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Random Minor League Notes: 2014 Edition
9 years ago  ::  Nov 02, 2013 - 12:17PM #81
Posts: 32,868

Prospect Park: Jake Cave

The Basics:

Name: Jake Cave Position: CF Handedness: Bats and throws Left-handed Age: 20 Draft: 2011 6th round pick out of Hampton, VA Size: 6-foot-0, 180-pounds Best Tool: Hit tool, defense BBDP Rank: 50

In the year before being drafted, Jake Cave had a phenomenal high school season. He had success as both a pitcher and an outfielder. In his senior season he hit .621 with 4 HR, 16 RBI and 38 runs. He was voted an Aflac All-american. He was also a pitcher in high school and hit 88-91 mph with his fastball.

Like the Hobbit Jake Cave has already had an unexpected journey in his young career. After being named the top prospect in the Coastal Plains League, Cave was drafted by the Yankees in the 6th round and signed to an $800,000 bonus which was way above slot. In his first game in the GCL, Cave broke his kneecap in a collision with the opposing catcher on a play at home. He wouldn’t step onto the field until 2013, two calendar years later.

While this must have been a trying experience for Cave, he pushed through it and played his first full, injury free season in 2013. Overall his season was a resounding success if for no other reason than he managed to stay healthy. He hit .282/.347/.401/.748 with 2 HR, 6 triples, 37 doubles, and 18 SB. He showed solid patience at the plate, and played a solid centerfield with a .992 fielding percentage on the season.

The Tools:

The tool you will hear spoken about the most with Cave is that he is an all-out, hard-nosed ball player. Those types tend to be fan favorites and Jake Cave is no exception.

In addition to his max-effort style of play, however, Cave also has an excellent hit tool and some developing power. He has some lift to his swing which is a bit long but produces above average power. He does an excellent job using the whole field. He has quick hands though, which help to make up for his long swing and make him a solid contact hitter. His speed is above average and he is an aggressive baserunner.

Defensively he has an excellent arm and profiles best as a right fielder. He could probably hold his own in centerfield but after his knee injury he did lose a step and will probably be best suited for right field long term.


How close to his ceiling or floor he gets depends a lot on the power he is able to develop. Since it’s likely he will end up a corner outfielder, he’ll need to produce some power to be taken seriously at that position. If he can develop into a 20 homerun guy over the long term he’ll have a shot to be an all-star type big leaguer. If not his floor is similar to Colin Curtis. You probably don’t remember him, but he was a lefty who could hit for average but not much else. He briefly made it out of Triple-A but never stuck.

2014 Outlook:

The fact that the Yankees started him in Charleston in 2013 with virtually no professional experience and he still had a solid season speaks volumes about this kid. He is an aggressive athlete and yet a polished baseball player. As time goes on he should only get better and his physical talent can take him as far as he wants it to.

In 2014 he’ll start out in High-A Ocala*. There he’ll continue to play centerfield, and hopes to increase his power output. If he is able to increase his performance this year he could be destined for Double-A before the end of the season, but given the talent the Yankees have in the Double-A outfield and his need to develop power, which is often a long term concern, I’d say his chances are slim.

Overall Cave is another guy who could have a breakout season in 2014. He has to continue to stay healthy, but now that he has a full season under his belt he can focus on improving his game in the offseason rather than just focusing on getting healthy.

9 years ago  ::  Nov 03, 2013 - 11:48AM #82
Posts: 32,868

Yankees Prospects: Winter ball updates through November 2


With the major league season at an end, winter ball started in October. Players go play in the Dominican, Venezuelan or Mexican leagues to get some extra at-bats, make up for lost time while injured or make up for a poor season. Here is an update on all the players the Yankees have playing in these various leagues.

Dominican Winter League

In 29 at-bats with Aguilas Cibaenas, outfielder Zoilo Almonte has hit .282/.378/.436 with two home runs and six walks, but also 12 strikeouts.

After being suspended in the Biogenesis scandal, outfielder Fernando Martinez has hit .389/.542/.556 in 18 at-bats for Leones del Escogido.

The Yankees' top catching prospect Gary Sanchez has struggled for Toros del Este, collecting only two hits over 16 at-bats and five games.

Left-handed reliever Francisco Rondon has only pitched in one game for Leones del Escogido, going 1.1 innings while giving up two hits, three walks with a strikeout, and one run allowed.

Venezuelan Winter League

Catcher Francisco Arcia has hit .333/.370/.542 with seven RBI in 24 at-bats for Aguilas de Zulia.

Shortstop Ali Castillo has hit .313/.327/.354 with five RBI in 48 at-bats for Aguilas de Zulia.

Outfielder Ramon Flores has only played in three games and gotten six at-bats so far for Tigres de Aragua. In that time he has collected one walk.

Navegantes del Magallanes outfielder Adonis Garcia has hit .255/.314/.468 with three home runs, three walks, and seven RBI, but he has also struck out 12 times.

