Friday, November 21, 2014
Colombian outfielder Bryan Emery, the No. 23 international prospect for July 2, has signed with the Yankees.
Emery, 16, was the last available player from Baseball America’s Top 30 international prospects list for July 2, and the signing gives the Yankees 10 of those top 30 players.
Emery is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds with a loose swing from the left side. He had been switch-hitting, though he’s hit exclusively lefthanded in recent months. He’s strong and generates easy, explosive power, though leading up to July 2, there were mixed reviews about his game hitting, partly because of his environment.
Adding young and talented players is certainly a good thing. And Emery’s young enough that he should be hitting his peak age of 27 by the time the Yankees are relevant again.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
The Yankees’ farm system improved in 2014. While it’s still not great, there are a handful of players in the minors who could make a difference.
Let’s take a look at 11 who could make a direct impact on the Yankees in 2015, be a big part of their future, or be traded to fill holes.
The list starts with Luis Severino and runs through most of the names that any one who follows the minors at least loosely should be cognizant of. I am excited about a few of the players on this list, particularly Aaron Judge and Rob Refsnyder. Judge is still probably a couple of years away, but we should see Refsnyder in the majors in some capacity at some point in 2015.
Friday, September 12, 2014
After a disappointing 2013 season, owner Hal Steinbrenner said he was going to look at all aspects of the system, including player development and amateur scouting.
Damon Oppenheimer’s recent amateur drafts have been solid, and he is believed to be safe.
There is some belief that if Newman didn’t retire, the Yankees wouldn’t renew his contract. The contract expires this year.
Asked Thursday afternoon if he had heard anything about his future, Newman said he hadn’t.
A message left early Thursday night pertaining to possible retirement wasn’t immediately returned.
Actual movement instead of inertia? What’s next?
Thursday, February 20, 2014
4. Masahiro Tanaka
Who said the Yankees have a bad farm system? They’ve got the 4th best prospect in baseball!
Other Yankees prospects on the list include Gary Sanchez and ...Masahiro Tanaka. Gary Sanchez is also on the list. I think that means the Yankees have 4 of the top 100 prospects.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
It’s all part of the work being done on the Yanks’ oft-criticized farm system. Down the hall from Newman’s office sits a “PhD in advanced math and statistics,” says Newman, a statistical analyst devoted to the player development department. The Yankees have added other staff and scouts.
They will have a second team in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League for the second straight year. Having more players might enhance the chances of more prospects emerging. Will it all show up on the field soon? That, of course, is unknowable now. But, Newman says, “We’ve got some bright dudes here. (The system) is going to go back up, odds are.”
Ooh, a PhD.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
7. Greg Bird, Yankees: Bird’s $1.1 million bonus as a fifth-round pick in 2011 raised some eyebrows, and he did little to justify the investment in his first two pro seasons. But he broke out in 2013, leading the Minors with 107 walks while slamming 20 homers in low Class A. Scouts like Bird’s hitting ability more than his raw power, but he could wind up being solid in both categories.
Bird’s definitely a guy to watch in 2014.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.—By now, you’ve probably heard a little bit about the Yankees’ attempt to get their payroll under $189 million. They’ve been talking about it for two years, trying to structure their roster in a way that enables them to avoid the luxury tax in 2014. But the Quest for 189 wasn’t just about money.
Behind it was also an idea, a notion that the Yankees shouldn’t have to rely quite so heavily on high-priced free agents to win. If Hal Steinbrenner had his way, by now the Yankees would have evolved into a more balanced blend of young, cheap, rising stars and older, pricier, established veterans.
“I just feel that if you do well on the player-development side, and you have a good farm system, you don’t need a $220 million payroll,” Steinbrenner said early in spring training 2012.
But in 2013, that ideal has become increasingly elusive. And this winter, whatever visions Steinbrenner had of turning the Yankees into a different kind of winning team have been just about shattered.
Because the Yankees had no top prospects on the horizon, the only way they could reinvigorate their roster to the necessary degree was to turn, once again, to the high end of the free-agent market. And because they have done so, they are making it more difficult to improve the weakness that left them in such a position to begin with.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran may help the Yankees return to the playoffs in 2014. But under the free-agent compensation rules in the collective-bargaining agreement, they will also cost the Yankees their first three draft picks next June.
The Yankees will forfeit their first-round pick along with the two compensation picks they would otherwise receive for losing Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson to free agency. As a result, their first pick figures to be somewhere in the mid-50s overall.
That’s significant because the probability of drafting a quality major-league regular falls dramatically after the first round. In July, Baseball America published a study of every draft between 1988 and 2008. It found that 39.1% of players taken in the first round (excluding those who didn’t sign) played at least three years in the majors. But in the supplemental round (between the first and second rounds), that rate fell to 15.8%. And from the sixth round on, the rate is just 3.1%.
A cynic might say that the Yankees probability of taking a player in the first round who played for at least three years is only 3.1% anyway, so what’s the big deal?
Monday, December 9, 2013
1. Gary Sanchez, c
2. Slade Heathcott, of
3. Mason Williams, of
4. J.R. Murphy, c
5. Eric Jagielo, 3b
6. Aaron Judge, of
7. Ian Clarkin, lhp
8. Greg Bird, 1b
9. Luis Severino, rhp
10. Gosuke Katoh, 2b
Four of the 10 were drafted last year, helped by the fact that the Yankees had supplemental picks from losing Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano and did not lose their first round pick by signing a free agent who received a qualifying offer.
Of course, this year they have lost their first round pick and also their two qualifying offer free agent picks by signing Brett Gardner, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. But who needs early draft picks when you have a player development machine, right?
Monday, November 18, 2013
Buried in this article comes this tidbit that I found encouraging.
The Yankees, according to rival international scouts, are planning to splurge on foreign amateurs during the 2013-14 signing period. They already have surpassed their bonus pool allotment of $1,877,000, and rival clubs expect them to possibly incur the maximum penalties for exceeding the spending limit.
The Yankees’ strategy should not come as a surprise, considering the depleted state of their farm system. The Cubs and Rangers went over the limit in 2012-13, knowing the penalties would not be as severe as they will be if baseball ever adopts an international draft.
As it stands, the Yankees already have signed Dominican center fielder Leonardo Molina for $1.4 million and Dominican shortstop Yonauris Rodriguez for $550,000, according to reports. The signing period began last July 2, and will continue into next summer.
The penalties kick in once a team goes 5 percent over its limit; the Yankees’ two signings put them at 3.8 percent. A team that exceeds it by 15 percent or more pays a 100-percent tax and cannot spend more than $250,000 on a player in the next signing period.
Apparently the Yankees believe this class of international players is stronger than the next one. Or, they are simply eager to amass talent as quickly as possible.
If the Yankees like this class and are already at the penalty limit, they may as well go nuts and deal with being handcuffed next year.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
In a classic Seinfeld moment from 1996, George Steinbrenner visits the parents of George Costanza with the news that their son is missing and feared dead. Frank Costanza responds by barking at Steinbrenner, “What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?”
Ah, yes, those were the days, when the Yankees traded prospects such as Buhner, Fred McGriff, Doug Drabek and others, enabling them to become stars for other teams. At least New York had prospects to trade back then.
This week Hal Steinbrenner summoned his baseball executives to a summit meeting to talk about the state of the team’s player development. The Yankees have few impact bats on the immediate horizon. Among their top drafted prospects, as rated by Baseball America: outfielder Mason Williams, 21, has four home runs, a .349 slugging percentage and just reached Double A; Slade Heathcott, 22, has eight home runs in Double A; and Tyler Austin, 21, has six home runs in Double A.
The farm really needs to start producing valuable players if the Yankees are really going to put a ‘championship caliber’ team on the field with a $189M payroll.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Concerned by the lack of big-league help the Yankees have gotten from their farm system this season, Hal Steinbrenner called his lieutenants to a meeting in Tampa Tuesday to discuss the club’s prospect development, according to sources.
According to a source, the meeting, which included Hal and Hank Steinbrener, GM Brian Cashman and team president Randy Levine, was “a preliminary session and the beginning of a process in which they’re evaluating the entire player development department and all that’s been going on with their scouting, drafting and developing over the past seasons (since Cashman was given full control of the minor league department from George Steinbrenner in 1995).”
The source added that there will be a number of future meetings as part of the process to determine what needs to be done as far as improving the Yankees’ record of drafting and producing players.
This meeting was a much-needed one. Getting productive players out of the farm system is going to be imperative now with the way MLB’s economic landscape is changing. It’s getting harder and harder to get true elite free agents, and there are caps on spending for amateur talent.
