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Random Minor League Notes: 2022 Edition
2 years ago  ::  Oct 15, 2021 - 10:38AM #1
Posts: 27,614



2 years ago  ::  Oct 15, 2021 - 10:41AM #2
Posts: 27,614

Scouts on why Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza should make Yankees think twice about big-ticket shortstop addition

Yahoo! Sports | Anthony McCarron

They aren’t yet boldface names in the Yankees Universe. Heck, they may never be -- they are prospects, after all. But Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza figure to garner a great deal of attention this winter as the Yankees try to decide on their next move at shortstop.

At the very least, both players will give the Yankees something to think about as they consider a glittery class of free agent shortstops that includes Carlos Correa and Corey Seager. If Gleyber Torres no longer has the job and the Yanks have two shortstops-in-waiting in the system, does a short stopgap make more sense than adding another nine-figure monster contract?

We live in an age where Yankee prospects sometimes are overhyped, but both Volpe, the Yanks’ No. 1 prospect according to MLB.com, and Peraza, ranked third, draw serious praise from evaluators outside the Yankee organization.

To gauge their potential, and their potential timetables, we asked some experts.

"There’s a lot of David Wright in him," one scout who works for an opposing American League team said of Volpe.

"I love a guy like Volpe who plays with his heart. Always doing something, enjoys playing the game. I think it’s going to be something fun to watch. Who knows where it all goes?"

Of Peraza, the same scout said: "He’s magic with the glove. He’s a really good shortstop, can go any direction, make the charge play. He’s got a plus arm. He’s got a chance to hit. Sneaky power."

Volpe, 20, hurtled up rankings lists after a breakout 2021 in which he batted .294 with a .423 on-base percentage and .604 slugging in 109 games between Class A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley. He had 27 homers and 86 RBI, too, and added 33 steals in 42 tries. Only 16 players across all of Minor League Baseball had at least 20 homers and 20 steals.

Volpe was taken 30th overall in 2019 out of the Delbarton School in Morristown, N.J. He signed rather than go to Vanderbilt, getting a $2.74 million bonus. Drafting Volpe that high raised eyebrows at the time since some evaluators wondered if he’d hit with authority, or if he could handle short. But he’s the 15th-best prospect in all of baseball now, according to MLB.com.

"Everybody in the industry was light on him, except the Yankees," said a second scout. "It’s a helluva draft pick now. I don’t think any of us saw the power coming."

"I don’t think even the Yankees expected 27 homers in his first full season," added Jim Callis, the MLB.com prospect analyst who oversees the Yankees’ rankings. "He always had an aptitude for the game. He used the down time (during the pandemic) to get stronger and he started driving the ball more. He’s a different guy. Now you’re looking at someone who could give you 20 home runs or more in the big leagues.

"He's a pretty dynamic player."

Hudson Valley Renegade Anthony Volpe ready for action at short stop during Tuesday's game versus Jersey Shore on August 10, 2021.

Hudson Valley Renegade Anthony Volpe ready for action at short stop during Tuesday's game versus Jersey Shore on August 10, 2021.

The second scout raved about Volpe’s already-developed knowledge of the strike zone. Volpe struck out 101 times, but he also walked 78 times. "Once I saw how well he was controlling the zone, I was like, 'Oh, boy,'" the second scout said.

"Controlling the strike zone is a finishing-type thing for a guy. The way he did it this year was impressive."

Scouts say Volpe is an accurate thrower at shortstop, someone who can make "all the plays," one said. But, at least outside the Yankee organization, there is curiosity about whether Volpe will remain a shortstop.

"I’m interested to see how long they keep him at shortstop," the scout said. "Can he play short? Yes."

Peraza, 21, signed out of Venezuela for $175,000 in 2016 and is ranked 58th on MLB.com’s list of top 100 prospects. He started 2021 at High-A Hudson Valley and got promoted twice, finishing with eight games in Triple-A.

His combined slash line was .297/.356/.477 with an .834 OPS. He hit 18 homers, drove in 58 runs, and stole 38 bases in 48 tries. In four seasons in the minors, he owns a .755 OPS.

"You always heard of his tools," Callis said. "I think Volpe is a better pure hitter, but he has more physical tools. He’s quicker and he has a better arm, so he projects a little better at shortstop. Good bat-to-ball skills, good exit velocity, power potential.

"I would hear from Yankee officials, ‘Hey, this guy is pretty good. It’s going to happen one of these years.'

"It happened this year."

Added the second scout: "Defensively, he could probably be in the big leagues right now."

