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Random Minor League Notes: 2014 Edition
6 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2013 - 1:59PM #131
Posts: 32,868

Baseball America’s Top Ten Yankees Prospects


Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

Baseball America published their list of the top ten Yankees prospects today, and the list is free for all. The scouting reports, however, are not. You’ll need a subscription to read them. The name atop the list won’t be a surprise, but things are pretty wide open after that. They could have gone in any number of directions. Here’s the top ten:

  1. C Gary Sanchez
  2. OF Slade Heathcott
  3. OF Mason Williams
  4. C J.R. Murphy
  5. 3B Eric Jagielo
  6. OF Aaron Judge
  7. LHP Ian Clarkin
  8. 1B Greg Bird
  9. RHP Luis Severino
  10. 2B Gosuke Katoh

The feature also includes a list of the organization’s top 15 players under the age of 25 and none of the 15 are big leaguers. Can’t say I’m surprised. Those ten guys up there are the top ten and are followed (in order) by LHP Manny Banuelos, SS Abi Avelino, RHP Jose Ramirez, RHP Jose Campos, and RHP Rafael DePaula. I suspect those guys will be prospects 11-15 when the Prospect Handbook comes out in a few weeks. The notable omission is OF Tyler Austin, who had an okay year but dealt with injury problems, specifically a bone bruise in his right wrist. It forced him from the Arizona Fall League after only four games. His stock took a hit this summer.

Heathcott. (Presswire)

Heathcott. (Presswire)

Sanchez, who has “effortless, well-above-average raw power and an above-average hit tool,” is an easy call for the top spot, especially now that his defense has improved. After him? I don’t see how there could be a consensus. I think it’s somewhat interesting that the top three prospects all have some kind of makeup concern — Sanchez was suspended for insubordination in 2011, Heathcott has had drug an alcohol problems, Williams was arrested for DUI earlier this year and has had run-ins with coaches — despite the team’s renewed emphasis on character. In the end, talent always reigns supreme. Can’t teach it.

A few things from the write-ups stand out. Williams “adopted an Ichiro-style slapping approach” this year and didn’t show the same tools as he had last year. Like Austin, he took a step back. The Yankees project Murphy as a “potential future .280 hitter with 10-12 homer power” while Sanchez is regarded as more of a “.260-.270 hitter with at least 20 home runs annually.” Both profiles fit just fine behind the plate. As for Bird, “some scouts and SAL managers questioned his future power” despite his awesome year. The plate discipline and everything else is fine, but low-power first baseman aren’t exactly a hot commodity. Severino is said to have “raw stuff that is as good as any Yankees farmhand” with a fastball that “sits between 93-95 mph and touches the upper 90s often.” His slider was his best secondary pitch when he signed but his changeup has since surpassed it. Neat.

Heathcott and Murphy are the only players in the top ten slated to open next season with Triple-A Scranton, and I suppose there’s a chance Heathcott will be sent back to Double-A Trenton to start the year. That’s unlikely though. The Yankees didn’t have any big league ready help this past season and for the most part, that will be the case again in 2014. Their farm system took a slight step back overall but not as big as it would have been without those three first rounders. The team needed to add some impact talent and it did with that draft. Most of their highest ceiling prospects are in the low minors — the short season leagues — and will need time to develop.

6 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2013 - 2:01PM #132
Posts: 32,868

Trapped in the minors: Dean Anna

Dean Anna is the most underrated player in all of professional baseball.

In my last installment of “Trapped in the Minors,” I talked about Brock Bond, a ridiculously underrated on-base machine in the Giants' system. And it’s true—Bond has yet to get a shot in the big leagues, despite being good enough to start for numerous major league teams. But Dean Anna makes Brock Bond look famous.

Before we get into just how crazy underrated this guy is, I should probably establish who, exactly, we are talking about. Eight things to know about Dean Anna:

1. He is a 26-year-old shortstop/second baseman in the Padres' system.

2. The Padres took him in the 26th round of the 2008 draft, out of Ball State.

3. His career line in the minor leagues is .276/.380/.420.

4. He didn’t even get a shot at playing every day (in the minors) until he was 24.

5. He made the Texas League All-Star team last season.

6. Despite high on-base percentages at every level, he only reached Triple-A this year.

7. Before this season, the Oliver projection system projected him to hit .249/.328/.375 in the major leagues—basically the same as the projections for Jimmy Rollins and Marco Scutaro.

