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Random Minor League Notes: 2014 Edition
8 years ago  ::  Sep 15, 2014 - 3:50PM #851
Posts: 66,015

The resurgence of the Yankees farm system in 2015: Position players

After years of poor performance, 2015 could be the year that the Baby Bombers make people take notice.

It’s well known that the Yankees have failed to produce position players in recent years. Over the past couple of seasons the team has added Mike Quade, James Rowson, Jody Reed, and Trey Hillman to spur improved hitting, fielding, and base running fundamentals. Hal Steinbrenner further invested in fixing the issue by going on a spending spree in the 2014 international free agency period, signing 12 of the top 30 players. This could all begin to pay off, with the continued development of players such as Aaron Judge and Robert Refsnyder. Let’s take a look at 10 position prospects to watch in 2015.

Aaron Judge

Keith Law of ESPN Insider ranked Judge #45 on his midseason top 50 prospects list, saying that Judge, "Could be the middle-of-the-order bat the Yankees have tried to develop for years."

At 6’7" tall, he is an imposing figure on the baseball field with massive power potential. He finished the season with High-A Tampa where he batted .308, clubbed 17 home runs and had an OPS of .905. Judge should start next year with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, where he could put himself into the Yankees outfield mix in 2016.

Gary Sanchez

Sanchez’s stock has taken a hit in 2014. Makeup concerns reared their ugly head again, as Sanchez was benched for almost a week for an unknown reason. His bat also showed little improvement while repeating Double-A, putting up similar numbers with a slightly higher batting average.  After two stagnant seasons in Trenton, I still expect the Yankees to promote him to Triple-A, or possibly deal him this offseason.

Robert Refsnyder

The converted outfielder forced the front office to take notice this season. Arguably the farm system’s best all around hitter, he has forced his way into the second base discussion for next season. Refsnyder doesn’t profile well elsewhere on the field, so he’ll have to show improvement on defense. At the very least, he will start next season in Triple-A Scranton, with an outside shot at making the team in spring training.

Eric Jagielo

The 2013 first rounder spent over a month sidelined due to an oblique injury. While he won’t win any Gold Gloves, his defense should be serviceable. Jagielo showed big power at Tampa with 16 homers and a batting line of.259/.354/460. He should begin next season at Double-A Trenton.

Luis Torrens

Torrens was aggressively pushed to Low-A, where he struggled to begin the season. He then suffered a shoulder injury which cost him two months of development time. Upon returning, he was assigned to Low-A where he put up a line of .270/.327/.405. Praised for his game awareness and solid all-around game, he very well could become the best catcher in the system. Torrens should start next year with Low-A Charleston.

Greg Bird

With Mark Teixeira struggling and often injured, Bird, now at Double-A Trenton, is moving into the Yankees' first base picture. For the year, Bird hit .271/.376/.472 with 14 homers. Defensively, he will be adequate at best, due to a lack of instincts and athleticism. He missed a month due to a back injury, which is worth keeping an eye on in the future as they usually don’t go away. A repeat of last season should put him at Triple-A Scranton by the end of 2015, with a shot at the Bronx in 2016.

Jorge Mateo

Jim Callis of mlb.com had this to say about Mateo in the 2014 Prospect Watch:

"In addition to his speed and defense, Mateo has more upside at the plate than most shortstops. He's wiry strong, and he already shows signs of being able to hit for average and provide double-digit home run totals down the line. Mateo is still just 19 and is six levels removed from the big leagues, but one club official said the organization hasn't had a middle infielder with a ceiling higher than his since Derek Jeter."

The future looks bright for Mateo, but he still has a long way to go to make it. He’ll probably be assigned to Pulaski or Staten Island to begin 2015.

Tyler Austin

After being hampered by a wrist injury last year, Austin started hitting like he did in 2012 late in the season. Austin is a right fielder who can hit for average and has a little pop. With a strong start in 2015, he could become the right-handed outfield option that the Yankees sorely need.