I also hope they are evaluating the scouting on foreign players who may be available from Japan or Cuba or anywhere else.
We’ll see what comes out of it. I’m not expecting much unless there’s some kind of change in the organization.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Dominican center fielder Leonardo Molina, the No. 5 international prospect for July 2, has signed with the Yankees for $1.4 million.
Molina, who became eligible to sign today on his 16th birthday, is 6-foot-2, 165 pounds with outstanding speed and is the best athlete in this year’s international signing class. He’s a righthanded hitter with good bat speed who played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with Decarte Corporan
I thought by law if your name was Molina you had to be a catcher?
He’s 16, which is a long way away. But that means he could be in the majors by the time the Yankees might be good again in 2020 or so.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Minor League Update With Mike and Clay
Some of you may have noticed that I recently picked up a lightning bolt without any obvious reason. Let me tell you a tale that may or may not explain why I now am amongst the pantheon of RLYW gods (it will explain). A few days ago I was looking for someone I could disagree with on a regular basis, but I had more than this simple requirement. Not only did I need to have disagreement, it needed to be rather minor, meaningless and generally shaded by slightly different expectations. So I settled on Yankees prospects and handpicked Mike K. as my mortal enemy/debate partner. Then I talked to him and SG about putting together some more regular MiL content for you fine gentlemen, women of ill repute, convicts and 400lb rednecks named Bubba. Shockingly, both parties were interested. So Mike and I will be periodically (monthly for now) providing MiL insights and updates.
Since Mike and I have dropped pretty comprehensive updates for AAA, AA, and A ball in the last week or so, we are going to forgo the general update and instead bring you guys closer to a few of the lesser known prospects. Initially, I wanted to choose Betances, but after a long crying session and a few beers I decided to choose someone else. I settled upon Jake Cave. Who is Jake Cave you say? Well that’s exactly why Mike and I are going to be doing these posts. I want to call them, “Get to Know A Yankee Prospect, Or How to Have Your Heart Broken By A 20-Something-Year-Old You’ve Never Met.” The title might need work, but I don’t want to hear anything about it from the peanut gallery. -Clay
So the other day, Clay (a very snuggly porcupine if there ever was one) sent me a note wondering if I would be interested in collaborating with him, to share our knowledge of Yankees’ prospects! So my first thought was, I better get some knowledge of Yankee prospects! We decided that at this point we want go a little off the beaten path, maybe go with some prospects that aren’t quite as well known. I was originally going to pick Dante Bichette, Jr. But then I remembered Snuggles said prospects. So instead I’ll go with Bryan Mitchell. - Mike
Get To Know Jake Cave, Or How To Have Your Heart Broken By A 20-Something-Year-Old You’ve Never Met
Jake Cave is a nice guy, he’s nice and kind and nice* and he has a kitten^ (maybe more than one kitten), although it’s probably not a cool as Cat Latos. He’s handsome and nice and he has a sweet batman bike. Also, he’s pretty damn good at baseball, so good at baseball that the Yankees drafted him in the 6th round (he was being looked at as a compensation/2nd round talent) of the 2011 draft and signed him to a way above slot 800K (The second largest bonus they dished out that year). Cave is so good at baseball that he was named the top prospect Coastal Plains League prior to signing with the Yankees. When I read this I was like “What? The Coastal Plains League? What the Hell is that?” So I did some research, and it turns out the CPL is a wooden bat league inhabited mostly by baseball gnomes and college players (think of it as a lesser Cape Cod League). Jake was 18 and had just graduated high school, that’s pretty good.
Jake signed on the deadline and was eventually assigned to the GCL Yankees. Everything was fluffy clouds, ginger snaps, cute kittens and rose colored glasses for the 6 foot, 180 pound teenager and expectations were high. However, there were clouds on the horizon, hell they weren’t even on the horizon, they were right there in his face like the mist from Stephen King’s “The Mist.” Cave’s first professional game was disastrous. Not only did he go hitless (0-1 with a walk) but in a Heathcottian (Heathcottish?) move he broke his kneecap in a collision at home with the enemy catcher. They say it was a harrowing hour plus battle, nearly to the death, and that Cave fought valiantly. OK, no one says that, he just busted up his knee in a collision with the opposing catcher (incidentally, full contact collisions are a dumb thing in baseball).
After an offseason of recovery, rehab and anticipation Jake Cave was ready to unleash his baseball skills upon a MiL baseball league (most likely the GCL again). However, fate, as determined by an ancient Gypsy curse upon his family (Dude, Gypsy is not the preferred nomenclature. Rebuttal: Roma curse sounds dumb, shut up), had something else to say about that plan. In his first Extended Spring Training appearance, something went terribly wrong and he was unable to put weight on his bad knee when trying to run to first. A crack team of surgeons, plastic surgeons, heart surgeons and geologists inspected his re-injured leg and found that his kneecap had not healed properly and was still broken. Surgery was the only answer, and it knocked him out for the 2012 season.
It’s now 2013 (just in case you are confused or have recently emerged from a magical board game) and Jake Cave is finally healthy, and more importantly he has played in more than 1 game, in fact as of the writing of this piece, he’s successfully completed 12 games! In those 12 games his line is .283/.339/.377, with 4 walks and 11 strikeouts, he also has 4 extra base hits, 3 doubles and a triple and is 1 for 2 in stolen base attempts. Now these numbers aren’t mindblowing, but keep in mind he’s a 20 year old playing what is essentially his first professional baseball, so it’s actually pretty impressive, especially since he’s doing it in Charleston (A ball), not in the GCL.
Since there’s not a ton to talk about in regards to Cave’s professional numbers, I’m instead going to focus on the scouting reports. Cave is as close to a 5 tool athlete a team can expect to get in the 6th round. Prior to his injury, Jake graded out with plus speed, plus hit tool, average power, plus defense, and a near elite level arm (he threw in the low to mid 90s from the left side as a pitcher in HS). He also complimented his raw talent with a strong work ethic and aggressive playing style.
As a hitter, Cave’s projections haven’t changed significantly since his injury. He boasts above average to plus contact skills, combining good (sometimes described as great) bat speed with a solid approach at the plate and good pitch recognition for his age and experience. He’s not a pull hitter, patiently waiting for his pitch and spraying to all fields. The only gap in Cave’s skill set is his power and power potential. Jake is never going to be a masher, right now his power looks to be only average (primarily gap power), although as he matures and adjusts he may be able to parlay his contact skills and bat speed into above average power. Prior to his injury, Cave looked to make up his lack of HR power with doubles and triples coming from his speed and aggressive play.
Cave’s speed also indicated that he would be a plus on the base paths and eventually, after learning the nuances and honing his instincts also be a base stealing threat. He was aggressive on the paths before and mostly needed refinement to get the most out of his plus speed. Defensively Cave doesn’t have a ton to learn, due to his elite level instincts supplemented by his plus speed. In fact, prior to breaking his kneecap (twice), Cave might have been the 3rd best defensive CF in the Yankees system, which doesn’t sound too great until you realize that he’s being compared to Heathcott and Williams, two players with elite speed and strong/elite instincts. In many ways, he is the nearly perfect combination of the two, combining Heathcott’s all-out defensive play with Williams’ elite instincts, only missing their elite level speed. He looked to be an above average to plus CF at the MLB level with an elite level arm.
Basically Jake Cave looks awesome. Recap: Above average to plus hit tool with average to slightly above average power, plus base-running, above average to plus defense with an elite arm with a strong make-up and aggressive style which could combine to make his whole greater than the parts. Sadly, things are not so simple, Jake Cave suffered a pretty significant injury and despite being aged 20, has nearly no professional experience. Simply put, no one knows how his speed has been and will be impacted by his surgically repaired kneecap and lost development time is never good.
Given his plus level speed before his unfortunate encounter with gypsy curses/opposing catchers, many believe that the worst case scenario is that he ends up being only average in the speed department. That’s not the worst case scenario, the worst case scenario is that he is eaten by a large monitor lizard that eventually mutates into a Godzilla like creature and rampages through Miami before eventually being stopped by giant robots who in turn rebel against their creators and begin the 1000 year rule of the machines, but I digress. Fortunately, while Cave’s aggressiveness got him into this mess, it also aids him if his speed truly degrades that much and should allow his possibly average speed to play up.
