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Random Minor League Notes: 2014 Edition
8 years ago  ::  Sep 22, 2014 - 5:12PM #871
Posts: 32,868

Yankees prospects 2014 season recap: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

We conclude our look back at the 2014 minor league season with those who are knocking on the door of the majors in Triple-A. Many teams use their Triple-A affiliates to stockpile lottery ticket veterans and Quad-A players that just aren't quite good enough to make it in the big leagues, which makes some of these teams less exciting than some of the lower levels of the minors. That being said, there were still plenty of highlights to be found in SWB this season.

One of the biggest stories from the farm this season was the fantastic play of second baseman Rob Refsnyder. The 23-year-old started his season at Double-A Trenton before earning a promotion to Triple-A for the remaining 77 games of the year. After batting .342/.385/.548 in Trenton, Refsnyder managed to pick up right where he left off by hitting .300/.389/.456 in Scranton. With Brian Roberts struggling at the big league level, many fans called for Refsnyder to get a shot in the major leagues before the trade deadline this year. Brian Cashman made the decision to keep Refsnyder in the minors for the entire year, likely to improve his second base defense after being converted from an outfielder after signing with the Yankees. It's very possible that Refsnyder will compete for the starting second base job in spring training next season.

Taylor Dugas also earned a promotion to Triple-A Scranton in the middle of the season, and he (like Refsnyder) had no trouble continuing to hit very well at the next level. Drafted in the 8th round of the 2012 draft, Dugas put up an .827 OPS with the Trenton Thunder before finishing the season with a .294/.403/.424 batting line with the RailRiders. Although it seems unlikely that Dugas could find a spot as a starting outfielder in the Yankees' outfield next season, it's easy to see him sliding into a Zoilo Almonte-like role where he is the first man up if an outfielder needs to miss time, or possibly making the team as a fourth outfielder with a strong spring training. First baseman Kyle Roller is another whose strong 2014 season could be important for 2015, as the uncertainty with Mark Teixeira's wrist could linger into next year. Roller's calling card is mainly his power, and he hit 17 with the RailRiders after earning a mid-season promotion from Double-A Trenton. If the Yankees don't find a backup first baseman on the market they like, Roller could be an intriguing option if he can find a way to cut down on his massive amount of strikeouts.

A prospect who only found his way to the big leagues at the very end of the season out of desperation was Jose Pirela, who performed as a sort of jack of all trades in Triple-A this year. Pirela moved off second base to accomodate the promotion of Refsnyder, and he spent the majority of his time after that moving around the diamond to improve his versatility. Pirela batted .305/.351/.441 in 130 games with the RailRiders, possibly putting him in line to make the big league team out of spring training next year. It's possible that the Yankees not bringing him up until the very end could signify that they aren't as high on Pirela as some, his versatility could be helpful as a bat off the bench next year.

On the pitching front, switch pitcher Pat Venditte had a nice season with the RailRiders with a 3.35 ERA in relief, but not getting called up to the big league team ahead of his impending minor league free agency could be a bad sign. Venditte's novelty has won over fans, but the Yankees are obviously unconvinced that he can translate any minor league success into a successful big league career. If 2014 was Venditte's last year with the team, it was a good note to go out on to garner interest from other teams. A couple of potential 2015 bullpen arms in Nick Rumbelow, Tyler Webb, and Branden Pinder ended their season with the RailRiders. The Yankees have been successful in getting value out of homegrown pitchers performing well in the bullpen, so these guys coupled with Jacob Lindgren seem like they could fill out the middle of the Yankees bullpen at some point next year, if not immediately out of spring training.

Although Triple-A does have its share of retreads trying to hang on with a team and prospects that just aren't quite good enough to make the big leagues, there were at least a few bright spots for the Yankees at the Triple-A level this season. A couple of these guys could make a big impact on the team next season, particularly if Refsnyder is given a chance to make the team out of spring training as the starting second baseman.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 22, 2014 - 5:12PM #872
Posts: 32,868

Quick Hit: Why No Pirela?

