Due to time constraints, we’re only able to do an abridged version of MLPW this week. We’ve omitted our usual “Honorable Mentions” section, but are still presenting our weekly award to a deserving pitcher and position player.

Caleb Smith, 22, LHP, A
6 IP, 13 K, 1 BB, 3 H, 0 ER
Notable: 13 K is most for a Charleston pitcher since the club became a NYY affiliate in 2005

Caleb Smith was drafted in the 14th round of the 2013 draft out of Sam Houston State University. After signing, he spent the bulk of his time at Short-Season Staten Island, where he had a 1.89 ERA and 52 K in 47.2 IP. He kicked off this season at Low-A Charleston, where he’s made 4 starts over 20.1 innings. His ERA of 0.89 is third-best in the South Atlantic League, while his FIP of 2.39 ranks 4th.

In his 4/24 start, he struck out a career-high 13 hitters against the Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles Low-A affiliate). The 6’2″ lefty had this to say about his start:

Even though Smith typically employs a three-pitch mix with his low-90s two-seam fastball, a slider and a changeup, most of the damage Thursday was caused by the heater.

“I didn’t use [my slider or changeup] a whole lot,” he said. “I tried to go through the lineup once with just my fastball because I didn’t want to show them the other pitches before they proved they could hit the fastball first.

“I was keeping the fastball down really well, and right away, I knew that was working for me. Then in the third inning when I started using my off-speed, I knew I had all my pitches working.”

It comes with no surprise that Smith was named SAL Pitcher of the Week.

Kyle Roller, 26, LHB 1B, AA
.526/.625/1.263 in 23 PA
Notable: Leads the Eastern League in just about everything, despite missing the first week

Since being drafted as a senior in 2010 from East Carolina University, Kyle Roller has done nothing but hit. He has a career line of .272/.363/.465 — although in his first taste of Double-A last season, he .253/.347/.427 (118 wRC+). While still certainly above-average, it was a bit off the pace he set at the lower levels of the farm.

Well forget about that slowed pace, because Roller went bananas last week, hitting 4 HR and 2 doubles, and now boasts a season line of…get this — .400/.491/.956 in 53 PA. That’s good for a 284 wRC+ — which is obviously tops in the Eastern League (min 40 PA). What’s even more eye-popping is that Roller leads the league in HR with 7, despite missing the first week of the season.

Roller is 26 and that’s old for Double-A, as evidenced by facing nearly all younger pitchers to date. At his age, you have to wonder why the Yankees haven’t moved him faster through the years…perhaps some Pedro Cerrano in his game?

However, these numbers are difficult to ignore, and when the health of Mark Teixeira seems to waver on a weekly basis, it’s time to push Roller higher to see what he can do.

Here’s a clip of him hitting a HR on 4/25:


Nik Turley was oddly outright released by the Yankees on Saturday. The 6’6″ lefty had yet to pitch in 2014 due to “arm tightness”. He was a member of the Yankees 40-man roster, so releasing him opened up a spot for the big club to continue its “get a fresh arm in the bullpen” campaign. In 2013, Turley pitched 139 innings at Double-A, with a 3.88 ERA / 4.30 FIP — not exactly numbers normally associated with getting cut.

Yankees’ Senior VP of Baseball Operations, Mark Newman, once raved about Nik Turley to us, but we guess that sentiment is history. It’s possible the Yankees could re-sign him if no other teams bite.

Jose Campos, acquired by the Yankees in the Pineda/Montero trade, had Tommy John surgery. He’s had elbow issues since the Yankees traded for him, pitching only 111 innings in the past two seasons.