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Random Minor League Notes: 2014 Edition
9 years ago  ::  Oct 14, 2013 - 10:21PM #41
Posts: 1,495

Oct 13, 2013 -- 5:21PM, MajorYankFan wrote:

Cookback...........I no longer dread the off-season.  With the

Fall and Winter Leagues, Hot Stove League, and free agency

movements, the off-season is pretty exciting.

I guess you're right. I tried to check out some of the other threads, but I'm sure you know that THAT didn't turn out so well !

Life is better when the Yankees win !
9 years ago  ::  Oct 15, 2013 - 11:02AM #42
Posts: 32,868

Yea......you just can't take it personally.  No matter how well

you document your position, some will stick to what they want

to believe.

Havve Trenton's Heathcott's and Austin's stock fallen this season? Who was closer to this list?

Josh Norris: They have indeed. Slade was closer to this based on his tools, but there were significant questions about his plate discipline, makeup and being injury-prone. Austin had a bad season, some of which was certainly fueled by the wrist injury toward midseason. Even before this season, however, most evaluators I surveyed only thought of him as a fourth-outfielder type.

Just curious about any feedback re: Ramon Flores. Projections?

Josh Norris: His name didn’t come up with any evaluators for this list. The big problem here is power potential. He’s small and doesn’t project for much, so profiling him a corner just doesn’t work. He walks a lot, which is good, but he doesn’t really have the skills to unseat Brett Gardner (or, if necessary, Curtis Granderson) from center, so it’s hard to rank him among the top 20.

Thoughts on what you saw of Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams?

Josh Norris: Unfortunately I didn’t see any of Williams in Trenton (outside of MiLB TV) and got just one game of Sanchez. Even so, the reviews on Williams from his time with Tampa were lackluster at best. From looking at him in the AFL, he seems to have lost the weight he gained and will merit closer examination next year.

Sanchez had a fine year with the bat but was up and down at best with the glove. He had issues catching hard-throwers and still needs to tighten up his receiving.

9 years ago  ::  Oct 15, 2013 - 11:03AM #43
Posts: 32,868
9 years ago  ::  Oct 15, 2013 - 11:19AM #44
Posts: 32,868

J.R. Murphy cracks Baseball America’s list of the top Double-A Eastern League prospects



Baseball America wrapped up the Yankees-relevant portion of their league top 20 prospects series yesterday, posting the Double-A Eastern League (no subs. req’d). SS Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), 3B Miguel Sano (Twins), and RHP Noah Syndergaard (Mets) make up the top three of a generally star-studded list.

C J.R. Murphy was the only Yankees farmhand to make the cut, and he ranked 18th. The 22-year-old hit .268/.352/.451 (116 wRC+) with six homers in 211 plate appearances for Double-A Trenton this summer before being bumped up to Triple-A Scranton (117 wRC+ in 257 plate appearances) and eventually finishing the season in the big leagues.

“Scouts now seen him as a potential regular catcher as his defensive chops have improved,” said the subscriber-only write-up. “He has a line-drive stroke that he uses to spray balls to all fields …. Managers around the league noted how well Murphy handled Trenton’s pitching staff and consistently ranked him as one of the better catch-and-throw guys in the circuit … His solid-average arm is accurate and aided by a quick transfer.”

Neither OF Slade Heathcott and OF Tyler Austin did not make the list, obviously. In the subscriber-only chat, Josh Norris said “there were significant questions about [Heathcott's] plate discipline, makeup and being injury-prone,” while “most evaluators I surveyed only thought of [Austin] as a fourth-outfielder type.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. OF Ramon Flores simply doesn’t have enough power to be considered a top prospect, Norris added.

All of the Yankees-relevant lists have now been posted: Rookie Gulf Coast League (six players ranked), Short Season NY-Penn League (one), Low-A South Atlantic League (one), High-A Florida State League (two), and Triple-A Intentional League (zero). The rankings actually do a pretty good job of summarizing the state of the team’s farm system. Lots of interesting talent at the lower levels but nothing at the upper levels to help the team in the immediate future, either as trade bait or by stepping into the roster. System in a nutshell.

