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2013 Top 40 Prospects

Austin jumped all the way to AA Trenton (flickr photo by slgckgc used through (Commons license)

Austin improved his stock more than any other player and isn’t far from N.Y. now in AA Trenton (flickr photo by slgckgc used through (Commons license)

The Yankees Minor league system had an up and down year in 2012.   Several of their older and upper-tier prospects had injuries (Banuelos, Romine, Campos) or setbacks (Betances).  Add to that the trade of #1 prospect Jesus Montero and it left the upper levels of the system without much impact talent ready to help in the Bronx.  However,  it wasn’t all bad news as  the organization saw the continued positive development from a wave of strong young players who began the year at the A-ball level.  What the system loses in not having much in the way of near MLB-ready talent, it makes up for with a deep well of quality players in the lower rungs.  These players, led by M.Williams, Sanchez, Austin & Heathcott, will start in High A or AA this year and could make this a Top 5 system by next year.  Most of the main Prospect Writers have the Yankee system rated in the #10-14 range right now.

As we have seen this offseason, Yankees ownership is serious about cutting payroll to get below the Competitive Balance Tax Threshold in 2014 and beyond.  The only way the team can remain a playoff contender is to start getting major contributions from their Farm System.  Unfortunately, the high-end talent likely won’t be ready to make a major impact until 2015-2016 but some of these guys may get an opportunity to play in the majors sooner rather than later.  And for the first time in years, the team may start to give legitimate opportunities  to their prospects in New York.

Following is a breakdown of the organizations Top 40 prospects as chosen by myself (Jamie or Fish) and fellow-writer Rob (jimmytoucan).  We tried to talk to some minor-lg coaches and writers to get their input on certain players and have included some quotes from those we have spoken to personally.

1) Mason Williams – CF, 21 – AA, 2015

Mason has literally grown into the team’s best prospect.  No one questioned his amazing defense in CF, plus speed or quality hitting & bunting skills but many wondered if he’d ever be more than a slap-hitting singles hitter.  He responded by adding 30 pounds last offseason and delivering 11 HRs with a .474 SLG% in 359 ABs before  shoulder surgery cut his season short in July.

Fish: I ranked him 1st because I think he’ll continue to gain strength and become a solid 2-way CF.  I see his floor as no worse than a Brett Gardner-type player in the majors. He doesn’t walk as much as Gardner but he has great contact skills and could very well develop into a much stronger offensive player.

Rob: Toolsy CF’er with tremendous contact ability. Hits for average with room to add some power. Potential plus defender and 30 SB capability. I had him ranked #2 on my list simply because I value the catcher position a bit more in a system with three outfielders in the top 4.

2) Gary Sanchez – C, 20 – HiA, 2015

Sanchez earned a reputation as an immature kid with questionable work ethic in 2011 and his ability to remain a Catcher was in question as he had 26 Passed Balls in just 60 games. But he was a new man in 2012, showcasing much improved defensive skills and the leadership required to guide a pitching staff.  His ability to crush a baseball was never in question and his plus power to all fields makes him one of the top Catching prospects in the game.

Fish:  2011 was his first full season in the U.S. so I give him a pass for his struggles as an 18 year old kid. I love Sanchez’ bat and I think it will be MLB-ready well before his ability to catch is.  With the Yanks’ preference for defense at the Catcher spot, I wonder if Sanchez will want to make the sacrifices needed to become a Catcher, but worse case scenario I think he’ll hit enough to support a switch to 1B down the road.

Rob: My number one overall pick, due to playing a more difficult position. Defense was in question rolling into 2012 but from various accounts has taken steps forward. Rated best power hitter in the system, plus arm and hit tool. Ranked the #3 catching prospect in baseball.

Kiley McDaniel:  We asked him if Sanchez has the ability to catch for the Yankees with their emphasis on defense, “Could. Will take lots of work, up to him.”

Slade may be the most talented player in the system

Slade may be the most talented player in the system

3) Slade Heathcott – CF 22 – AA, 2014

Slade has the most ability in the entire system and is the closest thing they have to a 5-tool player.  His short career has been filled with shoulder injuries and some character questions but he was finally healthy and put it all together last year. Hit .307/.378/.470 in Tampa and then hit .388 with 10 XBH’s in 18 games in the Arizona Fall Lg where he was ranked as the #6 prospect.

Fish: Slade jumps out at you when you watch a game.  His immense talent is obvious and he plays the game with a fervor and intensity that is a joy to watch.  Because of that zeal and aggressiveness, he may be more prone to injuries but if he can stay healthy, he could be a star and fan favorite in NY. He’ll need to turn it down a notch to withstand the rigors of a 162-game season.

Rob: Had people buzzing after his performance in the AFL this year. Potential five tool player in spite of his second shoulder surgery. Brings a level of intensity to the field that could actually be his downfall. Huge ceiling with a pretty low floor.

Former Charleston Hitting Coach & current Boston Red Sox Hitting Coach Greg Colbrunn : “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”

Taken from ESPN.com…..Keith Law: “I do think he has star potential if he stays healthy, which is a huge if. He plays like his hair’s on fire (and) that’s not a great thing for a player who’s injury-prone … the star potential is from the athleticism – plus runner, really good swing, strong hands. Just needs to dial it down one notch.”

4) Tyler Austin – RF, 21 – AA, 2014

No Yankee prospect was more productive in 2012.  He has hit at every level and his .322/.400/.559/.960 season vaulted him from a #13th round pick in 2010 to a Top 100 prospect who was chosen to play in the Futures Game. He changed positions with ease from 3B to RF and shows ability to be an above-average OF.

Fish:  I’ve always admired Austin’s baseball instincts and smarts. He’s solid in all aspects and despite being an average runner, he has stolen 41 of 43 bases the last 2 years by picking the right pitches and situations. He’s a gamer and will rise quickly – don’t be surprised to see him in the Bronx next year.

Rob: Solid defender that whose bat should play well in RF. High baseball IQ, high floor. Solid bet to be a slightly above average everyday player with room for a bit more.

