The Yankees were unable to push any runs across the board, falling to the Braves 2-0. Now, I won’t say that a lot of things went wrong because other than the fact that the Yankees bats weren’t hitting, some of the Yankees looked really good. Here were some of the players that stuck out to me during the game.
Brett Gardner: I seem to write about Gardner every time he plays, and there’s a good reason to. Gardner swung a hot bat from day one, and now currently has a seven game hit streak to begin the Spring Training season. To me it feels like last season, Gardner saved all his hits in a jar, kind of like a kid saving pennies on a rainy day. And just like a kid spending the pennies, he’s using the hits in Spring Training as if to make up for last season. Let’s just hope he saves some of those hits for the regular season.
David Phelps: Although he got the loss (Bad Yankees offense! Bad!), David Phelps pitched incredible, giving up just one run on two hits through four innings. Although he’s competing for a rotation spot, it would’t be the worst thing in the world to see Phelps in the bullpen. Like I said before, I don’t see Phelps going down to the minors if he continues to pitch this way. The minors are not an option.
Francisco Rondon: Mark Montgomery didn’t have his stuff tonight, and it was evident that the Yankees were in a big jam when Joe Girardi came to get him in the 7th inning after the bases were loaded. When Girardi brought in Francisco Rondon, he automatically was able to get out of the jam without giving up a run. I know everyone rants and raves about Mark Montgomery, but Rondon has been like David Robertson 2.o this Spring, getting out of jams when needed. If he does get cut from Major League camp, I expect him to be one of the last cuts since he’s doing so well so far.
Robinson Cano will be at GMS Field tomorrow…in the visitors clubhouse. Team Dominican Republic on the road to the World Baseball Classic will take a pit stop and play against the Yankees in a 1:05 p.m. afternoon game. Hiroki Kuroda will get the start for the Yankees and if you’re going to watch the game…don’t cry when you see Robbie in a different uniform. He’ll be back in about two weeks.
We’re five games into Spring Training, and after winning the first game, the Yankees lost four in a row, including today’s debacle in which the Yankees have five errors on the day. Now, we’re going to recap this game like one gigantic sandwich (thank you Family Guy for the idea). We’re going to start off with something good, say what the Yankees did wrong and end with something good.
Brett Gardner: It’s only been five games of Spring Training but Brett Gardner looked in top shape. As a matter of fact, he’s one of the best hitters in Spring Training up to this point. Gardner went 1-for-2 with a walk, but the hit he had was a big one at the time. The Yankees were down 7-1 in the second. The bases were loaded, there were two out and Gardner came to the plate. Yankees fans were expecting a RISP fail, but Gardner delivered a three-run triple, giving the Yankees some life, and closing the gap at that point in the game. I don’t know what Gardner did differently during the offseason, but he better keep it up.
Robinson Cano: Robbie Cano has looked absolutely, positively lost. After hitting a HR in his first game of the Spring, Cano seems to be swinging at almost anything. Cano was 0-for-3, bringing his average down to .167. Now, we all know that Spring Training means nothing, but Robbie looked just as lost during the playoffs last season. So technically since October 3 of last season, he’s looked lost. We’re not going to worry just yet, but this is beginning to look frightening.
Yanks had five errors: Yes, this game was absolutely horrendous with the five errors in the game today. Now, we know it’s a Spring Training game, but that was just really, really bad. Let’s hope we never see something like that again. And I can almost bet you, this game won’t be a Yankees Classic.
Nik Turley: Nik Turley might of had nerves, which might of explained how he let eight of the nine batters in the lineup step to the plate in the first inning, allowing five runs before recording the first out of the game–who happened to be the eighth batter in the lineup. The Yankees had seen enough, took Turley out of the game and called in Cody Eppley who did a decent job, although he allowed two runs the inning after.
Mark Montgomery: The pitcher who could possibly be dubbed the “next David Robertson“ certainly impressed after pitching a scoreless inning for the team. His breaking ball was pretty nasty and although he gave up a walk (he’s human), he was able to easily get out of the walk. It was simply, magical.