Jose Gil has hit .238/.385/.405 with nine walks and seven strike outs over 42 at-bats as a catcher for Caribes de Anzoategui.

Aguilas de Zulia second baseman Jose Pirela has an organization-leading 72 at-bats and has hit .319/.420/.597 with 12 RBI and three stolen bases.

Mexican Winter League

Yaquis de Obregon right fielder Jose Figueroa has only seven at-bats and has two hits and a walk through those 10 games.

Shortstop Walter Ibarra has struggled mightily in 53 at-bats, collecting two hits and striking out 14 times with Venados de Mazatlan.

Outfielder Ronnier Mustelier has hit .238/.338/.302 with nine walks, 10 strikeouts and 11 RBI in 63 at-bats for Tomateros de Culiacan.

Giovanny Gallegos has been hit around over four games and 5.1 innings where he has given up eight hits, two walks and two strikeouts, while accumulating a 5.06 ERA.

9 years ago  ::  Nov 04, 2013 - 2:56PM #83
Posts: 66,015

Yankees’ Prospect Scouting Report: Ian Clarkin


Believe it or not, the off-season is one of the most enjoyable times for a baseball fan. Through a MLB-less winter, we can at least look forward to free agency, trades, and other transactions between seasons. One of my favorite things is learning about all the prospects and how much closer they are to the majors. This off-season, I figured that I’d scout some of the Yankees minor league talent and gather all that I could from watching all the youtube videos and other scouting material on these prospects.

To start I wanted to look at the Yankees’ third pick in the 1st round of the draft of 2013, Ian Clarkin. He went 33rd overall, which was the compensation pick the Yankees received for Rafael Soriano. Thank you Washington.

Prospect Profile: Ian Clarkin

Throws: Left

Height and Weight: 6-2, 190 lbs.

Hometown: San Diego, CA

High School: Madison HS

Clarkin stood out among the other pitchers in the June draft due to already owning three well-developed pitchers. Clarkin has a fastball, curveball and a changeup. His fastball has four-seam movement while sitting around 90-92 mph. However, I have read that it touched 94 in the past, and Perfect Game has him up to 93 mph. It’s possible he added an extra mph during High School ball or a showcase. Clarkin’s curveball is his most interesting pitch to me. It’s been clocked in the 70′s and has 12-6-bite potential. It’s a really impressive pitch that he often uses to freeze hitters or get them to swing and miss. Everything I read on Clarkin’s changeup points to it being an average pitch at the moment. It should project as a solid third pitch as he develops through the Yankees’ farm system. With two possible plus-pitches and a projectable changeup, there’s not much more you could want from such a young left-handed pitching prospect.

A red flag for Clarkin is his control. His high leg kick makes it harder for batters to time his delivery, but that can also influence his own timing and thus weaken his pitch control. If he can find a better way to repeat his delivery, Clarkin’s control issue should improve. Other than that, I’m a fan of his mechanics. I think left handed pitchers who are deceptive are effective. Batters can’t hit the ball if they can’t pick it up.

One of the more interesting things I’ve read about Clarkin was a comparison to Clayton Kershaw. Both Kershaw and Clarkin have similar deceptive deliveries in that they keep both hands elevated above their heads as they lift their stride leg simultaneously.




AP Photo/Damen Jackson

While the arms are similar, the legs are a bit different. As you see above, Kershaw’s knee doesn’t touch his chest like Clarkin’s does. If Clarkin can emulate Kershaw a bit more with a less dramatic leg lift in the balance position, he may gain more control by improving his momentum.

Another Kershaw-esque technique about Clarkin is his consistent release points, even on different pitches. Kershaw is a difficult pitcher to pickup because he throws his fastball the same way he throws his curveball. Clarkin also does a brilliant job of repeating his release points from fastball to curveball.





The arm slots and release points of the pitches look very similar here. The only difference I can see is that on his breaking ball, Clarkin uses his body to help get the spin on the ball. You can see in the second screenshot how he’s bent closer to the ground than he is in the first screenshot when he’s throwing a fastball.

Out side of technique, it’s difficult to compare Clarkin to Kershaw, those expectations are far too high. I do see Clarkin owning top of the rotation potential, and perhaps most likely a competitive number two pitcher.

I like what the Yankees have here despite his poor debut in the Rookie Gulf Coast League where he gave up six runs on five hits. Yet, the Yankees should be happy to have Clarkin who was the 17th overall prospect ranked according to Baseball America. To nab him with the 33rd overall selection was a steal. He’s certainly a player to closely follow this season, wherever he ends up playing.

Just for fun, estimated time of arrival: 2017.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
9 years ago  ::  Nov 04, 2013 - 5:35PM #84
Posts: 32,868

Prospect Park: Jordan Cote

Jordan CoteThe Basics:

BBDP Nickname: JoCo
Name: Jordan Cote
Age: 21
Draft: 2011 3rd round pick out of Northfield, NH
Size: 6-foot-5, 215-pounds
Fastball: 92 mph
Other Pitchers: Fastball, Slider, Changeup
BBDP Ranking: 39
Position: RHP

When Jordan Cote was signed in the third round in the 2011 draft, the Yankees saw him as a long term project. At the time, he was sitting anywhere between 88-93 mph depending on who you asked and what time of year it was. His secondary stuff was fringy. He was considered a “blank slate” by scouts who could be groomed however a drafting organization wanted to groom him. At his size, 6-foot-5 and 215-pounds, you could certainly dream on his potential.

