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Random Minor League Notes: 2014 Edition
8 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2013 - 7:47PM #21
Posts: 66,015

Yankees minor league impact “unacceptable” or predictable?

Zoilo Almonte

One theme of Hal Steinbrenner’s afternoon radio blitz was his obvious disappointment in the Yankees minor league system.

“We finally got a chance to really try to bring a lot of these players up and see how they could contribute,” he told Mike Francesa, “and it was not as good as we had hoped.”

“Everybody knows it’s unacceptable,” Steinbrenner told Michael Kay.

Clearly the impact from within the system was minimal this season — that much is difficult to argue — but I’m not entirely sure what the Yankees front office was expecting. It seemed to be generally understood heading into this season that the bulk of the Yankees minor league talent was in the lower levels. That was obviously a bad thing — lower-level talent is far more risky and less valuable than upper-level talent — but it was a reality. Hard to base expectations on anything other than the reality of the situation.

And frankly, it’s not like the Yankees gave a ton of young players a ton of opportunities.

Austin RomineThe position players who really got a chance were outfielder Zoilo Almonte, infielder David Adams and catcher Austin Romine. Those three got at least 106 but not more than 140 Major League at-bats apiece. No other organizational call-up got more than 26. Their overall numbers were remarkably similar (and similarly disappointing).

Almonte: .236/.274/.302
Adams: .193/.252/.286
Romine: .207/.255/.296

Thing is, none of those three was considered a can’t-miss prospect and it’s hard to imagine the Yankees were truly counting on those three being impact players in the short term. Hoping for it, sure — especially in the case of Romine — but I find it hard to believe the Yankees were basing their future plans on Almonte, Adams and Romine. If they were, there were certainly positive signs. Adams had a great first couple of weeks (and drove the ball again at the very end of the year), Almonte also got off to a strong start (and kept with his minor league tendency to hit righties better than lefties) and Romine was legitimately good in the weeks before his concussion. There’s something to like about all three players, but obvious reasons for concern as well.

That said, Romine was the only one of the three who had any Triple-A experience before this year, and even he had only played in 17 games at that level (and had missed most of last season with an injury). Those three, armed with mostly Double-A experience, were supposed to be immediately ready to replace Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Francisco Cervelli (or Russell Martin, depending on how you look at it)?

As for the pitchers who were given a chance, Adam Warren pitched well in his long relief role, and Ivan Nova returned from the minor leagues to deliver a terrific second half. Michael Pineda and Mark Montgomery didn’t get to the big leagues — which was surely a disappointment, as those seemed to be two of the team’s better, upper-level pitchers — but Vidal Nuno and Preston Claiborne (for a while, anyway) surely exceeded expectations and filled spot starter and bullpen roles pretty well. The only other organizational call-up who was given more than five innings was Brett Marshall, and most of his innings came at the very end of the season.

There’s no doubt that the Yankees farm system failed to give the team a real impact player this season. The system was no prepared to fill the gaps. But if the Yankees are going to lean on their farm system more heavily in the near future, there might have to be a shift of either short-term expectation or long-term patience.

Associated Press photos

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
8 years ago  ::  Oct 09, 2013 - 10:54AM #22
Posts: 32,868
8 years ago  ::  Oct 09, 2013 - 4:56PM #23
Posts: 32,868

Prospect Profile: Ian Clarkin

(San Diego Union-Tribune)

A Southern California kid from San Diego, Clarkin struck out 133 batters and posted a 0.95 ERA as a senior at James Madison High School this spring, which earned him a third consecutive All-California Interscholastic Federation Baseball Player of the Year selection. Clarkin led USA Baseball’s 18-and-under team to the International Baseball Federation 18U World Championship in South Korea last year with six strong innings in the gold medal game. He committed to the University of San Diego.

Prior to the draft, Baseball America (no subs. req’d) ranked Clarkin as the fifth best draft prospect in California and the 17th best draft prospect overall. The Yankees selected him with the third of their three first round picks, the 33rd overall selection. That’s the pick the team received as compensation for losing Rafael Soriano as a free agent. Clarkin infamously said he hated the Yankees in a pre-recorded video aired during the draft broadcast, but the team changed his mind with a $1,650,100 signing bonus. He took exactly slot money roughly two weeks after the draft.

