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Random Minor League Notes: 2020 Edition
2 weeks ago  ::  Jan 04, 2020 - 7:54PM #51
Posts: 4,019

Yankees Prospect Report: Left-Handed Pitcher TJ Sikkema

Left-hander TJ Sikkema will look to improve on his brief but impactful time in the Yankees’ minor league system.

The Yankees selected TJ Sikkema, a southpaw from the University of Missouri, with the 38th draft pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Sikkema had a tremendously successful 2019 season for the Tigers, compiling a 7-4 record to go with a 1.32 ERA. He earned All-Conference and All-American honors for his excellence and was a top prospect for June’s Major League Baseball Draft. On June 3rd, only a week after his college season ended, Sikkema sat down with his family and prepared for the phone call which would change his life.

“The draft day was a long day to be honest…it was almost a four hour day of just waiting, but it was really cool. I was just with my family at home on the couch,” Sikkema told me in September at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Yankees Short-A affiliate. He describes his appreciation for the Yankees telling me, “I can’t thank them enough. Its been a childhood dream to be where I am now and I’ve worked my whole life for it. For them to call my name, such a historic organization, it’s incredible. I’m almost at a loss of words for how incredible it is.”

Greg Bessette/MILB

Sikkema spent a week at the Yankees rookie camp at the team’s facility in Tampa, FL before being sent to Staten Island to begin his pro career with the Staten Island Yankees. He was shut down from throwing a couple of weeks into his stay, but in his four games with the short-season affiliate, he posted a 0.84 ERA, allowing only one run and striking out 13 batters in 10.2 innings pitched.

“I’ve just been trying to do the things I normally do. Throw strikes, attack hitters, and the guys behind me are playing really well… I’ve had nothing but a good time here.”

The big left-handed pitcher’s repertoire features a fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider. He is pretty heavy with his fastball, which sits in the mid-90’s. He primarily works his slider to left-handed batters and his curveball to righties. “I’m never afraid to go after a guy no matter who it is…(I just want to) get that first-pitch strike and read a hitter from there,”

T.J. will likely begin next year with Full A-Charleston. Don’t be surprised however if you see him start at Advanced A-Tampa. He definitely has the experience and mound maturity to skip a level or two in the low minors.

1 week ago  ::  Jan 07, 2020 - 12:13PM #52
Posts: 4,019

2017 Yankees draft review

It has been two and a half years since the 2017 draft, and we are starting to get a good idea of how the picks are working out. In this article, I will go pick by pick and analyze it.

1st Round: Clarke Schmidt – When the Yankees drafted Schmidt, he was coming off Tommy John Surgery. It has taken almost two full seasons for him to recover, but he really broke out in 2019. He has been exactly what the Yankees hoped he’d be when healthy. He has a mid-90’s fastball and nasty secondary pitches. Schmidt finished in Double-A in 2019 and is getting very close to contributing in the majors. This was a decidedly good pick. He now has a high probability of helping the major league team in a big way. If not, he is certain to catch a nice haul if the Yankees want to use him in a trade.

2nd Round: Matt Sauer – Sauer was on the bring of a breakout in 2019 when he went down with a UCL tear and had Tommy John Surgery shortly after. He has big tools, including a mid-90’s fastball and curveball with big spin. He even appeared as though he had developed a changeup prior to the injury. Sauer got injured at the wrong time but he is still a good prospect. The jury is out on this pick, but he still has a ton of promise if he can get healthy again.

3rd Round: Trevor Stephan – Stephan has had an up and down career thus far. He struggled mightily in Double-A this season but was sent to Florida for coaches to figure it out. They did. After returning from a brief hiatus, Stephan became the dominant pitcher the Yankees had hoped for. If he can carry that momentum into 2020, Stephan could be a guy who helps the Yankees soon. The jury is still out on this pick, but he’s now in the upper minors and close to contributing. Getting that in the third round is a win.

4th Round: Canaan Smith – This pick began to work out in a big way in 2019. Smith finished with a .307/.405/.465/.871 line, including 11 homeruns, 32 doubles, three triples, and 16 stolen bases. He improved his power, patience, and contact rate this year. Smith continues to get better and is looking like a great pick in the 4th round.

5th Round: Glenn Otto – This was another pick that began to work out quite well this season. Otto threw a total of 85 innings in 2019 (including the AFL) and had 100 K : 49 BB. The walk rate needs improvement, but he finished with a 2.85 ERA overall. Otto has a 92-95 mph fastball that hits 97 mph, and a filthy spike knuckle-curve. He is improving his changeup as well. Otto will likely pitch in Double-A in 2020 and is very close to being a major league contributor. Another excellent pick.

6th Round: Frank German – German was injured a bit in 2019 and got off to a slow start when he returned. He ended up with a 3.79 ERA in High-A though, with 82 K : 35 BB. German has a mid-90’s fastball, curveball and changeup. His fastball tops out at 97 mph. He should see some time in Double-A in 2020 and is close to helping the major league team. If he is moved to relief, the velocity could tick up and he could become a dominant reliever. Again, good pick.

