For parts of three seasons Ramiro Pena called PNC Field home while playing for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
Over that span, the utility infielder played 199 games at Triple-A for the team. He was never much of an offensive threat with his best season for the club coming in 2011 when he clubbed four home runs and held a batting average of .278 in 57 games. He was known mostly for his defense and so he spent the entire 2010 season in the Major Leagues with New York playing in 85 games playing all over the infield.
But when New York was fully healthy in 2011 and 2012, he was sent packing back to the Triple-A club and saw action in just 26 games over the last two seasons. New York eventually granted Pena free agency late last season.
It wasn’t long before he got another opportunity as Atlanta scooped him up signing him to a one-year deal. He’s already made his money for the Major League-leading Braves. In back-to-back games he helped Atlanta beat National League East rival Washington. First, he laid down a bunt single to help the Braves tie Game 1 of the series in the ninth inning. On the next afternoon, he clubbed just his third Major League home run in the 10th inning to lead the Braves to another victory.
For Atlanta he already he’s batting .364 with an on-base percentage of .417 in 13 games. He’s played at shortstop, second base and third base for Atlanta this season helping his case for being on the team. His manager said he’s a perfect fit.
“If this guy had played in the National League his whole career, he’d be a household name,” Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez said to the Albany Herald. “Over there you’re playing in the American League and backing up Derek Jeter and (Robinson) Cano and A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez), it’s tough to get in the game. Where here in the National League, the game will dictate a double switch, a pinch hit, go in there for defense, that kind of stuff.”
Pena isn’t the only former SWB Yankee helping out a big league club this season.
WALKING THE PLANK
Right-hander Mark Melancon pitched in 86 games over parts of three seasons for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before being dealt to Houston in 2010. He was later flipped to Boston and then acquired by Pittsburgh from the Red Sox in the offseason in the move that sent closer Joel Hanrahan to Boston.
That move couldn’t have worked out much better for the Pirates. Melancon has turned in to one of best eighth-inning relievers in all of baseball with five holds and giving up just one run and three hits, while fanning nine in nine innings so far this season. Hanrahan meanwhile, has struggled early on for Boston giving up six runs in 4 2/3 innings before getting hurt.
A FEW GOOD MOVES
Not all the moves New York has decided to make over the last few years has produced big moments for other clubs this season.
Two trades New York made with Seattle involving former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees haven’t been too good for the Mariners, while the parent club is looking good.
The first trade sent New York’s top prospect at the time Jesus Montero to Seattle along with pitcher Hector Noesi for starting pitcher Michael Pineda and prospect Jose Campos. Montero, a catcher, is batting just .209 for the Mariners with the struggles leading to him playing in just three games since April 9. Noesi was just called up from Double-A by Seattle. He was supposed to be in the bullpen since the start of the season but a horrific spring training had him starting the season in the minors. Pineda and Campos missed a lot of time last season with injuries, but both are working their way back and the Yankees may end up getting more longevity on their return than Seattle’s.
The second deal sent Ichiro Suzuki to New York before last year’s trade deadline for former SWB Yankee D.J. Mitchell. Well, Ichiro is back with N.Y. this season, while Mitchell was just granted free agency by the Mariners last week.