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Farnham in Spotlight Catching Andy Pettitte



By Jed Weisberger ~ May 2nd, 2012. Filed under: Yanks Minors.

Given the amount of catching prospects in the Yankees system – even with the trade of Jesus Montero to Seattle – Jeff Farnham has gone about his career as a farmhand mostly out of the spotlight.

The 24-year-old , a native of Las Vegas drafted in the 27th round in 2009, is not mentioned with the likes of Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez or J.R. Murphy.

Yet, when Andy Pettitte’s comeback journey took him to Trenton April 25, Farnham, who has played in nine games with the Double-A Thunder, batting .176 (6-for-34) had the good fortune to catch the once and future Yankees rotation stalwart.

“Well,’’ said Trenton manager Tony Franklin with a grin, “Jeff was the only healthy catcher we had that night.’’

True, major-league veteran Gustavo Molina and the quite capable Jose Gil, who likely will be a big-league backup for some team in a few years, were hurt.  Farnham, however, was quite familiar with Pettitte.

When Andy came back and reported to spring training, Farnham was the catcher often assigned to him.

“We did a lot of work together in spring training,’ said Farnham.  “It was a blast catching Andy. He still can hit his spots. He’ll get back to the Yankees, he just has get used to it all again.

“This kind of puts me in the spotlight,’’ said Farnham, who was an offensive star at New Mexico State before being drafted and signed by the Yankees. “I’m usually in the background with all the guys we have catching.’’

Farnham, 6-foor-1, 190, has played in 113 minor-league games. His best stretch came with Charleston in 2009, when he batted .323 (20-for-62) in 20 games. He hasn’t hit nearly as well since, with an average of .239 (86-for-360) in his career.

He jumped from Class-A Charleston to Double-A Trenton to start 2012 and hasn’t played at Class-A Advanced Tampa.  We’ll see where his career goes from here.

Pettitte will make at least one more start with a Yankees affiliate. It could be Saturday in Trenton, and Farnham could be catching his spring-training partner once again.

***

JACKSON’S PLAY NOT A SURPRISE: Former Trenton star outfielder Austin Jackson, who went to Detroit prior to the 2010 season in the Curtis Granderson trade. Last Sunday, he almost robbed Granderson of a home run with a leap to the top of the right-center field wall in Yankee Stadium.

This defensive effort came as no surprise to those who know Jackson – his ninth-inning over-the-shoulder grab June 2, 2010, to prolong Armando Galarraga’s near-perfect game (Jim Joyce episode)  notwithstanding.

Jackson, who still needs to cut down his strikeouts, made a habit of such efforts in 2008 with the Trenton Thunder, robbing several opponents of home runs with leaping, at-the-wall catches, including two in the same game in the Eastern League finals vs. the Akron Aeros.

“He was a major-league outfielder then,’’ said Thunder skipper Franklin.

Over the years, the Yankees have traded many prospects such as Jackson, but it must be stated the present GM, Brian Cashman, does not trade blue-chip prospects to simply trade them for veterans. He trades them to strengthen the Yankees. Granderson certainly has done that.

And the Michael Pineda injury was unfortunate, but he’ll recover and pitch for the Yankees.  Jesus  Montero and Hector Noesi went to Seattle.  Right-hander Jose Campos, who came in return, will prove to be a keeper as well.

AROUND THE YANKEES SYSTEM

Empire State Yankees – Triple-A (13-10) – Obviously they are not prospects, but IF Steve Pearce, batting .380 (30-for-79) and OF Dewayne Wise, at .368 (25-68) are the top offensive operatives on this road show. The top offensive prospect is IF-OF Brandon Laird, who is batting .253 (20-for-79) with 12 RBIs. Righty Adam Warren (2-1, 5.26) needs to stop alternating good starts with bad starts. Reliever Chase Whitley (3-1, 1.98) has 11-3 strikeout/walk ratio in seven appearances. By the way, Triple-A rosters have less prospects than any other level of the minors. It has become a storehouse.  Many players skip the level altogether

Trenton Thunder – Double-A (11-12) . IF Yadil Mujica, a Cuban defector, is batting .500 (11-for-22) in seven games since joining the Thunder, earning an Eastern League Player of the Week honor.  IF-OF Ronnier Musteiler, another Cuban addition, is batting .341 (31-for-91) with 15 RBIs. Righty Brett Marshall (3-1, 3.81) has had three successive quality starts.

Tampa Yankees – Single-A Advanced (12-13) –  The story here is RHP Nik Turley, who is 2-0, 2.01 and, at 6-foot-6, 230, has been a dominating presence in the Florida State League. His fastball can sit in the low 90s at times and his control is rated the best In the system. Look for him in Trenton in mid-season.  Offensively,  Teaneck native Rob Segedin is batting .313 (30-for-96) with 14 RBIs overall and .342 (13-for-38) in his last 10 games.

Charleston RiverDogs –  Single-A (16-7) – This star-studded cast hit its first speed-bump vs. a talented Hickory (Texas) team, but  OF Tyler Austin drove in seven runs in a 14-9 RiverDogs win in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain in Central North Carolina. Austin is batting .357 (30-for-84) and is leading the South Atlantic League in homers with nine and is third in RBIs with 25. C Gary Sanchez checks in at .346 (27-for-78). Jose Campos had his first rocky start of the season at Hickory, but is 3-0, 4.01 with a 26-8 strikeout-walk ratio.

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Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.

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