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Scouting Reports and Profiles: 2013 Edition
11 years ago  ::  Oct 27, 2012 - 6:44PM #1
Posts: 32,868

Looking at the Yankees’ future at catcher

So, while we will have to wait and see what Brian Cashman decides to do behind the plate in 2013, let’s take a look at who and where the potential Yankee backstops of the future are now.

Austin Romine:
As I already mentioned, Romine was knocking on the Bronx’s door heading into Spring Training this season.  After hitting .286/.351/.378 in Trenton in 2011, Romine was set to be the Empire State catcher this season, with a shot to make the big league club. Instead, he injured his back during Spring Training and appeared in just 31 games in the minors this season, with almost half of them in the GCL and Tampa. This injury isn’t just concerning due to the amount of time Romine missed in 2012, but because he suffered some similar problems in 2011. If he can get past these injury problems, Romine is a good defensive catcher with a strong arm. He has good discipline at the plate and will smack some doubles, though he could still improve his power stroke. At this point, it is hard to know when he may make it to the majors, though I suspect he will start 2013 in Scranton.

J.R. Murphy:
Murphy put together a strong showing Charleston in 2011, garnering himself some attention despite Montero, Romine and Gary Sanchez. He hit .297/.343/.457 with a wRC+ of 117, before being promoted to Tampa at the end of the season. This season, he started off in Tampa and was solid, though he couldn’t replicate his previous success at the plate, hitting .257/.322/.374. Murphy got the call to move up to Trenton during the second part of the season where he struggled some. It has been a pattern, however, that Murphy struggles upon first being called up and he has often been able to adjust to the new level and put together a strong performance the following season.

Murphy takes a very mature approach at the plate, with good discipline and patience. He has potential to develop power, but should be able to hit for average. Where he may set himself apart from many of the other Yankee catching prospects is that he appears to have turned into a strong defensive catcher. He was originally a third baseman, but in 2011 started to come into his own behind the plate. Murphy has been lauded for his strong leadership and work ethic, which has paid off as he improves his arm strength, game calling and all around defense. At the moment, he kind of strikes me as a younger and healthier Romine type player, which could make things interesting over the next year or two.

Gary Sanchez:
In many ways, Sanchez took over for Montero after the Seattle trade. The young catcher is a very exciting prospect and is still quite young.  We have seen some of the fall out of what happens when you have a young guy who is flying through the lower levels, when he had some attitude issues last year. Whether those problems are a thing of the past is hard to know, but he appeared to get through this year without any controversy. In fact, Sanchez had a good season, starting the year in Charleston where he hit .297/.353/.517 with a wOBA of .390 and a wRC+ of 136. He was promoted to Tampa and looked strong theree, hitting .279/.330/.436 over 48 games with a .351 wOBA and 118 wRC+.

Kiley McDaniel has a great write-up on Sanchez for Fangraphs that I highly recommend.  McDanield notes some of the adjustments Sanchez has been working on, something he had not had to do often as he has dominated his competition prior to this season. Sanchez’s power potential continues to be exciting, but his tools are still raw and he is working on quieting his swing.  Much like Montero, however, as Sanchez moves up the ladder we are beginning to hear more and more about his inability to stick behind the plate. I remember seeing reports early on that described him as Montero but with the opportunity to stick at catcher. These days it seems like people are wary about whether he will succeed in being a major league backstop, but they also recognize the improvements he has made. McDaniel comment that “At times, Sanchez’s body language indicates he isn’t too interested in catching but the Yankees would be foolish to move him until they’re certain the 19 year old can’t improve any further behind the dish.” The latter part of this statement is obvious, but the former stuck out to me, as I have seen similar statements elsewhere. I’m not quite sure what to make it, quite frankly, but it should still be interesting to see how Sanchez progresses.

Greg Bird/Peter O’Brien:
Drafted by the Yankees last year, Bird was scouted by most teams as a first baseman, but the Yankees were intent on keeping him at catcher. Unfortunately, he had some back problems this year, spending some time on the DL. He made most of his starts at first and DH, so we will have to wait until next year to see whether he is still a viable catching alternative. Regardless, the left-handed power hitter has another big bat that the Yankees are excited to watch develop. He crushed the ball when for the short time he spent in Staten Island, hitting .400/.489/.650 over eleven games and 47 plate appearances. Bird is athletic enough that he may be able to stick at catcher, but he seems to fit this mold of Yankee catching prospects who can swing an impressive bat but are destined for another spot on the field.

