The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

NY Post: How long can overshadowed Yankees prospect stay a secret?

TAMPA — If you happen upon Cadwell, Ga., a tiny town located 137 miles south of Atlanta, please don’t mention that homegrown product Dustin Fowler is a highly touted baseball prospect.

The Yankees’ center fielder wants to keep it a secret.

“They probably don’t know [of his prospect ranking],” Fowler, whom Baseball America identified as the Yankees’ ninth-best youngster, said of his family. “No one probably knows.”

Down here in George M. Steinbrenner Field, people know. On Tuesday, the 22-year-old anchored an all-rookie, all-hyped outfield, with Clint Frazier in left field and Aaron Judge in right field, and enjoyed the best day of the trio. He contributed two singles in two at-bats to the Yankees’ 10-inning (yeesh), 7-6 Grapefruit League victory over the Rays while recording a pair of putouts.

“He’s swung the bat well,” manager Joe Girardi said of the Yankees’ 18th-round selection in the 2013 amateur draft. “He’s played good defense. He’s run the bases well. You kind of see a young man growing up in front of you, is what we’re seeing.”

“He flies under the radar in a lot of ways. I don’t think he gets the credit that he deserves,” Frazier, who struck out in all three of his at-bats, said of Fowler. “But he’s the most polished player I’ve seen as a position player since I’ve been here. It’s exciting to play alongside of him.”

If only the Yankees had an opening in CF.  Maybe in five years.

--Posted at 10:25 am by SG / 34 Comments | - (0)


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With ARod and Teixeira, the Yankees have shown a willingness to limit the playing time/bench vastly under-performing veterans. Of course, both ARod and Tex had limited time left on their contracts.

Would the Yankees be willing to make Ellsbury the highest paid 4th OF in baseball? If so, how soon would they do so? Even with Fowler and Frazier potentially knocking on the door, it’s unlikely to happen this year (even if Hicks breaks out). But it could be an “issue” as soon as next year, though 2019 is more likely.

I don’t disagree with you, but man, how painful does that sound?

“Yeah, he’s not that good, so maybe in 2019 he might get benched.”

[1] Limited time left on their contracts seems to be the key.  They aren’t even halfway through Ellsbury’s deal.

Their best bet and most likely course of action is to hope he plays well this year and then maybe they can flip him and 2/3 of his salary somewhere.

[2-3] In these scenarios I’m also assuming that Gardner is traded before the start of the 2018 season.

The Ellsbury contract is just so monumentally bad.

[1] Just to make us feel a little better, in 2018, Holliday and Carter will both be off the books and if Hicks breaks out and requires playing time, that’s a great problem to have.

But if Hicks doesn’t improve, and Gardner is traded, and all of Frazier, Judge, and Fowler are thriving, that’s 4 players for 3 outfield spots and DH, so no problem. There’s 2 righties and 2 lefties, so there’d be natural platoon days off for everybody. Even if they want to have a more tradional DH, maybe Tyler Austin or a veteran, there’d probably be enough OF AB’s for Ells/Frazier/Fowler/Judge in 2018.  And this assumes that Frazier (22 years old) and Fowler(22 years old) will both be ready, Ellsbury will be healthy all year [insert Ellsbury injury-prone joke here], and/or that Ellsbury won’t bounce back in 2017 and increase his trade value enough to make him either useful or tradeable.

So yeah, I’d agree that Ellsbury doesn’t really create a major issue until 2019.

[5] Yeah, there’s potential to have a roster crush as early as June, but realistically, the Yankees won’t be in a bind until 2019. Hopefully the Yankees can find a trade partner before then. If not, hopefully, they’re OK with a REALLY expensive 4th OF.

I don’t think Ellsbury will keep his spot if some Yankee prospect is playing better.  But, I do think that having Ellsbury deters the Yanks from signing or trading for a better CF.  We saw this when an old, so-so Bernie Williams discouraged the Yanks from signing Beltran in his prime.

Let’s be honest, not all of those guys will make it.

Fowler is getting a lot of buzz recently.  That doesn’t mean he’ll make it, but he could probably play in the majors now.

ETA I thought he was in AAA last year, but no.  He’d probably need time at that level even without the OF logjam, he’s not Benintendi.

[7] Right. The obvious name is Harper, who enters the conversation sometime in 2018. Unlikely, but maybe they trade some of these young guys for him at the 2018 deadline to clear room and get a jump on extending him. Certainly after the 2018 season they may have to sort out their outfield situation for him. Or with Rutherford and whoever else on the rise they can clear any logjam by trading for a starter.

Assuming he’s healthy and bounces back over the next 2 years, I’d be surprised and disappointed if they let anything—especially remaining year on Ellsbury’s contract—deter them from going hard after Harper.

And [8].

I am intrigued with 22 year old Bill McKinney. The guy’s been super so far in limited action.  He’s a former No. 1 for the A’s, he could be a sleeper. Like to see him put up a solid first half in AAA, before I will get too excited. Any one know about his fielding?  I guess he has some speed.

The thing that stands out on Fowler is his 88 rbi’s with about 12 homer and so many extra base hits last year.  He’s also a good athlete, so he will likely be a major leaguer somewhere.

[8] In all likelihood, yes. And even if they do, someone like Fowler, might not be good enough to supplant Ellsbury that quickly.

