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Random Minor League Notes: 2012 Edition
6 years ago  ::  Apr 06, 2012 - 8:34PM #171
Posts: 25,991

Yankees top FanGraphs’ organization rankings


We’ve been rolling out our organizational rankings at FanGraphs over the last two weeks, and today the Yankees officially topped the list for the third straight year. These aren’t just farm system rankings, it’s the entire organization from the majors through the minors and into the front office. I wrote the post, so you should definitely check it out because it’s really awesome.

2012 Outlook: 69 (1st)

The Yankees are never going to be an overly efficient franchise. They’re well beyond the point of diminishing returns, as every additional dollar tacked onto the payroll brings less and less in terms of on-field production. That said, they are a winning machine and a powerhouse team that has become increasingly more well-run in recent years. Once top heavy, the roster is more well-rounded than at any point since the late-90s dynasty.

The headliners are unchanged. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are still the A-list celebrities in a lineup that went relatively unchanged after posting a 113 wRC+ last year, the second best mark in the game. Those two are no longer the key cogs, however. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson drive the offense with Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher providing plenty of support. Russell Martin rediscovered his power stroke last year (with some help from his home park, obviously), and Brett Gardner provides the speed element the club lacked for the better part of a decade. Andruw Jones is arguably the best fourth outfielder in baseball, and Eduardo Nunez offers speed off the bench. Offensively, the Yankees can beat you with power or their legs.

After winning 97 games despite a questionable rotation last year, GM Brian Cashman went for broke this winter. Bartolo Colon and A.J. Burnett were replaced by Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda. Freddy Garcia returns to the back of the rotation, as does Ivan Nova (88 ERA- and 96 FIP- as a rookie in 2011). Phil Hughes may or may not return to his 2010 form, but the Yankees are going to give the 25-year-old another shot anyway. Andy Pettitte got sick of sitting at home, so he came out of retirement and will step back into the rotation once he’s ready to go, tentatively scheduled for May. Then there’s CC Sabathia on top of all that, the rare example of pitcher getting better after a move into the AL East. Pineda’s shoulder-induced DL stint and Pettitte’s late signing take care of the seven pitchers for five spots thing, at least temporarily.

With a bullpen led by Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, and David Robertson, the Yankees have a strikeout end-game trio that is arguably the best in baseball. Gardner provides elite defense while Swisher, Teixeira, A-Rod, and Cano rate no worse than average depending on which metric you prefer. They also have guys like Jack Cust, Jayson Nix, Dewayne Wise, Chris Dickerson, and Russell Branyan stashed away in Triple-A as emergency replacements. The Yankees are deep with bats and arms, both right-handed and left-handed.

2013+ Outlook: 61 (t-3rd)

Acquiring a pitcher of Pineda’s caliber is going to hurt, and the Yankees traded their best position player prospect arguably since Jeter to get him. Even without Jesus Montero, Marc Hulet ranked the team’s farm system as the tenth bast in the game. The top prospects are levels apart, with quality arms like LHP Manny Banuelos, RHP Dellin Betances, and RHP Adam Warren at Triple-A and high-end bats like 3B Dante Bichette Jr., C Gary Sanchez, and OF Mason Williams in the low minors. There’s not much between the two groups, but that upper level pitching depth will be useful either on the roster or in trades.

Those trades have become more focused in recent years as well. Because the whole “win at all costs” mentality isn’t well suited for watching young kids take their lumps, the Yankees have used a number of their best prospects to acquire “now” players over the last few years. Swisher was a heist that cost nothing of value, but they gave up Ian Kennedy, Phil Coke, and Austin Jackson to get Granderson. Pineda (and RHP Jose Campos) cost Montero and Hector Noesi. The ill-fated Javy Vazquez reunion sent Arodys Vizcaino, Melky Cabrera, and Mike Dunn packing.

Trading top prospects is nothing new for the Yankees, but they have gotten smarter about it. They’re no longer trading for big-name players on the downside of their career (think Raul Mondesi and Kevin Brown), they’re targeting players in their prime years with several seasons of contractual control remaining (think Granderson, Pineda, and Swisher). There’s no reason to expect Cashman to change course going forward, so that tenth ranked farm system is as much for the rest of baseball as it for the Yankees. Add in the under-30 guys already on the team like Cano, Pineda, Gardner, Hughes, and Nova, and the Yankees will remain competitive well into the future even as A-Rod, Jeter, Teixeira, and Sabathia succumb to age-related decline.