The Yankees play a Split Squad tomorrow, where most of the starters will stay at GMS Field and a handful of players will go on a road-trip The Yankees play both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Houston Astros and both games will be televised The Yankees/Blue Jays game will be on YES Network and the Houston Astros/Yankees game will be on Astro’s television. Both games will be at 1:o5 p.m.
There are a lot of notes from a lot of players today, so let’s skip the chit-chat for today and review everything that went on in Yankee camp.
– Phil Hughes has been shut down by the Yankees for a few days after experiencing soreness in his upper back. However, according to Girardi, we shouldn’t worry too much about Hughes’s injury since its in the upper part of his back.
“It’s upper back, up here by his shoulder blades, so we’ll see how he is in a couple of days. The good thing is he was ahead of where he probably would normally be at this time which helps. You’re usually more concerned about the lower lingering. But until it’s gone, it’s going to linger. That’s like, a Yogi-ism.”
– After experiencing discomfort in his back, Mark Montgomery played catch today. Montgomery was also throwing to hitters earlier in Spring Training, and the Yankees should expect to get the young pitcher back soon.
– Ichiro Suzuki is known for his behind his back catches when he’s shagging fly balls in the outfield, and Brett Gardner wanted to see it for himself. After the media spotted Ichiro making a catch from behind his back, they went to Gardner who was in the outfield with him during outfield drills, and Gardner admitted that he was the one who told Ichiro to do it, with a smile on his face.
“It’s my fault.” Gardner laughed. “I told him to do it.”
Gardner is already one-up on Joe Girardi, since Girardi has heard of the catches but never had seen one in person. I guess all he has to do to see one is ask Ichiro. Honestly, Ichiro sounds like a lot of fun to be around.
– Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano are preparing for the World Baseball Classic, meaning that they both would leave camp earlier this year. Robinson Cano is leaving camp March 2nd while Mark Teixeira is leaving camp March 3rd. That gives both players to get in some Yankees games before heading out and representing their country. Don’t worry Yankees fans. Robinson Cano will be back on March 6th when Team Dominican Republic plays the Yankees at GMS Field. Should be a lot of fun.
DOB 8/30/1990 Williamsburg, VA
School: Longwood University
5’ 11” 205 lbs.
Drafted in 11th round of the 2011 draft by NYY
The Numbers: Montgomery has put up outstanding numbers since making his debut in Staten Island back in 2011. He pitched a total of 28.1IP between SI and Charleston to he tune of a 1.91 ERA and 1.165 WHIP. He racked up 15 saves while allowing 6.4 H/9, 4.1 BB/9, a .185 batting average against and struck out 16.2 per 9 innings, which resulted in 13 BB’s and 51 K’s on the season. In his first game in Charleston he proceeded to strike out five batters in one inning due to a couple of errant pitches. Mark continued his success in the 2012 season and even cut his walks down a little in the process. He started out the year with a promotion to Tampa and after 40.1 innings got his ticket to Trenton. His season totals resulted in 64.1 IP, good for a 1.54 ERA and .886 WHIP. Once again he saved 15 games, and in the process allowed 4.9 H/9, cut his walks down to 3.1/9, and a .157 average against. His 13.8 K/9 dropped slightly, but his K/BB improved to 4.5 in 2012. After a stellar 2012 regular season, Mark was ticketed to Scottsdale to pitch in the AFL. In what is generally considered a hitters league he continued to pitch well, throwing 10.1 innings of 2.61 ERA baseball. He allowed 5 hits and 3 earned runs in his 9 appearances, of which in his last outing he allowed 3 hits and 2 of those runs. He allowed his only other run and two hits in his first two games, the rest were zeroes. His trip to the fall leagues is a pretty good hint that he is not long for the minor leagues. That, and his numbers that rival that of fellow Yankee David Robertson and 2011 ROY Craig Kimbrel. Pretty good company I’d say.
Montgomery, like the two aforementioned pitchers, doesn’t have the stature of a big power pitcher, but uses a combination of a long stride and deceptive delivery to allow his FB to play up a bit. He generally sits in the low 90’s with it, and can hit 95-96 at times and it has a bit of late movement to it when he’s on. He delivers from a low three-quarter arm slot and has a bit of whipping action to it that keeps hitters off guard. Like Robertson, his FB gets in on batters quicker than his velocity suggests. In his second season of pro ball his command of the fastball got decidedly better, boosting his K/BB ratio and kept more runners off the bases. He can move his FB around the plate a bit setting up his best offering.
