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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 1/13/22

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BP’s top Yankees prospects; New Low-A skipper Balkovec meets media; Matt Olson’s top targets; Yanks’ IFA bonus pool set; Eric Hinske considered for coaching job

2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game

MLB.com | Bryan Hoch: It’s not every day that a new minor league manager gets a press conference, but when you’re making history just by filling out a lineup card, then it’s worth it. Yankees minor league coach Rachel Balkovec was tabbed to become manager of the Low-A Tampa Tarpons in 2022, and she met with the media yesterday afternoon over Zoom. Balkovec talked about trailblazing and how the Yankees approached her for the job, but she also discussed working with prospect Jasson Dominguez last season and how she looks forward to continuing his development in 2022.

Also of minor note from an organizational standpoint, the Yankees confirmed a notable promotion. Since walking away from the game in 2007, Kevin Reese (briefly a Yankee in 2005-06) has risen from Scout to Director of Pro Scouting in 2015 and Senior Director of Player Development in 2017. Now, he’s added an even loftier title to his role: Vice President of Player Development. It’s a lofty role, right below Brian Cashman in the Yankees’ hierarchy among other known VPs, like Damon Oppenheimer, Michael Fishman, and Tim Naehring. Reese is only 43, too, so don’t be surprised to continue seeing his name throughout the game for quite awhile.

Baseball Prospectus | Jeffrey Paternostro and BP Prospect Staff: Speaking of Dominguez, BP released its annual list of the top prospects in the Yankees’ system. It’s behind a paywall, so I won’t reveal its secrets, but one note of intrigue is that while familiar names are at the top in Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza (plus a pleasant surprise in Double-A arm Randy Vasquez at No. 3), Dominguez fell to No. 6. On the plus side, other outlets aren’t nearly as down on Dominguez. On the negative, well, as BP notes, he did hit the ball on the ground a lot last year.

MLB Trade Rumors | Anthony Franco: Whenever baseball decides to actually resume, first baseman Matt Olson will be one of the top trade targets on the market. We’ve discussed Olson’s potential fit on the Yankees, but who else might be in contention for the A’s slugger? Some possible competitors include the Brewers, Rangers, Mariners, and even the Braves if they decide to let Freddie Freeman walk. (Of course, should that come to fruition, the Yankees should be all over Freeman.)

Baseball America | Ben Badler: The new international free agency period is set to open on Saturday, and the bonus allocations have been settled for all 30 teams. As expected, the Yankees will have $5,179,700 to make their signings (outside of agreements for under $10K), and the most likely outcome is that a good chunk of that pool will go toward 17-year-old shortstop Roderick Arias, the top prospect in the class per MLB Pipeline. Worth noting: Teams cannot trade pool money for this class.

MLB Trade Rumors | Mark Polishuk: The last bit of news today is a coaching rumor. The Yankees have an assistant hitting coach job to fill with Eric Chavez now in the main role on the Mets, and they do seem to be leaning on getting another former player for that spot. One name being floated is actually a World Series champion Yankee: Eric Hinske. The former 2009 role player and 2002 AL Rookie of the Year with Toronto has been coaching since hanging up his cleats and was actually a scout in the Yankees’ organization for a hot minute (or month) in 2013, helping New York sign Brian McCann.

Hinske was quickly picked up to join the Cubs as an assistant hitting coach that very offseason, and he won a World Series ring in 2016. Since then, he has also coached with the Angels and Diamondbacks, where he served in a similar role until being let go in June 2021. Anyway, here’s Hinske homering off another classic “Remember A Guy,” Ricky Romero. Enjoy: