are both gone to Japan. One of their all-stars went to New York. And their biggest power bat is playing all the way out in Arizona. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley said. Some of those players may look familiar to Major League Baseball fans. New Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitchers Brian Anderson, Buddy Carlyle, Lance Pendleton and Andy Sisco all have big league experience. Starter Mark Prior, who’s currently in Tampa, will be trying to work his way back to the big leagues and he’s expecting to join Scranton/WilkesBarre soon. And Kevin Millwood, who once pitched a no-hitter with the Phillies and was the opening day starter for the Baltimore Orioles, could pass through Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, too. The starting rotation for the SWB Yankees will be led by David Phelps, who is 31-8 through his three-year minor league career, followed by Hector Noesi, Adam Warren, D.J. Mitchell and Andrew Brackman. “We’re hoping we have some high-

See RUN, Page 10

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How are the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees about to defend their perennial International League North crown without them? Well, don’t worry, fans of Triple-A baseball in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The four-time defending International League North Division champion SWB Yankees are far from finished with championship runs. In fact, they may be just getting started. With lower-league players of the year Brandon Laird and Melky Mesa ready to continue their tears with a move up to Triple-A, a plethora of hitters who now have big league experience and a pitching staff primed with exmajor leaguers, Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre appears headed for another strong season. “We’ve got, on paper, some pretty good players,”

caliber pitching at the higher end (of the organization), in both Double-A and Triple-A,” Newman said. “And some position players to pay attention to.” The opening-day lineup will include outfielder Chris Dickerson, who spent time with Cincinnati and Milwaukee the past few years, and shortstop Ramiro Pena, who played in a backup role with the parent Yankees the past two years. The Triple-A Yankees will surely miss Jonathan Albaladejo, who was Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre’s version of Mariano Rivera before heading off to play Japanese Baseball for the Yomiuri Giants over the offseason. Albaladejo not only set a franchise record with 43 saves last year, he put up a miniscule 1.42 ERA, a 4-2 record and struck out 82 batters in 63 1/3 innings. Joining him on the journey to Japan is Romulo Sanchez, a starter who finished at 10-8 and with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s second-most victories last season. They’re not the only holes the SWB Yankees must fill. Hard-hitting Juan Miranda, the cleanup hitter in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s lineup for the past three seasons, was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in November. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will miss his production, after the Cuban-born Miranda


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On the 40-man roster

By PAUL SOKOLOSKI | psokoloski@timesleader.com

Some of them are doing their best to get to New York. Some of them have already been there. Either way, these players on Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s season-opening roster have already caught the attention of the parent New York Yankees. That’s why they’re on the major league team’s 40-man roster. From promising first-round draft pick Andrew Brackman to Hector Noesi - who made his big league debut for the Yankees last season - these are the guys who will be first in line to head to New York this year if the parent Yankees need to pluck someone from their farm system to play for them. And while Ramiro Pena may prefer to be playing for a New York team he spent the last two seasons with as a backup, he’s not far away from returning. Just as powerful prospect Brandon Laird isn’t very far away from his first major league play. Here’s a look at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees players high in the minds of the parent Yankees: ANDREW BRACKMAN Postion: RHP Age: 25 Ht: 6-10 Wt: 230 Last year: 5-4, Tampa (A), 5-7 Trenton (Double-A) The former Yankees top draft choice finally appears to be picking up steam after missing his first two professional seasons following "Tommy John surgery." A former North Carolina State basketball standout, the 6-foot-10 Brackman will be the biggest SWB Yankees starter, both in height and stature. He went 5-7 with a 3.01 ERA for Double-A Trenton last season, and the New York brass is anxious to find out what he can do in Triple-A.

GREG GOLSON Position: CF Age: 25 Ht: 6-foot Wt: 190 Last year: .263, SWB (Triple-A), .261 (Yankees) Known more for his defensive prowess in the outfield, the eight-year pro did pretty well for himself at the plate in his first extended major league callup last season. Golson hit .261 in 24 games with the parent Yankees, and batted .263 for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s International League North Division champs. Golson accounted for 91 runs with the SWB Yanks, scoring 51 and driving in 40. His strong defense caught some attention in New York. BRANDON LAIRD Position: 3B Age: 23 Ht: 6-1 Wt: 215 Last year: .291, Trenton (Double-A), .246 SWB (Triple-A) After leading the Yankees farm system with 25 home runs a year ago, Laird power-

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Kevin Russo saw time in both the infield and outfield last season for the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