7th Round: Dalton Lehnan – He is a lefty who can sit low-90’s and at times has been able to dial it up to the mid-90’s. He has been inconsistent, however, with his velocity and his stuff. Moreover, he has had a lot of difficulty having success above the Low-A level. Lehnan has mostly pitched out of the bullpen, and unfortunately has not had the success the Yankees had hoped for. It’s not over for him, but this pick is looking like a bust. Can’t blame them for drafting him here though.

7th Round: Dalton Higgins – Higgins sits 92-93 mph with his fastball and has a slider that has always needed work. 2019 was marred by injuries and he only ended up pitching 17 innings. He did strike out 23 and had a 1.59 ERA in those innings though. So far this pick hasn’t paid off much. He’s still in the system but the pick was a dud until further notice.

8th Round: Zurak played for High-A Tampa all year and had a nice year. He had a 2.93 ERA with 50 K : 24 BB in 61.1 innings. Sits in the 93-97 mph range with a decent slider. For a bargain 8th round pick, he’s a good player to have in the system and has been effective so far in the minors. Could be a real prospect if he picks up a tick or two on the fastball.

9th Round: Austin Gardner – Gardner is three seasons in and still hasn’t broken out of Staten Island as a reliever. He performed pretty poorly in Staten Island this past year. This pick is a dud so far.

10th Round: Chad Whitmer – He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018 for future considerations. It was never announced what those considerations were. Sounds like the Yankees didn’t have him in their future plans and the Brewers liked him. Not a particularly great pick.

11th Round: Shawn Semple – After finishing up in Charleston last year, Semple made huge strides in 2019, finishing off in Trenton. He finished the season with a 4.54 ERA and 121 K : 45 BB in 127 innings. The numbers weren’t great but he proved he could hang in the upper minors. He has a 93-94 mph fastball, curveball, and changeup. He’s still in the system and has a chance to make it to the majors as a reliever. Solid pick in the 11th round.

12th Round: Steven Sensley – His stats have progressively worsened as he moves up, which is not a good sign. Sensley is a big, strong kid, so it is still possible he can turn it around and hit his ceiling. For now this pick has turned out to be a dud.

13th Round: Eric Wagaman – Wagaman played in Charleston this year and was decent. He has been switched from 3B to 1B since being drafted. He’s got a tough road ahead to ever make the majors, but he’s still in the system and you have to be in it to win it. So far, dud pick.

14th Round: Harold Cortijo – Cortijo had a bit of a breakout year in 2019, finishing with a 3.45 ERA and 57 K : 30 BB in 73 innings. He was effective for Charleston and had a significant improvement in stuff from 2018. He has a 93-95 mph fastball that can get up to 97. Cortijo also has two solid secondary pitches in his changeup and breaking ball. I’d expect to continue to see more incremental gains every year for him. So far this is a good pick for the Yankees.

15th Round: Aaron McGarity – He pitched well at three levels this year, short season, Low-A, and High-A. McGarity finished with a 2.5 ERA and 69 K : 12 BB in 57.2 innings. He has a mid-90’s fastball and a slider. Jury is still out on this pick, but the fact that he is still around and having so much success is good at this stage of the draft. He might even make himself into a major leaguer.

16th Round: Ricky Surum – Surum has functioned as an organizational guy ever since being drafted and he has done a great job of being just that. Might make a great coach one day.

17th Round: Chris Hess – Hess was released in 2019.

18th Round: Garrett Whilock – One of the best picks in this draft, Whitlock sits 92-95 mph with his fastball with plus control, plus movement, and above average slider and changeup. In early July of 2019, Whitlock had Tommy John Surgery. If he comes back to full strength, he could quickly move to Triple-A and seems likely to pitch in the major leagues someday. Great pick.

19th Round: Ron Marinaccio – He is a reliever who has had a high strikeout rate and also a high walk rate so far in his career. His highest level has been Low-A, and his ERA has not been great thus far. Marinaccio hits mid-90’s with his fastball so if his control ever improves he could start moving fast.

20th Round: Ryan Lidge – The catching version of Ricky Surum, Lidge played at every level last year. He is a light hitting catcher who is excellent defensively. Another guy who could make a great coach someday.

21st Round: Bryan Blanton – Blanton was in the 91-93 mph range when drafted, hitting some 94s as well. He has shown steady improvement since signing, with 67 K : 20 BB in 46.1 innings this season. He also had a 2.91 ERA. Based on the results, it appears there has been a nice uptick in stuff. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Seems like this is turning into a good pick though.

22nd Round: Janson Junk – Anything but a junkballer, Janson is something of a power pitcher. He is able to generate 95-96 mph fastballs but still needs work on control and secondary offerings. He didn’t seem to make much progress in 2019. Still, if he gets moved to the bullpen he could move much faster. Still, he is going to have figure out a secondary pitch before he can make it to the majors. Overall, great pick in the 22nd round. He’s still with the team and could develop into something useful.

23rd Round: Colby Davis – Didn’t sign. Went to University of Arizona and has pitched a total of 6.2 innings in two seasons there.

