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Random Minor League Notes: 2021 Edition
3 days ago  ::  Mar 02, 2021 - 10:18AM #101
NY23
Posts: 13,166

The prospects


ON THE 40-MAN


Aside from García and Schmidt, there are four other notable prospects on the team’s 40-man. Luis MedinaLuis GilYoendrys Gomez, and Alexander Vizcaino. We may not see all of them in the Bronx this year, but they are pitchers to watch. (As an aside: check out Rohan’s first post, a prospect roundup.)


Medina has the most helium out of anyone here. After toiling with control issues throughout his minor league career, Medina put things together in late-2019. He posted a 1.77 ERA in his last 8 starts and walked just 15 batters in 45.2 frames. Most recently, Medina pitched quite well in the Puerto Rican Winter League. In 16.2 frames, the 21 year-old recorded a 0.54 ERA and had a 32-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Considering that recent workload, he’s more ready for the regular season than most arms in camp right now. I think he starts the year with High-A Hudson Valley, but Double-A Somerset should be in the cards. Maybe even more if he continues to dazzle.


The Yankees got Gil from the Twins in the Jake Cave deal, and the righty has put up big numbers in the lower levels ever since. Equipped with a blazing fastball, Gil topped out in then-affiliated High-A Tampa in 2019. Some more time in A-ball may suffice, but Double-A is very much in the cards for the 22 year-old this year. Developing a good breaking ball will be key to how fast he moves up, as Baseball Prospectus notes.


Gomez, an offseason 40-man addition, is further away than Medina and Gil. He has just 6 starts above rookie ball to his name, so he’s destined for more time in A-ball this year. For what it’s worth, he’s one of FanGraphs’ “picks to click”, meaning that he could break into the worldwide top-100 prospect list.


Vizcaino has worked almost exclusively as a starter in the minors, but his quickest path to the Bronx could be in the bullpen. The Yankees liked him enough to bring him to the Alternate Site last summer, before he was on the team’s 40-man. His fastball-changeup combination has a chance to be devastating in late relief if the whole starter thing doesn’t work out. If the Yankees don’t fast track him, Vizcaino could start the year in Hudson Valley’s rotation.



NOT ON THE 40-MAN

Glen Otto is in big league camp as a non-roster invitee. He was Rule 5 eligible this offseason but no team took a chance on the 6-foot-3 righty. He pitched well in 14 games (12 starts) in High-A Tampa in 2019 and figures to open in the Double-A rotation this season. Triple-A is likely the endgame for the almost 25 year-old this season, though I wouldn’t rule out the majors entirely.


Southpaw TJ Sikkemawho I profiled after the Yankees took him with the 38th overall pick in 2019, has just 10.2 professional innings to his name, all in Staten Island. He probably needs to get his feet wet again in Low-A, but we could see a lot of him with High-A Hudson Valley before year’s end.


Matt Sauer was the team’s second round choice in 2017, but doesn’t have all that much pro experience because he had Tommy John surgery in April 2019. He had began that year with Single-A Charleston before going under the knife. The 22 year-old is Rule 5 eligible in the offseason, so he’ll need to make his mark this year.


There’s a good chance that 5-foot-11 lefty Jake Agnos ends up as a reliever, but there’s still time for him to work out of the rotation. After the Yankees drafted Agnos in 2019, he got a taste of pro ball in the GCL and New York Penn League. One of the organization’s Single-A affiliates should be his destination this summer.


Ken Waldichuk is yet another early round pitcher from the 2019 draft. He dominated rookie ball opponents in 29.1 innings post-draft, racking up 49 strikeouts and 7 walks. Even after a dormant 2020, he should be more than capable of handling a bump up to Tampa or Hudson Valley.


The Yanks acquired Alfredo Garcia from Colorado mid-2019. The lefty put up strong numbers in short-season A-Ball with both the Rockies and Yankees’ organizations that season. He should see time in Hudson Valley.


