I have a couple of pieces up on SI.com today. The first is my Rookie of the Year Awards Watch. It was a frustrating column to write this week because of the glut of strong rookies in the National League and lack thereof in the American League, though I squeezed in a lot of NL honorable mentions in the introduction. [Update: I initially had an old column linked. The link is now fixed to this week's Awards Watch.]
The second is my look at the top waiver-trade pickups of the Wild Card era. No Yankees make my top 5, though the botched Pat Listach trade in 1996 yielded Graeme Lloyd, who after struggling mightily down the stretch, got some huge outs in the postseason as the Yankees won their first championship under Joe Torre. Other notable Yankee waiver trades were the returns of Mike Stanley in 1997 and Luis Sojo in 2000, and the dumping of Mariano Duncan and addition of Rey Sanchez as a second-base solution in ’97. Meanwhile, Sterling Hitchcock went 5-1 with a 3.78 ERA for the Cardinals after the Yankees traded him to St. Louis in August 2003.
Elsewhere, the latest edition of Kevin Goldstein’s Future Shock at Baseball Prospectus kicks off with good words on a pair of red-hot Yankee prospects:
Dellin Betances, RHP, Yankees(High-A Tampa): 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K
Of Betances 11 starts this year, eight of them could arguably be described as dominant, with none more so than last night’s when Betances retired the last 14 batters he faced, nine via the strikeout. With a fastball that is all the way back (94-98 mph) and control that we’ve never seen before, the 22-year-old has whiffed 68 over 57 innings while allowing just 31 hits and walking 15. Only an ugly ttrack record when it comes to staying healthy prevents him from being labeled with an elite tag.
Brandon Laird, 3B, Yankees(Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre): 4-for-4, 2 HR (2), 3 R, 2 RBI
It’s been a darn good year overall for the Yankee farm system, and one of the brightest points of light has been Laird, who entered the year as a nice little hitter with some upside, and is now considered one of the better offensive prospects in the system. After batting .291/.355/.523 in the Eastern League, you couldn’t have asked for a better Triple-A debut, but much like Jesus Montero, it’s hard to figure out where his big league future lies if he remains a Yankee.