24th Round: Pat DeMarco – Didn’t sign. Ironically was drafted again by the Yankees in 2019 and did sign. He is a decent outfield prospect and it remains to be seen how he turns out. He had two very good seasons at Vanderbilt though.

25th Round: Riley Thompson – Didn’t sign. Went back to Louisville where he had another ineffective year in 2018 and was then drafted in the 11th round by the Cubs. He has proceeded to have two excellent seasons starting in their minor league system. He had a 3.06 ERA and 87 K : 31 BB in 94 innings for their Low-A affiliate in 2019. Thompson has a 95+ mph fastball, a 92 mph two-seamer, and a power curve and developing changeup. It appears Thompson has all the makings of a starter if he can continue to keep the control under wraps. Great pick, but they should have signed him.

26th Round: Austin Crownson – Went back to CC, then transferred to Western Oregon in 2019. He was then drafted by the Phillies in the 39th round. He played well for them in the rookie league. Not much else info on him.

27th Round: Alex Mauricio – Mauricio had shown some promise in 2018, starting 11 games between Staten Island and Charleston. He then got injured and was suspended for a banned substance. He threw 1.1 innings in 2019. He is still in the system and could be moved to the bullpen now that he has a shorter timeline.

28th Round: Shane Roberts – Didn’t sign. Now pitching for Appalachian State and didn’t get drafted in 2019.

29th Round: Tristan Beck – Pitched in Low-A and High-A for the Braves this year after being drafted in the 4th round in 2018. He threw 81 innings and struck out 90 while walking 31. He has a low 90’s fastball and a good changeup and is developing his curveball and slider. So far it doesn’t look like the Yankees missed out on much, but he could easily develop into something more. Overall, good pick but they knew they weren’t gonna sign him when they drafted him.

30th round: Jake Mangum – Mangum is a speedy outfielder who was ultimately drafted by the Mets in the 4th round in 2019 and signed. He had a nice year with Mississippi State in 2019 with 22 SB and a .355 average and .873 OPS. He is a patient batter who gets on base and has plus speed once he’s on the basepaths. He stole 17 more bases for the Short Season Brooklyn affiliate. He hit .247/.337/.297/.633 on the season. He looks like a guy who has some potential to be a solid player. Again, good pick, but would have been better to sign him. He has virtually no power which begs the question of what kind of ceiling he has. Probably a 4th-5th outfielder with a good chance to hit that ceiling.

31st Round: Jimmy Herron – Another speedy outfielder, Herron hails from Duke. He did not sign, then was drafted by the Cubs in 2018 in the 3rd round. He is another speedy outfielder who has a bit more power than Mangum. He has similar statistics in the minor leagues. Herron was traded to the Rockies since then. He hit eight homeruns and stole 10 bases in 2019 over 110 games. So far it doesn’t look like the Yankees missed out on much.

32nd Round: Alika Williams – Williams is a slick fielding shortstop who scouts feel will be light with his bat. He hit well at ASU in 2019, hitting .333/.430/.471/.901 with four homeruns, 11 doubles, three triples, and nine SB. It does not appear hear was drafted in 2019. Jury’s out.

33rd Round: Jacob Stevens – Stevens was drafted in 2018 by Arizona in the 21st round and signed. He pitched well in relief for the short season affiliate in 2019 with a 2.94 ERA and 32 K : 14 BB in 33.2 relief innings. He’s a low 90’s guy with average secondary offerings. Decent pick, doesn’t look like the Yankees missed out on much yet.

34th Round: Jordan Butler – He’s a lefty who was hitting 91 mph when the Yankees drafted him. He hasn’t done much for University of Florida since being drafted. He pitched mostly in relief in 2019 and had a 5.76 ERA. He could pop if the velocity creeps up or he has a strong performance. He was not drafted in the 2019 draft.

35th Round: Steven Williams – Did not sign. Went to Auburn. He’s had two decent seasons in college baseball, hitting a total of 21 homeruns in 130 games with a .269 average. Williams is a power hitting outfielder. He just completed his sophomore season. Nice upside pick, no signing though.

36th Round: Andrew Abbott – He did not sign. Went to University of Virginia, where he has pitched well mostly in relief. He has 137 K : 41 BB and a 3.51 ERA in 95 career innings there. He is a lefty who has hit 93 mph with his fastball and has a nice curveball as well. Scouts are saying he could be a top 5 round pick in 2020 depending on what happens in his junior year.

37th Round: Tanner Burns – He did not sign. The Yankees knew he wouldn’t sign when they drafted him. This was a pick to hold onto a relationship for hopeful future benefit. He has a 92-96 mph fastball and a plus breaking ball. He is already working on his changeup. His stuff hasn’t changed much, but he has had really good results in D1 baseball. It looks like he will probably go in one of the top rounds in 2020.

38th Round: Brent Burgess – Didn’t sign. Burgess went undrafted in 2019 and signed with the Braves. He threw 12.1 innings in relief in 2019 and had 15 K : 8 BB. Not much out there on his stuff.

