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Scouting Reports and Profiles: 2012 Edition
6 years ago  ::  Jan 02, 2012 - 2:22PM #21
Posts: 26,112

Every MLB Team's Top Defensive Prospect in the Minors

Mason Williams, OF, New York Yankees


Williams was the breakout star of the Yankees system in 2011, and part of that had to do with the improvements he made on defense.

He racked up eight assists, which is a solid amount, especially in the mere 63 games he took part in. A greater challenge will be posed to him as he moves to full-season ball next year.

6 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2012 - 12:09PM #22
Posts: 65,303

Prospect Profile: Daniel Camarena


(Jamie Scott Lytle/The North County Times)

Daniel Camarena | LHP

A Southern California kid from just south of San Diego in Bonita, Camarena grew up a fan of the Yankees and Andy Pettitte. He starred both on the mound and in the outfield for Cathedral Catholic High School, pitching the Dons to the California Interscholastic Federation title this spring. Camarena struck out 76 and walked just six in 49 IP as a senior, and four of those walks came in one outing. He took home a ton of hardware in high school, including Rawlings First Team All-American and California All-Region in 2011. He was also named First Team All-CIF and an AFLAC All-American in 2010.

Camarena was strongly committed to The University of San Diego, where he would have both pitched and played the field. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked him as the 15th best prospect in SoCal and 138th best prospect overall prior to the draft, but the USD commitment caused him to slide to the Yankees in the 20th round, the 629th overall pick. He agreed to an above-slot $335k bonus about a week before the signing deadline, but did not appear in a game after signing.

Scouting Report
Standing 6-foot-1 and 200 lbs., Camarena is a three-pitch lefty that sits anywhere from 85-91 with the fastball. His best secondary pitch is an average changeup that is light years ahead of the typical high school draftee’s. He turns the pitch over well and it fades away from righties. Camarena’s curveball is also a solid pitch that generates swings and misses at its best. All of his stuff plays up because of aptitude and control, which is advanced for a teenager thanks in part to his simple delivery.

Camarena also has legitimate pro ability as an outfielder, using a sweet line drive swing to spray the ball to all fields from the left side. He has more long-term potential on the mound however, so that’s where the Yankees will keep him. Here is Camarena’s MLB.com draft video, and there are a number of clips of him both pitching and hitting on YouTube.

2012 Outlook
Camarena is a little more advanced than some of the other high school arms the Yankees have drafted in recent years, but he’s still likely to held back in Extended Spring Training before debuting in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League next June. An assignment to Short Season Staten Island instead isn’t out of the question, but I wouldn’t count on it.