Financial Resources: 77 (1st)

Forbes estimates the franchise’s current value at $1.85 billion, easily the highest in the game. The YES Network generates huge revenue and is the regional network all others strive to be, although the Yankees technically only own ~33% of their flagship station. Over 3.6 million people walked through the turnstiles at three-year-old Yankee Stadium in 2011, the tenth consecutive year the Yankees ranked either first or second in total attendance. All that attendance means big concessions bucks, and the Yankees happen to control the majority of the concessions at their new stadium through Legends Hospitality Management, which they own along with the Dallas Cowboys. If that’s not enough, the club’s deal with WCBS AM is up after this season and their radio broadcast rights will be one of the most sought-after free agents on the market.

Most teams couldn’t dream of having a $189 million roster, but the Yankees are actually looking to shed $20-30 million off their payroll to get down to that number by 2014. If they manage to pull it off, they’ll get under the luxury tax threshold for the first time since the system was implemented in 2003. It’ll reset their tax rate (currently 40%) and also refund a portion of their annual revenue sharing payment thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Yankees paid more than $100 million to other clubs as part of the revenue sharing program back in 2010, so even a small-percentage rebate will be a bit more than chump change.

The Tri-State area — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut — is home to over 22 million people, by far the largest local market in baseball even when you consider that a significant (and unfortunate) portion of the locals support the Mets. The Yankees are a global brand and the interlocking NY is one of the most recognizable logos in the world. They’re a money-making machine; an unmatched financial giant thanks to ticket sales, concessions, the new stadium/shopping mall, and the YES Network. That 77 financial grade on the 20-80 scale might actually be a little light.

Baseball Operations: 64 (t-2nd)

Cashman is baseball’s third longest-tenured GM, but it hasn’t always been clear which moves were his and which came from over his head. The line has gotten a little less blurry in recent years, but every once in a while ownership will get trigger happy and spend lavishly on a Soriano-type. It’s in their blood.

The pro scouting department Cashman created prior to the 2006 season has been an unheralded piece of the club’s success, unearthing surprise contributors like Colon and Cory Wade. The statistical department led by Michael Fishman handles all the grunt work. The Yankees do still have some issues trusting their own prospects — they went through a period of being overly aggressive with promotions before becoming overly conservative — but they’ve streamlined the decision-making process at the big league level.

The number of knee-jerk reactionary moves has gone down in recent years while the number of well-informed decisions has risen. Cashman’s ultra-patient personality is a stark contrast to vintage George Steinbrenner, but the Yankees are always going to have some element of day-to-day chaos. The front office is smarter than it has been in the past, and that huge payroll sure helps cover up any mistakes.

Overall: 70 (1st)

Our methodology has changed but the results have not — the Yankees are still the class of baseball. They’re atop our organizational rankings for the third straight year, and you can argue that the current roster is the best they’ve fielded during that time. The revenue streams continue to be best in the game and the decision-making processes continue to be refined. Money doesn’t guarantee success in baseball, but it sure makes it a lot easier when you can afford the best talent available. Adding money to smart people is how you end up with one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world and baseball’s premier organization.

6 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2012 - 8:31AM #172
Posts: 65,295

The Marshall Plan? Greatness

Brett Marshall has never been someone to shy away from setting lofty goals.

He once boasted to Yankees farm director Mark Newman that he’d be able to hit 100 miles per hour with his fastball one day. Close, but no cigar.

But his most recent goal? Well, the road to that one starts later today. The talented 22-year-old righty makes his Double-A debut Saturday afternoon, but also recently got to experience his first big league camp. He paid particular attention to CC Sabathia.

“I know I’m not left-handed, but I watched CC a lot because I want to eventually be an Opening Day starter,” he said.

“You’ve got to go big. I want to be in the big leagues, but hey, eventually you get to that role and you want to be an Opening Day starter.”

For now, however, Marshall isn’t even the Thunder’s number one man in the rotation, although he unquestionably has the highest ceiling of anyone in it.

