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Random Minor League Notes: 2014 Edition
6 years ago  ::  Oct 03, 2013 - 11:24AM #11
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

Baseball America's 2013 League Top 20's




I was really surprised not to see Greg Bird or Peter O'Brien on the list. The league seems very deep with prospects this year. Is it a product of that or are there concerns about handling MLB velocity/ strikeouts/ position concerns? It seems pretty impressive that a 20 year old could hit 20 HR and have an OBP of .428 over a full season.

J.J. Cooper: I expected Bird would make this list, and I did find some proponents of putting him on here, but I was surprised how many scouts are skeptical about his long-term prospects. Even with those 20 home runs, there were a whole lot of questions about his power potential. Several scouts and managers noted that 8 of his 20 HR came at Greenville, implying that while it’s impressive that he can go the other way with some power, they were cheapies over Greenville’s Green Monster. Guys who like him see him as a Lyle Overbay type who hits for average with gap power. Guys who don’t like him think he’ll hit for average and draw some walks but without the power you want from a first baseman. There were also a lot of concerns about his defense at first base with some guys giving him average grades and others saying he’s below average over there


6 years ago  ::  Oct 03, 2013 - 11:25AM #12
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

Baseball America's 2013 League Top 20's




I was really surprised not to see Greg Bird or Peter O'Brien on the list. The league seems very deep with prospects this year. Is it a product of that or are there concerns about handling MLB velocity/ strikeouts/ position concerns? It seems pretty impressive that a 20 year old could hit 20 HR and have an OBP of .428 over a full season.

J.J. Cooper: I expected Bird would make this list, and I did find some proponents of putting him on here, but I was surprised how many scouts are skeptical about his long-term prospects. Even with those 20 home runs, there were a whole lot of questions about his power potential. Several scouts and managers noted that 8 of his 20 HR came at Greenville, implying that while it’s impressive that he can go the other way with some power, they were cheapies over Greenville’s Green Monster. Guys who like him see him as a Lyle Overbay type who hits for average with gap power. Guys who don’t like him think he’ll hit for average and draw some walks but without the power you want from a first baseman. There were also a lot of concerns about his defense at first base with some guys giving him average grades and others saying he’s below average over there

Was Greg Bird's omission positional or are you not sold on the bat? And did you have strong feelings on Camarena or Cave or anyone else on Charleston? Thanks

J.J. Cooper: Lot of guys like Cave as a sleeper. He’s an average runner but plays a solid center field. He has a good all-fields approach at the plate that is conducive to hitting for average. And he’s a grinder who gets the most out of his tools.


6 years ago  ::  Oct 04, 2013 - 12:13PM #13
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015

Drafting in hindsight: Slade Heathcott and the 2009 draft





USA TODAY Sports







Drafting is a very difficult practice, and yet some organizations seem to be better at it than others. The Yankees haven't been that great at it in the last couple years, but it looks like they could be turning a corner starting with 2013. While the Draft is more or less considered a crapshoot, it's so much easier when looking at it with perfect 20/20 hindsight. In several cases over the last few drafts the Yankees might have drafted incorrectly and there were other prospects that were still on the board that we should have picked, now that we have the gift of hindsight.


The Yankees drafted Slade Heathcott with their first pick (29th overall) in the 2009 MLB Draft, and in his fifth season of pro ball, Heathcott has hit .270/.349/.408 with 20 home runs and 55 stolen bases in only 300 games. Limited by injuries, the 24-year-old had his first taste of Double-A, but he's getting old now, has yet to put everything together, and could still end up limited by injury.


When Heathcott was taken, the likes of Rex Brother, Matt Davidson, Tyler Skaggs, and Tanner Scheppers were all still available at the time.


Taken 34th overall, Brothers just pitched in his third season at the MLB level. He has a 2.82 ERA and with a 3.22 FIP and an 11.17 K/9 in his career and collected 19 saves this in 2013. He will be 26 in 2014 and will likely serve as the Rockies closer.


