Smith, Mullee Open Eyes For Yankees

NEW YORK—One was taken in the 24th round of the 2010 draft and immediately converted from a shortstop to pitcher. The other watched the 2012 draft begin and end without hearing his name.

Entering the 2016 season, Conor Mullee and Alex Smith aren’t knocking on the Yankees’ door but the righthanders have provided hope for late picks and others who don’t get picked and put themselves in position to some day pitch in the big leagues.

Mullee has had to battle after being a late pick, going through the conversion from player to pitcher and two Tommy John surgeries that sidelined him from 2011-2012.

“It’s been pretty impressive the way he has come back and pitched,” Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer said of the Saint Peter’s (N.J.) who pitched at high Class A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2015. In 36 relief appearances the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder went a combined 4-4, 2.91. He allowed 52 hits, struck out 56 and walked 16 in 59 innings.

Mullee pitches with a fastball clocked at 92-93 mph that touches 95.

“Like with a lot of conversion guys there were arm problems,” Oppenheimer said.

Smith, who pitched for New Haven (Conn.), worked for Tampa and Trenton in 2015, combining for a 2-3, 1.67 record in 41 games.

“He never touched 90 (mph) in college,” Presbott said of the 26-year-old who is 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds. “He pitches at 92 to 94 and touches 96.

According to Oppenheimer, Smith has caught the organization’s attention with his progress from season to season.

“He has gotten better each year,” Oppenheimer said. “His fastball is good and he has a good slider.”


• The Yankees on Dec. 28 acquired LHP Aroldis Chapman from the Reds in exchange for righthander Caleb Cotham and three minor leaguers: righthander Rookie Davis, third baseman Eric Jagielo and second baseman Tony Renda.

• The Yankees signed 25-year-old Dominican outfielder Cesar Puello, a former top prospect of the Mets who was released in August after he had spent virtually all season on the disabled list with a back issue. He was suspended for 50 games in August 2013 because of his entanglement in the Biogenesis and has not reached the majors.

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