5) Manny Banuelos – LHP, 22, AAA/INJ – 2014

The elbow injury essentially sets Manny back 2 years in his development but it is not a death sentence by any means. He’ll still be only 23 in 2014 and recovered from TJS. He was the #13 prospect in all of MLB this time last year and showed command improvements in May before he was shutdown.  He has great makeup & pitchability to go along with a plus Changeup, plus low to mid-90s FB and average or better Curve.

Fish: I really like Banuelos for his poise and confidence on the mound.  That mound presence from a lefty with 3 plus piches make him an attractive starter.  The big question with him will be his durability.

Rob: Manny is still my top pitching prospect due to him being a left hander that can get into the mid 90’s, the best changeup in the system and two more secondary offerings that give him #2 potential. His size is the biggest knock against him but he has an easy delivery that does not require max effort every pitch.

6) Jose Campos – RHP, 20, HiA – 2015

Was extremley impressive in his first 4 starts at Charleston but missed almost the entire year with elbow problems. It didn’t require surgery and he’s healthy and throwing now. Campos is 6’4″ with long arms and has front of the rotation potential. Could be a very fast mover up the ladder if 100% as he has both the stuff and the pitchability to succeed.

Rob: Tremendous polish for a pitcher his age, he throws in the mid 90’s with solid command. Secondary stuff needs work but he has plenty of time to get it under wraps.  Great projectable frame with upper rotation potential. For me he was a real coup in “The Trade” and could swing it handily in the Yankees’ favor.

Fish:  I agree with Rob, Campos is the guy who could salvage the Montero trade but it will take a few years to see. When I spoke to his pitching coach in Charleston, Danny Borrell,  he raved about him.

Danny Borrell, Charleston RiverDogs Pitching Coach:   “Kid really knows how to pitch and to back it up he has plus stuff across the board. His intangibles are very impressive. He pitches in well, the pace of the game in which he pitches makes hitters uncomfortable, he can pitch his way through a lineup.  For someone his age to know how to do that is impressive.”

“He was 90-95, a Curveball he can throw for a strike in any count and a Change up that is developing – but something that will be a very good pitch for him as he gets older.  He’s been throwing and by all accounts he’s healthy now.”

7) Angelo Gumbs – 2B, 20 – HiA – 2015

Tremendous athlete with incredible bat speed.  Stole 26 bases and hit 7 HRs in just 67 games before his season ended with a triceps injury. He plays hard and has had complements on his work ethic.  Reviews are mixed on his defense but he has a strong arm and great athleticism so could move to the OF down the road if needed.

Rob: Incredible bat speed out of Gumbs, he’ll be a bat first second baseman. While Cano has us fans spoiled a guy like Gumbs could make losing Robbie to FA sting a bit less, although he’s a couple of years away yet. His defense isn’t quite as flashy as our current 2B, but it’s plenty good that his bat could bridge some of that gap. Overall he’s got above average potential that’s 3 years away.

Fish: Reminds me a little of Austin Jackson. They were both drafted for their incredible athletic ability knowing it would take them a while to develop their baseball skills. It worked with Jackson and Gumbs is coming along nicely. He gets overshadowed by mason Williams but Gumbs was drafted 2 rounds before him and he is every bit as talented as Mason.

8) Brett Marshall – RHP – 23, AAA -  2014

Marshall doesn’t have the upside of the guys in front of him but falls in the Top 10 because he’s looks like a lock to be a back-end of the rotation MLB starter.  Showed potential in Yankee  Spring Training then went 13-7 with a 3.52 ERA in AA so he’s on the doorstep of NY.  He’s got a big time Changeup and features a hard sinking Fastball that sits 91-93 MPH.  His Slider was more of a show-me pitch last year until something clicked in the 2nd Half and he began unleashing a nasty one. His K per 9 went from 6.0 in the 1st half to 9.0 with the improved Slider.

Fish: Marshall reminds me of David Phelps with his poise and the way he attacks hitters. His Change is a weapon vs LH hitters and if his Slider is for real he now has an equal weapon vs RH hitters. Eats innings because he keeps his pitch counts low by challenging hitters and getting easy outs with his Sinker.

Rob: Steady Eddie. Mentioning his name might not raise too many eyebrows, but he continues to move along at a steady pace and chew up innings. He’s got a heavy sinker/slider combo that may not miss a ton of bats but he induces enough weak contact to make up for it. I like any guy that can keep the ball down, especially pitching in YS3.

Marshall is doorstep to the Bronx (flickr photo by paul.hadsall used through Creative Commons license)

Marshall is doorstep to the Bronx (flickr photo by paul.hadsall used through Creative Commons license)

9) Ramon Flores – OF, 21 HiA/AA -  2015

Flores is overshadowed by the big 3 OF’s in the system but he is a quality prospect in his own right. Has perhaps the sweetest, most natural swing in the system and his strikezone awarness his excellent. Hit .303/.370/.425 in Tampa and homered in his one game in AA. He’s solid defensively and has average speed, the only question mark is will he hit for power. He’s getting stronger each year and many think his power will develop later similar to Cano.

Rob: I had him slightly lower on my list, and I’ll admit it has something to do with the positional plethora in the OF, and his slightly lower ceiling than those that outranked him. He makes great contact, has hit everywhere he goes and can hold his own in the field. Amongst a group filled with the likes of Williams, Heathcott and Austin he looks more like the odd man out/4th outfielder

Fish: His swing is a hitting coach’s dream and has been compared to Cano when he was in the minors. His stroke and great patience/strikezone recognition remind me  more of fellow Venezuelan Bobby Abreu. Flores hits breaking balls well and may be a guy who hits better against stronger pitching at higher levels.

Former Charleston Hitting Coach & current Boston Red Sox Hitting Coach Greg Colbrunn:  “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.  He has one of the most natural swings we’ve had come through here. And he does have some power. 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.”

10) Ty Hensley – RHP, 19 LoA – 2017

2012′s 1st round pick is a big (6’5 215 pounds) kid with a power repertoire and huge ceiling.  He’s been sitting at 92-95 with a knee-buckling 12-6 Curve.  has makings of a good Change too but only has 12 pro innings so far so he has a lon way to go.  MRI after Draft found a shoulder “abnormality” but he continues to pitch without pain or limitations.