TIMES LEADER FILE PHOTOS

ed himself into becoming one of the brightest prospects in the organization. Most of that pop came at Trenton, where Laird blasted 23 homers, 22 doubles, drove home 90 runs and was named the Eastern League’s player of the year. His average struggled a bit when he was promoted for 31 games at SWB, but he ended a terrific minor league camp with the Yankees by hitting homers in two straight games. MELKY MESA Position: OF Age: 24 Ht: 6-1 Wt: 189 Last Year: .260 Tampa (FSL) His breakout year earned Mesa the Florida State League’s Player of the Year in 2010, and his potential intrigued the parent Yankees so much, they added him to their 40-man roster following the season. It’s easy to see why Mesa has the organization’s attention. His batting average rose to a career-high with Tampa, where he scored 81 runs, drove home 74 (including two grand slams) and stole 31 bases. He’s also rated by Baseball America as being the best athlete and possessing the best outfield arm in New York’s farm system. HECTOR NOESI Position: RHP Age: 24 Ht: 6-3 Wt: 200 Last year: 12-3 SWB, 1-2 Yankees The biggest winner on the SWB is back for more, looking for even bigger things this year. Noesi went 12-3 with a 2.86 ERA at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and recorded 115 strikeouts in

Greg Golson hit .263 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season.

145 innings. He wasn’t as impressive in New York, finishing with a 4.50 ERA in 10 appearances (seven starts) during his first major league action. But as a reliever, Noesi had a 1.69 ERA in three outings. Over his final 14 Triple-A starts, Noesi went 10-1 with a 2.19 ERA. His season ERA ranked second in the International League only to Baseball America player of the year Jeremy Hellickson. RAMIRO PENA Position: IF Age: 25 Ht: 5-11 Wt: 175 Last year: .227 Yankees After winning a utility job with New York in spring training, Pena showed signs of promise while playing in 85 games for the parent Yankees last season. He hit safely in 12 of his 19 starts from August until season’s end, including a sevengame hitting streak. A surehanded defender, Pena also filled in nicely around the infield when Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano were injured or needed a day off. A hot start to the Triple-A season could send him back to New York quickly. KEVIN RUSSO Position: IF/OF Age: 26 Ht: 5-11 Wt: 190 Last year: .259 SWB, .184 Yankees A natural infielder, Russo did

nothing to diminish his reputation as a hard-nosed gamer when he found some success converting to a utility role in the outfield last year. He earned a couple callups to the parent Yankees, and drove home both runs in a 2-1 victory over the Mets in his first major league start. In Triple-A, Russo put up a 12-game hitting streak and had an impressive .966 fielding percentage while bouncing around to second base, third base, shortstop, DH and all three outfield positions. Such versatility’s a big plus in the eyes of New York. ADAM WARREN Position: RHP Age: 23 Ht: 6-2 Wt: 215 Last year: .7-5, Single-A Tampa, 4-2 Double-A Trenton The promising strikeout pitcher makes a jump to Triple-A this season after a standout seasons in New York’s lower levels of the organization. He finished 2010 with a 2.59 ERA and was the starting pitcher in four shutouts. Warren also surrendered three runs or less in 19 of his starts, which made the organization take notice. He gained even more attention when he jumped to Double-A, and struck out a franchise record 15 batters in seven innings to earn the Eastern League’s pitcher of the week. His promise has him slotted in the SWB Yankees five-man starting rotation.


THE REST OF THE TEAM BRIAN ANDERSON Position: RHP Age: 29 Ht: 6-2 Wt: 220 Last year: 2.08 ERA, Triple-A Omaha The experiment to turn Anderson into a pitcher proved a huge success, as he made a combined 14 appearances through three levels of the Chicago White Sox organization and finished with an outstanding ERA. This came after Anderson spent the first seven seasons of his professional career as an outfielder, and batted .227 in 355 major league games with the White Sox and Boston Red Sox. The Yankees are intrigued, and plan to put him in SWB’s bullpen. DOUG BERNIER Position: INF Age: 30 Ht: 6-foot Wt: 185 Last year: .240, Triple-A Indianapolis Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s dependable shortstop of 2009 returns to the organization after a season in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. A scrappy position player who can play shortstop, second or third base, Bernier is one of those guys who does all the little things that add up to victories. His batting average was low at Indianapolis last season, but Bernier reached base safely in 10 of his final 12 games. His career .283 minor league batting average may not suggest much stick, but his glove work is second to none when it comes to steadiness.

KEI IGAWA Position: LHP

ton Mitchell was one of those young guns who was promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and contributed to a minor league playoff run. He went 2-0 in three starts for the Triple-A Yankees and pitched well during a no-decision in a playoff start. He’s looking for that magic to continue in Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre’s starting rotation this season after a dominating year at Trenton where he finished 11-4 and held hitters to a .183 batting average in 22 starts.

GEORGE KONTOS Position: RHP Age: 25 Ht: 6-3 Wt: 215 Last year: 3.38 ERA, Double-A Trenton Scranton/Wilkes-Barre fans are familiar with Kontos, who has spent time with the Triple-A Yankees during the past two seasons. He went 0-1 pitching in two games for the SWB Yankees last season, but did the bulk of his work with Double-A Trenton, where Kontos appeared in 27 games. During the 2009 season, Kontos finished with a 3-4 record as a middle reliever with SWB.

