Q&A with Mark Newman

Newman fills us in on the status of Rookie Davis

Yankees Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman, responsible for both player development and scouting, sits down for a Q&A session to give us his thoughts on the most recent International signings, including Luis Torrens and Alexander Palma, injury updates on the likes of Mason Williams, Jose Campos, Manny Banuelos, Jordan Cote, Rookie Davis, and others, and much more!

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's start with the International signings this year, beginning with Yancarlos Baez. Give us your thoughts on him.

Mark Newman: 6-foot-2, 170 [pound] switch-hitter [and] shortstop. He's a projection prospect. He's got a very projectable body. He certainly catches the ball and throws the ball well enough to play shortstop. He's in the average run range right now but we think he's going to grow and get stronger, and maybe even run a little bit better in time. We'll see. He's a middle of the field player and we think he's got some upside, but it is a projection prospect.

PinstripesPlus.com: It almost sounds like a Cito Culver type case. Is that a fair comparison?

Newman: He's not as sophisticated a player coming out as Cito was but he's younger, he's 16 [years old].

PinstripesPlus.com: Give us your scouting report on Luis Torrens, the catcher from Venezuela.

Newman: He can really hit. He's a legit hitter. We're converting him from third base to catcher and we've seen enough of him, and saw enough of him before the signing period, to think that he's going to be a really good defender. He's 6-foot-1, 175 [pounds] but he's 16 years old.

PinstripesPlus.com: You said he can hit -- is the power something you could even grade at this point?

Newman: Well we think he's going to have power. He can hit the ball over the fence now as a 16-year old so we think the power will emerge over time and he shows power occasionally now. We like him offensively and we think he's going to be a plus defender in the future. He was one of the top ranked guys in the International market.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to Alexander Palma then -- what can you tell us about him?

Newman: Right fielder, runs average, throws plus, and has power. We like the bat. We think he's going to fit in well as a corner outfielder. He's got the tools. He's got enough skills right now that he's got a very good chance to hit.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about the Cuban left-hander, Omar Luis Rodriguez. What's the book on him?

Newman: 19 years old, was the number one starter on their Junior National team a couple of years ago, the year they played in Thunder Bay. We've seen him 88-93. He can really pitch. He can change speeds and spin the ball. Obviously we like him, we payed him $4 million.

PinstripesPlus.com: I'm assuming he's a guy who could come States-side as early as next year, no?

Newman: Yep, we expect that out of him.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to some injury updates if you don't mind. Reports are that Jose Campos probably won't pitch this year again -- is that because he had surgery or because he's working behind the scenes on building up arm strength while the end of the season draws closer?

Newman: He's just building arm strength. He's in a throwing program right now.

PinstripesPlus.com: What about Manny Banuelos?

Newman: He's in a throwing program [too] right now and we'll see how that goes. We don't know if he'll be back. It's doubtful on Campos and we don't know about Manny at this point.

PinstripesPlus.com: If he's able to get through the throwing program, is he a candidate for the Arizona Fall League?

Newman: It's possible, yes. He pitched there a couple of years ago.

PinstripesPlus.com: Jordan Cote and Joey Maher have been placed on the 60-day disabled list -- is that more of a move to limit their innings and free up roster spots or do they have serious injuries?

Newman: We want to slow them down. They're a little bit tender and there's only 25 days left in the season so by putting them on the 60 [day DL] it frees up a roster spot for somebody else and we've got a lot of players and not enough roster spots.

PinstripesPlus.com: What about Greg Bird? He was supposed to be back by now, no?

Newman: Yeah, he had a little back problem and those things can be difficult, and it has been difficult for him. He's looking like he's going to be playing next week, sometime next week we think.

PinstripesPlus.com: What's the deal with Rookie Davis. Like Bird I thought he would have been back by now.

Newman: He had a little arm issue for a while and then he got an awful viral infection, flu on plus-plus. He lost like twenty pounds in a week. He was really weakened physically and he's just working himself back into shape. He's fine now but he got hammered.

PinstripesPlus.com: Is he a guy that could come back and pitch in games or are you going to take it slower with him since he lost all that weight?

Newman: We've got to make sure he's strong and he's pitching well. He's weakened physically so we don't want him to force velocity and hurt himself so we're going to take our time with him, but he's making progress.

PinstripesPlus.com: Taylor Morton is on the DL too and didn't pitch well at all prior to that. What's going on with him?

Newman: He's got a bit of an arm issue that we've got to deal with. He was trying to pitch his way through it and probably shouldn't have, but he's a pretty tough guy and a very competitive guy. We probably won't see him on the mound until Instructional mini-camp.

PinstripesPlus.com: Mason Williams is on the DL -- is it anything serious?

Newman: His non-throwing shoulder popped out when he dove [for a ball]. It's not bad. It goes back in and he could play right after it but don't want this thing to continue so he's in New York seeing our team doctor. We're trying to figure out a program for him; can he manage through exercise or do we have to scope his shoulder? We're not sure yet what we're going to do but he's had the problem a couple of times so we're just trying to come up with the right strategy to deal with it going forward. He's had a great year, he has had 11 home runs, put on 25 pounds in the offseason, and he's really doing well.

PinstripesPlus.com: This injury bug, are you starting to get frustrated with all the injuries you've had this season?

Newman: It's the worst injury year we've ever had since I've been here, and that's from the Major League to the Dominican Summer League. But that stuff happens and you have to work your way through it. That's what we're doing.

PinstripesPlus.com: Are you pleased with the progress that Slade Heathcott is making now that he's back?

Newman: Yep. He just needs to stay healthy and focused on what he needs to do to be a Major League player. Staying healthy is number one but he's got big tools. He can be a really good player if he improves. He's got to improve his game but if commits to that he can be a very, very good player.

PinstripesPlus.com: Where are in you in Ravel Santana's comeback? He got off to a bad start but seems to be coming around lately.

Newman: Terrible start but he's doing all right now. He's playing well. He's coming back from a serious injury and we had to adjust his contacts and glasses when he got to Staten Island, but I think he's doing fine now..

PinstripesPlus.com: Is he not a candidate for lasik surgery?

Newman: I don't think so but we'll figure that out in the offseason.

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