Two years and two dominant statistical seasons later, and Cote has improved his game quite a bit but he still has a long way to go.

In high school Cote was unstoppable but his statistics didn’t mean much coming from an area where there wasn’t much competition. He actually threw a no-hitter while still in high school. But it wasn’t his stats that scouts were looking at, it was his size and potential.

His first season playing for the Yankees was 2012. He was placed in the GCL, where he performed really well statistically. He had a 0.98 ERA in 27.2 innings with 25 strikeouts and just four walks. Despite that season neither he nor the Yankees wanted him to move up to Staten Island. They both knew he was leaving the ball up far too much and showing too much inconsistency with his secondary offerings.

In 2013 that changed. He was able to keep the ball down much better, and he ditched his curve all for a slider. He fine-tuned his change which became a legitimate strike out weapon for him. Statistically not much changed. He threw 28.0 innings and had a 0.96 ERA while striking out 20 and walking just 5. His WHIP did improve from 0.904 to 0.821 though. More importantly than the stats, however, is that he improved his secondary offerings.

The Stuff:

Cote is a classic case of why statistics are not always the most important thing, especially in the lower minors. While his performance has been great, his stuff needed improvement. He has come a long way since being drafted though, and now possesses a solid arsenal which he will bring with him to higher levels.

His fastball has not progressed so far as the Yankees had hoped. He basically has the same velocity as when he first came to the Yankees. That said he has only just begun to be able to repeat his new mechanics. There is reason to believe that as he physically matures and continues to get better at repeating his mechanics, his velocity should spike. With long term projects from cold climates the rules are different, and two years of work is not going to bring you close to the finished product. He still sits 89-92 with the fastball as of now, but where the real improvement has come is his secondary offerings.

Cote ditched the curveball for a slider in 2013. He was much more consistent with the slider and continues to work on sharpening and tightening it up. He has also always had a solid change that he will continue to use as he progresses. He’s got the three pitches he needs to succeed as a starter, he just needs to continue to fine-tune them.


Jordan Cote’s ceiling is still vast. At his size, with his arm strength there is no reason why he shouldn’t be hitting the mid to upper 90′s later in his career. That said one cannot say with any certainty that this will be the case. He has a lot of work to do and still needs to work on his secondary stuff. At this point one would have to place his ceiling as a back end starter. If the stuff improves like it should his ceiling could soar as high as any prospect in this system. His floor, given that his projection still has some uncertainty, would be to flop as soon as next season. Given the positive strides he has made and how good his performance has been, however, I would have to say that this seems unlikely at this point.

2014 Outlook:

Cote will likely start the 2014 season in Staten Island, unless his stuff progresses significantly between now and extended spring training, which is entirely possible. 2014 will be a big year for Cote. In his third year since being drafted, we should start to see some real progress. He has always been a long term project, but we are now reaching the point where that long term is going to soon become now. As long as he continues to work hard at his craft this should be a big year for him, and could be one where he begins to turn some heads.

9 years ago  ::  Nov 06, 2013 - 12:18PM #85
Posts: 32,868

2014 Breakout Candidate: Cito Culver

Cito Culver

The Basics:

Name: Cito Culver
Position: SS
Handedness: Bats right, throws right handed.
Age: 21
Draft: 2010 first round draft pick from Rochester, NY
Size: 6-foot-0, 190-pounds
Best Tool: Defense
BBDP Rank: 24

Since the day he was drafted, Cito Culver has been a divisive player amongst prospect fans and followers. The reason for that is not because of anything he has done wrong, but because the Yankees chose to draft him with their first pick. About 50% of people were against the pick, and the other 50% either liked the pick or decided that the Yankees had scouts that know a lot more than us.

From the moment he signed, Cito has not done much to prove nay of the naysayers wrong… until recently.

Playing in his first professional season at the age of 17, Cito held his own in the GCL with a .251/.325/.330/.655 line. It gave everyone a bit of hope that with his speed and athleticism maybe the Yankees made the right choice drafting him so high. Others were still skeptical. Still, he hadn’t done anything yet to quiet the critics.

Then, in 2011, Cito had a similarly mediocre year, hitting .250/.323/.337/.660 with 2 homeruns, 10 stolen bases, and 57 strikeouts in 312 plate appearances.  Still, his fans hadn’t given up on him because most accepted he was a long term project, especially with the bat. Then 2012 happened.

