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Scouting Reports and Profiles: 2011 Edition
7 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 7:00PM #181
Posts: 26,112
Noriega takes the road less traveled, easy pick for Yankees

DPL 9-11-2011

Alvaro Noriega
is a Colombian born catcher who found his way to the Dominican Republic  looking to develop and showcase his tools. Noriega was discovered by Miguel Delgado two  years ago in Colombia. Delgado made arrangements to get Noriega to his  development program in the Dominican Republic where he trained and  played in the Dominican Prospect League. For the past  two years Noriega has been away from his home in an unfamiliar country  in hopes he can achieve his dream of signing a professional contract.  During his time in Dominican Republic, he showed the desire and mental  toughness to keep his focus on developing his skills. Through the  process Miguel Delgado was his trainer, friend and father figure, the  road wasn’t easy to travel but for Noriega it has all paid off.

Delgado has shown fruits of his development program in 2011 also signing RHP Jesus Lugo and Colombian born RHP Nadir Crismatt with the NY Mets, and Outfielder Francisco Tejada with Toronto. Noriega becomes his latest sign, agreeing to terms with the New York Yankees for $175,000.

Alvaro Noriega C                  Dominic DiSaia Photographs www.dominicdisaia.com


Noriega  was the best catching prospect in the 2010-2011 DPL season, he showed  major improvement in blocking, receiving and throwing accuracy behind  the dish. Noriega is approximately 6’1, 180lb, he has a projectable body  and prototypical frame for the position, he’s athletic and has the  flexibility needed to develop. He shows solid average to plus arm  strength and quick release. He has the offensive ability to compete  against notable pitching, frequently getting solid contacts, gap to gap  with occasional power; he shows a polish approach for his age, although  having pull power he focuses to be inside the ball. His swing is a short  stroke with good bat speed and balance; Noriega was selected to both  DPL All-Star Games, as well as The DPL Elite Travel team but for reasons  of travel documentation the Colombian born catcher couldn’t make the  trip to the US.


7 years ago  ::  Sep 12, 2011 - 7:04PM #182
Posts: 26,112

Mason Williams

Mason Williams .352 average led the New York-Penn League this year
7 years ago  ::  Sep 13, 2011 - 8:09PM #183
Posts: 26,112

Laird’s Bat Has Him Back In The Big Leagues

September 13, 2011 by thunderbaseball

Interviewing Brandon Laird (Photo: Dave Schofield)

The above photograph captures the first time I ever met Brandon  Laird.  It was last year’s Media Day at Waterfront Park, and Laird was a  not too particularly highly touted third base prospect who was coming  off a solid season in High-A Tampa.  He was also coming off of an  off-season in which he made headlines for the wrong reasons, allegedly  getting involved in an altercation at a Phoenix Suns game with his big  league catcher brother, Gerald.

Which meant there were some tough questions I had to ask…which isn’t  really the impression you want to make the first time you meet a guy.

But Laird, just 22 years old at the time, was a true pro about it and  answered every question without issue.  After everything was over, I  approached Laird and thanked him for being cool about everything and  that I didn’t particularly enjoy asking those questions, and he said he  understood and that he knew I had a job to do.  Since that day, I’ve  been able to build a nice relationship with Brandon, who has always been  giving of his time with myself and other reporters.

Despite concerns about athleticism and playing a position that will  seemingly be locked down for years in the Bronx, Laird perservered and  batted his way to the big leagues, boosted largely by a 2010 season that  saw him take Eastern League MVP honors despite being called up to  Triple-A Scranton at the end of July.  Laird batted .291 in 107 games as  the Thunder’s everyday third baseman, adding 23 home runs and 90 RBI  along the way.

Laird struggled initially in Scranton at the tail end of last season,  hitting just .246, but flourished at times this season and earned his  first big league call-up in the middle of July.

“We were in Lehigh Valley, and after the game, Dave Miley called me  in and said, ‘You’re going up, go help that team win,’” Laird recalled.

“It’s exciting to be up again and to be up for a full month and get experience in the big leagues.”