Abiatal Avelino

Avelino is the top shortstop prospect in the organization. He suffered a quad injury that caused him to miss nearly two months and struggled mightily upon returning. Considered a gifted player, he has speed, plus defensive ability, and a solid offensive game. I believe he will return to Charleston because of lost time, but a move to Tampa could be possible.

Miguel Andujar

A sleeper prospect in the system, Andujar had a solid season for Low-A Charleston. He doesn’t have the hype surrounding him, but he put up a nice batting line of .267/.318/.397, with 10 homers. Defensively, there’s still worked to be done as he committed 26 errors in 120 games. When Jagielo heads to Trenton, I would expect him to be promoted to High-A Tampa.

The Yankees have solid talent in their system.  The front office needs to use their financial power to surround these players with the best instructors, evaluators and coaches.  I fully expect that 2015 will be the year that the minor league system makes their mark.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
8 years ago  ::  Sep 16, 2014 - 10:33AM #852
Posts: 32,868

New York Yankees Top 20 2014 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

This morning we turn to the New York Yankees in our series of 2014 farm system reviews. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. This is not a new list. These are pre-season rankings and grades. This is a review of 2014, not a preview of 2015.

This list was originally published March 12, 2014

1) Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, Grade A. 12-4, 2.51 in 18 starts for the Yankees, 135/19 K/BB in 129 innings. Obviously outstanding before the elbow injury.

2) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+:
Hit .270/.338/.406 with 13 homers, 43 walks, 91 strikeouts in 429 at-bats for Double-A Trenton, threw out 39% of runners although error rate remains high. Not a bad year at age 21 but not dominant either.

3) Greg Bird, 1B, Grade B: Hit .277/.375/.442 in 274 at-bats for High-A Tampa, then .253/.379/.558 in 95 at-bats for Double-A Trenton. Still profiles as low-batting average hitter with good OBP and power.

4) Eric Jagielo, 3B, Grade B: Hit .259/.354/.460 in 309 at-bats for Tampa, 16 homers, 38 walks, 93 strikeouts. Defense was rough and he had to fight injuries but finished strong. Like Bird, a low-average hitter with power and hopefully OBP. Age 22.

5) Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade B-: Played just nine games due to knee injury.

6) J. R. Murphy, C, Grade B-: Hit .246/.292/.397 in 196 at-bats in Triple-A, .292/.311/.375 in 74 at-bats in the majors. Seems likely to have a career as a role player. Age 23.

7) Tyler Austin, OF, Grade B-: Hit .275/.336/.419 with nine homers, 36 walks, 80 strikeouts in 396 at-bats for Trenton. Production slightly above league norms at 110 wRC+. He had a bad wrist last year and it may have still been bothering him early this season; he had a slow start but hit .336/.397/.557 in his last month of action. Age 23, needs to get his momentum back in ’15.

8) Aaron Judge, OF, Grade B-: Hit .333/.428/.530 with nine homers for Low-A Charleston in 234 at-bats, then .283/.441/.442 with eight homers in 233 at-bats for Tampa. Combined for 89 walks, 131 strikeouts. Did a good job with power, only stole one base despite projecting as a steal threat pre-season. Age 22. Stock up.

9) Luis Severino, RHP, Grade B-: Dominant season in Low-A, High-A, Double-A, combined for 2.46 ERA, 127/27 K/BB in 113 innings, 93 hits. Scouting reports are as good as the numbers; this breakthrough candidate broke through. Age 20, at least a B+ at this point.

10) Ian Clarkin, LHP, Grade B-: Successful full-season debut for 2013 first-rounder, posted, 3.12 ERA with 75/23 K/BB in 75 innings for Charleston and Tampa, 71 hits. Age 19.

Must Reads

New York Yankees Top 20 Prospects for 2014

John Sickels

11) Gosuke Katoh, 2B, Grade B-: Hit .222/.345/.326 with three homers, 71 walks, 142 strikeouts, 20 steals in 383 at-bats for Charleston. Good patience, but lacks power at this point. Age 19.