JESUS MONTERO Position: C Age: 21 Ht: 6-3 Wt: 235 Last year: .289 SWB After failing to win the backup catcher’s job in New York this spring, Montero is back for more seasoning with Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre. He led the Triple-A Yanks with 21 homers, 34 doubles, 75 RBIs and a .289 batting average. Montero also began trying to change his reputation as a suspect defensive catcher. He led all International League backstops with 109 games, 785 chances and 76 assists. He also threw out base stealers at a 23.3 percent clip. Despite his minor setback in spring training, his future in the organization still looks bright.

WARNER MADRIGAL Position: RHP Age: 27 Ht: 6-1 Wt: 235 Last year: 5-2, Triple-A Oklahoma City Signed as a minor league free agent during the offseason, Madrigal should add depth to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s already-strong bullpen. He’s appeared in 44 major league games with the Texas Rangers after being drafted as an outfielder. Last year, forearm soreness made Madrigal missed the early part of the season. But after a rehab stint at Double-A Frisco, he rebouneded in Triple-A to hold opponents to a .215 batting average.

LANCE PENDLETON Position: RHP Age: 27 Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205 Last year: 2-1 SWB The Yankees got one of their minor league prospects back when the Houston Astros picked up Pendleton in the Rule 5 Draft during the offseason, then returned him to New York last week. Pendleton had a dominating season as a starter with Double-A Trenton last year, going 10-4 with 111 strikeouts. He also made six starts for the SWB Yankees, finishing 2-1 with 22 strikeouts in 34 innings. He’ll be one of the starters to watch on Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre’s staff.

D.J. MITCHELL Position: RHP Age: 23 Ht: 6-2 Wt: 193 Last year: 11-4, Double-A Tren-

DAVID PHELPS Position: RHP Age: 24 Ht: 6-2 Wt: 185 Last year: 4-2, SWB

The organization’s minor league pitcher of the year last season returns to Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre after making a sparking Triple-A debut last season. Phelps finished 2010 by going 4-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 11 starts for the SWB Yankees. That came after he dominated the Eastern League with Double-A Trenton, where Phelps won all six of his decisions, had a 2.04 ERA makes and was leading the Eastern League with 84 strikeouts before he jumped up a level. During his three-year pro career, he has a 31-8 minor league record. MARK PRIOR Position: RHP Age: 30 Ht: 6-5 Wt: 230 Last year: 0.00 ERA, Independent League’s Orange County Flyers Once a third-place finisher in the voting for the National League Cy Young Award, Prior’s been plagued by arm problems that have cost him the past three years of his career. He’s spent most of that time rehabbing two shoulder surgeries, and wound up trying to make a comeback last year with nine appearances as a relief pitcher in the Golden Baseball League. The Yankees want to find out if he is anything close to the pitcher who was one of baseball’s bright young pitchers with the Chicago Cubs. Prior went 42-29 in 106 major league starts and was in Cy Young consideration for his 18-6 season in 2003. He will begin the season in Florida before being shifted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at some point. AMAURI SANIT Position: RHP Age: 31 Ht: 5-9 Wt: 205 Last year: 3-2, SWB Slowly but surely, Sanit turned into a dependable reliever at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. He finished with a 3-2 record and 6.35 ERA between the Gulf Coast League Yankees, Single-A Tampa and Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre a year ago. The bulk of that work was done with the SWB Yankees, who mixed Sanit into their bullpen for some long relief, late relief and even a start. Afterward, Sanit went to work in the Vene-

zuelan Winter League, where he had an ERA of 2.96 and went 2-2. ANDY SISCO Position: LHP Age: 28 Ht: 6-10 Wt: 270 Last year: 4-4, Double-A Richmond After 151 major league games with Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox, Sisco was shut down for two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He came back last season with Double-A Richmond, then got himself in better shape by leading the Mexican Pacific League in strikeouts over the fall. Following a strong spring training in the Yankees major league camp, where Sisco had a 2.08 ERA in five appearances, parent New York was intrigued enough to start him in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s bullpen. KEVIN WHELAN Position: RHP Age: 27 Ht: 5-11 Wt: 205 Last year: 2-3, SWB Whelan raised his game in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s postseason last year, when he won a game, had three strikeouts and didn’t allow a run in 2 1/3 innings. That came after Whelan began and ended the year with the SWB Yankees and finished 2-1. In between, Whelan was with Double-A Trenton, finishing 3-3 with 40 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings. He could see some action in the role of a setup man or closer this season. ERIC WORDEKEMPER Position: RHP Age: 27 Ht: 6-1 Wt: 215 Last year: 5-0, SWB and Double-A Trenton With the departure of Jonathan Albaladejo to Japan, Wordekemper is the most likely choice to move into Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre’s closer role. He did well in late-inning relief last season, picking up five saves to go along with his unbeaten record while splitting time between Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Trenton. He pitched four innings of postseason ball for the SWB Yanks, and put up a 2.25 ERA.

