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Yanks Miranda tearing it up...plus other prospects


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Juan Miranda may not be receiving much hype as the Yankees mull their first-base vacancy for 2009, but the Cuban-born slugger is doing his best to create his own buzz.

Playing for the Peoria Javelinas, Miranda has been one of the Arizona Fall League's most productive batters early in the campaign. After getting a brief taste of the Major Leagues late in September, Miranda ranks first in the AFL in extra-base hits (nine) and doubles (six).

The 25-year-old also ranks second in slugging percentage (.871) and third in batting average (.452), numbers that can't help but bolster his case as the Yankees -- fresh from organizational meetings held in Tampa, Fla. -- ponder what to do next season at first base.

Jason Giambi can become a free agent and is not expected to return, and though the Yankees are rumored to be plotting to check in on a potential free agent like Mark Teixeira, having an in-house option like Miranda won't hurt.

Miranda spent most of the season at Triple-A with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, batting .287 with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs in 99 games, collecting 22 doubles and scoring 40 runs in 356 at-bats. He made his Major League debut on Sept. 18 vs. the White Sox and went 4-for-10 over five games to close out the season, including notching his first RBI with a sacrifice fly in the Yankees' 4-3 loss at Fenway Park in game No. 162.

Here is a look at how other Yankees prospects are doing in the fall/winter leagues:

Arizona Fall League

RHP Phil Hughes: After earning AFL Pitcher of the Week honors for the week ending Oct. 14, Hughes was hit hard on Saturday pitching against the Scottsdale Scorpions, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings. Hughes -- who allowed a three-run homer to Astros prospect Drew Sutton -- took a no-decision in the Javelinas' 14-11 victory that day. With a 1-0 record and a 5.68 ERA through three AFL starts, Hughes has also been named the starter for the National Division in the third annual Rising Stars Game to be played Oct. 24.

OF Austin Jackson: The Yankees' top position-player prospect, Jackson is batting .231 with two doubles, two triples, seven RBIs and four runs in 10 games for the Javelinas. Jackson has walked twice and struck out 11 times as he prepares for a Spring Training during which he will have an outside chance at making New York's big league roster, while more likely projecting to open at Triple-A.

RHP Jeff Marquez: Working in relief after injuries hindered his progress this season, Marquez has appeared in three games for the Javelinas, allowing two runs on three hits over five innings, including a home run. He has struck out six and walked one.

INF Kevin Russo: The 24-year-old Russo has been hot for the Javelinas, stroking eight hits in his last 16 at-bats to raise his average to .310 (9-for-29). Russo's big game came on Oct. 18, when he went 5-for-5 in a 14-11 win over the Scottsdale Scorpions. He has played eight games after making the AFL roster from Double-A Trenton, where he hit .307 with two homers and 33 RBIs in 71 games this season.

RHP Humberto Sanchez: The Bronx-born Sanchez has appeared in three games this fall for the Javelinas, allowing four runs, four hits and four walks in 2 2/3 innings (13.50 ERA), though all four runs came in his first appearance. Sanchez pitched twice in September for the Yankees, including a relief appearance at Yankee Stadium, four blocks from his boyhood home.

RHP Kevin Whelan: Whelan not allowed a run in three appearances out of the bullpen for the Javelinas, striking out five in 4 2/3 innings while allowing three hits, walking one and striking out five. Acquired in the January 2007 Gary Sheffield trade with Detroit, Whelan pitched as high as Double-A Trenton this year, where he went 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA and one save in 15 appearances.

Hawaii Winter Baseball

LHP Jeremy Bleich: The Yankees' supplemental-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Bleich earned the win in a 8-1 victory over the Honululu Sharks on Oct. 17, allowing three hits and one run in a career-high 6 2/3 innings, striking out five. He is 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA in four starts for the Waikiki BeachBoys. In 18 2/3 innings, the Stanford product has allowed six runs (five earned) while walking eight and striking out 14.

RHP Andrew Brackman: New York's first-round pick in the 2007 Draft, Brackman has made four starts for Waikiki since coming off Tommy John surgery. The 6-foot-10 right-hander is 1-3 with a 6.14 ERA, having allowed 11 runs -- 10 earned -- and 15 hits in 14 2/3 innings. Brackman has walked 11, struck out 16 and threw five wild pitches.

C Austin Romine: Romine has seven hits in his first 26 at-bats for the Waikiki BeachBoys, including two doubles and two RBIs. Romine, who turns 20 in November, hit an even .300 for Class A Charleston this season, slugging 10 homers and driving in 49 runs in 104 games.

INF Damon Sublett: After spending the season at Class A Tampa, the left-handed-hitting Sublett leads all Yankees Winter League prospects with 11 RBIs in 10 games for Waikiki. Sublett has 11 hits in 38 at-bats, including three doubles, a triple and a home run, and he has collected 11 RBIs. Sublett also has struck out 15 times after fanning 44 times in 160 at-bats for Tampa.

Liga Mexicana del Pacifico

OF Justin Christian: After making his big league debut in 2008 with New York, Christian is hitting .212 (7-for-33) through his first eight games for Caneros de Los Mochis. Christian has walked three times, struck out six times and has not been caught in six steal attempts.

Venezuelan Winter League

RHP Victor Zambrano: The veteran has struck out 10 batters and given up three hits in two starts for the Navegantes del Magallanes. Zambrano -- signed as a free agent midseason by the Yankees -- has hurled 11 innings in Venezuela, walking one and hitting a batter.

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