9 years ago  ::  Oct 15, 2013 - 5:18PM #45
Posts: 66,015

Prospect rankings show Yankees upper-level concerns

Today Baseball America wrapped up its league-by-league rankings of minor league prospects. As always, you have to take these lists for what they are, which is a general snapshot of how young talent stacks up. Quite often the difference between No. 12 and a guy who barely missed the list is a matter of individual opinion, but I like these Baseball America lists because they rely on several outside opinions — scouts, executives, etc. — and because they add some detail to the bigger picture.

Ultimately, what you’ll notice from these rankings are two indisputable truths: The Yankees are thin on upper-level talent, and lower-level talent is unreliable. Several players who entered this season full of buzz ended the season with some serious questions. That much has played out in the way Baseball America has ranked the Yankees young players.

You can see the rankings for free on Baseball America’s site, but the detailed scouting reports and chats require a subscription. Here are the six leagues that include Yankees affiliates, followed by the individual ranking of each Yankees player to make each list.

Gosuke KatohGulf Coast League
10. C Luis Torrens
11. 3B Miguel Andujar
13. SS Abiatal Avelino
15. 2B Gosuke Katoh
17. RHP Luis Severino
20. SS Thairo Estrada
This is sort of the reality of the Yankees system these days. There’s a lot of young talent in the system, but young talent like this comes with far more questions than answers. It’s true that basically ever team has low-level talent like this, but the fact the Yankees landed six players on the Gulf Coast League list suggests there’s some universal agreement that their extremely young talent is particularly intriguing. Katoh was a second-round pick who had a huge season, but as evidenced by Torrens’ underwhelming numbers, a list like this is clearly about more than results. It’s about potential. The Yankees have a lot of low-level potential. That’s obviously a good thing, but that doesn’t make them particularly unique and it doesn’t do anything to help them in the short term.

JagieloNew York-Penn League
6. 3B Eric Jagielo
This summer, the Yankees made a relatively safe pick with their top draft selection. They took a polished college hitter, who plays a position of need, and the early returns are positive. That’s the thing to take from this ranking. The thing to remember is that Dante Bichette Jr. also generated quite a bit of success in his draft year, only to struggle ever since. Jagielo seems to be a more reliable prospect, and that seems to signal a shift in the Yankees draft philosophy. Have to wonder if Aaron Judge might have cracked the list had he been healthy enough to play. A few other Yankees draftees — most notably third-rounder Michael O’Neill — generate some intrigue based on long-term potential, but there’s not enough immediate success to make the list.

DePaulaSouth Atlantic League
17. RHP Rafael De Paula
Two reasons this list might have been surprising from a Yankees perspective: 1. The fact De Paula didn’t rank as a top-five talent in the league, and 2. The fact several Yankees position players didn’t crack the top 20. In my mind, it’s because of the very nature of such low-level prospects. They are, by nature, unpolished. And in its scouting reports, Baseball America made it clear that De Paula’s extreme ups and downs kept him from climbing higher on their list. In a chat, Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper noted that players like Greg Bird, Peter O’Brien and Jake Cave generated some support – I would guess  Jose Campos also has some lingering intrigue coming back from injury — but there are some obvious questions about power or defense or ultimate upside. There are a ton of guys in Low-A who have plenty of potential without much certainty.

SanchezFlorida State League
7. C Gary Sanchez
19. CF Mason Williams
These were probably the top two Yankees prospects coming into the season. Sanchez’s prospect stock more or less held steady; Williams’ took a bit of a hit. Baseball America notes that Williams seemed to be in worse shape this season, which impacted him at the plate more than in the field. Could be a strong wake-up call for a guy who’s still very young to have finished this season in Double-A. Sanchez is even younger, and also finished in Double-A. Just like in Low-A, the Yankees have a handful of guys who have some legitimate prospect stock, but come with questions of ultimate upside (I’m thinking of guys like Rob Refsnyder and Shane Greene) or ability to reach their potential (guys like Peter O’Brien and Bryan Mitchell).

J.R. MurphyEastern League
18. C J.R. Murphy
This would have been tough to predict six months ago, when Murphy was easily overshadowed by the Trenton outfield of Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin and Ramon Flores. But Murphy took a giant step forward — our old friend Josh Norris notes that his defense is much, much better — and the outfielders did the opposite. You could make the case that Flores remained relatively unchanged, but his lack of power has always been concerning for a corner outfielder. Austin, on the other hand, didn’t come close to repeating his outstanding 2012 season. His age and wrist injury might have had something to do with that — the Yankees certainly haven’t given up on him — but it was a concerning development. As for Heathcott, the Yankees are very encouraged by his strong second half (and the fact he was also young for the league). Really, Baseball America’s rankings for the Eastern League paint a pretty clear picture of what can happen year to year with prospects, especially low-level prospects who are being tested in the upper levels for the first time. Might have been interesting to see whether Jose Ramirez could have cracked the list with a full season in Double-A.