Mark’s knockout pitch, as most are aware of at this point is his slider. Mark spoke on YES network with Mark Curry about how he toyed with numerous different grips during catch and long toss before he settled in to what he’s throwing now and it’s paid off. It’s already been described as a major league ready pitch and is the reason he can strike out a batter and a half per inning. It’s a plus-plus pitch that is flat out nasty to right handers, who have a difficult time even getting the barrel on the ball and seldom lay off the pitch to begin with. Experimenting with all those different grips also lends to his ability to throw his slider a couple of different ways depending on the situation and which side of the plate the batter hits from. He can throw a hard late breaking ball for strikes in the mid 80’s as well as a more looping pitch with a more sweeping break that he can place out of the zone in an attempt to get hitters to chase. He also sports a changeup which is more of a show me pitch, but it does gives hitters one more thing to think about in the box. His focus fell away from the change as he moved to Trenton and into the playoffs, which is understandable. At that point it’s about getting outs and winning games. He hasn’t shelved it completely though and will continue to work on it, as it will only make him more dangerous.
Montgomery straight up attacks hitters. They have no choice but to stay back and wait for the slider which lets him get early calls with the four seam. His improved command gets him ahead in counts which allows him to go to one of his two sliders. It really isn’t fair; once he gets two strikes on a hitter they don’t stand much of a chance as he can take them out of the zone or hit the corners with a slider or come right back at them with a fastball. Having the changeup tossed in there every once in a while only adds to his effectiveness. Add to his pure stuff a deceptive delivery that keeps hitters off his fastball and an aggressive approach gives you a guy that could push his way to the back of the bullpen in a hurry. He may not be the 6’ 4” power pitcher that hits the high nineties all day, but his newly improved command, possession of a plus-plus pitch and feel for variations on his breaking ball and you have elite potential. From floor to ceiling you have a guy that gets injured and flames out to one who closes out All Star games. Such is the life of a ML pitcher, but who wouldn’t want that kind of chance?
Already named a FSL All Star, a MiL Organizational All Star and an AFL Rising Star Montgomery is on his way up, and quickly. He’s another one of Oppenheimer’s middle of the draft picks that has shined and it won’t be long before he’s striking out batters in the majors. Despite all his recent successes, Mark stays humble and while a ML debut is imminent, he continues to work hard every day to improve on his already impressive skill set. His confidence right now is at an all time high and he’s ready to take it to the next level. As much as I’m excited to see him in the BX, I wouldn’t mind seeing him get some AAA guys out before making his way up, and hey, keeping him in the minors for a few weeks keeps that service clock from ticking away and would give the Yanks a few more months of cost controlled time out of him. There are a couple of guys (Whitley, Perez) that could get a callup before him, but none so far have his potential.
Good evening everyone. We’re only Day 4 into the Yankees (official) offseason and already so much has happened. Here are some notes from today.
– I hate to begin with sad news but former Yankees starting pitcher Pascual Perez was killed in the Dominican Republic during a robbery. Reports say that Perez was stabbed in the neck and the attackers were probably after Perez’s pension money which he recently received. He finished his final 2 major league seasons with the Yankees–but he’s mostly known for getting lost driving to his home stadium. Condolences go out to his family.
– There’s a rumor that the Yankees are interested in free agent right fielder Torii Hunter. A lot can change (it’s only the fourth day of the offseason) but it looks like the Yankees aren’t into Nick Swisher returning.
* An A-blog for A-Rod asks if Cashman fired up Jeter in 2010.
* Bleeding Yankee Blue thinks Cervelli will bring some much needed energy to this team.
* It’s about the Money Stupid wonders if the Yankees could ever become the Red Sox.
* Pinstripe Alley looks into the Mark Montgomery option.
* River Ave Blues writes how Jeter & Swisher have been carrying the Yankees offensively.
* The Captain’s Blog has a good article on how the Yankee dwindling lead could make history.
* The Yankee Analysts looks into one reason why the offense has declined since 2009.