The Yankees gave Culver the reigns at shortstop for Low-A Charleston, and it seemed he just couldn’t handle the pitching at this level. Scouts everywhere were calling for the Yankees to force Culver to abandon hitting left handed. “He looks lost,” they all said. His .215/.321/.283/.604 quad slash didn’t change any minds either. At this point even the staunchest of Culver supporters had a difficult time defending the draft choice.

During the offseason, however, Culver made an important choice. He gave up left handed hitting. It was a tough decision, he said, but he admitted to feeling much more comfortable from the right side. Thus, it was his own choice to give up hitting lefty.

At first, the results were grim. There was barely any improvement in the average. Some felt this was to be expected because the man had never batted right handed against righties. Some, including me, were skeptical that any improvement would ever occur. By about 3/4 of the way through the season, it appeared that nothing had changed and Cito Culver was the butte of every joke about the Yankees drafting for the past six years.

Then, all of a sudden something clicked with Cito. He started to tear the cover off the ball in Low-A. His average quickly went from about .210 to .232. Granted it had nowhere to go but up, but the Yankees thought enough of it to give him a late season promotion to High-A Tampa with just 16 games left. In those 16 games Cito tore the cover off the ball some more. He had a .355/.394/.484/.878 quad slash and he hit five doubles and a homerun. This brought his season total to nine homeruns and a quad sladh of .248/.322/.362/.684. While the totals are not the most impressive, those last 5-6 weeks of the season breathed life back into Culver’s career.

The Tools:

Culver’s tools have been well known since the day he was drafted. He’s a defensive whiz with a cannon for an arm who has plus speed. We also knew from the start that he was light hitting and that he would need to learn to either hit or get on base in order to make it to the major leagues.

Throughout the years we have seen what scouts have said about Culver’s left handed swing. It looks like he has also read some of those reports because he finally gave it up. After a 3/4 of a season adjustment period he might have figured it out.

No one doubts his defense. He has great hands, great range, and a plus plus arm. The questions surrounding Culver are pretty clear. Can he hit? Can he do something offensively that will make him average so that his defense can carry him to the majors?

The one thing Culver has proven he can do offensively is have great patience. He draws a ton of walks. He clearly sees the ball well it’s just a matter of finding that stroke, which he may well have done late this season.

All of that remains to be seen but Culver has finally taken a step in the right direction. He has shown that he can hit for power with respect to his position. Now if he can take that last 1/4 of a season and hit the ground running next year, he’ll be on his way.


People are not going to agree with this, but Cito Culver still, after all these years, has the potential to be an all-star shortstop. He’s got the glove for it, it just comes down to finding a way to help his team on offense. If he does he will not only make the major leagues, but he will be a successful major leaguer. His floor is obvious to anyone who has been following the system for the past five years. Bust. If he doesn’t come out hitting like he did at the end of this year, all of the same people are going to be out there insisting he’s a bust, and they will be right.

2014 Outlook:

2014 is a big year for Cito to prove that he is a legit prospect. My predicition is that he does just that. He became one of the toughest outs in the league down the stretch for the Tampa Yankees. All he has to do is pick up where he left off and the Yankees will have something special on their hands. If he is able to prove that he has figured something out in his swing, he will likely be up to Trenton before the end of the season. From that point on, it’s anyone’s guess how long it could take him to get to the majors, but 2015 is not out of the question.

Cito Culver has taken a lot of abuse over the years from scouts and prospect followers, but 2014 could be his year to shine. He is one of my picks as one of the five biggest sleepers this organization has to offer for 2014 mostly because he looks like he’s finally learned how to hit.

9 years ago  ::  Nov 06, 2013 - 4:10PM #86
Posts: 66,015

Prospect Profile: Gosuke Katoh


(Jeff Gross/Getty)

(Jeff Gross/Getty)

Gosuke Katoh | 2B

Katoh was born but not raised in Tokyo — his family moved from Japan to Southern California when he was a child. He got into baseball when his parents enrolled him in Little League to help him learn English and socialize. Katoh starred at Rancho Bernardo High School — he hit .451 with 12 doubles and eight homers as a senior — and really jumped onto the prospect map during the Area Code Games last year. He was a very good student with a strong commitment to UCLA.

Prior to the 2013 draft, Baseball America (no subs. req’d) ranked Katoh as the 39th best draft prospect in California and the 189th best draft prospect overall. The commitment to UCLA had many clubs thinking he was going to be a tough sign, but the Yankees rolled the dice and selected Katoh with their second round pick, the 66th overall selection. He signed within two weeks of the draft for a straight slot $845,700 bonus.

Pro Debut
The Yankees assigned Katoh to one of their two Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliates after signing and he absolutely mashed. I’m talking a .310/.402/.522 batting line while leading the league in homers (six) and OPS (.924) in 215 plate appearances. Among the 2,144 players to have at least 200 plate appearances in the minors this season, only 16 bested his 171 wRC+. Just one of those 16 players was younger than Katoh.

