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Random Minor League Notes: 2014 Edition
8 years ago  ::  Sep 01, 2014 - 1:40PM #811
Posts: 32,868

Now that Zelous Wheeler is back in the big leagues, the Yankees have six minor league position players on the 40-man roster, and not one of them is an infielder. The question is how many extra catchers and outfielders the Yankees really want/need for the final month of the season. 

OF Zoilo Almonte
Another strong bet for a call-up. Although Almonte is a switch hitter, his potential impact comes as a left-handed power bat who can play the outfield corners and possibly provide some pop. That said, when Almonte’s been up previously this season, Joe Girardi has been hesitant to use him. As a September call-up, he’d probably be a fifth outfielder at best behind fourth outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. Good be to be called up, just not a good bet to see much playing time unless the Yankees fall completely out of the race.

OF Ramon Flores
Two ways to look at this one. On the one hand, Flores had a nice year in Triple-A and has some tools that could come in handy. On the other hand, he missed much of the year with an ankle injury, and aside from one huge game, he really hasn’t hit much since coming off the disabled list. Do the Yankees really have any kind of role for another left-handed outfielder? Especially if Almonte comes up, how is Flores going to get any sort of playing time?

OF Slade Heathcott
Out with yet another injury and not a call-up candidate. Upside is still significant enough that I have to believe the Yankees would strongly prefer not to put him on the 60-day disabled list and start any sort of big league clock, but it’s also becoming hard to ignore the fact that his star has faded considerably. Just hasn’t stayed healthy enough to have any real idea what to expect from him going foward.

C John Ryan Murphy / C Austin Romine
Two different guys, but it’s pretty hard to separate them at this point. Neither put up particularly good numbers in Triple-A this season, but each one has enough big league experience to serve as a dependable third catcher for the final month. On his own, either one would be a lock for September. With both on the roster, the question is whether the Yankees will call up both or simply chose one.

C Gary Sanchez
Still might be the Yankees top hitting prospect this side of Aaron Judge, but his Double-A numbers aren’t overwhelming and the Yankees already have more catchers than they need with Murphy and Romine in the September mix. Maybe the Yankees have seen something from Sanchez and want to reward him, but it seems more likely that they’ll go with one or two of the more experienced young catchers and let Sanchez begin making his big league case next season in Triple-A.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 01, 2014 - 4:22PM #812
Posts: 32,868

Jaron Long named Trenton Thunder Pitcher of the Year

The honor is well deserved after Long pitched to a 2.35 ERA and 2.80 FIP while showing excellent control with a 1.43 BB/9 in 69 innings at Double-A Trenton. Perhaps his greatest strength has been his ability to keep the ball on the ground, surrendering only two home runs all season and owning an astounding 1.93 GO/AO ratio. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here in 2015.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 01, 2014 - 11:53PM #813
Posts: 32,868



DotF: GCL Yanks drop decisive Game Three of GCL Finals on final day of minor league season


This is the final DotF of the year, folks. The 2014 minor league season is over for all six of the Yankees’ affiliates. The Arizona Fall League season starts on October 7th — the Yankees are sending several high-profile prospects to the desert this year — and the other winter leagues start, well, in the winter, but we’ll keep you updated along the way. Until then, DotF is on hiatus until the AzFL.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (2-1 win over Lehigh Valley, walk-off style) completion of yesterday’s game, which was suspended due to rain in the top of the eighth

  • 2B-SS Jose Pirela: 0-4, 1 K — hit .305/.351/.442 with 21 doubles, eleven triples, ten homers, 15 steals, 37 walks, and 73 strikeouts in 130 games
  • DH Chris Young: 0-3, 1 K — played yesterday, not today
  • PH-DH Scott Sizemore: 0-1, 1 K — played today, not yesterday
  • CF Zoilo Almonte: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • RF Ramon Flores: 0-4, 1 K
  • C John Ryan Murphy: 2-3, 1 2B – played yesterday, not today … finishes the season with a .246/.292/.397 batting line and nine doubles, six homers, 13 walks, and 42 strikeouts in 51 Triple-A games, a disappointing follow-up to last year’s breakout
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-1, 1 2B, 1 RBI — took Murphy’s spot in the lineup today and hit a walk-off double
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 5/2 GB/FB — 30 of 50 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 1/1 GB/FB – 26 of 44 pitches were strikes (59%) … back up from Trenton for the final weekend of the season … finishes the year with a 79/30 K/BB in 62 innings after a 66/42 K/BB in 66 innings last year
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 24 of 39 pitches for strikes (62%) … last year’s seventh rounder climbed four levels this year and posted a 2.67 ERA with a 83/18 K/BB in 60.2 innings
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — eleven of 18 pitches were strikes (61%) … last year’s tenth rounder climbed three levels this summer and had a 97/22 K/BB in 69.2 innings