* Yanks Go Yard has a good piece on Eric Chavez.
Based on their recent actions and remarks, it seems the Yankees are serious about sticking to a smaller payroll now and at least through the 2014 season in an attempt to get under the $189 Million Luxury Tax threshold. In order to do so, the club will need to look to fill important positions from within and develop both impact and role players.
The Yankees system became known in recent years as being deep in Pitchers and Catchers but lacking in strong position prospects. This was definitely a weakness identified by Mark Newman & Damon Oppenheimer and they addressed it by adding several solid up the middle athletes and corner players who can rake in the last 2 years. Now, the system is more well-rounded although there is definitely a lack of upper-echelon hitters in the higher levels of the organization.
The system is still strong in upper level pitching. Even with Nova & Noesi graduating to NY, they still have 5 potential MLB starters in AAA (Banuelos, Betances, Warren, Phelps, DJ Mitchell). The next level of pitching is led by Brett Marshall and several guys that need to take a step forward in 2012. Oppenheimer has a history of drafting good college relievers and there are many strong-armed righties in the pipeline who could advance quickly.
Today, I will list the Top 40 with a quick blurb, then will follow-up with more in-depth on the Top 20 or so players in the coming weeks. Each player has their position, Opening Day 2012 Age & expected level to start season.
1) Jesus Montero - C/DH, 22 – MLB
Has an elite bat that will make him a middle of the order MLB hitter for the next decade+. Rare blend of natural power to all fields with ability to make adjustments and take what pitcher gives him. Only question is whether he will be anything more than a DH but a .300 hitter with 30 HR power will always find a spot even if he’s eventually a full-time DH.
2) Manny Banuelos- LHSP, 21 – AAA
Had control issues in AA/AAA but most believe it’s just a matter of trying to be too fine as he has solid mechanics and repeats his delivery well. Threw a career-high 130 innings so will be in line for 150-160 this year and could be ready to pitch for NY in 2nd half.
3) Gary Sanchez - C, 19 – HiA
Has big-time raw power and still growing into his 6’2″ frame. His defense has been poor but I think he has the athleticism to convert to corner OF or 1B down the line and his bat is definitely strong enough to support such a switch.
4) Dellin Betances - RHSP, 24 - AAA
This is a big year for Betances. At 24, he needs to have a good year in AAA to prove he can pitch in a MLB rotation. Has plus, swing-and-miss stuff but most improve his control to cut down his pitch counts.
5) Mason Williams – CF, 20 – LoA
Dynamic player with plus-plus MLB speed and defense already. He put on a show in rookie ball and if he shows his offensive skills are for real this year in full-season ball, he may vault to #1 on this list next year.
6) Dante Bichette, Jr. - 3B, 19 – LoA
Drafted for his plus power, he’s shown better defense than was thought. He’s really impressed the organization with his intangibles & makeup - namely his work ethic, advanced approach, knowledge of the game & leadership. Baseball America named him top prospect in Gulf Coast League and VP of baseball operations Mark Newman calls him “a special player and person.”
7) Austin Romine- C, 23 – AAA
His defense behind the plate is MLB-ready now. His bat isn’t special but will be good enough for him to have a long career as a starting catcher in the bigs.
8) David Phelps - RHSP, 25 – AAA
Phelps is a winner who knows how to pitch. He’s 38-15 with a 2.61 ERA in his 4 years in the organization. He’s maintained the same solid numbers at every level including a 7.4 K/9 & 2.0 BB/9. Reminds me a little of Ian Kennedy. Missed time with shoulder issue but came back strong in August and was solid in AFL also.
9) Ravel Santana – OF, 19 – LoA
Tremendous physical skill set with power & speed. BA rated the wiry 6’2″ 160 pounder right behind Bichette as best in the Gulf Coast League after he put up a .425 wOBA. Will have to overcome the broken ankle & torn ligaments he suffered last season so will likely start in extended ST this year.
10) Tyler Austin- 3B, 20 – LoA
I seem to be in the minority but I really like this guy. He made his debut in the Gulf Coast and smashed to a .517 wOBA in 20 games, then followed up with .448 wOBA in Staten Island. Has power to all fields and an advanced approach that helps him drive off-speed pitches. How many 20-year olds can you say that about? BA ranked him 8th best prospect in NY Penn League. Only question mark is his defense at 3B but he’s athletic enough to play the OF if need be. He even stole 18 of 18 bases in just 47 games which tells me he has good instincts and a feel for the game.