BetancesInternational League
Absolutely no surprise that the Yankees didn’t have anyone crack the International League list — if they did, you would have seen him in New York this season — but it’s fairly telling that John Manuel wasn’t even asked a single Yankees question in his chat about the International League list. The most deserving Yankees were probably a trio of relievers — Dellin Betances, Mark Montgomery and Chase Whitley — but a half season from Betances won’t erase concerns about past inconsistencies, Montgomery is coming off a down year that included two injuries, and Whitley has never generated a ton of buzz about upside. All three could be Major League relievers — maybe even pretty good ones — but they’re not likely to land on a list like this after a year like this. Same for David Adams, Zoilo Almonte, Vidal Nuno and Brett Marshall.

Associated Press photos

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
9 years ago  ::  Oct 15, 2013 - 8:08PM #46
Posts: 32,868

Looking forward to the 2014 MILB season


This was a rough year for the Yankees farm system. Overall the system took a step back. Expectations for 2013 were high. That said, even after a season of dashed hopes, injuries, and ineffectiveness, there is a lot to look forward to in 2014. Despite such a poor season, the Yankees still have a middle of the pack farm system. While this is disappointing considering most felt by the end of 2013 the Yankees would be a top 10 system, it also bodes well for 2014 considering the talent in the system.

The Yankees still have all of the same talent fans were dreaming upon last season. While there were few successful seasons that put players on the map, not a single top prospect in the organization played so poorly that they are off the prospect map. In addition, the system has nowhere to go but up from here, and that likely means that 2014 will be a rebound year, and likely a year that will result in the system being again better than middle of the pack.

The system will be automatically upgraded at the start of 2014 due to players returning from injury. The most significant player returning from injury is Manny Banuelos. He is apparently back to 100% now and will be good to go to start 2013. He’s coming back from Tommy John surgery, which is NBD in this day and age. Word is that he is already back to his old tricks. If that truly is the case, Banuelos alone immediately takes this farm system to new heights.

The other big name pitcher coming back from injury is Ty Hensely. He will finally be healthy to start 2014 and can move past all of the injuries that have effected his career. Before the injury he was unable to fully use his legs to bolster his delivery. His new and improved hips will allow him to finally be able to do that, which could actually result in a bump in his velocity long term. It also makes him a completely different pitcher than the guy the Yankees drafted, so there are definitely question marks for this ballplayer in his return. That said, all he has to do is return to his presurgery self and he is immediately a top prospect in this organization and will bolster the system in a major way.

Gabe Encinas exploded onto the scene in 2013 with his new stuff before suffering an elbow injury which led to Tommy John surgery. He will be back at some point in 2014 and the same applies to him as Manny Banuelos. If he returns to form he is undoubtedly a top prospect.

There are also some less heralded players returning from injury who could improve the margins of the system, making it better overall. Of this group, Corban Joseph is the closest to contributing. He had shoulder surgery last year and would be both a decent trade chip and a major improvement in the second base depth behind (hopefully) Cano in this organization.

In addition to Joseph, Matt Tracy will be a full go in 2014. He had a rough season even while healthy in Double-A in 2013, but it was also a statistically uncharacteristic season as he struggled with control. If he can just get back to his old self, he is another potential starting lefty in the organization who could really help the team and would be another solid trade chip. Aaron Judge will also presumably be healthy and we will finally see what he can do.

Mark Montgomery was mostly healthy in 2013, but he was suffering from minor injuries and poor conditioning that really derailed his season. He still had a decent showing, but this offseason he is on a new conditioning program and will show up ready to go in 2014. His stock really suffered last year but he still has one of the nastiest sliders in all of the minors, so his health would be huge for this farm.

Yet another injured player is Matt Snyder. His twin brother batted .280 with 25 homeruns in High-A in 2013. Obviously twins are different people, but suffice it to say he has the physical talent to do the same. If he does, the Yankees will have a solid 1B prospect on their hands. Caleb Frare will also be 100% healthy to start the season, as will the latest incarnation of top Yankee reliever prospects Nick Goody.