39th Round: Andrew Nardi – Did not sign. He went to Arizona, pitched well, and was drafted by the Marlins in the 16th round in 2019. He signed and pitched well in relief for their rookie league team. Nardi has a 90-92 mph fastball and a mid-70’s curveball. Apparently, his velocity dropped in 2019 to the high 80’s. Decent pick here but not missing out on much with him not signing.

40th Round: Hayden Cantrelle – Did not sign. He is a speedy middle infielder who tore up the Cape Cod League in 2019. He hit .315/.427/.438/.865 with three homeruns, and 19 SB in 159 plate appearances. He is currently listed as the number 55 2020 draft prospect on MLB Pipeline. He sounds like he could end up being a great player. Cantrelle was never going to sign when the Yankees drafted him. They took him to develop a relationship. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees take him in the 2020 draft.

1 week ago  ::  Jan 08, 2020 - 12:40PM #53
Posts: 4,019

Jasson Dominguez and the excitement around an elite Yankees prospect

He has to prove it first, but The Martian could be a difference-maker for the Yankees for a long time

The Martian is his nickname. He was named after Jason Giambi. He is often compared to Mike Trout, Bo Jackson, and Mickey Mantle. The FanGraphs’ scouting staff called him a “generational talent” and placed him in the middle of their top-100 prospects list before he even played a professional game. He is Jasson Dominguez, and fortunately, he is a Yankee.

Still 16 years old, this switch-hitter has it all: a great feel for hitting, speed and range to play center field, a cannon arm, and enough raw power to consistently hit 30 bombs in the highest of levels. He could also swipe at least 30 bags annually, as his 60-yard dash time is similar to that of Billy Hamilton.

Of course, he has a long way to go, and the player comparisons in the first paragraph are unfair for a teenager. However, Dominguez may be a fast-riser in the Yankees’ system and reach the majors around 20. Some say that he can make a similar impact than that of Juan Soto when he first came up.

Dominguez, despite still not playing in a pro game, is the Yankees’ best position-player prospect, and some may argue that he is still the best, including pitchers.

He grew up as a Yankees fan. And, speaking of growing, he may not be done doing so, being so young. As he matures, his raw power could increase even more. He is, according to Baseball America, “built like a running back with a dense, muscular build, like a shorter version of Yoan Moncada with comparable tools.”

He is currently 5’10”, which is on the short side, but it doesn’t matter, as he absolutely punishes the ball. At 190 pounds, however, he still has some growing to do.

The whole package

Of the player comparisons thrown around, the most impressive is the Mantle one. ESPN quoted an international signing director who failed to sign Dominguez, as saying that “it’s like Mickey Mantle. He’s not 6-foot. He’s a switch-hitter. He’s got crazy power. He’s fast as s---. He loves playing.”

Donny Rowand, an international scout for the Yankees, said that “he’s possibly the best combination of tools, athleticism, and performance that I’ve run across.” Rowand, however, advises patience.

Now, there’s a whole lot of time, a whole lot of at-bats and a whole lot of proving it between now and hopefully reaching the major leagues. Given his baseball background, his baseball acumen, his desire, his competitive nature, his work ethic, it’s never an easy thing to drop $5.1 million on one player, but he made it pretty easy.

Yes, the Yankees committed almost their entire $5.4 million bonus to Dominguez last July. They are hoping that he is as advertised. But it is easy to see why they did it.

His swing is smooth from both sides of the plate, and the bat speed is evident. He is much more advanced than the prototypical 16-year old, especially when it comes to his approach. Reports state that he goes to the batter’s box with a plan, but it will be up to him to prove it.

Where will he start?

For now, the Yankees haven’t announced a development plan for Dominguez. Usually, prospects around his age start in the Dominican Summer League and then go to a Rookie affiliate.

However, we are not dealing with a regular prospect. It isn’t unheard of for some of the best young players to start with Pulaski (Rookie ball-Advanced) as Everson Pereira did in 2018. The Tampa Bay Rays started Wander Franco at the same level, and he did more than OK.

Since the DSL starts before the Gulf Coast and the Appalachian leagues, maybe the Yankees have him play a handful of games there before bringing him to the United States.

Either way, we won’t see Dominguez in the Bronx in 2020 or 2021. Maybe not even in 2022. But once he’s up, he could really make a difference. And Yankee fans will enjoy the ride, having a special prospect in their hands, which is something they haven’t really experienced for a while.

1 week ago  ::  Jan 08, 2020 - 8:42PM #54
Posts: 4,019

Baseball America releases Top 10 Yankees prospects list for 2020, with Estevan Florial omitted

16-year-old Jasson Dominguez sits atop the prospects throne

Baseball America has released its Top 10 prospects for the Yankees heading into the 2020 season, and while some prospects make perfect sense on the list, one certain omission stood out. 

Estevan Florial, once the Yankees' top prospect, has fallen off the Top 10 list. This came after a down year in High-A ball with a .237/.297/.383 slash line with eight homers and 38 RBI over 74 games. 

