Minor League Mondays: Three Up Three Down

Mood Music - Star Wars by Buckethead

This is a new concept I'd like to weave in from time to time to show who I think is moving up the depth chart with good play and who is struggling and moving down:

Three Up:

David Phelps (SP): Season Stats (AAA) - 46.1 IP, 2-4, 3.69 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 8.16 K/9, 2.72 BB/9, 1.29 WHIP.  Phelps has picked up at AAA right where he started last season.  He limits his walks, keeps the ball in the park, and between him and Hector Noesi, appear to be the most ready to contribute at the major league level.  Already boasting solid control, the next step for Phelps will be improving his secondary pitches.

Kevin Whelan (RP): Seasn Stats (AAA) - 19.2 IP - 0-1, 2.29 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 9.15 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, 0.97 WHIP, 12 SV.  Might this be the year that the 27 year old Whelan finally breaks through and makes it into the big leagues?  While he has always been an extreme strikeout pitcher, Whelan has done a much better job of limiting his walks this season, serving as Scranton's primary closer.  If he continues to pitch well, there could be a role for him in the major league bullpen, a la Jonathan Albaladejo last season.

Robert Lyerly (3B): Season Stats (A+) - 181 PA, .339/.376/.500, 3 HR, 3 SB - Lyerly, the Yankees 6th round draft pick in 2009 out of UNC Charlotte, has hit the ball very well both last season and this season, showing a mix of speed and power, having already hit 11 doubles and 4 triples this season.  In a system that is paper thin on talent at the corners, Lyerly might be a player who could move up quickly.

Three Down:

Andrew Brackman (SP): Season Stats (AAA) - 41.0 IP, 2-3, 6.59 ERA, 6.00 FIP, 6.17 K/9, 6.17 BB/9, 1.89 WHIP.  Well, the numbers certainly aren't pretty, with the huge amount of walks and baserunners surrendered being the glaring issue.  Being the giant that he is, Brackman has a tendancy to struggle with his delivery and finding his release point, and as a result, started out very poorly in both 2009 and 2010 as well.  I think that Brackman can turn it around, but his first eight starts have been fairly disastrous.

Brandon Laird (1B/3B): Season Stats (AAA) - 151 PA, .241/.285/.340, 2 HR.  Following a very productive stint at AA to begin 2010, Laird has largely disappointed.  The exciting power that Laird showcased in the lower levels of minors was not on display in the Arizona Fall League or in Spring Training, and Laird has carried his slump with him to AAA.  While the 1B and 3B positions are seemingly blocked for the immediate future, the organization's lack of depth at the corner infield and outfield positions gives Laird inherent value if, Cervelli forbid, there is an injury or he is needed as a backup with the big club.  Start hitting again, please.

Jose A. Ramirez (SP): Season Stats (A/A+) - 39.2 IP, 1-6, 7.03 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 8.62 K/9, 4.76 BB/9, 1.79 WHIP.  After a solid season of starting at A ball in 2010, Ramirez was promoted to High A Tampa to begin 2011.  After six starts, Ramirez was 0-5 with an 8.14 ERA, and was sent back to Charleston.  As a 21 year old in only his second year in the system, let's hope this is only a minor step back for Ramirez.

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