Read More→

8 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2013 - 11:49AM #24
Posts: 66,015

More Winter Ball Pitching Decisions

We know that Vidal Nuno is going to pitch this offseason.  We know that Dellin Betances is not.  Via Chad Jennings, we now know the plans for a few more of the younger Yankee pitching prospects.  Unsurprisingly, the plans involve a lot of inactivity.

- Manny Banuelos will not be pitching this winter after throwing all season to work his arm back into shape after TJS.  The team wants him to rest this winter and be ready for spring camp.

- Michael Pineda will also not be pitching this winter.  I expect him to throw in some capacity to stay sharp and keep his arm strength up, but he won't be pitching in game action until next spring.

- Jose Ramirez, who turned some heads this year in ST, was pitching in an instructional league after an oblique strain ended his season in the Minors.  He's not expect to pitch in winter ball either.

- Ty Hensley was also pitching in an instructional league as he works his way back from 2 hip surgeries.  He won't do anything formal in the winter but he'll continue to throw and progress back from surgery to hopefully be ready for spring.

It's not a confidence booster to read about so many injured pitchers, but at least they're all healthy and working their way back.  Being ready for next season is the most important thing now.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
8 years ago  ::  Oct 10, 2013 - 8:20PM #25
Posts: 32,868

Yankees expected to be big bidders for Masahiro Tanaka



According to George A. King III, the Yankees are expected to be serious bidders on Masahiro Tanaka of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. With the Yankees rotation in complete disarray now that they have lost Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, and Phil Hughes and with CC Sabathia's dismal 2013 season, the team needs to improve their pitching badly.

After news surfaced that Tanaka was interested in being posted, the Yankees sent assistant general manager Billy Eppler and pro scout Don Wakamatsu to watch him pitch over the season. Tanaka had a fastball that could reach 95 mph deep into games and possesses a curveball that is 20 mph slower than his fastball. The opinion is that he could be the best pitcher to come out of Japan ever:

"He is better than Darvish because he is a strike thrower,'' the scout said. "Overall, Darvish's stuff might be a little bit better, but this guy knows how to pitch. He is like Kuroda, he has a lot of guts. He throws four pitches but when it gets to [stone]-cutting time, it's fastball and splitter.''

Since he isn't eligible for free agency under Nippon Professional Baseball, he will have to go through the posting process. It isn't permitted to begin until after November 1, but if the Japanese series goes to seven games, the season will officially end on the third.

Several executives believe that the winning bid will be in the $60 million range and his actual contract could be even higher than what the Rangers paid for Yu Darvish. In 2011, the Rangers paid a $60 million posting fee and signed Darvish to a six-year, $51.7 million contract. King says the final price for Tanaka could be a contract in the five-year, $60 million or higher.

In 2013, Tanaka had a perfect 20–0 season with a 1.24 ERA in 181 innings and 23 starts (seven complete games). He hasn't posted and ERA over 2.00, a BB/9 over 2.0, or given up double digit home runs since the 2010 season. The 24-year-old led the league in Wins, ERA, and walks per nine innings (1.3), while also placing second in complete games and innings, and third in WHIP. Unfortunately, his strikeout per nine innings has fallen in each of the last three seasons and was a career low 7.7 this season.

Whatever the final cost may be, this could be the Yankees' best chance to strengthen their pitching rotation with both a high end talent and a young stud player. While the organization has been gun shy about expensive international free agents in recent years, Tanaka not only looks to be different, but it looks like the Yankees are also approaching it differently too.

8 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2013 - 10:49AM #26
Posts: 32,868

In case you missed it: Minor league injury updates

Rob Segedin

I posted this yesterday, and literally within seconds, the Yankees sent the email announcing Joe Girardi had re-signed. So, naturally, it was pretty easy to miss. Just in case you missed it — and just in case you’re one of those who closely follows the minor league system — here are a few updates on guys who were hurt last season.