Obviously, neither player is a finished product. They both have work to do. For instance, not everyone is convinced of Peraza’s offensive potential -- a third scout said he believed Peraza had regressed as a hitter early this year from when he had seen him earlier in his career and had written a glowing report.

While elite prospects can sometimes play so well that they force an accelerated timetable, it seems unlikely either Volpe or Peraza is a major contributor to the Yankees in 2022. But their promise should make the Yankees mull whether they need a splash at short, such as Marcus Semien or Trevor Story, or a one-year solution such as Andrelton Simmons or Jose Iglesias.

Callis says a 2023 arrival is "kind of realistic" for both Peraza and Volpe. Volpe has not played above High-A and Peraza has 87 career games at Double-A or higher.

"Peraza is closer than Volpe. He spent a week at Triple-A," Callis said. "But even though he’s played four years in the minors, he doesn’t have 1,100 at-bats as a pro. (He has 1,087).

"But it’s a credit to both of those guys, after losing at-bats because of the pandemic, that they played so well this year. Some guys in the minors really struggled. These two played at an extremely high level and got promoted. They were young for the levels they started the season at, too. It’s so impressive."

Added the first scout: "I don’t think these two guys are overinflated. They are core-type players. Both of them really put the work in to become better."

Even if the Yankees do sign a boldface name, who knows what their infield might ultimately look like.

As Callis put it, "If they sign Correa, by the end of 2023, he could be playing third, Volpe could be at second and Peraza at short."

2 years ago  ::  Oct 17, 2021 - 10:25AM #3
Posts: 27,614

Can the Yankees expect centerfield help to come from within the organization?

The Yankees have rising prospects coming off strong minor league seasons but are they ready to contribute in the coming season.

Heading into 2021, the Yankees had what appeared to be significant depth with three viable major league options in centerfield. Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, and Mike Tauchman all had shown the ability to play the position in recent years, and in theory would cover for each other when needed. That depth evaporated quickly as Tauchman was traded, Hicks headed to the injured list, and Brett Gardner was forced from his role as a fourth outfielder into regular playing time. The Yankees were in the bottom half of the American League in centerfield production and will have to seriously evaluate the position moving forward, even with Hicks expected return from injury in 2022.

By the time all was said and done, in 2021 the Yankees saw 10 different players take reps in centerfield as they attempted to negotiate the season that was surrounded by COVID scares and numerous injuries. Brett Gardner was the oldest everyday centerfielder in the league this past season, and was six years older than the next closest player to recorded 100 games at the position in the AL.

It’s clear that the Yankees need to consider finding the centerfielder of the future. Down in the minor leagues the team has a number of centerfield prospects on their top-30 list, including Jasson Dominguez and several closer-to-MLB prospects who could be added to the 40-man roster early this offseason.

Everson Pereira was one of the top prospects in the 2017 International Free Agent class. The Venezuelan outfielder showed strong bat-to-ball skills and started to develop his power once he arrived in the Yankees organization. After aggressively assigning Pereira during his first two seasons in professional ball, the Yankees took the slow approach with him this year and it paid off in a big way.

Pereira did not start his season until late June — when the Florida Complex League kicked off — but it only took him three impressive games to earn a promotion to Low-A Tampa. His impressive start continued not just in Low-A, but carried with him to High-A Hudson Valley. Throughout the season Pereira smashed 20 home runs in just 188 at-bats finishing with a .303/.398/.686 slash line across three levels.

This will be Pereira’s first year as a Rule-5 eligible, but he has positioned himself to either start the season with Double-A Somerset or at least reaches that level relatively quickly at the start of the 2022 campaign. There is a lot to be excited about with Pereira, but he will start 2022 several levels away from the major leagues. The Yankees will need to protect him in order to capitalize on his talent down the road, but they also need to balance their roster with the ability to contribute in the coming year.

Brandon Lockridge was one level above Pereira for much of the season, and overcame an early season injury to put together a strong year once he reached the Double-A level. A fifth round draft pick of the Yankees in 2018, Lockridge is known for having some of the best speed in the Yankees system, but he tapped into more power this year hitting 10 home runs in 43 games at the Double-A level. Lockridge hit .328/.382/.557 at Double-A with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts. He is likely ticketed for Triple-A next season and will have to be protected during the Rule-5 draft as he is an exciting prospect with solid tools.

Roster spots will be tight for the Yankees heading into the offseason. Gardner and Hicks both have deals for next year and another one of the Yankees top prospects, Estevan Florial, reached the big leagues and played well at the major league level this past year. It is easy to understand why fans that have only seen Florial play at the major league level are calling for him to take a larger role with the team as he has produced well when called upon. But in a larger sample size, Florial has struggled in Double-A and Triple-A — he posted just a .741 OPS across both levels. He will have another year of minor league options that give the Yankees the flexibility to move him up and down this coming year, but it is not clear if he is a long term answer in centerfield for the team.

