Vazquez Readies To Make Power Play For Yankees

NEW YORK—First baseman Jorge Vazquez led the Triple-A International League with 32 home runs last season, yet he stands little chance of earning regular play in New York any time soon.

The 29-year-old joined the organization in December 2008 after spending a decade in the Mexican League, where he slugged 151 homers for the Quintana Roo franchise.

While Vazquez has produced at Double-A and Triple-A for the Yankees, the righthanded hitter finds himself in a similar position as former Yankees minor league slugger Juan Miranda. He's too good for the IL but not nearly good enough to surpass Mark Teixeira on the depth chart. And like Miranda, Vazquez lacks the mobility to play any position but first base.

The Yankees invited Vazquez to big league spring training, where manager Joe Girardi and hitting coach Kevin Long can evaluate him. They might even gush over him like they did last March.

"If he can be a little more consistent and play better defense, those are the small things that can get you over the hump," minor league director Mark Newman said. "He can make himself a big league player.

"He goes through periods where he plays well, and there are periods where his concentration and focus waiver. Maybe it's frustration about not being in the big leagues, but you learn in Triple-A that you only worry about what you can control."

Vazquez certainly has controlled and punished pitchers in the Mexican Pacific League this winter. Playing for his native Culiacan, he batted .330/.397/.618 (70-for-212) with 18 homers and 60 RBIs in 56 games.

That followed a Triple-A season in which he batted .262/.314/.516 with 93 RBIs (second in the IL) in 455 at-bats for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Vazquez turned heads during 2011 big league camp thanks to a 14-for-34 (.412) showing that included three homers, eight RBIs and several game-winning hits.


• The Yankees signed four-time Indians top prospect Adam Miller to a minor league deal. The 27-year-old righthander recovered from two years lost to injury to appear in 31 games last year. Miller struck out 8.0 per nine innings and topped out near 96 mph in the bullpen, but he also racked up most of those strikeouts in high Class A.

• New York also signed corner outfielder Preston Mattingly, a career .232/.276/.335 hitter in the low minors. He's the son of six-time Yankees all-star and current Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.