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Random Minor League Notes: 2016 Edition
6 years ago  ::  Sep 21, 2016 - 10:45AM #961
Posts: 32,868
Jordan Montgomery, lhp, Yankees. Montgomery punctuated a terrific season by pitching five strong innings as Scranton-Wilkes/Barre won the Triple-A National Championship, 3-1 over El Paso (Padres). Montgomery, the former South Carolina ace and fourth-round pick in 2014, was 14-5, 2.13 at Double-A and Triple-A this season. Read more about the Triple-A National Championship here.
Read more at www.baseballamerica.com/minors/baseball-...
6 years ago  ::  Sep 21, 2016 - 10:48AM #962
Posts: 32,868
  • RHP James Kaprielian (elbow) faced hitters again today, reports Brendan Kuty. They’re still hoping he can play in the AzFL. “I’m pretty happy and excited with the progression we’ve made,” said Kaprielian. “We’ve obviously taken our time with this and tried to deal with it smart. The Yankees have done a really good job with handling me and the process and I feel good with where I’m at.”
  • OF Blake Rutherford (hamstring) is healthy and participating in Instruction League, reports Kuty. “I’m 100%. Just going through some things, getting ready, getting my timing back. My leg feels real good,” he said. Rutherford also talked about some other stuff following his first few months as a pro ballplayer, so check it out.
  • Jim Callis ranked this year’s top 30 rookies based on future value. C Gary Sanchez placed tenth. “His power is for real, as is his arm strength, and he could become an All-Star after showing more maturity and receiving prowess the past two years,” said the write-up.
  • Both 1B Greg Bird and IF Tyler Wade were included in yesterday’s Monday Morning Ten Pack (no subs. req’d), which highlighted interesting players going to the AzFL. Bird is on his way back from shoulder surgery and Wade is going to spend some time in the outfield to increase his versatility.
  • The Dominican Winter League draft was held last week and Vince Lara-Cinisomo has the results. Several Yankees farmhands were picked, including RHP Domingo Acevedo and RHP Yefrey Ramirez. They’re still Yankees. Nothing’s changed there. It just means they have new winter ball teams. Like the time Gary Sanchez was traded for Pedro Ciriaco.
6 years ago  ::  Sep 22, 2016 - 11:51AM #963
Posts: 32,868

2016 Minor League Awards

What a wild year for the farm system. Thanks to their trade deadline dealings, the Yankees both added (through trades) and subtracted (through call-ups) some serious talent from the minor league system this year. The Yankees are calling it a transition, not a rebuild, but either way the message is clear: the team is going young now. The kids are getting a chance to play.

New York’s eight (eight!) domestic minor league affiliates went a combined 447-363 (.553) this season, the third best record in the minors — only the Phillies (.595) and Mariners (.581) were better — and their third consecutive winning season. The 2013 season is the only time the system had a combined losing record in the last 35 years. Each of the top five affiliates went to the postseason and Triple-A Scranton won the Triple-A Championship Game. Pretty cool.

Now that the postseason is over, it’s time to hand out some awards for the minor league season. As always, these awards are totally subjective and completely meaningless. I have no authority whatsoever. This is just my look back at the season and a recognition for those who played well. This isn’t any sort of top prospects list. It’s a best performers list regardless of prospect status. That make sense? Good.

Here are my 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 awards posts. It blows my mind I’ve been doing this ten years already. Where does all the time go? Anyway, let’s dig into this season’s minor league awards.

Minor League Player of the Year: RHP Chance Adams
The transition from the bullpen to the rotation could not have worked any better for the 22-year-old Adams, who was the Yankees’ fifth round pick in the 2015 draft. He pitched to a 2.33 ERA (2.96 FIP) with a 29.1% strikeout rate and a 7.9% walk rate in 127.1 innings at High-A and Double-A this year. Only 15 of the 549 pitchers to throw at least 100 innings in the minors this season had a lower ERA — Adams allowed zero or one run in 17 of his 24 starts — and he never slowed down either; he struck out ten in 4.1 innings in his final start. Adams also led the farm system in strikeouts (144) despite being only seventh in innings. No player in the system was as consistently excellent as Adams this summer, and that’s why he’s my Minor League Player of the Year.

Minor League Pitcher of the Year: LHP Jordan Montgomery
It’s remarkable how many great pitching performances there were in the system this year. Remember how I mentioned only 15 pitchers had a better ERA than Adams this year? Well, three of the 15 were Yankees, including LHP Nestor Cortes, who led all the minors with a 1.73 ERA. Montgomery, who finished 11th in the minors with a 2.13 ERA, gets Pitcher of the Year honors over Cortes and LHP Dietrich Enns (fourth in ERA) because he threw more innings and missed more bats. Montgomery split the season between Double-A and Triple-A and he finished second in the system in both innings (139.1) and strikeouts (134), and his 2.86 FIP was 25th best in the minors among those 549 pitchers who threw at least 100 innings. This was a very close race. Ultimately, I went with Montgomery because he spent the entire season in the rotation; Cortes and Enns both spent time in the bullpen. (Adams isn’t eligible for this award as the Minor League Player of the Year.)