O’Brien was this year’s second round pick and is very similar to Bird. He spent some time on the DL this year with a hand fracture, so he wasn’t able to put in much time behind the plate, but he is expected to make the change to first sooner rather than later. While many other prospects seem to show some potential for working out at catcher, even if it seems unlikely, O’Brien’s lack of athleticism, slow feet and below-average hands are a lot to get over. Still, he has a strong bat and received some high praise from Staten Island manager Justin Pope, who thinks the young slugger has a “big-time future.”

It’s good to know the Yankees have some interesting prospects at catcher, but how many of them stick back there is looking like a big question mark. What do you all think? Does this make you feel better/worse about the Yankees current major league catching situation?

11 years ago  ::  Oct 27, 2012 - 6:47PM #2
Posts: 32,868

Reports From Instructs: New York Yankees

I’ve seen Yankees catching prospect Gary Sanchez as much as any other prospect this season and while I have a good feel for what he can do, I’m still not certain what he’ll become. I saw him in spring training, at Lo-A Charleston, at Hi-A Tampa and again recently in instructs; he’s shown the same tools each time but has also been making some adjustments, mostly at the plate.

Sanchez has a number of things that command your attention: a $3 million bonus at age 16, present 70 raw power to all fields and a 65 arm. He’s still just 19 and these kinds of tools and accomplishments as a teenager put him in rarified territory. The list of players who have that resume is littered with stars and even Hall of Famers. Therein lies the problem: Sanchez has always been the best player on every field he’s been on until this season, so his tools alone could dominate and he hasn’t had to make adjustments.

Sanchez has a few issues to address with his swing and after seeing him make improvements during instructs, a Yankees executive confirmed they have been proactively addressing this with the player. Sanchez’s swing is suited for power, so he’s understandably aggressive in a number of ways but his late hand pump and long stride both weren’t creating more power and were harming his ability to hit certain kinds of pitches. He also appeared to close his stance some in instructs, letting him stay on the ball longer and control his bat speed and aggression as he has to travel farther to get off-balance. The Yankees exec put these tweaks under the umbrella of “teaching Gary that sometimes extra effort doesn’t create extra power.”

Looking at Sanchez’s hit tool in the three categories I’ve mentioned in previous articles shows why I’m a little unsure how to project him. Sanchez clearly has plus or even plus-plus tools: plus bat speed and strength along with a direct path, high finish, great eye/hand coordination and an ability to hit the ball where it’s pitched. As normally follows with great tools, Sanchez has shown good bat control but I think the mechanical issues mentioned above affect his ability in this area and his plate discipline.

When protecting the plate with two strikes, Sanchez is forced to swing at anything close and Hi-A pitchers would throw fastballs in and above his hands. His late hand pump didn’t allow to him get around on these pitches. Sanchez could lay off this pitch earlier in the count, but two strike counts will expose any weaknesses, particularly against pitchers with advanced feel.

Two-strike counts also showed that Sanchez’s approach can improve. While his long stride can make him susceptible to off-speed pitches and his aggressive approach had him chasing pitches out of the zone early in the count, he could square up almost any pitch near the zone with two strikes. He also would be much more selective, proving that the looser concept of the zone earlier in the count was a choice, not deficient pitch recognition. This is where tools can help plate discipline: quieting his swing would make it even easier for Sanchez to lay off bad pitches early in the count and he can make solid contact even when off-balance.

His prodigious power will often show up in games, but similarly with his plate discipline, Sanchez’s mechanics and approach can affect how frequently we see it. He made strides in converting raw power to game power while with Tampa, including many doubles to the gap in right-center, incredibly rare to see from 19-year-old facing pitchers in their mid-20’s. In instructs, I saw him connect with a two-strike fastball above his hands, yanking it out to left field. Only players with great tools are capable of this, but it’s made much easier with Sanchez’s noticeably quieter hands pre-pitch.

All that detail goes to show that Sanchez’s future with the hit and power tools will come down to how well he can simplify his swing and approach at the plate. His improvements in-season and in instructs show he has the ability to make adjustments, something we hadn’t seen before the season. His age allows me to give him the benefit of the doubt and while his hitting ceiling is elite—something like .285 and 30 homers—I see a realistic outcome a notch lower at .270 and 25 bombs.