Remember a little less than a year ago, when Alex Rodriguez found out he needed hip surgery? Remember the doctor explaining that the injury stemmed from a congenital condition, a misshaped bone that led to a series of other problems?

Well Rodriguez wasn’t alone with that condition.

This year, the Yankees had three minor league players shutdown with similar injuries. First-rounder Ty Hensley, Double-A third baseman Rob Segedin (that’s him in the picture), and High-A utility man Anderson Feliz each had similar problems that required surgery, according to vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman.

“We had three this year,” Newman said. “We’d had none in our history.”

Newman said the discovery of the condition in so many young Yankees had nothing to do with Rodriguez — the Yankees weren’t suddenly checking everyone for misshapen hips because of what happened to A-Rod — but doctors simply might be finding it more often these days.

“We just happened to have three guys with it,” Newman said.

Hensley was throwing during instructional league and should be ready for spring training. Segedin raked for about a month in Double-A — .338/.390/.606 through April 24 — before being shut down for the operation. Feliz played into June before having the surgery. The Yankees have long liked Feliz’s tool set, but Newman said he’s had a series of groin and hamstring problems that have impacted his ability to stay on the field and move forward.

“The idea is that this (surgery) will alleviate that,” Newman said.

Manuel Banuelos• After having Tommy John surgery last year, Manny Banuelos did not pitch in an actual game this season. He did, however, pitch at the minor league complex and in instructional league. Newman said he was reaching 92-94 mph with a good changeup and getting breaking balls over the plate. He is expected to be ready this spring, but he will not pitch at all this winter. “He pitched enough,” Newman said. “He’s been throwing for 14, 15 months. He’s going home to rest.”

• Michael Pineda is also going home with no plans for winter ball. He was reaching 94-96 mph with his fastball. “We’ll see how he comes back, but I think he’s healthy,” Newman said. “I thought he was fine. There might be a little bit of (rust) in spring training early in the year, but he’s got a history of throwing strikes.”

• Jose Ramirez was shut down at the end of the year because of an oblique problem, but he was throwing again in instructional league. He’s healthy again.

• Considered the team’s top relief prospect when the season started, Mark Montgomery struggled in Triple-A this season, while also battling a shoulder injury (early) and a back injury (late). Newman said the team got an MRI of Montgomery’s shoulder twice during the year, and they’re convinced it’s healthy. “I think his back was bothering him,” Newman said. “He changed his workout program last offseason, experimented with a new program, and that may have been part of it. I don’t know. You can’t jump to that conclusion, but it impacted his control more than anything. He still struck people out a lot this year, just walked too many.”

ph_571761• Slade Heathcott had relatively minor knee surgery, just a scope and a cleanup. He missed the last few weeks of the Double-A season, but he’s expected to be fully healthy for spring training.

• Second baseman Corban Joseph, who made a few big league cameos this season, had shoulder surgery and didn’t play beyond May 31. Newman said Joseph was trying to “muscle through” the season but had ultimately needed the surgery. He’s throwing and rehabbing now.

• This year’s second-round pick, Gosuke Katoh, played through instructional league last month but has what Newman labeled a sprained finger. It’s considered a very minor issue. Katoh had a really nice debut.

• Another high pick from this year, first-rounder Aaron Judge, missed the year with a quadriceps injury. Newman labeled the Yankees treatment as more precautionary than anything. “He’s working out,” Newman said. “He had a quad pull. He wasn’t going to get any games, so we’ve just taken our time to make sure it’s completely healed by spring training.”

8 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2013 - 12:29PM #27
Posts: 66,015

Minor league notes: Rule 5, Heathcott, Whitley, Campos, Refsnyder

I posted about some of the Yankees minor league injuries yesterday. Here are a few leftover minor league notes from my conversation with vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman.