11) J.R. Murphy - C/3B, 20 – HiA
Improved his game offensively & defensively before ending season early with leg injury. Rips line drives to all fields and scouts now believe he has the ability to remain as a catcher while also showing the athleticism to play 3B and OF. Could become a very versatile asset in the Majors.
12) Slade Heathcott - CF, 21 – HiA
He’s Gardner-like in the OF right now and has more offensive potential. However, I’m a little concerned with his constant injuries and questionable makeup. To have his speed and get thrown out stealing 17 times in 38 attempts is baffling. But, if he matures and stays healthy, he could be special.
13) Brett Marshall- RHSP, 22 – AA
Now fully recovered from his 2009 Tommy John Surgery, he threw career high 140 IP with 3.24 FIP. Has good low 90s sinker and makings of a plus slider. Has flashed mid 90s velocity at times and will be interesting how he does in AA this year.
14) Adam Warren- RHSP, 24 – AAA
Warren is next in a succession of Yankee right handers, behind Nova and Noesi, ready to advance to the majors. He threw 152 IP in AAA with a 3.60 ERA and on a lesser team without depth, he’d have a great chance to make the rotation.
15) Corban Joseph - 2B, 23 – AAA
Has patient approach and nice lefty stroke that generates hard line drives but there are concerns about his defense at 2B and 3B. He had .346 wOBA in Trenton with 38 doubles and 8 triples but doesn’t get the lift and backspin to hit HRs.
16) Zoilo Almonte – OF, 22 – AA
Solid all-around skills. Good defense, speed and power that has improved the last 2 years. Yanks added the switch-hitter to their 40-man to protect him from Rule 5 draft and he could be a candidate to make the team in 2013.
17) Graham Stoneburner - RHSP, 24 – AA
Season was marred by a neck injury that kept him out 2 months and he was never quite effective as excellent debut in 2010. But he still has a great sinking fastball that gets tons of grounders.
18) David Adams - 2B, 24 – AA
The ankle injury he suffered in 2010 lingered all season and the Yankees were very careful with Adams. He played sparingly in only 29 games. If he’s finally healthy this season he could progress quickly as he has an excellent bat that rips line drives to all fields.
19) Angelo Gumbs- 2B, 19 – LoA
Great up the middle athlete shows lightning quick bat speed and raw power to go with strong arm and nice speed. BA rated him 14th best prospect in NY Penn League where he had .341 wOBA, 4 triples & 11 SB in 220 PAs.
20) Nik Turley - LHSP. 22 – HiA
6’7″ lefty reminds me a litle of Andy Pettitte. Took a step forward with 2.51 ERA and 8.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 82 IP in Charleston til a broken hand ended his season after being promoted to Tampa.
21) DJ Mitchell - RHSP, 24 – AAA
Similar to David Phelps, Mitchell is someone who just keeps pitching well and winning. Sinker/slider pitcher with solid change-up could be another back end starter/long-relief candidate.
22) Mark Montgomery - RHRP, 21 – HiA
Overwhelmed hitters with low-mid 90s Fastball and an unhittable slider leading to a 16.4 K/9 and 1.91 ERA as closer in Charleston. His slider is just unfair to young hitters and he needs to be tested against more advanced hitters to see how quick he can advance.
23) Brandon Laird - 3B, 24 – AAA
Strong defensive 3B with good power but he doesn’t take many walks or hit for much average. Has also played some 1B & LF so could be a backup candidate in NY.
24) Cito Culver- SS, 19 – LoA
Showed strong arm with smoothness in the field and compact swing from both sides of the plate. BA rated him 6th best prospect in NYPenn League where he hit .250/.323/.337. He’s a project that will take time to develop his offensive game.
25) Ramon Flores - OF, 20 – HiA
Sweet lefty stroke and patient approach at plate, had .350 wOBA in Charleston. Good OF with strong arm and solid all-around tools. Only 5’10″ 160 so should get stronger and develop some pop.