The real question is if Sanchez can produce that hitting line while playing catcher, as that would make him a potential MVP candidate. While he has a better chance to stick behind the plate than the last Yankees’ slugging catcher prospect Jesus Montero, I think Sanchez’s future is at 1B or DH. While Sanchez’s arm would play at any position, he’s a 20 runner without much lateral quickness, so if he can’t catch, 1B/DH is the only other option. His hands are fringy; they’re acceptable given the other tools he has but he’ll still box some pitches and he has some trouble handling hard stuff to his glove side. The issue is his feet, which limit his agility and mute his pop times as his lower half drags behind (best in-game pop time was 1.94, often above 2.00).

There are ways to improve flexibility, quickness and catching skills to where Sanchez could offer a fringy defensive package, but he’s got a long way to go and I’m not sure he has enough quick-twitch in his lower half to get there. At times, Sanchez’s body language indicates he isn’t too interested in catching but the Yankees would be foolish to move him until they’re certain the 19 year old can’t improve any further behind the dish.

While there’s a non-zero chance Sanchez turns into an everyday All-Star catcher, it’s more likely he’s an above-average everyday 1B that can also serve as a backup or third catcher. And as far as realistic prospect outcomes go, that’s still among the best in the minors.

11 years ago  ::  Nov 02, 2012 - 9:40PM #3
Posts: 32,868

The Killer B’s; A cautionary tale of prospect hugging


The year was 2011. The Yankees had failed to make it to the World Series in 2010 after winning it all in 2009. It was disappointing, but the 2009 World Series Title winning performance was still fresh in all of our minds, and there was reason for hope that future Yankees teams would be younger, more talented, and better. A big part of that hope came in the form of three prospects, all whose last name began with ‘B.’

Giving the Banuelos injury and eventual surgery some time to sink in, there has been plenty of time to reflect on everything that has happened. Now there’s even the benefit of knowing what the Yankees administration has chosen to do about these failures, with the hiring of Gil Patterson and reassignment of Nardi Contreras. Seemingly this was a necessary move. Regardless of whether you view the trials and tribulations of these three players as a flaw in organizational philosophy, coaching, or just pure bad luck one thing remains true. While it is virtuous to hang onto prospects, it doesn’t pay to get to attached to any single one of them. In this case, it turned out to be frustrating even if you supported these three as a bundle.

Andrew Brackman was probably the biggest flash in the pan of all of them. When it comes down to it he really only had one good season. You could take it a step further and say he only had half of a good season. Regardless, fans had high hopes for him after the 2010 season, where he dominated Double-A with a 3.0 ERA and 70 K in 80 IP in the second half of the season. Baseball America ranked him the #78 prospect in all of baseball before the 2011 season, but that would be the last time he would make the top 100 list. He fell off completely the following year and lost all control. He was last seen pitching in High-A, where he stumbled to a 5.52 ERA.

The second ‘B’ lasted a little bit longer, but so far the results haven’t been all that different. Dellin Betances still has some value left in him as a possible reliever, but his time is running out quickly. The truth of the matter is that no one knows if he will even work out in the bullpen. If he continues to suffer with control as he has, it won’t matter how good his stuff is.

Before the 2011 season, he was the #48 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. By the 2012 season, his ranking fell to #63. After his disastrous 2012 season, there’s no reason to think he’ll be in the top 100 for the 2013 version of Baseball America’s list. In 2010 he managed a 2.11 ERA over 85+ innings, striking out 108 batters. In 2011 he was challenged in Double-A and Triple-A, with a 3.7 ERA and 142 K in 126.1 IP.

There was a red flag that came along with this season, which was the 70 walks he dished out. This was foreshadowing. In 2012, he finished with a 6.44 ERA and a whopping 99 walks in 131.1 innings. His silver lining was his 124 strikeouts. One bad season does not destroy your prospect status, but lack of control is one thing teams can’t tolerate in the majors. He still may be salvageable as a reliever, but that may be wishful thinking.

Then there’s Manny Banuelos. For a while he was the golden boy. The little lefty was the one guy who had truly maintained his value of the three to start the 2012 season. Then he got injured. The injury seems to have been mishandled or misdiagnosed, as he went almost a full season with no surgery, only to find out that he would need surgery after all. He will now miss the entire 2013 season while recovering from elbow surgery. Of the three, he still has the most chance to pan out as the ace starter all were hoping to become. He’s still young and Tommy John Surgery is by no means a career ender.

The #29 Baseball America prospect before 2012, his status will no doubt suffer after this injury. He will still be 23 when he returns though, which still gives him the chance to contribute. Hopefully he will make it back, but now we will all have to wait much longer than initially anticipated to see if he ever does.