Scouting Report
High school second basemen usually aren’t serious pro prospects, but Katoh is a rare exception. He’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 lbs. and stands out for his high-end athleticism, which allows him to play the defense at a well-above-average level. His hands and range are both outstanding, as is his throwing release. The only thing holding him back from playing shortstop is his arm strength, which is below-average. I don’t know if a throwing program can fix that, but the Yankees reportedly may give him time at short in the future just to see what happens.

Offensively, Katoh is a natural right-handed hitter who learned to hit left-handed at a young age because he idolizes Ichiro Suzuki. He is strictly a lefty hitter and I doubt becoming a switch-hitter is a realistic possibility at this point. Katoh has a very level swing geared for contact and line drives to the opposite field. He doesn’t pull the ball all that much and his power is surprising for his wiry frame but still just okay in the grand scheme of things. His bat plays up because of a disciplined approach. Katoh has speed and he uses that to his advantage both on the bases and by pressuring the defense on ground balls. As you might suspect, the Yankees love his makeup and work ethic.


There is a bunch more video on YouTube, all from high school this spring.

2014 Outlook
The Yankees tend to be conservative with their high school position players in their first pro seasons, holding them back in Extended Spring Training before assigning them to one of the short season leagues. The last guy they bumped up into a full season league right away was Dante Bichette Jr., who tore the GCL apart just like Katoh. Bichette has been a disaster but I’m not sure if it’ll be a deterrent. New York has a ton of middle infielders at the lower levels, enough that I expect them to take it slow with Katoh and hold him back in ExST.

My Take
Nothing gets people excited about a prospect quite like a dominant pro debut, but it’s important to put the performance in context and not read too much into it. Heck, I mostly ignore short season numbers all together. That said, Katoh is better than I realized at the time of the draft because he has an elite carrying tool in his defense. The vast majority of prospects don’t have an elite anything. I underrated Brett Gardner as a prospect for the longest time because I overlooked his defense. Katoh has the defense part of the game figure out, now he just needs to work on the offensive side. He’s a classic old school two-hole hitter who handles the bat well and uses his speed, though I’m curious to see what happens as he climbs the ladder and starts facing fastballs that can knock the bat out of his hands.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
9 years ago  ::  Nov 06, 2013 - 4:16PM #87
Posts: 32,868
A look at Mason Williams

Yankees Magazine chats with outfield prospect Mason Williams about recovering from shoulder surgery and how he prepares for each game


9 years ago  ::  Nov 06, 2013 - 9:31PM #88
Posts: 32,868

State of the organization: Starting rotation

A few ways to prioritize the minor league starters who are most prepared to step into a Major League role next season. Brett Marshall had a down year, but he did lead Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in innings and got his feet wet in the big leagues (he’s the most experienced of the bunch). Long reliever Chase Whitley has pitched well in Triple-A for two years, and now the Yankees are experimenting with him as a starter (he’s certainly on the verge as a bullpen option, but the rotation is less certain). Jose Ramirez was outstanding in big league camp, terrific in Double-A and got a few Triple-A innings before being shut down with an injury (stands out as a very good upper-level arm). Then there’s the Double-A rotation of Shane Greene, Nik Turley, Matt Tracy, Zach Nuding and Mikey O’Brien (all solid-to-good prospects, none of whom has emerged as a real superstar standout). In other words, there several upper-level possibilities who could be Major League ready at some point next year, but there’s good and bad with each one. Greene had a great year, Ramirez has shown tremendous flashes, and the Whitley experiment is intriguing, but there’s no just-a-matter-of-time replacement here. Which brings us to, perhaps, the most intriguing of potentially ready rotation replacements: Manny Banuelos. Before 2012, he was legitimately one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, and he did carry some of that just-a-matter-of-time expectation. After a season lost to Tommy John surgery, though, Banuelos has to establish himself again. The Yankees say he’s healthy, and he was throwing at the end of the season. He might have fallen into the background for a year, but he still belongs on the radar. His upside is still significant, and a 2014 arrival isn’t out of the question.

It’s impossible to follow the Yankees and not recognize this fact: A top pitching prospect is certainly not a sure thing, even when he’s dominated in the lower levels of the minor leagues. The Yankees had the Hughes, Kennedy Chamberlain trio several years ago, and now all three are out of the organization. More recently, it was Banuelos, Betances and Brackman, and now only one of the three is still considered a starting pitcher (the other two are considered a reliever and a fringe basketball player). The latest Yankees minor leaguer to takeover as the team’s top pitching prospect is 22-year-old Rafael De Paula. This was his first season in the United States, and he opened with a 2.94 ERA and 96 strikeouts through 64.1 innings with Low-A Charleston. Bumped to Tampa, he came back down to earth with a 6.06 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 49 innings. This guy has been talked about for years, and for a while seemed to be more myth than reality, but that strong debut is a pretty good indication of what all the hype is about (and the second half is further proof that hype still needs time to develop). Let there be no doubt, De Paula is legitimately talented, but he’s also inexperienced. He and Jose Campos — the other piece of the Pineda trade — are an interesting one-two punch of potential without polish.