Drafted 35th overall, Davidson made his major league debut this season after putting up .268/.351/.452 batting line in the minors. He ranked as high as 77 on Baseball America's top prospect list and now he looks like he could be the Diamondbacks' next everyday third baseman in 2014 at the age of 23.


With the 40th overall pick, The Los Angeles Angels selected Tyler Skaggs and traded him to Arizona a year later in the Dan Haren deal. He ranked as high as the No. 12 prospect on BA's top prospect list and pitched to a 3.34 ERA, a 9.8 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9 in nearly 500 innings in the minors. He made his major league debut at the age of 20, but has yet to find success at the major league level in just 68 innings of major league experience.


Taken 44th overall by the Rangers, Scheppers ranked as high as No. 42 on BA's top prospect list, though he soon slipped off when he was moved to the bullpen. He compiled a 4.15 ERA with a 9.6 K/9 in 173.2 innings in minors and already has two seasons of major league experience. In 2013 he pitched to a 1.88 ERA and a 3.74 FIP for the Texas bullpen at the age of 26.


Between those three alternatives, the Yankees missed out on a combined total of 2.2 WAR in 2013, which mostly came from Brothers (1.1) and Scheppers (0.8).


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Oct 05, 2013 - 10:06AM #14
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015
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Yankees minor league moves: free agents and signings



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Denis Poroy






In the world of meaningless minor league moves, the Yankees have a few and we're definitely going to talk about them, because what else are we going to do in the offseason?


Jim Miller, Brent Lillibridge and Alberto Gonzalez have all declared themselves free agents and are now free to sign with any team the choose. Miller, 31, has a 2.78 ERA and a 7.9 K/9 in 64.2 innings for four different teams and pitched in one game for the 2013 Yankees. The 30-year-old Lillibridge played in 11 games for the Yankees this season and has a .205/.267/.332 line while playing ever position on the field. Gonzalez played in 13 games for the Yankees and has a .239/.275/.315 batting line as a 30-year-old free agent shortstop.


Mike Zagurski has been outrighted by the New York Yankees in order to avoid having to pay him arbitration. After pitching for Scranton, he left the organization to pitch for the Pirates, but then ended back with the Yankees and pitched only 0.1 innings for them in September.


The Yankees have also released Roberto de la Rosa from the system. He pitched in one game in 2011 as an 18-year-old for the Dominican Yankees, but is now 20 and has not pitched since.


Jose Gil has re-signed with the organization. The catcher had been in the system from 2005 to 2012 and started 2013 playing indy ball before signing with the Orioles and then back to the Yankees. He has a career .237/.302/.356 batting line and will likely provide minor league depth at Double-A or Triple-A as a 27-year-old.


The Yankees signed minor league free agent R.J. Johnson, a former 36th round draft pick for the Brewers back in 2010. He was released back in 2012, but hadn't pitched since the 2010 Arizona Fall League. His personal twitter account says he is an infielder, so he must have transitioned off the mound at some point. It must have not gone very well.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Oct 05, 2013 - 4:59PM #15
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015

In a subscriber-only piece, Matt Eddy looked at the best defensive players in the minors at the four up-the-middle positions. OF Mason Williams ranked 12th (out of 20) among center fielders by Eddy’s method while OF Slade Heathcott was an honorable mention. C Gary Sanchez was eighth among catchers thanks in part to his 45.9% success rate at throwing out attempted base-stealers. He “receives 80 throwing grades [on the 20-80 scale] from some scouts.”

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Oct 07, 2013 - 10:38AM #16
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015

Previewing The Yankees’ Arizona Fall League Representatives



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The 2013 Arizona Fall League season kicks off tomorrow night, another chance for established prospects to improve their stock and non or fringe prospects to possibly work their way onto the Major League radar.  The Yankees will once again be well represented, sending 7 players to join the Scottsdale Scorpions, but unlike last year the 7 representatives aren’t all household names.  This year’s group includes everybody from top 3 organizational prospects to a few players whose names you might have never heard.  If you aren’t up to date on who’s making the trip this fall, here’s your refresher.