So what does all of this teach us? Should we just give up on all hope that the Yankees will ever develop an ace? Should we just go back to trading away all of our young pitching and hitting prospects because they’re all destined to fail? I would argue that this would be foolish. While the Yankees have had some bad luck and possibly some bad managing and philosophies over the past decade, there is reason for some optimism. First of all, they have made a managerial change which could improve things. Secondly, there is a new wave of prospects who could have better luck than the last one.

If anything, what this should teach us is that the percentage of these hyped, Baseball America top 100 pitchers that actually pan out into aces is low. If and when the Yankees manage to finally develop one, we can all think back to these times and remember just how lucky we are to have a young ace.

11 years ago  ::  Nov 07, 2012 - 1:10PM #4
Posts: 66,015

Prospect Profile: Ty Hensley


(Photo via BaseballLife365.com)

Ty Hensley | RHP

Raised in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, Hensley was a two-sport star at Sante Fe High School before giving up his quarterback gig to focus on baseball as a senior. He pitched to a 1.52 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 55.1 innings with the Wolves this spring, earning him Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year honors and several other awards. His father Mike was a second round pick who was a long-time college pitching coach after injuries derailed his playing career.

Prior to the draft, Baseball America ranked Hensley as the second best prospect in the state and 23rd best prospect in the draft overall. Keith Law ranked him as the 36th best prospect overall. The Yankees grabbed Hensley with their first round pick, the 30th overall selection. It was the fifth straight year they took a high schooler with their top pick, but only the third time they took a high school pitcher with their top selection since 1993. The two sides agreed to a straight-slot $1.6M signing bonus shortly after the draft, but a pre-signing physical found an “abnormality” in his right shoulder. Hensley eventually agreed to a reduced $1.2M bonus on the eve of the signing deadline and passed on his commitment to Ole Miss.

Pro Debut
The Yankees sent Hensley to their Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliate in Tampa after signing, where he made five appearances (four starts). He allowed eight runs (four earned) in 12 innings, striking out 14 against seven walks. Hensley attended both Instructional Leagues after the season, first in Tampa and then in the Dominican Republic.

Scouting Report
Oklahoma has a history of producing physically huge pitchers and Hensley fits right in at 6-foot-5 and 220 lbs. His fastball velocity spiked a bit this spring and he now sits comfortably in the 92-94 range and will maintains that deep into games. He’s run it up as high as 98 in the past and it shows good two-seam life in on right-handed batters. Hensley’s break-and-butter pitch is a power 12-to-6 curveball in the upper-70s/low-80s that was one of the best curveballs in the draft class. Reports from the GCL about his low-80s changeup were encouraging, but like most high schoolers the pitch still has a ways to go.

Hensley is a good athlete — he was also a switch-hitting outfielder in high school — but he’s still growing a bit and needs to continue to work on finding consistency with his delivery. His command lags behind his stuff, in part because he lands on his heel (theoretically easy to correct). He also tends to pitch up in the zone with his fastball, so he has to work on using his size to drive the ball downhill. Like basically every player the Yankees pursue these days, Majors or minors, Hensley’s makeup and work ethic are considered major pluses. He even learned to speak Spanish to better communicate with teammates in high school. Here is his MLB.com draft video, and there are plenty more clips available at YouTube.

2013 Outlook
I’m not sure really sure what the plan is for Hensley next season. New minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson had a tendency to be a little aggressive with the few high school pitchers the Athletics drafted during his five years with Oakland, so there’s a pretty good chance the Yankees will bump their first rounder right up to Low-A Charleston to start next season. If not, Hensley will stay back in Extended Spring Training to work on his mechanics before joining Short Season Staten Island when the season begins in late-June.

My Take
If you’ve been reading my stuff long enough, then you know I’m a fan of high school school pitchers. Hensley gets a thumbs up from me though I would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about the shoulder “abnormality.” It’s comforting to know that he’s been asymptomatic and without pain the whole time, but it’s still not something you want to hear. Hensley has said that he wants to reach the big leagues by age 21 — he’ll turn 20 in July — which might be a little optimistic, but it’s good to see him not be shy about his goals. There’s an awful lot of upside here but also some work that needs to be done, specifically with the command. I want to see him make it through a full season without any shoulder issues before I get really excited, but there is a lot to like about any teenager with an out-pitch curveball.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
11 years ago  ::  Nov 16, 2012 - 9:00PM #5
Posts: 32,868

Breakout candidate 2013; Bird is the word


BBDP Nickname: “Birdman”

Greg Bird didn’t get a lot of love on prospect lists, including our own here at BBD. In fact, we ranked him at just 35 after this season was over.  Greg Bird has the talent to make us regret that ranking, and he may do that sooner rather than later.