Triple-A Scranton Game Two (4-1 win over Lehigh Valley in seven innings) finished the year at 68-76, 13.5 games back in the North Division

  • CF Zoilo Almonte: 1-4 – finishes the Triple-A season hitting .261/.309/.437 with 18 homers and 105 strikeouts in 105 games
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 K — finishes the season at .317/.385/.495 with 163 hits (second most in the system), 38 doubles (most), 14 homers, 55 walks, and 105 strikeouts in 135 games … he had an 82/84 K/BB in 130 games last year
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K – finishes the year with a .300/.391/.548 batting line while leading the system in homers (26) and strikeouts (144) … well, technically Peter O’Brien led in homers (33), but you know what I mean
  • 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
  • C Austin Romine: 3-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — pretty sure he’ll be up with the big league team tomorrow, especially after he started playing some first base down here
  • RF Ramon Flores: 1-3 — ends the season with a .255/.344/.474 line in only 67 games due to the ankle injury … his nine homers were more than he hit last year (six in 136 games) or the year before (seven in 132)
  • LF Taylor Dugas: 1-2, 1 RBI — the team’s 2012 eighth rounder hit .299/.394/.390 this year with more strikeouts (59) than walks (47) for the first time in his career
  • LHP Nik Turley: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 5/5 GB/FB — 42 of 65 pitches were strikes (65%), plus he picked a runner off first … after missing the start of the year with an unknown arm injury, he had a 48/45 K/BB in 65 innings
  • LHP Matt Tracy: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 22 of 35 pitches were strikes (63%) … his 151 innings were second most in the system behind Zach Nuding (154)

Double-A Trenton (7-3 loss to Reading) finished the year at 67-75, 21.0 games back in the Eastern Division

  • DH Jake Cave: 0-5, 3 K — despite the 0-fer, he led the system with 165 hits this summer and hit .294/.349/.414 with 29 doubles, nine triples, seven homers, 12 steals, 46 walks, and 124 strikeouts in 132 games
  • LF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 2 BB — hit .261/.305/.340 with 31 doubles, two homers, 13 steals, 36 walks, and 88 strikeouts in 131 games in 2014 … he’s Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter but I would be very surprised if they add him to the 40-man roster
  • 1B Greg Bird: 2-2, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 BB, 1 E (fielding) – finishes the year at .271/.376/.471 with 30 doubles, 14 homers, 63 walks, and 97 strikeouts in 102 games after missing the start of the season with a back injury
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-5, 1 R, 1 RBI — disaster season ends with a .223/.286/.303 batting line, 18 doubles, four triples, five homers, 21 steals (in 29 attempts, 72%), 47 walks, 68 strikeouts, and a halfway of benchings for insubordination, not running balls out, etc.
  • LHP Jeremy Bleich: 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 7/2 GB/FB, 1 E (throwing) — 45 of 70 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Nick Goody: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 16 of 31 pitches were strikes (52%) … 46/15 K/BB in 31 innings in his return from Tommy John surgery
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 0.1 IP, zeroes — five pitches, four strikes … 51/26 K/BB in 51.1 innings this year after 59/25 in 45.1 innings last year and 99/22 in 64.1 the year before

High-A Tampa‘s season ended yesterday. They finished the season at 71-68, 6.5 games back in the North Division

Low-A Charleston (2-0 loss to Augusta) finished at 71-69, 19.0 games back in the Southern Division

