With so much action in the Yankee farm system happening at Charleston and Empire State, it is easily for a player on the Tampa Yankees to fly under the radar. Rob Segedin is that player.
The Yankees drafted Segedin in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft. He was a bit of a dark horse pick at the time, being a draft-eligible sophomore at Tulane with a history of lower-back injuries. He hit a crazy .434/.518/.788 for Tulane during his sophomore year, with a great-even-for-college 49/68 K/BB ratio. Tulane plays in Conference-USA, a fairly strong conference that includes Rice University and the University of Central Florida.
Segedin started his first full season at Charleston very well. He hit .323/.396/.482 over 61 games. After promotion to High-A Tampa, his hitting took a nosedive. He hit .245/.311/.309 in 52 games. His prospect status took a hit.
Now, Rob Segedin is putting away his High-A demons and off to a hot start. He’s hitting .306/.370/.538 with 4 home runs, 5 walks, and 12 strikeouts in 17 games in a very tough hitting environment. While Segedin is passable 3rd baseman, the Yankees have him manning corner outfield spots in Tampa primarily. My speculation has always been that this is more about Alex Rodriguez’s entrenched position than Segedin’s defense.
The knock against Rob Segedin to me has always been his lower back problems. If he’s healthy, he should hit. I have no idea how his defense has looked in the corner outfield spots, but that could hold back his value as well. He’s not a particularly fast player, so I have trouble imagining even as a real asset on defense there.
I think we could see Segedin move very fast. He has two years at a big college program, and is 23 years old. He already has half a season at High-A as well. The Yankees usually wait until mid-May before promoting a player like Segedin up a level. If he plays out the remainder of the 2012 season with Trenton, Segedin could be waiting for a call-up at Triple just a year from now. The Yankees have an outfield in flux over the next few years, and Segedin could provide a low-cost and effective replacement for a corner outfield spot.
You are overly analyzing and complicating the art of pitching. If this is what Betances head is full of no wonder he can't make it to the major leagues.
These players are not mathematicians or into the metrics of baseball skills, they are just gifted athletes and the Yankees had better simplify pitching and hitting mechanics so these players can reach their maximum potentials. Perhaps then, we won't have to overpay for established free agent players from other organizations.
The Yankees 2011 fourth-round pick is an 18-year-old shortstop named Matthew Duran. But the 6'1", 205 lbs New Yorker has yet to play a professional game this season.
Duran is coming off an impressive 2011 season. On the year, Duran hit .301 with 25 hits, three home runs and 17 RBI in 23 games with the GCL Yankees.
Though not reflected in his numbers, scouts were impressed with Duran’s power potential.
Defensively, Duran plays well at shortstop, but may end up playing either corner infield positions going forward. One thing is for certain, the Yankees will be tracking this young man’s performance closely.
19-year-old Andrew Cave is the lone active pitcher in this top five. This 6 foot, 180 lb. sixth round picked lefty from Hampton Virginia has potential to become a good pitcher for the Yankees. Overall, Cave has good stuff. He throws an above average fastball and slider, and is working to improve his forkball. Cave has decent movement on his pitches, but his control has been an issue in the past. While there are no official professional statistics available, scouting reports indicate Cave has potential.
When the season opened, it was easy to see where the Yankees were going to keep the bulk of their prospect power. Members of the NY-Penn League-champion Staten Island club like Mason Williams, Angelo Gumbs and Dante Bichette, plus RiverDog returnee Gary Sanchez looked set to make this year's version of Charleston one of the must-see clubs in the minors.
About a month into the season, however, one of the less-heralded players has bashed his to the top of the South Atlantic League leaderboards.
Tyler Austin, a 13th-round selection in the 2010 draft out of Conyers, Ga., has put together a .358/.384/.877 line with a circuit-best nine longballs through the first 17 games.
Earlier this week I spoke with Austin about his start, his switch to right field, and a plethora of other topics. Here's what the man with the booming bat had to say.
Q: Pretty easy place to begin. To what do you attribute your hot start? A: It's just a lot of hard work out there, a little extra work before games, a little bit of extra stuff I'm doing during practice, stuff like that. I'm taking quality BP instead of just going out there and trying to hit home runs in BP. I'm trying to get things done during BP. I'd say that's the biggest success right now that's been contributing to my start.