Bird was one of the players the Yankees over slotted in the 2011 draft. He barely saw any time that season due to injury. He also missed a good portion of the 2012 season from a back injury, which prompted the Yankees brass to move him from catcher to first base.

The immediate impact of this decision was to decrease his value significantly. First basemen who can hit are a dime a dozen in the major leagues, and it is not a particularly difficult position to play defensively. Of course there are defensive superstars like Mark Teixeira who increase their value by being superb at preventing runs, but the most important thing you must do as a first baseman is hit, and hit for power.

Bird, however, can do just that. He has wowed coaches and scouts alike with his ability to square the ball and hit for power since he got healthy this season. At instructs, more of the same. He has a good chance to explode onto the scene in 2013 much like Mason Williams did in 2011. If he hits like he is capable of hitting, it won’t matter what position he plays; he will be a top prospect.

2011 was the first year when Bird had extended playing time. All he did was hit .337/.450/.494/.944 over two levels, Rookie and Short Season Staten Island. He hit just two homeruns but he also had six doubles and a triple in just 89 at bats. The one flaw is that he struck out 23 times during that span. Over a 500 at bat season that means he would have struck out 129 times. That’s not horrible but it’s also not great.

The now 20 year old prospect measures 6-foot-3 and weighs in at 224-pounds, a good sized athlete. His swing is short, straight to the ball, and compact. It’s your classic power stroke. He’s also a patient hitter as indicated by his .450 OBP and 17 walks on the season.

It remains to be seen what he will be able to do defensively as a first baseman, however scouts say that he is athletic enough to make the move. He has the ability to be a plus first baseman if he is willing to work at it.

The main knock on Bird is now that he’s a first baseman he will have to hit all the way up the ladder if he wants to ever contribute to the major league team.  This is the reason for the low rankings he has received. He hasn’t hit in any of the full season leagues yet, and until he does there is no telling where he stands.

He has the potential to be a middle of the order hitter with 40 homerun power within his reach. His ceiling is obviously an all-star first baseman, but if I haven’t made it clear above his floor is a complete fade out. If he has a big year at Charleston in 2013 the picture will start to get a lot more clear, and he will shoot up the rankings. He could easily be a top 10 talent by next season depending on how things shake out.

The estimated time of arrival is difficult in a guy who hasn’t even played full season baseball yet. Assuming he is in Charleston next season, I would project him as a guy who goes one to two levels at a time, making his debut in 2016-2017.

Bird is the type of player this farm system has lacked since the departure of Jesus Montero. He is a pure hitter, and one that has exceptional power potential. He will never fill Montero’s shoes as a super prospect because of his position, but he could pave his own way to the majors and have a long, successful career if things go right.

11 years ago  ::  Nov 24, 2012 - 7:44AM #6
Posts: 32,868

BBDP Breakout candidate: You can’t replace the Ref


BBDP Nickname: “The Ref”

The basics:
Name: Rob Refsnyder
Age: 22 to start next season.
Draft: 5th round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Arizona.
Size: 6-foot-1, 205-pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Best Tools: Hit tool, athleticism and speed, and “it” factor tool.
Needs Work: 2nd base defense, consistency at the plate.
BBDP Ranking: 46

Forget the fact that he batted .352 for the Arizona Wildcats last season. Ignore his excellent athleticism, recruited by Pac-12 teams to play quarterback in addition to baseball. Don’t even mention the fact that he won the College World Series Most Outstanding Player in 2012. After all of this, he was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 5th round and told that he had to switch positions from outfield to second base. Not only that, but after taking some time off following the College World Series, he was thrust into Low-A full season baseball with the Charleston River Dogs.

This all sounds a bit overwhelming, and perhaps it was for Robert Refsnyder. He struggled bigtime out of the gate in 2012. The Ref wasn’t hitting for power, getting on base, or stealing bases. Not only that, but he only played a few games at second base before being switched back to the outfield for the remainder of the season. Refsnyder kept working at it though, and he went on a tear late in the season. His stats for the season ended up being .241/.319/.364/.683. Those numbers aren’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but a few things jump out at you.