The Yankees drafted Beck Way last summer, so he’s yet to pitch professionally. He drew an AJ Burnett body comp from FanGraphs, meaning he’s well built for a starting role (6-foot-3, 190 pounds). Way didn’t face particularly tough competition at the amateur level, going from a Division II school to Junior College, so rookie level looks appropriate for 2021.


There are a number of other prospects who are really far away, such as Osiel Rodriguez. He made his pro debut in 2019, but was shut down for most of the season after displaying diminished fastball velocity. Hopefully the 19 year-old righty is healthy and can regain his mid-to-upper nineties velocity this season.


Minor League Depth



Junkballing lefty Nestor Cortes is back in the organization. The Yanks dealt him to Seattle, where he struggled last season. Nasty Nestor should spend most, if not all, of this season as Triple-A Scranton’s swingman.


Nick Green, who the Yankees initially acquired in the Carlos Beltrán trade, once had some prospect sheen. Arizona took him in the December 2018 Rule 5 draft after the Yankees left him unprotected, but the Diamondbacks returned him in March. Green then had a rough go of it in 2019 (7.08 ERA, albeit a 4.00 FIP in 68.2 Double-A innings). He turns 26 this month and is more of an org guy at this point.


Janson Junk is an 80-grade pitcher name, but the 25 year-old isn’t really a prospect. He spent most of 2019 in High-A Tampa, where he started and relieved. He also made one start a piece in Double-A and Triple-A, but those appear to have been spot starts. The Yankees will probably use him to fill out the rotation or long relief role at whichever level is in need.


Shawn Semple is another 25 year-old who looks like a minor league filler more than anything else. He made a spot start for Scranton in 2019, but spent most of his time in High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton that season.


All things considered, Brian Keller‘s been pretty darn successful for a 39th-round pick (2016). He reached Triple-A in 2019 after he conquered Double-A in 2018 (3.74 ERA in 125.1 innings) and early 2019 (2.32 ERA in 42.2 innings). There’s hardly any upside here, but it would be a fun story to see him make the major at some point. For now, Triple-A will do.


Harold Cortijo is still just 22 and has fared well at every level he’s served, but the 2017 14th-rounder still has a ways to go. He spent all of 2019 in Charleston with middling strikeout (18.3 percent) and walk (9.6 percent) rates. He’ll probably plug a hole in the back of Hudson Valley or Somerset’s rotation.


Finally, some quick tidbits on others: Nolan Martinez is still just 22, but the 2016 third-rounder hasn’t found much success in the minors yet. Daniel Bies stands at 6-foot-9 but lacks big velocity. Jio Orozco spent three seasons in Charleston before finally getting a bump up to Tampa in 2019. Josh Maciejewski is a 25 year-old lefty who the Yankees took in the 10th round in 2018, but has already seen time in the upper minors.


Depth Chart

  • MLB: Cole, Kluber, Taillon, Montgomery, and one of Germán, García, King, or Nelson
  • IL: Severino, Schmidt
  • Triple-A: Chacin, Wojciechowski, Cortes, Keller, MLB fifth starter runners up
  • Double-A: Green, Junk, Semple, Otto, Maciejewski, Vizcaino
  • High-A: Medina, Gil, Bies, Cortijo, Garcia, Martinez
  • Low-A: Gomez, Sauer, Sikkema, Agnos, Waldichuk
3 days ago  ::  Mar 02, 2021 - 1:47PM #102
NY23
Posts: 13,166

Prospect Profile: Ezequiel Duran


by: Domenic Lanza Views from 314 Ft.


The Particulars

  • Position: 2B
  • Born: 5/22/1999
  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 195 pounds

Background


The Yankees signed the soon-to-be 22-year-old Duran out of the Dominican Republic back in 2017 for a relative pittance of $10,000. However, that figure isn’t quite reflective of Duran’s prospect stock. You see, Duran failed to properly register with Major League Baseball until shortly after his 18th birthday. There were rumblings that he would take six-figures to sign, but by the time he was eligible there simply weren’t many teams left with international pool money. And that worked out splendidly for the Yankees.


