When Al Pedrique was named the International League Manager of the Year back in August the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders manager stressed how like his players, he’d still like a shot back in the majors, too. And now there is a clear path for him to do just that.
After the New York Yankees decided not to renew Joe Girardi’s contract on Oct. 23, the managerial spot for the team Pedrique has been managing directly under for the past two seasons is now vacant.
Pedrique reiterated on Wednesday that he still wants to manage again in the majors — he was a former interim manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Major League bench coach — but has not heard from the Yankees yet.
However, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Tuesday that “he has not yet reached out to everyone who will be considered for the managerial job,” according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.
“Just like everybody else, my goal is to get back to the big leagues, but I’m just waiting to hear — whether it’s Cashman or (Kevin) Reese, the new Minor League director — to let me know what’s going on next year, but other than that, I just have to be patient,” Pedrique said. “I’m very thankful to the organization because they gave me the opportunity in 2013 to get back into the game and working with all of those kids that have made it to the Major Leagues has been a pleasure and a great experience for me.”
The fact that Cashman has said publicly that he hasn’t reached out to all of his candidates is encouraging for Pedrique.
Not only does Pedrique sport big-league experience on his resume, but he has won two manager of the year awards with the RailRiders, leading them to back-to-back International League North Division titles, a Governors’ Cup and Triple-A National Championship, and has managed well over 50 percent of the Yankees’ current 40-man roster at some point in time in the minors.
“I hope I get an opportunity to go through the process of interviewing for a big-league managing job,” the 57-year-old Pedrique said. “If it doesn’t happen, it’s probably not the right time. That’s the way it goes sometimes, but I’m a baseball man, I love the game, I love what I do and only God knows what’s going to happen.”
Rumbelow adds intrigue
Two of Pedrique’s RailRiders were added to the 40-man roster last week.
Outfielder Jake Cave moves one step closer to making his Major League debut while reliever Nick Rumbelow continues his road back to the bigs after missing the 2016 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Pedrique believes that Rumbelow could make an immediate impact out of the Yankees’ bullpen. He sees the 26-year-old as a “fifth-, sixth-inning guy” but wouldn’t be afraid to use Rumbelow late in games, too.
“With Rumbelow I was very impressed because of the way he came back from the injury,” Pedrique said. “His velocity every time he went out on the mound, it seemed like he got stronger. He was at 93, 94, 95 if I’m not mistaken. Great command of the breaking ball and he showed all year he was healthy again.
“Very aggressive on the mound. He loves to compete.”
Torres’ shot at bigs no surprise
Cashman told reporters that top prospect Gleyber Torres will have an opportunity to compete for the third-base job and a spot on the Opening Day roster in spring training.
The 20-year-old infielder last played for the RailRiders — appearing in 23 games and sporting a .309 batting average — before his season was cut short after injuring his elbow on a slide into home plate during a June game in Buffalo. Torres would undergo Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing arm, but is expected to be 100 percent healthy for spring training.
While Torres played just 23 games at the Triple-A level, and only nine at third base, Pedrique believes the infielder could handle to hot corner at the next level.
“He’s a smart kid. His baseball IQ is way up there,” Pedrique said. “He has the instincts to play anywhere in the infield, whether it’s short, second or third. This is a kid in the short period of time that we had him he showed the ability to make adjustments on the field defensively and offensively. He’s not afraid to go out and play different positions and he’s not afraid of the challenges that he’s going to be involved with during spring training, and that’s why it wouldn’t surprise me if this kid showed up ready to go and compete anywhere around the infield and make the roster.”
McKinney playing 1B provides options
With such a logjam in the outfield, Pedrique believes Billy McKinney increased his chances of making the big leagues with New York by playing first base in the Arizona Fall League.
There are already six outfielders on the Yankees’ 40-man roster and three of them are 25 and younger. However, displaying some ability at first base doesn’t hurt his chances at being added to the 40-man ahead of December’s Rule 5 Draft.
“For him to show that he can handle first base, definitely, that’s going to increase the chance to make it to the big leagues,” Pedrique said. “Obviously, we know he’s going to hit. This kid’s got some power. Late in the season in Scranton he started learning how to be consistent hitting the ball the other way with authority. That’s something that he didn’t do when he first came to us, but he showed the ability to drive the ball the other way.”
Green shows promise as starter
Ever since Chad Green came over to the Yankees in a December 2015 trade with the Detroit Tigers, Pedrique has seen promise in the right-hander as a starting pitcher.
When Cashman stated that Green will have the opportunity to compete for the Yankees No. 5 starter during spring training, Pedrique said he liked the former RailRider’s chances. Green made five starts in Triple-A this past season, sporting a 2-1 record and 4.73 ERA.
However, Green found a lot more success up in the Bronx, appearing in 40 games, including one start. The 26-year-old had a 5.0 record and 1.80 ERA.
“I think he started maturing as a player, as a person — understanding his body, his arm strength much better — and I think he showed throughout the year that he realized what type of pitcher he could be regardless of the role,” Pedrique said. “It seems like now he has a lot of confidence in his second pitch. He had three quality to pitches, so it should be enough to be a quality starter.
”I think the main thing that pitching out of the bullpen, his confidence level got real high. He realized that he can pitch at the Major League level and I don’t think going from the bullpen to the starting rotation is going to hurt him.”