Laird played in four straight games in his initial call-up,  collecting his first big league hit and RBI in his first at-bat on July  22.  He was sent down at the end of the month and stayed in Scranton for  the remainder of their season before returning to the big leagues.  But  he says that brief first stint was beneficial to his latest recall.

“I was actually talking about that with Eric Chavez the other day in  BP, about how the second time up was a little easier for me,” Laird  said.

“I’ve been through it already and got the nerves out of the way.  I’m  pretty sure that when I go in, I’ll still be a little nervous, but I  know what to look for and I’ve been here.  It helps a lot, and being  around these guys before helps also.”

Of course, a glance around the spacious Yankees clubhouse reveals  that “these guys” are…well, more than just “these guys” to a lot of  people.  There’s Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, CC  Sabathia, Mariano Rivera and so on…all these star players.  And then  there’s little known Brandon Laird, whose locker is next to media  darling Jesus Montero and far away from the bigger name players at the  far end of the blue carpeted palace.  Laird said his goals for this  month are to use it as a learning experience, asking as many questions  as he can to his more experienced teammates.

“Growing up, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter were guys I always looked  up to.  Jeter, just how he carries himself, he’s a class act in  everything he does.  When he’s hitting and taking ground balls, I’m  always watching him.  I’m just trying to get better and help myself.”

I asked Laird if he was still a little nervous going up to guys like Jeter and A-Rod.

“In spring training, I was a little in shock.  I was afraid to go up to them, but they’re very approachable,” Laird told me.

“Now, being around them for a while, they joke with you.  Derek’s  always joking with me.  It’s exciting, it makes me feel good.  He likes  to help the young guys, he’s been there.  To just learn from a guy like  that, it’s awesome.”

7 years ago  ::  Sep 13, 2011 - 8:21PM #184
Posts: 26,112

Before the year began, I wrote a profile on Brett  Marshall saying that in 2011, he needed to stay healthy and show he can handle a  full season’s workload. Certainly, he’s accomplished at least that  much:

Fangraphs doesn’t show it, but Baseball Prospectus has his GB% at  56%, the highest it’s been in a full season yet. What’s great to note  here is that Marshall has almost doubled his previous years workload  without any particularly negative effects. You would expect him to run  into some fatigue in the second half of his year but that wasn’t the  case. Over at Scouting the Sally, they had this note about Marshall’s second half performance:

A closer look at Marshall’s second half numbers paint an even  more impressive picture. Over 66 2/3 second half innings, Marshall  raised his strikeout totals above eight-per-nine and saw walk totals  drop to a touch over two-per-nine. Add to this a GO/AO over two and it  creates a lethal mixture for opposing hitters to the tune of a 2.50  second half FIP. 

That’s obviously great to hear. It’s good to see that not only is  Marshall still missing bats, but his 2-seam fastball is still keeping  the ball on the ground more often than not.

Marshall will presumably be pitching in AA next year at the age of 22. He’s certainly one to watch.

7 years ago  ::  Sep 14, 2011 - 7:07PM #185
Posts: 26,112

2011 Minor League Ball Interesting Short-Season Hitting Prospects



Mason Williams, OF, Yankees:  Fourth round pick in 2010 from high school in Florida showed exciting  tools while hitting .349/.395/.468 in the New York-Penn League, stealing  28 bases. Good throwing arm, center field range, and overall  athleticism are big positives, making him one of the most intriguing  young outfielders to watch in full-season ball next year.

7 years ago  ::  Sep 16, 2011 - 3:26AM #186
Posts: 26,112

Yankees Prospect Brett Marshall Still Flying Under The Radar

After the 2010 season, Brett Marshall received “The Works” treatment on Scouting The Sally including a game report with video. Throughout the video, his motion appears cleaned up from video posted in high school prior to Tommy John surgery. More compact and repeatable, Marshall has made adjustments to  limit the strain on his elbow which was previously apparent. And while  the report hinted at a breakout season, little has been written about  the young right-hander. Based on the numbers, was 2011 a breakout year  for Marshall?

In the Florida State league this season, Brett Marshall finished in the top-12 in earned run average, strikeouts and WHIP over  140 1/3 innings pitched. Other peripherals include a seven-plus K/9 rate  and 55% GB% which combine to form a strong indicator for future  success. His BB/9 is still a touch above three and remains an area for  improvement overall.