I’m going to ignore the obvious washout floor of every baseball prospect, because you should know, that is always a significant possibility. I’m looking at ceilings here, if his injury ends up being a non-factor, it’s possible to see Cave as a future average to above average to plus CF with an elite level with 20/20 power/speed and the ability to shut down extra bases with his arm, in other words a very good player with some all-star potential. If he ends up in a corner, he’s a plus fielder with an elite level arm and slightly below average offensive production for a corner, we’re talking 4 wins vs. 2.5 wins. If his speed degrades, things aren’t so nice. He probably couldn’t cover CF and would be closer to an above average corner OF defender and if his power stays were it is, his power/speed potential is more like 10-15/10 with full playing time. However, he would be unlikely to get a full time job and would probably top out as a backup OF who could fake CF from time to time, with some potential to be a lower tier starter, more like a 1.5 win player.
I find Jake Cave to be intriguing because we know so little about him, but the potential is enticing. Being so untested, we can only take what we know from his scouting reports and from how the Yankees are treating him. The fact that the Yankees are sending Cave to A ball after 2 previous professional plate appearances, speaks to how highly they think of his raw talent and ability to adjust and learn. They clearly believe that he is not as far behind as his lack of professional experience might suggest, and so far he is making them look smart. I’m going to keep an eye out for updated scouting reports on his baseball skills (He hasn’t played in over a year) and most importantly his speed, and how it has been impacted by his broken knee (I have no idea how it might impact speed or not impact speed). He might be the best Yankees OF prospect aside from the 4 split between A+ and AA. Cave has some great upside, but it’s important to remember he is only in A ball and a lot can go wrong on the long road to the majors, and given his pretty major injury, it may already have.
I’ll leave you with this short, optimistic blurb on Jake Cave, which puts his pre-injury tools into some more familiar context: “Imagine having the intensity of Slade Heathcott, the makeup of David Adams, the hitting consistency of Ramon Flores and the overall tool-set of Angelo Gumbs, and that’s what you have with Cave.”
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* Jake Cave may not be nice or kind
^all references to Jake Cave’s kitten are pure speculation
Introducing: Bryan Mitchell
Drafted out of High School in North Carolina in the 16th round of the 2009 draft, the Yankees paid Mitchell $800k in order to break his commitment to college. Standing 6’2”, and currently weighing in at 195lbs (up 20lbs from high school), the 22 year old Mitchell still has some projection left. He currently throws a sinking fastball in the mid-90’s, regularly posting GB rates north of 50%. When he was drafted he had a power-slider, but it looks like he ditched it (no surprise with the Yankees). He now instead throws a hard curve, and in fact BA listed him as having the best curve in the Yankee farm-system in 2012. He also throws a change-up, but I can’t find anything on it above, “developing”. I consulted my super-secret, prospecting handbook and found that means “bad”.
Mitchell has developed slowly and is in Tampa this year at the age of 22. Not old for his league per-se – especially for a pitcher – but older than you’d like for a prospect. So far his numbers in the minors can be described as “middling”. His FIP has consistently ranked between 3.88 (this year) and 4.09. His ERA is a career low 3.08 this year compared to a career high 4.58 (other than 4 innings in Staten Island in 2010). The difference in his diverging ERA and consistent FIP is…not BABIP. Not much anyway. It’s LOB%, ranging between 57.8% and 74.5%. But some of the places you can look most for minor league pitchers is in K and BB rates. His K-rate has been consistently getting better going from 7.7/9 to 8.6 to 9.1 (K% 20.7 to 21.5 to 22.8). Unfortunately, his BB have gone up at the same time, topping out last year at 5.4/9 (!). So far this year both his K and BB numbers are down, but ratio is the similar to what he’s been other years (between 1.6-1.7).
That’s basically been the story on Mitchell – knockout stuff, but not much ability to command it. This is a big year for him, as you want to see him start to use his stuff to dominate A-ball hitters, and make the leap up to AA. There have also been some reports of him having maturity issues, but I always take those with a grain of salt. With Mitchell, you dream he becomes Chien-Ming Wang with strikeouts (also known as Kevin Brown). More likely, you hope for AJ Burnett. However, he definitely has the stuff, and maybe if he can’t command it he could still transition to the bullpen. This is a big year for Mitchell, and one where he can reward the Yankees for overpaying him in the draft, or become the latest in an – unfortunately – long line of Yankee pitching prospects who failed to realize their potential.
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This is our first attempt at this, so please shower us with criticism or praise. We are more than open to suggestions of more stuff you would like to see, players you would like us to cover and anything else you can think of. Please use this thread as an discussion about said prospects and ideas/responses to the new MiL content and format. However, in the future please PM us in regards to future topics you’d like to see so that we don’t contaminate the other threads too much. Hope you enjoyed the content and I hope we can continue to provide some interesting and entertaining looks at the Yankees MiL system.
Clay “Snuggles” Hoadley and Mike “Mike K.”. K.
P.S. Mike is going to be busy over the next two months with his wedding and subsequent honeymoon, so I’ll do my best to provide what content I can until he returns and we can iron out our content and schedule. - Clay
P.P.S. I’m sure I’ll have time to add the occasional bit of irrational optimism, or maybe even an entire paragraph. Especially an update for any games I get too. Which I’ll try to announce ahead of time if anyone has a particular player to watch out for. - Mike
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
2013 Top Prospects
Baseball America released their list of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball today:
32. Mason Williams, OF, NYY
57. Gary Sanchez, C, NYY
63. Slade Heathcott, OF, NYY
77. Tyler Austin, OF, NYY
A few weeks back, Keith Law also released his Top 100:
18. Gary Sanchez, C, NYY
35. Mason Williams, OF, NYY
52. Tyler Austin, OF, NYY
57. Slade Heathcott, OF, NYY
The big difference in the lists is the ranking of Sanchez and Austin. In the case of Sanchez, Law seems to believe more in his defense than BA does. With Austin, Law has more faith in his power than BA does.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
An ability to hit and steal bases props up his profile, sure, but [Mason]Williams is widely regarded as one of the game’s next best defensive center fielders. This came with work. After adjusting his throwing motion—moving from short, he raised his right arm’s slot to generate more back-spin on the baseball—Williams started learning the real nuances of his new spot: like focusing his gaze on home plate—all while standing, bended at both knees, 300 feet away.
“He is really athletic, but he also reads the ball off the bat and has an ability to project where it’s going to end up,” says Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior vice president of baseball operations. “I don’t know how much of that is innate. I don’t know how much of that is the time he spends doing this, but he was really good when he signed with us, so if he started at a high level, he has improved.”
We had Bernie. We had Gerald. Will we have Mason?
Monday, February 11, 2013
At 18, Duncan was a first-round draft pick. He was touted for his power and praised for his work ethic. The Yankees thought his left-handed bat would be perfect in the Bronx.
“You love him, you’re happy you got him, and as soon as you sign the guy, you think, boy, I hope he plays well,” Yankees vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said.
But a baseball contract offers no promises. Not for the organization. Not for the player.
Duncan’s quiet journey was not unusual. It is simply an untold truth in a game that celebrates only an extraordinary few.
A pretty interesting article on Eric Duncan, a guy we had high hopes for who unfortunately never quite made it. H/T to Tim.
Monday, December 24, 2012
1) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+: Youngest of the top Yankee hitting prospects, and plays the most difficult position, showing enough defensive improvement to give decent hope that he can stick there.
2) Tyler Austin, OF, Grade B+: Tremendous instincts, solid tools, and hits for power and average. How did this guy last until the 13th round?
3) Mason Williams, OF, Grade B: Borderline B+: Tools are a notch ahead of Austin’s, but Tyler wins on current polish and makeup and they are the same age. It is also unclear how much power Williams will develop. Speed and defense should be very valuable.
4) Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade B: Oldest of the quartet at age 22 and injury history is discouraging, but he’s starting to tap his power and I was very impressed with him in the Arizona Fall League. An outfield of Heathcott in left, Williams in center, and Austin in right would be stellar defensively and highly-productive on offense if everyone maxes out their hitting skills.
5) Brett Marshall, RHP, Grade B-: Marshall is the best pitching prospect by default, thanks to the health problems of Banuelos and Campos, and the simple uncertainty regarding DePaula. Mid-rotation projection, should be a nice inning-eater.
Here’s the list of players that will be traded for a RH backup outfielder and pitchers with frayed labrums. Thanks to NJASDJDH, who really could have just posted it himself.
Happy Festivus to all, or Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukah if that’s more your style.
Friday, November 16, 2012
Selected by New York 29th overall in the 2009 Draft out of Texas High School, Heathcott has a checkered past that includes family issues and personal problems. Injuries and surgeries have added to the time Heathcott has spent away from the field, but he has been as locked in as any hitter over the last week.
The Yankees’ No. 5 prospect and third-ranked outfielder is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak. Over that time, he’s batting 19-for-32 (.594) with 10 extra-base hits and 11 RBIs. He has also stolen three bases over that spell, and he has as many walks (three) as strikeouts.