Fish:  Difficult to rank a kid just drafted who I’ve never seen but he makes but he has the pedigree, size and arm you look for in the 1st round.

Rob: Like many pitchers his age he’s got work to do on his secondary stuff, but he’s got upper rotation potential and seems very driven to get to the BX as soon as possible.

Ty Hensley in interview with Fish in July: “The picture (MRI) has nothing to do with ability and until something hurts or there are symptoms or until there is instability there is no reason to be concerned.  I’m healthy, I’m gonna be healthy and will keep working to stay healthy.” Read the rest of this entry

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Morning Bits: A-Rod’s Idol, Jeter’s Charity Dinner, Tyler Austin, Subway Series

Good morning all.  Subway series starts tonight.  Pettitte is on the mound as he looks to get the Yankees back in the W column.  First pitch is set for 7:10.

Enjoy the weekend all.  Let’s get right to the links…..

Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY has an article about A-Rod where he recalls one of his favorite players growing up was Keith Hernandez.

– Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation had a charity dinner last night and many stars were at the event.  Bryan Hoch of mlb.com has all the details.

– Yankees prospect Tyler Austin (Charleston River Dogs) is the only Yankee prospect selected to play in the All Star Futures Game. Hoch has that story.   Our blog interview Tyler last month you can read that interview with him right here.

Ken Belson of The New York Times has the scoop on tickets still available for the Subway Series.

Marc Carig of The Star Ledger looks into the big problem with the Yankees this season which is hitting with runners in scoring position.

Tweets:

Minor Night Cap: Mitchell gets Rocked, Tampa & Staten Island win big

Empire State Yankees L 11-6

Corban Joseph – 2R, 1H (double), 1RBI, 2K, .237

Kevin Russo – 3H, 3RBI, 1BB, .279

Pitching

D.J. Mitchell (L, 5-4) – 2.0IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, 2K, 1HR, 5.74

Trenton Thunder L 7-2

PTF Zoilo Almonte – 1RBI, 2K, .265

Jose Pirela – 1R, 1H, 4BB, .386

Pitching
Adam Miller (L, 0-2) – 3.1IP, 10H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 1K, 4.37era

Tampa Yankees W 9-4

PTF J.R. Murphy – 2R (Double) 1RBI, 1BB, 1K, .252

Ramon Flores – 3R, 3H, 3RBI, 1BB, .276

Rob Segedin – 2H, 2RBI, 1K, .297

Tyson Blasser – 2BB, 1K, .337

Neil Medchill – 1R, 2H, 1BB, .247

Pitching
David Phelps – 2.0IP, 3H, 1BB, 3K, 0.00era

Aaron Dott (W, 2-2) – 2.oIP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 2.97era

Jose A. Ramirez – 2.1IP, 4H, 2K, 4.21era

Rigoberto Arrebato – 1.2IP, 2H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 2K, 1HR, 4.86

Kramer Sneed – 1.0IP, 2H, 1BB, 6.06era

Charleston River Dogs L 12-6

PTF Dante Bichette Jr. – 1R, 2H (Double), 1RBI, 1BB, .261

Mason Williams – 2R, 2H (solo homer), 1RBI, 1K, .301

Cito Culver – 1R, 1H (Triple), 1K, .215

Tyler Austin – 1H (Double), 2RBI, .335

Gary Sanchez – 1R, 1H (Double), .315

Angelo Gumbs – 1R, 1H (Double), .274

Pitching

William Oliver – 5.0IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 4BB, 4K, 1HR, 4.35era

Joel De La Cruz – 2.0IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 3K, 3.60era

Phillip Wetherell (BS, 1) (L, 2-2) – 0.1IP, 6H, 7R, 7ER, 1BB, 4.81era

John Brebbia – o.2IP, 1H, 1K, 4.58era

Staten Island W 8-1

Taylor Dugas – 3R, 2H, 2RBI, 2K, .571

Jose Rosario – 1R, 3H (Double), 1RBI, 1K, .250

Saxon Butler – 1R, 2H (2, Doubles), 3RBI, .300

Pitching

Andrew Benak – 2.0IP, 2H, 1BB, 2K, o.ooera (ND)

Gulf Coast League W 3-1


Kelvin Duran -  1H (Double), 2RBI, .143

Austin Jones -  1H, 1RBI, 1K, .417

PTF Slade Heathcott – 2BB, 2K, .231

Pitching

Jeremy Bleich – 2.0IP, 1BB, 2K, o.ooera

Giovanny Gallegos – 2.oIP, 2K, 0.00era

Dawerd Cruz – 1.oIP, 1BB, 1K, 0.00era

Rony Bautista (W, 1-0) – 3.oIP, 1BB, 4K, 0.00era

Edison Mejia (S, 2) – 1.oIP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 1HR, 5.40era

YFU Exclusive Interview with Tyler Austin

Tyler Austin leads all Yankee prospects with 10 HRs

Anyone who follows Yankees prospects has heard of Tyler Austin and for those that haven’t, remember the name.  Austin has followed up his big 2011 season in which he hit .354/.418/.579/.997 with an even stronger performance in his first taste of full-season ball in Low A Charleston.   He leads the South Atlantic League in HRs, Triples, Extra-Base Hits, SLG% & OPS.  On a team full of promising young Yankee prospects like Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams & Dante Bichette – Austin has more HRs (10) than the rest of his teammates combined (8).

To give some background, Tyler grew up in Conyers, GA and as one of the top prospects in the nation, his senior year should have been one of the best times in his life as he prepped for the MLB Draft.  However, during that time, he was diagnosed with testicular Cancer in the middle of Showcase Season for the Draft and had to undergo surgery to remove the cancer.  Thankfully, the surgery was successful and his Cancer has been in remission ever since.