Last Wednesday, I wrapped up my Jose Pirela player profile post with this take:

“Pirela can play all the same positions the Yankees were rotating Prado through and he offers a similar offensive profile. Because of the lack of output coming from guys like Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan up the middle and the injury problems in the outfield, Pirela figures to see some significant game action over the next dozen games. At least I think he does. He’s due to become a MiL free agent after this season, so it behooves the Yankees to get a look at him for 40-man roster protection purposes.”

As Martin Prado‘s roster replacement, it only made sense that Pirela would see some game time in the final 2 weeks of the season and that the Yankees would want to give him that time.  5 games and going on 5 days later, however, his ESPN player profile still looks like this:

Pirela Profile

I don’t get it.  What’s the point of calling Pirela up if all he’s going to do is sit on the bench?  He’s a guy who’s a little bit Prado and a little bit Yangervis Solarte, and the Yankees got more from both of those players than they were anticipating.  He becomes a free agent this offseason, free to sign with any organization that might want to give him a shot at making an Opening Day roster in 2015.  It’s all about planning for 2015 for the Yankees now, at least it should be.  Why aren’t they doing anything with Pirela to see if he’s worth keeping around for their bench competition?

I’m not saying he should be supplanting Jeter as the starting shortstop during his final home games, but what about second base?  That’s his best position.  And while the Yankees have gotten a combined 5-17 with 2 2B and 2 RBI in the last 5 games from their 2 starting second basemen, those guys are Ryan and Drew, players who are not or should not be major factors in the Yankees’ 2015 plans.  Pirela could be and the Yankees should be giving him the chance to play.  Same with other under-utilized call ups like John Ryan Murphy and Bryan Mitchell.  Give them some more run to show you what they can do.

8 years ago  ::  Sep 23, 2014 - 12:39PM #873
Posts: 32,868


David Robertson and the Yankees' 2015 bullpen options

Could Houdini vanish to another club in the offseason?html_removed

As the season draws to a close, eyes start looking towards 2015. One question heading into the offseason is David Robertson’s free agency. The team’s stubborn stance of not negotiating contracts until after the season may bite them again. Robertson has been an elite setup man and now closer. As we’ve seen with other free agents, one team is always willing to come in and overpay to get a player. I believe someone will do that in this situation as well. What makes the Yankees less inclined to do this is that they have Dellin Betances waiting in the wings. During the Hal Steinbrenner Era, the team is more calculating in looking at the luxury tax ramifications and with the team having other holes, re-signing Robertson is starting to look like less and less likely to me. With that said, let’s look at some bullpen options going into next year.

Tyler Webb – Triple-A

Webb was specifically mentioned by GM Brian Cashman as a lefty bullpen option once Matt Thornton was let go. Webb is a big 6’6" lefty featuring a low-90’s fastball and a quality curveball. Across three levels he pitched to a 2.35 FIP and 12.3 K/9.

Nick Rumbelow – Triple-A

Nick Rumbelow is a power arm drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. He climbed four levels this season and now is knocking on the big league door. Rumbelow sports a mid-90’s fastball and a strikeout curve that he used to record 81 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings.

Jose Ramirez – Triple-A

The often injured righty will once again look to make the big club in spring training. Ramirez showed strikeout stuff with a 9.3 K/9, but was wild as evidenced by his 6.3 BB/9 on the big league club. Stuff has never been the question; health and command continue to be.

Dan Burawa - Triple-A

Burawa will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December, if he's not placed on the 40-man roster. I believe that he will be protected, as the team made a mistake last year not protecting Tommy Kahnle who flourished with the Rockies. His slider and fastball are dominant, but his command is below-average. Back in August, Brian Cashman told reporters  "We’ve seen that before with a guy like Dellin Betances. It’s trying to harness that physicality and channel it, and we are hoping that down the line all those pieces fall into place eventually." Look for Burawa to get a look in spring training.

Jacob Lindgren – Double-A

The 2014 second rounder flew through the system, ending the year at Double-A Trenton. Lindgren, armed with a MLB-ready slider and mid-90’s fastball, embarrassed minor league hitters. He finished the year with an absurd 17.3 K/9.