A closer look at Marshall’s second half numbers paint an even more  impressive picture. Over 66 2/3 second half innings, Marshall raised his  strikeout totals above eight-per-nine and saw walk totals drop to a  touch over two-per-nine. Add to this a GO/AO over two and it creates a  lethal mixture for opposing hitters to the tune of a 2.50 second half  FIP.

Marshall’s ground ball tendencies also improve with runners on base  pointing to a pitcher with a developing understanding of how to work out  of jams. However, his strikeout rates subsequently drop (which to be  expected), but still speaks to a lack of a true swing-and-miss offering.

If Marshall’s improved walk numbers are due to better fastball  command, then he is learning how to harness the excellent fastball  movement Mike previously reported from late in the 2010 season. It’s  great to be able to cut, run or sink a low-90′s fastball, but commanding  it well is what often leads to the unraveling of a pitching prospect.  Double-A will be an excellent test of whether Marshall’s raw stuff is  truly legit, or if he’s simply more advanced than the advanced-A level  competition he matched up against.

Stuff aside, Marshall’s greatest accomplishment was the 140 1/3  innings he was able to tally as part of a completely healthy season.  Last year he totaled only 84 innings combined across the Gulf Coast  League, Charleston Riverdogs and Tampa Yankees.

In his second full year back from Tommy John surgery, it’s easy to speculate Marshall’s second half numbers are  closer to his true talent level since command is the last part of a  pitcher’s game to return from the surgery. A repeat of his second half  numbers in double-A Trenton, and Marshall could find himself on the fast  track to New York. Based on his 2011 season, Marshall has done nothing  to dissuade me from believing his top end projection is that of a solid  number three starter. Instead of the “Killer B’s”, New York Yankees fans  need to coin a new nickname to include Brett Marshall. How about “B&M Baked Beans”?

7 years ago  ::  Sep 18, 2011 - 6:38PM #187
Posts: 26,112

2011 Draft Sleepers: American League East


Here is a look at some sleepers from the 2011 draft. Qualifications:  I'm not writing about anyone drafted earlier than the sixth round.  That's arbitrary but I'm trying to look for players who didn't get a lot  of hype but who can surprise us. I'm also trying to avoid players who  got massive above-slot bonuses; they aren't really sleepers.

NEW YORK YANKEES: Justin James, OF: Son of Dion James, drafted in the 12th round from Sacramento Community College. He is very raw, has some swing  issues, and hit just .230/.348/.311 in the Gulf Coast League, but he'll  already take a walk, hits left-handed, and has speed/power potential in  a large 6-5, 230 frame.

7 years ago  ::  Sep 22, 2011 - 8:13PM #188
Posts: 26,112

I’ve been thinking about something that caught my eye last  week for quite some time now. After Baseball America proclaimed Dante  Bichette Jr. the top prospect in the 2011 GCL league, which we all knew was coming, they added a surprise in their sub-only scouting report. BA’s Ben Badler tagged Bichette with the “plus-plus power” label, something we haven’t yet heard about Bichette.

When the Yankees drafted Dante Bichette, those familiar with him were  universally underwhelmed by his physical talents. No one was willing to  deny that he had superb coaching, good bloodlines, and a very advanced  approach to the plate for a high school hitter. However, almost any good  MLB player needs to back attributes like those up with a little muscle,  agility, and natural talent, and Bichette didn’t appear to have a ton  of that held in reserve. Even after hitting a very impressive  .342/.446/.505, with (pro-rated to 155 games) the equivalent of 51  doubles, 9 triples and 9 home runs, plus a 12.5% BB%, in his debut, a  lot of followers (and I partially include myself in this group) still  want to see what Bichette does against more experienced talent before  pronouncing him the next top Yankee prospect. Bichette has had excellent  coaching, but that competitive edge will be less important as his peers  in the minor leagues gain more professional experience with  professional coaching staffs.