“He’s got great stuff. That guy, he’s got a ton,” said Thunder catcher Jose Gil, who caught Marshall during simulated games in spring training.

“He’s got three pitches he throws pretty well. He’s got enormous talent, so I’m going to try to help as much as I can.”

Marshall throws a hard sinker, a slider and a devastating changeup that pitching coach Tommy Phelps described as “really, really good.” But he never did hit 100 miles per hour on the radar gun, a claim he chalked up to being “young and dumb.”

“You want to throw hard. I got up to 98 one game, and I was like, ‘That’s pretty cool,’” Marshall said.

“I’d never thrown hard, and I was like, ‘You know what, maybe I could throw 100 one day.’ But then I was like let me just focus on throwing strikes and getting the ball down, and that was the biggest thing I learned. After coming off Tommy John, that’s one thing we worked on, just throwing strikes. Don’t worry about how hard you’re throwing, just get out there and hit the catcher’s mitt and you’ll be fine. That was the biggest thing I learned, that it doesn’t matter how fast you throw.”

Everything seemed to change for Marshall on July 31, 2009, the date of his aforementioned procedure. He came back just ten months later and performed well, but hesitation the following off-season got him off to a poor start with High-A Tampa in 2011.

“After TJ, one thing we worked on was to keep the same arm slot,” he said.

“I did a real good job after TJ. I think taking off those about four or five months from throwing in the offseason, I think that’s what kind of hurt. I was like, ‘I’ve got to start picking up the ball,’ but I was scared to throw again. I was trying to over exaggerate getting over the top and it wasn’t the same. I was lucky to fix it.”

Marshall’s mechanics were off in April. A natural three-quarters arm slot thrower, he was throwing from too far over the top, and the results showed — He pitched to a 9.00 ERA that first month. Initially, he couldn’t fix the problem, but one day it clicked. He tricked himself by trying to throw sidearm, and when he looked at where his arm slot actually was, he’d returned to his original three-quarter release.

“The strikeouts went up and the walks went down. The numbers were a lot better,” Marshall said.

“It was probably a couple starts (to transition back to normal). I just fixed it in-between starts, and it got back and I was kind of back and forth in the game. After a couple games, it was back to normal. It felt better. The velo went back up, and I threw a lot more strikes.”

For most fans, changing your arm slot may seem pretty simple. Just drop down or bring it up, and everything stays the same. The transition, Marshall says, was much bigger than he anticipated.

“It makes a huge difference,” he said.

“First of all, my velo went down. It’s like learning how to throw again, it’s totally different. You’ve got to learn how to throw strikes, you’ve got to learn how to throw all your offspeed pitches, and it’s definitely hard. It hurts your arm, too. You’ve been throwing one way your whole life, and to come in and change it, it’s tough. It’s a big time mental game when you change your arm slot, it’s tough.”

Marshall ended up putting together a fine season in the Florida State League — A 9-7 record with a 3.78 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 140 innings — and had many people wondering if his much anticipated Double-A debut might happen before the 2011 season ended.

Including Marshall himself.

“I was (surprised I didn’t come up here last year), but I understand why they kept me down,” he said.

“We had a lot of transactions and people getting hurt down there. Last year, all I wanted to do is stay healthy. It didn’t matter to me, I just wanted to have a healthy season. I put up pretty good numbers, I was pleased with last year, especially the end of it.”

Instead, the first Double-A pitch of his career will leave his right hand around 1:07 PM this afternoon. For the friendly fireballer, rated the Yankees 11th-best prospect by Baseball America, it can’t come soon enough.

“I’m excited,” he said.

“I’ve been looking forward to this since the last game last year, so I’m just ready to get back on the mound and get the season started and go from there. Hopefully, this will be a good year.”

And for those who’ve seen the hype around him, it probably can’t come soon enough for them, either.

“People are starting to talk quite a bit about Brett, which is great,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin.

“He’s a young pitcher with some pretty good stuff, but the thing you want to see is, ‘What does he got?’ You’re only going to see what he’s got once the game begins. If he does what everyone expects him to do, he should be pretty good out there. You just hope that he’s going to put a pretty good season together. There’s always that anticipation of ‘This guy’s got it.’ Hopefully, we’ll be able to say that (today).”