Heathcott capped a solid 2012 season with a great stint in the Arizona Fall League. His 388/.494/.612 line gave him an OPS that .was second in the league. He’ll be 22 in 2013, and may start the year in AA, although he only has 248 PA in advanced Class A thanks to injuries. I’m concerned about his ability to remain healthy, but I am optimistic about his play and while I think it’s a long shot, he may be a possibility for a starting OF spot in MLB at some point in 2014. From what I’ve read he’s got better tools than Mason Williams, but I think his health makes him a bigger question mark.
If the Yankees are going to achieve their goal of being competitive with a restricted payroll, players like Heathcott are going to be critical. Let’s hope he’s part of the solution.
Friday, November 9, 2012
1. Mason Williams, of
2. Slade Heathcott, of
3. Gary Sanchez, c
4. Tyler Austin, of
5. Jose Campos, rhp
6. Brett Marshall, rhp
7. Angelo Gumbs, 2b
8. Manny Banuelos, lhp
9. Ty Hensley, rhp
10. Rafael De Paula, rhp
Given the Yankees’ track record of developing pitchers, I’m happy to see position players at the top four spots on this list. They’re all still at least two years away, but I’m optimistic in varying degrees on all four of Williams, Heathcott, Sanchez and Austin.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Five Yankee prospects will participate in the 2012 Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the prestigious six-team league which often features rosters full of top prospects. Opening day for the 2012 season will be October 4, and the league runs through November 19, when the two top teams will square off for the championship. Below, we’ll take a brief look at the prospects assigned to the Arizona Fall League by the Yankees’ front office.
Mark Montgomery, RP, Age 22
By the numbers: Montgomery split time between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this season, dominating the competition with arguably the best slider in Minor League Baseball at both stops. For Tampa, Montgomery pitched to a 4-1 record, saving 14 games and recording a 1.34 ERA while striking out 61 hitters in 40.1 innings. After he was promoted to Trenton, Montgomery only got better, going 3-1, while adding a save and a 1.88 ERA. He struck out 38 hitters in 24 innings pitched.
Why he’s here: To continue his dominance. Montgomery has blown through A-ball, and pitched extremely well in limited action at Double-A Trenton. If he’s as dominant in the Arizona Fall League as he was this season, he’ll help his stock immensely.
2013 impact: Squaring off against some of the top prospects in all of baseball, Montgomery has a chance to prove to the Yankees that there is no need for him to return to Trenton. If he pitches well, I’d say there’s at least a 50/50 chance that Montgomery begins next season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and could make an impact in the major leagues later in the season.
Montgomery appears to be banging on the door of the big leagues, although not this season. He seems to have put himself in the mix for 2013, although I’d be surprised if he broke camp with the team.
Click the link to read about the other four prospects going to the AFL (Zach Nuding, Austin Romine, David Adams and Slade Heathcott).
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Hard-throwing Oklahoma high school right-hander Ty Hensley was the Yankees’ first-round selection in the First-Year Player Draft. CC Sabathia announced the club’s selection of the 30th overall pick as televised by MLB Network.
“We’re excited to get a guy with such a high ceiling,’” said Yankees VP of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer. “He has the ideal body for a high school pitcher, as well as power stuff, and has the ability to be a high-end starter. He’s demonstrated a quality makeup and has shown himself to be a hard worker, which makes him a quality pick for us.”
The few things I’ve read seem to like this pick for the Yankees, but it’ll take four to five years to really know how it pans out.
Update: More on Hensley.
Hensley has baseball bloodlines and has a fastball that has touched 97, helping him rank No. 23 on the BA 500. He also has a plus curveball that might be a better pitch than his fastball. He’ll need some time to add some polish and improve his command but he has more than just big stuff.
Velocity is not an issue with Hensley and he’s consistently in the low-90s with his fastball and tops out at 94-95 mph. He doesn’t get much movement on the pitch and has yet to learn how to work in low in the strike zone consistently, a challenge when you’re 6-foot-5 and throwing from a tall over the top release point. But Hensley has shown command to both sides of the plate with the pitch and is around the plate consistently. Hensley’s best pitch is a 78 mph hard downer curveball that he gets over very well and generates hard spin and 12-to-6 shape. The angle of his curveball and the break make it a very hard pitch to square up and Hensley has shown good feel for throwing it for strikes. He also throws a change up but is still developing feel and consistency for that pitch.
Hensley is a big, projectable righthander who is described as having two plus pitches, a fastball that touches the upper 90s and a 12-to-6 curveball. Hensley also played quarterback in high school until his senior year, and has the athleticism that the Rangers like to see in their pitchers.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees will play all 144 games of their International League season on the road, forced out of PNC Field because of a stadium renovation. Instead, they’ll have 37 “home” games in Rochester, N.Y., with the rest scattered about in Batavia, Buffalo and Syracuse, N.Y., along with Allentown, Pa., and Pawtucket, R.I.
They’re even adopting a temporary name, the Empire State Yankees. Might as well call them the Boys of Somewhere.
“Every baseball team has a home base. It’s going to be a little weird just not having one,” said 27-year-old infielder Kevin Russo, embarking on his fourth season with the team. “Friends, family, girlfriend, they all don’t really understand. Even I don’t understand it.”
I wonder how this situation might impact the players. With guys like Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances likely on the team I suppose it gives Yankee fans scattered around New York State more chances to see them.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Yankees pitching prospect Manny Banuelos will be back at spring training this season.
The heralded 20-year-old was one of 14 invitees the team announced today.
The Yankees also officially announced they have signed 13 players to minor-league contracts, including Russell Branyan, Manny Delcarmen, Bill Hall, Hideki Okajima and Dewayne Russell.
Monday, January 2, 2012
1) Jesus Montero, C-DH, Grade A: What he did in the majors last year was not a fluke. It was at the high end of expectation, yes, and I wouldn’t expect him to hit like that over 500 plate appearances at age 22. He may need some adjustment time, but his bat is truly outstanding and he wasn’t just getting lucky. His glove isn’t very good and while he’s not a complete player in terms of contributing speed or defense, his hitting is so strong he still gets a Grade A from me.
2) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+: Excellent power production in full-season ball at age 18; that is rare. His glove needs work and he needs to take his career more seriously, but he has time to outgrow emotional immaturity.
3) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. He got a B last year and I can’t bump his grade up a notch given the command difficulties he had in Double-A. He’s still a fine prospect, however, projecting as a number three starter if all goes well.
4) Dellin Betances, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. He’s got plenty of stuff but command wobbles prevent the B+ at this time. Ceiling is a tad higher than Banuelos, but I’m less confident that he’ll reach it. Depending on what happens with his command, he could develop into anything from a number two starter to a disappointing mop-up man.
5) Mason Williams, OF, Grade B: We need to see him higher than the New York-Penn League, but he showed progress with both the bat and the glove. Main question is how much power he’ll develop. Grade may be a bit aggressive.
Overall, there were a few glitches last year but the farm system is in good shape. They have a mixture of tools upside and players with polish. The pitching at the lower levels could use a boost and it will be interesting to see what their draft strategy is under the new CBA.
Williams looks very interesting to me. CAIRO loves him, considering how it generally treats prospects.
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BRAR: BR above replacement level, adjusted for position
Is he possibly Nick Swisher’s replacement in RF in 2013? That seems like wishful thinking but if he can get to AA, who knows?
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Last week, FoxSports.com reported that both the Yankees and Red Sox were interested in adding righthander Hiroki Kuroda to their rotation, but on Monday morning, ESPNNewYork.com reported the Yankees aren’t likely to make a bid for the former Dodgers starter.
The Yankees have been uncharacteristically quiet this offseason after retaining the services of lefthanded ace CC Sabathia before the start of free agency, and it seems their interest in Kuroda was likely a bluff, the website reports.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Brian Cashman departed the Winter Meetings Thursday not optimistic about signing a free agent or making a trade to upgrade the starting rotation.
According to the general manager, progress wasn’t made yesterday, a day after he admitted, “I am ready to rock and roll. The Yankees are open for business.’’
But the Yankees believe the price on free-agent arms such as Edwin Jackson is too high and teams with hurlers to deal are asking for too much. Thus, the lack of movement.
Although there are a lot of reports that the Yankees are iffy on Yu Darvish, my guess is that it’s subterfuge and they’ll be somewhat aggressive with the bidding for him. Aside from that, I’d be cool with them going into spring training with the team they’ve got now and seeing how the kids do in an open competition. They’ve already said that Hector Noesi will be competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, and I’d like to see him get a chance. Some of the other arms like David Phelps and Adam Warren are also probably close to being ready to contribute.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
D.J. Mitchell had just worked eight dominant innings. Jorge Vazquez drove in three runs and hit as long a home run as he hit in his record-setting season. And 2011 ended on a clean, crisp, 5-1 win over Buffalo.
