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Random Minor League Notes: 2011 Edition
8 years ago  ::  Aug 30, 2011 - 6:05PM #431
Posts: 66,015

Four Yankees heading to Arizona Fall League (so far)


Rosters for the Arizona Fall League were released today, though not  in their entirety. David Phelps, Corban Joseph, Rob Segedin, and Ronnier  Mustelier are the four Yankees farmhands named to the Phoenix Desert Dogs roster so far, but they still have two or three spots to fill. Those will almost certainly be pitchers, but one will not be Graham Stoneburner.

Phelps’ assignment is completely expected after he missed all that  time with the shoulder issue, he’s got innings to make up. CoJo’s been  hitting well this year and it’s worth getting him the extra at-bats.  Interestingly enough, Segedin’s on the roster as an outfielder, so  perhaps a full blown transition is going to take place soon. Mustelier  is the interesting guy. He’s an older dude (just turned 27) that signed  out of Cuba this year, he’s been mashing nonstop since signing  (.374/.421/.553 in 134 PA), and he’s played five positions (second,  third, and all three outfield spots). It’s unlikely they’d send filler  to the AzFL, and I wonder if he’s got a chance to a righty bench bat in  the future. We’ll see.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
8 years ago  ::  Aug 30, 2011 - 8:22PM #432
Posts: 32,868

Crying 96 Tears.....


Blue Jays Sign Osuna, Becerra

The Blue Jays announced the signings of seven international free agents: Roberto Osuna, Wuilmer Becerra, Jesus Gonzalez, Manuel Cordova, Alberto Tirado, Jairo Labourt, and Yeyfry Del Rosario.

Osuna, the 16-year-old nephew of Antonio, tossed 19 2/3 innings in  the Mexican League this year.  The Mexican righty was one of the top  July 2nd pitching prospects this year, wrote Baseball America's Ben Badler.

Becerra is a "speedy shortstop who projects as an outfielder," wrote Badler.  The 17-year-old comes out of Venezuela.

The bonuses on these seven are not yet known, but the Jays signed Domincan Dawel Lugo for $1.3MM in July.  Based on BA's estimates,  it's likely Osuna and Becerra received more.  The Blue Jays continue to  be aggressive in the international market, having signed Adeiny Hechavarria, Adonis Cardona, and others last year.

Be sure to tell your Spanish-speaking friends about MLBTR's sister site, Rumores de Béisbol, where we have human translations of key MLBTR posts as well as the original Hits Latinos series.

8 years ago  ::  Aug 31, 2011 - 7:41PM #433
Posts: 32,868

I’m back! My summer in the woods was fantastic, as always. I  will now be writing regularly for the blog yet again. While I am away  every summer, I always miss short-season baseball. I’m now presented  with a nice, robust sample of number for two full Yankee teams to  analyze. These statistics can be useful, but because the two  short-season leagues that Yankee prospects play in are unique in many  different ways, they need to be approached with some caution.

Let’s take Mason Williams, for example. Williams was no-doubt the  Yankees breakout prospect this season. He hit .351/.399/.478 with 13%  strikeout rate and 7% walk rate  for Staten Island at the age of 19. His  numbers hold up even better when you look at his competition – the  average player in the New York-Penn League was 21.1 years old, hit  .250/.329/.355, struck out in 19% of plate appearances, and walked in 9%  of plate appearances.

However, the New York-Penn League can be a little funky sometimes.  Most of the players are recent college draftees and are just learning  how to hit with a wooden bat. Despite his age and relative inexperience,  Williams went into the season with 9 months of professional coaching,  including using a wooden bat, erasing much of the age advantage his  peers enjoyed. The New York Penn League also tends to have very poor  overall defense, resulting in a lot of extra balls in play becoming base  hits. He enjoyed a .412 BABIP this season. Now, I’m not someone who is  going to say that every player should regress down to a .310 BABIP, but  .412 is very lucky. A guy like Mason Williams could probably maintain a  .340-.350 BABIP through the minor leagues if he is successful.

Bottom line: Williams still had a really good year, at a young age,  but also benefited from hitting a lot of batted balls to poor defenses.  We’ve seen a lot of strong New York-Penn League performances lead into  disappointing full-season hitting over the years, but  Williams’ young age and athletic abilities make this one the most  exciting that I can remember.

