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Random Minor League Notes: 2014 Edition
9 years ago  ::  Oct 18, 2013 - 12:39PM #51
Posts: 32,868

A few minor league and winter ball notes

• The Yankees have re-signed veteran reliever David Herndon to a minor league contract. The 28-year-old had a couple of solid seasons with the Phillies before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012. He was back in games by the second half of this season and should come into big league camp with a non-zero chance of winning a spot in the big league bullpen. At the very least, if he’s not claimed in the Rule 5, he could be solid bullpen depth.

• Other minor league re-signings: Infielders Jose Pirela and Jose Toussen are back on minor league deals. Chances are, both are nothing more than organizational utility players, but Pirela has at least a few prospect-ish qualities. He’s 23; he can play second, third, left and (in a pinch) shortstop; he has hit pretty well in Double-A; he was in big league camp this year. That said, Pirela also turns 24 this winter, has five games of Triple-A experience, and was moved away from shortstop for a reason.

Baseball America offers some first impressions of the 2013 draft, ranking the Yankees as having the third-best overall draft behind the Pirates and Diamondbacks. First-rounder Aaron Judge (fifth-best power) and second-rounder Gosuke Katoh (third best high school player debut) receive some individual attention. Tomorrow, BA will post a more detailed analysis of the Yankees draft class.

O'Brien• Down in Arizona, emerging Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien hit his second Fall League home run today. He has just two hits in four games in the Fall League, but both of those hits have been homers. As expected, O’Brien has split his time between catcher and third base, so far playing two games at each position.

• Also in the Fall League, Tyler Austin is hitting .333/.438/.500 through just 12 at-bats. He’s played four games, all of them at first base. He has yet to play third base or right field this fall. … Mason Williams has been Scottsdale’s regular center fielder and leadoff hitter. He hasn’t done much so far, though. … Vidal Nuno has made one Fall League start. He lasted 2.2 innings with no walks and five strikeouts, but he also allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits, including a three-run homer. … Of the three Yankees relievers in Arizona, the early standout is James Pazos with three hitless innings. He walked two in his first appearance, but hasn’t walked anyone sense. He’s struck out two in each of his three outings. He was a 13th-rounder in 2012.

• Triple-A outfielder Adonis Garcia is in Venezuela and has three hits in his first two games. Curiously, he’s played third base in each of those games. Garcia has been primarily an outfielder with the Yankees, but he did get a little bit of infield time this year in Triple-A. He’s being managed this winter by Yankees Class-A manager Luis Sojo, so the organization will have a first-hand evaluation of Garcia’s day-by-day infield performance.

• Not many relatively big names playing winter ball just yet. … Ronnier Mustelier has three hits in his first 15 at-bats in Mexico. He’s been playing right field. … Recently re-signed catcher Jose Gil is hitting .333 with a home run in his first four games in Venezuela. He’s primarily played first base with one game behind the plate. … Organizational utility man Ali Castillo has more winter at-bats than any other Yankees player so far. He’s playing shortstop everyday in Venezuela and is hitting .174 through just six games.

9 years ago  ::  Oct 18, 2013 - 4:17PM #52
Posts: 32,868

Why Not ManBan For Next Year’s Rotation?

ManBan 2011

Here’s a whacky idea to fill a spot in next year’s rotation.  Give a spot to Manny Banuelos.  You remember Manny Banuelos, right?  Former top prospect, lefty pitcher, was striking out Double-A hitters on the reg at age 19 a few years back.  He’s been out of action since early 2012 and rehabbing Tommy John Surgery since last October.  He’s also been throwing for months and is expected to be 100% healthy for the start of next year.  The Yankees took a very cautious approach with ManBan’s rehab, waiting almost a year before letting him pitch in simulated games late this season and shutting him down completely for the winter to let him rest.  Given the uncertainty in the back end of their 2014 rotation and the unlikeliness of the front office to spend much to fill it, they might want to consider taking the kid gloves off their former organizational crown jewel and taking a chance with him.

The idea sounds reckless and unnecessarily risky, but is it really?  Banuelos was on the fast track to the show before the elbow problems stopped him in 2012.  Had he not missed almost all of the last 2 years because of the injury and subsequent surgery, it’s highly likely he would have been pitching in the Yankee rotation this season.  He’s only 2 years removed from cracking the MLB.com Top 50 Prospects list and had drawn positive reviews in the past on all 4 of his pitches, including the cutter he was reportedly working on with Mariano Riverain 2011 spring camp.