Many of the best teams in Yankees history have been anchored by strong centerfield play. It is no surprise that the Yankees’ below average production in centerfield was often cited as a major cause of their struggles. In the coming months the team will have to balance their rising prospects with their immediate needs in the coming season.

2 years ago  ::  Oct 17, 2021 - 10:29AM #4
Posts: 27,614

Yankees’ future catcher Antonio Gomez’s cannon earns him award win

by: Adam Weinrib Fansided: Yanks Go Yard

Though we can’t believe we have to say this after what we saw in 2016 and 2017 (sigh), the New York Yankees very much need a catcher.

Are they going to move on from Gary Sánchez prior to the 2022 season, his final year under team control? Uh … have you seen the alternatives?

Yan Gomes tickle your fancy as a starter? Manny Piña? A Willson Contreras trade, replacing Gary with a similar bat-first catcher who hasn’t been better than marginally above-average since 2019? Pending some sort of bizarre circumstance like Mike Zunino getting cut loose by the Rays, Sánchez will likely be the best available option.

But not forever, though. With so much money stuck on the books long-term, a Sánchez extension of longer than … one year feels highly unlikely. And he won’t go for that.

There’s no sure thing in the pecking order internally, but there’s finally a glimmer of hope in the form of 19-year-old Antonio Gomez.

Over the past few seasons, the team has drafted Josh Breaux, Anthony Seigler and Austin Wells in the first few rounds. They’ve seen Donny Sands grow and develop. But nobody’s given them quite what Gomez produced in 2021 (again, at the age of 19), and he’s taken home a major defensive accolade as a result.

Yankees catcher Antonio Gomez gets props for his pop time.

Side note: Who knew the Yankees’ player development team put out a cheeky little end-of-season awards show like this? Maybe nothing’s rotten in the building after all! No notes!

Additional side note: Though Gomez is mostly renowned for his glove and impressive instincts behind the dish, he also more than held his own on offense. Checking in with Low-A Tampa for 156 at-bats over 46 games, Gomez OPS’d .792 and knocked in 23 runs. He hit “just” four homers, but they were, uh, of the prodigious variety.

In other words, his pop times aren’t the only place you can find pop in his game.

Let’s not ignore the defense in favor of power potential, though. After all, that’s what Gomez is being rewarded for. That pop time wasn’t just the best in the organization. It would’ve also been the best number in MLB.

Three cheers to Antonio Gomez, who’s certainly earned the accolades. We might not be seeing him in 2021 (we won’t be), but finally, there’s a name in the system who seems likely to both drill the ball and stay at catcher.

Our fingers are still crossed on Wells’ bat, Breaux’s total package, and Sands’ attitude, but Gomez certainly seems like our best hope, and this postseason prize reflects that.

He’s only 19!

2 years ago  ::  Oct 18, 2021 - 10:26AM #5
Posts: 27,614

ESPN | Jeff Passan: Starting in the 2022 season, MLB will reportedly require all 30 teams to provide housing for their minor league players. The move is at once a game-changing positive development and long overdue. In recent years, advocates and social media have drawn attention to the inhumane living conditions and poor quality of life that minor leaguers endure. Facing mounting pressure to improve the way they treat minor league players within their organizations, owners appear to have finally relented and will do the right thing.

2 years ago  ::  Oct 18, 2021 - 1:45PM #6
Posts: 27,614

Yankees Minors report: Who broke out in '21?


NEW YORK -- Though their 92-win campaign guaranteed only a trip to roll the dice in the American League Wild Card Game, nearly no organization enjoyed more success top to bottom than the Yankees this season, thanks to a robust system that has evaluators excited about what the future could bring.

The Yanks’ seven Minor League clubs combined to post a 327-207 record, a .612 winning percentage that ranked only behind the Rays (354-188, .653) across baseball. Low-A Tampa owned the best winning percentage in the organization (73-43, .629), boasting an on-field product that featured contributions from top prospects Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, Austin Wells, and others.

Volpe seems to be on the fast track toward The Bronx, earning selection as MLB Pipeline’s Hitter of the Year after his standout performance for Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley. Like many of his generation, Volpe grew up idolizing Derek Jeter and picturing playing shortstop for the Yankees -- and he just might get the opportunity to do it.