In that clubhouse, one disappointed days ago that it couldn’t secure the franchise’s unprecedented sixth straight playoff berth, there was a sense of finality to it all.
As he was giving his postgame interview, Mitchell’s eyes lunched toward the television. The slugger who helped spark the Yankees offense all season, catcher Jesus Montero, had just hit his second home run of his big league career.
The [Scranton Wilkes/Barre]Yankees players milling around the clubhouse flocked to any television they could find to watch their former teammate trot around the bases.
As his old teammates watched Montero take his curtain call, Miley had the last big job of the season. He called outfielder Greg Golson, infielder Ramiro Pena and pitchers Hector Noesi and George Kontos into his office to deliver the news they had been hoping for or, in one case, waiting for an entire lifetime.
They were going to the big leagues.
“I can’t even describe this feeling. It’s surreal,” said Kontos, his cell phone in hand and tears welling in his eyes as he pondered who to call next to talk about his first big-league call-up. “It’s everything I worked for, my whole lifetime. To think that I’m going up, it’s unreal.”
More reinforcements on the way.
And in case you’re curious, here’s an update to the AL postseason odds after yesterday’s action.
W: Projected final 2011 wins
L: Projected final 2011 losses
RS: Projected final 2011 runs scored
RA: Projected final 2011 runs allowed
Div: Division win percentage
WC: Wild card win percentage
PL: Playoff percentage (Div + WC)
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The Yankees were still working through some issues involving who to call up tomorrow when rosters expand on Sept. 1. But there were three players not in dispute: Jesus Montero is going to be promoted while Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances will not be, The Post has learned.
The Yanks simply feel that Banuelos and Betances, their top two pitching prospects, have met their objectives this year, which were to progress from Double-A to Triple-A and log enough innings to become factors to pitch in the majors next year.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Overall, the Yankees signed 21 of their 50 draft picks, including first-rounder Dante Bichette Jr. He agreed to a $750,000 signing bonus on June 18, allowing him to get a jump start on his professional career. Bichette, 18, is hitting .344 with three homers and 42 RBI in 43 games with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Yankees. He is slugging .519 during his first professional season.
The biggest bonus went to Gregory Bird in the fifth round. He’s listed as a catcher, which isn’t exactly a position of need, but it sounds like his bat has the potential to be good enough that he could survive a move to first base, although that’s a long way off.
Other than that, the draft seems a little thin, particularly seeing that they signed just 42% of their draftees. I guess you can’t be wasting money on draft picks when you’re paying $8M a year for lefty relievers to throw off flat ground.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Dunedin, FL—The New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez will play for the Tampa Yankees, in Dunedin, Friday and Saturday nights, as part of his rehab from knee surgery.
The Tampa Yankees will begin a three game series on Friday night in Dunedin tied for first place in the Florida State League North.
A-Rod has been working his way back from knee surgery on July 11 to repair a torn meniscus, and is expected to play at least two games in Dunedin. He is expected to DH Friday night, and play the field on Saturday.
Rodriguez hasn’t played in a minor league game since 1996. Good news anyway.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
When asked if the Yankees were allowing him to use all of his pitches, Betances said:
“No, right now I feel like I could do whatever I want. I just haven’t got the chance to do it. ’’
Another touchy subject with the 6-foot-8, Brooklyn-educated Betances has been his limited innings, but it is difficult to blame the notoriously cautious Yankees for his inability to reach 100 innings with less a month remaining in the regular season.
Because of his 4.9 walks per nine innings, Betances has been maddeningly inefficient and is averaging less than five innings per start.
“I think now they’re going to let me go,’’ Betances said. “I mean, I would love to go seven innings. I haven’t gone seven innings since Charleston (in 2008) just because they haven’t given me the chance. I’ve had games this year where I could have gone longer than six, but they have something going now and it’s getting to the last month.’’
The second sentence in the quote above is a reminder that the raw performance of a prospect can often be misleading. If the Yankees are having Betances work on his areas of weakness, it may be at least partially responsible for his disappointing season, but could also possibly pay dividends down the line.
I’m of the mindset that Betances’s health is the biggest concern about his long-term future. The fact that he’s remained healthy all year is encouraging to me. As far as how he’s done? It’s been kind of a bummer, but I still think he’s got a chance to be very good.
I’ll just say I don’t share the same outlook for Andrew Brackman.
Friday, August 5, 2011
1) Jesus Montero, C, Grade A: Hitting .288/.345/.441 for Triple-A Scranton, 27 walks, 79 strikeouts in 340 at-bats. Passed ball and error rates have improved dramatically, but has thrown out just 19% of runners. A weaker season than last year with the bat, the theory is that he’s frustrated. They need to play him or trade him.
2) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+: Hitting .251/.327/.463 with 14 homers, 32 walks, 88 strikeouts in 283 at-bats for Low-A Charleston. 31% of runners caught, but has given up 26 passed balls in 55 defensive games. Just 18 years old.
3) Dellin Betances, RHP, Grade B+: 3.57 ERA with 103/53 K/BB in 93 innings for Double-A Trenton, 75 hits, 1.32 GO/AO. Looks fine to me with a few more control adjustments.
4) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B: 3.59 ERA with 102/55 K/BB in 100 innings between 20 starts for Trenton and one for Scranton, 101 hits allowed. Like Betances, he could use more Triple-A time to refine his command but his stock remains high with me.
Click the title for the rest.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I don’t know much about the author, but I always appreciate extra insight:
[Culver’s] bat is really underrated. He has tons of bat speed from each side of the plate and he’s vastly improved this season alone, especially from the left side which he’s been known to have the most difficulties. Unlike Williams, Culver has a calm and simple approach at the plate. He has an easy backload and he gets his front foot down in time from both sides. He has a two-handed swing and has driven the ball a lot this season, even the opposite way from each side of the plate.
Click through the link for video and more info on Culver and Mason Williams.
Monday, July 11, 2011
First, sorry that the past few games I’ve been at there haven’t been reports. One of the cases where life has gotten in the way of baseball. But I did see (most of) a 9 inning game last night, and am actually writing about it the next morning (Editor’s Note: Then my life got in the way…) when it’s still fresh in my mind. So away we go…
Well, I had been hoping to see #65 pitching for SWB Yankees last night, but my hopes were dashed when it was announced the other day that Hughes would be pitching tonight in Cleveland. When I got to the game I saw the starting lineups posted. Greg Smith starting (bleh), no Montero. So the only player I was particularly interested in was Laird. Oh well. Imagine my surprise when I look up and see a tall guy wearing #65 jogging in the outfield warming up! Turns out I was in for a treat after all, as Schaeffer Hall has been promoted, and also wears #65!
So Hall. Looks to me like a drop-and-drive style pitcher. As I’ve mentioned, the gun at Scranton seems useless this year. Hall topped out at 87, but the gun has been 6-7MPH short. Looks like mostly FB/CB pitcher. He’s also got another breaking pitch. Looks like either a slider or a cutter. Some late, sharp break it appeared. IDK if he throws a change or not. Definitely attacked hitters, getting ahead 0-1 on many and was always around the plate. I think he only had one or two batters that he went 3 balls on, and no walks. He wasn’t missing by much, and usually when he did it was in the dirt. In the first he let up some long flies which included a HR to John Mayberry Jr. Only other run he allowed was a leadoff “triple” that should have been a single and 2-base error on Jordan Parraz, and a sac-fly. Had a few other long flyouts, but 7-6 GO/FO ratio, and induced a couple of double-plays. Only had 3K’s, but seemed like more. Overall a very solid AAA debut. Pretty sure given the injuries to Bleich that Hall is the top lefty starter in the minors for the Yankees, so hope he can build on this. Hall was followed by Wordekemper who was his usual self (1.2 perfect innings with a K), and I then got to see newbie Logan Kensing. Bunt hit (pefect bunt) followed by a booming double and along fly to CF wasn’t an good beginning. But he then buckled down and had a strikeout and a routine groundout to end the game. He throws HARD. One FB got 92 on the gun. That’s the highest I’ve seen this year, and translates somewhere in the 97-99 range. Also threw a curve.
