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Arizona to the Big Apple

Last season the Yankees sent Juan Miranda, Austin Jackson, Kevin Whelan, Phil Hughes and Humberto Sanchez to the Arizona Fall League.

This year they'll be sending Ian Kennedy, Austin Romine, Brandon Laird and Colin Curtis to the Surprise Rafters, with 3 spots TBA (possibly Zack Kroenke and Mike Dunn).

We all remember IPK's appearance on the scene in 2007, when he was a lights out September call-up.  The market corrected itself, and he got trashed in 2008.  He had a few good outings (I still believe he can be a reliable big league starter), but too many clunkers- he didn't make the 4th inning in 5 of his ten starts.  He was back in Scranton by June.  He got called up again when Joba got hurt, got one start, got slapped around by the Angels and got sent back down.

He's missed most of this season with an aneurysm under the arm, similar to David Cone's surgery in '96.  Because of that, he's pitched only 4 games for Scranton- which is a shame because he looked ready to be brilliant, going 22.2 innings allowing 18 hits and 7BB against 25 Ks. 

Austin Romine is the catching prospect so often lost in the shadow of Jesus Montero.  He's a 2007 2nd-round pick out of high school, and he has refused to move slowly as he refines his craft.  He spent all of 2009 with high A Tampa, going .272/.319/.429, a step back from his stats in Charleston.  Still, he's only 20 years old (21 in November).  He started the season ranked the Yanks' 4th best prospect, and BA's choice for catcher in 3 seasons.  He could get a boost of confidence from the hitter-friendly AFL.

Brandon Laird is another 2007 draftee, going in the 27th round.  Like Romine, he spent the season at high A, going .270/.330/.421 in 122 games.  He mainly played third this season with Brad Suttle on the DL.  He's been electric since the All-Star break (.294/.373/.520) and it's worth seeing if he can ride this hot streak up to Trenton next season.

24-year old Colin Curtis is just about at the end of his prospect status, and he's reached the point in his minor league career when he has to be added to the 40-man or be eligible for the Rule 5 draft.  He plays all 3 outfield spots, and has always had a little power and a little speed, but he only hit .252/.321/.369 this season at AA and AAA.  Sending him to the AFL will help the Yanks decide where he fits in their plans- if the Yanks opt not to resign Matsui, Damon, Hairston Jr. and Nady, Curtis will be either the 4th outfielder or the injury reserve.