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S2S 2012 Team Prospect Lists: New York Yankees

This article is being syndicated from our friends over at Seedlings to Stars.  I will provide some of the article and at the bottom just click the link to read the rest.  Enjoy!!

With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!

Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.

New York Yankees

The Yankees system is undoubtedly somewhat down from where it was in years past. Their vaunted “Killer B” trio–Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Brackman–all ran into trouble in 2011, and Brackman ended up released while Betances looks like he may be headed for the bullpen. Jesus Montero was traded away to Seattle, further damaging the top talent, although New York did receive the Northwest League’s top prospect, Jose Campos, in that trade.

There’s still plenty to like here, though. This system has an abundance of two things: upper-minors arms and low-minors bats. Banuelos, Campos, and Gary Sanchez could be excellent contributors even by the lofty standards of Yankee fans.

Position Player Upside: B
Position Player Depth: B-
Pitching Upside: B+
Pitching Depth: B+
System Grade: B

Catcher: Gary Sanchez. You don’t come across a whole lot of 18-year-old catchers with ISOs of .229 in full-season ball. Sanchez also boasts a strong arm and a good eye at the plate, and has superstar potential. He has some major problems with blocking pitches, but at his age, that’s not cause for alarm just yet, and neither is his elevated strikeout rate. At some point, those are going to need to come around, but he’s got plenty of time, and his overall potential is enormous. Grade: A-

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Interview with Charleston Hitting Coach Greg Colbrunn

Charleston RiverDogs Hitting Coach Greg Colbrunn

I had a great opportunity to interview Greg Colbrunn yesterday and he provided a lot of feedback on the hitters in the Yankees organization.  Colbrunn played 13 seasons in the Major Leagues as a career .289/.336/.460 hitter and was part of the World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks team that beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2001 season.

He has been with the Yankees since 2007, serving as Hitting Coach of the Charleston RiverDogs every season except for 2010 when he stepped in as Manager.  This will be his 6th season with the team so he has worked with nearly every hitter in the Yankee system above the Rookie ball level.  With his knowledge and experience I thought he’d be a great resource to find out more about the hitters in the Yankee chain.  My questions are in BLUE.

How did you get into coaching for the Yankees and do you prefer Managing or coaching hitting?

I live here in Charleston, we moved her in 1999/2000 when I was still playing. I took a year off after I stopped playing but I knew I wanted to get into coaching. I met Gary Denbo (Yankee organization hitting coordinator), and we had some of the same beliefs about hitting. It seemed like a great fit and great opportunity to coach for the RiverDogs and the Yanks have been a very good organization.

I enjoyed Managing but I prefer Hitting Coach more. I have more impact on the kids and I really enjoy working in the cage. I relate well to hitters.

Between Kevin Long, Gary Denbo, Butch Wynegar, yourself, etc., a young hitter progressing through the system will work with different hitting coaches all the time. How much communication is there between you and the other hitting instructors talking about individual players, tendencies and areas to work on?

Its kind of the same philosophy. We have good communication. When one guy moves from one level to another, we talk about him and what type of drills he’s doing. When you have different coaches that are on the same page but may go about it in different ways , you can find out what works with certain hitters.

It seems the Yankees at the MLB-level, stress the importance of going deep into counts and wearing down pitchers. Is that an organizational philosophy they try to instill early on?

When kids are starting out you want to see what a kid can do first. See what they do well, see what they can and can’t hit so we can develop a program from there. The main thing we stress is to get a good pitch and hit it hard somewhere. Learn how to recognize a curve ball from a Fastball. We talk about the importance of OBP.

During their 1st or 2nd year, the kids are still developing so you don’t want to tell them they can’t hit a certain way or that’s not gonna work. When you watch the big leagues, you see a lot of different styles, different stances – hands up, hands down. There are a lot of different ways to hit. We kind of let them go and just put them in a good position where they can have some success and be able to repeat their swing. If we see something that’s getting in the way of having success I’ll make an adjustment. I might alter hand position or something like that. But for most part in the 1st or 2nd year, I kind of let them go and make some suggestions here and there. If they’re struggling I might step in and tell them what I think but as far as any big mechanical adjustments, I try to stay away from that for the most part.