26) George Kontos - RHRP, 26 – MLB
Standard FB/Slider reliever, held RH hitters to a .182 BAA in AAA. Averages about a strikeout per inning but is a fly-ball pitcher who is prone to HRs.
27) Claudio Custodio - 2B, 21 – LoA
Talented 2B/SS with very good speed. Hit ball well in GCL and showed willingness to take a walk. Hit .325 with .433 OBP and 26 SB in 28 attempts.
28) Tommy Kahnle - RHRP, 22 – HiA
Power reliever had 2.45 FIP in 81 IP with 12.4 K/9 but also 5.4 BB/9. Sits around 93-95 and can dial it up to 96-97 with a developing slider. Needs to improve his command and secondary pitches.
29) Isias Tejada – C, 20 – LoA
Next in line of promising Yankee catcher prospects, Tejada showed his ability to make good, hard contact with a .971 OPS in the GCL with only a 12% strike out rate.
30) Brandon Pinder - RHRP, 23 – LoA
Dominated mostly younger hitters as closer in Staten Island with 11.0 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 1.16 ERA. Has great command of 94-95 mph Fastball but has no quality secondary pitch yet.
31) Bryan Mitchell – RHSP, 20 – LoA
Plus stuff but still very raw. Put things together by end of year and shows strikeout (8.6 K/9) and ground-ball stuff (2.19 GO/AO rate)
32) Jose Rosario- SS/2B, 20 – LoA
Hit just as well as teammate Bichette with .331 average and .529 SLG%. He’s a hacker with a 3.2% Walk rate but he’s caught the attention of the organization and earned a late season promotion to Charleston. Mark Newman stated, “He can run (11 SB in 43 games) and throw. He hit 6 HRs, so he has some ability to impact the ball. By diligence, he’s turning himself into a quality prospect.”
33) Taylor Morton - RHSP, 20 – LoA
Made impressive debut in GCL. The 6’3″ righty should get stronger and he already possesses a plus change, low 90′s FB and good command.
34) Rob Segedin - 3B, 23 – HiA
Big 3B/OF with strong hitting skills. Earned promotion with .395wOBA at Charleston but struggled some in Tampa. Yanks put him in AFL this Fall where he went .250/.367/.407.
35) Daniel Lopez – CF, 20 – LoA
Another emerging all-around athlete with good speed. Showed power potential this year hitting .327/.413/.490 with 27 SB in 61 games across 3 levels.
36) Jose Ramirez - RHSP, 22 – HiA
Promising arm took a step back this year but still notched strong K rates so stuff is still there.
37) Evan Rutckyj- LHSP, 20 – LoA
Big strong 6’5″ lefty got stronger as the season progressed and generates a lot of ground-balls.
38) Cesar Cabral - LHRP, 23 – MLB
Rule 5 pick from Red Sox system, he’ll have chance to make team in ST as second lefty in pen. Gets a lot of Ks with good Fastball and plus Changeup.
39) Pat Venditte SWRP, 26 – AAA
Doesn’t have dominating stuff but continues to post good overall numbers and solid K rates at every level. Biggest drawback is he’s a heavy flyball pitcher.
40) Abe Almonte – OF, 22 – AA
Plus defender and baserunner but wildly inconsistent at the plate. Switch-hitter had huge 2nd half, riding a 30-game hitting streak and showing off good extra base hit power. Needs to prove 2nd half surge was real at AA this year.
Other Notables: Walter Ibarra, Kyle Roller, Zach Nuding, Dan Burawa, Chase Whitley, Ronnie Mustlier, Yeicock Calderon, Robert Lyerly, Melky Mesa, Dan Brewer, Brad Suttle, Jorge Vazquez, Ben Gamel, Gabe Encinas, Matt Tracy, Zach Wilson, Evan DeLuca, Mikey O’Brien
The Class A Charleston Riverdogs went through a season of constant flux. They started the season with an extremely talented starting lineup consisting of 5 of the organizations top 15 position players. Expectations were high, however due to promotions and injuries, the team that finished the season looked entirely different. the team had little continuity and that led to a disappointing 55-85 record.