First of all, despite the low average he still got on base a good amount. This goes along with the scouting report which states that he has excellent patience at the plate. The other thing that jumps out at you if you look at his splits is that he finished the season 11 for his last 36 (.306). He also hit four homers and 11 SB on the short season in 162 at bats. Not bad for a 21 year old in Low-A. The late season surge shows that he will be able to make adjustments as time goes on and the competition improves.

The success continued into the offseason. This year at instructs he worked on his defense at second base, and most feel he will in fact be able to make the transition. That will be a huge feather in his cap, and would be enough to increase his ranking substantially if he was able to stick at the position. Word is he made enough improvement that he will in fact play second base in 2013. With his athleticism, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a plus second basemen by season’s end.

Although his minor league batting average wouldn’t suggest it, Refsnyder’s hit tool is one of his best. Transitioning from metal to wood bats, jumping several levels straight to Low-A, and suffering from rust after taking some time off from the game are likely factors that played into his early season struggles. He’s a line drive hitter with some pop, so it would be surprising if he wasn’t able to hit for an average circa .300 next season. Along with his hit tool, he also has the ability to draw walks. This is something our current all-star second baseman does not have, and makes Refsnyder even more valuable at the plate.

Athleticism and speed are also a major part of his game. He stole 11 bases in just 46 games, which means he could steal close to 40 over a full major league season. It remains to be seen if this speed will translate into steals at the highest levels of the game though, because catchers and pitchers are much better at preventing steals as the competition gets better. Regardless of steals, he is athletic enough to play a middle infield position and do it well.

The last tool listed is the “it” factor tool. Many will argue that this tool doesn’t exist. Personally, I think it has to exist to a certain extent. Derek Jeter has won since he was wearing diapers. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but he won at the Little League World Series as a kid, and never stopped winning since then. Nick Swisher, on the other hand, appears not to have a clutch bone in his body. Say what you will about sample sizes, but Nick Swisher has been in the playoffs 6 seasons now and has 154 at bats. He’s batting .169. That’s an argument for another day though. If clutch does exist, then Robert Refsnyder is the most likely player in the entire 2012 draft to possess it. He’s shown in the recent past that he is at his best in the most important games.

He also has great leadership qualities and is the type of player who has thus far always said the right things to the media. This was never more apparent than when South Carolina fans were screaming racial slurs at him during a game in the CWS and he handled the media with grace.

If Robert Refsnyder is able to improve his defense at second base and develop more consistency at the plate, he is one of the top choices to break out and be a top 20, or even top 10 player in the Yankees farm system by the end of next season. Improving his consistency might not be as difficult as it sounds, as he appeared to find himself at the plate late last season. If he can carry that over into next season, his only chore will be to become a better defender.

The ceiling with Refsnyder is an all-star second baseman. He’s got great potential and he was the MVP against the best competition NCAA baseball has to offer. The floor is what we saw early in his minor league career. A guy who just isn’t able to transition and isn’t able to cut it at second base. If that’s the case, he won’t play a game in the major leagues. That said, I think his actual performance will be closer to his ceiling than it will to his floor.

His estimated time of arrival would be 2015. If he figures things out quickly it could be even sooner than that. He’s yet another player for the Yankees with the potential to be a star. Eventually the Yankees are going to be able to cash in on a few of these players, and it’s going to be quite a show when they do.

10 years ago  ::  Dec 07, 2012 - 9:44PM #7
Posts: 32,868

Reliever Montgomery on the rise in Yanks' system


10 years ago  ::  Dec 18, 2012 - 1:16PM #8
Posts: 66,015

Prospect Profile: Rafael DePaula


(Photo via Josh Norris)

Rafael DePaula | RHP

Hailing from La Victoria, Dominican Republic, the 21-year-old right-hander originally presented himself to teams as Rafael DePaula Figueroa with an April 1st, 1992 birthday in 2008. He didn’t garner much attention as a prospect that summer, but his velocity spiked later in the year and he was in line for a seven-figure bonus. MLB suspended him for one year in January 2009 for problems with his documentation.

Following the suspension, DePaula came forward with a new name (Jose Rafael DePaula) and new date of birth (March 24th, 1991). MLB approved his free agency, and he eventually agreed to a contract worth $500k with the Yankees in November 2010. It took 16 months for the U.S. Consulate to approve his visa. DePaula’s visa was finally approved this past March, and his contract became official when he passed a physical a few days later. In the meantime, he worked out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic but could not pitch in official games.