Even while Ellsbury has been a disappointment (and a bad signing), he’s averaged 2.7 rWAR (3.5 per 650 PA) and 2.3 fWAR in his 3 years with the Yankees. Sure, that’s not good compared to his salary, but he’s still an above average player.

Oh yeah, that’s partially what I meant by it being painful, by the way. That Ellsbury is not that good and yet no one else has popped up since then that’s a good bet to be any better in the near future.

Does anyone else think FG and BR have manipulated the underlying assumptions in ways that make Smellsbury look better?

13 Shhh!

He’s not that good, but he’s not Rusney Castillo-bad so the Yankees can’t just outright him off the 40-man.

[15] I do.  It’s a conspiracy.

The real problem with Smellsbury is that when you sign a player of his age, you expect to get better value than you are paying for in the first few years of the contract to make up for the back end of the deal when players are generally in decline and not worth what they are being paid. 

If you do a $/WAR on the first three years of his deal, it’s not terrible, it’s slightly below average.  But without that surplus value in the front half of the deal, it’s hard to see that last four years as being anything but ugly.

Maybe he can have another 2011 this year.

Maybe A-Rod can help the Yankees by helping Ellsbury with some…supplements.

[10]  Harper is not reallly a CF.  By the time they would get him, he’s a corner guy anyway.

And if Harper returns to his 2015 form, you don’t care who you have, he displaces them.

[12] McKinney apparently has a plus hit tool (you can see the nice swing), and he grades out about average everywhere else except where power is concerned. I’ve seen graded with average power, which would seem to make him a legit starter - a guy who hits .300 with 15 or so homers. Thing is, I’ve read where some scouts see him as having 40 power, which makes him not quite good enough (so the thinking goes) to play an outfield corner.

Looking at his track record and considering he’s been coming back from a 2015 knee injury, I like to think that he’s still capable of producing enough power to be a good major leaguer.

[21] He made a play on a ball rattling around the corner in yesterday’s game and demonstrated an arm that was ... uh ... Bernie-esque.

[22] Yeah, I’ve heard his arm will restrict him to LF, and that his range is stretched for CF as well.  But he might be able to hit enough to be a useful part.

Higgy with another jack, granted against the back end of Team Canada’s bullpen.

Another day, another homer for Higgy. Seriously, this guy deserves to be in the bigs.

We have problems, problems, problems. And for a change they’re good problems, worrying about where an abundance of prospects will play in the next 2 years or so. And then $$$$$$ to sign top FA’s coming soon. I guess the world is about to end.

[22] Yeah, I saw that. Didn’t look average, though I don’t know what’ MLB average is these days. I’m always surprised by how weak and inaccurate a lot of these OF are with their throws. They don’t throw their way into the big leagues, I guess.

But what’s cool is that with the depth of the system McKinney is not even in MLB’s NYY top 30 prospects this year. He’s still only 22 and he looks real good at the plate.

From RAB.

The Yankees let Tate be himself. Two years ago RHP Dillon Tate was the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft. He then struggled so much in the first half of the 2016 season that the Rangers were willing to trade him (and two others!) for rental Carlos Beltran at the deadline. As it turns out, Texas tried to tweak Tate’s mechanics last year. “(Tate) had trouble incorporating some delivery changes the Rangers wanted him to make, with his fastball dropping into the upper 80s and his slider flattening out. After the trade, the Yankees told him to use whatever mechanics made him feel comfortable,” said the write-up.


Widener is moving into the rotation. One of the four 2016 draftees to make the top 30 is RHP Taylor Widener, which surprised me. He was the club’s 12th round pick out of South Carolina, and his pro debut numbers were silly: 0.42 ERA (1.41 FIP) with 43.9% strikeouts and 4.7% walks in 42.2 innings. Widener was mostly a reliever in college, and the’s scouting report says the Yankees are going to stick him in the rotation full-time. “Widener picked up velocity in his introduction to pro ball, as his fastball soared from 90-93 mph to 93-97. His mid-80s slider can be a wipeout pitch at times but lacks consistency. To prepare him for starting, the Yankees had him focus on refining his work-in-progress changeup during instructional league,” they wrote.


The talent extends beyond the top 30. prospect guru Jim Callis has maintained the Yankees have baseball’s deepest farm system since the trade deadline last year, and on Twitter he said he “easily could have written up 45 prospects” for the top 30. He also said 3B Dermis Garcia was in the 31-35 range and IF Thairo Estrada was among the final cuts too. “Type of guy to steal in trade,” said Callis about Estrada.

Is there anything that can even be done, mechanics-wise, to get a fielder a little more zip on the ball? Not that I think you can turn Ells into Vlad, but how much fine tuning is even possible?

I dunno, but the Yankees seem to consistently get more velo out of their young pitchers.  Of course that’s not the same as as fielding a ball and then having to unload.

29 It seems to me Matsui had a quick release that somewhat compensated for his arm or was I tripping’?

29 It seems to me Matsui had a quick release that somewhat compensated for his arm or was I tripping’?

Are you talking about his video collection?

Based on extremely misguided optimism I have decided to change my team affiliation from Stinkees back to Yankees again.  Only I don’t remember how.

[33] Your Account (upper right) > Edit Profile > Favorite Team

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