The team’s top two hitters were promoted to Tampa in June. 3B Rob Segedin & 1B Kyle Roller finished the season in the Florida State League so I will go into more detail on them in the Tampa season review. Segedin was hitting .323/.396/.482 and Roller was at .305/.379/.545 at the time of their promotions, so their bats were sorely missed.
Overall the team finished in the middle of the pack or worse in most offensive categories in the 14 team South Atlantic Lg. They were 10th in runs, 8th in HRS, batting avg (.259) & OBP (.330).
Slade Heathcott – CF, 20, 6’1″ 190
Slade is anything but boring. The 2009 1st round pick (#29) got off to a blazing start hitting .370/.457/.630 through the teams first 20 games in April. However on May 13th, he was hit by a pitch leading off a game and ignited a brawl by attacking the catcher. Slade’s numbers declined after that amazing April but he was promoted to Tampa on June 29th. He celebrated by going 3 for 5 with a HR in his 1st game. Unfortunately, this was his only game as he missed the remainder of the season with a left shoulder injury.
Heathcott finished with a .279/.347/.437/.784 line in 53 games. He showed some increased power at the plate this year as he continues to get stronger. He already is a plus-plus defender in CF and was voted the best defensive outfielder in Class A by Baseball America. Slade is also as fast as anyone in the minors although this has not turned into success in stealing bases yet. He was an unacceptable 6 of 13 in SBs this yr after going 15 for 25 in 2010. This player has all the tools needed to be a starter in MLB but there are questions about his character, attitude & durability that will ned to be answered in the years to come.
JR Murphy – C/3B, 20, 6’0″ 190
Murphy was a 2009 2nd rd pick who raised his stock by having improving in almost every category this year. He hit .297/.343/.457 with 6 hrs and 23 doubles in 277 PAs with Charleston. He showed ability to rip line drives all over the field which led to an improved ISO from .121 in 2010 to .160 in 2011. JR also cut down his strikeouts whiffing only 13.7% of the time. Murphy also erased a lot of concerns about his ability to catch as he drew rave reviews from several scouts for the improvement in his receiving & throwing skills. His play earned him a promotion to Tampa but he only played 23 games before being lost for the season on July 21 with a foot injury. He hit only .259/.270/.365 in 85 abs.
Gary Sanchez – C, 18, 6’2″ 220
Sanchez got a huge $3 Million Bonus to sign in 2009 and was in everyone’s Top 5 Yankee prospects entering this yr. MLB.com had him #32 in all of baseball. However, he got off to a poor start this yr offensively and defensively. Through July 31st he was a disappointing .236 with 10 hrs but something clicked in August as he hit .433 with 7 hrs in the first 9 games. But his season full of slumps, streaks, suspensions & injuries came to a halt due to a hand injury just as he was catching fire.
For the yr Sanchez finished .256/.335/.485 with 17 hrs in 301 abs which is respectable when you remember he is only 18 yrs old and playing his first yr of full-season pro ball. He must cut down on his huge 27.1 K% at the plate and improve on his defense behind the plate. Scouts criticized his defense this yr mostly for his lack of focus and poor form. He has the tools to remain at Catcher but he’ll have to prove he has the work ethic and concentration. He was sent back to Extended Spring training in May for a poor attitude after a few incidents. Hopefully, he learned from this and it can be written off as an 18 yr old dealing with struggling for the first time in his career.
Ramon Flores – OF/1B, 19, 5’10″ 150
Flores is one of the few players to play a full season for Charleston. The strong armed OF has a sweet left handed stroke and hit .265/.353./.400 with 11 hrs & 13 sbs. He has a good idea of the strike zone and had a solid 11.4% Walk rate. Flores does a lot of things well and it will be interesting to see how he develops as a hitter as he gets bigger and stronger.
Shane Brown – OF, 23, 5’11″ 197
Brown was considered nothing more than an organizational player coming into the season. As a 23rd round pick, he hit just .234 in Staten Island last yr so he repeated the level this yr. However, in 22 games he tore up the NY Penn Lg hitting .446/.544/.635 to earn the promotion. In 35 games in Charleston, he hit .321 for a combined .366/.465/.473 line in 205 abs with 11% Walk rate and 7.8% K rate. He doesn’t have speed or power but he has shown great ability to get on base.