Pro Debut
DePaula remained in the Dominican Republic this summer and pitched for one of the team’s Dominican Summer League affiliates. He led the circuit in strikeout rate (12.4 K/9) and pitched to a 1.46 ERA (~1.65 FIP) with 85 strikeouts (35.9 K%) and just 18 walks (7.6 BB%) in 61.2 innings across 14 starts. He participated in Instructional League after the season.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 212 lbs., DePaula regularly runs his fastball into the mid-90s and has touched 99 in the past. His velocity jumped from the high-80s to low-to-mid-90s prior to suspension. DePaula’s top secondary pitch is a hard curveball in the low-80s, and his changeup is promising but still a work in progress.

Despite his big and lanky frame, DePaula has a controlled and repeatable delivery that allows him to throw strikes with relative ease. He reportedly showed some rust in the DSL this summer, which isn’t all that surprising given the lack of game action in recent years. The Yankees love his makeup, particularly how he stayed focused and worked through his suspension and visa delay. Here’s some video.

2013 Outlook
The Yankees are expected to bump DePaula up to High-A Tampa next season, which would be a pretty big jump for a kid who has yet to pitch in the United States. I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed course and held him back in Extended Spring Training for a few weeks at the start of the season before sending him out, but we’ll see. Either way, DePaula is not your typical internationally signed arm. He is expected to move quickly.

My Take
With Manny Banuelos having Tommy John surgery, Jose Campos missing almost the entire season with an elbow injury, and Dellin Betances making zero progress taking steps back, a case can be made that DePaula is the organization’s top pitching prospect. I don’t like that he missed so much development time over the last few years, but he’s got a big arm and showed the kind of results you want to see in his brief pro debut this summer. Next season is going to be a very important year for DePaula as he comes stateside for the first time, and he has the potential to emerge as a Top 100 Prospect within 12 months.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
10 years ago  ::  Dec 19, 2012 - 1:58PM #9
Posts: 66,015

Prospect Profile: Taylor Dugas


(Photo via MiLB.com)

Taylor Dugas | OF

A Louisiana kid from Lafayette, Dugas was a two-way star at Teurling Catholic High School. He hit .518 with 19 homers and 51 doubles during his four years with the Rebels while also going 31-6 with 195 career strikeouts on the mound. Dugas hit .640 with ten homers and 34 steals (in 35 attempts) as a senior, earning him the Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year award as well as numerous other honors. He was also a standout quarterback on the football team and thrice earned Academic Honor Roll status.

Despite his high school accomplishments, Dugas wasn’t considered much of a pro prospect because of his small frame. Baseball America (subs. req’d) did not rank him as one of the top 40 draft prospects in Louisiana in 2008 and no team rolled the dice in the draft. Dugas followed through on his commitment to Alabama after going undrafted, and he stepped right into the lineup to hit .352/.412/.479 with a team-leading 83 hits and 13 steals (in attempts) in 56 games as a freshman. The performance earned him freshman All-America honors.

Dugas continued to hit for the Crimson Tide, posting a combined .351/.484/.543 batting line in 130 games as a sophomore and junior. He earned a First Team All-American, First Team SEC, and SEC Academic Honor Roll accolades along the way. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Dugas as the seventh best prospect in Alabama prior to the 2011 draft, and the Cubs selected him in the eighth round (249th overall). He did not sign and instead returned to school for his senior season.

Following a big senior season (.343/.450/.498), Dugas left Alabama atop the school’s all-time hits (334), singles (234), doubles (67), and triples (18) list. He placed second on the all-time games started (239) and walks (151) lists. His .360 career average is the seventh best in school history, his .466 OBP the fourth best in school history. After more First Team SEC honors, Baseball America ranked Dugas as the 331st best prospect in the draft. The Yankees selected him in the eighth round (#277 overall) of this year’s draft and signed him quickly to a well-below-slot $10k bonus.

Pro Debut
Assigned to Short Season Staten Island after signing, Dugas hit .306/.465/.373 in 276 plate appearances with the Baby Bombers this summer. He lead the circuit in OBP and walks while placing eighth in batting average.

Scouting Report
Listed at 5-foot-8 and 170 lbs., Dugas is an undersized left-handed hitter who qualifies as scrappy and pesky and all those wonderful cliches. His best offensive asset is his supreme control of the strike zone, which allowed him to post a 35/51 K/BB (18.5 BB%) with Staten Island this summer and a 101/151 K/BB in four years at Alabama. Dugas’ swing is geared for contact and he makes a ton of it, though he only offers average speed and very little power.