Lefty prospects with a ceiling like Manny’s don’t come around all the time.  Even with the lost development time and lack of innings on his arm, ManBan is probably still a better option as a 5th starter than David Phelps or Adam Warren.  Hell, he might even be a better option than Michael Pineda at this point.  And if it’s the innings workload you’re concerned about, consider Buster Olney’s article from August on the wild inconsistencies in organizational approaches when it comes to being cautious with the development and injury management of young pitchers and the drastic differences in results.  For every Stephen Strasburg or Dylan Bundy who gets handled carefully and still gets hurt, there’s a Tim Lincecum or Felix Hernandez who doesn’t.

Not saying that ManBan is or ever will be as good as those pitchers.  The point is that it’s basically a crap shoot when trying to protect young pitchers and the best laid plans can still go awry.  The Yankees were relatively cautious with their handling of Banuelos before he got hurt and they’ve been even more cautious bringing him back from TJS.  He’s been in the organization since 2008 and eventually their control over him will expire, just like it is with Dellin Betances next year.  Now that he’s healthy again, the smartest approach might be to get aggressive with him and get what you can out of him while he’s still under your control.  That’s the approach San Fran took with Lincecum and those years worked out pretty well for them.

When the season does start I fully expect the Yankees to continue their “handle with care” management of Banuelos, for the sake of consistency if nothing else.  He’ll almost certainly start the season in Triple-A with an innings limit in place.  Hopefully that innings limit isn’t too short – Banuelos did pitch 129.2 innings in 2011 – because the Yankees are going to need rotation help at some point and Banuelos would be the perfect option to fill a spot.  You can argue that it’s better to keep playing it safe with him and think of the big picture, but why can’t that big picture start now?  The Yankees have squandered too many recent prospect opportunities because of injury problems and poor development paths.  ManBan was and could still be the best of those prospects, if the Yankees are open to changing their style and being more aggressive with him.  At this point, what do they really have to lose?

9 years ago  ::  Oct 19, 2013 - 9:54AM #53
Posts: 66,015

Yankees organizational all-star team

Yankees Spring Baseball

While I was watching the NLCS last night, I was digging through some Yankees minor league numbers, doing a little bit of early research for some position-by-position stuff I’m planning for the days ahead. I was trying to get a better big picture sense of what happened in the system this year.

At some point I started making mental notes of the best performances at each position. Eventually, I just wrote those choices down and thought I’d blog them as a sort of Yankees minor league all-star team. These aren’t the best prospects at each position, just the best 2013 performances at each position. And frankly, a lot of these are subject to plenty of debate (if you really feel like debating this sort of thing).

A few things that stood out:

1. When I do things like this, I usually separate the short-season and rookie-ball performances, but there were three lowest-level shortstops who had better years than any full-season shortstop in the system. Cito Culver showed a little bit of life (finally) and Addison Maruszak had a solid year as a Triple-A utility man, but I just couldn’t pick one of those guys over the GCL and Staten Island guys.

2. A lot of outfielders had good-but-not-great seasons, and a lot of them had uneven seasons. Yeicok Calderon was great in Staten Island and hit for good power, but his overall numbers were only so-so after struggling in Charleston. Ramon Flores got on base fairly well, but didn’t do much else. Melky Mesa hit for power, but his bat was too inconsistent. Ben Gamel stole some bases and was perfectly solid across the board, but again, nothing outstanding.

3. Even after trading Jesus Montero and graduating Austin Romine to the big leagues, catcher is still a position of obvious strength in this system. The Yankees top catching prospect had a perfectly good year, and I still wound up squeezing two other catchers onto this list ahead of him. Could easily make the case that he should be on here instead of the guy I picked at catcher.

4. I decided to pick two starting pitchers and a reliever. There were a lot of starting pitching performances that hadn’t caught my attention during the year — didn’t realize Nik Turley had that many strikeouts, didn’t realize Scottie Allen had a 3.21 ERA — but I ultimately settled on the two starters whose seasons stood out to me. As for a reliever, I took only bullpen performances into account and picked a guy who wouldn’t have come close to being a choice for one of the rotation spots.

MurphyC J.R. Murphy
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Similar season for Gary Sanchez. Both made defensive progress and bumped up a level. Murphy had maybe a slightly better offensive season.

1B Greg Bird
Low-A Charleston
Within the Yankees system, Cave finished top three in batting average, home runs and RBI among players in full-season leagues. Strong first full season.

2B Rob Refsnyder
High-A Tampa

Took just 13 games in Charleston to prove too advanced for the league. Had more walks (84) than strikeouts (82). Positive reviews of his adjustment from the outfield.

O'Brien3B Peter O’Brien
High-A Tampa
.291 .350 .544
Split the season pretty evenly between Low-A and High-A. Opened as a full-time catcher before getting most of his time at third in the second half.

SS Abiatal Avelino
Short-season Staten Island
Played his first game on July 4, still lead the system with 28 steals. Could also make a case for Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada out of the GCL.