On offense…thank God Tim Redding was pitching for the Pigs! Golson had 3 hits and a sac bunt - he was bunting for a hit but the pitcher made a fantastic play - but also got doubled off first in the first. Got greedy, as Lamb hit a screaming liner at the 2B who leapt and caught it. Doug Bernier had 4 hits. The only prospect - or trying to rebuild his prospect status - Laird had 2 singles, a flare to RCF his first AB and a solid LD to left his last. Golson also had several nice running catches in CF. Really only two guys that have a future beyond being depth guys, IMHO. Laird who had a couple of hits, and Hall. Montero apparently has a minor strain in his back. I’m hoping Joseph gets called up soon.
Oh, Austin Krum only played LF for the 9th inning this game, but I did want to talk about him a bit. He started a couple of recent games I’ve been at, in both LF and CF. He really can’t hit, but that boy can play defense. Covers a lot of ground, made some diving catches, and appears to have a strong, accurate arm. If MLB ever gets back to a roster that can support a 5th OF, he’d be the perfect kind.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Yankees have claimed right-hander Jeff Marquez, a one-time farmhand, off waivers from the White Sox.
Hector Noesi is getting sent down to make room on the 25-man roster for Marquez.
This gives new meaning to Shutdown Bullpen™.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Slade Heathcott aimed the shotgun at his father.
“I was ready to do it,” the Charleston RiverDogs’ 20-year-old millionaire center fielder said. “Had my finger on the trigger.”
The near-deadly low point of Heathcott’s junior year of high school started like too many tormented nights in Texarkana, Texas. More yelling and screaming, mom and dad grinding through a divorce.
Then Heathcott did this tonight.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
The Yankees’ Major League season is underway and the minor league season kicks off TODAY. In order to streamline your minor league viewing experience I will be highlighting select players from the four full-season clubs and giving you an idea of what to look for. Players are listed alphabetically and grouped by minor league level. I have also listed their current position as well as age as of minor league Opening Day. No doubt, many/most of these names will be familiar to you.
Abraham Almonte, OF, 21-This is the year Almonte finally breaks out. Hopefully. A short and stocky yet speedy OF from the Dominican Republic, it seems like Almonte has been around forever. While it HAS been 5 years in the organization, Almonte is yet to escape A-ball. He had a good second half in 2009 at Low-A Charleston, but has since been derailed due to injuries. Almonte is supposedly fully healthy and I expect that he will have a solid year. He’s never going to be a big power hitter, so it is imperative that he control the strike zone, get on base and wreak havoc once there.
Key Stat(s): GP, BB/K
Zoilo Almonte, OF, 21-2 or 3 years ago, Zoilo was the talk of Spring Training. The guys over at Pinstripes Plus, who do excellent work, would have regular reports on minor league Spring Training where it seemed Almonte was hitting bombs every day. Since then, a combination of attitude/makeup questions, injury and inconsistency has held Almonte back. Despite this, he’s not too old to be starting the year in the FSL, has a decent eye at the plate, solid tools across the board and should be promoted quickly if his performance proves worthy. While Almonte has solid power and is willing to take a walk, he needs to make more contact. His K-rate actually improved after he was promoted from Charleston, but it is still in that 25% danger zone so this will be the key.
Key Stat(s): AB/K
Brett Marshall, SP, 21-Marshall comes into 2011 with big expectations. After a quick recovery from surgery, Marshall closed last year by dominating at Charleston, forcing the Yankees to promote him to Tampa and dominating in a short stint there. Marshall’s fastball is hard and heavy and while hitters did not show much in the way of figuring it out, 2011 will be all about developing his secondary pitches…just in case they ever do. I like Marshall a lot and am expecting him to be ranked amongst the game’s best pitching prospects once the season is over. There are going to be concerns over his ability to handle a full-season’s workload, until he does so, but I think that tends to get overblown with short RHP.
Key Stat(s): K/9, GB%
Jose Ramirez, SP, 21-One year after he was supposed to be the guy that would make Yankee fans not feel so bad about dealing Arodys Vizcaino, Ramirez is the forgotten man in the system. Ramirez had a solid full-season debut with Charleston but due to almost every other pitcher in the Yankee system having a huge year as well as some fatigue/velocity-loss towards season’s end he has lost some of his luster. Despite that as well as some troubles knowing exactly where the ball was going (a decent BB rate hid a big wild pitch problem) Ramirez did an exceptional job keeping the ball in the park. Ramirez is going to have to prove that he has the stamina to maintain his stuff over the course of a full season as well as work on his secondary pitches, of which the change is currently the most promising.
Key Stat(s): K/9, GB%, IP
Charleston Three-Year Weighted Park Multipliers:
Kelvin De Leon, OF, 20-De Leon has a ton of power, but…his bats, they are sick. He cannot hit curve ball. Straight ball he hit it very much. Curve ball, bats are afraid. He ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. He offer him cigar and rum. He will come, the Yankees hope. It would also be helpful if Jobu could remove the fear from De Leon’s glove as well.
Key Stat(s): AB/K
Ramon Flores, OF, 19-Already tagged with the dreaded “tweener” label, Flores supposedly does not have any standout tools. However, as a stat-friendly blogger I am obligated to fall in love with BB:K ratio and…I have. In a brief 14-game trial at Charleston to end 2010, Flores’ beloved BB:K ratio went to crap so…this will need to be monitored to figure out whether he was a guy taking advantage of young pitchers’ control problems or someone with an exceptional eye.
Key Stat(s): BB/K
Slade Heathcott, CF, 20-Heathcott was billed as a 5 tool guy the Yankees were lucky to grab in the draft due to the help of supposed character issues. 18 months later, Heathcott’s Hit and Power tools (Ha! Power tools!) are in question. While it’s nice to see a HS pick with some patience, as evidenced by the walk total, it’s not so nice when the K rate is as bad as Slade’s is. Toss in an almost complete lack of power and Heathcott is going to have to take 2011 to prove that he can hit. While he did deal with some injury issues, he was still pretty bad when he was on the field. I’m not optimistic but perhaps he can have an Austin Jackson style Low-A repeat (which actually wasn’t that successful until his surprise promotion to Tampa).
Key Stat(s): AB/K
Thomas Kahnle, RP, 21-Hard throwing reliever from the 2010 draft class. With all the starting pitchers ahead of him who won’t make it as starters and may find a future in the bullpen it is tough to get excited about a reliever this far away. Even if he can reach the upper 90s. Kahnle is going to have to be dominant.
Key Stat(s): K/9
J.R. Murphy, C/CUtility, 19-The Yankees paid Murphy handsomely to be add to their growing C corps and he disappointed a bit in his full-season debut. The book on Murphy was that he was a polished hitter with defensive tools who was going to have to learn the position. Unfortunately, he got off to a slow start with the bat in 2010 that killed any chances of having a good overall line. This hides the fact that Murphy displayed increased patience and power as the year went along. He is returning to Low-A because the Yankees want to see more of this as well as see further defensive progress. He will share everyday catcher duties with Gary Sanchez, much like the Montero/Romine combo from years past. On days when he is not behind the plate the Yankees plan on playing him at the various corners with 3B looking like the position where he will get the most exposure. Murphy is a guy I probably like more than most.
Key Stat(s): Everything
Zach Nuding, SP/RP, 21-The Yankees are going to give Nuding a shot to start though most of his pre-draft scouting reports seemed to scream reliever. Nuding has a big fastball but will need to work on finding a consistent secondary pitch as well as throwing strikes. He is a lottery ticket.
Key Stat(s): Everything
Gary Sanchez, C, 18-Jesus Montero with defense. Austin Romine with a bigger bat. The consensus seems to be that Gary Sanchez will be the Yankees’ number 1 prospect by the end of the season. I can’t begin to refute that too seriously, but…the K-rate should be watched. That said, Sanchez could have an awful year and still be fine as a prospect because the physical talent would still be there and he’s just so damn young. Really excited to follow him this year.
Key Stat(s): PB, WP, CS%, AB/K
Rob Segedin, 3B, 21-Following the Brad Suttle Experience I’m not that excited about another college corner bat with power whose bat will allegedly develop further, but regardless, here comes the next in that line. When you’re a college guy and you’re starting in Low-A AND you’re positioned at a corner (with concerns that the defensive responsibilities may be too much) you are going to have to hit a ton. I will be very interested to see if Segedin does this.
Key Stat(s): BA/OBP/SLG
Eduardo Sosa, OF, 20-A speedy OF from the Venezuelan, Sosa is coming off of a decent year in the NYPL. As one of the younger players in that league he showed off his speed but still struggled to make contact regularly, striking out in more than a quarter of his at bats. If Sosa can’t improve that mark he won’t be able to tap into his power potential and you’re just left with a pinch runner and (excellent) defensive sub. With a few guys behind him in Extended Spring Training it will be interesting to see how much patience the Yankees have with Sosa.