  • SS Tyler Wade: 0-4, 2 K — last year’s fourth rounder hit .274/.353/.352 with 24 doubles, one homer, 22 steals, 57 walks, and 116 strikeouts on the season
  • LF Michael O’Neill: 0-4 — Paulie’s nephew and last year’s third rounder finishes the season with a .256/.331/.384 line, 23 doubles, ten homers, a system-leading 42 steals (in 51 attempts, 82%), 42 walks, and 133 strikeouts
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-3 — had a rough start to the year, but finished well and has a .267/.317/.397 batting line to go along with 25 doubles, ten homers, 35 walks, and 83 strikeouts in 127 games
  • RHP Gabe Encinas: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 3/1 GB/FB — 36/20 K/BB in 39.1 innings coming off Tommy John surgery
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 37/13 K/BB in 39 innings after throwing only 27 innings from 2010-13 due to a series of arm injuries

Short Season Staten Island (3-1 loss to Brooklyn)

  • 1B Connor Spencer: 1-4, 2 K – ends the season on a 22-game hitting streak
  • LF Chris Breen: 0-4, 1 K — ends the year with .281/.376/.504 with 16 doubles, eight homers, 33 walks, and 71 strikeouts in 63 games
  • 3B Ty McFarland: 1-4, 1 K, 2 E (fielding, throwing) – 19 errors in 62 games for this year’s tenth rounder
  • C Luis Torrens: 1-2, 1 BB — 18-year-old ends the season with a .256/.335/.383 with 14 doubles, three homers, 20 walks, and 50 strikeouts in 62 games around a shoulder injury
  • RF Austin Aune: 0-3, 1 K — threw a runner out at home … cut his strikeout rate from 43.6% last year to 39.6% this year, so yay progress
  • LHP Rony Bautista: 2 IP, zeroes, 4 K, 2/0 GB/FB — the 6-foot-7 southpaw ends the year with 68/31 K/BB in 47 innings

Rookie GCL Yanks1 (8-1 loss to GCL Red Sox) they lost the best-of-three GCL Championship Series two games to one

  • DH Jorge Mateo: 0-4, 3 K — 19-year-old hit .276/.354/.397 with five doubles, one triple, no homers, eleven steals (in 12 attempts), seven walks, and 17 strikeouts in 15 games around the hand injury
  • SS Thairo Estrada: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K – 18-year-old hit .272/.337/.309 with three doubles, no homers, eight steals (in nine attempts), seven walks, and eleven strikeouts in 23 games around an unknown injury
  • RF Alex Palma: 0-4 — 18-year-old hit .305/.318/.451 with 13 doubles, three triples, four homers, nine steals (in nine attempts), three walks, and 15 strikeouts in 52 games in his U.S. debut
  • CF Leonardo Molina: 2-3 — hit only .193/.267/.260 with ten doubles, one homer, six steals (in seven attempts), 19 walks, and 51 strikes in his 53 games in his pro debut … he played most of the year at age 16 (turned 17 on July 31st)
  • LHP Jonny Drozd: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB – the 6-foot-7 undrafted free agent finishes his pro career with a 26/1 K/BB in 17.1 innings

The Rookie GCL Yanks2 season is over. They were eliminated by the GCL Yanks1 in the first round of the postseason.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 03, 2014 - 10:56AM #814
Posts: 32,868

Yankees prospect watch: My visit to the Trenton Thunder and a Luis Severino start


8 years ago  ::  Sep 03, 2014 - 1:27PM #815
Posts: 32,868

John Ryan Murphy, C

John Ryan Murphy, C
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press 
Murphy will look to add a boost to the Bronx in his second stint with the big league team in 2014.

John Ryan Murphy, the 2009 second-round pick, typifies the all-around, solid option behind the plate. With no plus tools, the 5'11", 195-pound catcher has improved in his primary area of strength—defense—every step of the way in the minors, and his line-drive bat has been coming along.

Baseball America notes (subscription required) that "his line-drive bat produces consistent solid contact to the gaps with fringe-average power."

He made his major league debut in September 2013, going 4-for-26 (.154) with a double, RBI and walk in 16 games. Baseball America called 2013 his best offensive season to date, as Murphy hit .270 (117 wRC+, per FanGraphs) with 19 doubles and six homers. He also caught 105 games, which led the minor leagues.

On his catching, Baseball America adds: "After years of hard work, he improved his footwork and his release and gunned down 37 percent of basestealers at Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre [in 2013]. He has become a much better, quieter receiver, though he can get a little stabby behind the plate at times."