My Take
I’ve always preferred high school pitchers to their college counterparts because they haven’t had a chance to be run into the ground or develop bad habits at the hands of their college coach, and Camarena is no different. He’s a legit three-pitch lefty with decent size and an idea of how to pitch, and I think he’s the best pitching prospect the Yankees drafted this summer. I can see an argument for Jordan Cote, but I’ll take the polished lefty over the raw righty in this case. I’m excited to see what he’ll do during his pro debut this year, and whether or not the Yankees bump him up to Staten Island before the end of the season if he’s pitching well. I wouldn’t say Camarena’s upside is significant, but he has the tools to pitch in a big league rotation down the line.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2012 - 9:18PM #23
Posts: 26,112
Scouting reports for the Top 10 Prospects Premium(How to subscribe)
Pre-Order the 2012 Prospect Handbook
30 scouting reports on every team
1. Jesus Montero, c
2. Manny Banuelos, lhp
3. Dellin Betances, rhp
4. Gary Sanchez, c
5. Mason Williams, of
6. Dante Bichette, 3b
7. Ravel Santana, of
8. Austin Romine, c
9. J.R. Murphy, c/3b
10. Slade Heathcott, of
Best Hitter for Average Jesus Montero
Best Power Hitter Jesus Montero
Best Strike Zone Discipline Ramon Flores
Fastest Baserunner Mason Williams
Best Athlete Mason Williams
Best Fastball Dellin Betances
Best Curveball Dellin Betances
Best Slider Mark Montgomery
Best Changup Manny Banuelos
Best Control Nik Turley
Best Defensive Catcher Austin Romine
Best Defensive Infielder Cito Culver
Best Infield Arm Cito Culver
Best Defensive OF Mason Williams
Best Outfield Arm Ravel Santana
Catcher Austin Romine
First Base Mark Teixeira
Second Base Robinson Cano
Third Base Alex Rodriguez
Shortstop Eduardo Nunez
Left Field Brett Gardner
Center Field Mason Williams
Right Field Curtis Granderson
Designated Hitter Jesus Montero
No. 1 Starter CC Sabathia
No. 2 Starter Manny Banuelos
No. 3 Starter Ivan Nova
No. 4 Starter Dellin Betances
No. 5 Starter Phil Hughes
Closer David Robertson
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Drew Henson, 3b Yankees
2003 Jose Contreras, rhp Phillies
2004 Dioner Navarro, c Dodgers
2005 Eric Duncan, 3b Cardinals
2006 Phil Hughes, rhp Yankees
2007 Phil Hughes, rhp Yankees
2008 Joba Chamberlain, rhp Yankees
2009 Austin Jackson, of Tigers
2010 Jesus Montero, c Yankees
2011 Jesus Montero, c Yankees
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2003 Eric Duncan, 3B Cardinals
2004 Phil Hughes, RHP Yankees
2005 C.J. Henry, SS Yankees
2006 Ian Kennedy, RHP Diamondbacks
2007 Andrew Brackman, RHP Reds
2008 Gerrit Cole, RHP Pirates
2009 Slade Heathcott, OF Yankees
2010 Cito Culver, SS Yankees
2011 Dante Bichette, OF Yankees
Hideki Irabu, 1997 $8,500,000
Jose Contreras, 2002 $6,000,000
Andrew Brackman, 2007 $3,350,000
Gary Sanchez, 2009 $3,000,000
Wily Mo Pena, 1999 $2,440,000
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2011 Draft: Yankees (Basic Database)
2011 Draft: Yankees Premium (Advanced Database)
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Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
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New York Yankees

Since becoming general manager of the Yankees in 1998, Brian Cashman has overseen a franchise that has missed the playoffs only once while winning 100 games six times and earning four World Series championships. Yet it's impossible to evaluate Cashman's tenure or the team's success without acknowledging its financial advantages.

New York ranked second in major league payroll in 1998 and first every season since, spending $2.4 billion on players. It had $200 million-plus payrolls for the last seven consecutive seasons. When the Yankees don't sign a big-name free agent such as Cliff Lee—who spurned them for the Phillies last offseason&mda**** considered an upset.

New York's finances make it possible for it to owe 10 players a total of $167 million for 2012, from Curtis Granderson at $10 million to Alex Rodriguez at $29 million. But even the Yankees need low-cost players to supplement those eight-figure big leaguers. Minor league guru Mark Newman, pro scouting director Billy Eppler and scouting director Damon Oppenheimer have done their part to provide supplemental talent.

In 2011, New York's best rookies were products of its Latin American program. Ivan Nova's 16 wins led all big league rookies, while Eduardo Nunez started a total of 81 games at four different positions. Top prospect Jesus Montero made a quick impact in September and positioned himself for a full-time role in 2012 as a DH and part-time catcher.

The big league roster included key pro scouting pickups Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia in the rotation and Cory Wade in the bullpen. Oppenheimer draftees Brett Gardner, Ian Kennedy (with the Diamondbacks after being used in a December 2009 trade for Granderson) and David Robertson enjoyed all-star-caliber seasons. The latter two are part of a productive 2006 Yankees draft class that has sent 10 players to the majors.

