Yankees Finding A Home For Mustelier





NEW YORK—In two seasons at four levels of the Yankees organization, Ronnier Mustelier has proven he can hit. Now the Yankees are in the process of finding a position for the Cuban utility man.

"He has a very short stroke and pretty good balance," Yankees vice president Mark Newman said of the 27-year-old native of Santiago de Cuba, who signed with the Yankees for $50,000 on June 7, 2011. "He strikes out once in every seven at-bats. His walks are below-average but he puts the ball in play."

Mustelier batted .314/.371/.488 with 15 home runs and 69 RBIs in 114 games between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"He played third, second, left and right," Newman said. "We are trying to find out where his best defensive position is and what our needs are."

Newman tends to think it's left field.

"He can run and cover ground," Newman said of the 5-foot-10, 210 pounder. "He can also play right. He improved defensively over the course of the season."

Mustelier, who is playing in the Mexican League, isn't on the Yankees' 40-man roster. He could be added this offseason, but there is still a lot of road to cover before he can be considered a serious threat to make the major league club.

If Nick Swisher leaves via free agency the Yankees will have a need for an outfielder.

Zoilo Almonte and Melky Mesa, who was a September callup, are ahead of Mustelier within the system and neither are expected to be in the big leagues next season.

Yet, in two years Mustelier has proven at four levels he can hit and that will get anybody noticed.

YANKEE DOODLES

• A big part of the Yankees' pitching future spent September in Tampa at the minor league complex. Righthanders Michael Pineda and Jose Campos and lefthander Manny Banuelos were in a throwing program that didn't include mound work. Pineda had shoulder surgery this year, and Campos and Banuelos battled injuries that didn't require surgery.

• Righthander Diego Moreno, who was part of the A.J. Burnett trade with the Pirates, was also in Tampa working back from elbow surgery. Moreno, 26, missed the entire 2012 season and has yet to throw an official pitch as a member of the Yankees.