He was drafted by the Yankees in the 13th Round in 2010 and signed for an over-slot bonus of $125,000.  Soon after reporting to the Gulf Coast League, he suffered a season-ending hand injury so his first season really wasn’t til last yr. He began 2011 in the GCL and tore it up hitting .390 in 22 games before being promoted to Staten Island where he hit .323/.402/.943 in leading them to the NY-Penn League Championship. He was also a combined 18 for 18 in SBs between levels.

He’s a 6’2″ 210 pound Right-handed Hitter who played 3B & 1B last year but has been playing RF for Charleston thus far.  I rated him as the 10th best Yankee prospect in early January and the major publications basically all had him in the 11-20 range with John Sickels rating him highest at 9th. I was able to talk to Tyler for about 15-20 minutes this week to discuss his time with the Yankees and the obstacles he has overcome.  Here is that interview with my questions in Blue

Year PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2011 201 18 2 6 36 18 15 39 .354 .418 .579 .997
2012 120 9 4 10 26 2 9 26 .309 .358 .736 1.095
3 Seasons 325 27 6 16 62 20 24 66 .334 .397 .634 1.031
Rk (2 seasons) 93 8 1 3 22 11 5 17 .381 .441 .607 1.048
A (1 season) 120 9 4 10 26 2 9 26 .309 .358 .736 1.095
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 5/10/2012.

Growing up in Georgia, you must have been an Atlanta Braves fan right?

No sir!  I actually get this question a lot.  I was actually a Yankees fan.  My Grandmother was a Yankees fan her whole entire life, how she became one is beyond me but she had me buy into it.  While watching them, she’d call me in there, sit me down, make me watch the games with her – I always enjoyed watching Jeter play.

When did you go through the testicular Cancer ordeal and how much time did you miss as a result?

The beginning of my Senior yr in HS in 2009.  It was very, very, very scary. I never thought I’d have to go through anything like that at such a young age, but I did and became a better person because of it.  I really didn’t miss any time. I missed the East Coast Pro Showcase I was supposed to be attending.  That Thursday I had the surgery, the following week I was on a plane to San Diego and was playing the next Sunday in the Aflac All-American Games.

That’s incredible.  How did it come about that they found the cancer?

It just hurt really bad one day.  I put it off for a week or two thinking it would go away, then finally I couldn’t bear the pain anymore and I told my Mom, she took me to the hospital.  They told me there that they were 99% sure I had a cancerous tumor.  I had to go to a specialist the next day and he told me the same thing – we scheduled the surgery for 2 or 3 days after that.  they went in, took it out and I’ve been free ever since.

After the surgery, were they able to tell you it was a success?

They told me they were pretty sure it hadn’t spread throughout  my body but I went through a lot of tests to check my white blood cells were OK.

You were committed to Kennesaw State your Senior year, what were your thoughts leading up to the draft?

I thought I would be a pretty high pick. Obviously I didn’t think I’d be going to school – school just wasn’t for me, it wasn’t my thing.  Once the Yankees took me,  it was pretty much decided I would sign.

When the Yankees took you, was Catching ever in the equation?

I caught my Junior and senior year in HS but when I was signed it was as a Third Baseman and Outfielder.

After you signed, explain what kept you out in 2010 after reporting to the Gulf Coast League.

My 4th Ab after I signed, I got hit by a pitch and broke a bone in my left hand.  Right before that I got the flu and missed a week before that and right when I start playing I break my hand and I’m like – what else can go wrong?  They wanted me to take the rest of that full year off and I did so I didn’t start swinging a bat again until January.

So you were finally healthy last yr in 2011 and tore up the Gulf Coast League – got promoted to Staten Island and hit well there also.  How was the competition compared to HS?

It was definitely a lot different from HS but I saw a lot of guys  like that in showcases and during travel ball that pitched like that, I wasnt too surprised by the way I performed last year.

After playing 3B & 1B last yr, what did the organization tell you about positions for this season and going forward?

They said I’m still gonna play third,, still gonna play first a little bit but they wanna see how I do in RF and I’ve made a pretty good adjustment out there so far and I feel real comfortable so that’s pretty much the position right now.  I definitely think I’ll get some time in at 3B & 1B just a matter of when and where.

What position would you say you are most comfortable at?

I’m more comfortable in RF right now but with some more reps and experience I could get better at Third & First, that comes with confidence.

What’s your approach and game plan at the plate?

I just go up there and tell myself I need to be short, smooth and lethal and usually things take care of themselves.  That’s a little thing I bought into from one of the guys on the team last year.

I like that approach – short, smooth & lethal - who gave you that tip?

Nick McCoy

You have been popping HRs all over the field – pulling them, straight away and opposite field.  Are you trying to hit the ball the opposite way?

My approach is to drive the ball to the right side of the field.  When Im driving the ball to the right side that’s usually when Im going pretty good.

Have you always looked to drive the ball the other way or is that something the organization has asked you to do?

I think its something I developed a little over the last few years. Staying inside of the baseball and hitting the ball to the middle and right side of the field and that’s something that’s worked out pretty well.  When I’m going good that’s what I’m doing.

How has it been working with the coaching staff and what have you learned from working with Greg Colbrunn, an ex-Major Leaguer?

He’s great I love working with him.  All of our coaches are great and teach us a ton.  Colby has taught me a lot, he knows what he’s talking about. I listen to everything he says, he’s a great guy in general who knows a ton about this game.

What do you attribute your hot start to and are you surprised by the results?

I’m just getting good pitches and putting a good swing on it. I’m not really too surprised about the results so far.

Have pitchers been changing the way they pitch to you since word has gotten around about your success?

They definitely have  over the last few games started pitching me a little differently.  More breaking balls in fastball counts stuff like that.  Nothing too bad but I definitely see a difference.

What was it like facing Dylan Bundy (#1 pick by Baltimore Orioles – hyped as next Strasburg) last night?

He throws hard.  He has good stuff.  But I wouldn’t say as overpowering as everybody makes it out to be.  Not to take anything away from him.  He’s a great pitcher but I think the hype was a bit much.

How about Tim Hudson?  You guys faced him twice during his rehab. that must have been fun for a kid from Conyers,  Georgia?

It was a big thing for me facing Tim Hudson.  A guy like him is an unbelievable pitcher, a guy that I watched a lot in my life because I used to go to a lot of Braves games.