Hitters:


The position player representatives are where you’ll find the most familiar faces.  Double-A outfielders Mason Williams and Tyler Austin – 2 of the top 3-5 organizational prospects on most every reputable ranking list – highlight the group, with High-A C/3B Peter O’Brien rounding it out.  Both Williams (.317 wOBA/95 wRC+ in High-A Tampa) and Austin (.333/103 in Double-A) had down years offensively after breezing through the lower levels of the system.  Williams had his character and attitude questioned multiple times during the season while Austin was hampered by a wrist injury, so both have something to prove to scouts.  Even in a hitter’s league, improved on-base skills from Williams and power from Austin would be reassuring to see as they inch closer to consideration for a Major League roster spot.


For O’Brien, the trip to the AZFL is more to see if he can hack it defensively at any position.  A college catcher, O’Brien was moved to third base upon his promotion to High-A Tampa this season, where he committed a litany of errors and had a hard time adjusting.  He was never expected to catch long term professionally, so the Yankees need to find a spot to hide him defensively if they want to try to turn his power into something useful.  At the very least, extra reps at the hot corner should give them an answer on whether or not that’s the place for him moving forward.


Pitchers:


On the mound, it’s quite the eclectic group of guys from multiple levels of the farm system.  The standout name is Vidal Nuno, the soft-throwing lefty who breezed through the upper levels of the system and made some solid spot appearances in the Majors earlier in 2013.  A groin injury limited Nuno to just 45.0 IP between Triple-A and the Majors though, and he spent the better part of his summer rehabbing from the injury.  His invite to the AZFL is about getting him some work to make up for missed time, and it’s also another Major League audition for 2014.  Expect to see him work in a variety of roles: starter, long reliever, and maybe even as a matchup lefty.


After Nuno, the level of familiarity drops significantly.  The next most well known name is Brett Gerritse, a right-handed pitcher who put up a 3.56 ERA (2.39 FIP) in 101.0 IP as a starter and a reliever for Low-A Charleston this season.  It was his second full year at the level, second year working multiple roles, and second year that he pitched pretty well in those roles.  Him getting selected for the hitter-friendly AZFL is most likely a test to see just how real those Low-A results were.


Lefties Fred Lewis and James Pazos round out the group.  Lewis, 26, pitched 58.2 innings across 3 levels this season, including a late cup of coffee in Triple-A.  Pazos, 22, has been working as a multi-inning lefty reliever in the low levels of the system after being taken in the 13th round of the 2012 draft.  With Boone Logan set to hit free agency and no clear cut replacement around, this is no doubt an attempt by the Yankees to see if they have a possible future lefty specialist or 2 hiding in the weeds.


It’s a diverse group of players this year, in terms of prospect status, ceiling, name recognition, and experience.  The decision to bring guys like Lewis and Pazos along with guys like Austin and Nuno may give a little insight into the Yankees’ future plans.  They aren’t just looking to see who can help next year, they’re thinking about 2015 already as well.  Once those guys get in and pitch against this higher level of hitting competition, we’ll have a better idea of how real their chances are of being a part of those future plans.


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Oct 07, 2013 - 12:25PM #17
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015

Sanchez and Williams among Baseball America’s top Florida State League prospects


By

Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)



Baseball America continued their look at the top 20 prospects in each of the 16 minor leagues with the High-A Florida State League today (no subs. req’d). The list was topped by OF Byron Buxton (Twins), the consensus top prospect in all of baseball. 3B Miguel Sano (Twins) and SS Javier Baez (Cubs) round out the top three and complete the holy trinity of position player prospects. They’re three of the very best in the game.


The Yankees had two players make the list, starting with C Gary Sanchez at #7. He was sandwiched between two brand names: RHP Noah Syndergaard (Mets) and OF Jorge Soler (Cubs). “Sanchez’s best tools are his plus-plus raw power and his throwing arm, which rates at least as a 70 [on the 20-80 scouting scale] … His blocking and receiving remain suspect, however,” said the subscriber-only write-up. “[He] should produce .260 averages and 20-25 homers annually.”