Finally Ravel Santana will be fully healthy. At this point in his career he is a sad story of freak injuries between his ankle and his broken arm in 2013. When healthy he is a physical specimin with the best tools in the system. It’s unlikely he’ll ever reach his potential at this point but on the off chance he does the Yankees will have a super athlete on their hands who could be a beast.

Aside from injuries, there are several players poised to become impact players or at least return to form next year. Tyler Austin is much better than he played in 2013. He was banged up for a good part of the season and will be ready to get back to his mashing ways next year. Slade Heathcott made significant strides throughout the season in 2013. Mason Williams is in the AFL fine tuning his game. Rafael DePaula finally has a full season under his belt and will look to build on that. Luis Severino will be in full season ball and I predict he will explode onto the scene. Jagielo and Clarkin will be primed and ready to go as well. Abiatal Avelino and Gosuke Katoh will be ready for their coming out parties.

Daniel Camarena had a difficult start to his career, but about seven games in something clicked and he has been stellar since then. Bryan Mitchell struggled all year in High-A Tampa, but his control improved in a major way this year and he was dominant in a late season promotion to Double-A. If he carries that momentum into 2014 he has top 100 prospect written all over him. Jake Cave finally had a healthy full season campaign and will look to expand on that in 2014. Ramon Flores also really clicked late season and is the consummate professional and patient hitter. Cito Culver abandoned switch hitting last season, and by midseason he learned to hit righty. He broke out late season and was promoted to High-A where he tore pitchers apart. If he can hit like that in 2014 with his defensive ability, he is finally back to being a top prospect.

Rookie Davis had an uptick in stuff in 2013 and managed to control his new stuff. Next year he is likely to be another Encinas, hopefully minus the injury. When I say his stuff is fantastic that is not an underestimation.

Guys like Greg Bird and JR Murphy had big seasons and will look to expand on that and continue to improve. For some reason neither has garnered a ton of attention but both are some of the best in the minors at their respective positions. If either has another season like 2013, they should garner further attention.

Jose Ramirez is a guy who just needs to put together a full season and will be considered a top guy. He just has to stay healthy in 2014. The other Jose, Jose Campos had a successful, healthy 2013 and will be ready to log some serious innings next year. If and when that happens, he could go back to top prospect status.

The last person I would like to mention is Gil Patterson. In 2013 he was getting the lay of the land and implementing some of his policies for the Yankees’ system. Now in his second year, we should start to see some of the effects of his development program and we should see some improvement in the pitching output.

The key to any farm system is health. The Yankees had statistically ridiculous bad luck with injuries in 2013. A relatively healthy season in 2014 from Yankees prospects will result in a major improvement in the perception of their system in 2014. There’s no such thing as a crystal ball and no one can predict the future, but by the law of averages the Yankees are due for a relatively healthy season. If this happens, don’t be surprised if this time next year everyone is talking about the Yankees farm and how good it is.

9 years ago  ::  Oct 16, 2013 - 12:55PM #47
Posts: 66,015

2014 Draft: Baseball America releases first top 50 ranking


The 2014 draft is still seven months away, but this is as good a time as any to start familiarizing yourself with the draft class. Baseball America published their first top 50 draft rankings yesterday, and best of all, you don’t need a subscription to read it. Fifty players with a little blurb on each. Pretty cool. NC State LHP Carlos Rodon predictably tops the list — he’s the best draft prospect since at least Gerrit Cole in 2011, maybe even Bryce Harper in 2010.

“After a below-average 2013 draft, the 2014 class has potential to be the best class since 2011’s banner crop,” says the very first line in the write-up. The Yankees hold the 18th overall pick at the moment — they could lose that for signing a qualified free agent, obviously — and are in position to add a supplemental first round pick or two if their own qualified free agents head elsewhere. Keep in mind that is is mid-October. The high school and college seasons are still weeks away from starting, so those rankings will change a lot between now and the draft. A lot. In all likelihood, someone not on that top 50 list will wind up going in the top ten next June. These rankings are just a snapshot of what’s going on right now, that’s all. They aren’t intended to be some kind of prediction.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
9 years ago  ::  Oct 16, 2013 - 2:54PM #48
Posts: 66,015

2013 Draft Report Cards: First Impressions Of The Draft Classes

October 16, 2013 by Staff Report

We put a final bow on the 2013 draft with our annual team-by-team review of all the selections and how the players’ professional careers have started. Editor in chief John Manuel, managing editor J.J. Cooper and assistant editor Clint Longenecker spoke with scouting directors, as well as other scouting and player development personnel, to break down each of the 30 draft classes.