New York has more on the way, starting with Montero, righthander Dellin Betances (another 2006 draftee) and Mexican lefty Manny Banuelos. Montero might not catch for many organizations, but he still might for the Yankees, who look more for offense from their backstops. With few attractive pitching options on the free-agent market, New York could turn to Banuelos or Betances in 2012.

They both reached Scranton/Wilkes-Barre toward the end of the 2011 season, becoming part of a Triple-A rotation that got 120 starts from homegrown pitchers. At the other end of the spectrum, Yankees affiliates won championships in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast and short-season New York-Penn leagues.

It wasn't all great news for New York on the player-development front. Righthander Andrew Brackman, a 2007 first-round pick who collected nearly $6 million on the big league deal he signed without reaching the majors, didn't have his $2.2 million option for 2012 picked up after a terrible season. He contemplated quitting baseball and has gone 15-29, 5.11 as a pro.

Outside of Banuelos, the Yankees continue to struggle to develop lefties. Even with the success at the lower levels, the system's domestic clubs struggled to reach .500.

But on Cashman's watch, New York has been the majors' most consistent winner and produced its share of homegrown talent. As the GM begins a new three-year contract, it's easy to say that he has earned it.

6 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2012 - 9:20PM #24
Posts: 26,112

Interview with John Manuel - Question 2

Earlier today, I spoke with John Manuel of Baseball America. Manuel's the man behind ranking the Yankees' top 10 prospects, which were released (in e-magazine form) late last month. During an hourlong interview, I asked him about a number of different topics relating to this year's rankings. Because the chat was so lengthy, I'm going to make a post out of each question. It's more easily digestible that way.

Question 2: The previous question seems to dovetail nicely into my next question. One of the bigger differences between Montero and Sanchez, as I see it, is a lack of want. There were a number of behavioral issues this year with Sanchez, whereas Montero, for all his failings behind the plate, has made it clear to anyone who will listen that he very badly wants to be a catcher long-term. What did your contacts say about Sanchez's make-up this year?

John Manuel: One of my notes from inside the organization definitely said 'I wish that you did not rank him second last year.' I think all players need to show that they can handle success and they all need to show that they can handle failure. For Sanchez, he hadn't had any failure until this year. He did not show that he can handle success that well. He didn't handle prosperity terribly well -- it seemed like it went to his head. 

It does seem like he handled failure a little bit better. Once he got back on the field, he was better in the second half, it seemed like. That's all the reports that I have. Maybe he learned his lesson from that (organizational suspension). To me, the story of not wanting to call the breaking ball because he's afraid to get embarrassed, that's an immaturity thing. That's the kind of thing where you hope it gets worked out of his system. 

I do think that a level of arrogance is necessary for all these players. I think you've got to go beyond confidence. I think there's a level of arrogance that you have to have to be a major leaguer, especially a star. He's got that.

One of the things that I think is most apparent on Twitter and on the Internet, especially with the media today, we don't seem to remember that the game is supposed to humble you. There are not a lot of humble writers who cover baseball anymore. Twitter, I guess, does not reward humility, but I think the game still does with players, and this is where you learn it. You learn it more in the South Atlantic League -- it's better for you to learn it in the South Atlantic League. I definitely think he got some of that (humility) this year. 

Our indications and our reports are that he was better (in the second half). You're going to regain your confidence when you hit like he hit, so I think that is something he's always able to fall back on. He can fall out of bed hitting and he has some patience and he controls the strike zone pretty well for an 18-year-old and he has mad power. I think that this guy's offense is going to buy him time to grow up and to get better defensively. 

Those two negatives are undeniable, but I like to focus on what the guy can do, and he can freakin' hit. I don't think that should be lost in detailing his defensive or maturity issues. Those can be fixed; it's hard to find catchers who can hit like him.