OF Mason Williams, who had a poor year overall, was further down the list at #19. “Scouts report his swing looked good in batting practice but changed in games to a more slashing approach, costing him power … When he played with energy, he turned in plus running times and showed the easy range to be an asset defensively in center field, with a strong throwing arm,” said the write-up. That whole “played with energy” part has reportedly been a bit of an issue for Williams in recent years.


The Yankees landed six players on the Rookie Gulf Coast League list but only one apiece on Short Season NY-Penn League and Low-A South Atlantic League lists. The Double-A Eastern League is scheduled to be posted next Monday and the league champion Trenton Thunder should be represented by a few players, specifically OF Slade Heathcott and OF Tyler Austin. Sanchez definitely wasn’t with the team long enough to qualify for the list. LHP Nik Turley has a (very) outside chance of making it as well.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2013 - 11:50AM #18
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

Great seeing Sanchez on the list, but was there any NYC love for catchers Pete O'Brien?

John Manuel: O'Brien really isn't a catcher. O'Brien is trying 1B & 3B; all those kinds of players get Jim Leyritz comparisons these days. I guess it could be worse defensively, then he would get comped to Evan Gattis. But he's not a catcher and not athletic enough to really profile as a good defender anywhere. He's going to have to flat rake to reach the majors and be a regular, but he does have 70 raw power, so there's something there.



I'm wondering what observers thought about Robert Refsnyder. I didn't know he was as good as he looked this year.

John Manuel: Well, he was the College World Series' Most Outstanding Player last year and a single-digit pick. I think he's pretty good. It's a tough profile but some guys like him, because he can hit. He's polished, he controls the strike zone very well, and he can run a little bit. I am stunned that 2B is one of the Yankees' best stocked positions, but it is with him, Angelo Gumbs, sort of Corban Joseph, Thairo Estrada ... probably forgetting someone too. I like Refsnyder but I'm not sure where he ends up. Not enough power for a corner spot, probably not enough glove to be a regular 2B, but that is his best spot. Maybe he becomes a utility guy in the Ryan Roberts or Ryan Raburn mold, but those guys have more raw juice.



What does Mason Williams need to work on most to restore his prospect luster?

John Manuel: The body and bat speed. He lacked impact with the bat this year, but scouts have seen it in the past, it's in there.


  • Any love for Bryan Mitchell? And any Tampa Yankees you see as under the radar types, maybe a Refsnyder or a Dugas with a lower ceiling but a good shot at getting to the bigs?


John Manuel: Mitchell was probably the third-best Tampa guy after Sanchez and Williams. Remember he was No. 11 on our Yankees list the year he was drafted, so he's always been a high-upside guy. At times he's pitching with a 7 fastball and 7 curve. But command, maturity, consistency, none of those is his strongsuit. Dugas to me, his best-case is Sam Fuld. Not a terribly good year for the system or that Tampa club prospect-wise.

6 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2013 - 11:52AM #19
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

Arizona Fall League getting started today


The Arizona Fall League begins today, but let’s be honest, it’s really not for everyone.


• The AFL can be a prospect showcase of sorts, but I tend to think of it more as a player development tool. It’s used to give pitchers innings and give hitters at-bats; a little extra playing time for guys trying to work on a few things or simply make up for lost time.
• In most cases, the Fall League is not any sort of final step to the big leagues, but it is occasionally a step toward winning a 40-man roster spot or getting on the prospect radar a little bit.
• The prospects involved range from some of the very best in the game, to marginal players trying to open eyes and exceed expectations.


Basically, if you don’t like the player development side of the game, the start of the Arizona Fall League probably means nothing. If you do like the follow the young guys, then this is a chance check a few more box scores and see some meaningful names.


The Yankees are sending seven players — three position players, four pitchers — to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions with prospects from the Mets, Braves, Pirates and Giants. These are the Yankees getting started in Arizona.