Lately, the Yankees have had far more success with their non-hyped pitchers — Nova, Phelps, Warren; even Robertson and Claiborne — than with their big-name pitching prospects. And if that continues, the Yankees could be in for a treat of legitimate rotation depth. Guys like Greene, Turley and Ramirez have been sort of second- and third-tier prospects, and they’re now emerging in the upper levels with solid results. They might not be future top-of-the-rotation standouts, but the Yankees do have some upper-level, Phelps-like pitching depth. In the lower levels, they have guys like De Paula, Campos, Ty Hensley, Bryan Mitchell and Ian Clarkin with high-end potential. What’s going to determine whether all of this works in the short term is whether Sabathia gets back on track, Nova finds consistency, Pineda can legitimately contribute, and Banuelos can return from injury to provide that upper-level, high-end pitching prospect that the Yankees currently lack. Back-end depth is great, and the Yankees have a decent amount of that — some of whom could exceed expectations, like Nova did this year — but elite pitching is what’s in demand, and the Yankees can’t be certain they have any of that. The potential is there, but so are questions about production going forward.

9 years ago  ::  Nov 07, 2013 - 11:50AM #89
Posts: 66,015

RiverDogs Capture Prestigious Larry MacPhail Award

Marks the 2nd Time the Club Has Been Recognized Nationally as the Top Promotional Organization


CHARLESTON, SC - Minor League Baseball announced on Tuesday that the Charleston RiverDogs are the winners of the 48th annual Larry MacPhail Award, symbolizing the top promotional effort in all of Minor League Baseball. The RiverDogs will receive their award at the Baseball Winter Meeting Banquet at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Dec. 12.

"The Charleston RiverDogs have been one of the clubs at the forefront of creating and developing fun, new ways to promote themselves at their ballpark and in their community through such campaigns as 'Be Your Own Fan' and 'Fun Is Good'," said Pat O'Conner, President & CEO of Minor League Baseball.

"Their involvement with the Charleston RBI Program and the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame are just two of the many ways that the RiverDogs also promote our great game in the South Carolina Lowcountry," he added.

 "On behalf of the entire Charleston RiverDogs family, we are thrilled to receive this prestigious honor," said Dave Echols, the RiverDogs Executive Vice President & General Manager. "The MacPhail Award is one of the most recognizable awards bestowed in professional baseball. This citation is a credit to our ownership group - The Goldklang Group - whose guidance and direction are for us to make sure that our fans enjoy what has become the 'RiverDogs experience.'   We accept this with great pride and humility, as we strive to share the philosophy of 'Fun Is Good.'"

The RiverDogs, who also won the MacPhail Award in 1998, join Hawaii (1969, 1970), Reading (1994, 1999), Richmond (1985, 1990) and Rochester (1967, 1997) as clubs which have won this award two times. 

This season, Charleston added to its already packed promotional schedule and ballpark experience with several additions which contributed to double digit increases in both overall (11.5 percent) and average (13.2 percent) attendance, compared to 2012. The South Atlantic League club introduced several new menu items, including three flavors of beer shakes, a Wacko Taco Stand with locally grown farm fresh vegetables, gluten-free beer and snacks and a peanut butter and jelly jalapeno bacon burger.

The club's "Healthy Challenge Tuesday" promotion included elements about living a healthier lifestyle. The RiverDogs teamed with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Wellness Center and created a new line of healthy concessions options available throughout the season, many made from crops grown on the MUSC Urban Farm located in downtown Charleston. Each Tuesday game featured a different item from these new healthy selections and the item was offered to fans at a discounted rate. 

Additionally, RiverDogs co-owner Bill Murray's South Atlantic League Hall of Fame induction speech was used as the cornerstone for the club's early season TV commercials. Charleston is extremely active on social media, with more than 22,000 Facebook fans and 11,000 Twitter followers, as well as Pinterest, Instagram and Vine accounts to connect and hear feedback from their fans. 

Charleston's marketing slogan of "Be Your Own Fan" is based primarily on direct interaction with its fans. The RiverDogs listened to them and moved up the start time for their Saturday games one hour to 6:05 p.m.

All 10 of their Monday home games featured a local non-profit organization and a season ticket holder was featured at every home game. All Peninsula youth baseball teams were outfitted in RiverDogs T-shirts for their uniforms, saving the city parks and recreation department more than $10,000. A youth baseball T-shirt promotion allowed players to receive discounts by wearing the shirts to games.

Other community initiatives included the club's signature charity, Kindness Beats Blindness, which benefits MUSC, Storm Eye Institute, and which has raised more than $250,000 over the past decade; Reading and Running With the RiverDogs, in which a staff member adopts a local third grade class; and the Charleston RBI Program, a local chapter of Major League Baseball's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Program.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
9 years ago  ::  Nov 07, 2013 - 4:54PM #90
Posts: 66,015

Trading prospects for established players

By in Hot Stove League. Tags: · Comments (17) ·

“As unpopular as trading Melky and IPK (along with a lesser prospect) could make me, I probably would.” – the world’s biggest idiot, yours truly, in November, 2007, referring to…Miguel Cabrera.

