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Yankees assign 29-year-old Mark Prior to Single-A

Mar 31, 2011, 10:15 AM EDT

Mark Prior Reuters

Mark Prior allowed just one run while striking out 11 batters in 7.2 innings this spring, but his comeback will have to continue in the low minors after the Yankees assigned him to Single-A yesterday.

Prior’s minor-league contract with the Yankees includes an opt-out clause that would allow him to become a free agent if not satisfied with his situation at a later date.

However, the 29-year-old former All-Star told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com that he has “no intention of using it”:

I want to be here. I’m still a part of this organization and I truly want to help this ball club win. And I think I can do that. I think I probably surprised a lot of people that I can still kind of hold my own at this level and I know I can. I know my stuff is not what it was, and I don’t expect it to be, but I know it’s good enough to play at this level still.

For now he’ll have to prove that he can dominate inexperienced hitters a decade his junior. Prior blitzed through the minors so quickly while coming up through the Cubs’ system that he has a grand total of just four career starts at Single-A, the most recent of which came in 2006.

  1. dodger88 - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    While the odds are long, I like the idea that he starts at A ball. If the Yanks look at him as a long term project, they should keep him at Single A until he both proves he’s durable and can retire the young hitters. He should progress through their system much like a young prospect would in the hopes that maybe he can get back to the majors and be effective.

    • Vincent - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:41 AM

      Do we know whether they’re planning on prepping Prior to be a starter? If they’re sending him all the way back to Single A after dominating this spring, that must be the case– right?

      • trevorb06 - Mar 31, 2011 at 11:40 AM

        Prior has already came out saying he’s come to terms knowing he’ll probably never start again. I’d like to see him become a closer one day to be honest.

  2. fcmlefty1 - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    This story just reminds me once again about how happy I am that the Twins were “wrong” when they drafted a certain high school catcher over this guy

    • missthemexpos - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:37 AM

      Interesting to note, that when it comes to deciding which player an organization chooses 1st overall, hindsight wins out every time.

    • JBerardi - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:44 AM

      Even with everything that happened to him, Mark Prior was still a great draft pick. Not a decent, acceptable, decent selection, a GREAT selection. Even a short run of starting pitching brilliance has massive value to a franchise. And look at the rest of that first round: http://www.mymlbdraft.com/2001

    • Alex K - Mar 31, 2011 at 11:12 AM

      I see your point, but Prior was not a bad selection. He had (has?) bad mechanics and Dusty ran him into the ground.

  3. aburns77 - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    Not that Prior is a high priority for the Yankees, but I don’t really follow the reasoning for sending to Single A as opposed to AAA. Sure this gives him a chance he can ‘retire young hitters’ but I don’t see that as being helpful as to determining his ability to get out major league hitters considering how far off Single A is away from the bigs. That said, I’m sure the Yankee brass knows more about this then me so I’m sure there’s a reason I’m just not seeing

    • pisano - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:51 AM

      Vincent brought an interesting point, maybe the Yankees are going to try to stretch him out to be a starter, after all he’s only 29 and hopefully they see something for him. I really like his attitude about wanting to stay with the Yankees, it’s a breath of fresh air with the way most players react to being sent down. I think if the Yankees didn’t have such a strong pen he would have stuck with the big club. As my friend uyf1950 says:” just my opinion”

      • aburns77 - Mar 31, 2011 at 11:18 AM

        It’s certainly possible, but at this point in his career does Prior really have the stamina to be a starter? With all his injury history everything I’ve heard about him is that he just can’t handle the rigors of 200 innings anymore, but hey if the Yankees can figure out a way to coax some above replacement-level innings out him at some point this season I’m sure no Yankees fan would object to that.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 31, 2011 at 12:58 PM

        pisano, my friend. I’m thinking the Yankees sent him to Single A not so much in anticipation of using him as a starting some day but more to build up his confidence. He hasn’t pitched in a long time. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him after he has some success in Single A to move up to to Double AA Trenton have some success there and then move up to Triple A Scranton. Then it’s anyone guess what happens and the time frame involved. Will he possibly replace Joba in the rotation if Joba falters? As someone already mentioned he’s only 29 if he is successful in all 3 stops in the minors do the Yankees try and package him in a trade. The possibilities are endless. Stay tuned as the season progresses. As we both know I like to say just my opinion.

  4. bigyankeemike - Mar 31, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Why send him to A-ball instead of AAA? Simple. Yankees’ A-ball is in Tampa. It’s warmer, and he can start extended spring training immediately. AAA means Scranton, PA in 10 days in April…not ideal weather. Girardi said as much.

    • hnirobert3 - Mar 31, 2011 at 2:27 PM

      They also know Prior has an affinity for gorging on beets, and Schrute Farms is located in Scranton, PA. Just trying to keep him out of trouble, I guess.

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