After losing the backup job (Brian McCann) to Francisco Cervelli this spring, Murphy began the year at Scranton with fellow catcher Austin Romine. With Cervelli injured early, however, Murphy was in the Bronx by April 16 and stayed through mid-June, where he hit .286 (18-for-63), including his first big league homer, two doubles and eight RBI.

In Scranton, Murphy hit .246 with six home runs and 28 RBI prior to his call-up. He'll provide insurance at catcher, should the Yankees desire to use McCann as a designated hitter more down the stretch, and he could jump in for Cervelli, who has cooled off in August, going 11-for-48 (.229).

8 years ago  ::  Sep 03, 2014 - 1:29PM #816
Posts: 32,868


Chase Whitley, RHP


Chase Whitley, RHP
Whitley was 3-3 with a 4.76 in 12 starts for the Yankees this season.

The 6'3", 215-pound right-hander was selected by the Yankees in the 15th round of the 2010 draft out of Troy University, where he mostly played third base and closed out ballgames. If you've watched Chase Whitley pitch in 2014, you've probably noticed his unorthodox delivery. 

Baseball America writes: "His position-player background is part of the reason for his funky, high-elbow arm action, which gives him some deception."

His fastball tops out at an underwhelming 90-91 mph, but, as Baseball America notes, "His secondary stuff sets him apart." He has a plus changeup (thrown 24 percent of the time in 2014) and slider (31 percent).

Of the former, Baseball America highlights his tricky arm speed, late sink and, above all, confidence throwing the pitch. Of the latter, it's the swings and misses—though it's his change that has generated the highest SwStr (swinging strike) percentage at 22.5 this season.

Whitley, prior to his return to Scranton, posted a slightly above-average ground-ball rate in pinstripes (46 percent), and in a dozen starts, he put up a 4.76 while going 3-3. From April to mid-May, he appeared in seven games at Triple-A and returned for three more this past month. He went 3-2 in six total starts, and in his 10 games overall, he had an excellent 2.01 ERA, 1.76 FIP and 10.63 K/9 and didn't allow one long ball.

Whitley offers spot starts to a very depleted rotation, and he could factor in a big way by both lengthening the bullpen in middle relief or by coming in for a few outs with his experience on the back end of a staff.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 03, 2014 - 1:30PM #817
Posts: 32,868


Preston Claiborne, RHP


Preston Claiborne, RHP
Al Bello/Getty Images 
Claiborne, after struggling out of the gate this spring, has only appeared in 15 games at the major league level.

Preston Claiborne, the Yankees' 2010 17th-rounder, established his late-inning role in 2013, his first season in the bigs, but fell out of favor quickly in 2014. In 50.1 innings last season—30.1 of which came in the seventh inning or later—he pitched to a 4.11 ERA (3.88 xFIP) with 42 strikeouts and 14 walks. He did struggle with the long ball, though, surrendering seven of them for a paltry 12.3 HR/FB.

He stumbled in a large way in camp this year, allowing 14 hits and nine earned runs in only 5.2 innings over seven games (14.29 ERA) and slotting himself down to Triple-A for the start to his sophomore season. He was recalled on April 20 and remained in the Bronx until early June, where he found some solace with a 3.57 ERA and 1.528 WHIP, but he allowed more than a hit per inning and walked nine in just more than 17 innings of work (4.6 BB/9).

Claiborne pitched 20.1 innings in Scranton this season, posting a 3.01 FIP and decent 8.85 K/9 (20 K), but he still struggled with his command (4.87 BB/9, 11 BB) and was knocked around a bit (8.9 H/9, 20 H).

The 26-year-old throws a fastball around 89-92 mph, a hard slider touching 84 and solid changeup. He generates the highest strikeout rate with his changeup (33 percent in 2014) and the best SwStr with his slider (21.2 percent). 

If there's a bright spot, it's that Claiborne has allowed just one homer this year (with the Yankees), which could benefit him and the pen in a stopgap role—especially in the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. Perhaps the Texas native will regain his footing and confidence with this recent call-up and eat a few innings for the trio of Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 03, 2014 - 1:31PM #818
Posts: 32,868


Bryan Mitchell, RHP


Bryan Mitchell, RHP
Mitchell made his MLB debut for the Yankees in one August game.