While many feel he was talented enough to be the team’s Opening Day starter, it may be turn out to be a blessing in disguise that he wasn’t. He spent the past two nights charting the games, and feels that may give him another advantage before even throwing a single pitch at Waterfront Park.

“Most of the guys, I’d faced coming up. I faced them all last year when we played Dunedin, and the year before,” he said. “You kind of learn what the hitters like and what they don’t like, and I think it’s a big plus I got to see them for two games before I get out there.”

As evidenced by the goals he sets, Marshall is motivated, not only to make up for lost time caused by that Tommy John surgery, but to continue climbing the organizational ladder to fulfill his dreams. More focused on what’s ahead of him instead of who’s ahead of him en route to getting there, he continues to draw off of his positive experience at his first big league camp to make that fantasy a reality.

“It was amazing, I had a lot of fun,” he said.

“Pitchers-wise, I tried to look at the starters, like CC and Phil Hughes and those guys. That’s hopefully what I will be one day, a Yankees starter. Just kind of see what they do and see how they go about things, and just talk to them a lot. I got to watch those guys up there and learn from them, and ask a lot of questions. It makes you not want to leave. It makes you want to work harder to get back there one day.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com // Twitter: Mashmore98

Photo courtesy Dave Schofield, Trenton Thunder

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Apr 10, 2012 - 9:08PM #173
Posts: 25,991

Yankee Farmhand Debuts

Let's take a lap around the farm and see what some of the Yankees top prospects are doing as the minor league season gets underway.

Manny Banuelos was shelled in his first start against Syracuse (Nationals), finishing with this uninspiring line: 3.1 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. While it is only one start, seeing right handed hitters go 8-for-14 against him is a bit disappointing, especially since that is one of the main things the Yankees need him to improve before he reaches the majors. Plus, he gave up a hit to that punk Bryce Harper, which just pours salt in the wound. Let's hope with a few adjustments, Manny gets back to being Manny.


  • On the other hand, Dellin Betances was solid in his debut on Friday against Lehigh Valley (Phillies): 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. The one walk is a key stat, as is the percentage of strikes he threw (67%), which is a really nice step in the right direction. Like Banuelos, taming bouts of wildness is key, so this is something to build on for his next start.
  • While the Michael Pineda trade has yet to begin yielding results on the major league level, Jose Campos debuted for Low-A Charleston with great success: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Baseball America reminds us that Campos led the short-season Northwest League in strikeouts and ERA last season, so seeing him start the year off strong shouldn't be a surprise. If he can keep putting together dominating performances, a promotion is sure to be on the horizon.
  • Andy Pettitte is certainly not a prospect, but his debut for Tampa on Monday night was a great success: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. Keith Law of ESPN tweeted that Pettitte sat at 85-87 MPH with his fastball, and was working with a plus change. Great news for Pettitte and the Yankees as he continues his post-retirement comeback, and works his way back to the starting rotation. Pettitte had this to say after the game:

This is a process. It's going to take a little bit of time. My legs felt really good under me. We'll bump it, probably to 50 pitches hopefully next time, and we'll see what happens from there.
  • A few weeks ago, I mentioned Yankees pitching prospect Nik Turley as one of the guys I'm most excited about monitoring this season, and John Sickels recently had this to say about his debut from last week:

Keep an eye on New York Yankees pitching prospect Nik Turley, a southpaw pitching for High-A Tampa in the Florida State League. He allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in his first start, but fanned nine in five innings. A 50th round pick back in 2008 from high school in Studio City, California, Turley is a huge (6-6, 230 pound) lefty with average velocity but an effective curveball/changeup arsenal. A broken hand ended his '11 season early but he pitched well before getting hurt, with an 82/21 K/BB in 82 innings, 70 hits, and a 2.51 ERA in 15 starts for Low-A Charleston. He's a nice under-the-radar prospect.
  • One of the high points in the system is the offensively gifted Charleston team, and how they have fared thus far. Here are their current stats through the first few games of the season (updated through April 8):

Mason Williams: 3-for-11, 2 2B, 1 SB
Dante Bichette Jr.: 5-for-12, 1 R
Gary Sanchez: 4-for-10, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 SB
Tyler Austin: 1-for-6, 1 3B
Cito Culver: 0-for-11
Ben Gamel: 1-for-9, 1 R
Angelo Gumbs: 0-for-5

It's still early, so take all of these initial samples with a grain of salt. The first week of the season doesn't make or break a prospect, and there is still plenty of baseball to be played in 2012.