That is to say, the common interpretation of Bichette’s GCL  performance was that despite his age, he was playing on an unfair  playing field. He had a lot of hits, including a lot for extra bases,  but those hits were a product of technique and approach rather than raw  physical talent – essentially the opposite reaction we had when Jesus  Montero was this age. But when a publication like Baseball America, who  tend to be pretty precise with their wording about this sort of thing,  starts calling Dante Bichette a plus-plus power prospect (30 HR or more,  .530+ Slg), things change.

If Dante Bichette can hit for that kind of power, draw walks, play  third base (which he did pretty well this season), and retain a smooth,  contact-friendly swing, then we’re all dramatically underrating him as a  prospect. In his post-ranking chat, Badler repeatedly described Dante  as a prospect with tons of raw power, and with a higher ceiling than  Ravel Santana, a guy with Superman-like tools. Badler gets his  information essentially by talking to scouts and coaches from around the  GCL league, synthesizing their opinions into one solid scouting report  and ranking. Everyone he talked to was very impressed with all aspects  of Bichette’s game.

Given that just three months ago a lot of the same type of people  were describing the Yankees pick as somewhere in between “safe” and “a  reach”, what happened here? I think there are two possibilities. One is  that the original consensus about Bichette should still hold (He’s got  average tools but coaching beyond his years), and we can expect his  growth to slow compared to his peers, and that the reports out of the  league are the result of a performance-induced confirmation bias. That  doesn’t mean that Dante is a bad prospect, just that he isn’t the next  Sanchez/Montero mega-prospect, but rather a guy who is more in the Cito  Culver / Brett Gardner / Austin Romine range. The other possibility is  that the Yankees legitimately uncovered a player who was severely  underrated by the rest of the league, and Dante Bichette has all-star  potential. In that case, Dante will have the all-star physical abilities  to back up his advanced plate approach, professional attitude,  bloodlines, etc and take his game to another level next season.

I’m betting on some mix of the two.  Bichette crushed a bunch of  pitchers who, by nature of their age and newness to professional  baseball, are playing on a different level than he likely was. That  said, he still crushed them. He still did so at the age of 18, and still  adjusted to the league after a very difficult first few weeks. Those  are good things, and signs of the future. Advanced plate approaches can  be the result of coaching, or they could be the result of the sort of  sound baseball instincts that not even all MLB players possess. Growth  is the real key. Will he keep getting better? That’s what Bichette has  to answer in Charleston next year. I’m willing to bet that he has more  physical ability than people were betting when he was drafted, but 65+  power? We’ll see.

On another note, we could be seeing Tyler Austin, Dante Bichette,  Mason Williams, Angelo Gumbs, Cito Culver and possibly Gary Sanchez  start for Charleston next year. Wow. I wouldn’t want to be a pitcher in  that division.


7 years ago  ::  Sep 26, 2011 - 9:25PM #189
Posts: 26,112

Yankees Fans Should Pay Attention to Mason Williams

Baseball America published their list of the Top 20 Prospects in the New York-Penn  League this season and the Yankees are featured prominently on the list.

Center fielder Mason  Williams is on the top of the list that features a total of five Yankee farmhands.

Williams is no. 1, Cito  Culver, SS, is no. 6, Tyler  Austin, 3B, is no. 8, Angelo  Gumbs, 2B, is no. 14, and Branden  Pinder, RHP, is no. 19.

Williams and Culver would probably be  the only two on that list that rank in the Yankees top 10 prospects, and  maybe even top 20, which shows the depth in their system right now.

It’s easy to see why too. Williams seems  like a true star in the making. He hit .349 with a .863 OPS in Staten  Island this year. He was touted as a 4-tool prospect coming into this  season, but his .468 slugging certainly suggests that he could be a true  5-tool player.

Culver doesn’t stand out as star caliber  just yet, but he has the makings of a very solid major leaguer. He hit  just .250 with a .660 OPS, but he showed promise that he could improve  and shows a real knack defensively. Imagine if Ramiro  Pena could actually hit.

7 years ago  ::  Sep 29, 2011 - 6:39PM #190
Posts: 26,112

Betances Looking At Big Leagues In 2012

BRONX,  N.Y. — Yes, that was Dellin Betances starting for the Yankees in Tampa  in their last game of the regular season.  It was, if only to New  York and none of the other teams involved, a meaningless outing.