Dante Bichette is a much different kind of story. He hit a surprising  .342/.446/.505 at the age of 18 with a strikeout rate of 17% and a  phenomenal walk rate of 12.5%. The average GCL hitter was 20 years old,  hitting .248/.327/.356 with a 19% strikeout rate and an 8.7% walk rate.  He clearly outpaced his competition, showed a mature approach to the  plat,e and had a tremendous amount of success. Like Williams, Dante took  advantage of porous short-season defense (GCL defenses give up an  average of 0.8 unearned runs every game, compared with 0.39 in the AL)  with a .410 BABIP.

Although he clearly put up a better batting line, I would be slightly  less impressed by Bichette’s GCL performance than Williams’ New  York-Penn League performance. Bichette was drafted after years of  working out with his MLB-father and professional coaches. He brought an  already-advanced approach to the plate to the GCL, and it clearly showed  against his competition. The average GCL player is very raw, being  attended by very few coaches (Many GCL teams still lack pitching or  hitting coaches), and is just getting his feet wet in professional  baseball. He had an unnatural advantage over his competition, one which  will fade as he moves up the minor leagues. This does not mean that  Bichette will fail going forward, or that his performance was not  impressive, but rather that he needs a handicap. The walks are very  impressive, but we’ll see if they stick around as Bichette faces tougher  competition.

These guys are just examples. The Yankees had plenty of intriguing  players in short-season ball this year – Tyler Austin, Angelo Gumbs,  Cito Culver, Ravel Santana, Evan Rutckyj – with decent enough sample  sizes to make a judgment about. When you consider their experience  levels, coaching, and the experience of their competition, you get a  larger picture.


8 years ago  ::  Aug 31, 2011 - 7:43PM #434
Posts: 32,868
Bichette, Yankees claim GCL title

New York's top pick goes deep, leads rookie affiliate in win


8 years ago  ::  Sep 02, 2011 - 6:48PM #435
Posts: 32,868

Yankees Promote Austin Romine to Triple-A

We finally got a chance to see Jesus  Montero‘s long await debut in the majors, but one of his former minor league teammates is probably as excited for him as anybody – Austin  Romine.

That’s because while Montero has been  stuck in Triple-A waiting to get called up Romine was in Double-A  waiting to be promoted to Triple-A. Well, Montero is in the bigs and  Romine indeed got his promotion, according to John Nalbone of the Newark Times.

Romine, 22, was rated as the 98th best  prospect in baseball by Baseball America before the season started. He  had a .352 OBP and a .732 OPS in 84 games with Trenton this season.

Despite the fact that he shares the same  position as Montero many consider Romine to be the Yankees true catcher  of the future because of their defensive abilities. It was his second  year in Trenton though so he probably won’t need a whole lot of time in  Triple-A and could potentially be a September call-up a year from now.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 02, 2011 - 10:38PM #436
Posts: 32,868

MLB Voids Contract Of Yankees' Paniagua

Major League Baseball has voided the $1.1MM contract of Yankees  pitching prospect Juan Carlos Paniagua and suspended the right-hander  for one year, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. MLB  hasn't specified -- even to the Yankees -- why Paniagua has been  suspended, but "one-year suspensions are usually reserved for a player  who presents false information to teams about his age or identity,"  writes Badler.

Paniagua is no stranger to these circumstances.  The Diamondbacks signed him -- then going by the name Juan Collado --  for a mere $17K in May 2009. While that contract was under review,  Paniagua was allowed to play in the Dominican Summer League under a rule  that's since been changed, and he impressed scouts with a big fastball.  The contract with Arizona was voided and Paniagua was suspended in June  2010. When that suspension was lifted in March, teams were lining up  for his services, with the Yankees placing the winning bid.