Key Stat(s): AB/K
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The Yankees’ Major League season is underway and the minor league season kicks off on April 7th. In order to streamline your minor league viewing experience I will be highlighting select players from the four full-season clubs and giving you an idea of what to look for. Players are listed alphabetically and grouped by minor league level. I have also listed their current position as well as age as of minor league Opening Day. No doubt, many/most of these names will be familiar to you.
Trenton Three-Year Weighted Park Multipliers:
David Adams, 2B/3B-The man who helped kill the midseason Cliff Lee deal is still not ready to begin playing. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) he’s dealing with a different injury this time around. There were questions about Adams’ bat coming out of college, but the Yankees thought they could fix that pretty easily and so far so good. However, he is still a work in progress on defense where questions about his range at 2B, which probably won’t be helped by these lower body injuries, persist. The Trenton infield figures to be overcrowded in 2011 and Adams may see more time at 3B than he has in the past. With Cano in the fold, Adams just needs to get healthy enough to revive his trade value.
Key Stat(s): GP
Dellin Betances, SP, 23-This may seem unfair, but I was a bit disappointed with Dellin this Spring. From what I saw, the fastball was 91-95, but I expected more, and he rarely seemed to have any idea where his pitches were going. The latter is more of a concern than the former because the selling point on Dellin was that he had made significant strides on his control while rehabbing. Hopefully, the Spring Training wildness was more nerves than anything else and he can get back to the form he showed in 2010. The other issue, of course, is that Betances just needs to stay on the field and build up his innings as he has lost a lot of time to injury. I think this tends to get overblown, but it would be nice to see him get in the neighborhood of at least 120-130 innings this year.
Key Stat(s): BB/9, IP
Manuel Banuelos, SP, 20-Manny is a stud. He’s just gotta keep pitchin’ man. P-i-t-c-h-i-n.
Key Stat(s): IP
Shaeffer Hall, SP, 23-Small crafty left-hander. None of Hall’s pitches are noteworthy and while it was nice that he cut his walks and increased his Ks when promoted from Charleston to Tampa…I’m more worried about the HR rate increasing sevenfold. Trenton is a good park for keeping the ball in the yard, but…I don’t think it’s going to work out.
Key Stat(s): GB%, HR/9
Corban Joseph, 2B/3B, 22-Corban Joseph is a good hitter. To date he has consistently demonstrated the ability to hit for average, take a walk and drive the ball into the gaps. He stumbled in his first exposure to AA pitching, but I’m certain that had more to do with a wrist injury than his actual ability. Trenton is a tough place to hit, but Joseph hit a ton of doubles in the FSL and it will be interesting to see how his power continues to develop.
Key Stat(s): SLG
Melky Mesa, CF, 24-I love Melky 2…probably more than I should. He has power, speed, a great arm, fielding ability and he’s slowly but surely making progress with the hit tool. Yes, he’s much older than you would like for a prospect but…I’ve got my own Binder and it tells he will definitely make the majors, in some (contributing) form.
Key Stat(s): AB/K
Yadil Mujica, SS, TBD-I don’t really know anything about this guy. He’s a SS the Yankees signed out of Cuba who’s supposed to be a high average hitter with good defensive tools. Look for him to replace Jeter by the All Star Break.
Key Stat(s): DOB, AB/BB
Jose Pirela, 2B/3B/SS, 21-Pirela had a “sneaky good” year last year. The FSL and Tampa are a bad combination for offensive performance and Pirela’s overall line was pretty poor, but he had a nice second half. While studies have shown there is greater predictive value for second half performance at the ML level, I am more likely to believe it is a sign of genuine improvement when it occurs with a prospect. Especially when it includes things like Pirela doubling his walk rate in the last 3 months of the season while cutting his K rate and hitting 5 HRs in those last 3 months after being stuck on 0 for the past 2+ years.
Key Stat(s): AB/BB
Austin Romine, C, 22-As a result of Montero returning to AAA and the organization’s belief that both Montero and Romine should be catching full-time, Austin finds himself in a familiar place. Romine’s offensive numbers should improve while repeating the league, but Trenton is an extremely difficult place to hit and the pop that Romine displayed in AFL batting practice sessions and Spring Training may still end up hidden within his numbers. Regardless, Romine’s defense is the aspect of his game you want to pay attention to. Despite Yankee announcers parroting the company line that Austin is a defensive stand out the little minor league numbers we have do not show much difference between him and Jesus Montero. In addition, some have expressed concern about his ability to handle plus velocity. Given this year’s Trenton staff, he will have plenty of opportunity to work on that.
Key Stat(s): PB/WP
Graham Stoneburner, SP, 23-Stoneburner, like his college teammate D.J. Mitchell, throws a heavy low 90s fastball with not much in the way of secondary offerings. Stoneburner throws more strikes than Mitchell and, if he shows any development with a breaking ball or change-up, he may fight off the bullpen tag.
Key Stat(s): GB%, K/9
Brad Suttle, 3B/1B, 25-The Yankees drafted Suttle in 2007 and gave him a big bonus thinking they had stolen a smooth swining 3B who would move through the system quickly. Almost 4 years later, due to a combination of injury and underperformance, Suttle will finally make his upper level minor league debut. Suttle’s 2010 line isn’t really encouraging, but the hope is that he was just playing himself into shape and the mid .900s OPS he posted over his final 150 PA is a sign of things to come.
Key Stat(s): BA/OBP/SLG, GP
Sunday, April 3, 2011
The Yankees’ Major League season is underway and the minor league season kicks off on April 7th. In order to streamline your minor league viewing experience I will be highlighting select players from the four full-season clubs and giving you an idea of what to look for. Players are listed alphabetically and grouped by minor league level. I have also listed their current position as well as age as of minor league Opening Day. No doubt, many/most of these names will be familiar to you.
Scranton Three-Year Weighted Park Multipliers:
Andrew Brackman, SP, 25-Keep throwing strikes. Brackman may be the single most important minor leaguer for the 2011 season and so it is imperative that he continues to throw strikes. If/when The Rock, Bartolo-y and Millwood turn into pumpkins, Brackman will likely be the first prospect given a shot. While an early Spring Training groin injury killed any chances he had at making the team it was clear the Yankee brass felt it was important for him to get his feet wet (doesn’t hurt that he has a ML contract). As he makes the transition to AAA, Brackman will also have to focus on developing his command. While he has dramatically cut the walks, and that’s a good thing, he has become more hittable than you would like for a pitcher with his physical talent. 2011 will be all about striking that balance.
Key Stat(s): BB/9, H/9
Dan Brewer, OF, 23-Brewer does not have any plus tools, but has performed, thus far. As is often the case when a guy lacking physicality or dominant statistical performance comes along, Brewer has been tagged as a future 4th OF or fringe starter. This means he is going to have to continue doing what he has done thus far and that is prove himself in all facets of the game.
Key Stat(s): All
Colin Curtis, OF, 26-Curtis is another future 4th OF type, but with less ability on the bases, more pop and a better pedigree. Curtis had a good first full season at AAA last year, better than you would have thought given his prior AA performance and will look to repeat. With Chris Dickerson now in the system as well as Brewer and Laird at the AAA level, there will be a lot of competition for that first call-up if/when one of the Yankee OFs gets hurt.
Key Stat(s): All
Brandon Laird, CIF/OF, 23-The Yankees seem to like the idea of Laird as a future backup at all 4 corner positions and I would agree that this is a good use of his talents. The toughest position he would have to play, 3B, is also one that he has a lot of minor league experience at. Despite some iffy defensive scouting reports when I’ve seen Laird play the hot corner he has shown average range and a plus arm. He can be erratic at times, but as a guy who is only going to see action in spurts I don’t think it will be much of a concern. While Laird had a monster offensive performance in a very tough AA league he scuffled at AAA. Laird comes from the grip it and rip it school of hitting and the numbers (his .246/.268/.344 line turns into .211/.237/.246 when you remove his first 2 games) seem to indicate that once the book was out on him he was unable to adjust. In ’11 he will have to prove that last year’s AA offenseive performance was not a fluke. While I have faith the power is real, I am concerned about the approach.
Key Stat(s): BB, BB/K
DJ Mitchell, SP, 23-D.J. is in a tough spot. Because almost every pitcher in the system had a huge year last year guys who are either more talented or more ready now surround him. Normally, someone with his profile would be a prime candidate for some spot action this year, but I think he gets tacked on to a deal at some point. If he can keep the ball on the ground and the walks in check, he will prove useful out of the bullpen, wherever he ends up.