6 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2012 - 9:01PM #174
Posts: 25,991

Yankees are excellent at developing pitchers


6 years ago  ::  Apr 12, 2012 - 10:02AM #175
Posts: 65,295
Campos unhittable in RiverDogs win

Yankees prospect has yet to allow an earned run this season

04/11/2012 11:52 PM ET
Jose Campos has surrendered just one hit in 11 innings this season.
Jose Campos has surrendered just one hit in 11 innings this season. (Charleston RiverDogs)

talent in his 2012 debut, but Wednesday, he was even better.

The Yankees' No. 5 prospect tossed five hitless innings in his second start of the season as the Class A Charleston RiverDogs defeated the Augusta GreenJackets, 11-5.

After fanning three over six scoreless frames in his first outing, the 19-year-old right-hander struck out eight and walked two on Wednesday.

"It feels very good," Campos said through a translator. "I've been working with our pitching coach, Danny Borrell, on my mechanics. I'm very happy with the outings I've had."

The only run off Campos came in the first after a pair of RiverDogs errors. Leadoff hitter Kelby Tomlinson reached on a fielding error by second baseman Angelo Gumbs, then came around to score two batters later when first baseman Reymond Nunez made a throwing error following a groundout.

"My mind was set to do my job and keep working," Campos said. "I know errors are going to happen, so I have to keep working hard and command my pitches and give the team a chance."

Campos allowed only two more baserunners over the rest of his outing, both on walks. Meanwhile, the Charleston offense lit up the GreenJackets, scoring nine runs for Campos and then adding two more after he left the game.

Yankees' No. 8 prospect Dante Bichette Jr. tripled in three runs and Tyler Austin added a triple, a double and two RBIs.

"[The offense gave me] confidence to attack hitters," Campos said. "I was more comfortable."

Augusta's first hit of the day did not come until the sixth, when Fred Lewis took over for Campos. Tomlinson led off the inning with a double, while three other GreenJackets -- Jose Cuevas, Elliott Blair and Charles Jones -- also recorded base knocks in the frame.

"That's one of my goals, to try to throw a no-hitter all the way," Campos said. "But I know I'm in development and I might not throw nine innings. I was looking to give the team a chance to win."

After coming over to the Yankees with Michael Pineda in the offseason trade that sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to Seattle, Campos has not allowed an earned run in two starts with the RiverDogs. Over 11 innings, the native of Venezuela has only yielded a single hit.

So what will he do for an encore his next time out?

"I'll keep working hard and just keep attacking the hitters," Campos said. "Work on my confidence, keep commanding my pitches and go to work every five days."

David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Apr 12, 2012 - 4:56PM #176
Posts: 65,295

Yankee prospects and controlling the controllables

By in Minors. · Comments (7) ·

A recent profile of track prodigy Galen Rupp and his coach, former marathon champion Alberto Salazar, noted that it’s been forty-eight long years since an American man won an Olympic medal at the 10,000 meter distance. Salazar believes that Rupp, his twenty-five year old student of 12 years, can end that drought this summer in London. Rupp is an extremely talented runner, one of the best at the 5 and 10k distances, but both Salazar and Rupp know that besting the dominant Africans at this distance would require virtually everything to go right. And so they’re doing their best to ensure that it does. “The mantra is control the controllables,” explains Nike’s sports psychologist, Darren Treasure.

 “”We’re not at all intimidated by the Africans; they’re great runners but there’s so many of them. With our [American] runners, we have so few of them that we have to do everything perfect,” says Salazar…

Since 2001, Salazar has ensured that his small crop of Oregon Project runners have access to every technological, physiological and psychological advantage available. From altitude simulation tents and rooms to both anti-gravity and underwater treadmills to the Cryo Sauna, a cylindrical chamber that turns liquid nitrogen to gas to cool an athlete’s body at bone-chilling temperatures for rejuvenating purposes, Nike, who reported revenues of $19 billion in 2010, pays for and houses them on their 193-acre Beaverton, Ore., campus.”