8. At this writing, he’s hitting .332/.400/.527 at Triple-A Tucson.

9. Anna was not included in John Sickels’ 2013 Prospect Book.

Let me reiterate that last point, because it’s kind of amazing. Sickels is arguably the best prospect analyst in the business. His 2013 book profiles 1,210 players, including 40 who were born in 1986 (Anna’s birth year) or earlier. So it’s not like Anna missed some sort of age cutoff—he’s just so underrated that he didn’t make it into the book.

And please don’t think I mean to pick on Sickels. I searched the Baseball America website for “Dean Anna” and got two hits—both from before the 2008 draft. Bottom line: nobody knows who this guy is—not even John Sickels or Baseball America.

The reasons why Anna has gone completely unnoticed aren’t surprising. His batting average has been between .271 and .280 every year since 2009— totally unexciting. His career high in home runs is 10. He’s not fast, doesn’t steal bases. He’s not a glamorous fielder. He’s not a big guy, and there is no one thing about his game that really stands out. Even his name—Dean William Anna—is modest and unassuming. Basically, nobody ever expected anything of Dean Anna, so nobody has paid attention even though he’s turned into a very solid player.

Anna is no defensive savant, but he gets the job done, and his combination of versatility and competence are both highly valuable and easy to underrate. He splits most of his time between shortstop and second base, but he’s also put in time at third base, the outfield corners, and first base. He’s even tried on catcher’s gear, although he has yet to get into a game behind the plate. Anna is the sort of player who will do anything you ask him to do—and he’ll do it well enough that you’ll soon forget he’s even there. He’s a picture-perfect super-utility man.

In that way, Anna is a lot like Mark DeRosa, another ultra-versatile player who put up high on-base percentages but didn’t get a real major league opportunity until his mid-20s. Like DeRosa, Anna could end up with a long career in the big leagues, assuming someone gives him a chance.

6 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2013 - 3:03PM #133
Posts: 32,868

Yankees Prospects: Baseball America's 2014 top 10

Baseball America as released their 2014 top 10 prospects list and it's a little different than we have normally seen.

1. Gary Sanchez, c
2. Slade Heathcott, of
3. Mason Williams, of
4. J.R. Murphy, c
5. Eric Jagielo, 3b
6. Aaron Judge, of
7. Ian Clarkin, lhp
8. Greg Bird, 1b
9. Luis Severino, rhp
10. Gosuke Katoh, 2b

Sanchez is obvious, but after that Heathcott overtakes Williams. J.R. Murphy ranks highly, since he is considered major league-ready. Having Jagelo, Judge, and Clarkin so high when two of them haven't had much time in pro ball either shows just how good the Yankees' 2013 draft was or how bad the system has been. After them come a trio of new names. Greg Bird finally gets some recognition after his incredible year, Luis Severino had a solid year in Charleston at the age of 19, while Gosuke Katoh surprised everyone with a great season in rookie ball right out of the draft.

Ranking the organization's top 15 prospects under the age of 25 amounts to the same players because the Yankees don't have any older prospects. As part of the team's top 15 prospects, Manny Banuelos, who should be returning from Tommy john surgery this season, makes it at number 11. Abiatal Avelino of rookie-ball represents the Yankees' best shortstop, Jose Ramirez, Jose Campos, and Rafael De Paula round out the top 15. This all makes me wonder what happened to Tyler Austin?

Giving out the best tools superlatives:

Greg Bird is the organization's best hitter for average and has shown the best strike-zone discipline.

Mason Williams is the fastest baserunner, the all-around best athlete, and best defensive outfielder.

Cito Culver won best defensive infielder and best infield arm.

Jose Ramirez has the best fastball and the best changeup in the system.

Gary Sanchez is the system's best power hitter.

Nik Turley possesses the best curveball.

Mark Montgomery owns the best slider.

Vidal Nuno has the best control in the system.

J.R. Murphy is the Yankees' best defensive catching prospect.

Slade Heathcott owns the best outfield arm.

6 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2013 - 3:08PM #134
Posts: 32,868

Baseball America: Yankees’ farm system has “major deficiencies”

Baseball America (worth the full read):

All of this highlighted the major deficiencies at the upper levels of the Yankees system, evident even though Double-A Trenton won the Eastern League title. If there were viable internal options, acquisitions such as past-prime vets Vernon Wells or Mark Reynolds wouldn’t have been necessary.