So, with Florial off the list, here's how it looks:

  1. OF Jasson Dominguez
  2. RHP Clarke Schmidt
  3. RHP Deivi Garcia
  4. RHP Luis Gil
  5. INF Oswald Peraza
  6. INF Anthony Volpe
  7. RHP Luis Medina
  8. RHP Roansy Contreras
  9. RHP Alexander Vizcaino
  10. RHP Albert Abreu

Looking at these prospects, a few stand out. The first is the 16-year-old wunderkind in Dominguez taking the top spot. There is also the big leap for Peraza to No. 5 as well as Schmidt coming in at No. 2 -- a player the Yankees could very well see in the bigs this season. 

But first let's take a look at Dominguez...

Jasson Dominguez -- BA Grade: 65, Risk: Extreme

When BA came out with their initial grades for Dominguez, it was astonishing. They went like this:

  • Hit: 60
  • Power: 70
  • Run: 70
  • Fielding: 60
  • Arm: 60

Those are the types of numbers you find in some Double-A and even Triple-A prospects. So you can understand why Dominguez sits at the top of the Yankees' list.

The only reason why his risk level is so high is because of his age. But there's no denying that his ability to hit for power as a switch hitter, insane speed that matches a strong arm, and many other traits spells out a future All-Star if all goes according to plan. As BA put it in its write-up on Dominguez: "His power, speed and athleticism rank among the best in the organization, which gives him the highest ceiling in a system filled with young, high-upside prospects."

Dominguez has been hitting advanced pitching for years, which includes knocking a 95-mph fastball over the wall from the left side of the plate during a showcase. He hasn't played a professional game yet, only seeing time with the Yankees' Dominican instructional league. But, once he gets to the Minors, watch out because he could has a very fast track up to the Bronx. 

Clarke Schmidt -- BA Grade: 60, Risk: High

This is a prospect Yankee fans can easily see in pinstripes this season if he can repeat what he did last year. Back in 2017, the Yankees took him with the 16th overall pick despite understanding he needed Tommy John surgery. 

Since he's returned, Schmidt has been proving the Yankees right in their gamble to draft him. 

He owned a 3.84 ERA in 12 games with High-A Tampa, which included 69 strikeouts over 63.1 innings. Then, once he was promoted to Double-A Trenton, Schmidt was even better with a 2.37 ERA over three starts (19 innings). He allowed only five earned runs and one homer, while striking out 19 and only walking one. 

Schmidt has a mid-90s fastball, a deceptive changeup and a slider that has been billed above-average. BA projects him to be a mid-rotation starter one day, and his first tryout to prove that could come later in the Yankees' regular season. 

Oswald Peraza -- BA Grade: 55, Risk: Very High

How big exactly was this leap for Peraza? Well, MLB Pipeline had Peraza as the Yankees' 29th-best prospect last season. So yeah, that's pretty good.

Peraza went from short season Staten Island ball to Low-A Charleston quickly in 2019, and saw success with the promotion. He had a .273/.348/.333 line with two homers and 31 RBI over 46 games. 

But it isn't Peraza's bat and "sneaky strength" that impresses BA the most. It's his consistency in the field, at shortstop to be specific. "He shows smooth actions in the field and a strong arm that should keep him at shortstop," the publication wrote. 

With a 4.1 and 4.2 second sprint to first base from home, that speed is another plus surrounding a very intriguing Yankee prospect as well. 

1 week ago  ::  Jan 09, 2020 - 10:58AM #55
Posts: 4,019

Prospect Profile: Yoendrys Gomez

Yoendrys Gomez is another international prospect with a high upside that the Yankees were able to sign for almost nothing. The lanky pitcher signed for just $50,000 out of Venezuela in 2016 and is primed to play his first full season of professional baseball this year, after splitting time between Pulaski and Charleston in 2019. His start in the Appalachian League helped bump his prospect status up, as he started the year on as the Yankees 27th ranked prospect on MLB.com and ended 7th.


Name: Yoendrys Gomez
Birthdate: October 15, 1999
Position: Pitcher
Bat/Throw: R/R
Height: 6’3
Weight: 175

Gomez made his professional debut in 2017, spending most of the season in the Dominican League, going 0-3 with a 4.78 ERA. He made one start in the Gulf Coast League, for the Yankees West team, getting rocked for four runs in three innings. It was his 2018 season that really started to turn some heads, however.

In 2018, Gomez again split time between the Dominican League and the Gulf Coast League, spending most of it stateside with the Yankees East. He made nine starts in ten appearances in Florida, going 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA. He struck out 50 batters in 2018, walking 22 and allowing just one homer. He averaged 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

Gomez returned to short-season baseball this past season, making six starts for the Pulaski Yankees and going 4-2. He had an impressive 2.12 ERA and went 4-2 before being sent up to the Charleston RiverDogs. He also made six starts in the Sally League, though he struggled with a 6.08 ERA and 0-3 record. Still, he managed to limit home runs to just two and he struck out 25 batters, walking only 9.

When the Yankees drafted Gomez at 16, he was already throwing in the low 90s, despite his rather slight frame. He can now throw between 92-97 and has a good feel for his off-speed pitches as well. His fastball is rated as a plus pitch with a high spin rate. His curve also has good spin and some power with the potential to be a plus pitch, sitting in the mid to high 70s. Gomez knows when to use his changeup, which has some fade.

