A Month of Fundays

A New York Yankees, Giants, Knicks, Rangers and other stuff blog.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Rangers Prospect Camp

Fresh off their striking second day of the NHL Draft, the Rangers will hold their annual prospect tomorrow, which will run all week and probably provide lots of good video.  Because of the lack of ones and twos, and the absolutely needless trade of Saarela, the camp will be lacking in broad star power.  Still, there will be some exciting guys there, lead by the Rangers' top prospect, Pavel Buchnevich.   Ryan Gropp, last year's first pick - a second rounder - will be there, too, and he's coming off a big year in the WHL whick also saw him get signed.  Robin Kovacs, the Swede from last years draft will also be on hand, and so will Adam Graves, the big D with the big shot.

All of yesterday's picks, except for Tarmo Reunanan, who is still recovering from the injury that caused him to fall to the Rangers.  But it will be fun to see just how great "great skaters" Sean Day and Tim Gettinger look.  As well as getting our first glimpses of Gabriel Fontaine and Ty Ronning.

The Ranger goalie roster looks short.  Brandon Halverson, McKenzie Skapski and the just drafted Tyler Wall will all be there, but Igor Shesterkin and Adam Huska will not, and that kind of sucks.  I happen to think they both have futures with the Rangers.

The rest of the previously drafted forwards include, C Brad Morrison,  C Stephen Fogarty, and  C Boo Nieves.  With Nieves plus Buch and the new guys, we could see some very fancy skating.  Malte Stromwall, whom we signed here or there will be on hand, as well as the Three Plessa Brothers, who I've never heard of, but form a line, will they bring the foil? Nick Betz, Adam Chapel, Michael Joly, Reid Duke, CJ Smith, Zachary Zborosky and Dmitri Buinitsky round out the F's.

Joining Day and Graves on D will be former pick Sergei Zborovskiy, and Calle Andersson. Other D's include big guy Troy Donnay, who's still figuring it out, and Turner Ottenbreit, and Rylan Yaremko.

Not a first rounder in the bunch. Which I think is the first time, unles Skjei wasn't hear last year. Still, a pretty exciting bunch of top end skaters and we'll see where it leads.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Rangers Draft Review

The Rangers finally got to do what they do best - make some picks.   That is what is so maddening about their recent drunken distribution of first and second round picks.  They might have won a cup, even, by now if they had just kept working the draft and finding good players.  The heroic scouting team changed a little last summer after Gorton ascended to the GM's roll, as Steve Greeley became Gordie Clark's right hand man, and Nickolai Bobrov took over as Head European Scout from Anders Hedberg.  But it still seemed like classic Ranger Draft.

So let's take a look at the picks.

In round three the Rangers took LHS Sean Day.  This guy might be a ringer.  He was one of only 15 year olds ever to gain "exceptional" status and allowed to play as a 15 year old in the OHL.  Then his attention to detail was questioned, but he was also going through a family situation, and that probably explained his lack of attention.  These OHL coaches and scouts, and really coaches and scouts in all sports should read Maslow on need heirarchy, to wit, a kid who's troubled over family security, ain't gonna play his best.  Anyway, the Rangers may literally have caught a falling star with Sean Day.  Sort of like they did with Duclair and Saarela, wait a minute, now I'm scaring myself.   But, it was a great pick with huge upside.

In round four, they put Bobrov to work and picked another skilled LHS two way defenseman, this one from Finland. Tarmo Reunanen.  This was a big year for Finnish picks, and Tarmo may be a bit of a sleeper and he lost some time to injury, but he regained his health and is all you really want in a two way D. People might consider him a more conservative pick by the Rangers, but unless the focus issue Day was having was deeper than just teenage family stuff, I'd think the physically healthy guy might be the safer pick,  That said, they both look like outstanding values.

In round five, the Rangers took big Forward Tim Gettinger. Tim is listed as 6'5" as well as 6'6" so either way that's a big guy who should grow into a power forward.  Gettinger fell because he didn't live up to his own lofty expectations, because Tim is not only a tall forward, but he is also a legitimately great skater.  So, I wonder if he has inconsistent hands or something else.  Still he fits the Ranger great skating model, so let's see how he develops.