After the 2013 season, Baseball America said the 6'3", 205-pounder "may be the system's biggest tease, with tremendous stuff paired with mediocre results." Bryan Mitchell, the Yankees' 16th-round pick in 2009, led the Florida State League (A+) in wild pitches last season (23), and his 5.12 ERA was among the worst.

MLB.com ranked the 23-year-old Reidsville, North Carolina, native the No. 20 Yankees prospect for 2014, writing that "the Yankees have waited for his production to catch up with his potential" but pointing out that "he's still not missing as many bats as his stuff suggests he should."

A fastball touching 97 mph and a power curve at 84 are his two go-to pitches, and he adds a low-90s cutter and work-in-progress changeup. 

He finished the 2013 season with a promotion and three starts for Double-A Trenton, going 18.2 innings with a 1.93 ERA and 16 strikeouts. He seems to have figured it out this season, beginning the year in Trenton (61.1 IP, 60 K, 4.09 FIP) and earning a promotion to Scranton, where he's totaled 41.2 innings over eight starts (4-2, 3.67 ERA, 34 K). He could still use improvement in his command and control—the main knocks on Mitchell—as he has allowed 16 walks for a 3.46 BB/9.

It's likely why Baseball America cautioned: "Mitchell invites questions about his mental toughness and wrinkles that need to be ironed out in his delivery, namely finding a more consistent release point."

In his big league debut on August 10, a loss to Cleveland, Mitchell went two innings of relief on no hits, two strikeouts and one walk. MLB.com concludes: "Mitchell often is compared to former Yankee A.J. Burnett for his build and his stuff. Burnett also developed slowly in the Minors, lending hope that Mitchell eventually will figure things out." 

Perhaps his first extended time in the majors this September will see the young right-hander carve out a nice niche in the final month of the regular season. Depending on how Girardi wants to utilize him, we could see a start or two for Mitchell in the final month.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2014 - 10:12AM #819
Posts: 32,868

Minor League All-Star Team 2014


DH Aaron Judge • Yankees
High Class A Tampa (Florida State) • Low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)

SP Luis Severino • Yankees
Low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic) • Double-A Trenton (Eastern) • High Class A Tampa (Florida State)

8 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2014 - 10:26AM #820
Posts: 32,868

2014 Minor League Awards

Judge. (MiLB.com)

Judge. (MiLB.com)

After the nightmare that was 2013, the Yankees’ farm system rebounded to have a strong but not really great year in 2014. It was more of a normal season than anything. There were a few surprises, a few disappointments, a bunch of injuries, and several comebacks. Pretty typical year for a minor league system, and, for the Yankees, a typical year meant a huge step up from last season.

The team’s seven domestic minor league affiliates combined to go 387-373 (.509) this summer, so after having their consecutive winning season streak snapped at 30+ years last year, they got turned things around quickly. None of the four full season affiliates qualified for the postseason, however. Only the two Rookie GCL Yankees squads did. The system has gone back-to-back years without at least one league championship for the first time since 2002-03. That’s kinda lame.

As a reminder, this annual awards post has nothing to do with prospect status. This is all about recognizing 2014′s notable performances in the farm system. Pure production with future outlook taking a backseat. These are also my awards and my opinions, so you’re welcome to disagree. There is no right answer with stuff like this. Here are my 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 awards posts. So, without further delay:

Minor League Player of the Year: 2B Rob Refsnyder
From start to finish, the best and most consistent player in the system this year was Refsnyder. The 23-year-old opened the year with Double-A Trenton, hit .342/.385/.548 (159 wRC+) with 19 doubles and six homers in 60 games, then was promoted up to Triple-A Scranton. Refsnyder hit .296/.386/.453 (135 wRC+) with 19 doubles and eight homers in 77 games with the RailRiders, giving him an overall .317/.385/.495 (~145 wRC+) batting line. The team’s fifth round pick in the 2012 draft led the farm system in batting average (min. 400 PA), doubles (38), and total bases (255) while placing second in hits (163). He also cut his error total from 25 in 108 games last season to 12 in 122 games this season. Refsnyder put himself on the map a year ago and this year he proved he was no fluke. He’s played his way into big league consideration just two years after being drafted and asked to change positions.

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