The main part of Gomez’s game that needs improvement is his control. He is working on keeping his mechanics consistent, and while he has limited homers, Gomez isn’t always consistent in the strike zone. Still, he is very young and the Yankees have shown a willingness to be patient with his development.

Gomez has one of the Yankees’ highest ceilings, with his impressive fastball and ability to mix his pitches well. 2020 will likely be his first full season of professional baseball, and as he continues to add some strength to his frame, his potential makes him a prospect worth keeping on your radar.

1 week ago  ::  Jan 09, 2020 - 3:52PM #56
Posts: 4,019

Luis Medina Finally Finds His Release Point


When the Yankees left the Winter Meetings in 2017 they did so with several teams interested in a trio of their young righthanders that consisted of Jorge Guzman, Albert Abreu and Luis Medina.

The Yankees included Guzman in the 2017 trade with the Marlins that brought Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx and have held onto Abreu and Medina.

The Yankees think there is more to come from Abreu and Medina.

"Medina was a lot better at the end of August at (low Class A) Charleston,’’ vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring said. "Abreu flashes major league stuff.’’

Their ages—Medina turns 21 in May and Abreu is 24—is one reason why inflated ERAs can be overlooked. Another reason is their exemplary velocity. Medina averages 97 mph and Abreu 96.

The success Medina had in his last two outings for Charleston, when he didn’t allow an earned run, gave up four hits, struck out 17, walked three and held hitters to a .103 average in a dozen innings carried over to high Class A Tampa.

In two Florida State League games, Medina worked 10.2 innings, allowed one earned run, seven hits, struck out 12, walked three and held hitters to a .175 average.

"Early in the year he was very inconsistent, and at the end of the year he found a release point that brought the stuff back,’’ Naehring said of the Dominican Republic product who is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds and signed with the Yankees in 2015.

"The fastball, breaking ball and changeup—he was throwing strikes with (them) and being consistent.’’

The final four starts were a long way from Medina’s first 18 starts for Charleston, when he went 1-8, 6.89 and issued 64 walks to 98 strikeouts in 81 innings.

Abreu, who came to the Yankees with Guzman in the 2016 deal that sent catcher Brian McCann to the Astros, spent 2019 at Double-A Trenton.

"I like him. I don’t know what he is going to be (starter or reliever). The stuff is good, the command and control is an issue,’’ said a talent evaluator from another team.

1 week ago  ::  Jan 10, 2020 - 10:53AM #57
Posts: 4,019

Yankees: Jasson Dominguez is the top prospect in the system according to Baseball America

With a little under a month to go before pitchers and catchers report to Tampa for Spring Training it’s time to take a look at Baseball America’s list of the Yankees top 10 prospects heading into the 2020 season.

The Yankees farm system last season wasn’t nearly as highly regarded as it was a couple of years ago, but it looks like that’s about to change entering 2020.

Throughout the Yankee system, the future looks very bright but as it is with every organization, there are prospects who stick out more than the rest and project to impact the major league roster sooner rather than later. Here are some of the names to keep an eye in 2020.

First, the top 10:

  1. OF Jasson Dominguez
  2. RHP Clarke Schmidt
  3. RHP Deivi Garcia
  4. RHP Luis Gil
  5. INF Oswald Peraza
  6. INF Anthony Volpe
  7. RHP Luis Medina
  8. RHP Roansy Contreras
  9. RHP Alexander Vizcaino
  10. RHP Albert Abreu

Atop Baseball America’s list is 16-year-old CF Jasson Dominguez, who hasn’t even played in a professional game yet. Although Dominguez isn’t someone who is going to impact the major league club this season or the next there’s no doubt he is going to be a fast riser that could make his debut before he turns 20. The switch-hitting phenom has all the tools to be a superstar and could be a generational talent according to scouts.

Dominguez was the top international prospect available in the 2019 class before the Yankees signed him last July to a record $5.1M deal. He’s been given nicknames like the “teenage Mike Trout” and “The Martian” so expectations for him coming up through the Yankee system are going to be sky-high, but for good reason.

BA gave Dominguez a grade of at least 60 (20-80 scale) in every skillset and a 70 when it comes to power and running. Those are the types of grades you usually see for a player in the upper levels of the minors. The fact that he’s already considered the Yankees top overall prospect tells you all you need to know about how incredibly talented this kid is and what the future could hold for him in pinstripes.

Following Dominguez on the list is righthander Clarke Schmidt, the Yankees first-round pick in 2017. Schmidt missed most of the 2018 season recovering from Tommy John surgery but last year he was healthy and at three minor levels he combined to post a 3.47 ERA with 102 K’s in 90.1 IP.

After starting the year in the Gulf Coast league he made it all the way to Double-A Trenton by August. Scouts are very high on the former USC Gamecock and recently he made MLB.com’s list of potential breakout prospects for all 30 teams. He has the makings of four-plus pitches so he’s built to be a starter at the big league level and could earn a consistent spot int he rotation in 2021.