Q: How did you learn to take that quality BP. For a man with your power, it must be tempting to go out there and put on a show every time. A: My hitting coaches I've had over the past two or three years have really, really helped me. They tell me it's not about there and hitting home runs in batting practice. You need to go out there and get something out of it. If you don't, you're not going to get any better. So I'd say that my hitting coaches have helped me out with that a lot.
Q: Have you noticed a change in the way you perform now that you do that? A: Oh yeah. Definitely. Definitely.
Q: Specifically, when did you feel it started clicking? A: Last year, when I was in the GCL was about the time I started taking batting practice like that. My hitting coach down there (former Thunder outfielder Edwar Gonzalez) wanted to try something out with me hitting more toward right field a lot more during BP and seeing how that carried over into the game. Ever since then, I've been doing that and it's been working out really well for me.
Q: You've got a 13-game hitting streak going (it snapped the day after I did this interview). Are you doing anything the same before every game? A: Nah, nah. I'm just going out there and playing the game and having fun.
Q: Now that you're in pro ball, have you been able to study pitchers better before game to know what you're going to face when you get out there? A: As I've gotten here, there's been a lot of scouting reports on guys and stuff like that, so, yeah, I've definitely been able to study a bit of that and get a little bit better feel for the guys. But it's a matter of seeing him throw it all. I'd say I've definitely been able to pick out the guys and stuff like that before games.
Q: How long does one of those sessions take. For example, if you were looking at tonight's starter, how long would you look at the information available to you? A: I just look at the charts we have on him. It takes me probably five minutes to look over velocity of fastball, stuff like that, what breaking balls he throws, offspeed, when he likes to throw fastballs. Probably five minutes, that's all that takes.
Q: This is Lexington tonight, so you had a chance to face some of these pitchers last year in Staten Island, when they were with Tri-City. Can you go back to at-bats you had last year and remember what pitch you got from a certain guy? A: I guess I could do that. I'm probably not going to look at it like that. I'm facing guys that are a little bit better this year, with better stuff. Their velocity's a little bit better, I'd say, but I guess could do that but I'm probably not going to get in too deep into all that stuff.
Q: Since you were drafted, what kind of changes have the Yankees made to your swing or your approach? A: None, really. They've shortened up my load a little bit. That's about it.
Q: So they must have liked your swing from Day One, then, huh? A: Yes, sir.
Q: If I remember correctly, you were drafted as a catcher. How much work behind the plate did you do as an amateur? A: Mostly my junior and senior years of high school.
Q: Did you call your own games? A: No, sir, I did not.
Q: Even so, can you use what you learned as a catcher while working against hitters and incorporate it into your approach at the plate? A: No, I wouldn't say so.
Q: Has there been much of a lifestyle adjustment now that you're in pro ball? A: It's definitely different. Playing every day (at the field) from noon until 10:00, 10:30 every night. It's definitely a grind but I've got to go out there and make sure I'm having fun. If I'm not having fun, then it's going to be a miserable time.
So, for me, it's just making sure I'm having fun. No matter what it is I'm going to enjoy it, because you only live once, so you need to enjoy every moment of what you have.
Q: When you have struggled in the past, is there something you do differently to get yourself out of that funk? A: No. It's not really anything I do differently. I just go back to my BP and stuff like that to see how I performed during my BP and stuff like that. I'll watch video, too, and hopefully I do something about it the next day.
Q: Last year was pretty special for you, I'd imagine. You got two championship rings (GCL Yankees and Staten Island). Could you have scripted it much better? A: Yes, sir, I did. I got two rings. No, it doesn't get much better than the season I had last year.
Q: Where do you keep the rings? A: My mom has them.
Q: What was the injury to your wrist last year? Was it broken? A: I hurt the other hand. It kept me out for about two weeks, but it was never broken or anything like that.
Q: So, when you're on the shelf, what can you do to keep improving and not fall behind your teammates? A: I did a little bit. A lot of running, especially running. A took a lot of ground balls because it was my right hand that was hurt, so I just couldn't throw. It's tough, but you've just got to go out there and mentally prepare yourself.