OF Taylor Dugas
High-A Tampa
Far more walks (64) than strikeouts (39) for the 2012 draftee. Numbers jumped to .321/.426/.373 after a mid-season promotion to High-A.

CaveOF Jake Cave
Low-A Charleston
Just a good, solid, all-around season for a guy who missed last season because of knee surgery. Had a .372 OBP and 15 stolen bases in the second half.

OF Slade Heathcott
Double-A Trenton
Given all the uneven outfield performances, I’ll take Heathcott and his .279/.339/.514 surge after the break. Not as bad of a year as it’s sometimes labeled.

DePaulaSP Rafael De Paula
High-A Tampa
7-5, 4.29 ERA, 146 K, 113.1 IP
Not nearly as good after promotion to High-A, but dominated Low-A and led the system in strikeouts. Bit inconsistent, but the highs were tremendous.

SP Shane Greene
Double-A Trenton
12-10, 3.38 ERA, 137 K,. 154.1 IP
By cutting down on his walks — 63 last year, 30 this year — Greene had his best pro season and might have earned a spot on the 40-man roster.

RP Dellin Betances
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
5 saves, 1.35 ERA, 83 K, 60 IP (as a reliever)
After the move to the bullpen, Betances became a legitimately dominant reliever. Dismiss the rotation numbers. He was the system’s best relief pitcher.

Associated Press photo

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
9 years ago  ::  Oct 19, 2013 - 4:21PM #54
Posts: 32,868

Yankees Prospects: Baseball America's 2013 Draft Report Card


Baseball America is releasing report cards centered around each team's 2013 draft class, determining prospect superlatives and some scouting report information as well. The Yankees were evaluated by Clint Longenecker.

Longenecker called Eric Jagielo the best pure hitter of the Yankees' draft and the likeliest to make it to the majors first.

Eric Jagielo has a smooth stroke with loft to all fields, a disciplined approach and the ability to make consistent hard contact.

With Dante Bichette Jr. getting the move up to High-A Tampa, Jagielo could start the season in Low-A Charleston.

He, of course, gave Aaron Judge the nod for best power hitter.

Aaron Judge has raw power that rates at least 70 on the 20-80 scale, and he can put on a show in batting practice. He has tremendous natural strength in his extra-large frame.

Longenecker says he will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic over the offseason and will start the 2014 season in Staten Island.

Unfortunately, an unsuccessful 2013 debut could keep O'Neill with Staten Island to start the 2014 season, while Katoh has gotten high praise from Baseball America, ranking him as one of the top prospects in rookie ball, and declaring his 2013 season to be one of the best pro debuts of any high schooler in the draft. He will be in Low-A Charleston next season, whether he starts the season there or back in rookie ball.

Shortstop Tyler Wade was the best defensive player of the draft, says Longenecker.

Tyler Wade, who could hit for average, is a good athlete with above-average speed, good actions, steady hands and an above-average arm.

As the double play partner to Gosuke Katoh, the Yankees could want to promote them together for as long as they can, so where one ends up, the other will likely go too.

Longenecker ranked right-handed pitchers David Palladino, Nick Rumbelow, Cale Coshow, and Phillip Walby as having the best fastballs in the draft with all four throwing over 96 mph (Walby up to 98). He thought lefty reliever Tyler Webb had a good fastball too, but for different reasons.

Tyler Webb pitches with average velocity, but his fastball plays up because of his command and deception

Palladino could end up staying in Short Season, while Rumbelow and Walby moving up to Low-A Charleston and Coshow sitting on the fence. Webb has already succeeded there and could find himself in High-A Tampa right away.

On the Yankees' best secondary, Longenecker talked up Ian Clarkin, David Palladino, and Nick Rumbelow.

Ian Clarkin (1) has the makings of a plus curveball. Palladino's curveball and Rumbelow's slider are plus at their best.

Clarkin didn't get much of a chance to play this season due to a sprained ankle, so he'll be pitching for Staten Island again next year.

Caleb Smith and Dustin Fowler were noted as the best late-round picks of the draft, with Longenecker higlighting Smith's potential for a plus changeup and fastball, and Fowler's make up as a good athlete with a simple swing and above-average speed. He also named Brandon Thomas as the best overall athlete.

9 years ago  ::  Oct 20, 2013 - 12:30PM #55
Posts: 32,868

New York Yankees 2004 Amateur Draft in Review


9 years ago  ::  Oct 20, 2013 - 12:42PM #56
Posts: 32,868
Cafardo: Yankees “on the verge” of making changes to scouting and player development departments

By Via Nick Cafardo: The Yankees appear to be “on the verge” of making changes to their scouting and player development departments. The team has been reviewing their farm system operations these last few weeks, starting with a staff meeting held by Hal Steinbrenner in August. “It’s something we’re going to be looking at. I have no problem dealing with reality,” said Brian Cashman when asked about the team’s lack of near MLB ready prospects last month.