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BUDDY CARLYLE Position: RHP Age: 33 Ht: 6-3 Wt: 210 Last year: 4.88 ERA, Japan Back from a season with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese League, the major league veteran will head to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre trying to rediscover the form that put him on the mound for 104 big league games. He last pitched in the majors with Atlanta in 2009, going 0-1 with an 8.86 ERA. He could wind up being a valuable asset to the bullpen.

Age: 31 Ht: 6-1 Wt: 212 Last year: 3-4, SWB Now in the final season of his five-year, $23 million contract, the former Japanese Baseball star hasn’t helped parent New York much, but he already owns the Scranton/WilkesBarre franchise record with 32 victories. Three of those came last season, when Igawa - a natural starter - spent most of the season pitching out of the bullpen. Igawa won’t start the season with the SWB Yankees, as he was given permission to return to his native Japan indefinitely to aid his family and friends in wake of the destruction of the nation’s tsunami.

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SCRANTON/WILKES-

2 0 1 1 I N T E R N AT I O N A L IL NORTH

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Buffalo Bison Affiliate: New York Mets Manager: Tim Teufel 2010 Record: 76-68 (third place) 2010 Leaders BA: Jesus Felciano, .339 HR: Mike Hessman, 18 ERA: Pat Misch, 3.23 Wins: Dillon Gee, 13 Saves: Two tied with 6

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs Affiliate: Philadelphia Phillies Manager: Ryne Sandberg 2010 Record: 58-86 (fifth place) 2010 Leaders BA:Melvin Dorton, .287 HR: Andy Tracy, 21 ERA: Bill Mazone, 3.82 Wins: Two tied with 8 Saves: Scott Mathieson, 26

Pawtucket Red Sox Affiliate: Boston Red Sox Manager: Arnie Beyeler 2010 Record: 66-78 (fourth place) 2010 Leaders BA: Bubba Bell, .293 HR: Josh Reddick, 18 ERA: Michel Bowden, 3.66 Wins: Robert Manuel, 8 Saves: Fenando Cabrera, 22

Rochester Red Wings Affiliate: Minnesota Twins Manager: Tom Nieto 2010 Record: 49-95 (sixth place) 2010 Leaders BA: Jacque Jones, .280 HR: Brock Peterson, 19 ERA: Matt Fox, 3.95 Wins: Rob Delaney, 7 Saves: Anthony Slama, 17

Syracuse Chiefs Affiliate: Washington Nationals Manager: Randy Knorr 2010 Record: 76-67 (second place) 2010 Leaders BA: Brian Bixler, .285 HR: Two tied with 15 ERA: Shairon Martis, 4.09 Wins: Shairon Martis, 8 Saves: Joe Peralta, 20

Charlotte Knights Affiliate: Chicago White Sox Manager: Joe McEwing 2010 Record: 67-77 (third place) 2010 Leaders BA: Brent Morel, .320 HR: Stefan Gartrell, 27 ERA: Carlos Torres, 3.42 Wins: Daniel Hudson, 11 Saves: Ryan Braun, 18

Durham Bul Affiliate: Tam Rays Manager: Ch toyo 2010 Record (first place) 2010 Leader BA: Elliot Jo HR: Dan Joh ERA: Jerem son, 2.45 Wins: Richar Santos, 14 Saves: Winst 23


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LEAGUE OPPONNENTS IL SOUTH

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Norfolk Tides Affilaite: Baltimore Orioles Manager: Gary Allenson 2010 Record: 67-77 (fourth place) 2010 Leaders BA: Justin Turner, .316 HR: Michael Aubrey, 22 ERA: Chris Tillman, 3.34 Wins: Chris Tillman, 11 Saves: 20

Columbus Clippers Affiliate: Cleveland Indians Manager: Mike Sarbaugh 2010 Record: 79-65 (second place) 2010 Leaders BA: Jose Constanza, .319 HR: Jared Goedert, 20 ERA: Josh Tomlin, 2.68 Wins: Two tied with 10 Saves: Vinnie Pestano, 14

Indianapolis Indians Affiliate: Pittsburgh Pirates Manager: Dean Treanor 2010 Record: 71-73 (third place) 2010 Leaders BA: Steev Pearce, .326 HR: Brandon Moss, 22 ERA: Jeremy Powell, 4.62 Wins: Jeremy Powell, 11 Saves: Jean Machi 23

Louisville Bats Affiliate: Cincinnati Reds Manager: Rick Sweet 2010 Record: 76-64 (first place) 2010 Leaders BA: Chris Valaika, .304 HR: Wladimir Balentien, 25 ERA: Matt Maloney, 3.34 Wins: Matt Maloney, 10 Saves: Jon Adkins, 10