In round six, the Rangers took two guys. First, they took a real two way center in Gabriel Fontaine. Gabriel sort of fits the Derek Stepan profile, but he's not as productive on the offensive end a Derek was at the same age. But the Rangers really do always need two way players, if they don't want to repeat the kind of problems they had this year.

With their second pick in the 6th round, the Rangers took Goalie Tyler Wall.  Tyler had a great season, and is going on to play in the Big East for UMass this year and in the same conference as last year's hot Goalie pick Adam Huska.  Should be fun.  It's kind of amazing to me how the Rangers went from not being able to identify goalie prospects to picking good ones most years.  

Finally, in round seven, the Rangers took a highly skilled forward who scored 31 goals in the WHL named Ty Ronning.  In doing so they met their bloodlines quota, and they also added a kid who might have been a first or second rounder if he was just a few inches taller.  He's currently 5'9" and idolizes Johnny Gaudreau.  So this may have what it takes to make it.  He was more productive in WHL in the draft year than Ryan Gropp was, and look how well he's turning out.

So, in all, it was a surprisingly strong draft for the Rangers, who afterwards admitted they had been close to making deals in round one, but it sounded like the players they had targeted were not available when the picks in question came up.   Still, they salvaged a good one and I believe they have a first but no second yet next year.

Let's hope they add to next year's picks with this week's sell off.

This Week on the Blog

Okay, the drafts are all over, the Giants are off till July 28, and free agency starts for the NBA, NHL and MLB IFA markets this week.  Is that enough possible action for you?  Let's take a look.

Yankees: The Yanks still have Blake Rutherford and maybe a few others to sign from their recent draft.  And it will happen.  The guys who have already signed like Luaces and Jordan Scott are making loud noises witht their bats, taking their walks and stealing at will.  In fact, ther is bat noise going on all over the system for the first time in memory.  Last night, good ol' Tyler Austin hit three jacks, Aaron Judge hit #14 Gary Sanchez socked number 8 to not be forgotten.  Those three players are absolutely ready to play in the bigs and should all be up in the wake of the sell off.   And that opportunity should not be denied.

Knicks: The Knicks got Derrick Rose last week, then sat out the draft.  They've signed a couple of undrafteds to play for their summer league team, including the latest Plumlee.  Willy Hernangomez's agent says he is coming over.  Unfortunately, the Knicks are not on Kevin Durant list of visits, yet.   But since they can't contact him yet, that could change.  I hope they have a strong plan A, B, and C ready to go, and also, should things not work out for 2016-17 player wise, they should be ready to trade Melo and build around KP.

Rangers: The Rangers want Steven Stamkos.  I've felt that coming for years.  To get him, they are going to have to get their cap in order this week, and Gorton has said as much.  So we will probably see the sell off that we were expecting on night one of the draft.  Let's hope it brings back some of th young talent they lost out on during their cup chasing misadventures.  Let's hope it also brings more picks.  Also, let's when the trades do happen, it's the big contracts and not the RFA's.

Giants: The Giants still haven't addressed the OL.

So there it is.  Later this weekend and or early this week, I'll have a Ranger draft review and the GCL roster preview for the Yanks.

Have a great week everyone.

Rangers Trade for Nick Holden

After the draft the Rangers announced they had acquired 29 year old LHD Nick Holden from the Avalanche.  They used their 2017 4th, so they're down to just the Yandle 4th so far for next year.   Holden is a damn solid D, and good rates player who can kill penaties for the Rangers.  I still can't believe how bad our kill became last year.  Yikes.  I really like this move and like that he has two years left on his deal.  Hopefully, it also means they are dealing away one of the big contract D's they currently employ.

Stronger day, so far, for the Rangers.

Rangers Take Ty Ronning in the Seventh

Rangers went back to two of their premium drafting strategies in round 7.  First, they took a kid who fell on something he had no control over - size - and they also took "someone's kid."   Of everyone's is someone's kid, but when the Rangers do it, the kid is the scion of an established NHL clan.  In this case, Ty Ronning is Cliff Ronning's son.  Cliff played forever.  Ty, who is skillsy as all get out, is just 5'9" and 165, but he brought it at basically a point a game rate in the sand-papery WHL.  Here's the juice on taking little guys: sometimes they work out.  The Rangers have taken their share in guys Ryan Bourque and Christian Thomas, as well at St. Croix, and none have worked out yet.  An international FA they did get, MZA, has.   And they traded half of their future for MSL, so it's good to grow your own.  And Ronning might be a make it guy.  I like his profile better from the WHL than I would from the Q. And he idolizes Johnny Gaudreau, which most kids, short of not, should do.

