Minor League Camp Updates
With the ML spring training roster dwindling, we’re left wondering how the prospects who have been shipped off to their respective groups are doing. Here’s a few updates on some of the more familiar names in the Yankee farm system:
Gumbs was on a tear last year just as he went down with a triceps injury that ended his season. He’s jumped right back into the swing of things, collecting a couple of XBH’s including a rope shot over the left field wall, a stolen base and some pretty handy defense. Gumbs just missed my predictions list, but make no mistake this kid has the stuff to make an early play for a spot on the Tampa roster.
Sanchez has also rung in a couple of XBH’s, hitting a two run bomb of his own to left center to go along with a run scoring double. In a recent interview Gary expressed his desire to improve on all facets of his game; his defense took some pretty big strides forward last year with many scouts starting to believe he can stick at the position. Further improvement and the skill to remain a catcher would be a huge boon to the system, making a possible tandem with JR Murphy a formidable pair behind the plate.
Bryan made my prediction list this year, so let’s hope he makes me look smart for doing so. He went four innings the other day, allowing four hits of which only one, a leadoff double was a solid hit. He gave up a couple of infield singles and only one run on the outing and struck out three. Bryan went another five innings on Wednesday and pitched his way through a rough inning where he gave up a trio of hits and a free pass, but got back on point the following inning. He’s been in the mid 90′s this spring with his fastball and is throwing plenty of strikes. His consistency was suspect last year but he did have a tremendous finish to the season. If that carries over he’ll be making top ten lists by the end of the year. Part of his issues last year were due to him going max effort, which sapped his command a bit. He eventually got into a more free and easy delivery that allowed him to not only bring the velocity but stay on target. With some of the best raw stuff in the system a big year for him would be great for NY.
Campos was off to a great start last year before hitting the DL with elbow soreness. He tried to pitch through some not so usual pain and it ended up sidelining him for the rest of the year. He arrived in camp ready to go and started out with just a lone inning since last throwing in April. He surrendered a long home run to Gary Sanchez, but then settled in striking out two to end the frame. He then went on to pitch 1 2/3 striking out three straight and giving up one earned. His velocity isn’t quite there yet but he has shown plenty of movement and an excellent breaking ball. Health is the key issue with Campos, and if he can stay on the field and his elbow keeps from barking then we’ll have another high ceiling guy to root for on his way to the BX.
For a guy that has yet to appear in a game stateside he’s gotten a lot of press. Not surprising, as he has a couple of big league pitches in his pocket and has made mincemeat of his competition. Rafael did more of the same in his debut, pitching against his teammates and rolling through two innings of work so quickly that they threw two more batters at him to get his pitch count up. He tossed three innings in his next outing serving up a solo home run along with two more hits. Aside from the tater he was impressive, working on his delivery he wasn’t at max effort but still rang in the low 90′s and showed his slurve along with a changeup that flashed plus potential. It’s great to see him finally get some work in over here, but he has some pretty big expectations to live up to considering his stuff and age for the level. Blasting his way to Tampa this year would be a good sign and get him on his way to the majors.
Bird was moved off from the catcher position over to first base, so his bat is going to have to carry him if he’s to make it to the big time. So far he hasn’t disappointed. He’s hit the ball hard all week, going opposite field, driving in runs and making all around good contact. Even when he makes outs they’re productive; moving runners over or drilling the ball and succumbing to babip luck. Last night he sent a towering home run to right field, and the out he did make was a hard hit grounder. That’s exactly what he’ll need to do to stay in the mix and so far he’s been aces.
Coming off of shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder Mason missed a chance at big league camp but is hitting his stride now that he’s back in action. He appears to have put on some muscle over the winter thanks to a his workout/rehab program and it’s shown in the box. He started off slow but had some good at bats, then the hits started falling. He finished up yesterday with a pair of doubles, a RBI and a run scored, using the whole field and stinging the ball. It will be interesting to see how the extra mass plays into his power game; at first thought of as a minimal power type, he looks like he could get himself into 15-20 HR territory, especially with the help of the short right field porch in YS3.
Making the move to second base Rob took a bit to get used to his new digs, but is looking more comfortable by the day. He made a couple of outstanding plays the other night with the glove, showing of his range and arm. He hasn’t looked too bad at the plate either, rounding out his day with a 2-4 performance knocking in two runs that included a double down the left field line.
Quick note on Culver… he ditched the switch hitting and will be going at it solely from the right side from now on. It was something he came to a decision on and approached the team about, which they embraced immediately. He says he’s more comfortable from that side, and so far the reports are he looks pretty good. He laced a double to left center off Josh Johnson earlier in the week and has retained his plate discipline drawing a walk later on that day. He followed that up with another hard hit double, driving in two and scoring a pair. Even his outs have been impressive. His defense has never been in question, so if he can get his bat in line he’ll be back on the radar.