Toledo Mud Hens Affiliate: Detroit Tigers Manager: Phil Nevin 2010 Record: 70-73 (fourth place) 2010 Leaders BA: Will Rhymes, .305 HR: Jeff Frazier, 25 ERA: L.J. Gaganier, 3.51 Wins: Alfredo Figaro, 10 Saves: Jay Sborz, 19

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Gwinnett Braves Affiliate: Atlanta Braves Manager: Dave Brundage 2010 Record: 72-72 (second place) 2010 Leaders BA: Barbaro Canizares, .341 HR: Mitch Jones, 19 ERA: Todd Redmond, 4.26 Wins: Todd Redmond, 9 Saves: Craig Kimbrel, 23

IL WEST


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Yanks still believe in Jesus

By PAUL SOKOLOSKI | psokoloski@timesleader.com

First, the New York Yankees tried to trade him. Then they dismissed him from major league consideration this season. But despite actions that suggest the contrary, the Yankees aren’t even considering sacking Jesus Montero just yet. homers and 251 RBI through four minor He’s still their top minor league prosleague seasons, everyone knew Montero pect. could hit. “Absolutely,” said Mark Newman, the It was his defense that gave New York senior vice president of baseball operation for the New York Yankees. “There’s doubts. Montero worked overtime to quell nothing that can happen within a few weeks of spring training that can change those last season. With the SWB Yankees, he handled that. Jesus has some work to do. Ivan Nova, who’s now a starter in New “But he has some kind of ability.” York’s pitching rotation and since-deThat talent will be honed with the parted Jonathan Albaladejo, who rang Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees for a up 43 saves to smash Scranton/Wilkessecond consecutive season, after MonteBarre’s all-time record. ro was passed over for a backup catchMontero also threw out 30 of 129 base er’s job in New York this spring. stealers at a solid 23.3 “We know that he percent clip. can go to the big “He got better at every leagues right now and aspect of what he was play,” Newman said. working on,” Miley said. “He was going to the “He got better as the year big leagues to sit. progressed.” (Trenton catcher) That progression apAustin Romine is the peared to stop this spring. same way. We don’t Montero was informed want them sitting on last week he wouldn’t be the bench.” That gameplan sits Jesus Montero leaving spring training SWB Yankees catcher with the big league Yanjust fine with Montekees, that he was headed ro, who was favored in for more time in Triple-A. training camp to reThat news came after Montero was place the injured Francisco Cervelli as jolted at last year’s major league trading New York’s backup catcher. deadline, when he discovered he was at “The opportunity’s there,” Montero the center of trade talks – as the parent insists. “I’ve just got to do everything Yankees tried to land pitcher Cliff Lee well and do my best catching, hitting.” for a package of prospects. His best certainly impressed ScranThat deal was scrapped when the ton/Wilkes-Barre fans last season. Texas Rangers snuck in and stole Lee, After a slow start in his Triple-A deleaving Montero relieved to remain in but, Montero ratcheted things up – both the Yankees organization. at the plate and behind it. “It’s all I’ve known,” he said at the He finished with a boom, leading the time. SWB Yankees with a .289 batting averBut he had no plans to return to Triage, 21 home runs, 75 RBI and 36 douple-A this season. bles. Montero was also named Baseball Montero figured he had an ideal America’s top hitter for average and best chance to win the backup catching job in power hitter in the Yankees farm sysNew York, and was projected as the tem. odds-on favorite to open his 2011 season “For a 21-year-old kid, his potential’s last week at new Yankee Stadium. off the charts,” Scranton/Wilkes-Barre With 39-year-old Jorge Posada being manager Dave Miley said. “For how shifted to designated hitter duties this young he was in this league last year, to start off (slow) the way he did and finish year, the Yankees signed former Dodgers All-Star Russell Martin as their No. 1 up (strong) the way he did, that’s a catcher. And when Cervelli was lost with credit to him.” a broken foot, Montero looked like the But with a .314 batting average, 48

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“The opportunity’s there. “I’ve just got to do everything well and do my best catching, hitting.”

PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre catcher Jesus Montero, right, walks off the field at spring training with pitcher Adam Warren. Montero remains a big part of the New York Yankees plans despite not heading north with the big league club.

most likely candidate to become New York’s No. 2 catcher. But he hit just .222 during big league spring training, didn’t wow anyone with his defense, and the backup slot he was vying for went to journeyman Gustavo Molina. Part of the reason was the Yankees wanted Montero playing regularly. According to Newman, that was always part of the plan. And while his second big league spring training didn’t reward him with a major league job, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t rewarding to Montero. Especially

since it gave him another spring of listening to advice from a couple former major league catchers - Yankees manager Joe Girardi and his bench coach Tony Pena. “It’ll help me out a lot this year,” Montero said. “All the older guys helped (make) the experience (worthwhile). I got to work with Tony Pena, Girardi. It was a good spring training.” Now, he’s on a mission to make that training pay off. Because the next time he sees opportunity in New York, Jesus Montero doesn’t plan to miss it.