Overall, it looks like the Ranger Scouts have bailed the franchise out yet again, with only limited picks.

I'll review this later.

Rangers Take a C and a G in the Sixth

The Rangers had two picks in the 6th, their own and the one they got from Florida the other day.  With them, they took C Gaberiel Fontaine, a surprising underproductive scorer from the Q.  He did better in the playoffs, but was nothing like a point a game during the regular season.  Bad teammates?  Next they took G Tyler Wall.  I don't know if this means they are going back to their old tradition of taking one G per draft, or if they intend to move one of their current G's in a trade over the next few days.  If they do, it better not be Shesterkin.

The Rangers on Day 2

For the first time in memory, I slept through the beginning of Day 2.  In fact, I woke up just as the Rangers were picking Sean Day the third.  Sean is a great skating, 6'2" 220 LHS Defenseman out of the OHL. I frantically searched to see if they had done anything else, but they stayed calm and just made their selection.  When they just let their scouts do their thing, which is picking great skaters with hands and upside, the Rangers are in alignment.  When they reach all over the place and give away their scouts' opportunities as the cherries on top of Hail Mary trades, they are not in alignment, they are in depseration and that rarely leads to successful outcomes.

In the Fourth, the Rangers took another LHS, puckmoving Defenseman, Tarmo Reunanen, from Finland.  He was listed very highly, so I assume this one is a ringer.  Btw, neither of the puckmoving D's they've taken scored at the rate McIlrath, the undertaker was scoring when the Rangers took him out of the WHL.

In the Fifth, the Rangers took jumbo power forward Tim Gettinger out of the OHL.  Gettinger is either 6'5" of 6'6" but said to have instincts.  I think he's also tough, and may be a sort of organizational replacement for Iverson, the really tough guy they took a few years ago and decided not to sign.

They have two picks coming up in the Sixth.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Rangers Are a Disaster

Last year, the Rangers went into the draft, Sather's last, knowing they were willing to trade Talbot and Hagelin.  They, then, for sure, turned down a first roung pick for Talbot, and ended up settling for a second and then throwing Hagelin into a move up trade.   Tonight, they went into the draft, Gorton's first as GM, knowing they were willing to trade just about anyone on their roster.  Some of whom would have brought back a one and MORE.  And what did they do?  Nada.  So, tomorrow they will no doubt end up selling low on some players -- like they did every time they threw a Duclair or a Saarela into a packake that already include a one or multime two's for guys who weren't gonna get it done. Where is the vision?  

Now the Rangers are short a ton of prospects and haven't picked a first rounder or won a Stanley Cup for 4 straight draft years. What could have been a tough, but smart and necessary night of work, is being blown off until tomorrow, when 30 of the best prospects will already be off the board.  I don't want to lose stars built around second round packages, so if anyone gets moved, there better be future one's coming back.

Rangers Draft: Day 1

The NHL Draft has just started.  Tonight it will just feature round one, with rounds 2 through 7 tomorrow.  The big question for us is, will the Rangers find a way to make a first round pick for the first time since they took Brady Skjei in 2012?  There has been a lot of chatter indicating that the Rangers are open for business.  They turned down an opportunity to pick up a first last time, to Asst. GM Jeff Gorton's apparenty consternation.  He's the GM now and will he flip the script?

Yank's Edel Luaces: Who Needs School?

GCL started today, and, though, because of time contraints, I can't do my team reports yet, the less loaded Yankee team GCL East won and the more loaded Yankee team got shut out.  Welcome to the GCL.  Anyway, we may have already identified a ringer.  You remember Luaces from the draft as having come from "no school."  We learned today that was because he probably didn't need it.  In his first pro game Edel went 2-4 with two JACKS, a walk and a stolen base.  What's even more delightful about this debut, is he did exactly what he said he could do in his post draft interviews.  Jordan Scott, on of the other athletic freaks from the draft was 0-3 with a walk, a stolen base and 2 outfield assists including one at home and one at second.  Nice start, and this draft already feels good.