12) Mason Williams, OF, Grade C+: Hit .223/.290/.304 with 21 steals, 47 walks, 68 strikeouts in 507 at-bats for Trenton. Second-straight disappointing season, reports remain good on glove but has made no progress with the hitting and is now 23. Stock declining.

13) Jose Ramirez, RHP, Grade C+: 5.40 ERA in 10 big league innings, 10/7 K/BB. Sent down to Scranton in July and went on the DL almost immediately. Good arm, can still be a good reliever if he stays healthy and improves his command. Age 24.

14) Dellin Betances, RHP, Grade C+: Incredible season in Yankees bullpen, 1.37 ERA with 128/23 K//BB in 86 innings, just 42 hits allowed. He’s found his niche.

15) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade C+: Tommy John recovery season, pitched High-A, Double-A, Triple-A combining for 4.11 ERA, 71/31 K/BB in 77 innings, 64 hits. Age 23, now needs to show how he handles larger workload next year.

16) Rafael De Paula, RHP, Grade C+: Traded to San Diego Padres, posted 4.92 ERA with 145/55 K/BB in 132 innings between Tampa and Lake Elsinore in the California League, 135 hits. Age 23, no question about the arm strength but still working on consistency.

17) Luis Torrens, C, Grade C+: Hit .270/.327/.405 with two homers, 14 walks, 41 strikeouts in 185 at-bats for Staten Island in the New York-Penn League. Threw out 42% of runners but gave up 14 passed balls in 39 games. Age 18, good reports on his defensive potential.

18) Jose Campos, RHP, Grade C+: Missed season with Tommy John surgery.

19) Miguel Andujar, 3B, Grade C+: Borderline C. Hit .267/.318/.397 with 10 homers, 35 walks, 83 strikeouts in 484 at-bats for Charleston. League-average production from a 19 year old, but hit .319/.367/.456 in second half of the season; breakthrough candidate for 2015.

20) Nik Turley, LHP, Grade C+: Borderline C. 4.62 ERA with 44/43 K/BB in 60 innings for Scranton, 55 hits. Disappointing slippage in K/BB ratio with increase in walks and decline in strikeouts compared to his previous standards. Age 25.

This is a farm system in a transitional phase, both in terms of talent turnover and imminent changes in the Yankees front office. While the farm system has been criticized frequently over the years, the fact is that several key members of the pitching staff are home-grown, including bullpen stalwart David Robertson, Adam Warren, David Phelps, rookie relief sensation Dellin Betances, and a pair of 15th round rookie sleepers who’ve proved useful in Shane Greene and Chase Whitley. The organization has shown the ability to find useable pitchers in later rounds of the draft and that’s a good skill to have.

Shane Greene, photo by Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

Pitching is also present on the farm, with Ian Clarkin and Luis Severino solidifying their standing among the better pitching prospects in all of baseball. Manny Banuelos and Bryan Mitchell could be ready for larger roles next year. Austin DeCarr and Jacob Lindgren from the 2014 draft add additional depth.

Lack of impact bats is an issue. The "future stars" outfield trio of Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott, and Mason Williams that got so much hype a couple of years ago disintegrated due to injuries and general ineffectiveness in Double-A. They could still be role players, but the strongest hopes for regular bats now rest on Greg Bird, Eric Jagielo, and Aaron Judge. Jake Cave and Robert Refsnyder are also moving up the prospect lists quickly. There are no certain stars in that group, either, but this summer’s massive investment in Latin American talent may change that in a few years.

The Yankees ranked 21st among the 30 farm systems for me pre-season. That could improve quickly over the next few campaigns if the ’14 international class lives up to expectations.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 16, 2014 - 10:35AM #853
Posts: 32,868

In a lost season, this Yankee has been an unlikely success story

BALTIMORE — In a lost season, the Yankees have found a pitcher to keep in Shane Greene.

Greene was the winner in the Yankees’ 3-2 victory over the Orioles Saturday at Camden Yards, making him the only Yankees pitcher to twice beat first-place Baltimore this season.