The Story So Far


Duran made his professional debut on August 3, 2017, as a member of the team’s Dominican Summer League affiliate. He went 2-for-4 with 2 doubles, and that was essentially the baseline for his tenure at that level. In 15 games there, Duran slashed .393/.415/.754 (220 wRC+) with 5 doubles, 4 triples, and 3 home runs. That’s not too shabby.


Duran came stateside in 2018, spending the year with short-season Pulaski. His production was far less enticing, as he batted .201/.251/.311 (48 wRC+) in 235 PA with seven-plus strikeouts for every walk. There were glowing reports regarding his bat speed and athleticism, to be sure — but there’s precious little to be gleaned from that stat line. One should never scout the stat line, but a 48 wRC+ is a 48 wRC+.


And then 2019 happened.


Despite his struggles in the Appalachian League, Duran opened 2019 with the Staten Island Yankees – and he rewarded the organization’s faith by putting up a .256/.329/.496 slash line, 13 home runs, 11 stolen bases, and a 143 wRC+ in 277 PA. He was basically as good in 2019 as he was bad in 2018, and he was back on everyone’s radar. Duran did continue to strike out in bunches, with a 27.8 K%, but he also walked in 9.0% of his plate appearances.


As was the case with many prospects, Duran missed out on a year’s worth of development in 2020. He did spend the month of December at the team’s Dominican instructional league, though.


Scouting Notes


Duran is a thick-bodied middle infielder, checking in at around 5’11” and between 195 and 205 pounds. Despite said thickness, Duran draws praise for his athleticism, with most outlets grading his speed and range as at least average. And, while FanGraphs’s Eric Longenhagen is down on his defense, the consensus is that he can stick at the keystone.


What stands out the most about Duran, though, is his plus bat speed. He puts a charge into the ball when he makes contact, driving it with authority to all fields. Baseball America, which ranked him as the 7th-best prospect in the New York-Penn League following the 2019 season, reported that his average exit velocity was 91.9 MPH. For comparison’s sake, that would have placed him tied for 20th in the majors in 2020, just behind Juan Soto and a tick ahead of Nelson Cruz. As you might expect from this and his 2019 line, Duran’s power is most commonly graded as between above-average and plus.


Duran is aggressive at the plate, and has been fooled more often than you’d like by off-speed stuff. However, his pitch recognition has been described as improving more often than not, and he isn’t necessarily impatient. With his crisp swing mechanics, age, and realtive inexperience, this doesn’t feel like something that’s unfixable.


A common comparison for Duran is Dan Uggla, which may not sound too thrilling at first blush. However, that’s fairly high praise, considering that for the first five years of his career Uggla averaged a .263/.349/.488 slash line with 31 home runs in 674 PA.


What about his defense?


I largely glossed over Duran’s defense, as it is a matter of serious intrigue for me. With the exception of the aforementioned FanGraphs, most outlets agree that he has the tools and skills to be a successful second basemen. But what if he could be more than that?


Baseball America notes that he could fill-in at shortstop if needed. That’s a good sign. Keith Law, writing for the Athletic, writes that “his fringy arm might limit him to second base despite speed and hands that would play at short.” MLB’s Jim Callis suggests that his arm limits him to second base, despite his other tools suggest shortstop. And so on.


It’s not uncommon for a second baseman to be able to fill-in at short in a pinch — but a second baseman who could be a shortstop but for his arm strength isn’t so common. And doesn’t an organization that has drawn praise for finding velocity in pitchers of all shapes and sizes feel like the perfect place for such a second baseman to find a bit more zip on his throws?


I don’t have an answer for that question, because I don’t know the Yankees process for sussing out velocity, nor do I know the bio-mechanics behind it all. That said, if Duran could play a competent shortstop with more arm strength, then that could be a boon for the team’s player development. And more arm strength could mean the ability to play third, as well — and all of the sudden you have a guy that can crush the ball and play all over the infield.