Ranger Draft Stuff

Today could be a BIG DAY in Ranger History, and things could start moving fast at any moment, but most likely during the first round of the draft.   As is stands now, the Rangers don't have any picks until the 3rd round, but I expect them to turn their cap problem into picks today and tomorrow, then take a run at Stamkos or something.  During the Gordie Clark era he's always been a friendly avuncular guy on the Ranger Sites leading up to the Draft.  This year he's been beyond scarce.  So I'm expecting fireworks.

In Blog News, the GCL starts today, and the Yanks West team is LOADED, haven't seen the complete roster yet, or the Yanks East team roster at all but hopefully I'll get my usual posts up about both teams over the next few days.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Knicks Sit on Their Hands

The Knicks just wasted about 5 hours of my time doing nothing.  That is, doing nothing in the draft.  But by doing that they were doing something, first, I think they were realizing that there was going to be a pool of players that went undrafted from the second round who were as good as the guys who were drafted.  Second, I think they were reaching out to those players.  Almost  immediately after the draft WOJ announced the Knicks had signed Wichita St. swingman Ron Baker.  He's a good defender who can shoot.  Other guys who they were linked with, like Yogi Farrell, are also free to sign. So let's see what they do in the next few days on the UDFA side, they have a lot of spots to fill on the roster, as well as the Summer League roster, and not that much time to do it.

Yanks: Nolan Marinez Signed

The Yankees Annual Third Round Prep Pitching Stud, that loose armed fireballer with the developing curve, has indeed signed and will start his long and glorious Yankee career in the GCL.  The GCL starts tomorrow, and it is amazing that the Yanks got this done in time for him to get the full league experience.   Now we're just waiting on Blake Rutherford and to see if anything else can be worked out.  Go Nolan!  Go Yanks!

UPDATE: He signed for 1.15M.  That's probably a little higher than some expected, but should leave enough for the Yanks to still sign Blake Rutherford.  What's more, they could always just blow it out and go after another prep.

Knicks Draft Tonight

With less than an hour till the start of the 2016 NBA Draft, the Knicks still have no picks -- or at least none that we know about.  Phil's now talking to the press and says KP is doing the right things, and the hiring of Hornacek was not the impetus to them getting Rose yesterday.  He said they are exporing getting into tonight's draft, but nothing is imment.  We know that they have 3.3M they are allowed to us, as well as the extra 2 they picked up in the Rose trade.  What's more, if they somehow manage to get into the first round tonight, they can trade next year's one, though I don't know why they would.  Also, word's been floating around that Willy Hernangomez is indeed coming over.

I'll keep updating this post if anything happens.  Then I will or won't do some analysis afterwords.

Let's Go Knicks!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Knicks Deal for Rose, Cut Wroten

The Knicks today traded Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon to the Bulls for the Ghost of Derrick Rose, G Justin Holiday and a 2017 2nd rounder.  This marks the first time in Knick Cap history that they didn't not gratuitously send a package of future ones for a non-savior player.  Rose was of course, the league MVP in 2011.  But since then he's blown out an ACL and dealt with confidence issues.   Holiday is a placeholder who has not distinguished himself.

Though I was willing to trade Lopez, an Elite Rim Protecting 5, I was hoping it would be for a young, long term piece or pick to go with Kristaps.  Alas, that wasn't to be.  Jerian looked like he forgot how to play basketball last year, and I cant believe we got to unload Calderon.

The good thing about Rose is he turns back into cap room at the strike of midnight on 7/1/17.  He should also discourage the Knicks from handing out a longterm deal to any of this offseasons flawed PG class.

The Knicks also cut Tony Wroten.  So two guards enter, three guards leave.

Now we have to see what the rest of the plan looks like.  I could start tomorrow night at the draft, or sooner, if the Knicks have another trade to make.

As of right now they need a 2 and another 5, as well as improved depth at all spots.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Yankee Unforeseen Issue: The Light Has Gone on for Mr. Judge

Tonight, Aaron Judge was 4-5 with a homer to left and a homer to right.  That's a big game for anyone, but a pretty typical game for Judge in June: where he's hitting, hitting for power, stealing bases, playing D and walking more than he K's.  Till he hit AAA, Judge had cruised through the minors.  Once he got to AAA last year the veteran pitchers there fed him a steady diet of low and away.  And instead of laying off and taking his walks, he swung.  Maybe having such long arms made  him think he could reach them but that's over.   He's laying off the low and away and that enable him to wait for pitches he likes or walks, and thus the light has gone on.