His contract once again was pending MLB's review since signing with  the Yankees, and he has not played in any games during that time. We  can't say for sure why Paniagua was suspended, but Nick Piecoro of the  Arizona Republic speculated in March that the hangup may have been  regarding Paniagua's birthday, which he didn't amend even when he came  clean about his name:

There still is a lot of skepticism about whether he’ll actually  get off the island and into the U.S. The fact that he changed his name,  but not his birthday, is a red flag.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 02, 2011 - 11:30PM #437
Posts: 32,868

Will asks: Which Yankee prospects have seen their stock rise  and which have seen their stock tumble? Can you see any players make the  BA Top 100 list for the first time and can you see anyone drop in their  ranking?

(Tom Priddy/MiLB.com)

The two biggest risers for me are Mason Williams and J.R. Murphy, and I really liked Murphy coming into the season. His improved defense behind the plate increases his stock considerably, it’s just a shame  that his season ended prematurely with that leg injury. I remember  seeing someone mention that it happened on a foul ball, but I haven’t  seen that confirmed anywhere. Williams obvious had the huge season with  Short Season Staten Island, but apparently he has way more power  potential than I realized. I thought he was a 10-12 homer guy at his  peak, but apparently he’s got a shot at 20+. That would be amazing given  the rest of his skill set and athleticism.

As far as droppers … I mean obviously the big one is Andrew Brackman.  Yes, he has pitched much better of late (since that nine walk, 3.1 IP  disaster), but it doesn’t erase what happened earlier in the year. He’s  not young (in prospect years) and he still has a ways to go before  proving that the improvement is real. Slade Heathcott‘s  third shoulder injury in four years really puts a damper on things for  me, because it’s the same body part over and over. You have to worry if  it’ll become (or already has become) a chronic problem. All the time  Graham Stoneburner missed because of the neck certainly isn’t a  positive, same deal with David Adams and his never-ending injury troubles. Ryan Pope had a chance to see big league bullpen time this year but wound up hurt, back in Double-A, and eventually DFA’d. Melky Mesa and Jose Ramirez didn’t help their causes either.

The Yankees landed six players on Baseball America’s Top 100 List and five on Keith Law’s Top 100 List before the season. Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances are locks for the list next year, and I think Gary Sanchez has a decent  shot of making it again as well. It’s not set in stone though. I have  to imagine Brackman will drop off the list, and Austin Romine was barely sneaking on in the first place. Williams is the only serious  candidate to jump into the list, and if he does so it’ll be in the back  half somewhere, 75-100 or so. There will be many guys closer to the  majors ahead of him. So what’s that, three shoo-ins and three others  with a legit chance to make it? Not bad at all.


8 years ago  ::  Sep 03, 2011 - 8:20AM #438
Posts: 32,868

Number 1 Prospect


1. Mason Williams: OF -- Staten Island Yankees (Yankees)

Williams is a perfect example of why you want to make sure you don't  lose a player as such to college, and I'm sure the Yankees are perfectly  happy with their decision to go over slot on him. Mason Williams got  off to a fantastic start for Staten Island and hasn't since cooled off.  He has great strike-zone judgement and drives pitches anywhere over the  plate. He's shown the ability to drive the ball and with his great  balance at the plate he doesn't roll over or pop up too many balls. He  has a slender and thin frame, thus Williams offers lots of physical  projection. He'll probably develop 10-15 power as he develops, and I  expect just that. Many I've approached suggested Williams as the number  one prospect even before I showed them my list. I have no doubts a few  years down the line we'll look back at my list and say: "Oh, Williams  was ranked number one back then? Good call."


8 years ago  ::  Sep 06, 2011 - 8:31PM #439
Posts: 32,868

On Thursday, we were excited because it was Jesus Jueves. He didn’t get any hits that night, but Jesus  Montero didn’t look overmatched and even got on base with an HBP. He also scored the game winning run on Russell  Martin‘s  double to the right-center field gap in Fenway Park displaying some  good base running instincts. He sat Friday night in the Bronx, but got  his first Major League hit Saturday afternoon before adding two more on  Sunday. Yesterday was the day where we saw that first hint of what Jesus  Montero could become.

He drew a walk early in the game before adding two home runs in the  5th and 7th innings. That alone is special, but the way in which the  homers were hit added something to them. We’ve all heard tales of Jesus  Montero’s ridiculous opposite field power and that’s what was on display  yesterday with those two home runs. He hit them deep into right field,  just a seat shy of the bleachers each time. There it was, right in front  of us. Before Montero even had a chance to struggle and make us doubt  him and his abilities, he showed us exactly what we wanted to see. There  are going to be times when Montero struggles in the next few days,  weeks, or months but no matter what happens then, we’ll always look back  to yesterday’s game and remember “He can do it, so it’s likely that he will do it in the future.”