What do you need to improve on to develop as a player?

Every aspect of my game I need to improve on. As soon as you think you have something figured out in this game you might as well hang it up.

On a stacked team with highly regarded players, do you ever feel like an underdog and use it as motivation?

I don’t think so. I’m not worried about all that.  I have to go out here and play and perform for my team and myself. Work hard and not get caught up in expectations. It does nothing but put added pressure on you that you don’t need.

Which teammate has impressed you so far?

Ali Castillo has only been here for a week. He works hard, he fires everybody up, he’s an unbelievable guy to have on the field with you every day.

Thank for your time Tyler and good luck the rest of the season!

Thank you.

Minor Night Cap: Tampa not so good, Charleston wins

Empire State Yankees – PPD

Tampa Yankees L 10-5

PTF J.R. Murphy – 1H, 1RBI, 1BB, 1K, .240

Eduardo Sosa – 1H (triple), 1Rbi, 1K, .238

Ramon Flores – 1R, 1H, 1K, .248

Rob Segedin – 1R, 3H (double), .314

Neil Medchill – 1H (triple), 1RBI, 1K, .262

Kyle Higashioki – 1R, 1H (2 run homer), 2RBI, 1K, .200

Kyle Roller – 1H, 1K, .200

Garrison Lassiter – 2R, 2H (double), 1K, .154

Kelvin Castro – 1H, 1K, .195

Pitching
PTF Nik Turley (DNP)

Sean Black (L, 0-1) – 2.2IP, 8H, 6R, 5ER, 1BB, 2K, 5.59era

Dawerd Cruz – 2.1IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 1BB, 1K, 7.71era

Alex Smith – 3.0IP, 3H, 1BB, 1K, 0.00era

Matt Bashore – 1.0IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 1K, 9.00era

Charleston River Dogs W 5-4

PTF Dante Bichette Jr. – 3K, .206

Mason Williams – 2R, 1H, 2BB, 2K, .327

Cito Culver – 1BB, 2K, .226

Gary Sanchez – 3H (double), 2RBI, 1K, .354

Tyler Austin – 1K, .314

Benjamin Gamel – 1H, 2K, .238

Angelo Gumbs – 1R, 2H (triple), 1K, .220

Casey Stevenson – 1R, 1H, 1RBI, 1BB, 1K, .410

Kelvin De Leon – 1H (double), 2K, .224

Pitching
PTF Bryan Mitchell (DNP)

Scottie Allen – 6.0IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 1BB, 6K, 3.77era

Wilton Rodriguez (BS, 1) 1.0IP, 5H, 3R, 2ER, 1BB, 1HR, 3.27era

Joel De La Cruz (W, 2-0) 2.0IP, 1BB, 2K, 0.00era

Morning Bits: Pujols, Kuroda, Girardi, Mariano, Tyler Austin

Morning all.  The home opener is today and Kuroda will be on the hill.   To all those that are going to the game enjoy.  For those that will be working I hope your day isn’t busy so you can watch online.

Here are the links…

USA Today has a story about how the Yankees are proactive in training players about news media.

David Waldstein of The New York Times writes that the Yankees are bracing for the power of Pujols.

The Empire State Yankees cruised past Buffalo.

Marc Craig of The Star Ledger writes about how Joe Girardi goes against the percentages and wins.

– Today’s home opener could be Mariano’s last one.

Bryan Hoch of mlb.com writes that Kuroda will feel butterflies during the opener.

Tyler Austin who MLB.com has as the yankees #15 prospect (Our own Fishjam has him at 10) homered twice yesterday. One of his homers was off Tim Hudson who is in the minors with a rehab stint.

Minor Night Cap: Tyler Austin, Dante Bichette Jr., Banuelos,

Empire State Yankees W 7-2

PTF Romine (DL) Notes: Kevin Russo had two hits.  Steve Pearce had a homerun.  Colin Curtis walked an impressive five times in the game.

Pitching
PTF Dellin Betances (N/A)

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Manny Banuelos 2.0 3 2 2 6 0 0 10.13
Pat Venditte 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 6.00
Manny Delcarmen (W, 1-1) 3.0 0 0 0 1 2 0 1.35
Cody Eppley 2.0 1 0 0 1 2 0 0.00
Kevin Whelan 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00

Trenton Thunder L 6-1

PTF Zolio Almonte – 3 AB’s 1BB 3 K’s.  Notes: Only 6 hits by 3 players (Ibarra, Mahoney, Mustelier).  Mesa had an outfield assist.

Pitching
PTF Brett Marshall – Not a good start for our player to follow.

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Brett Marshall (L, 1-1) 4.1 9 5 5 2 5 1 6.75
Michael Dubee 0.2 0 0 0 2 0 0 0.00
Lee Hyde 1.0 1 1 0 1 2 0 0.00
Kelvin Perez 2.0 0 0 0 2 3 0 0.00

Tampa Yankees W 5-4

PTF J.R. Murphy – 4 AB’s 2 Runs 3 hits (Double, Homer) 2 RBI’s.  Notes: Jose Mojica also had 3 hits. Roller and Sosa each had two hits.

Pitching
PTF Nik Turley (N/A)

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Shane Greene 4.1 4 4 3 2 1 0 3.86
Kramer Sneed 2.2 1 0 0 2 3 0 0.00
Manuel Barreda (W, 1-0) 1.0 0 0 0 2 0 0 18.00
Rigoberto Arrebato (S, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 2 2 0 2.70

Charleston River Dogs W 9-3

PTF Dante Bichette Jr. 4 AB’s 2 Runs 3 hits 1 Run 1BB.  Notes: Mason Williams had a stolen bases as well as 2 hits and an RBI.  The Star of the game was Tyler Austin who had 2 homers and 3 RBI’s.  If you aren’t following Austin you better start soon as he is starting off this season red hot.