In his first win over the Orioles, a 3-0 victory on July 12, Greene struck out nine. He also struck out nine batters over 5 ¹/â�� innings Saturday, and according to researcher Katie Sharp, Greene is the first Yankees pitcher to strike out nine in back-to-back starts against the Orioles since Ron Guidry in 1979.

The Yankees are 4-10 vs. the Orioles this season. Greene, 25, will play a major role for the Yankees next season, unless they trade him in a deal for a shortstop.

He is having success as a result of losing his slider last year, then trying to find it and developing a hard slider along the way. “It’s crazy,’’ Greene told The Post.

“Last year my slow one disappeared, I couldn’t find it, so I started toying around with different grips and as a result I found the harder one,’’ Greene said. “I threw the hard one for two months and then one day the slow one just came back and it’s been there ever since.’’

How the Yankees found Greene is crazy, too.

Picture this tryout at a quiet field in Clermont, Fla., in 2009: The young man on the mound is coming back from Tommy John surgery. His best friend is catching him. His best friend’s younger sister is holding the radar gun. The MLB draft is four weeks away and the only reason this tryout is being held is because the area scout promised the pitcher’s father on a hunting trip to Alabama that he would take a look at his son, Shane Greene.

The scout goes to the tryout not expecting much.

The first pitch is thrown, and the scout, who was standing down the line to get a good look at the pitcher’s delivery, asks for the radar reading.

The young girl yells: “92.’’

The scout shakes his head in disbelief. Greene throws another pitch.

“How much?’’ the scout asks.

“Ninety-two,’’ yells the girl again.

“Oh, my gosh,’’ says the scout.

That’s how Shane Greene wound up a Yankee.

“I told Shane that if you become an All-Star someday, they just might write a book about this,’’ that area scout, Jeff Deardoff, told The Post. Deardoff gave Greene hitting lessons when Greene was 12 but he had no clue Greene would develop into the pitcher he has become.

“Things like that just doesn’t happen, his friend is catching, his friend’s sister holding the radar gun,’’ Deardoff said, still amazed at the story.

“His dad just kept bugging me, ‘Shane wants to throw for you.’ I said OK, you hear this from a million other dads.’’

Deardoff immediately called Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer. Greene then went to the team’s pre-draft camp. He was drafted in the 15th round.

“It’s pretty awesome that Damon took a chance on a guy like that,’’ Deardoff said.

“It’s was one of those situations where it’s why we scout, when a kid like this makes it to the big leagues,’’ Deardoff added, a scout’s dream find. “There is that Shane Greene that you can find that nobody knows about.’’

Greene upped his record to 5-3 on Saturday. In a season of lost games, lost opportunities and lost offense, Greene has been quite the find for the Yankees.

Greene went to the University of West Florida after high school and suffered an elbow injury. The team doctor just happened to be Dr. James Andrews.

“The luck of the draw, he did the surgery,’’ Greene said.

Greene lost his scholarship, transferred to Daytona Beach Community College and was on their developmental squad when he got his Yankee tryout. He only transferred to Daytona Beach because his roommate at West Florida also transferred there.

“We never got to pitch in a game,’’ Greene said. “This is like a movie.’’

A great find in a lost year.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 16, 2014 - 10:36AM #854
Posts: 32,868

Unlike Castillo, Tomas may be the Cuban player who fits the Yankees

One thing is very clear with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season: the Yankees need to improve their offense this offseason. They tried to do it last winter by signing Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann to big free agent contracts (while simultaneously letting one of the best hitters in world leave) but it didn’t work. They’re on pace to score only 627 runs this year, 23 fewer than last year.

The Yankees are locked into players at catcher, first base, left field, center field, maybe third base, and either right field or DH already, so their options to fix the offense are limited. Martin Prado is going to play somewhere — I’d prefer second base until the inevitable Alex Rodriguez injury, but that’s just me — leaving shortstop and either right field or DH as the most obvious places to add an impact bat. There are slated to be plenty of free agent shortstops but not as many impact outfielders outside of Melky Cabrera and Nelson Cruz.