6 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2012 - 9:23PM #25
Posts: 26,112

Interview with John Manuel - Question 1

Earlier today, I spoke with John Manuel of Baseball America. Manuel's the man behind ranking the Yankees' top 10 prospects, which were released (in e-magazine form) late last month. During an hourlong interview, I asked him about a number of different topics relating to this year's rankings. Because the chat was so lengthy, I'm going to make a post out of each question. It's more easily digestible that way.

Question 1: It seems that Jesus Montero's future as a catcher in name only is pretty widely cemented throughout the industry. That doesn't seem to be the case for Gary Sanchez, however, the system's other offensive firebrand at backstop. In your experience so far, what have evaluators said about Sanchez's defense?

John Manuel: It's pretty universal that people think that he has better physical ability to catch than Jesus Montero. Sanchez, he's not as big, that's where it all starts. I think Jesus Montero, I'm sure he was a little bit better this year at times than he was in previous years. I hear there are things that he does better defensively than he used to, but he's just so big. The Yankees can, and have, talked about his increased flexibility and all those things, but he is who he is. He's 6-4 and he's at least 225 pounds, and Sanchez just isn't that big.

Sanchez, I think, has a good catcher's frame and has a chance to be similarly offensive and I think a little bit more of a classic offensive player than Montero, who's a bit of a front-foot hitter, not a classic pure swing, but it does sound like Sanchez's receiving is rudimentary. 

The story I had was at times he would not call a breaking ball with pitchers. He would not call for a breaking ball, because he did not have the confidence that he could catch the breaking ball. One that I cited was Mark Montgomery, their 11th-round pick this year. His first outing in Charleston this year, he had five strikeouts in an inning. We've all heard of four, but I think five is really unusual. Sanchez just couldn't catch the breaking ball. 

The way the Yankees put it, and what I tried to convey this year, I finally got a Yankees official to admit that catching and throwing are lower priorities for them than they are for other organizations. They look for offensive catchers. It's true in the draft, it's true internationally. They are less interested in the Francisco Cervellis than they are in the Gary Sanchezes and the Jesus Monteros. 

I won't be surprised if they give Jesus Montero an extended opportunity to catch at the major league level. The baseline is Jorge Posada. Everybody has seen Posada over the years clank balls. He's not a good receiver, he's a below-average receiver. I'm not a scout, but I've talked to scouts about Posada, and at the very least, he's a below-average receiver. That's the baseline -- if you can receive as well as Jorge Posada, and if you can hit in that neighborhood, you're going to get a chance to catch for the New York Yankees. 

That's what the Yankees are looking for, so if you're looking at Gary Sanchez and you're seeing his receiving foibles right now, do it in the South Atlantic League. Figure it out in the low minors. That's what the low minors are about. 

I still ranked him fourth this year. Last year we were very aggressive with him. This year I just think Banuelos and Betances deserved to be ranked ahead of him, because their ceilings are also considerable, but they both require some polish as well. 

Sanchez's ceiling remains extremely high, and the Yankees believe between (catching instructor) Julio Mosquera and putting a guy like Torre Tyson in charge of defense in the organization, I think it does tell you that the organization does value instruction for defense, and they're still honing what Torre and the whole organization wants to do as far as instruction on the defensive side. They're going to put in a lot of time and make every effort to make Gary Sanchez an acceptable defender.

6 years ago  ::  Jan 07, 2012 - 2:27PM #26
Posts: 26,112

The Seedlings To Stars 2012 Top 100 Prospects, #17: Gary Sanchez

AUTHOR: | IN: Lists/Rankings | COMMENTS: Comments Off |

Name: Gary Sanchez
DOB: 12/2/92
Organization: Yankees
Position: Catcher
Notable 2011 Stats: .256/.335/.485 with 16 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 93/36 K/BB, and 2-for-3 SB in 82 games with Charleston (A)

Why He’s This High: Much like #18 prospect Xander Bogaerts, Sanchez played the entire season in Low-A as an 18-year-old and put up some ridiculous power numbers. His .229 ISO was 20 points below Bogaerts’ and seven below Bryce Harper‘s, and Sanchez probably has the best chance at staying at a key defensive position out of those three players.