Pitching
PTF Bryan Mitchell (Pitches tomorrow)

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Caleb Cotham (W, 1-0) 5.0 6 2 2 0 1 1 3.00
Wilton Rodriguez 3.0 1 1 0 0 4 0 0.00
Mariel Checo 1.0 1 0 0 1 2 0 3.00

Yankee Prospect Watch 2012

Over the next couples weeks I am going to do a series called “Prospect Watch 2012” these players I feel are some that you may want to keep tabs on during the season in the minors.   Some will be names you know already some you may have heard of but don’t know much about.  I plan on giving you any and all rankings they have been apart of along with stats and tidbits of information.

Tyler Austin

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 200 lb.

DOB: 9/6/91

Drafted by the Yankees in the 13th round in 2010.

 

Our own Jamie Fisher ranked him #10 in his 2012 Prospect Rankings.  He had this to say about Austin. “Tyler Austin can hit for average and power. 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.”

The Yankee Analysts did their rankings as a group and Austin’s average was slotted at 13.  To read that article please click here.

John Sickels of Minor league ball ranked him 9th in the Yankee system and had this to say about him “
Grade B-: Borderline C+. I don’t know why this guy doesn’t get more attention. Polished bat for a 19-year-old, defense needs work, has stolen 18 bases without getting caught in his career so far.”  To read his article click here.

FanGraphs had Austin listed as their 11th prospect and said this about him “The 2010 draft began inauspiciously for the New York Yankees with some eyebrow raising selections at the top of the draft. However, picks like Mason Williams, Austin, as well as Ben Gamel, are starting to pay dividends. Austin was drafted as a high school catcher but he’s seen time at both first and third base as a pro. If he can handle the hot corner, then his value will jump significantly, since his strong arm would be wasted at first. At the plate he shows good raw power and hit .354 in 40 short-season games in ’11.” To see the rest of the Fangraphs ranking please click here.

Austin is getting a lot of praise after his stellar season last year.  If he stays healthy this year and produces like he did last year you will be sure to see his name higher on the rankings lists next year.

Now for his stats provided by Baseball Reference:

Year Lg AB R H 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA SLG OPS
2010 GULF 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .500
2011 GULF 82 13 32 8 3 22 11 5 16 .390 .622 1.060
2011 NYPL 96 16 31 10 3 14 7 10 23 .323 .542 .943
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/1/2012.

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-

Read the rest of this entry

An interview with Seedlings 2 Stars

Our friends over at Seedlings 2 Stars were kind enough to answer a couple questions about the 2012 Prospect list they put out.  The questions were sent out before the trade but I think the answers are still interesting to hear.

For a bio on both the writers who answered these questions click the below links.

Q1: Tell us what you feel about the projections of Jesus Montero. You ranked him pretty low, in my opinion, on your 2012 Prospect list at #42.  I feel that will be the lowest ranking we will see of him all year from any source.

Nathaniel: Montero is likely to be a very good major league DH. The reason he’s ranked 42nd on the list is because he’s not going to provide any value aside from his bat, so he’s going to have to be one of the top dozen or so hitters in the game if he’s going to attain true stardom. He’s not going to grow much more, and his statistics got worse as he advanced through the minors, so it would seem to be awfully difficult to be confident that he’s going to be a top-15/20 hitter. That said, he’s still just 22 and has a very good track record. He should be a very good hitter. The thing is, there’s a significant chance his offensive production is closer to Billy Butler‘s than Miguel Cabrera‘s.

Q2: A prospect that won’t make many lists is Jorge Vazquez. While he can mash the ball, he tends to strike out quite a bit and doesn’t seem to take many walks. I feel he could be a MLB player (like a Shelly Duncan) but he is blocked by Mark Teixeira at 1B and DH by Montero. Could you see a team wanting him in a trade? Or is he a career minor leaguer?

Wally: Jorge Vazquez is 29-years old and has a dreadful career SO-to-BB of 710-to-173. In 2011 with Triple-A he drew just 30 BB to 166 SO in 118 games. If you’re a fan of percentages his K% was a whopping 33.2 and that’s just not major league material, especially coupled with a 6.0 BB%. The other thing that limits his value on the market is that there are no shortage of younger 1B/DH type guys with better plate discipline and a better track record scattered around the minor leagues. Off the top of my head we have; Clint Robinson (26) – Royals, Bryan LaHair (29) – Cubs, Kila Ka’aihue (27) – Athletics, Brandon Allen (25) – Athletics, Chris Davis (25) – Baltimore. Then you have guys that may be a little older but have a better profile like Luis Terrero (31) – Mexican League. Vazquez may get a look as a bench bat at some point but he’s awfully long in the tooth and with his issues on the plate discipline front, the presence of Teixeira really doesn’t impact his chances of getting major league at bats. The Yankees could be starting Travis Ishikawa at 1B and Vazquez would still be blocked. Bottom line, he has little trade value and is most likely a career minor leaguer who may get a cup of coffee at some point.

Q3: You have Gary Sanchez #17 ranked ahead of Manny Banuelos #26. The majority of Yankees projections will have Banuelos ahead of Sanchez. Can you explain to our readers why you have your rankings this way and how you see Sanchez and Banuelos as MLB players?

Nathaniel: Sanchez has more upside than Banuelos does, and, being a position player, he also has less of a chance of suffering a career-altering injury. His track record, at least on offense, has also been excellent thus far, whereas Banuelos hit some serious speed bumps in the upper minors with his command. I absolutely love Banuelos–he was top-10 on my list last year–but he’s not physically projectable, so his stuff probably “is what it is,” so to speak. Therefore, it could be a couple of years before he refines things enough to get his walk rate back down, and he’s almost certainly not an ace in the end–more of a #2/#3 starter. Sanchez, on the other hand, could be the best catcher in the American League if he can figure out the defensive side of the game. Of course, the same could be said for Montero, but while there’s skepticism surrounding Sanchez’s defensive capabilities, I don’t think it’s quite at the level of the disregard for Montero’s catching.

Q4: What are your thoughts of Dante Bichette Jr.? Some Yankee fans were scratching their heads when he was selected so high in the draft. That being said, in his first season in rookie ball he hit .342 with 3 HRs and 47 RBIs. Do you see him cracking your prospect list in the future?