Shane Greene – RHP, 22, 6’4″ 210
Greene has a good pitcher’s frame and some promising stuff so was a lot of people’s pick this ST to take a leap forward. He did show some signs but was still too inconsistent. He finished 5-14, 4.37 era but had a 3.89 fip, 8.4 K/9 and 1.53 Ground Out ratio. So he shows ability to get strikeouts and ground balls but must improve on his .265 opposing BA and 4.4 bb/9.
Nik Turley – LHP, 22, 6’7″ 230
Turley was one of the systems breakout pitchers this season. He doesn’t light up the radar gun (sits around 90) but has a nice slurve and makings of a solid change, all of which he throws for strikes. Nik posted a 2.81 era with 87 Ks in 89ip and only 22 walks. Turley was a project taken in the 50th round of the 2008 draft who has grown 3 inches & 30 lbs since and finally busted out this yr.Looking at some of the pictures and video, this kid has mechanics and mannerisms like Andy Pettitte. Nik earned a promotion to Hi-A Tampa but his season was cut short after just 2 appearances with a broken hand. This big lefty will be someone to watch closely in 2012.
Zachary Nuding – RHP, 21, 6’4″ 250
I got a chance to see Nuding pitch in May and he threw 6 shutout innings. He’s a big strong guy who sits around 89-91 but gets it up to 93-94 at times. He steps to the 3rd base side with his front foot and throws across his body kind of like Jered Weaver does. Zach finished 7-6, 4.48 era/4.36 fip, 7.5 k/9, 4.0 bb/9, 0.64 GO/AO, 1.0 HR/9. He had a good .232 opposing BA but he needs to improve his command, generate more ground balls & refine his off-speed pitches so he can strike out more batters.
Jose Ramirez – RHP, 21, 6’1″ 155
Ramirez began the season in Tampa with high expectations but got smacked around with a 8.14 ERA in 6 starts leading to a demotion to Charleston. He pitched better in CHS finishing with a 4.78 ERA / 4.17 FiP. His 21.0% K rate and 9.2% walk rate were almost identical to his successful 2010 season. The difference was his GO to AirOut ratio fell from 1.16 to 0.82 which lead to a big increase in Batting Avg Against (.239 to .292) and HR/9 (from 0.23 to 1.06). Ramirez gets good low to mid 90s velocity from his wiry frame and has the makings of a nice change-up. His breaking ball isn’t good at this point but he has time to develop it.
Vidal Nuno – LHP, 24, 5’11″ 195
The Yankees purchased Nuno from an independent league and he started the season in Staten Island. Pitching out of the pen he was 5-0 0.72 era with 29 ks in 25 ip. He was promoted to Charleston and started 7 games where he was just as dominant with a 37 to 2 SO to walk ratio in 40 ip! Overall for the season, he was 7-1 with a 1.38 era and 66 Ks & just 5 walks in 65ip. At 24, he’s older than many in the league but a 66 to 5 SO to walk rate cannot be ignored.
Thomas Kahnle – RHP, 22, 6’1″ 220
Kahnle was a 5th rd pick in 2010 who was used as a 1-3 ip reliever in CHS this yr. He had an impressive 12.4 K/9 and .223 opposition BA but a far too high 5.4 BB/9. His 4.22 ERA wasn’t indicative of how well he pitched since he had a 2.45 FIP and miniscule 0.11 HR/9 rate. He sits in the 93-94 range and can pump it up to the 96 with a slider that shows potential. Kahnle definitely has a future as a reliever, how well depends on how his command and secondary pitches progress
Mark Montgomery – RHP, 21, 5’11″ 205
Montgomery signed as an 11th rd pick in June and after a 4 game cameo in Staten Island came to CHS. He wasted no time making an impression by breaking a professional record by striking out 5 batters in 1 inning in his first game! Mark dominated hitters with a low-mid 90s fastball and a nasty slider that he uses to rack up strikeouts. Overall, he had an amazing 16.4 K/9 with 51Ks and 13 BB in 28.1 ip. He saved 15 games with a 1.91 ERA. He has the moxie to be a closer and I’m anxious to see how his slider plays against more advanced hitters.