Yankees bolster bullpen with Wohlers

By Josh Boyd

June 30, 2001

The Yankees made their second move in a week to bolster a bullpen that has been the three-time defending World Series champions’ weakest link this year. They sent 19-year-old Ricardo Aramboles to Cincinnati in exchange for Mark Wohlers. That acquistion follows the June 23 trade of top shortstop prospect D’Angelo Jimenez to the Padres for Jay Witasick, like Wohlers a hard-throwing righthander.

Wohlers, 31, saved 97 games for the Braves between 1995-97 and is familiar with Yankee Stadium after serving up a crucial game-winning home run to Jim Leyritz in the 1996 World Series. Wohlers is armed with an upper-90s fastball, and was 3-1, 3.94 in 32 innings out of the Reds bullpen this year. But he hasn’t been a dominating force since 1997, recording a total of eight saves over the last four years while battling extreme control problems.

Regarded as one of the Yankees’ better pitching prospects, Aramboles has gone 8-5, 3.79 between high Class A Tampa and Triple-A Columbus in 2001. Aramboles originally signed with the Marlins in 1996 before that deal was ruled invalid by the commissioner’s office because he was underage. New York signed the coveted Dominican prospect in December 1997.

An elbow injury knocked Aramboles out for most of the 1999 season and required Tommy John surgery. He returned at Class A Greensboro last year and went 5-13, 4.31. His fastball regularly touches 94 mph, and he also throws an outstanding changeup and improving breaking ball. Yankees vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said that while Aramboles always has had good control, he nees to work on his command and focusing his attention on repeating his mechanics.