2021 Outlook


Duran is in camp as a non-roster invitee, but he has no shot whatsoever of making the team. And I don’t think he has much of a shot of making it to the show at any point in 2021. That’s not a bad thing, though. That’s true of a bevy of people in Tampa.


I expect him to open the season at High-A. He’ll probably spend most of the year there, too, though a promotion to Double-A isn’t out of the question if he plays well.


My Take


I’m an absolute sucker for middle infielders with power, and Duran is no exception. I see him as one of the five-best prospects in the Yankees system, and I think that there could be some big-time hidden value with his defense. I think Duran’s presence as a non-roster invitee in training camp is a good sign, too.


I am also genuinely curious to see if the Yankees are able to work with Duran to improve his arm strength. If he can hit like Uggla, then he can play anywhere and have value. If he can hit like Uggla and play a decent shortstop, he could make a few All-Star teams. I think it’s probably too bold to make such a statement … but more informed writers than myself put that sentiment out there. I’m just running with it.

2 days ago  ::  Mar 03, 2021 - 9:59AM #103
NY23
Posts: 13,166

Oswald Peraza has Yankees’ ‘excited’ over future at shortstop


by: Dan Martin New York Post


SARASOTA, Fla. — Oswald Peraza doesn’t turn 21 until June and is the youngest player at Yankees camp.


As Aaron Boone said Tuesday, the shortstop is “a ways away” from the majors, but the manager called the 2016 signee “a good-looking player on both sides of the ball [with a] very bright future.”


For now, Gleyber Torres is the starting shortstop, but the Yankees have admitted that’s not his ideal position.


And Pereza, who made his spring debut in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium, could get there eventually.


Listed at 6-foot, 175 pounds, Peraza has shown an ability to hit the ball hard consistently and is smooth at shortstop.


“He’s a guy, from a future standpoint, we’re about as excited as you could be,’’ Boone said of Peraza, who went hitless in two at-bats after replacing Torres at short. “He looks like a guy who’s gonna be an everyday shortstop in this league.”


Boone pointed to Peraza’s “swing, athleticism and his hands in the field” as features that set him apart.

1 day ago  ::  Mar 04, 2021 - 9:40AM #104
NY23
Posts: 13,166

Looking at the third base position in the Yankees system


by: Dan Kelly SB Nation: Pinstripe Alley1h


While seemingly set at the major league level, young talents are looking to separate from the pack at third base in 2021.


Over the past several years, the Yankees have focused their highest profile amateur acquisitions on players with an up the middle position profile. This has resulted in the prospects rankings for the Yankees system being chalked full of catchers, shortstops, and centerfielders. However, that does not mean that the corners of the system are void of talent or players that could play a contributing role with the Yankees moving forward. Let’s take an in-depth look at the third base position in the Yankees organization and see which players could make an impact moving forward.


The lack of big name third base prospects in the Yankees system is offset by the talent they have at or near the major league level. Gio Urshela’s emergence in 2019 was backed up by another big offensive and highlight filled 2020. Behind him is Miguel Andujár, who almost won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2018 before suffering a season ending injury and opening the door for Urshela in 2019. Anyone taking a long look at the Yankees roster can see a scenario where Andujár ends up starting the season at the alternate training site and with Triple-A Scranton. Also possibly joining him there could be Thairo Estrada, who has played some third base as part of his utility role. Several other veteran players are at spring training with the Yankees and could provide additional depth on the hot corner.


While the Yankees have a good amount of major league experience at the position, there is more depth coming from within. Joining those players at spring training this year and likely headed for Triple-A is Armando Alvarez, a 17th round pick in 2016 who has worked his way to the top of the Yankees system. A solid glove at third-base, Alvarez had a 114 wRC+ in 58 games for Double-A Trenton during a 2019 season that saw him move up and down between two levels. He also had a brief stint at Scranton previously, producing slightly below league average numbers during his first look at the highest level of the minors. Alvarez has already appeared in several games for the Yankees this spring and should continue to see action as the Yankees bring Gio Urshela along slowly this spring.