Yankees skipper one of best in the business

Managing to succeed

“We’re lucky to have Miles. He’s been a major league manager, a minor league manager at every level. He’s seen every part of this business you can see.”

By PAUL SOKOLOSKI psokoloski@timesleader.com

Yankees senior VP Mark Newman On SWB manager Dave Miley

PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

During his 24 seasons managing in the minors, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley has compiled an outstanding .571 winning percentage with 17 winning seasons.

pen. “He’s definitely a players’ manager,” Melancon said. “He will back the players up to no end. And as far as a player is concerned, that’s all you can ask for out of a manager.” Miley doesn’t ask much. Show up on time, work hard, be the best you can be. And hopefully, the Triple-A players he’s guiding now will be in the major leagues someday. “I think you have to adjust as a manager, depending on what kind of team you have,” Miley said. “I just try to put pitchers and position players in a spot to be successful. Then it’s up to them.”

It’s not up to Miley who he gets to work with. The parent Yankees made more than 90 roster moves with Scranton/WilkesBarre during each of the past two seasons, with player promotions, demotions or dismissals from the organization. That volume of turnover didn’t happen when Miley was managing the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 and 2004, but he’s dealt with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s constantly revolving door admirably. “At this level, it probably changes more than at the next level,” Miley said.

The key for him has been not letting such change transform his team’s fortunes. Miley guided the Scranton/WilkesBarre Yankees to the franchise’s first Governors’ Cup championship in 2008. He followed that up with an appearance in the Governors’ Cup finals in 2009 and a fourth straight trip to the postseason. “There’s not a guy in this clubhouse who doesn’t want to be in the big leagues,” Miley said. “We’re here. We develop first. But it’s not a bad thing if you can win some games along the way when you’re developing guys. “Hopefully, we shake hands a lot after games.” Miley’s made sure there’s plenty of glad-handing over Scranton/WilkesBarre’s seasons. “You’re trying to win for the franchise,” Newman said. “But while you do that, you have to develop players for the major league club. He (Miley) does an outstanding job.” Typically, the humble Miley deflects such credit, instead praising his coaching staff of hitting instructor Butch Wynegar and pitching coach Scott Aldred, who have been by his side for the past couple years. “I’ve been very fortunate, not just here, but I’ve always had very good coaching staffs,” Miley said, sounding like any successful business leader. “I basically let my coaches do what they do best. Those guys are here for a reason.” But judging by his record, Miley’s probably the main reason his teams always seem to pull it all together through even the most tumultuous seasons. “He’s a great guy,” Jackson said. Which only proves nice guys really can finish first.

PAGE 9

They talk about Dave Miley in such friendly terms, as if they were speaking of a buddy, a brother or a favorite uncle. The truth is, he’s more of a mentor to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees who play Triple-A baseball for him. And that means giving guys grief every once in awhile. “If you play hard for him, he’s not going to bother you,” said Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson, who was the top prospect in the Yankees organization when he played under Miley in 2009. “But if you’re not working or playing your best, he’ll let you know about it.” That’s why Miley’s a manager. And throughout his storied career, he’s become one of the best in minor league baseball. On his way to leading the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre Yankees to a fourth straight International League North Division title last season, Miley recorded his milestone 1,500th career minor league victory. During his 24 seasons managing in the minors, Miley has compiled an outstanding .571 winning percentage with 17 winning seasons. Such success doesn’t happen by accident. “We’re lucky to have Miles,” said Mark Newman, the senior vice president of baseball operations for the Yankees who runs New York’s minor league system. “He’s been a major league manager, a minor league manager at every level. “He’s seen every part of this business you can see.” It’s not hard to detect Miley’s influence on Triple-A players. He’s sent position players Reegie Corona and Eduardo Nunez along with pitchers Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Ivan Nova to this year’s New York Yankees roster. A host of Miley’s former players, such as Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson, have found major league success in other organizations. And over the past two seasons, he’s sent a slew of Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre Yankees up to New York for fill-in stints. “He’s fabulous,” Mark Melancon said of Miley. Melancon pitched parts of three seasons for the SWB Yankees under Miley before being traded last year and settling into the Houston Astros bull-