Well, that certainly was embarrassing. A bit less embarrassing is this post about saving the Big Three. In that situation we made our pleas to not trade Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, top-five prospects in 2007 and 2008, respectively, for Johan Santana. Even in hindsight that is somewhat understandable. The hype machine ran strong for Hughes and Chamberlain, and Santana was about to become massively expensive. With CC Sabathia‘s free agency looming, why not concentrate efforts there and hold onto the young arms?

With Miguel Cabrera, there is no justification for the prospect hugging mentality. At the time Cabrera had just completed his age-24 season, his third straight with an OPS+ over 150. His defense at third base looked poor to both the eye and the stats, and the media griped about his poor attitude, but those flaws are mere nitpicks when it comes to a generational talent. Following the 2007 season the Yankees had an opening at third and a virtual opening at first. Even if they hadn’t, there is always room for a player who can hit like Miguel Cabrera.

At the time the Marlins sought a starting pitcher and a center fielder. Detroit paid the price, sending top-five prospect Cameron Maybin and 2006 first rounder (projected first overall) left-hander Andrew Miller. In addition, the Marlins sent Dontrelle Willis to Detroit. That might have seemed like a sweetener for Detroit, but Willis was getting expensive and was coming off a poor season — though I’m not sure anyone knew at the time that he was cooked at age 25. Given the state of the farm system in 2007-2008, the Yankees very well might have matched up with the Marlins.

Phil Hughes’s name comes to mind first, as a pitcher comparable to Miller. Melky Cabrera was still a promising center fielder, though the Yankees also had Austin Jackson, who was a top-50 prospect before 2008, as a younger, more cost-controlled option. With a seeming horde of mid-tier prospects, perhaps the Yanks could have sweetened the pot and trumped Detroit’s offer. You could spend days imagining how Yankees history would have unfolded in that scenario.

The Yanks never really made a run for Cabrera, or at least that’s the way it’s portrayed, because they didn’t want to part with their three young, promising pitchers: Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. In hindsight, it’s a head-smacking idea. None of the three amounted to anything special. Each pitched well for certain stretches, but in the six full seasons since they debuted none has particularly stood out.

Looking back at this case boiled my blood a bit. It seems the Yankees haven’t made many good prospects-for-veterans trades since Cashman received “full autonomy” after the 2005 season. He’s made dozens of trades in that time, of course, but very few that involved prospects in exchange for solid, everyday veterans. The track record isn’t all that impressive when he did, either.

July 30, 2006: Traded C.J. Henry (minors), Jesus Sanchez (minors), Carlos Monasterios and Matt Smith to the Philadelphia Phillies. Received Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle.

Perhaps Cashman spoiled us with this first big trade of his autonomous reign. Everyone knew the Phillies were going to trade Abreu. Given his large contract and the Yankees’ desperate need in the outfield, the match seemed perfect. The Phillies played tough, demanding Phil Hughes in early July, but Cashman waited them out and eventually landed them for what amounts to very little.

C.J. Henry was the Yankees’ first-round pick in 2005, but just a year later it was evident — to fans, at least, and apparently to evaluators as well — that he wasn’t going to work. Getting a previous-year first-rounder helped the Phillies save face, maybe, but this was a coup for the Yankees.

July 7, 2007: Traded Jeff Kennard (minors) to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Received Jose Molina.

While this is a minor move on the face of it, the Yankees certainly needed a backup catcher upgrade; they had been playing Wil Nieves there all year. Kennard was on the 40-man and expendable, so the trade worked out as well as a trade for a backup catcher can.

July 26, 2008: Traded Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen, Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Tabata to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Received Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady.

The Yankees actually weren’t in that bad of shape at the time of this trade. At 58-45 they were just three games behind the first-place Rays and one game behind the Red Sox. With Jorge Posada out, they could have used some pop, and had an opening in the outfield thanks to Melky Cabrera’s horrible play. Nady had hit 13 homers and 26 doubles with the Pirates in what was looking like a career year. Tabata had proven disappointing by that point, and the three pitchers were back-end arms, at best, expendable for a first-division team.

Nady hit .268/.320/.474 in his 247 PA with the Yankees, quite a bit lower than the numbers he produced with Pittsburgh. That helped plenty, though, because Cabrera had played so poorly. The Yankees got essentially nothing out of Nady the following year, when he blew out his elbow. Tabata, while nothing special, has produced above-average numbers in three of his four MLB seasons.

November 13, 2008: Traded Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez to the Chicago White Sox. Received Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira.

It’s still difficult to look at this trade and believe it happened. It wasn’t totally prospects-for-veteran, since Betemit had been in the league since 2004. But the Yankees certainly got a steal here, in a deal that probably no GM rejects. Hell, I’m not sure Kenny Williams rejects it.

June 30, 2009: Traded Casey Erickson (minors) and Eric Fryer to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Received Eric Hinske and cash.

Another minor move that deserves mention, because Hinske played a role on the best team in the league.