Slade Heathcott, Ronnier Mustelier• Simplistic way of looking at Rule 5 eligibility for this winter: Anyone drafted in 2009 or earlier (Slade Heathcott, Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell stand out), and college players drafted in 2010 (Tommy Kahnle, Danny Burawa, Chase Whitley). International signees are harder to figure out. Newman said that neither Ronnier Mustelier nor Adonis Garcia needs to be protected, but he specifically said that Gary Sanchez is eligible this winter, meaning he’ll need to be protected.

• Mentioning Heathcott and Mustelier in the same paragraph seemed like a good excuse to pull out the spring training picture of their outfield collision.

• Speaking of Heathcott, his overall Double-A numbers didn’t look like much this season (.261/.327/.411), but the Yankees came away happy with his performance because they saw obvious improvement. Heathcott hit .306/.342/.509 in the month of July, and he was hitting .310/.444/.552 before landing on the disabled list in August. “His second half was good,” Newman said. “And by the metrics we use, he improved over the course of the season. He needs at-bats, and he needs some time.”

• Whitley was a career reliever before being moved into the Triple-A rotation late this season. He’d just pitched 17.1 scoreless innings of relief in the month of July, and went on to make five August starts with a 1.64 ERA. It’s not out of the question that Whitley will continue to work as a starter in the future. “He’s got a great changeup, so it was, let’s see if he can do this,” Newman said. “His velocity picked up over the last two years, he’s always had a very good changeup, we’re working on his breaking ball. We had some innings in the rotation, and he’s got starter stuff, so he may get a look in that way in the future.”

This is a 2013 photo of Shane Greene of the New York Yankees baseball team. This image reflects the Yankees' spring training roster as of Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)• One of the real emerging names from that Rule 5 eligible list is Greene. He had a 5.22 ERA in High-A Tampa last year, but he had a 3.38 between High-A and Double-A this season. He was actually better during the second half in Trenton than he’d been in the first half in Tampa. He walked 63 batters last year; only 30 this year. “Big time (improvement),” Newman said. “Command. Look at his walk totals. … He’s got good stuff. He gets it up to 95, 96 and can sink the ball. Now he’s getting it over the plate.”

• Kind of a strange year for Jose Campos, the other pitcher acquired in the Michael Pineda trade. Having missed most of last year with an elbow injury, Campos was routinely limited to three or four innings per start this season. He threw a total of 87 innings (which was actually a career-high) with only 16 walks and a 3.41 ERA. “He did well,” Newman said. “We shut him down and we’re happy. … We just don’t want to jack his innings up too much.” Newman said Campos will likely be on a similar but less-restrictive program next year. “He’ll have more innings next year, but it will be managed (again),” Newman said. “He’s not going to go to 180 innings after what he did this year.”

• Sounds like the conversion of 2012 draftee Rob Refsnyder from college outfielder to professional second baseman is being viewed as a success. Working with closely with infield coach Carlos Mendoza — himself a former Yankees minor league infielder — Refsnyder made 25 errors, but only two in the final month and none in his final 17 games. He also hit .293 with a .413 on-base percentage. “Huge improvement (defensively),” Newman said. “So far it’s been good, and he can hit. And he had a bunch of walks.”

GumbsRefsnyder• Refsnyder’s strong season might have pushed him ahead of Angelo Gumbs in the second base pecking order. Gumbs was hurt again this year (had a concussion), and he hit just .213/.263/.330 between Low-A and High-A. “He’s got some work to do,” Newman said. “He’s a talented kid, but he’s got work to do. He needs to have a good year. … He can run and he can impact the ball. He’s real athletic. Like so many of those (young) guys, it’s plate discipline, using the field, being a quality hitter.”

• Also in need of a good year is center fielder Ravel Santana, whose stock has plummeted in the two years since his terrific U.S. debut. A severe ankle injury and a broken arm have robbed him of development time. “He’s had two really tough injuries,” Newman said. “He’s had a tough go.”

• Since this is apparently the negative section of the minor league notes, it was a brutal year for 2012 second-round pick Austin Aune. Considered pretty raw but gifted — he turned down a quarterback scholarship to TCU — Aune hit just .192/.230/.263 in the Gulf Coast League. He struck out 72 times in 41 games. He did have a double in four of his last five games, but clearly there’s work to be done if Aune is going to live up to that second-round status. “He had a rough year,” Newman said. “He had a tough year. We’ll see how it goes next year. He’s a hard-working, good kid and I’ll leave it at that.”