Wally: I believe in the value of having major league bloodlines and selecting a player of his profile 51st overall was far from head scratching to me. In fact I was surprised he didn’t go earlier. That said, I was surprised by how quickly he transitioned his game to affiliated ball. He was one of a select few players to hit better than 0.300/.400/.500 in 2011 and he did so at 18 years old. I don’t think there is any question that if he puts forth another strong season in 2012 he will land in the 51-100 range of the vast majority of Top-100 lists. He’s got the bat, the projectable power, a strong throwing arm, decent speed and a strong work ethic. In short he’s an outstanding prospect that just needs to show what he did in rookie ball will translate to A-ball and beyond.

Q5: You have Betances ranked at #88 for your 2012 Prospect Rankings.  Some see him as just a back of rotation guy – where do you see him fitting in with the Yankees?

Nathaniel: Tough to say. Betances has very good stuff, so there’s always the chance that he figures out his mechanics, gets the ball down and in the zone more, and takes off. At this point, though, he looks more like an eternal frustration a la A.J. Burnett. He could be a Burnett-type starter with his fastball/curve mix, but probably fits better as a power reliever. If he doesn’t get things together in 2012, he won’t be on the list again.

Q6:  Can you give us a top prospect who could make an impact next year for each team in the AL East that Yankee fans should be aware of?

Wally: For Baltimore there just aren’t a lot of options close to the majors that are likely to have an impact. In fact there’s really just one and that is 2B-turned-outfielder L.J. Hoes. He doesn’t have any standout tool but he is coming off of hitting 0.305/.379/.413 for Bowie (AA) in 2011 with his typically strong SO-to-BB rates. While he lacks the pop you’d like to see in a corner OF, his bat is legit and he should hit for average in the majors. He will likely get on-base at an above average rate and bring good speed to the table.

Like the Orioles much of Boston’s top tier talent is further down in the system but there is one player in particular that will most likely make an impact for the Sox in 2012. C Ryan Lavarnway made his major league debut in 2011 after hitting 32 HR between AA and AAA. Once in the majors he didn’t shrink from the spotlight and handled himself well hitting 0.231/.302/.436. He should push for playing time in Spring Training and have a chance to become a “Napoli-esque player” (to borrow a phrase from Nathaniel’s lexicon).

Tampa Bay has the top-pitching prospect in all of baseball and there is no player I am looking forward to watching more in 2012 than LHP Matt Moore. Everyone knows about him by now but he’s going to make a loaded Rays rotation even better. I may be over the top but I consider Moore a serious threat to win the AL Cy Young Award this year.

Toronto has the best farm system in the division and Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia have already made their presence felt in the majors. There is more impact talent on the way. C Travis d’Arnaud and OF Anthony Gose will likely both start in Triple-A and be just a step away from making an impact on the major league roster. Gose will likely take a little more time to round out his game but d’Arnaud could advance quickly and make Arencibia a tradeable commodity in short order.

Q7: Based on the recent trades of Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos, could the Yankees have come up with a prospect package to match what Washington & Cinncinati gave up WITHOUT including Montero and Banuelos?

Wally: Well to recap. For Washington it took RHP A.J. Cole, C Derek Norris, LHP Tom Milone and RHP Brad Peacock to get Gio and Robert Gilliam from the Athletics. Cincinnati needed to give up C Yasmani Grandal, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Brad Boxberger and RHP Edinson Volquez to pry Mat Latos away from the Padres. Those are 2 serious prospect hauls that the Nationals and Reds surrendered respectively and it’s hard to imagine that the Yankees could have gotten a deal done without including one, if not both, of Montero and Banuelos. If they had packaged Banuelos with Gary Sanchez and probably two other guys a bit further away I think they could have pulled it off for either starting pitcher. Likewise a package fronted by Jesus and Betances and some other guys further away may have worked but Montero’s value to the Padres was significantly less due to the uncertainty surrounding his ability to play catcher.

To put it more bluntly, no. I don’t think they could not have pulled off either deal without giving up either Montero or Banuelos.

Q8: Would a package of Betances, one of Romine or Sanchez, one of Warren or Phelps and another C-level prospect be enough for the Cubs to trade Matt Garza?

Wally: Ah, see now were getting to a more realistic target as Matt Garza isn’t on the same level as Mat Latos or Gio Gonzalez. He’s several years older and closer to free agency which makes him a less valuable trade commodity. If the Yankees were to step up with a Betances, Sanchez package and maybe another C+ prospect I have to believe the Cubs would jump at the chance. If they opted to try and move Romine instead of Sanchez than I think Phelps, Betances and another piece would have to be involved.

Q9: I love Tyler Austin as a sleeper prospect. I think he possesses the same skill set of Dante Bichette but doesn’t get near the publicity. Have you seen him play? What do you think of him? And is there a sleeper or two you like in the Yankee organization that might not get a lot of press?

Nathaniel: I’ve seen a bit of video of Austin. I agree that he’s definitely worthy of being talked about along with Bichette and Williams–they form a formidable trio of short-season guys you don’t find in many organizations. I think Nik Turley and David Phelps are two good sleepers. I see both as capable fourth starters in the big leagues.

Q10: With most of their top pitching prospects in the upper levels (AA and above), what young pitchers in the Yankee system do you like to step forward in the coming years to replace Banuelos, Betances, Noesi, Nova, Phelps, Warren, etc…

Wally: Of the guys pitching below AA the two I think have the best chance to step forward are RHP Brett Marshall (21) and LHP Nik Turley (22). Both have now reached High-A and both could develop into mid-rotation guys. Outside of those two there’s not a whole lot else to dream on right now in the lower levels.

Q11: I expect to see Mason Williams crack a lot of Top 100 lists this yr. BA rated him the top prospect in the NY Penn Lg and he’s got all kind of tools in his shed. Was he considered for your top 100 and what is your overall opinion on him?

Nathaniel: Yes, Williams was considered for the top 100. He was around the 110s on my list, and that’s no insult. I was very hesitant with a lot of short-season guys on the list this year, sort of as a reaction to going too crazy with them on the list the year before. I do think he was the top prospect in that league, he has a very good skillset, and he’s certainly a prospect to watch. He, Austin, and Bichette will all rise up my rankings next year if they continue to hit in A-ball.