For most categories, we consider only players who signed professional contracts. The notable exceptions are Most Intriguing Background and The One Who Got Away. Best Late-Round Pick applies to selections from the 10th round or later. Numbers in parentheses indicate the round in which a player was chosen.

Best Draft

1. Pirates

2. Diamondbacks

3. Yankees

4. Athletics

5. Rockies

Best Pure Hitter

1. D.J. Peterson, 3b/1b, Mariners (1)

2. Dominic Smith, 1b, Mets (1)

3. Austin Meadows, of, Pirates (1)

4. Billy McKinney, of, Athletics (1)

5. Colin Moran, 3b, Marlins (1)

Best Power Hitter

Kris Bryant
Kris Bryant (Photo by Cliff Welch)

1. Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs (1)

2. D.J. Peterson, 3b/1b, Mariners (1)

3. Hunter Renfroe, of, Padres (1)

4. Austin Wilson, of, Mariners (2)

5. Aaron Judge, of, Yankees (1)

Fastest Runner

1. Johnny Davis, of, Brewers (22)

2. Omar Garcia, of, Brewers (7)

3. Matt McPhearson, of, D’backs (4)

4. Adam Engel, of, White Sox (19)

5. Champ Stuart, of, Mets (6)

Best Defensive Player

1. Reese McGuire, c, Pirates (1)

2. Luis Guillorme, ss, Mets (10)

3. Stuart Turner, c, Twins (3)

4. J.P. Crawford, ss, Phillies (1)

5. Daniel Rockett, of, Royals (9)

Best Fastball

Jonathan Gray
Jonathan Gray (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

1. Jonathan Gray, rhp, Rockies (1)

2. Kohl Stewart, rhp, Twins (1)

3. Braden Shipley, rhp, D’backs (1)

4. Mark Appel, rhp, Astros (1)

5. Sam Wolff, rhp, Rangers (6)

Best Secondary Pitch

1. Jonathan Gray, rhp, Rockies (1)

2. Marco Gonzales, lhp, Cardinals (1)

3. Rob Kaminsky, lhp, Cardinals (1)

4. Tom Windle, lhp, Dodgers (2)

5. Kohl Stewart, rhp, Twins (1)

Best Pro Debut

College Players

1. Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs (1)

2. Jonathan Gray, rhp, Rockies (1)

3. L.B. Dantzler, 1b, Blue Jays (14)

4. Michael Ratterree, of, Brewers (10)

5. Michael Fish, of, Angels (32)

Junior College Players

1. Vic Caratini, 3b/c, Braves (2)

2. Omar Garcia, of, Brewers (7)

3. Tim Anderson, ss, White Sox (1)

4. Kenny Mathews, lhp, Indians (7)

5. Toby Thomas, ss, White Sox (21)

High School Players

Austin Meadows
Austin Meadows (Photo by Mike Janes)

1. Austin Meadows, of, Pirates (1)

2. Justin Williams, of, D’backs (2)

3. Gosuke Katoh, 2b, Yankees (2)

4. Ryan McMahon, 3b, Rockies (2)

5. Reese McGuire, c, Pirates (1)

Best Athlete

1. Kohl Stewart, rhp, Twins (1)

2. Cord Sandberg, of, Phillies (3)

3. Trey Ball, lhp, Red Sox (1)

4. Adam Engel, of, White Sox (19)

5. Jacob Hannemann, of, Cubs (3)

Most Intriguing Background

Baseball Relatives

1. Mike Yastrzemski, of, Orioles (14)

2. Joe Jackson, c, Rangers (5)

3. Colin Moran, 3b, Marlins (1)

4. Jacob May, of, White Sox (3)

5. Ben Verlander, of, Tigers (14)

Human Interest

1. Chad Jones, lhp, Reds (9)

2. Tanner Vavra, 2b, Twins (30)

3. Max Beatty, rhp, Padres (32)

4. Luke Farrell, rhp, Royals (6)

5. David Ledbetter (3) and Ryan Ledbetter (19), rhps, Rangers

Closest To The Majors

College Players

Michael Lorenzen
Michael Lorenzen (Photo by Larry Goren)