• Let’s end with something a bit more positive — Instructional league ended this week, and I asked Newman if anyone stood out. He didn’t hesitate. “Bryan Mitchell,” he said. “He’s got a great arm. He’s getting better.” Still just 22, Mitchell is Rule 5 eligible this year, but he’s hardly pitched above Class-A. He had just a 5.12 ERA in Tampa this season, but the Yankees bumped him to Double-A at the end of the year anyway, and he had a 1.93 ERA in three starts at the higher level. The Yankees — and opposing scouts — have talked about this kid’s raw talent for a while. He’s one of those guys who still has a lot to prove, but also has a lot of believers.

Associated Press photos of Heathcott, Mustelier and Greene; headshots of Refsnyder and Gumbs

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
8 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2013 - 12:47PM #28
Posts: 32,868

BBD Prospect Park: Miguel Andujar

Miguel  Andujar


Nickname: Mandujar

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 180
Age: 18
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Miguel Andujar was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 for $750,000. He was their big name signing that year. Upon being signed, the book on Andujar was that he did everything well, but nothing fantastically well. He had some power potential and looked like he’d be able to stick at third base.

In his first season in 2012 Andujar skipped over the DSL and went straight to the GCL at the age of just 17 years old. His first season was a difficult one, as he batted just .232 and had only one homerun. In what was his first professional season, however, the statistics didn’t mean much in such a small sample size.

Andujar came ready to mash in 2013. He his .323/.368/.496/.864 with four homeruns and 11 doubles. In the field he has been seen by scouts as a guy who can stick at third and possibly become a plus defender. He has a strong arm and good mobility at the hot corner.

As a hitter Andujar has great ba speed, excellent patience as evidenced by all of the walks, and a solid hit tool. In 2012 his tools did not result in success, but in 2013 it all came together for Andujar. His pitch recognition is strong. He has all the makings of a future power hitter, it’s just a matter of developing his man strength.

He’s actually pretty fast for a third baseman, and is also quick. He has the potential to be a legitimate base stealing threat in the future. He did have four stolen bases in 2013.

In terms of ceiling with Andujar it depends how he fills out. He could reach 40 homerun power, but he’s a safe bet to be a 25 homerun hitter if things go right. He should be a plus fielding third baseman to go along with this talent. His floor is obviously low, as he is still in the GCL and has a long way to go. He could obviously bust as soon as next season.

Depending on where Eric Jagielo ends up next season, Andujar could be in Staten Island or Charleston to start the season. He could be a fast mover as he is a mature hitter. If all goes perfect, Andujar could be a major leaguer by 2016, but with how the Yankees move their prospects I would expect him to arrive closer to 2017 or even 2018.

Basically the sky is still the limit for this kid at this young stage in his career. He has a shot to be something special and he will be fun to follow as he moves up the ranks.

8 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2013 - 10:58PM #29
Posts: 32,868

A few winter ball assignments have started to trickle in, but remember, just because someone is on the roster doesn’t mean he’ll actually play. The team controls the player’s winter ball rights but his big league team may ask him not to play, something like that. Guys who are coming off injuries or pitchers nearing their workload limit usually don’t see much playing over the winter. Here are the few names we have so far.

  • Mexican Pacific League: OF Jose Figueroa, IF Walt Ibarra, and UTIL Ronnie Mustelier.
  • Venezuelan Winter League: C Francisco Arcia, IF Ali Castillo, C Frankie Cervelli, C Jose Gil, and UTIL Jose Pirela.

Obviously Cervelli is the big name there. He plays winter ball most years anyway, but he missed a bunch of time to injury/suspension this summer and could use the extra at-bats.

8 years ago  ::  Oct 11, 2013 - 11:09PM #30
Posts: 1,468

Thanks for the work, Major... I am starved for Yankee news already ! I fear it's going to be a LONG offseason ...

Life is better when the Yankees win !
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