For Betances, however, it was somewhat of a predictable one.  Well, sort of.

Betances was asked on Trenton Thunder media day, before his season in  Double-A had even started, if he thought ending his year in pinstripes  was a realistic goal.

“I feel like that’s definitely my dream, to become a New York Yankee,  to be able to wear the pinstripes and help them win,” said Betances on  April 5th.

“I want to stay there and have a great major league career. I feel  like this year, if I do what I have to do as far as being consistent, I  feel like I have a good chance of being there.”

Fast forward to early September, and the 6 foot-8 inch tall,  hard-throwing righty was summoned to the big leagues for the first time  somewhat unexpectedly, despite his status on the 40-man roster. 

“After the last game in Scranton, they called a couple guys into the office,” said Betances of finding out his fate.

“I wasn’t expecting that.  They mentioned my name, and it was one of  those feelings where I didn’t believe it.  I didn’t soak it in until I  took my flight to California in Orange County.  But it’s definitely  great to be here, just growing up as a fan and watching these guys  play.  To wear the same uniform is honestly unbelievable.”

Betances joined the team on the road in Anaheim, but didn’t make his  Major League debut until a September 22 appearance at home against the  Rays.  I spoke to the New York native one day before that debut, and  asked him what it meant to him to walk into the Yankees clubhouse and  see a jersey with pinstripes and his number on it hanging in a locker  that belonged to him.

“Man, I can’t even describe it to you, it’s just great,” he said.

“It’s a great feeling.  I’ve been waiting since I got drafted to play  here, and now to be up here and to get the chance to watch all these  guys go about their work and business, it’s great.  I love being here,  and I’ve got to just keep working hard so I can get the chance to get  back.”

A chance to get back seems very realistic for Betances, even if there  were days at Waterfront Park this season when he wasn’t sure if his  Media Day prediction would come true.  Betances was, at times,  absolutely dominant for the Thunder in his 105 1/3 innings.  But those  105 1/3 frames came over the course of 21 starts, leaving him just  barely averaging five innings per start, which can be directly  attributed to lapses in command.

“I always thought I had a chance to come up, especially being on the 40-man roster.  That made it a little easier,” he said.

“But still, at the end of the season, it was one of those things that  I wasn’t really expecting.  There was talk that my innings were up, so I  wasn’t expecting it.  It did catch me by surprise.”

Something else that caught people by surprise were Betances struggles  in Triple-A, as he went 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA in his four starts with  Scranton, walking 15 batters in 21 innings of work.

“I had two good starts, and two not so good there,” Betances said.

“It was just like the whole year, up and down.  I’m just trying to  come out here and do whatever I can do and take whatever I can into the  offseason and work hard.  Scranton was definitely good as well, and I  feel like I learned some things from Scott Aldred, just about how to  pitch.  I felt great while I was there, but I had a couple bad ones  where it was one of those things.”

It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility, given the unstable  nature of the Yankees starting rotation going forward, that Betances may  very well have thrown his last pitch in Triple-A.  Once again, Betances  was asked about the big leagues, and if that was a realistic goal for  him come Opening Day in 2012.

“I would love to be back here,” he said.

“I know I have to work hard.  This is going to be a big off-season  for me.  I feel like next year will be a big year for me.  I’m anxious, I  can’t wait to come back.  The season’s not over, but I can’t wait to  work hard in the off-season and come back next year and have a great  year.”

But a great year — whether it be in Triple-A, the big leagues or  elsewhere — won’t happen for Betances without consistency, and his focus  this off-season will be to work on improving in that area.

“I feel like that’s one of the things that hurt me this year, just  being able to go out there every five days and throw from the same arm  slot and release point.  I just need to work hard and do a lot of work.   I’m going to try to keep throwing twice a week to make sure I have the  same release point.  I learned a lot this year with my first time in  spring training and it being my first full year healthy.  It was my goal  to pitch the whole year, and I missed a few starts because of a  blister, but it wasn’t arm-related.  That

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