1. Michael Lorenzen, rhp, Reds (1s)

2. Kyle Crockett, lhp, Indians (4)

3. Jonathan Gray, rhp, Rockies (1)

4. Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs (1)

5. Mark Appel, rhp, Astros (1)

High School Players

1. Kohl Stewart, rhp, Twins (1)

2. Tyler Danish, rhp, White Sox (2)

3. Hunter Harvey, rhp, Orioles (1)

4. Austin Meadows, of, Pirates (1)

5. Clint Frazier, of, Indians (1)

Best Late-Round Pick

1. Rowdy Tellez, 1b, Blue Jays (30)

2. Tony Rizzotti, rhp, Padres (25)

3. Trevor Clifton, rhp, Cubs (12)

4. Billy Roth, rhp, Pirates (16)

5. Kyle Westwood, rhp, Astros (13)

The Ones Who Got Away

College Players

1. A.J. Vanegas, rhp, Athletics (19)

2. Ross Kivett, 2b, Indians (10)

3. Ben Wetzler, lhp, Phillies (5)

4. Jason Monda, of, Phillies (6)

5. Jason Jester, rhp, Padres (30)

High School Players

1. Phil Bickford, rhp, Blue Jays (1)

2. Matt Krook, lhp, Marlins (1s)

3. Ben DeLuzio, 2b, Marlins (3)

4. Connor Jones, rhp, Padres (21)

5. Kyle Serrano, rhp, Rockies (29)

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
9 years ago  ::  Oct 16, 2013 - 4:00PM #49
Posts: 32,868

Would You Give Up A Draft Pick This Offseason?


First off, let’s assume that the Yankees’ 18th overall pick remains at 18, although it can’t go anywhere but up at this point. Let’s also assume that the Yankees offer Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Hiroki Kuroda qualifying offers. Finally, the team plans to spend just $189 million towards their 2014 budget this offseason, and while it sounds like they won’t be able to do much, the team could have just under $100 million (after arbitration, player benefits, options) to spend if Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the whole year.

But the organization has a lot to do, and $100 million can deplete rather quickly. A Cano extension will probably take up a quarter of that money alone, and then there’s just $75 million to spend on obtaining a real catcher, a third baseman, a backup short stop, a left-handed designated hitter or outfielder, replacements for Phil Hughes, Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte, as well as replacements in the bullpen for Mariano Rivera and Boone Logan. It’s going to be a busy offseason.

There are obviously plenty of needs, there’s some money to spend, and the free agent market should be much stronger than last year, but are the Yankees in the position to sign a big name free agent and give up that 18th overall draft pick? The Yankees are in a rebuilding process. They’re coming off a season where they kept three first round draft picks, they traded away just one prospect in Corey Black, they’ve hired a new pitching coordinator in Gil Patterson, and it looks like they’re putting an emphasis on further development. We already know that the team plans to use a budget in 2014, so it looks like this type of competitive rebuilding phase will continue.

So if the Yankees are looking to compete and rebuild at the same time, do you yet again avoid players that cost you draft picks? The team could certainly use more power in the outfield, they could use a real catcher, and some established starting pitchers. Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran make perfect sense for the team, but chances are that they’ll both receive qualifying offers, they’ll both cost a team draft picks. Are they worth it?

While the Yankees are maximizing their depth in the minors and trying to compete at the same time, sacrificing a draft pick is a difficult dilemma to deal with. In the fall of 2008, the Yankees were willing to give up every and any draft pick they had, in order to acquire A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira. You could look at the 2009 World Series victory and use that as an example of why draft picks are too heavily valued. But in 2008, the team was more established than it is now, their farm system had already produced a number of high-potential players, they had more money to spend per position, and the free agent market was much more impressive.

But looking at this free agent market, there should be a number of players that can help without costing draft picks. We’ve already highlighted Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu here, two international free agents that look to have huge immediate potential. Meanwhile, there are a couple of establish players like Matt Garza who will not be eligible for a qualifying offer due to a mid-season trade. Tim Lincecum, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Scott Kazmir all have top of the rotation upside, but may avoid qualifying offers due to their recent volatility.