Key Stat(s): BB/9, GB%
Jesus Montero, C, 21-I didn’t see every inning of Montero’s (televised) Spring Training appearances but, apparently, he was really bad whenever I stopped watching. When I did watch, Montero didn’t stand out, which was a triumph considering scouting reports had lead me to believe he would make a mistake on every pitch. Joel Sherman aside, everyone in the world believes Montero will hit at the big league level and so all he needs to do is prove that his defense is “not terrible” enough so that the Yankees can use him to replace the corpse of Turtle.
Key Stat(s): PB, WP, CS%, BA/OBP/SLG
Hector Noesi, SP, 24-I think this is the year Noesi’s hype as a prospect, lukewarm as it may be, dies out. Dominican Scary Fly-Ball Guy has more velocity than the original Scary Fly-Ball Guy but the same love for balls in the air. This has worked out fine for him thus far but 2011 will mark the first time he does not play in a home park that hugely depresses home runs. I’m not optimistic about his odds of maintaining his success as a starter but he could pitch teh fifth.
Key Stat(s): HR/9, K/9
David Phelps, SP, 24-Phelps, a small righty with “stuff” questions, made it to AAA last year and saw his K rate tumble and HR rate increase. However, he also cut some walks and increased the K:BB ratio while keeping runs off the board at a solid rate. Any projection beyond back of the rotation or middle relief is tough for a guy with this sort of profile and he will return to AAA hoping to miss a few more bats and limit quality contact.
Key Stat(s): HR/9, K/9, H/9
Adam Warren, SP, 23-Because he’s a small right-hander with outstanding minor league performance I often think of Warren as the Yankees’ second shot at the Ian Kennedy thing. Warren has more fastball than Kennedy did though, but has yet to demonstrate a secondary pitch as effective as Kennedy’s change. While the fastball velocity is better, Warren, like Kennedy, will have to work on his command and keep the ball in the park. I like his chances of doing so and think he will be the first guy up for an extended look this year.
Key Stat(s): HR/9, K/9
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Ivan Nova hurled six no-hit innings Wednesday in a Grapefruit League start against the Orioles.
If there was any doubt before that Nova deserves one of the last two spots in the Yankees’ starting rotation, it was all erased tonight. The 24-year-old was given an 85-pitch limit before the outing but needed only 59 tosses to carve through Baltimore’s lineup. He struck out four batters and allowed just one baserunner via a hit by pitch.
Nova should have a fine year in Scranton.
I’ll take good spring training stats over bad ones, but they’re ultimately meaningless. What is encouraging is how Nova is pitching. If he’s throwing strikes consistently with the type of stuff he has, there’s little doubt in my mind he can at least be a solid fourth starter.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Andrew Brackman Month By Month
I was thinking about Andrew Brackman and the possibility of him sneaking onto the MLB roster, perhaps even in the rotation so I was curious about how his pro career has progressed so far. While trends are not necessarily predictive on the MLB level, I’m generally more comfortable assuming that they have some predictive value when looking at players who are still early in their development. This is especially true when looking at someone like Brackman who had surgery and has been working his way back from it.
These are actual stats, not MLEs.
bf: batters faced
cera: component ERA
fip: Fielding-independent pitching
xfip: Expected fielding-independent pitching
gb%: Percentage of balls in play that were ground balls
ld%: Percentage of balls in play that were line drives
fb%: Percentage of balls in play that were fly balls
pu: Percentage of balls in play that were popped up
bb/bf: Walks + hit batters per batters faced
k/bf: Strikeouts per batters faced
Here are Brackman’s totals for 2009 and 2010.
The most important difference in those two lines is that Brackman was able to cut his BB/HBP rate by more than 50% without losing much in his strikeout rate.
Right now, CAIRO sees Brackman as around a 5.5 RA pitcher. That does include his 2009. If we were to project Brackman using only 2010, he’d project closer to being around a 5.2 RA pitcher. Over 150 innings that’s around a five run difference.
But really, these are all just estimates. We have no idea how good Brackman may be right now. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with him this season.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Noesi’s best pitch is lively fastball with a little boring action in on righties, routinely sitting at 90-93 mph and touching as high as 96 the last few years. He backs that up with quality changeup, his second best offering, and he also throws both a slider and a curveball. Neither of the two breaking balls is even an average big league pitch right now, and Noesi doesn’t command any of his offspeed pitches as well as he does his fastball. He helps himself by fielding his position and holding runners well.
Good stuff from Mike Axisa over at River Ave Blues. Noesi seems like the Yankees’ best internal option to fit in the fourth or fifth slot in the rotation even though it’s not likely he’ll start the year there. His pure velocity may not compare to Ivan Nova or Andrew Brackman, but it seems to me that he’s got better command than either of them which probably makes him the better bet to have success at the MLB level right now. And it’s not like his stuff is lackluster, it sounds like it’s pretty good.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Given some real similarities in their deliveries, as well as having highly similar arsenals and approaches, the best modern-day comparison for Dellin Betances is Josh Beckett. Obviously, Beckett may not still be that dominant pitcher, so this comparison goes more for the Beckett of old. Betances obviously is taller than Beckett, but other than that they are comparable in just about every other way, including the powerful mid-90s fastball, their deliveries, and the hard 12-6 hooks.
But since he was drafted, there’s never been much doubt that Betances had potentially all-world type stuff. Thankfully, his elbow surgery has not robbed him of that. It may have, in fact, given him more time to develop his changeup and refine his delivery. Those two categories have both gone from potential weaknesses to strengths.
The bottom line here is this: keep Dellin Betances on the mound and healthy and his talent is as good as anyone at the minor league level. Health is the only thing that can hold him back.
Hopefully Betances has Beckett’s same approach to playing the game the right way.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The pitch came on a 1-0 count from ace Pawtucket reliever Robert Manuel, an all-star who took the mound with nine saves and a 1.22 ERA on his season resume. It was a well-located pitch that Montero clubbed to deep center field, and by the time it had sliced to the right of the 408-foot sign, it was clear it was going to strike the blue batter’s eye.
“I talked to him earlier this year, and he told me it was the first time he had really struggled,” Golson said of Montero. “I told him, ‘You’ll get it. You’ll get it.’ And you can tell now that he’s coming into his own. Look at the pitch he hit. Another guy can hit that pitch and it doesn’t get to the track.”
This one went much further, deep into the night and into the win column.
Montero’s 2010 by month:
April: 80 PA, .247/.313/.384
May: 89 PA, .190/.278/.316
June: 105 PA, .283/.324/.505
July: 91 PA, .342/.441/.632
August: 30 PA, .423/.500/.731
Friday, June 18, 2010
The New Jersey capital’s Waterfront Park was the site of a pitching matchup between Mets hurler John Maine making a rehabilitation start for Binghamton and 23-year-old Hector Noesi, starting for Trenton.
Maine mixed his pitches well, keeping the Thunder batters off-balance for four innings. Another rehab start or two and he’ll be back in the Mets rotation. Throwing in the 87-88 mph range, Maine will likely need to dial it up to 92 before regaining his rotation spot.
Hitting 92 is no issue for Noesi, who is on the verge of being the Yankees’ latest pitching prospect to break out. The native of Esperanza, D.R., is learning what Maine already knows – that speed isn’t everything, location is.
Noesi remained on the Waterfront Park mound long after Maine had concluded his work Sunday afternoon, throwing Trenton’s first complete game since Alfredo Aceves turned the trick in 2008. He threw 111 pitches, 87 for strikes.
Noesi’s an interesting prospect who’s starting to get some buzz now.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
According to Kevin Levine-Flandrup, covering the draft for Pinstripes Plus, the Yankees have reached an agreement with first-round pick Cito Culver. Levine-Flandrup sites a source he spoke to this morning who says the deal is done pending a physical and Culver’s graduation.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
BALTIMORE - Shortly after the Yankees tabbed high-schooler Cito Culver in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft on Monday night, many draft experts were so harsh in their criticism it could have made Mel Kiper Jr. blush.
Baseball America had the 17-year-old shortstop ranked 168th, leading many to question why the Yankees chose the Rochester product so high. Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ VP of amateur scouting, said Culver was the highest-ranked position player left on their board when their pick came around, making the decision easy.
“The main ranking that means something to me is what ranking our guys have,” Oppenheimer said. “I had basically over 100 years of scouting experience go in to see this kid. When guys like my cross-checkers who have been doing this for a long time, former major-league hitting coaches like Gary Denbo and former scouting directors like Bill Livesey come back with a thumbs up, that means a lot more to me than the public opinion of Baseball America or some of the other publications who just aren’t able to get to these guys and don’t have scouting staffs.”
Are these the same “experts” who said the Yankees were foolish for not drafting Craig Hansen, who was ready to step in as Mo’s setup man right away?
Time will tell.
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