The free agent market is likely to add another potential impact outfield bat in the coming weeks, when MLB officially declares Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas a free agent. (It’s Yasmany, not Yasmani, apparently.) Jesse Sanchez and Ben Balder report that Tomas has already established residency in Haiti and has been unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, an important step needed to become a free agent. Badler says MLB should declare him a free to sign relatively soon.

Tomas, 23, defected back in June and he is scheduled to hold a showcase for scouts in the Dominican Republic this Saturday, according to Badler and Tomas. There’s no word on whether the Yankees (or any other team, for that matter) will be in attendance, but they’ve gone to see every other notable Cuban free agent at their workouts, so I expect them to be there just to do due diligence, at the very least. Here’s what we know about Tomas, first from Sanchez:

Tomas is known for his power and he has a reputation for launching long home runs, but he’s also prone to big swing and misses. He’s agile for his size, and he has a strong arm, but there is room for improvement on defense. As a result, he’s characterized as “high-risk, high-reward” type of player in some international scouting circles. He is said to be in much better physical shape and has worked on his approach at the plate since leaving the island.

And now from Badler:

At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Tomas is a righthanded hitter with plus-plus raw power, although with some swing-and-miss tendencies, and a strong arm that should fit in right field. A standout on Cuba’s 2013 World Baseball Classic team, Tomas hit .290/.346/.450 with six home runs, 21 walks and 46 strikeouts in 257 plate appearances this past season in Cuba’s Serie Nacional.

One scout told Nick Cafardo that Tomas will likely command upwards of $100M while Jay Alou, Tomas’ agent, told Jorge Ebro (translated article) he is shooting for a record deal this winter. The contracts for big name Cuban free agents are only getting bigger and bigger, going from Yoenis Cespedes ($36M) to Yasiel Puig ($42M) to Jose Abreu ($68M) to Rusney Castillo ($72M, the current record for an international position player), so I can totally buy the $100M number, especially since Tomas is several years younger than Abreu and Castillo. It doesn’t sound far-fetched.

The Yankees have an obvious need for a big right-handed power bat and they have room on the roster for right field-type heading into next season. They’ve begun showing more interest in Cuban players this year, reportedly spending much more time scouting Aledmys Diaz and Castillo than they did Cespedes and Puig, even inviting them down to Tampa for private workouts. They didn’t sign either guy but it wasn’t because they didn’t take the time to evaluate them. Like I said, I expect them to do the same with Tomas out of due diligence if nothing else.

The jury is still out on Castillo and Diaz (and Jorge Soler and Alex Guerrero), but Cespedes, Puig, and especially Abreu have all exceeded expectations so far. Alexei Ramirez, Leonys Martin, Jose Iglesias, and Adeiny Hechavarria have all been pretty much exactly what they were expected to be. Dayan Viciedo is the only notable disappointment among the current crop of Cuban big leaguers. We’re talking position players only here, not pitchers. This small sample of players suggests Cuban players have a pretty high success rate when it comes to being at least serviceable big leaguers.

Tomas at the 2013 WBC. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)

(Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)

Does that mean Tomas will work out? Of course not. His propensity to swing-and-miss is a concern, especially since the pitching in Cuba is pretty weak, but 70 power (which is what Badler said Tomas has back in June) is an unteachable skill. Unteachable like Cespedes’ and Abreu’s power or Puig’s freakish athleticism. It’s also a very rare and valuable skill in this era where the entire league seems to have forgotten how to hit. If you want to dream, maybe the big righty pop and swing-and-miss-ability means he’s Alfonso Soriano without the steals. That would be pretty great, actually. Soriano was awesome in his 20s.