Minor League Hitter of the Year: 1B/OF Tyler Austin
Every year when writing this post, without fail, I come across a player who had a far better season than I realized. I knew Austin had a tremendous bounceback year. He didn’t get called up to the big leagues because the Yankees had nothing better to do. But a .294/.392/.524 (161 wRC+) batting line with 34 doubles and 17 homers in 107 games? Hot damn. A total of 771 players had at least 400 plate appearances in the minors this year. Austin ranked seventh in 161 wRC+. That’s incredible. What a monster season for our 2012 Minor League Player of the Year.

Breakout Player of the Year: RHP Chance Adams
Adams began the season as a guy with two reliable pitches, maybe three, and he finished it as a four-pitch starter who could pound the zone with everything. Usually when a prospect has a huge season like that, you’ll read a few scouting reports throughout the summer that downplay the statistical success and keep expectations in check. That didn’t happen with Adams. Every single scouting report was glowing. In fact, it seemed like scouts were more and more impressed with him as the season progressed. He was an interesting relief prospect a year ago this time. Now Adams is a bonafide starting pitching prospect not far from the big leagues who should receive top 100 consideration next spring.

Best Pro Debut: 2B Nick Solak
First rounder OF Blake Rutherford had an incredible pro debut, hitting .351/.415/.570 (171 wRC+) down in rookie ball, but he was limited to only 130 plate appearances because he signed late and suffered a hamstring injury in August. Solak, on the other hand, put up a .321/.412/.421 (155 wRC+) batting line with three homers and eight steals while batting 279 times in short season ball. The difference in playing time is too great to ignore. Solak had nearly as many walks (30) as strikeouts (39), and he had 25 multi-hit games against only nine multi-strikeout games. After spending three years at a major college program (Louisville), this year’s second round pick hardly missed a beat after transitioning to pro ball. Solak was outstanding.

Comeback Player of the Year: 1B/OF Tyler Austin
How could it be anyone else? A year ago Austin hit .240/.315/.343 (92 wRC+) during the regular season and was demoted from Triple-A to Double-A. The Yankees then designated for him assignment in September to clear 40-man roster space for another player, and he went unclaimed on waivers. No one grabbed him. Austin recently called that the “best thing that ever happened” because it put his career into perspective and showed him he needs to work harder to earn his way up the ladder. He did that and then some this season.

Bounceback Player of the Year (started slow, finished strong): SS Kyle Holder
The Yankees took Holder with their supplemental first round pick last year, the compensation pick for losing David Robertson, and because he’s a defense-first shortstop, he was quickly branded as the next Brendan Ryan. Why? Because people like to be miserable, I guess. Holder didn’t exactly prove doubters wrong during the first half of the season at Low-A either. He played 88 games this season around an injury, and in the first 44 games he hit an empty .274/.303/.327 (81 wRC+). In his last 44 games, Holder hit .304/.340/.364 (104 wRC+). That includes a .357/.396/.449 (145 wRC+) batting line in 23 games after coming off the DL. All told, Holder hit .290/.323/.347 (93 wRC+) in 374 plate appearances this year, which doesn’t jump out at you, but it’s promising given his defense and bat-to-ball skills (14.2% strikeouts). Holder started poorly and really finished strong. Nice rebound at midseason.

Most Disappointing Player of the Year: SS Jorge Mateo
Gosh, it was all so promising in Spring Training, wasn’t it? Mateo, who was coming off a big 2015 season in which he hit .278/.345/.392 (114 wRC+) with 82 steals as a 20-year-old Low-A and High-A, hit rockets all over the field during Grapefruit League play and dazzled with his speed. Remember this?

All-Minor League Teams

First TeamSecond TeamThird Team
Catcher Kyle Higashioka Gary Sanchez Luis Torrens
First Base Tyler Austin Chris Gittens Kevin Cornelius
Second Base Nick Solak Thairo Estrada Abi Avelino
Shortstop Tyler Wade Jorge Mateo Hoy Jun Park
Third Base Donovan Solano Miguel Andujar Dermis Garcia
Outfield Dustin Fowler Cesar Puello Jeff Hendrix
Outfield Ben Gamel Mason Williams Timmy Robinson
Outfield Aaron Judge Blake Rutherford Mark Payton
Starting Pitcher Chance Adams Chad Green Yefrey Ramirez
Starting Pitcher Jordan Montgomery Josh Rogers Domingo Acevedo
Starting Pitcher Dietrich Enns Nestor Cortes Daniel Camarena
Relief Pitcher Gio Gallegos Jordan Foley Taylor Widener
Relief Pitcher Jonathan Holder Travis Hissong Andrew Schwaab

6 years ago  ::  Sep 22, 2016 - 9:20PM #964
Posts: 32,868
6 years ago  ::  Sep 23, 2016 - 10:45AM #965
Posts: 32,868

You mentioned Jorge Mateo earlier as one of the guys you would add to the the 40 man roster. He has played poorly in High A Tampa, is he really a risk to be taken in the rule 5 draft?