(Moshe alluded to this on Twitter last night, so I’m piggybacking a  bit here, but it reminds me of two specific game instances, both  involving pitchers.)

In 2008, we saw Joba  Chamberlain toss up this gem in Boston. I’ll never forget that game–I was driving to my girlfriend’s  after a softball game of my own and remembered thinking “Okay. This is  it. This is the game that lets everyone know Joba is a starter.” It  didn’t quite work out that way (grumblegrumble), but that was the  signature moment of Joba’s starting career. We saw Chamberlain pitch  like the ace that his stuff showed us he could become.

The same happened less than a year later when Phil  Hughes took the mound in Texas and threw eight scoreless innings. There it was. There was the ace in  the making. There was the guy who’d lead the pitching staff into the  next decade with his rotation mate Mr. Chamberlain.

Those games, those validation games, they serve as a bit of a  double-edged sword for us. We can point to them and remember that these  guys are great at baseball, remember that they have an enormous wealth  of baseball talent. They will also frustrate us to no end when the  player is stuck in an unbelievable slump. He’s done it before so why  can’t he do it again? In those situations, we’ll react negatively when  thinking back to the games in which our favorite young players flashed  their brilliance. What we should try to do instead (easier said than  done) is remember that most of the time, talent wins out and that there  are likely to be many more validation games to come in the future.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 06, 2011 - 8:34PM #440
Posts: 32,868

Talking Prospects: Learning From Mistakes

This is what can happen when teams rush their prospects. Will the Yankees learn from their mistakes?

More photos »">Al Bello - Getty ImagesMore photos »

This is what can happen when teams rush their prospects. Will the Yankees learn from their mistakes?

In the middle of the last decade, the Yankees had two top ten pitching prospects by the names of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. They now have two new top pitching prospects, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.

I believe the Yankees did their best with Hughes. Injuries happen,  and none of those injuries were to his arm. It's hard to fault the  Yankees on that one. However, I do find fault in their development of  Joba.

Joba spent one season in the minor leagues, 2007, tossing 88 1/3  innings over three different levels. He dominated, but his brilliance  blinded the Yankees. He needed to build up his innings in order to be an  effective starter, but the Yankees and their win now mentality got in  the way of his overall development. 

Joba then got called up and tossed 24 innings in the regular season,  plus another 3 2/3 in the postseason, giving him 116 innings on the  year. It was an exceptional first professional season.


But then they kept him on the major league roster instead of sending  him to Triple-A or Double-A to work on his changeup and curveball, and  to build up his innings. They started him in the bullpen, transitioned  him to the rotation with increasing pitch counts, and he eventually hurt  his shoulder. He then didn't make a rehab assignment and pitched out of  the bullpen for the remainder of the year. He only threw 100 innings.

In 2009, they attempted to increae Joba's workload, and after  throwing only 100 innings in 2008, Joba tossed 163 1/3 innings, far more  than what his arm was used to. The Verducci Effect was  written all over it. He struggled down the stretch with the "Joba  Rules," and was sent back to the bullpen in time for the playoffs. After  losing a Spring Training competition to Phil Hughes, Chamberlain hasn't  started since.

I do think Joba was handled poorly, and I think his masive increase  in innings from 2008 to 2009 may have had an impact on his elbow, which  is currently on the mend after Tommy John surgery.

This little travel through time brings me to the present. The Yankees  know what it is like to have elite pitching prospects get away. With  two more top prospects waiting and developing, we can only hope that the  Yankees have learned from their mistakes.

They have carefully monitored their innings this season, 129 2/3 for  Banuelos, 126 1/3 for Betances. They will be ready for an increase next  season, with their likely starting spots at Triple-A  Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. 

Let's hope they stay healthy, and let's hope the Yankees do not rush  their development. If the Yankees take a look back into their recent  history, they'll see exactly what rushing a prospect can do.

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