I think one of the reasons the Yankees passed on Castillo was because he is an imperfect fit for the roster. (Whether that’s right or wrong is another matter.) He was billed as a leadoff hitter type with strong defense, and, well, the Yankees already have two of those guys in Brett Gardner and Ellsbury. A third isn’t necessary. Tomas profiles more as a middle of the order hitter and that’s something the Yankees desperately need. Add in the fact that he is only 23 (four years younger than Castillo), has a strong right field-caliber arm, and plays a position of need, and you’ve got a player who makes a lot more sense for New York going forward.

As always, information about these Cuban players is very limited. Everything I know about the guy is in this post. The number of teams that pursue Tomas when he becomes a free agent — Cespedes, Abreu, and Castillo (and Masahiro Tanaka, he was in a similar situation) all had multiple top dollar suitors while the Dodgers reportedly blew everyone out of the water for Puig — will tell us more about how teams view him than anything Baseball America publishes. Teams don’t go hard after nobodies. The Yankees went all-in on Tanaka because he was an ace in his mid-20s. If Tomas is a middle of the order hitter in his early-20s, then they need to go all-in on him as well.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 17, 2014 - 10:29AM #855
Posts: 32,868

New York Yankees' 2014 Minor League Awards

Most Valuable Player: Kyle Roller


Kyle Roller put together a phenomenal fifth season in the Yankees organization. Spending time at first base (87 games) and designated hitter (38) in 2014, the large (6'1", 250 pounds) left-handed hitter easily earned recognition as the Most Valuable Player on the farm. 

Along with a combined (AA, AAA) .300 average, Roller mashed 26 homers, 30 doubles and 74 RBI in 125 games. His outstanding 160 wRC+, via FanGraphs, was the highest among viable candidates for the award, and he led both the Trenton Thunder and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in slugging and OPS.

Drafted in the eighth round in 2010, the 26-year-old had never eclipsed .300 over a full season, and he finished at only .253 in a full year with Double-A Trenton a season ago. 

Roller adds excellent organizational depth at first base in addition to players like Greg Bird (A+, AA) and Mike Ford (A, A+).


Runners-up: OF Aaron Judge (131 G, .308, 17 HR, 24 2B, 78 RBI, 158 wRC+); 2B Rob Refsnyder (137 G, .318, 14 HR, 38 2B, 63 RBI, 146 wRC+); 1B/DH Mike Ford (105 G, .292, 13 HR, 19 2B, 56 RBI, 138 wRC+); UTIL Adonis Garcia (86 G, .319, nine HR, 45 RBI, 11 SB, 127 wRC+); UTIL Jose Pirela (130 G, .305, 10 HR, 21 2B, 11 3B, 60 RBI, 15 SB, 117 wRC+).

8 years ago  ::  Sep 17, 2014 - 10:31AM #856
Posts: 32,868

Cy Young: Luis Severino

Cy Young: Luis Severino
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Twenty-year-old Luis Severino was certainly on the radar coming into 2014, but he'll enter 2015 at the center of everyone's. MLB.com, for instance, ranked him their No. 10 preseason Yankees prospect and bumped him to No. 1 following his year across three levels of the minors.

Between Low-A (14 GS), High-A (four GS) and Double-A (six GS), the 6'0", 195-pound flamethrower went 6-5 with a 2.46 ERA, 2.40 FIP and 1.06 WHIP. Severino struck out 127 in 113.1 innings, good for a 10.09 K/9, walked just 27 for a 2.14 BB/9 and gave up only three home runs.

Opponents hit .218 against him, with righties a combined .236 and lefties barely touching him at .197. In five of his starts, he worked six innings and gave up three or less hits. In four starts he totaled at least eight strikeouts. In his first start after a promotion to High-A Tampa, he struck out eight in 4.2 innings.

Severino's month of July was easily his best, as he went 2-0 in five starts with a 1.09 ERA, 34 strikeouts and three earned runs. He'll be 21 in February and will likely begin 2015 in Trenton, poised to become a big part of the rotation in the Bronx.