His offensive outburst is nothing new for the precocious young catcher, who is a career .283/.356/.506 hitter. He also threw out 31% of basestealers last year. His approach at the plate is nowhere near on par with Harper’s, but he takes his share of walks and makes hard contact when he connects.

Why He’s This Low: Like Jesus Montero before him, there’s growing concern that Sanchez won’t be able to stay behind the plate. He doesn’t have Montero’s huge frame, but he’s pretty big already, and he allowed 26 passed balls in just 60 games last year. That’s not particularly uncommon for such a young catcher, but Sanchez has a ton of work to do defensively.

The 27.1% strikeout rate also needs to come down quite a bit if he’s going to hit for much of an average.

Conclusions: Sanchez has a number of skills that are well-developed at age 18, which is fantastic. However, he does have big flaws with his defense and strikeouts; while it’s easy enough to brush those off with “he’s just 18, what did you expect?!” right now, that excuse will only fly for so long. If he’s going to retain his top prospect status, he needs to make at least some progress at rounding out those parts of his game in 2012. Like Montero, he should be the rare catcher who will hit enough to play elsewhere, but that’s still far from an optimal outcome.

6 years ago  ::  Jan 10, 2012 - 6:44PM #27
Posts: 65,303

Dan Burawa

Video link:

 Bio: Burawa was the Yankees' 12th round selection, a right-handed relief pitcher from St. John's University. He's 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, 23 years old. and grew up a Yankees fan. You can find him on Twitter at @dannyburawa. 

I did a small write-up on Burawa this season, which you can read by following this link

Last year: Burawa started last year in Charleston, where he paired with fellow 2010 draftee Tommy Kahnle to form a powerful back end of the RiverDogs bullpen. Both pitchers showed they can light up a radar gun, but only Burawa showed  control. 

That sense of the strike zone earned him a promotion to Tampa at the end of June, where he regressed a little from his performance in Charleston, but was still solid nonetheless. 

With Charleston: 3-2, 44.2 IP, 3.63 ERA, 36 H, 21 R, 18 ER, 6 HR, 35 SO, 15 BB

With Tampa: 2-2, 3.66, 39. 1 IP, 41 H, 18 R, 16 ER, 0 HR, 31 SO, 9 BB -- .339 vs. RHB/.228 vs. LHB

Here's what one scout had to say about Burawa: 

"He's got a chance to be a bullpen guy for sure, I mean a legit arm. I'm not sure it's as a closer, but he's got a chance to be a legitimate bullpen guy, at the very least a good set-up man."

What's Next: Burawa will probably begin the year in Trenton, where he'll form a strong bullpen with Chase Whitley, Preston Claiborne, Grant Duff and Josh Romanski.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Jan 11, 2012 - 9:59PM #28
Posts: 26,112

Whither Ramon Flores?


With the noteworthy exception of ‘bust,’ I am unsure that there is a more dreadful label in the scouting community than ‘tweener’ – particularly when such a label is affixed to a prospect within your team’s organization. It may not quite evoke the kiss of death as we associate with a bust, yet it is almost always offered hand-in-hand with terms like ‘fourth outfielder’ or ‘utility infielder’ or ‘spot starter.’ While it is a matter of fact that a team needs players to fill such roles, it serves as a sobering reminder that the minor leagues are not brimming with potential franchise players and staff anchors.


Ramon Flores, signed for $775,000 in 2008, has been pigeonholed as a tweener. Standing at 5’10″ and generously listed at between 150 and 160 lbs., the 19-year-old Dominican lacks the range to play center field, yet his power and potential for power (or lack thereof) profiles best up the middle. As it stands, projections for double-digit home runs may be considered overly ambitious. Flores’ above-average to plus arm strength and average range will certainly allow him to be a solid-average left or right fielder, yet he does not offer the premium speed nor the awe inspiring glovework of Brett Gardner to enable him to shatter the mold.