Q: How's the transition to right field going? Did the Yankees tell you why they preferred you in the outfield? A: I'm not really sure. I really don't know. I guess it's just because I have enough speed to run around with the other guys out there. I'm not really too sure.
Q: Have you taken to it well? A: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I love it out there. It's a lot of fun. I really enjoy it.
Q: Did you play any outfield in high school? A: A little bit, but all the way up through travel ball I played center field, so I guess that's why I'm as comfortable as I am now out there.
Q: What's been the hardest part of learning how to play right field? A: Learning the way the ball comes off the bat with a righty and a lefty up there. Stuff like that's a little bit different, but that's just about it.
Q: On a scale from 1 to 100, how comfortable are you out there right now? A: I'm about 95 percent comfortable doing that.
Q: What are your goals for this year? A: I want to hit .400, that's one of them. I want to be an All-Star. I don't want to make any errors, that's for sure.
Q: When you look at your numbers during the season, to which stats do you pay the most attention? A: My OPS. That and my average.
Q: You're from Conyers, Ga., correct? A: Yes, sir.
Q: How close is that to Atlanta? A: 30 minutes.
Q: So you must have been a Braves fan growing up, I'd imagine. A: No. I was a Yankees fan, believe it or not. Me and my grandmother.
Q: So how did that happen? It must have been rough growing up in Braves country, especially during that time period, as a Yankees fan. A: My grandmother was a Yankees fan, and I kind of just bought into it from there. She had me go and watch the games with her all the time, so I'd say it was definitely because of her.
The Yankees traded the best prospect in their system when they dealt Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda. That deal hasn't worked out so great.
It's not all bad, though. The Yankees just so happen to have another power-hitting catcher in their system. He goes by the name Gary Sanchez.
Like Montero, Sanchez is a work in progress behind the dish. Standing next to it with a bat in his hands, however, Sanchez is a stud. His swing has a couple too many moving parts for my tastes, but he definitely has a ton of power.
Sanchez has started the year with Single-A Charlestown. PerMiLB.com, he's already hitting .341 with 10 doubles. He doesn't have any homers yet, but they'll come. At one point last year, he hit seven homers in nine games, and finished the year with 17 of them.
Keith Lawis of the mind that Sanchez could hit as many as 35 homers a year in the majors, which would make him a worthy successor to the great Jorge Posada.
When Dante Bichette Jr. was selected in the second round (51st overall) in the 2011 draft, it was criticized. Keith Law called the selection an over-draft and ignored his athletic ability, already relegating him to a corner outfield position. If he was that connected, he would have known already that the scouts contacting the Bichette family had him pegged for the 1st or 2nd round. That’s what Law does though, he ignores facts. He didn’t pay any attention to the fact that Dante was a highly skilled tennis player that had the ability to remain at third-base. When Dante was raking in the Gulf Coast League, Law said he was only doing so because the more advanced pitchers hadn’t signed yet. When “D”, as his mother calls him, didn’t stop smoking the ball to all fields, Law was nowhere to be found. He then went on to claim that Dante was an “all or nothing hitter” which is funny considering his advanced approach at the plate for somebody so young. Look at the On-Base Percentage and his pitch recognition ability, Law. It’s Okay to admit that you were wrong.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on. Dante is in a slump right now but he is still getting on-base. The overall stats might say otherwise to those who only look at the box scores & form their conclusions. When you look at the difference between his batting average and the on-base percentage, you can tell that his approach at the plate remains the same, and that is a good sign. His lack of strikeouts shows that he is not being overwhelmed with South Atlantic League pitching, he’s just in a bit of a slide right now. Considering his age, it’s perfectly normal and he is going to bust out of it. It is actually pretty good that a player who has seen success his whole life to struggle because that shows the character of a person. When you struggle, that is when you learn about yourself, and a high character person like Dante Bichette Jr. is going to overcome anything that comes his way. Whether he is on the field or off it, one thing that is certain and that is he will always make a positive impact because he not only possesses the skill, but the fire to want to improve.