The Yankees continue playing to their strength of drafting and developing bullpen arms. There’s a good chance we could see a mostly home grown bullpen in 2015. Out of this group of relievers, which one will emerge as the next Robertson or Betances?

8 years ago  ::  Sep 24, 2014 - 3:03PM #874
Posts: 66,015

Jorge Mateo ranks fourth among Baseball America’s top 20 GCL prospects


Baseball America officially kicked off prospect season today by releasing their list of the top 20 prospects from the rookie Gulf Coast League. The list is free but the scouting reports are not. Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers, Marlins RHP Tyler Kolek, and Braves SS Ozhaino Albies claim the top three spots. The Yankees had two players make the list: SS Jorge Mateo at No. 4 and SS Angel Aguilar at No. 15. OF Leonardo Molina was the only other serious candidate to make it, but he didn’t have a great summer at all (58 wRC+).

Mateo, 19, hit .276/.354/.397 (119 wRC+) with 11 steals in 12 attempts in 15 games while missing time with wrist inflammation. “An explosive, premium athlete, Mateo is a top-of-the-scale runner … He has plus bat speed with average power potential and solid understanding of the strike zone, though he will swing through good breaking pitches. At shortstop he has good range and footwork, while his arm is another plus tool,” said the scouting report. GCL Yanks manager Patrick Osborne compared Mateo to Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson for his quick-twitch athleticism.

The 19-year-old Aguilar hit .331/.373/.536 (159 wRC+) with seven homers in 39 games around a groin injury this summer. The scouting report lauds his strength and bat speed, calling him “an intriguing profile as a shortstop who can hit for average and power.” The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the short season NY-Penn League, which probably won’t come out until late next week. The Staten Island Yankees weren’t exactly loaded with prospects this year but I think C Luis Torrens is a lock to make it. RHP Ty Hensley didn’t throw enough innings to qualify for the list.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
8 years ago  ::  Sep 25, 2014 - 10:21AM #875
Posts: 32,868

How did Leonardo Molina look this year? I know he was highly ranked by you guys when he signed last summer, so not making this list makes me think he did not have a good season. Thanks!
Ben Badler: He looked like a 16-year-old. He’s still a premium athlete with plus speed in the middle of the field and a quick bat, but it’s not surprising that he struggled in an aggressive assignment to the GCL this year because the bat was always the biggest question mark on him. I could see him repeating the GCL, like the Yankees did with Miguel Andujar, and he’d still be one of the youngest players in the league, with a chance to make some adjustments and put it together at the plate.

Who is the Yankees short stop of the future? Abiatal avelino,Jorge mateo or angel aguilar?

Ben Badler: They’re all a long, long ways away, but if they all hit their ceilings, you want Mateo there, because the tools are the loudest and the impact potential is the greatest. Avelino can’t match him on upside, but he would be the safest of that trio.

Based on the scouting report, would it be fair to say that Jorge Mateo has All Star upside?
Ben Badler: Absolutely. The Yankees have a whole bunch of good young Latin American talent at the lower levels, and he might be the best of them all, although I’m quite fond of Luis Torrens.

Were there any other Yankees considered for the top 20? If so can you name them and tell us a little bit about them?
Ben Badler: Austin DeCarr was a late cut. Fastball up to 96, curveball flashes above-average, throws strikes downhill, just needs to bring along the changeup and prove he can stay healthy over a full season’s workload. Bryan Cuevas also jumped out at some people and certainly performed well in that league, although at 20 he was a little older than most of the other prospects in the GCL. But he has power, a good eye at the plate and uses the whole field, with second base probably a better fit than second base. If he keeps performing next year he’s going to get a lot more attention.

What were your thoughts on Alex Palma?
Ben Badler: Very encouraging year and he nearly made the list. He was one of the top amateur hitters on the market two years ago when he came out of Venezuela, and he still shows good bat control and at least average or better raw power with the defensive tools for right field. Obviously three walks in 220 plate appearances isn’t going to cut it, but the other skills are there for a breakout season down the road if he can take a more selective approach.

8 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2014 - 6:16PM #876
Posts: 32,868

WOW......unbelievable.....100,000 views.

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