So what do Cryo Saunas and altitude simulation tents have to do with Yankee prospects? The Empire State Yankees, the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees, are currently without a home stadium. The Yankees are in the process of tearing down the old PNC Field and replacing it with a $40M facility, but in the interim the club has nowhere to call home. This means that players like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine will be spending the entire season on a 142 game road trip, playing “home games” in six different cities. The hope is that the stadium will be completed in time for the 2013 season, but 2012 will be a tough order for these Yankee minor leaguers.

This is a more extreme example of the grind of minor league life, detailed in depth by Mike Ashmore here. While the facilities at the major league level are top notch, players just below that level often deal with situations that wouldn’t be suitable for elite athletes in other sports. Of course, plenty of these athletes are not elite, and the lion’s share of them won’t ever become major league regulars. Regardless it’s not a stretch to say that the nutrition opportunities in particular for players at the minor league level do not come close to that of an Olympian or a major leaguer. I asked Josh Norris, beatwriter for the Trenton Thunder, about the food habits of the players he covers:

 “The per diem is certainly meager, and the postgame spreads aren’t exactly Jenny Craig approved… Fast food is the only available option a lot of the time, but they can obviously choose, say, Subway over McDonald’s. A personal chef/nutritionist would obviously be helpful, but for 30 guys on the road and at home would get really, really complicated.”

Norris went on to astutely note that an in-shape ball player isn’t always the superior ballplayer:

 “A perfect example is a guy like Richie Robnett. With his shirt off, that guy was a Met-Rx commercial waiting to happen. At the plate, however, his washboard abs rarely translated into solid contact. Contrast that with a guy like, say, Prince Fielder, who obviously isn’t the picture of health. If you went in with no knowledge of the players other than their appearance and perceived health/strength, you’d take Robnett every time. Being a successful baseball player requires much more than pristine physical fitness. There’s coordination, adherence to practice regimen, and, on some level, I think, superior genetics.”

Given that prime nutritional health and peak baseball performance aren’t perfectly correlated, and given that most of these players have little ultimate value to the major league team, what’s the impetus to spend more money to institute a more rigorous exercise and nutrition program? New, advanced technologies don’t always translate directly into improved baseball skills. Maybe there isn’t a smart, snappy answer to these questions. But these players are athletes, and we don’t know what sort of talent and skill is left underdeveloped when they aren’t given every chance to become the greatest they can be.

Do the Cryo Saunas mean that Rupp recovers better from his hard workouts and gets faster, leading to one or two seconds gained on the track? Would he have been that fast if he had just used ice? You can’t know. But when there’s so much at stake, and so much money to be made (especially in baseball), it would seem prudent to take every avenue possible to maximize the value of your players. They may not need Cryo Saunaus, but ensuring that every minor leaguer in the Yankees organization gets the best nutrition and workout facilities available to them might lead to an organizational advantage and a more efficient development of talent. If I were the owner of a team and had some extra cash lying around, perhaps leftover thanks to new restrictions on how much I can spend on the draft, I might see if this would be a worthy investment.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2012 - 5:01PM #177
Posts: 65,295

I have written extensively on the talented group of prospects that are currently on the roster of the Yankees’ low-A club, the Charleston Riverdogs. On a daily basis, the Riverdogs feature legitimate prospects at pretty much every position, including slugging catcher Gary Sanchez, athletic outfielder Mason Williams, power-hitting 3rd baseman Dante Bichette Jr, and fireballing righty Jose Campos. Consequently, they have become a very big draw for scouts and people who cover the minor leagues, who get the chance to see a plethora of prospects in action on a given day.

Last night, Mike Newman of Fangraphs was in attendance, and wrote up his impressions in a post today. The entire article is worth reading, but I’ll summarize some of Newman’s impressions here. In a few ways, Newman’s timing was not especially fortunate. Gary Sanchez had a day off, and Newman also missed Bryan Mitchell and Jose Campos, who both were dominant in their most recent outings.  However, there was plenty of prospecty goodness on display last night, as the Riverdogs beat up on a rehabbing Tim Hudson and the Rome Braves.  I asked Newman if there was a team in the minors with more legitimate prospects than the Riverdogs, and he could not think of one.