You’ve been in the organization sine 2007 and have worked with most of the highly thought of hitters. If I were to list some specific characteristics, tell me who comes to mind as the prospect in the organization that best epitomizes these skills/strengths. (NOTE: Greg hasn’t seen the hitters below the Charleston level yet)

Strike zone Recognition

Ramon Flores gets rave reviews from Colbrunn

Ramon Flores. It’s something we work on but for some reason he’s always had a real good sense. He picks up pitches as well as anyone I’ve seen come through here. He picks up pitches right out of the pitcher’s hands and has real good strike zone discipline and pitch recognition – and he recognizes it real early. The biggest thing with him was getting him to be more aggressive in counts where he could take advantage of it and let some of his natural ability take off more.

Pure bat speed

JR (Murphy) has some bat speed…….Kyle Roller, big 1B – he’s got some unbelievable bat speed coming through the zone and that’s something you cant really teach. Of course Montero.

Pull Power

Montero, Gary Sanchez. Melky Mesa hit some balls a long way when he was here but Montero had the most pure power.

Power to All Fields

Gary Sanchez, Kyle Roller had some tremendous power, he hit some balls that were unbelievable. Great all around power, oppo power. Gary, being only 18 is impressive and has ability to drive the ball the other way.

Hits for Average

Rob Segedin, he was 22 but he kind of dominated, he uses the whole field and I could see him hitting for a high average throughout the system as he gets acclimated and gets his feet on the ground. Also David Adams and Corban Joseph too.

Uses the Whole Field

Segedin, Corban Joseph. Gary (Sanchez) does a good job when we convince him to use the whole field. He’s still only 18 and gonna be real good.

Best Fastball Hitter

Brandon Laird. Romine was a good fastball hitter.

Best Breaking Ball Hitter

(Ramon)Flores does a real good job, Laird was good at hitting the hanging breaking balls, Montero, Sanchez

When I watched Slade Heathcott play this year, his physique and immense natural talent really stood out. What are his strengths as a hitter and how do you see his shoulder injuries effecting his development?

He’s got all the talent in the world. His first year here, he was 19 yrs old and we just let him go. This year he was able to make adjustments and apply them early on until his shoulder started bothering him. Hopefully the shoulder thing he can put it past him and go out there and get enough ABs so he can move up through the system. He has ability to adjust his swing, we call it “Adjustability” with his swing – he can be fooled and still get the bat head to the ball. He definitely has the power, has the bat speed, can run, put the ball in play, get on base…..so he has all the things you look for in a Major League player

Gary Sanchez has been getting some high praise as one of the best hitters in all of the Minors. Talk about Gary’s strengths and what you see for him down the road.

Gary Sanchez is the top hitter in the system

I see a bright future. He has a cannon for an arm, he’s got power, he’s got bat speed, uses the whole field, has good pitch recognition – all the things you look for in a good young hitter The praise is justifiable. He’s still learning how to play. This was the first year he played every day and was just getting the feel for it and it took him until the last 3 or 4 weeks of the season to really get going and put it all together before he got hurt. He just needs repetitions, getting games behind the plate and playing baseball.

JR Murphy looked like he was hitting everything hard with Charleston in 2011. Do you see him developing his gap to gap line drives into HRs as he progresses?

Yes, I do. He’s still 20/21. He swung the bat real well the first half of last year where he was hitting 3 or 4 balls hard per game. He ran into a little lull before he was promoted. In Charleston, the wind blows in 80% of the time, it’s not a big HR park, so power numbers might be down when you look at Charleston hitters. I think he’s gonna hit some HRs since he does hit the ball hard. As he gets bigger and stronger, when he learns to sit on pitches and take advantage of some pitches he can really handle the HRs will come.

Ramon Flores has a pretty swing for a 19-yr old. Do you see him developing enough power to be a Corner OF in the Bigs?