There’s no word on what changes may be coming, but VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman and amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer are reportedly the most likely to get the axe. I would think Pat Roessler, the team’s director of player development since 2005, is on the chopping block as well. The barrage of unproductive high draft picks and stalled out top prospects has left the team in a dire situation at a time when payroll is coming down and free agent spending is going up around the league. The Yankees can’t sit around and act like this is acceptable any longer.

9 years ago  ::  Oct 20, 2013 - 12:42PM #57
Posts: 32,868
2013 Draft: Baseball America’s Report Card

By Earlier this week, Baseball America ranked the Yankees’ 2013 draft haul the third best in baseball behind only the Pirates and Diamondbacks. They followed up with an individual draft report card on Friday (subs. req’d), which breaks down the team’s draft into a variety of categories. 3B Eric Jagielo (first round) was ranked the “Best Pure Hitter” while LHP Ian Clarkin (1s) was said to have the “Best Secondary Pitch,” for example. I thought there were two interesting pieces of information in the report card. One, OF Aaron Judge (1s) is apparently going to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He isn’t listed on any rosters at the moment, however. A quad injury preventing him from appearing in a game after signing. Two, LHP Caleb Smith (14) has “a potentially plus changeup and fastball up to 94,” making him a really interesting bullpen candidate down the road. He had a great pro debut (1.93 ERA and 2.03 FIP in 51.1 innings) and ended the year with a spot start for Double-A Trenton. I wonder how fast of a track Smith will be on.

9 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2013 - 12:42PM #58
Posts: 32,868

Arizona Fall League: Yankees prospects Week Two progress report

Week Two of Arizona Fall League play is complete, so it's time to check in on the progress of the Yankees prospects playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions. You can check out how they were doing after only one week by reading last week's progress report here.

After two weeks of play, Tyler Austin has been the best hitter with the second best batting average and OPS on the Scorpions. Granted, those results have come in only four games, but through those four games Austin is hitting .333/.438/.500 with a triple and three runs batted in. The Yankees have him playing first base for the Scorpions, but he's yet to make an error in his new position in the AFL. Mason Williams has appeared in seven games for the Scorpions so far, hitting .226/.250/.323 with three doubles and a stolen base. The AFL has traditionally been pretty hitter-friendly, but Williams hasn't managed to really take advantage of that so far. After a disappointing season at the High-A level which likely got him sent to Arizona in the first place, the results will hopefully look very different for Mason by the time AFL play is over.

Peter O'Brien is getting reps at third base for the Scorpions while putting on a power display so far. He won a bizarre hitting obstacle course of sorts and has three home runs in 24 at-bats so far. The power is nice to see, but his .167/.231/.542 batting line could use some improvement. The kid proved he can hit all season, so his main focus in Arizona is likely trying to polish his defense at the hot corner. Through six games he's made two errors. The sample size is still small through two weeks, so it's much too early to draw any conclusions about the performances so far. Still, it's nice to see that O'Brien brought his monster power to Arizona.

On the pitching front, Vidal Nuno has seen the most action of the Yankees prospects with 6.2 innings, which leads all Scorpions pitchers. In two starts he's been roughed up a bit, giving up 12 hits and six earned runs. Nuno has struck out seven batters in that time. Brett Gerritse has appeared in three games out of the bullpen, pitching to a 8.31 ERA in 4.1 innings so far. He's struck out five batters and walked three in his three appearances. Fred Lewis has yet to give up a run in relief for Scottsdale in 4.1 innings. He's walked four and struck out seven in his four appearances. Fellow reliever James Pazos has also pitched in four games for Scottsdale without giving up a run in 3.2 innings. He's given up three runs total, but none of them were earned. Coincidently, Pazos has walked four and struck out seven as well.

9 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2013 - 8:40PM #59
Posts: 66,015

Norris: Tyler Austin removed from Arizona Fall League


Via Josh Norris: OF Tyler Austin has been removed from the Arizona Fall League for an unknown reason and will be replaced by a player from a different organization. He appeared in four games for the Scottsdale Scorpions but hasn’t played in a week now, so it might be injury related. Austin missed approximately two months with a bone bruise in his wrist over the summer. He went 4-for-12 (.333) with a triple, two walks, and one strikeout (149 wRC+) with Scottsdale before leaving the desert.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
9 years ago  ::  Oct 23, 2013 - 11:12AM #60
Posts: 32,868

Yankees Free Agent Target: Yoon Suk-Min


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