Now that he’s over two years removed from TJ surgery this will be the year where he makes his biggest move up the Yankee system. As long as he stays healthy and continues to progress Schmidt will make it Triple-A very quickly and will have a real shot at a late-season call up to the big league roster.

Third on the list is Deivi Garcia, who many considered the organization’s top prospect at the end of last season. Garcia rose to the top of the Yankees farm system in 2019 after beginning the year at A-Advanced Tampa. After posting a combined 4.28 ERA in 111 innings with a 13.3 K per 9 rate at three different levels the 20-year-old right-hander was added to the Yankees 40-man roster in late November.

He’ll likely start the year at Triple-A but if he impresses in spring training and someone from the rotation goes down with an injury he could be the first in line for a call up to join the big league rotation. Garcia stands at only 5’9, 163 lbs but he has electric stuff with a fastball that can reach up to 96 mph and a devastating 12/6 curveball.

He needs to work on throwing all of his pitches for strikes consistently before he makes his big league debut, but he has a major league starter’s repertoire. As long as he stays healthy it’s not a matter of if, but when before we see him this season in the Bronx making a big impact as a rookie.

The biggest surprise on the list has to be the number five entrant Oswald Peraza and the exclusion of CF Estevan Florial. The 19-year-old Peraza is a slick-fielding infielder who has yet to play above low-A ball and ended last season ranked as the 29th best prospect by MLB.com. However, Baseball American sees big things ahead for him and so do the Yankees.

As for Florial, he’s has fallen off the list after he’d been considered one of the Yankees top prospects for the past two seasons. 2019 was another injury-plagued campaign for the 21-year-old and he struggled to produce offensively hitting .237 with 8 HR, 38 RBI and 98 K’s in just 74 games.

Despite his struggles, Florial is now a member of the Yankees 40-man roster and this could be a make or break year for him. He has all the tools to be successful but he hasn’t been able to put it all together on a consistent basis. He was supposed to take a big leap up the system last season so hopefully he can stay healthy and finally live up to expectations in 2020.

4 days ago  ::  Jan 13, 2020 - 9:55AM #58
Posts: 4,019

Yankees continue to show their confidence in Estevan Florial

After two straight injury-shortened seasons, the Yankees have shown this offseason that they believe in Estevan Florial’s incredible potential.

This past week in Miami, Major League Baseball presented their annual Rookie Career Development Program. This program has been around for a number of years to assist “up and coming players on the cusp of reaching the big leagues.” The program offers young players a chance learn lessons about media relations, clubhouse situations, financial planning, and more. The Yankees sent four players, Deivi GarciaNick Nelson and Miguel Yajure to the event. But the organization also showed it faith in Estevan Florial by sending him to an event designed for players ready to hit the big league level.

For an event like the Rookie Career Development Program, pitchers Deivi Garcia and Nick Nelson make sense as candidates to represent the Yankees organization. Coming off strong 2019 seasons, where they finished on the door-step of the majors with Triple-A Scranton, there are scenarios where either could end up with the Yankees very early in 2020. As two of the better strikeout pitchers in the Yankees minor league system, they have avenues to the majors as either starters or in a bullpen role. Barring injury, or a complete lack of injuries at the major league level, both are near locks to get a taste of the majors at some point in 2020.

Another pitcher who attended the event is Miguel Yajure, who is coming off one of the best seasons for any pitcher in the Yankees minor league system. Scouts noticed improved velocity, and better secondary pitches that saw him allow just a 1.75 ERA, and 0.97 WHIP after May 1st. That production earned Yajure a late season promotion to Double-A Trenton, where he will likely start the 2020 campaign. As a member of the 40-man roster, he is prime candidate for a spot start or could earn his time if he comes out and produces as he did in 2019.

The last member of the delegation, Estevan Florial is another case all together when it comes to making his major league debut in 2020. After breaking out in a big way during the 2017 season, Florial has yet to graduate from the High-A level that he finished that year at. Two injuries in the hand and wrist area have limited his playing time over the past two seasons, and when he has been on the field his performance has sagged.

Less than a year ago Florial was one of the most impressive minor league players in the Yankees spring training camp. Over 13 games with the major leaguers, he hit .355 and had an impressive opposite-field home run during a game against the Phillies.

Beyond spring training his production dipped, as he hit .237/.297/.383 in 74 games for High-A Tampa. Through the struggles there were flashes of his immense talent, such as on July 1st when he had a home run tracked at 110 mph off the bat that landed 461 ft away.

Despite the flashes of potential, the strikeouts piled up for Florial in 2019. His strikeout rate rose to 32.6%, a rate seen by few major leaguers during their time at High-A. Another concern was that his walk rate dropped by 5% from the previous season. With all the evidence that Florial was struggling to move past the High-A level, the Yankees have given him several votes of confidence over the last few months.

The first vote of confidence was the decision to add him to the 40-man roster back in November, in order to protect him from the Rule-5 draft. With a fleet of high ceiling center field prospects coming through the rookie ball levels, the Yankees still wanted to make sure that nobody got their hands on Florial through the Rule-5 process.