Of course, the only problem is, is that the Yankees, who could really, really use a bat, and defense in a corner like Judge provides, would have to have one, two or three big injuries occur in the Yankee OF before he's called up. And Hicks, who is what he's always been, would probably get the first shot, and Gamel, who's already on the 40 could get the second.

This is a big problem.  And will we really have to wait on and count on a July sell off, for a player that could help them win now?   This is what happens when you load up on FA's and other people's failed first rounders.

Knicks: Afflalo Opting Out

Yipee!  Aaron Afflalo is opting out of his Knicks deal.  I wish him well, but what I observed was a past his prime ball hog.  No digity.   Still no word on Derrick Williams, who I happen to think would shine in Hornacek's fast breaking, movement O.  But gaining cap room is good.  I think if they both opt out, which seems likely since Williams seems more valuable than Afflalo, and thus stands to gain more on the open market.  I think that's 8m and 4m, creating 30M in cap room for the Knicks.

Btw, what do you make of the Knicks hosting a Draft Viewing Party for the press on Thursday Night, given that the Knicks don't have any picks?  Or do they?  Or do they have something else up their sleeves?  Or are they just taking care of their beat guys.  Is Isola invited?

UPDATE: According to Woj, Derrick Williams is also opting out. Cha-ching!  Though he would have looked even better under Hornacek.

Yanks Sign Nick Solak

The Yanks have signed their second round Hit Machine, Nick Solak. Nick will probably join that gang of grinders they've got operating out of SI.  Surprisingly, they gave Solak 950K, which was just about 90 grand below slot.  When Nick was chosen, I, and I think everyone thought they had taken a really talented overdraft who would sign for less.  That wasn't borne out by what they were willing to give him, though a slight savings was realize.

I don't think the Yanks got a chance to workout Solak before the draft, so I'm not sure they could do their scientific tests.  Maybe they got him last summer in a wood bat league.  Anyway, they have a serious belief in this guy,  and they took him in a spot where they could have takent someone else and saved a ton.

Solak is sort of emblamatic of the hitters they took this year, in that he seems to have an excellent contact tool and be hard to K's, but also willing to take a walk, and he's reportedly a plus base runner if not a 60 yard burner.  Plus baserunners are more valuable than guys who are faster but don't know out to run the bases.  Even after his bad knee injury in Oakland robbed Reggie Jackson of his speed, he was still a really savvy baserunner.   Whereas,  young Bernie Williams, a sprint champion, never quite mastered the craft.

So, what the the Yanks are buying for 950K is plus hit,  plus contact, patience, plus baserunning, and maybe some developing pop an positional versatility.  

Good Deal.

More Rangers Stuff

Y'know, I've been so disgusted with the Rangers that I didn't even realize the NHL Draft starts Friday.  As of right now the Rangers don't pick until round three.  Let's see if that changes.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Rangers Trade Yandle Rights to Florida

The Rangers just don't know how to sell high, or buy low. They've apparently traded their negotiating rights for Keith Yandle to the Panthers for one solid pick and one conditional pick that they'll receive if the Panthers can sign him. And so, another one of their cup chasing blunders goes out the window with a whimper. I acually thought they were going to try to hang onto Yandle, but this move makes it seem like they're gonna hold tight to the RFA's.  And that's actually the first smart thing they will have done since they started giving away 1's for runs but no cups.

Yanks: Pulaski Roster So Far

The Pulaski Yanks have released their first roster, and from the looks of it, it may be as loaded as I had expected the SI Yanks to be - though they're setting about a record a day as is.  So let's take a look, shall we?

Pitchers: Like the entire team the pitchers are a mix of recent drafts and IFA scores.

1. Nick Nelson:  Nick was the fourth rounder this year who had both pitched and played the field for his JuCo  team.  Yanks expect him to gain velo, as guys like Joba and Kap did, now that he's just going to be a pitcher.

2. Jeff Degano: Jeff was the hard throwing LHP in search of a change that the Yanks popped last year.  He was old for his draft class owing to collegiate TJS and both could and should start moving if the change has come along through EST.