December 8, 2009: As part of a 3-team trade, traded Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers and Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Received Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers. In addition, the Detroit Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks; and the Arizona Diamondbacks sent Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers.

With Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui departing, the Yankees needed an outfielder and some pop at the plate. Granderson wasn’t exactly known as a power hitter at the time, but he had hit 20-plus in each of the previous three years, including 30 in 2009. He has certainly produced a few quality years with the Yankees, socking 115 HR with a 120 OPS+. It’s hard to call this trade a failure.

At the same time, Jackson has been quite good for the Tigers. He doesn’t have Granderson’s skills at the plate, though he has produced a higher OBP than Granderson since his debut. In terms of WAR Jackson actually comes out on top, 19.1 to 14.1 in bWAR and 14.6 to 13.9 in fWAR. Defensive measurement represents WAR’s most prominent flaw, so make of that what you will. This wasn’t a bad trade by any means, but it certainly wasn’t a steal of any kind.

December 22, 2009: Traded Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, Arodys Vizcaino and cash to the Atlanta Braves. Received Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez.

The initial reaction to this trade was somewhat divided. Some Yankees fans hadn’t forgiven Vazquez for the second half of 2004. Others saw how he’d pitched after leaving and thought it was a good fit. At first the trade looked horrible, then it looked better, then it looked horrible again.

In the end, it was certainly horrible — not only for Vazquez’s performance, but because they could have used Vizcaino in a different trade later.

July 30, 2010: Traded a player to be named later to the Cleveland Indians. Received Austin Kearns. The New York Yankees sent Zach McAllister (August 20, 2010) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade.

At the time this one didn’t seem too bad. Kearns had been good in the past and was seemingly amidst a resurgent season. McAllister was a middling prospect who probably didn’t have a role with the Yankees. Of course, the whole thing blew up in their faces. Kearns was generally horrible, and McAllister has started looking like a serviceable back-end starter.

July 31, 2010: Traded Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes to the Houston Astros. Received Lance Berkman.

Traded players to be named later to the Cleveland Indians. Received Kerry Wood and cash. The New York Yankees sent Andrew Shive (minors) (October 21, 2010) and Matt Cusick (minors) (October 21, 2010) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade.

Needing offense, the Yankees stood to gain with the Berkman acquisition. He wasn’t atrocious, but he brought no power to the table, hitting just one homer and seven doubles in 123 PA while struggling with injuries. Losing Melancon didn’t seem like a huge deal, since he’d struggled at every opportunity. But he’s turned into a serviceable reliever (who has, fairly, struggled in both New York and Boston).

The trade for Wood made and continues to make all the sense in the world. That one couldn’t have gone better, indeed: Wood ran his luck all the way through October, while the Yanks gave up no useful players.

April 4, 2012: Traded George Kontos to the San Francisco Giants. Received Chris Stewart.

Kontos turned in a very good 2012 season and a poor 2013. He’s still only 29 in 2014, and might be a useful piece of a bullpen. Stewart…I’m not even going there.

July 23, 2012: Traded Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell to the Seattle Mariners. Received Ichiro Suzuki and cash.

This seemed to make sense, in that the Yankees needed an OF and they gave up what seemed like little. Mitchell wasn’t going to amount to anything, and they had just claimed Farquhar off waivers from the A’s earlier in the 2012 season. Yet Farquhar dazzled this year, particularly in the second half, when he took over as Mariners closer. Chances are he reverts to being crappy again next year, but again, there’s a mixed blessing here. Trading for Ichiro led to the ill-advised two-year contract. Then again, he also played a role in the Yankees staying afloat last September as the Orioles constantly threatened.

February 13, 2013: Traded Abraham Almonte to the Seattle Mariners. Received Shawn Kelley.

It’s tough to say, since Almonte only just made it to the majors. But Kelley has worked out well, and could help as the Yanks rebuild their bullpen post-Rivera.

July 26, 2013: Traded Corey Black (minors) to the Chicago Cubs. Received Alfonso Soriano and cash.

Soriano made the second half at least partly interesting, and really extended the Yanks life in the 2013 season. We all know how Cashman feels about Corey Black.


This revisiting of prospects-for-veteran trades isn’t meant as a referendum on Cashman or the organizational philosophy. It’s not meant as a rip on the farm system. Instead, it’s meant as something of an eye-opener.

If media narratives in any way reflect reality, teams are more protective of their prospects than ever. The Yankees appear to be in that boat. From back in 2007 to now, they’ve played the reluctant role when playing the prospects-for-veteran game. Yet when you look through their track record, there aren’t many clear wins when they do partake.

Is that a lesson, that they should indeed be more reluctant, given their track record? Does it mean that they need to reassess how they evaluate their internal talent? I’d say no to the former and yes to the latter. Furthermore, looking at these deals makes me think that the Yankees should take advantage of this prospect-protective market and see what they can get for what they have in the minors. Given their current team landscape, it might be the best bet they have this off-season.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
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