New York Yankees possible targets: Internal Options

A few names from the farm who could reap big rewards if called upon
07/17/2014 10:20 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Could Nik Turley be a light at the end of the Yankees' rotation flux tunnel?(AP)
Over the course of the All-Star break, we have been looking at potential trade possibilities for the Yankees, throwing out some names who could make sense if the Yanks are looking to add a starting pitcher or two and/or another bat for the lineup.

But within that, there are those who are asking "what about internal options?" and wondering who, if anybody, could provide a spark (a la Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang in 2005) by being called up from the minors.

A couple of the names on the list are obvious answers, but we've picked out a pair of starters, a reliever, and four position players who have not played a game in pinstripes yet but could, given the Yankees' needs, play a vital role if given the chance.

We start with the most obvious name, one who has been bandied about by everyone from casual fans to prospect hounds to even general manager Brian Cashman himself. While his defense at second base may still be a bit of a question, Refsnyder has been strong at the plate in 2014, hitting .342 with six homers, 30 RBI and 19 doubles in 60 games at Double-A Trenton and posting a .316-6-16 line in 33 games at Triple-A so far. Cashman has mentioned that Refsnyder may be a possibility to come up later in the year to help in the outfield (his original spot before a position switch in 2013), and if his bat translates, the team will find a spot for him in the short-term for sure.

Looking at straight facts, the Yankees don't seem to have a fit for a lefty-hitting first baseman/DH type - but as said above with Refsnyder, if the bat translates, you can find a spot, especially in September. Roller pounded Eastern League pitching earlier this year while with Trenton (.385-9-23 in 35 games) before being promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and his line so far (.270-8-27 in 59 games) made minor-league signee Russ Canzler expendable enough to be released last month. The Yankees didn't seem to have a need for a first baseman/DH who could play a little outfield in 2007, either, but no one looks back and complains that it was a bad idea to bring up Shelley Duncan, do they?

Pirela has been Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's leadoff man for most of the season and been a great table-setter, hitting .321 with eight homers, 37 RBI, 15 doubles, and 12 steals en route to being the RailRiders' lone All-Star. He's also very versatile, having played first, second, left and right this year with past experience at short and third as well, and all that combined could make him a dangerous weapon; after all, although Jerry Hairston Jr. wasn't a strong a hitter numbers-wise, he did fit that profile very well for the 2009 Yankees.

Like Pirela, Garcia has bounced around the diamond this year in Scranton, playing third base as well as all three outfield spots - and also like Pirela, it hasn't affected his bat. The 29-year-old Cuban has posted a .302 average with seven homers, 31 RBI, 10 steals, and 13 doubles in 63 games for the RailRiders so far, and could be right behind Pirela in terms of filling the Yankees' need for versatility. For those who look back fondly on Ronnier Mustelier but remember how his production tailed off once he was injured in spring training last year, this might work best if the Bombers strike while Garcia's iron is hot.

With Shane Greene now seemingly in the rotation (at least for the short-term), the Yankees' two best "unused" options down below may be the lefty-righty combo of Turley and Mitchell. As far as Mitchell goes, he has just four innings of game experience above Double-A and may not seem "ready" on the surface (2-5, 4.55 ERA in 14 starts at Trenton), but his four innings with the RailRiders yielded three-hit shutout ball and he has already been up with the team on two occasions as a "just in case" reliever, so clearly, he is on the radar.

Turley, meanwhile, had an arm injury earlier this year and went from 40-man addition to roster crunch casualty as a result, but he is back and has now made four starts at Triple-A since finishing his rehab. The RailRiders were his ticketed destination had he been healthy - which means he could have already been an option had he not been hurt - but his left-handedness and solid minor-league numbers last year (11-8, 3.79 in 27 starts at Trenton and one at SWB) could put him back on the map quickly.

The Yankees' two bullpen acquisitions so far this year have both been lefties, and the rest of the flux in the relief corps has seen a parade of right-handed arms come up and down from Triple-A to supplement the quartet of David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances.

Danny Burawa is one that hasn't gotten that shot yet, but he has been a rock in the RailRiders' bullpen; only Jim Miller has pitched more relief innings (41 to Burawa's 35 1/3), and Burawa has racked up 48 strikeouts in those 35 1/3 innings while recording four holds, three saves, and a more than 2-to-1 K/BB ratio (48 to 22, to be exact). In addition, while his 5.65 ERA looks high on paper, one bad outing on July 6 (when he allowed six runs in just one-third of an inning) inflated that number by nearly two full runs.

Tommy Kahnle, who put up similar numbers alongside Burawa in Trenton in 2013, was taken in the Rule 5 Draft last winter and has been solid in Colorado's bullpen (2-1, 2.68 in 50 1/3 innings) so far, so perhaps Burawa can follow in those footsteps if given his major-league shot in pinstripes.

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