The Yankees haven’t produced an everyday player since the 2005 draft, which yielded Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson…

…nearly all of the Yankees’ potential impact prospects took a step back. Outfielder Mason Williams struggled with weight gain and poor performance. Outfielder Slade Heathcott was just getting going before knee tendinitis ended his season. Outfielder Tyler Austin missed significant time at Double-A with a wrist injury.

And naturally, the proper way to remedy this problem is to bring back the two people most responsible for this calamity.

But hey, we’re just being overly critical.

6 years ago  ::  Dec 10, 2013 - 6:37AM #135
Posts: 32,868

Yankees OF prospects no longer valued on trade market

Modal Trigger

6 years ago  ::  Dec 10, 2013 - 6:38AM #136
Posts: 32,868
  • Bill (NYC): Were would you rank the yankee farm system overall

Josh Norris: Between 20-30

6 years ago  ::  Dec 10, 2013 - 6:39AM #137
Posts: 32,868

John Manuel@johnmanuelba51s
Thanks for the kind words. Didn't get much good feedback on DePaula in FSL, 1-trick pony w/FB, lack of secondary. so no.

6 years ago  ::  Dec 11, 2013 - 4:28PM #138
Posts: 66,015

Dellin Betances has a fourth option and can be sent to the minors in 2014

Dellin Betances was moved to the bullpen in 2013 after seasons of struggling to find his way in the rotation at the Triple-A level. The Yankees obviously felt like Betances' best shot at sticking with the team long-term came from a move to the bullpen to try and minimize his struggles. The team was running out of options on Betances and was in danger of losing him if he wasn't able to stick on the major league roster.

Brian Cashman announced today, much to the surprise of most, that Betances has a fourth option and can be sent to the minors for one more season. This fourth option stems from a rare rule that allows a player that has five or fewer professional seasons who has already used up three options to have one additional option year.

This means that Betances doesn't necessarily have to stick with the Yankees out of spring training this year, which is very different from want was believed before today's revelation. The Yankees can send him back to Triple-A to continue to work in relief, or even possibly give his chances at the rotation one more go. Considering how well he did in relief with the RailRiders last season, it seems pretty ridiculous to try and move him back to the rotation. Relievers are less valuable than starters, but a strong reliever is much more valuable than a starting pitcher who walks the park and has little idea where the ball is headed.

If Betances is not in the bullpen as the long reliever to start the 2014 season, the job could fall to Adam Warren for a second season. Warren could also make some noise in the battle for the fifth starter position with David Phelps, Michael Pineda, and Vidal Nuno. Those who miss out on the rotation spot will likely be split between heading back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and working out of the big league bullpen.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2013 - 1:30PM #139
Posts: 32,868

Prospect Park: Joey Maher


Joey Maher2

The Basics:

Name: Joey Maher
Position: SP
Handedness: Right handed
Age: 21
Draft: 2011, 38th round out of New Hampshire
Size: 6-foot-5, 200-pounds
Best Tool: Sinker
BBDP Rank: 38

When you draft a player in the 38th round there are not much in the way of expectations for that player. In the end, you’re pretty happy if they become organizational filler that stays in the system for four or five years. There’s not much in the way of high upside talent at this point in the draft. Joey Maher was drafted out of high school as a long shot to become something more than organizational filler. Not only has Joey Maher done just that, but he has actually become a legitimate prospect in the system and a guy to really keep an eye on in the coming years as his body matures.

Maher comes from a cold weather upbringing in the Northeast. He’s the type of player that screamed long term project when he was drafted. In stead he has come along a lot quicker than expected and could begin to make some real noise in this system as soon as next season. The scouting report on Maher when he was drafted was that he was a 5th starter at best. He had an upper 80′s sinking fastball and a breaking ball which was a work in progress. At his size though, there was always a chance he could add strength and power, and he has.

In his first season in the minors, Maher’s numbers look pretty bad. He had a 5.64 ERA in 22.1 IP with 17 K and an 0-3 record. I hope it’s obvious to all who read this blog by now though that 22.1 IP is nothing but a small sample size. Moreover, most of the runs came in a single two inning outing where he got shelled while suffering from shoulder tendonitis in his first season. This is an extremely common issue in the rookie leagues.