“It’s every kid’s dream to one day be a Yankee and wear the pinstripes,” Volpe said. “It’s not something I take lightly to have the opportunity to one day do. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s the big picture.”

Volpe was already firmly on the Yankees’ watchlist, but he’s now one of the darlings of the national scene, too. The Yanks’ first-round pick in 2019 out of Delbarton School in Morristown, N.J., Volpe packed on 15 pounds of muscle during last year’s shutdown. That translated into his offense as he hit .294/.423/.604, Volpe had a 1.027 OPS and 170 wRC+, both tops among all qualified full-season Minor Leaguers. His 68 extra-base hits were second among all Minor Leaguers. Volpe showed power, speed, and contact-hitting ability -- all indicators that his breakout was legitimate.

Right-hander Luis Gil saw a considerable jump in his prospect stock this past year, ending 2021 as the Yankees’ No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. The 23-year-old Gil was 5-1 with a 3.97 ERA in 20 games (17 starts) for Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, enjoying a historic opening act to his big league career with 15 2/3 scoreless innings across his first three starts -- the longest by a Yankee in the Expansion Era (since 1961).

Left-hander Ken Waldichuk opened the season with 30 2/3 scoreless innings at High-A Hudson Valley before earning a promotion to Double-A Somerset. A fifth-round selection by New York in the 2019 MLB Draft, Waldichuk continued to miss bats at the higher level, tallying 163 strikeouts to rank fourth among all Minor League hurlers. Overall, Waldichuk was 6-3 with a 3.03 ERA in 23 games (21 starts), posting 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

Two possible breakout players to watch in 2022

Shortstop Oswald Peraza took a giant leap forward in ’21, with his offense catching up to his excellent glove, and he appears primed for even greater success next season. In 115 games at three levels, Peraza hit .297/.356/.477 with 26 doubles, 18 homers, and 58 RBIs. He and Volpe give the Yankees two legitimate options to dream on in their future infield -- or to dangle as enticing trade chips, should they desire.

Right-hander Hayden Wesneski rose quickly through the Yankees’ system this past season, compiling an 11-6 record with a 3.25 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) for High-A Hudson Valley, Double-A Somerset, and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. A sixth-round pick by the Yanks in 2019, Wesneski projects as a mid-rotation starter or a fastball-heavy reliever in the Majors.

One big question for next season

What is the progression plan for Dominguez? The Yankees pumped the brakes on his hype train this past spring, shying away from outside comparisons to the likes of Bo Jackson, Mickey Mantle, and Mike Trout, then delaying Dominguez’s pro debut until late June.

Nicknamed “The Martian,” the 18-year-old switch-hitter batted .252/.353/.379 with nine doubles, a triple, five homers and 19 RBIs in 56 games -- 49 for Low-A Tampa. Dominguez showed both flashes of brilliance and rough edges. As arguably the most hyped and tooled international prospect in recent memory, the Yanks will soon need to take their Lamborghini on the open road to see what he can do.

2 years ago  ::  Oct 19, 2021 - 10:43AM #7
Posts: 27,614

Yankees prospects kick off the opening week of the Arizona Fall League

The 2021 minor league season wrapped up in late September, but some of the Yankees’ top prospects have already started their next round of play in the Arizona Fall League. The AFL began on Wednesday, October 13th, and some of the Yankee representatives have gotten off to a hot start. Lets take a look at the week in review of the Yankees prospects playing in the AFL.

Yankees prospects are playing for the Surprise Saguaros, alongside a mix of prospects from the Royals, Reds, Rangers, and Nationals. During the first week of the season the team, went 2-2 and sits one game back of the Glendale Desert Dogs.

Right-handed relief pitcher Zach Greene was tapped to hold a tight 1-0 lead late in the game on Opening Day. Greene finished 2021 with Double-A Somerset and struck out 91 batters in 59.2 innings on the season. In terms of minor league level, he is the most advanced player sent by the Yankees to the AFL this year and picked up right where he left off in the regular season. Facing five batters, Greene recorded four strikeout in 1.1 shutout innings.

Greene’s strong outing allowed fellow Yankees prospect Elijah Dunham kick-start a ninth-inning rally that stretch the lead to its final score of 5-0. On the day Dunham went 3-4, and finished the week playing once more and recording a pair of walks.

The corner outfielder greatly increased his stock during this past season. He rose from an undrafted free agent in the five-round 2020 draft to a player who was one of the first players promoted from Low-A to High-A once the 2021 campaign kicked off.

The highest-profile Yankees prospect in the AFL is catcher Austin Wells. The catcher was the Yankees top draft pick in 2020 and put forth a strong offensive performance in his professional debut at the Low-A and High-A levels. Wells registered two singles and a walk in 10 plate appearances this week. He played two of his three games at catcher while he was the DH for another game.