Runners-up: RHP Shane Greene (13 GS, 5-2, 4.61, 3.40 FIP, 7.7 K/9); LHP Ian Clarkin (16 GS, 4-3, 3.12, 1.253 WHIP, 9.0 K/9); LHP Nik Turley (13 GS, 5-3, 4.43, 1.600 WHIP, 6.6 K/9); LHP Manny Banuelos (25 GS, 2-3, 4.11, 1.239 WHIP, 8.3 K/9).

8 years ago  ::  Sep 17, 2014 - 10:32AM #857
Posts: 32,868

Top Reliever: Tyler Webb

Top Reliever: Tyler Webb

Tyler Webb is a big-bodied, big-time lefty reliever who made appearances and recorded saves in all three upper levels of the Yankees system. Selected in the 10th round of the 2013 draft, Webb shone in his second year of pro ball.

The 6'6", 225-pounder logged 68.2 innings over 48 games, picking up 12 saves while posting a 3.80 ERA, 2.71 FIP and 1.18 WHIP. He struck out 94 batters for a 12.32 K/9, walked 22 at a 2.88 per-nine clip and surrendered the long ball five times for a 0.66 HR/9. 

The only organizational reliever with more saves was Cesar Vargas (14), who worked 69.2 innings, picking up 11 of them at the High-A level. Webb, a former South Carolina Gamecock, recorded four saves in Tampa (A+), seven in Trenton (AA) and an additional one in Scranton (AAA), as he steadily rose through the system this summer, even earning a trip to the Eastern League All-Star Game. 

He uses a low-90s fastball that appears much better because of his deception and a still-improving breaking ball, per Baseball America (subscription required). In 28 SEC appearances during his final collegiate year, he recorded 16 saves, 52 strikeouts and 11 walks in 36 innings.


Runners-up: LHP Jacob Lindgren (19 G, 25 IP, one SV, 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 17.3 K/9); RHP Nick Rumbelow (44 G, 58.1 IP, eight SV, 2.62 ERA, 1.080 WHIP, 12.5 K/9); LHP James Pazos (46 G, 67 IP, 10 SV, 2.42 ERA, 1.134 WHIP, 10.9 K/9).

8 years ago  ::  Sep 17, 2014 - 10:35AM #858
Posts: 32,868

Comeback Player: Tyler Austin

Tyler Austin could be the top feel-good story of the year for the Yankees system. After going to the Yanks in the 13th round of the 2010 draft, the outfielder erupted in his first full-season year of pro ball in 2012. He hit .322/.400/.559 (161 wRC+) with 17 homers, 35 doubles, 80 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 110 games that saw him reach Double-A Trenton. 

Baseball America ranked him the No. 77 prospect in baseball following the season, as well as the Yankees' No. 4 prospect and their system's best hitter for average.

Thumb and wrist injuries in 2013 derailed his progressions, however, as he was limited to 83 games with Trenton in which his production dropped significantly to .257/.344/.373 (110 wRC+) with six homers. Noted in the video above, you can't hit professional hitting without good hands, and Austin's simply weren't healthy. He fell off the top of a number of prospect rankings, sliding to Baseball America's No. 17 spot on the Yankees. 

But Austin, who turned 23 this month, played 105 games this season—all for Trenton—and no doubt bounced back. He finished at .275 (110 wRC+) with nine home runs, 20 doubles, five triples, 47 RBI and only 80 strikeouts.

The numbers don't sparkle, but consider that if it weren't for a hot second half, he may have permanently etched a "bust" label beneath his name. In his first three months (60 G), he hit just .254/.324/.371 (94 wRC+with three homers and 22 RBI. But in July and August (45 G), he jumped up to .302/.353/.483 (131 wRC+) with six homers and 25 RBI.


Runners-up: OF Michael O'Neill (2013: .219/.282/.293, 0 HR, 14 RBI, nine SB; 2014: .256/.333/.384, 10 HR, 57 RBI, 42 SB); 1B/DH Mike Ford (2013: .235/.346/.374, three HR, 17 RBI; 2014: .292/.383/.458, 13 HR, 56 RBI).