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belted a combined 46 homers and 67 doubles with 177 RBI and 166 runs scored over his past three Triple-A seasons. And Eduardo Nunez came off a Triple-A All-Star season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make New York’s opening day roster. Nunez was named the International League’s top shortstop a year ago after hitting .289 with 25 doubles, 55 runs scored and 50 RBI at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But a crop of new faces, and old, may more than make up for those departures. Joining Pena on the left side of the infield is slugging third baseman Laird, who led New York’s minor league system with 25 home runs and102 RBI a year ago. The bulk of that production came at Double-A Trenton, where Laird belted 23 homers, 90 RBI and was named the Eastern League’s player of the year. But he also saw brief time in Triple-A, where his batting average dipped at the end of 2010 but the ball started soaring again with the SWB Yankees in spring training. Laird blasted two homers in two games during the final days of minor league camp. “We hope he’s starting to get his feet on the ground and plays really well in Triple-A,” Newman said. Not that many Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre Yankees are planning to stay grounded at one position. The strength of this team will be its ability to jump players from spot to spot in the field. Infielder Doug Bernier, who played mainly shortstop for the 2009 SWB Yanks, is back in the organization after a season in Pittsburgh’s system and has the versatility to man second or third base. So does Pena, who subbed for Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano around the horn in New York. And Kevin Russo showed he can play just about anywhere during a 2010 season where he spent time at three infield positions, all three outfield positions and designated hitter while hitting .259 at Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre and earned his first 31 major league games with New York. “We have some flexibility, like we’ve had in the past,” Miley said. “Guys who can move all over the place.” That ability for SWB players to

roam around doesn’t stop in the infield. It covers the whole outfield, where Mesa, Dickerson, Greg Golson and Justin Maxwell along with Russo -- promise to turn plenty of would-be hits into outs this season. “Outfield is looking like a real strong spot,” Miley said. “We have three guys in the outfield who can play center field, left or right.” The bright spot is Mesa, whose sub-par career batting average suddenly shot to .260 in a breakout season for Class A Tampa last year. Combining power with speed, Mesa socked 21 doubles, 19 homers and drove home 74 runs, while scoring 81with 31stolen bases. His performance earned him the Florida State League’s player of the year award. Golson found his reward while receiving his first extended big league callup last year, and made the most of it by hitting .261 in 24 games for the parent Yankees. A former first-round draft choice of thePhillies,Golsonalsodelivered in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he hit .263 with 23 doubles, five triples and 10 homers. Whether he was playing in the major or minors, Golson flashed his trademark glove in the outfield, and in fact, gunned down a runner at third base to end New York’s extra-inning victory over Tampa Bay on Sept. 14. Other SWB outfielders arrived from other organizations. Maxwell came from the Washington organization, where he spent as much time in the majors with the Nationals as he did at Triple-A Syracuse. Dickerson was acquired in a late spring trade that sent pitcher Sergio Mitre to the Brewers, and went 3-for-3 with a double when he arrived in New York’s big league camp. Through his whole major league spring, Dickerson hit .333 with six RBI, three doubles, a triple and scored six runs in 18 games. “The outfield in Scranton is interesting,” Newman said. “There are some really, high-caliber defensive players.” Speaking of high-caliber, top prospect Jesus Montero figured he’d be playing in major league games. But after battling for a backup job in big league camp, the hard-hitting catcher was returned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for more seasoning. The SWB Yankees will gladly take him.

Ex- SWB reliever in majors with Astros

Beginning to blossom

PAUL SOKOLOSKI psokoloski@timesleader.com

PHILADELPHIA – He was going to be the next Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankees closer of the future, on his way to starring in pinstripes. Then he was gone. His dreams of late-inning pitching success at Yankee Stadium burst as if someone put a pin to his balloon. To Mark Melancon, being traded out of the Yankees organization felt worse than being stuck by a needle. “I was shocked,” Melancon said, “because it was so out of the blue. At that time, I was focused on being in pinstripes. It didn’t really enter my mind I would be pitching for somebody else.” He is pitching for the Houston Astros now after a midseason trade last season, as a young reliever with a chance to blossom in the big leagues. And if that happens, Melancon can credit his rapid development to his time in the bullpen of the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre Yankees. That’s where Melancon spent large parts of the past three baseball seasons, discovering to harness and sharpen the natural talent that once had the parent Yankees so high on him. “I think that was a huge learning curve for me,” Melancon said, “being with (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitching coach) Scott Aldred. Working with him has really helped me.” It raised Melancon to new heights. For the first time in his impressive pro career, Melancon opened a major league season in the big leagues, pitching as a middle reliever for the Astros during their first series of the year against the Philadelphia Phillies. “I have always dreamed of this,” Melancon said, “to be on a big league team to start the season. It’s been a

AP PHOTO

Houston Astros relief pitcher Mark Melancon says he learned a lot about pitching as a member of the SWB Yankees.