The way the Yankees have operated over the last few years, I don’t see them giving up any draft picks this winter. There’s so much mid-level depth in this free agent market that I believe they’ll even let Granderson and Kuroda walk for their compensation picks. It’s not something we’re used to as Yankee fans, but it’s hard to argue with the results. It’s a good time to rebuild, and the Yankees showed that in 2013 by both competing and adding an immense amount of depth to their organization. This philosophy will continue for now, but I also worry that they could be on the verge of losing that Yankee factor that led them to the 2009 World Series. That spending bug, that reckless disregard for the future, that win-now attitude looks to be in jeopardy, and perhaps that’s for the best.

9 years ago  ::  Oct 17, 2013 - 7:37PM #50
Posts: 32,868

Thinking About Possible Rule 5 Casualties



In a little less than 2 months, the MLB Winter Meetings will wrap up and hot stove season will be brought to a full boil.  At the end of the meetings, the 2013 Rule 5 Draft will be held and the Yankees could find themselves in a tricky spot for that draft this year.  It’s no secret that the Yankees have a crowded 40-man roster on their hands right now.  It’s something that seems to have been a growing problem for the past few years, a byproduct of an aging roster full of big contracts and an organizational desire to both protect its top prospects and keep the below-replacement level players blocking them around (see: Nix, Jayson or Stewart, Chris).  With an unknown number of roster spots opening up and a large group of Rule 5 eligible players worth protecting, the Yankees might be at risk of losing a useful prospect or 2.

The top Rule 5 eligible player in the system would have been J.R. Murphy.  He was already added to the 40-man during the season when Austin Romine suffered his concussion, so there’s one player protected.  Slade Heathcott headlines the list of former draft picks who are eligible, along with Bryan Mitchell, Shane Greene, Chase Whitley, Tommy Kahnle, Zach Nuding, and Dan Burawa.  That’s 6 Double-A or higher arms, 3 of which could conceivably make an impact in the Major League bullpen as early as next season, and a near consensus top 5 organizational prospect.  It gets better.  The big international signing who was just announced as eligible for the draft this winter is none other than Gary Sanchez.

So the Yankees have 8 players to protect and it’s a good bet there aren’t going to be 8 available spots, so who gets protected and who gets thrown in the draft pool?  Sanchez and Heathcott are no doubters and they’ll surely be protected as soon as roster spots are available.  Mitchell also seems like a lock to be protected despite a level of MiL production that has never matched his talent.  He pitched to a 3.47 FIP in High-A Tampa this year and looked pretty good in 3 late-season Double-A starts.  The organization has always been high on him because of his stuff and at age 22 he still has plenty of time to put it together.  With his upside, a team could take a chance on him if he were left out there.

The remaining group of 5 pitchers is where things start to get difficult.  Greene had an outstanding year split between High-A (2.57 FIP)  and Double-A (3.49), and finally showed improved command to match his mid-90s stuff.  Coming off the season he had, the Yankees would probably like to see what he does for an encore.  Another good year in Double-A/Triple-A and suddenly he finds himself in the picture for the 2015 rotation.

Whitley headlines the 4 relievers as the senior member of that group.  He’s had 2 solid years in the SWB bullpen and it came as a surprise (at least to me it did) that Preston Claiborne got called up to the show over him.  Burawa and Nuding pitched in the AZFL last year and both have struggled with their command, Nuding as a starter and a reliever.  And Kahnle, another hard-throwing/shaky command reliever, was rumored to be on the table at the trade deadline when the Yanks were working to acquire Michael Young from Philly.  All 4 of these guys have something to offer as future pieces of a Major League bullpen, but their uneven performances at the lower levels of the system make them much easier to leave unprotected.

In a perfect world, the Yankees would love to hold onto all 8 of these players.  Their lack of commitment to a full-scale rebuild certainly hasn’t stopped them from going into major prospect hugging mode the last few years.  The 40-man world they’ve created for themselves is far from perfect, however, and unless the front office decides to non-tender Joe Girardi favorites like Stewart and Nix, straight up release guys like Ichiro and Vernon Wells, and fill some of their departing free agent holes with internal players already on the 40-man, there just won’t be room at the inn for everybody.  To protect Sanchez, Heathcott, and Mitchell is smart and should be the priority.  They’re easily the 3 most important prospects who are Rule 5 eligible.  Losing a potentially good starter in Greene or a middle relief option like Whitley might be the price the Yanks have to pay to do it.

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