Dante Bichette, who had 3 hits on the evening, impressed Newman with his approach at the plate and ability to hit to all fields.  Mason Williams drew raves for his speed and raw tools, though Newman didn’t see a lot of lift in his swing, and worried about his propensity to swing and miss.  Angelo Gumbs impressed with what Newman said was “some of the best bat speed I’ve ever seen from a prospect” and better-than-expected defense, but also an over-aggressive approach that led to several big whiffs.  Tyler Austin, who hit 2 homers on the day, impressed with his power, though Newman acknowledged that they were hit off of mistake pitches.

Cito Culver was less impressive, as the switch-hitting shortstop drew some concerns about his awkward left-handed swing, and also about whether his physique would allow him to last as a shortstop long-term.  Neither of these are particularly new criticisms, but one would hope that Cito was working hard to fix his swing.  However, based on his early struggles (and Newman’s assessment), it would seem that he still has plenty of work to do.

The Riverdogs will continue to be an exciting team to follow throughout the minor league season, and I’m hoping to read more scouting reports over the course of the season, to track improvements and changes.  This is definitely an intriguing group of prospects, and they have the potential to become the next wave of homegrown impact players that could propel the Yankees to another dynasty.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2012 - 8:21PM #178
Posts: 25,991

Mahmood Darwish (Easton, PA): Can you please rank the following pitchers by best-case ceiling in your opinion and then by the likelihood of reaching that ceiling, again in your opinion? Jose Campos, Daniel Norris, Enny Romero, Daniel Corcino, Neil Ramirez and for pure curiosity JC Sulbaran and Austin Wood. Thank you
J.J. Cooper: I don't mind doing the ceiling/likelihood questions, but when you put seven guys it makes it a little tougher to actually sit down and map it out. Top three ceiling: Campos, Norris, Romero. Likelihood: Corcino, Ramirez, Campos.

6 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2012 - 8:23PM #179
Posts: 25,991
Team: low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)
Age: 19
Why He's Here: 2-0, 0.00, 2 GS, 11 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 3 BB, 11 SO
The Scoop: The RiverDogs have jumped out to an early lead in the South Atlantic League team ERA race thanks in large part to Campos, who has held opponents to one hit and one (unearned) run through 11 innings. With just three walks issued, his WHIP stands at a minuscule 0.36. In other words, Campos has started his Yankees career in sharp contrast with Michael Pineda, the other pitcher New York received from the Mariners for Jesus Montero.

2012 Stats

Manny Banuelos, lhp, Yankees. All Triple-A Yankees players will live a somewhat nomadic existence this season while the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of Moosic, Pa., ballpark gets gussied up for 2013. The re-branded Empire State Yankees will call Rochester home most of the time, and maybe some home cooking will benefit the 21-year-old Banuelos, because his first two road starts teetered on the edge of disaster. Banuelos allowed four runs on 11 hits through 3 1/3 innings in his first turn at Syracuse, and followed that with six walks in two innings at Buffalo. In all, he's allowed a 10.13 ERA and 3.94 WHIP through 5 1/3 frames.

[Update: Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that Banuelos will miss at least one start with a latissimus muscle issue in his back. Thanks to Yankees correspondent George King for the tip.]

6 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 8:29PM #180
Posts: 65,295

Tim Norton trying to “make the transition into being a pitching coach”


About a week ago we learned that Tim Norton was placed on the minor league DL despite reports that he was “throwing bullpens and feeling fine,” and now we finally have something resembling a real update. Brendan McGair reports that Norton is currently serving as an interim pitching coach in Extended Spring Training, and there’s a chance he’ll work in a similar capacity for the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League team once the season starts in June.

“He wants to stay in the game, but I don’t think his arm was responding like he wanted it to,” said Pat Roessler, the Yanks’ director of player development. “He just didn’t come around like we had hoped … Right now Tim is trying to make the transition into being a pitching coach for us.”

Norton, 28, was the team’s eighth round pick out of UConn in 2006. He’s battled significant shoulder problems as a pro, though last season he was on the cusp of the big leagues after striking out 46 and walking just eight in 30 IP for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. The shoulder acted up again, ending his season. Norton’s injury is part of the reason why the Yankees had to pick up Cory Wade. It’s too bad his right arm betrayed him, he definitely had big league ability out of the bullpen.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
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