Choosing Florial as one of the attendees for an event that is designed to help players on the verge of playing in the majors is one more vote of confidence by the organization. Even with a solid season, it is hard to see a scenario where Florial makes it past Double-A Trenton this year. The Yankees may have seen more during his fall instructional league games, and the offseason workouts leading them to still view Florial as a future key piece of the organization.

While some of the Yankees choices to attend the Rookie Career Development Program appear to be very near to be major league ready, Estevan Florial is not. After two years of struggles the Yankees are hoping that this is the season where he can remain healthy and tap into his incredible talent. Choosing him for this event is an indication that the organization feels he is ready for this next step.

2 days ago  ::  Jan 15, 2020 - 10:39AM #59
Posts: 4,019

Tarpons’ rotation has the biggest upside in the Yankees’ system

The High-A Tampa Tarpons will have five of the Yankees best pitching prospects on the mound in 2020.

For several years the Yankees prospects rankings have been dominated by pitchers. This coming season the High-A Tampa Tarpons will see a starting rotation that from top to bottom is loaded with major league potential. Their entire starting rotation could be made up of players within the Yankees’ top 20 prospects. Each one of these players took a step forward in their production and prospect status in 2019, but will come into the season with something to prove as they try to continue moving towards the major leagues.

Following the 2019 season, Baseball America rated four pitchers from the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs among the top 15 prospects in the South Atlantic League. Luis Gil, Roansy Contreras, Alexander Vizcaino, and Luis Medina have created a debate among evaluators as to who has the brightest future and most potential.

Luis Gil was acquired from the Minnesota Twins when the Yankee traded Jake Cave. At the time he had never pitched above rookie ball and was the definition of a “low level lottery ticket.” That lottery ticket now looks like a potential winner, as Gil thrived in 2019 with an 11.5 K/9 rate that saw him earn a promotion to High-A in late July.

Armed with an elite fastball that sits in the 94-98 mph range and touches 101, Gil’s development floor if he stay healthy is a solid reliever. If he can continue to develop his changeup he could move quickly through the upper levels of the system and continue working as a starting pitcher into the majors.

Roansy Contreras pitched the entire 2019 season as a 19-year-old with Low-A Charleston and, after some early struggles, finished the season with an amazing run. Over his last 11 starts, Contreras posted a 1.80 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP.

While he has less velocity on his fastball than some of his peers, Contreras still can throw his fastball in the mid-90s when he needs to. He has also shown a solid curveball, and has a changeup that he can command. He is routinely credited with having an advanced feel for pitching to the situation.

The player who jumped up prospect rankings within the Yankees system more than anyone else in 2019 was Alexander Vizcaino. An unheralded prospect when he signed with the Yankees a week before his 19th birthday in 2016, the lanky right-hander caught the eyes of many scouts during the 2019 campaign.

Vizcaino’s outstanding changeup has garnered the most attention, and paired with his fastball that touches the upper 90’s he has two plus pitches. Vizcaino will have to develop his third pitch, as it’s currently a very inconsistent breaking pitch that at times morphs between a curveball and a slider.

The most electric stuff, and the highest ceiling on the Tarpons pitching staff in 2020 belongs to Luis Medina. For several years now Yankees fans have heard about his incredible arsenal of pitches, and his complete lack of ability to harness any of them. Nine starts into 2019, he had an astounding 10.5 BB/9. From that point forward he gained control of his pitches, only allowing 3.8 BB/9 and a .197 Batting Average Against. His last four starts were particularly impressive, as he had a 0.40 ERA and only six walks in 22.2 innings. Yankees executive Tim Naehring was recently quoted about Medina, saying, “early in the year he was very inconsistent, and at the end of the year he found a release point that brought the stuff back.”

If Medina can keep the ball in the strike zone he has the potential to move up rapidly through the Yankees system. His fastball averages over 97 mph, and last season opponents had a 32% swing and miss rate against his fastballs in the strike zone, over double the average rate.

Gil, Contreras, Vizcaino, and Medina were all with Low-A Charleston for a significant portion of last season. What is going to set this Tarpon’s rotation apart is the fifth pitcher who is set to join the group, T.J. Sikkema. Sikkema was drafted by the Yankees in June with the 38th overall pick that they acquired in the Sonny Gray trade.

After a full season of pitching for the University of Missouri, the Yankees held Sikkema back in his professional debut. He only pitched four times, and threw 10.2 innings for the Class-A Short-Season Staten Island Yankees before the Yankees decided to pull him from game action. Sikkema continued to go through the routine of throw days and bullpen sessions, but held back on adding to his workload. College pitchers drafted as high as Sikkema generally start the next season in High-A, and he will be set to round out this impressive rotation.

The lefty Sikkema will provide a different look from his hard throwing right-handed teammates. He comes armed with four pitches that rate as at least average. He worked early in his career out of the bullpen as a closer before moving into and thriving in a starting role in the Southeastern Conference.

If you want to see a legitimate major league prospect pitch this season, then the Tampa Tarpons on any given night are a safe bet. Their starting rotation will boast five of the best arms in a system loaded with quality arms. This immensely talented group might not stay in Tampa for long, as each and everyone of them has the talent and potential to force their way to the next level.

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