POSITION PLAYERS
Tyler Austin and Mason Williams are the big names here — “Two of the youngest guys in Double-A in the country,” vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said — but don’t overlook Peter O’Brien. The Yankees second-round pick in 2012 had a massive season, hitting .291/.350/.544 between Low-A and High-A. He was drafted as a college catcher, but he began playing a lot of this base this year. Newman said O’Brien will play both catcher and third base in Arizona.


“He’s a catcher,” Newman said. “And we’re trying to see if he can play third base. We think he’s got offensive potential. He’s got huge power. I mean, big-time power. Who knows where we’re going to have a need?”


Even with Jesus Montero gone and Austin Romine basically graduated to the big leagues, the Yankees system is still pretty deep behind the plate. The Yankees believe O’Brien might be able to play elsewhere if necessary, so he’s learning a new spot.


Tyler Austin
Right fielder
After a breakout 2012, hit just .257/.344/.373 as a 21-year-old in Double-A. He missed significant time with a wrist injury, so the Fall League is a chance to make up for lost time. It was a down year, but the Yankees also really challenged Austin with a fairly aggressive assignment. He needs some at-bats.


Peter O’Brien
Catcher/third baseman
Batting average and on-base percentage took a hit after his promotion to High-A, but he still slugged .486 at the higher level. Fall League is considered hitter friendly, so O’Brien might be able to mash out there. A little extra time at third base should be helpful, too.


Mason Williams
Center fielder
Considered by many to be the best prospect in the system heading into this season, he got off to a slow start in High-A, turned things around in June and July, then got a late bump to Double-A. The Fall League is a chance to get few more at-bats against fairly advanced pitching.


Vidal NunoPITCHERS
None of the Yankees top pitching prospects were sent to Arizona. There’s no Rafael De Paula or Jose Campos or Manny Banuelos. Instead, it’s a fairly unusual and in some way anonymous group. For most Yankees fans, the most familiar name is probably Vidal Nuno, the lefty who made a handful of spot starts in the big leagues but ultimately missed a lot of time with a groin injury.


With Brett Gerritse, James Pazos and Fred Lewis. Most of you are thinking two things: Who and why? The short answer is that they’ve clearly shown something to grab the Yankees interest. For a more detailed answer, consider Lewis in particular. At 26 years old, he’s the oldest player on the Scottsdale roster. He’s a former 47th-round pick who largely seemed to be organizational filler. But the Yankees like that he throws hard and has a feel for a breaking ball from the left side, so they’re going to get a little longer look at him in Arizona.


Brett Gerritse
Right-handed pitcher
A 12th-round pick back in 2009, he’s spent the past two-plus seasons in Low-A Charleston, but his strikeouts jumped considerably this year, from 70 in 2012 to 108 in 2013 (and his walks actually went down). He’s been both a starter and reliever, but pitched especially well as a starter late in the year.


Fred Lewis
Left-handed pitcher
Nothing really stands out about the numbers — wasn’t particularly good against lefties, didn’t really throw that many innings — but the Yankees seem to like his arm. The Fall League is a hitters’ league, so he’s going to have to earn any success down there.


Vidal Nuno
Left-handed pitcher
After a breakout 2012 and a strong showing in big league camp, Nuno got three spot starts with the Yankees this season and should be a legitimate candidate for a big league job this spring. His season was cut short because of injury in June, so he mostly just needs more innings.


James Pazos
Left-handed pitcher
A 13th-rounder in 2012, he had a promising debut in Staten Island, and he spent the second half of this season with Low-A Charleston. He had a 1.05 ERA with 33 strikeouts against eight walks. He allowed a run in two of his last 13 outings. He turned 22 in May, and he’s the fourth-youngest pitcher on the Scottsdale roster.

6 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2013 - 3:01PM #20
MajorYankFan
Posts: 32,868

Hal Steinbrenner says he's "disappointed" in Yankees season, farm system, but hopes to contend in 2014


www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2013/10/hal...

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