8 years ago  ::  Sep 17, 2014 - 10:36AM #859
Posts: 32,868

Breakout Star: Rob Refsnyder

Selected in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, Rob Refsnyder exceeded most expectations and grabbed significant newfound attention in 2014, a season in which he reached Triple-A Scranton for the second half.

Missing a spot on most top-prospect rankings prior to the year (Baseball America listed him No. 29 after 2013), the 23-year-old second baseman opened scouts' and fans' eyes with a .318/.387/.497 line (146 wRC+) alongside 14 homers, 38 doubles, six triples and 63 RBI—all career highs (other than a .413 OBP in 2013).

Though his transition on defense from the outfield to second has been a work in progress, the former Arizona Wildcat has improved at every step of the minors. He hit .241 (91 wRC+) in 46 Low-A games in 2012, then .283 (144 wRC+) in 117 High-A games in 2013. He began 2014 in Double-A, where he hit .342 (159 wRC+) in 60 games, then finished in Triple-A at .300 (137 wRC+) over 77 games. 

"He's an extremely patient hitter...who recognizes spin well and knows when and how to go with a pitch," remarks Baseball America. "Refsnyder sprays line drives all over the field and has the ability to keep the head of the bat in the zone for a long time."

"He could make a case for a big league job as soon as spring training," says the Journal News' Chad Jennings.


Runners-up: OF Aaron Judge (.308/.419/.486, 17 HR, 24 2B, 78 RBI, 158 wRC+); OF Taylor Dugas (.299/.399/.390, 23 XBH, 40 RBI, 126 wRC+); OF Jake Cave (.294/.351/.414, seven HR, 28 2B, nine 3B, 42 RBI, 118 wRC+).

8 years ago  ::  Sep 17, 2014 - 2:34PM #860
Posts: 32,868

2015 Yankees: Which youngsters will make the team?

Every year the same question arises: will this team give the youngsters a chance to help it? This season, we have seen Shane Greene give the team some quality innings, so much so that he may be in the running for a spot in the rotation next year. We have also seen the emergence of Dellin Betances, who has cemented himself as the team's fireman, while also giving the front office something to think about when considering whether to give David Robertson an extension or not (of course they should).

Other young players like Chase Whitley, John "don't call me JR" Ryan Murphy, and even Adam Warren (well, earlier in the year) have helped this team in one or another way in different parts of the season. The question is, will this team allow the youngsters to be even a bigger part of the 2015 team? The logical answer will be no since we are used to seeing the front office giving aging players, who were once big time players, contracts clogging up positions and roster spots that could be used for up and coming players. Which is why we saw Brian Roberts play more games than expected over the fan favorite Rob Refsnyder who didn't even sniff a Major League field this season.

Will Refsnyder be penciled in for second base next year? Or will the Yankees stick Martin Prado there and hit the free agency market to look for Derek Jeter's heir? If anything, the bullpen is where we might see younger guys play a big part next year. You can almost count on lefty Jacob Lindgren being there, as I am sure the Yankees envision a nasty left-right combo of Lindgren and Betances. Mark Montgomery may also make an appearance in the bullpen next year, even though his stock has fallen a tad, as well as Tyler Webb.

The 2015 rotation will be a very interesting one to keep an eye on throughout the offseason. Will Greene be a part of it? Will Manny Banuelos get a shot? Does Luis Severino make an appearance at all? With the uncertainty of Masahiro Tanaka, there might be a few open spots to fill. We also, at some point, can expect Ivan Nova to fully recover from Tommy John surgery, and you know for a fact that CC Sabathia will have a spot.  A lot, of course, is depending on what the Yankees do in free agency, but you have to imagine they will be looking to upgrade offensively.

And then there are the prospects that might be a ways off from contributing on a major league level. A guy like Aaron Judge, or Giancarlo Stanton "lite" as Yankee fans hope he is, might not step on a MLB field until 2016. Eric Jagielo isn't exactly ready to take over at third base, either, at least not until the saga of Alex Rodriguez finally ends.

Which youngsters do you want to see on the 2015 team? Which players do you think actually have a chance to make the team?

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