I do. He has one of the most natural swings we’ve had come through here. And he does have some power. Last year he took advantage, he hit 11 HRs which is pretty good for a 19 year old in Charleston. The difference between 2 years ago when I first saw him and last year when his body filled out and the strength he had was big and hopefully he’ll continue to make that progress. I’m looking forward to see him in the spring to see what kind of shape he comes in. He hit some balls well, has a great swing, a natural swing, and a real great feel. Definitely one of the best natural hitters I’ve seen come through here.

Austin Romine seems like his Catching skills will lead to a long MLB career. Do you see him being a good hitter once comfortable in the Majors?

Yes, especially for a catcher. He had a real high leg kick when he was here 3 years ago – kind of out of control with it. The time he spent here we calmed it down some, got it under control some. In the bigs, the more he gets accustomed to better pitching, he’ll hit. He has characteristics of a big league hitter – real good feel for the barrel, power, power to all fields and ability to use the whole field too. That’s something he did show as a young hitter. I think he will be an above-average hitter.

Corban Joseph and David Adams have shown ability to hit at every level. What is your opinion of them as hitters?

Colbrunn called David Adams a poor man's Jeff Kent

They are hitters. We’re fortunate that the Yanks do a great job in the amateur scouting department to bring in pure hitters. They are natural hitters. David went through some changes at Virginia (in college), when he came to us we simplified some things and he just took off, took right to it. He’s gonna hit wherever he goes, a line drive hitter who works hard. If there’s one guy I could compare him to probably a poor mans Jeff Kent, that type of hitter.

Corban is natural, gets bigger & stronger every year, ball comes off the bat a little crisper. He has an uncanny ability to get the barrel to the ball. He can be fooled, he can be beaten by a fastball and still be able to get the barrel to the ball. Great set of hands on him, he can go out and flick some things or jump on some things. Corban’s going to hit wherever he goes.

How does it feel to work with a kid, watch him progress up the ladder, then see him traded to another club right when he’s ready to make an impact in the Majors a la Montero?

I’m happy for him. I’m glad he’s going to get the chance. When I came up through the Montreal system, that was one thing they always told us – there are 27 (now 29) other teams out there. Working for the Yankees you want to see a young player come up and play for the Yankees but you have to be realistic. We try to get them better whether they are gonna help us out or help another team out.

Minor League Recap – High A Tampa Yankees

As with many A – ball teams, the Tampa Yankees saw a lot of turnover on their roster throughout the season.  Despite all the changes they finished 74-64 in the 12-team Florida State League.  They were led by an offense that finished 3rd in Runs scored & 2nd in Batting Average.  Tampa’s pitching staff finished 10th with a 3.98 team ERA.

The team went through a lot of changes during June. It’s three top hitters, 3B Robert Lyerly, OF Deangelo Mack and CF Zoilo Almonte were promoted to AA Trenton and were eventually replaced by Kyle Roller, Rob Segedin, Slade Heathcott & JR Murphy from Low A Charleston.  Unfortunately, Slade & Murph had there seasons cut short by injury and Roller and Segedin had some trouble adapting to the more advanced pitchers.

HITTERS

Abe Almonte had a 30-game hitting streak

Abraham Almonte - CF, 22, 5’9″ 205

Almonte is a well-built switch-hitter who finished the season on fire with a 30-game hitting streak. He was hitting a pathetic .218/.294/.280 with 12 XBH at the midpoint of the season but was .314/.369/.475 with 30XBH in the 2nd half to finish at .268 with 30 sbs.  Almonte has a plus glove and great speed and shows flashes of being a dynamic offensive player but he’s been wildly inconsistent throughout his career so it remains to be seen if he can build on his huge 2nd half.

Kyle Roller – 1B, 23, 6’1″ 235

Roller’s a big lefty hitter drafted in the 8th rd in 2010 because he can stroke and he did just that in 2011. He was roping in Charleston to start the season with a .925 OPS that got him promoted after 50 games. He held his own against better pitching to finish the season at .284/.371//482/.854 with 31 doubles & 16 HRs in 110 games.