Third baseman Andres Chaparro also played in three games this past week. Coming off a 2021 season where he dramatically increased his power number and overall offensive production while playing for Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley, Chaparro only recorded a single hit and walk apiece on the week in 11 plate appearances.

Two pitchers who struggled with control during their regular season and are looking for progress in the desert are Tanner Myatt and Harold Cortijo. Myatt — pitching in his first game action since early July — struggled, recording only two outs and allowing a home run in his AFL debut. Cortijo did not allow any hits or runs, but still walked two batters in his inning of work. He battled control issues during his time pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League last year and again during his limited time pitching in the regular season this year.

After finishing the regular season on a hot streak, right handed pitcher Blane Abeyta gave up a pair of runs in 1.2 innings pitched despite not giving up a hit. A walk, an error, a wild pitch, and a balk did the damage to Abeyta as Surprise dropped Saturday’s game to Glendale.

The Arizona Fall League is off and running and the Yankees prospects and their teammates saw a week of mixed results. Several players like Zach Greene and Elijah Dunham had outstanding starts to their AFL runs with many more games still to play.

2 years ago  ::  Oct 19, 2021 - 10:44AM #8
Posts: 27,614

Austin Wells, C, Yankees — Wells was the Yankees' first selection in the 2020 draft and spent all of his first pro season reinforcing his credentials as a hitter. His numbers this season—.264/.390/.476 with 16 homers—were especially impressive when one considers that Wells played just 71 games in college due to the pandemic and his status as a draft-eligible sophomore. On Monday, Wells had a loud game with Surprise, collecting a single, two doubles and a triple in five at-bats. The effort was Wells' second game of four or more hits this season. The last came on Sept. 5, when he collected five hits against Greensboro.

2 years ago  ::  Oct 19, 2021 - 5:38PM #9
Posts: 27,614
2 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2021 - 10:14AM #10
Posts: 27,614

Yankees' Wells catching fire in AFL

by: Jesse Borek MLB: Yankees

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Wearing No. 13 in pinstripes and hailing from Las Vegas with a powerful left-handed swing, it’s … Austin Wells?

New York’s No. 6 prospect boasts similar physical traits to -- and shares a uniform number and a hometown with -- Yankees left fielder Joey Gallo. And if early returns on Wells’ Arizona Fall League campaign are any indication, he may have reminiscent pop too.

Wells went 3-for-4 with a homer, a double and a walk while scoring three runs in Surprise’s 17-2 win over Scottsdale on Thursday afternoon. His third-inning solo jack to right-center field was his first of the autumn, and his double in the second was his third in his past two games. He added a laser shot to right for a base hit in the seventh.

“I’ve really just been trying to see the ball,” the 22-year-old catcher said. “The first couple of games, I’m just trying to see my pitch and get adjusted to the [strike] zones here and staying short. And it’s been working pretty good.”

All three of his hits came against left-handed pitchers. Wells entered the at-bats focused on keeping his swing “short and quick” and with the mind-set to “do damage.”

That fallout is starting to accumulate. After opening the Fall League 2-for-9 over his first three games, the University of Arizona product delivered a four-hit, four-RBI showing Monday. That performance and Thursday's outing make him 9-for-18 with five extra-base hits over five games.

The level of competition Wells is facing in the AFL might be the highest since he attended the University of Arizona. He earned Pacific-12 Conference freshman of the year honors before being named second-team All-America in his sophomore year.

Heralded for his advanced offensive approach, the Yankees’ first-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft split time between Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley in the 2021 season. He posted a combined slash line of .264/.390/.476 with 44 extra-base hits and 16 stolen bases across 103 games.

While it may not have the pop-culture prestige of the world-renowned “I Love New York” slogan, Wells offered up an “I love Arizona” after the Saguaros’ resounding victory.

When you’re hitting the ball as forcefully as Wells has to begin AFL play, what’s not to love?

Four other players in the Surprise lineup posted multi-hit performances Thursday, with No. 19 Nationals prospect Jackson Cluff and seventh-ranked Rangers prospect Ezequiel Duran (whom Texas acquired in the Gallo deal) both going yard.

Owen White, the reigning AFL Pitcher of the Week, started for Surprise and allowed two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out four in five innings. The Rangers' No. 29 prospect sat at 94-96 mph with his fastball while also showcasing sharp breaking stuff, including in a strikeout of second-ranked Red Sox prospect Triston Casas to conclude the third.

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