NEW YORKFinally, there is cause for optimism when the Yankees survey their pitching prospects.
Injuries and trades had taken their toll on top arms throughout the organization. Such pitchers as Tony Armas Jr., Eric Milton, Jason Arnold, Ted Lilly and Zach Day were shipped elsewhere in trades. Others like Brandon Claussen, Sean Henn, Randy Keisler, Edison Reynoso and Jon Skaggs had serious arm injuries.
With Claussen and Henn back and throwing well, the picture is more promising. "They are both going good, and Claussen is way ahead of schedule," farm director Gordon Blakeley said.
Claussen, 24, started the season at high Class A Tampa instead of Triple-A Columbus because the organization was wary of sending him into cold weather, 10 months after having Tommy John surgery.
"We are waiting for the weather to lock in before he goes there, but he is pitching well enough to be there," Blakeley said.
Claussen, a 34th-round draft-and-follow pick in 1998, made 15 starts for Columbus last year before having surgery. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefty spent the winter in Tampa and was throwing in spring training, well ahead of the normal 12 months recovery time for Tommy John.
Henn, a 26th-round draft-and-follow selection in 2000, opened eyes at short-season Staten Island in 2001 when he went 3-1, 3.00 in 42 innings. He tallied 49 strikeouts while walking just 15 thanks to a 96 mph fastball.
After sitting out last season, the 22-year-old lefthander has looked sharp early this year in Tampa.
"He was at 94 mph in April and his fastball was 96 mph when we signed him," Blakeley said. "We gave him the money ($1.8 million) we did because we liked him so much."
Unlike Claussen, Henn isnt going anywhere. "He missed all of last year so we want him to stay (in Tampa) this year and go from there," Blakeley said.
Mark Phillips, the hard-throwing lefty acquired from the Padres in the Rondell White trade in March, was getting in pitching shape in extended spring training. Instructors were refining his mechanics.
Outfielder Rudy Guillen was off to a .215-1-11 start at low Class A Battle Creek. He had struck out 16 times and walked just four, giving him a .262 on-base percentage.
Previous organization report: Andy Beal
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