Rob Segedin

Rob Segedin - 3B, 22, 6’3″ 220

Like Roller, Segedin was drafted in the 3rd rd of 2010 for his stick.  He began mashing in CHS with an .878 OPS but he did not hit in Tampa after his promotion with a .245/.311/.309 slash in 52 games.  It doesn’t damper his upside as a productive hitting corner IF or OF. His season total was a respectable .287/.358/.403.

Deangelo Mack – LF, 24, 5’10″ 190

Mack had a solid year for Charleston and even played 40 games for Trenton from May to July when Melky Mesa was injured. He hit .248/.357/.388 for Trenton but was a .300 hitter in his 59 games for CHS. Overall, he hit .280/.361/.436 with 8 HRs among his 31 xtra base hits. Mack has a good feel for the strike zone and a nice lefty stroke but doesn’t have good power or speed for a corner OF which may hurt his future value.

Walter Ibarra - 2B, 23, 5’11″ 180

Ibarra is in his 6th season in the organization and he repeated the FSL despite hitting .301 last yr.  This yr he had his best season hitting .297-.333-.421 with 10 sbs and 33 xbh. The Yanks have a lot of talented 2B in the system rated higher than Ibarra so his future may be as a utility player.

PITCHERS

Marshall is now fully recovered from Tommy John Surgery

Brett Marshall – RHP, 21, 6’0″ 195

Marshall was given an $850,000 signing bonus as a 6th rounder in 2008 but underwent Tommy John Surgery in July 2009. He came back to throw 84 innings last yr and looked good. He got off to a poor start in April this season but rebounded to have a great yr as he got stronger in his 2nd year from TJ surgery. Since May1, he went 8-4 2.87 with 100 Ks in 119 IP and saw a big uptick in his stuff and Ks in the 2nd half.

Brett threw a career high 140.1 IP this season which is big having never thrown more than 87. He proved his arm is healthy.  Overall, he was 9-7 with a 3.78 ERA , 3.24 FIP, 7.3 K/9 & 3.1 BB/9.  He has a good 2-seam fastball he used to post a 1.88 GO/AO ratio. His FB is in the low 90s with ability to throw in the mid 90s and he also features the makings of a plus slider. The organization has to be pleased with his season and they will likely have him begin in AA Trenton next yr.  Look for Marshall to be a highly rated prospect in upcoming rankings.

Jairo Heredia – RHP, 21, 6’1″ 190

Heredia has been a highly ranked prospect for years but is terribly injury prone. Many had given up on him but he returned this season and showed the talent by going 8-2 3.29 with 9.0 k/9 & 2.1 bb/9 through June. However, he was then placed on the DL never to return.  He’s still only 21 and has excellent command to go along with a plus Curveball and low 90s fastball with movement but he has not shown any durability.

Ryan Flannery – RHP, 25, 6’4 245

Dominating yr as the team’s closer going 3-1 with 19 saves and a 1.24 ERA. Had a 7 to 1 K to BB rate and 2.30 Ground Out to Air Out ratio but at 25, he’s very old for this league and needs to prove himself at AA where he didn’t fare well allowing  16 baserunners in 5 IP.

Jose Quintana is a deceptive lefty

Jose Quintana – LHP, 22, 6’0″ 170

Quintana began the season as a reliever and did so well they made him a starter in July. Overall, he finished with a 10-2 record, 2.91 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 7.8 k/9, 2.5 bb/9 and 1.16 GO/AO rate. His strikeout ad groundball numbers were better as a reliever but that is true for most pitchers. Jose is a bit of an unknown not getting a lot of coverage prior to this season.  He sits n the 89-91 range and throws a curve & change.

Michael O’Brien – RHP, 21, 5’11″ 185

O’Brien pitched well in Low A so was brought up in late June and continued his success in Tampa. Combined he finished 7-7 with a 3.16 ERA with 99 Ks in 119 IP. He saw a big drop in his Ks after his promotion and was shut down for the season in mid-August

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