In 2013 he came around with a season that you would expect from a proficient sinker-baller. He pitched 58.0 innings, struck out 29, an had a 3.10 ERA while generating a ton of ground balls. His stats were negatively skewed by one start he made for High-A Tampa where he let up eight runs in 1.1 innings. Without that outing his ERA was 1.91 on the season. The success was great, however the one thing that jumps out is the low strikeout rate. Even as a successful sinker-baller, he is going to have to start figuring out how to get some more strikeouts as he moves up the latter. Overall it was a successful season for Maher though, as he continued to work on his curve and changeup while continuing to have success with his four-seamer and a two-seamer.

The Stuff:

Maher is not a guy who’s stuff is going to jump out at you, but he is a different kind of pitcher than any of the flamethrowers you hear about. His ceiling may not be as high as some, but he has the potential to be a valuable player in his own right down the line. He projects as a guy who should be able to eat up innings in the future, and you will see why.

Maher’s current success begins and ends with his sinker. He has other pitches but none are yet at a point where they would grade out as plus, although his curve and changeup are coming along rapidly. His sinker lives in the low 90′s and tops out at 92. His four seam fastball is a tick or two faster in the 92-93 range with the occasional 94. The sinker has a ton of movement and is a definite plus pitch for him right now.

He also throws a curve and a changeup. The curve is a true work in progress. He was able to use it successfully this year but control has been the main issue. He has plenty of time to tackle that problem though. As a tireless worker control should not be an issue for him long term. The changeup is already an above average pitch and generates soft contact regularly. If he can develop either of these pitches into a plus offering, he will be tough to hit. Better yet, if the curve becomes a strike out pitch, we are talking about a legitimate third starter candidate here.

In terms of pitch-ability, Maher is the type to attack hitters, and will need to continue to do that going forward to be successful. He is well aware of that and control is always his number one priority. In addition, at his size he still has the potential to add one or two more ticks onto his fastball. If that were to happen, we’re talking about a guy who could be a major factor in the system.


With his current velocity and some improvement in the secondary stuff, his ceiling is currently that of a third starter. As is always the case with young pitchers, there is always the potential for an uptick in velocity. This is especially true of players with the type of size that Maher has. With an uptick in stuff his ceiling would obviously rise.

The floor is still pretty low at this point. His current stuff should allow him to ascend at least to Double-A. From there he will have to improve his secondary offerings and pitch-ability to make it to the show. If not, he could be a bust.

The likelihood that he reaches his ceiling is low after repeating the GCL this year. That said, he is poised for a breakout season in 2014. Much like Jordan Cote, this is the year the Yankees should start to see a return on their long term investment.

2014 Outlook:

He will likely start out in Staten Island, but when promotions occur he could easily spend a fair amount of time in Charleston before the season is over. More than likely I would predict the Yankees will take it slow with him and give him one more extended Spring Training to hone his craft and really hammer down that curve ball.

If he continues to improve, his likely arrival time to the major leagues would be either 2017 or 2018.

Overall Joey Maher is still a wait and see proposition. At this point, however, he has a lot more now talent to build on and could work his way into the Charleston rotation if things go really well for him in 2014.

6 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2013 - 5:43PM #140
Posts: 32,868

Director! How do you fix the Yankees farm system?


Slade Heathcott - The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

You woke up today and discovered that you are now in charge of the New York Yankees farm system. After making an appointment with your psychiatrist to update your xanax prescription, you come across today's article from John Manuel at Baseball America, describing the current problems in the organization.

Manuel points out some success with pitchers but notes the lack of hitting prospects as a particular problem. So how do you solve this?

A) What's your approach in the upcoming draft? Hitting? Pitching? A balance? College guys? High schoolers? Don't just say "best player available."

B) What type of international players will you look for? Would you rather spend big bucks on a few guys, or spread the bonuses out?

C) You're the Yankees, so money for signing players and farm operations shouldn't be a problem. Would you think about spending beyond the draft and international bonus pools and just eat the extra penalties for going over?

D) The trio of outfield prospects that got such attention last winter, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin, all scuffled. Do you have particular hope for them to rebound?

Your goal is to have John Manuel write a very different article three years from now, about how the Yankees farm system has been rebuilt. Have at it.

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