Yes, absolutely. Too much upside and too much athleticism at a hard to fill position. A rebuilding team like the Padres, who have had a hole at shortstop for basically their entire existence, would grab Mateo in an instant and figure out a way to make it work. They could use him as a utility infielder at the start of the year and gradually increase his playing time. Mateo is a top 50 prospect in the game. Maybe top 30. Give teams a chance to pick him up for nothing — well, nothing other than the $50,000 Rule 5 Draft fee — and they’re going to take it.

6 years ago  ::  Sep 23, 2016 - 10:47AM #966
Posts: 32,868

Is Gio Gallegos an actual bullpen prospect? His stats look good. Is it enough to get a look in spring training and/or a spot on the shuttle?

Yes and no. He’s not a top bullpen prospect or anything but he has a chance to pitch in the big leagues at some point. Don’t obsess over minor league reliever stats. There are literally hundreds of bullpeners in the minors with sexy numbers. Gallegos had a 1.17 ERA (1.97 FIP) with a 36.5% strikeout rate and a 5.7% walk rate in 84.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this year, and that’s awesome. He was dominant. More importantly, Gallegos has a mid-90s fastball and a breaking ball that might not be consistent enough to miss bats in the big leagues. He’ll be Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter and the Yankees have no room for him on the 40-man roster, so Gallegos could end up getting a look in Spring Training with another team.

6 years ago  ::  Sep 23, 2016 - 10:49AM #967
Posts: 32,868

I know you’ve said before that no prospect is untouchable but with the new additions from the trade deadline do you still feel that way? If so which ones? I know prospects are completely unreliable but everyone falls in love with them. (Can’t what to see Frazier drop bombs in pinstripes)

Still feel that way. Among the guys still in the minors, Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres are the two guys I’d least like to give up, but if they can get the Yankees a good young starter, they’d be foolish not to make them available. I consider Frazier the better prospect, though I’d trade him before Torres, weirdly. The Yankees are loaded with outfielders at the upper levels. Torres is going to play the infield, likely either short or third, and a potential star at those positions is more necessary long-term than a big outfield bat.

6 years ago  ::  Sep 23, 2016 - 10:55AM #968
Posts: 32,868

Not long ago, before rookie catcher Gary Sanchez became an overnight sensation for the Yankees, there were questions about his future.

In June 2014, Sanchez was suspended a handful of games for undisclosed team rule violations. At the time, Sanchez's numbers — a .251 batting average and seven homers — and his so-so defense might have been fine for other 21-year-olds at Double-A. But Sanchez, given a $3 million signing bonus at age 16, had already been a top Yankees prospect for years and was subject to the extra scrutiny that comes with that recognition.

He turned it around and is off to a historic start, becoming the fastest player ever to 19 career home runs on Wednesday.

The Yankees think hyped shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo will, too, and for similar reasons.

"If you look back about three years ago, Gary Sanchez — you could be saying the same things about Jorge Mateo," Yankees vice president of player development Gary Denbo told NJ Advance Media at the team's training complex on Thursday.

MLB.com ranks Mateo, 21, the Yankees' third-best prospect behind No. 1 Clint Frazier, an outfielder, and 19-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres. 

It's easy to see why.

Before the season, MLB.com said Mateo possessed the best speed in the minors after he stole an insane 82 bases last year. He also hit a formidable .278 with a .345 on-base percentage and showed off a strong arm while spending most of the year at Low-A Charleston before a brief look at High-A Tampa.

"Last year would have been hard to duplicate," Denbo said.

It was.

This season, Mateo hit .254 with eight homes and a .685 OPS while stealing 36 bases at High-A. He was on fire early, hitting .299 through April and May before watching his batting average plummet to .225 the rest of the way.

He was also suspended for two weeks in early July for violating team rules.

A report said Mateo was banned for arguing with team officials and called for the organization to release another player to make room for him at a higher minor-league level.

But a source at the time told NJ Advance Media Mateo that never happened and that he was actually suspended for an off-the-field issue the Yankees had already warned him about.

Denbo was upbeat when discussing Mateo. He said he's just like any talented young player, looking to adjust to a new league and grow as a person at the same time.

"He's just going through some growing pains," Denbo said. "He has to learn how to be a professional and go out there and compete everyday and once he gets that to go along with his tools he's going to be an exceptional player."

Denbo was asked if he believed Mateo needed to mature.

"I feel like all of our players need to mature," Denbo said. "He's a young man. Coming from the Dominican Republic, all of our players are going through a process of how to be educated to be a pro and that includes how to prepare, how to compete, how to behave on and off the field. It's not just what happens on the field to be a New York Yankee. For us, it's things that go one in the clubhouse and things that go on off the field are just as important. We've got to send guys up that our major league staff feels comfortable lift, be a good teammate, be a professional, know how to prepare and compete everyday and how to bring their best effort everyday and that's something that Mateo is going through this year."

6 years ago  ::  Sep 24, 2016 - 10:23AM #969
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 25, 2016 - 11:13AM #970
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