lot of hard work. I just need to continue to be consistent.” He looked pretty steady Saturday night in his first appearance of the 2011 season, working a pretty clean sixth inning against the heart of the Phillies lineup. After surrendering a leadoff single to Placido Polanco, Melancon struck out Jimmy Rollins and cleanup man Ryan Howard on back-toback half-swings before inducing a harmless, inningending grounder from Ben Francisco. That’s not exactly the bottom half of a weak Triple-A lineup. “I got the two strikeouts on curveballs, which is my put-away pitch,” Melancon, 26, said. “Polanco had a pretty good hit with a fastball I left over the middle of the plate. I was just focused on keeping him on first and pitching ahead in the count.” He learned all of that – setting up a hitter, using his curve as an out pitch, limiting the damage when runners get on – during his time with Scranton/WilkesBarre. That’s where Melancon starred as a key lateinning reliever during the team’s 2008 Governors’’ Cup championship and led the

Triple-A Yankees in saves the following season. In fact, Melancon called Aldred the night of his first major league opener to tell him the good news. “I talked to him, just to see how things are going,” Melancon said. Things seemed to be going pretty well for Melancon through his first four seasons in New York’s minor league system, when the hard-throwing right-hander was being groomed to eventually replace the legendary Rivera in a closer’s role for New York. But the ageless Rivera doesn’t seem to be slowing down much. And the organization seemed to sour on Melancon last season, turning the closer’s job at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton over the since-departed Jonathan Albaladejo. Then came the real stunner to Melancon. On July 31, the Yankees dealt him to the Astros in a trade that brought Lance Berkman to help in New York’s playoff run of 2010. That was just the latest in a series of moves over the past few years that brought immediate assistance to New York in exchange for quality minor league players – a tribute to the Yankees farm system in general and in particular Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre’s ability to cultivate talent. And Melancon didn’t need long to dig up positive thoughts about the deal. “After about five minutes of realizing what type of opportunity I had here in the Astros organization, I was excited,” Melancon said. He took advantage of it by going 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in 20 games for the Astros last season, and looks as sharp as ever opening a season in the major leagues. He doesn’t have to go back far to find a place in his heart for where he got his start.


Hitting coach having plenty of success

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PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

Butch Wynegar has served as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees hitting coach for four seasons.

Swing’s the thing for Wynegar SHELLEY DUNCAN was desperate. The swing that blasted 46 home runs over two Triple-A seasons was starting to swan dive, so he made a lastgasp bid to get back on

OPINION He’s helped top prospects Austin Jackson (now with Detroit) and Jesus Montero (back with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) work through maddening slumps. He sent Kevin Russo and Colin Curtis up to the parent Yankees for their big league debuts last year, and got Greg Golson’s bat going in time for his first significant major league action. “I think a lot of it is bonding with the players,” Wynegar said. “The guys in the clubhouse are good guys. They’re willing to listen to you. That’s the biggest thing in this game, getting trust from the guys.” He never believed he’d be doing this when Wynegar was playing 13 major league seasons as a catcher for Minnesota, the New York Yankees and California. He retired and walked away from the game for four years, after being named the Sporting News American League Rookie of the year

Shortly after that, Wynegar was hired by the Yankees as manager Dave Miley’s Triple-A hitting instructor. And the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees have been swinging ever since. “It’s easy to pat guys on the back when they’re going good,” Wynegar said. “When they’re struggling is when they really need you.” The man needs more sleep. He takes his job home with him, mulling over in his mind the flaws in the swings of a dozen hitters or so at a time on a roster that’s always ever-changing, and trying to figure out ways to correct their deficiencies. “I’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking about their swings,” Wynegar said. All so Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s batters can hit the daylight out of the ball. Paul Sokoloski is a Times Leader sports columnist. You may reach him at 970-7109 or email him at psokoloski@timesleader.com.

PAGE 11

track. He went right to Butch Wynegar. This was before an International League playoff game, while Duncan was helping the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees win the 2008 Governors’ Cup championship. Because Wynegar has always been a champion of teaching hitting. “I get such great satisfaction out of watching guys get better,” Wynegar said. They get better around the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre Yankees because of him. Through Wynegar’s four seasons as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s hitting coach, the Triple-A Yankees have led the International League in runs scored and finished second in the league last season with a .277 batting average and .353 on-base percentage.

PAUL SOKOLOSKI

in 1976 and catching Dave Righetti’s nohitter and Phil Niekro’s 300th victory with the Yankees in the 1980s. “I never thought about coaching,” Wynegar said. But some time away had him itching for a return. At first, Wynegar remained close to his Florida home, helping out the catchers and hitters at Rollins College in the Orlando suburbs. That’s where coaching got in his blood. “After the first season, I said to my wife (Debbie), ‘I loved that. That was fun,’ ” said Wynegar, a 55-year-old native of York, Pa. It turned even more entertaining in his return to the pros. Wynegar served as an instructor in the Texas organization from 1995 through 2002, then spent four seasons, then spent four seasons as Milwaukee’s major league hitting instructor. Under his guidance, the Brewers established a franchise record with 327 doubles in 2005.


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SWB Yankees