Defensively, Dugas fits best in left field because he doesn’t have the range for center or the arm for right. He’s a bit of a ‘tweener because his bat falls short of the typical left field profile and he doesn’t offer say, Brett Gardner-level defense at the position. As you’d expect, Dugas earned that scrappy tag by playing hard all the time. Here is his 2011 Draft video and a more recent clip from YouTube.

2013 Outlook
As a four-year starter at a major college program, Dugas will jump up to High-A Tampa next season. A midseason promotion could be in the cards, though he’ll have to fight the likes of Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin for outfield playing time at that point.

My Take
Like a number of other teams, the Yankees targeted college seniors who would sign for relative peanuts to save draft pool money in the sixth through tenth rounds. Dugas is more than just organizational filler though given his contact skills and extreme plate discipline from the left side, so maybe he provides some value as a fourth or fifth outfielder on the heavy side of the platoon at the big league level. Improvements on defense and/or on the bases would increase that profile. I like Dugas because he’ll post fun K/BB numbers as he climbs the ladder, but he’s an older guy (24 later this month) who will get overrated quickly due to his statistical performance.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
10 years ago  ::  Dec 20, 2012 - 2:09PM #10
Posts: 66,015

Prospect Profile: Nick Goody


(Photo via LSUSports.net)

Nick Goody | RHP

A Florida kid from Orlando, Goody both pitched and played shortstop at University High School. He wasn’t much of a pro prospect as a prep player and subsequently went undrafted in 2009. Goody pitched for the State College of Florida at Manatee-Sarasota in 2010 and allowed eight runs in 19.2 innings with a 22/7 K/BB as a freshman reliever. Since he was attending a two-year school, Goody was draft-eligible in 2010, though MLB teams against passed and he went undrafted.

After a stint in the Florida Collegiate Summer League, Goody dominated as a sophomore starter with the Manatees. He led the team in innings (84), strikeouts (114), and ERA (1.29) while allowing 47 hits and walking 33 batters. The performance earned him Suncoast Conference Pitcher of the Year and JuCo All-American honors. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Goody as the 64th best prospect in Florida prior to the 2001 draft, and the Yankees selected him in the 22nd round (689th overall) that year. He did not sign and instead transferred to Louisiana State for his junior season.

Goody stepped right in as the Tigers’ closer this spring, pitching to a 2.67 ERA with a stellar 45/4 K/BB (!) in 33.2 innings. He helped LSU to the SEC Championship. Baseball America ranked Goody as the 239th best prospect in the draft this summer, and that’s pretty much exactly where the Yankees drafted him — in the sixth round and 217th overall. He signed relatively quickly for a slightly-below-slot $140k bonus.

Pro Debut
The Yankees assigned Goody to Short Season Staten Island after signing, but he wasn’t there very long. After striking out five in 3.1 innings across three appearances, the team bumped him up to Low-A Charleston. He struck out 40 while walking just seven in 24.2 innings with the River Dogs, earning him another promotion. This time he went to High-A Tampa.

Goody finished the season with Tampa, where he struck out seven in four innings spread across three appearances. All told, he pitched to a 1.12 ERA with 52 strikeouts (14.6 K/9 and 7.3 K%) and nine walks (2.5 BB/9 and 42.3 BB%) in 32 innings after turning pro this summer. Between college and pro ball, Goody posted a 97/13 K/BB in 65.2 innings in 2012.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 195 lbs., Goody has a classic relief profile. His fastball sits in the 91-94 mph range and he backs it up with a hard, late-breaking slider. He hides the ball well by briefly turning his back to the batter during his delivery, and as those walk rates suggests, he’s very aggressive in the zone and throws a lot of strikes. Goody does not have any kind of meaningful third pitch and won’t need one in relief. There is some okay-at-best video at YouTube.

2013 Outlook
Goody figures to move very quickly as an advanced college reliever, and he’ll presumably open the season back at High-A with a midseason promotion in the cards if he stays healthy. A cameo with Triple-A Scranton at the end of the season would not be surprising.

My Take
I jumped on the Goody bandwagon soon after the draft and, at the moment, I consider him the team’s second best relief prospect behind Mark Montgomery. He has good velocity, he misses bats with an out-pitch breaking ball, he throws strikes … what’s not to like? Goody wasn’t exactly a great scouting find since he was the closer at a major college program, but he’s a great value in the sixth round (especially at a below-slot bonus) in an age where MLB is trying to cut down on draft spending. He and Montgomery are already looking like important cogs in the future of the Yankees’ bullpen.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
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