Yankees Midseason Report





Best Player: Throughout his seven years in pro ball, Dominican shortstop Eduardo Nunez has displayed a strong throwing arm, and his bat started showing life in 2007. Yet, some whispered that he was a "tools guy" who needed to be pushed. Nunez responded with a big 2009 campaign with Double-A Trenton that earned him passage on the 40-man roster.

Through 314 at-bats with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, Nunez hit .309/.355/.414 with 18 doubles and 15 stolen bases. "He has the potential to be an everyday shortstop," general manager Brian Cashman said. "Last year at Double-A he made all the plays in the field and is doing the same thing this year at Triple-A. He is a good athlete with all the tools."

Biggest Leap Forward: "That guy can play," Alex Rodriguez said this spring, nodding toward 22-year-old third baseman Brandon Laird. "You watch him."

In his first 307 at-bats for Trenton, Laird made Rodriguez look prophetic by batting .293/.348/.550 with an Eastern League-leading 19 home runs and 79 RBIs.

Laird, a 27th-round pick in 2007 from Cypress (Calif.) JC, already had established career highs in nearly every category. "He has just been getting better and better," Cashman said of Laird, whose brother Gerald is the Tigers' catcher.

Biggest Disappointment: Andrew Brackman ran up a 13.50 ERA in April and seemed like a shoo-in here, but he got back on track and reached Double-A.

But fellow Trenton starter Jeremy Bleich, a lefthander from Stanford, went 3-2, 4.79 in eight starts, while compiling more walks (28) than strikeouts (26). Then he had surgery to repair a torn left labrum and was lost for the year. A supplemental first-rounder in 2008, taken 44th overall, Bleich is the highest Yankees pick to sign from that draft.

YANKEE DOODLES

• Righthander Hector Noesi, a candidate for biggest leap forward himself, was not fazed by a promotion to Double-A. He went 5-1, 1.26 in six June starts, while striking out 39 and walking seven over 43 innings. Twice he struck out 10 in one game.

• Outfielder Neil Medchill, who hit 14 home runs in his pro debut for short-season Staten Island last season, was demoted to low Class A Charleston after hitting just .178/.260/.267 in 180 at-bats for high Class A Tampa.