Behind Alvarez in the Yankees system is James Nelson, the Yankees acquired him from Miami just over a year ago. Nelson exploded out of the gate in his professional career, posting a 132 wRC+ in Low-A on his way to being named the Marlins minor league player of the year in his first full professional season. He was ranked as high as the eighth-best prospect in Miami’s farm system by Baseball America before he was sidetracked by nagging leg injuries during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.


Scouting reports credit him with excellent bat speed, and the tools to be an above-average defender at third base. He took the time to speak with Pinstripe Alley during the offseason and you can find that interview in two parts. Nelson could return to the High-A level that he finished 2019 at, or he could be with Double-A Somerset this spring.


Oswaldo Cabrera will also in the mix for games at third base. Cabrera led the High-A roster in games played at both third and second base in 2019, and is currently considered the Yankees 16th best prospect by FanGraphs. The switch-hitting infielder improved his production over the second half of the season and was among the system leaders in exit velocity. His ability to play three infield positions is a big plus for him, and he is likely ticketed for Double-A Somerset to start the coming season.


After Cabrera, the only Yankees prospect ranked by FanGraphs and listed as a true third baseman is 19-year-old Marcos Cabrera. He posted a 130 wRC+ in the Dominican Summer League during his pro debut in 2019. Scouts see a player with big power projections in his future. He is likely ticketed for the Gulf Coast League this coming year, but could crack Low-A Tampa’s roster if all goes well.


The Yankees’ 2019-2020 signing class does not get talked about much outside of Jasson Dominguez, who dominated the Yankees bonus pool and headlines. The second biggest bonus the Yankees handed out during the signing period went to Enger Castellano. Castellano was signed as a good bat that will have to improve on the defensive side of the ball. He will be looking to make his pro debut in either the Dominican Summer League or the Gulf Coast League this summer.


Other members of the organization who saw lots of action at third base are Max Burt and Chad Bell. Burt impressed his Low-A Charleston teammates with the best at-bats of the night when the team faced former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Kuechel in 2019. He will have to improve his overall numbers, as he peaked with a 75 wRC+ in Low-A Charleston that year. Chad Bell hit nine home runs in 55 games for Rookie-Advanced Pulaski in 2019, but also struck out 34 percent of the time.


Roberto Chirinos is another player that found time at third base while in Pulaski in 2019. One of the top players in the 2017 international signing class, he signed as a shortstop but moved around the diamond when Anthony Volpe arrived at Pulaski. Chirinos finished the season strong in 2019, and his best path to regular playing time may be at third base as he competes with players like Volpe and Alexander Vargas for shortstop reps.


The Yankees’ minor league system does not boast many highly ranked prospects at third base. Some of the players have talent and have produced in the past, but need a big season at the higher level to once again elevate their stock in the organization. Luckily for the Yankees, there is not an urgent need due to the young and now established players at the major league level.

14 hours ago  ::  Mar 04, 2021 - 8:55PM #105
NY23
Posts: 13,166

Yankees prospect Yoendrys Gomez hits 97 on radar gan


by: Dan Martin New York Post


Observations from the Yankees’ spring training game on Wednesday.


Prospect watch


Yoendrys Gomez came on to pitch the last inning of the Yankees’ 15-0 eight-inning loss to the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., and in his scoreless outing showed why he is considered by Baseball America as the organization’s eighth-overall prospect. The 21-year-old right-hander spent 2019 at Single-A Charleston and was put on the 40-man roster this offseason. He hit 97 mph on the gun Thursday.


More prospect watch


Albert Abreu allowed four runs in just two-thirds of an inning in the Phillies’ nine-run fourth. The 25-year-old still has a minor league option remaining.


Caught my eye


The Yankees gave up six homers in the loss: two each by Deivi Garcia and Nestor Cortes, one by Abreu and another by Reggie McClain.

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