3. Greg Wissert: This RHP was the 18th Rounder out of Fordham in this year's draft.  Good athlete, as Diamond Gems has already proven.

4..Julian Aybar: RHP Julian is already 24 and a former Cub. He has; however, struck out more than a batter per, while keeping his walks, WHIP and ERA low as a reliever.  Could move quickly.

5. Abel Duarte:  Another RHP who is just 22 and has had some mediocre splits so far.  There must be something there, though, because they've kept him around.  Has been a starter, but as 6'1" and 190,  he'll head to the pen soon if he doesn't come correct.

6. Philip Diehl: This year's lefty 27th rounder.  Just 22 and a great interview.  Kind of slender and will be interesting to see if they can build him up a bit.

7. Braden Bristo: Braden a  6 foot RHP was this years 23rd rounder and from the same Louisiana Tech pitching staff that dould give us Diehl four rounds later.

8. Miles Chambers: This is one of the guys from Cal State Fulerton.  A husky-ish reliever who could join the long train of Major League relievers the Yankee system has been producing.

9. Will Jones: Will should probably be on an innings count, as he was the horse of his division 2 school's staff and we are not savages.

10. Tyler Honohan: Senior Righty out of Stony Brook, picked admidst all of those preps on Day 3.

11. Icezack Flemming: Ice Flemming, which is what they better be calling him, was last year's 26th rounder.  He's a strikeout guy who needs to clean up the walks and hits a bit, but still had a good first year out of the pen last season.

12. Spencer Mahoney:  Spencer is a right handed pitcher whom the Yanks signed after last season ended. Spencer was an infielder in college, so this could be interesting.

13. Juan Jimenez: Juan has been in the system from DSL to GCL since 2011 and is now 23 or will be this year.  His relief work has gotten better but he has to do a better job of limiting hits.

14. Zach Wasserman: a 25 year old reliever who was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants.

15. Chad Martin: Last year's 30th rounder.  Just 22 he's a starter who seems to pitch to contact.  Can't remember if this was the hot prep pitcher who got hurt or not.  Probably in the rotation to start.

16. Alex Bisacca: Last year's 35th rounder, a strikeout reliever.

17. Cody Hamlin: RHP, undrafted out of Arizona.  23 year old reliever.

18. Rafael Lara: a 21 year old right handed starter.  Diminutive when he signed.  Needs an out pitch.

Some age on the staff, and no teenagers, but a pretty talented group that should see some emerge.

Infield:  This is where it gets exciting.

SS Wilkerman Garcia:  Possibly the gem of the IFA  class of `14.  A real live shortstop with all the right actions and he can hit! Teenager.

3B Dermis Garcia: On the other hand, he could prove the gem of that big class.  He got the biggest bonus and that's because he had the biggest bat.  Dermis had a bad back in year one after impressing in instructs.  If healthy this year and playing everyday he should start putting up big numbers.  Teenager.

2B Welfrin Mateo, 20, put up good numbers in the DSL for two years before getting some exposure in the GCL.

1B:  Tim Lynch, this year's ninth rounder and the old man of the group.  He's also an on base machine who could really help these young guys learn to grind.

UT Kevin Cornelius will be 24 next month and was drafted by the Yanks twice before they actually got him.  He crushed the GCL last year as an older player, and really shouldn't be on Pulaski.  We'll see how this works out.  He's mostly played 3B.


CF Estevan Florial might actually have been the gem of 2014, but identity issues kept the Haitian Sensation from signing till later.  Teenager.

RF Isiah Gilliam, last year's overslot JuCo with big batting practice power, but has to turn it into game to game power.  Had a decent debut.

LF Ben Ruta the speed merchant out of Wagner and this year's 30th round

UT Andy Diaz is 21 and may have a contact issue to work on as he's K'd almost half of his pro AB's.

Catchers: None of the name brands here.

C Victor Rey is now 20 and they have been converting him from 3B to C.  The hit tool has yet to impress.

C Brian Reyes will turn 21 this week and has always been a catcher.  His D is ahead of his O.

So there you have it. this year's Pulaski Yanks, complete with exciting young talent like Garcia, Garcia, Florial, Gilliam and Ruta.  And not so young talent like Lynch, Cornelius and some of the pitchers.   They were the best team for much of the year in the Carolina League last year, and starting Thursday, they should be again.