None of this is to say that Flores is a non-prospect, or anything of that nature. Rather, what Flores lacks in flash, he makes up for in strike zone judgment, plate discipline, and contact skills. In 2010, he led the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League in OBP, and placed second in BB and BB/K as one of the youngest regulars in the league. This past season, Flores placed in the top-ten in BB and BB/K in Low-A, despite checking-in at roughly three years younger than the average South Atlantic League Regular. Only a handful of regulars younger than Flores finished the season with a higher OBP – the list includes Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Jurickson Profar, none of whom should fall outside of the top thirty or so of most major prospect lists. It would be quite a stretch to suggest that Flores is within the same stratosphere of such prospects, to be sure, but it remains indicative of fine discipline and a discerning eye at the plate.

Flores’ contact skills and willingness to take a walk should also serve to mitigate his lack of power, and critiques of his power potential should not be taken as insinuations that pitchers can simply knock the bat out of his hands. The slight lefty utilizes the entire field, and his above-average bat speed allows him to drive the ball into the gaps, which should help him rack up extra-base hits. Aggressiveness and strong base-running instincts should translate into a surprising number of triples and stolen bases, as well.

To many, this may conjure images of Brett Gardner with twenty-pound ankle weights. For the less pessimistic observer, David DeJesus serves as an almost ideal comparison (or at least as ideal as a comp can be). The lack of over the fence power will likely leave much of Flores’ value tied into his BABIP, yet he should walk at an above-average rate while providing above-average glovework in either corner. In the best case scenario, Flores may well be an ideal two-hole bat.

6 years ago  ::  Jan 11, 2012 - 10:02PM #29
Posts: 26,112

David Adams, 2B


2011 Stats (Rookie): .429 BA, .469 OBP, .643 SLG, 1 HR, 11 RBI

2011 Stats (High-A): .308 BA, .368 OBP, .365 SLG, 0 HR, 4 RBI

Drafted by the Yankees in 2008, David Adams found himself the starting 2B for the Double-A Trenton Thunder in 2010. Through his first 39 games for Trenton, Adams posted a batting line of .309 BA/.393 OBP/.507 SLG—and found himself involved in the trade talks between the Yankees and the Seattle Mariners for Cliff Lee.

That would be where the good news ends for Adams—a broken ankle would prematurely end his 2010 season, and that same ankle would limit him to 29 games in 2011—an ominous sign for a 24-year-old.

But the Yankees love his bat, so much so that they added him to their 40-man-roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft this offseason, despite the fact that he's only played in 68 games over the past two seasons

On talent alone, Adams likely belongs higher on this list but needs to show that he is healthy—and that his ankle is not going to become an annual issue—before that happens.

He will likely start the season in the lower levels of the system and as his ankle strengthens, potentially move back up the ladder.

6 years ago  ::  Jan 11, 2012 - 10:03PM #30
Posts: 26,112

Brandon Laird, 3B/1B

Al Bello/Getty Images

2011 Stats (Yankees): .190 BA, .292 OBP, .190 SLG, 0 HR, 1 RBI

2011 Stats (Triple-A): .260 BA, .288 OBP, .422 SLG, 16 HR, 69 RBI

A top-10 prospect for the Yankees entering 2011, 24-year-old Brandon Laird hasn't so much regressed as he may have reached his ceiling.

Laird has power—he has hit at least 13 home runs in each of his past four minor league seasons—but his on-base percentage has continued to drop from his career high of .367 as a 19-year-old making his professional debut in 2007.

In limited time with the Yankees after being added to the roster in September, Laird showed the ability to field third base fairly well, though he looked over-matched at the plate.

The Yankees will give Laird a chance to make the club as a reserve infielder during spring training, though if they re-sign Eric Chavez, Laird will have no real option other than to start the year in Triple-A.

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