Top 100 Prospect Snubs: AL East

This article is being syndicated from Seedlings 2 Stars…..

Earlier this week, I concluded the writeups for our pre-2012 top 100 prospects. I hope you enjoyed the unveiling of the list over the past three months.

Of course, I’m sure some of you wished I would have changed some things around, and that’s fine–nobody gets it all right, and I already regret some of my decisions. It was tough to omit a number of players, and depending on how you see certain guys and what you’re emphasizing, you could justifiably do things very differently than I did.

In any case, I wanted to take some time to discuss the other players considered for the list but ultimately placed on the outside looking in. I’m going to do this by division, so today I’ll be covering the AL East “snubs.”

New York Yankees

Top 100 Prospects: C Gary Sanchez (#17), LHP Manny Banuelos (#26), C Jesus Montero (#42), RHP Dellin Betances (#88)

OF Mason WilliamsOne trend that really jumps out on my list is that very few short-season players get there. Williams had a very impressive season in the NYPL (.349/.395/.468 with 28 steals), but he didn’t overwhelm quite enough to push himself onto the top 100. He probably would’ve snuck into the back end of a top 125, though, which is great for a short-season guy given the way I ranked everyone this year. A definite top 100 candidate if he hits well in the SAL this year.

3B Dante Bichette, Jr.--Bichette was the 51st overall pick in the 2011 draft, and he hit .342/.446/.505 in the GCL as an 18-year-old while looking much better at third base than advertised. It does seem awfully quick to rush the 51st player in the draft into the top 100 prospects overall, though, and Bichette hit just four homers in 54 games, so that’s got to come up if he’s going to be an elite third base prospect. Like Williams, he could well be in with a big 2012 in Charleston.

LHP Nik TurleyI should emphasize something here–just because I considered a guy for the top 100 doesn’t mean he necessarily would rank above everyone I didn’t consider. Just because Turley is one of four Yankees I considered for the top 100 but snubbed doesn’t mean I’d call him a top-eight prospect in the system. In any case, though, the idea of a 6’7″ lefty with plus command and a solid three-pitch mix made me consider him for a few seconds. He put up a 2.51 ERA while striking out a batter per inning in Low-A as a 21-year-old, and I’ve always loved him as a sleeper, but he still has more to prove.

3B/1B Tyler AustinAustin was the third guy to make a ton of noise in the short-season leagues, hitting .354/.418/.579 and also stealing 18 bases without getting caught. He’s not a very good third baseman, though, and he showed neither huge power (6 HR in 47 games) or a great approach (39/15 K/BB). I do think he’s underrated as short-season prospects go, and don’t see a huge gap between Austin, Williams, and Bichette.

To read the rest of snubs for the other AL East Teams CLICK HERE.

Yankees Top 40 Prospects for 2012

Could Mason Williams be #1 on this list next year?

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

Manny Banuelos

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.

Phelps is a winner.

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

Tyler Austin can hit for average and power.

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

Brett Marshall

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.

Nik Turley has that Andy Pettitte look down pat.

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 MitchellRHSP, 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 NotablesWalter 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

New Additions to Watch in 2012: Greg Bird, Jake Cave, Matt Duran, Jordan Cote, Justin James, Dan Camarena, Hayden Sharp, Rookie Davis, Miquel Andujar

Minor League Recap – Short Season A Staten Island Yankees

The Short-Season Staten Island Yankees won the regular season 14-team New York Penn League with a 45-28 record and also won the league post-season championship.  They did so with a strong all-around team that was 2nd in team average (.265), 3rd in runs scored and 5th in team ERA (3.50).  The success of the Yanks 2 lowest level teams (Staten Island and Gulf Coast Yanks) proves the success of the latest drafts in 2010 & 2011 and bodes well for the future of the organization.

HITTERS
CF – Mason Williams – 20, 6’0″ 150

Impressive rookie year for Mason Williams

Williams was arguably the best prospect in the entire NY Penn Lg and he did nothing to disappoint with his on-field performance.  He tore up the league finishing 2nd with a .349 average and 1st with 28 stolen bases & 94 Hits. He also finished in the top 10 in OBP (.395), SLG(.469), OPS(.863), Triples(6), Total Bases(126) and Runs(42). Mason is a wiry athlete with plus speed, a plus arm and a smooth left-handed stroke.  He has a good feel for the strike zone but was very aggressive at the plate.

Williams has been compared to Brett Gardner because of his outstanding speed and defense.  He projects to add more power as he grows into his slim frame and could end up being a cross between Gardner & Curtis Granderson.I was impressed to see that despite his immense physical talent, his coaches also regard him as a very hard worker who lives in the batting cage and has an infectious personality.  Be prepared to see Williams in everybody’s Yankee  Top 10 prospect lists this year and with his skill set & work ethic he could rocket through the system. He’s shown the ability to make hard contact so it will be interesting to see how much power he can generate as he starts to add more strength and weight to his 6’0″ 150 lb frame.

1B - Zachary Wilson – 21, 6’1″ 205

Wilson was a 21st round pick out of Arizona State who finished 2nd in the lg with 10 HRs plus a big solo shot for the 1st run in the 2-1 championship game. He hit .256 with a .346 OBP & .456 SLG% but doesn’t do anything particularly well except hit for power.

2B - Angelo Gumbs, 18 – 6’0″ 175

Angelo Gumbs - 2010 2nd round Pick

Gumbs is an athletic, up the middle player taken by the Yanks in the 2010 Draft. He got a $750,000 bonus as a 2nd -rd pick and has flashed all of the tools the team paid for despite tailing off at the end of the season due to injuries. He has great bat speed and a lot of raw power which he used to  hit .264/.332/.406 with 3 HRs. Gumbs showed off his good speed with 11 SBs & 4 triples. This speed may make him better suited as a CF or LF moving forward because he wasn’t great at 2B with 9 errors.

SS – Cito Culver, 19 – 6’0 185

The Yanks were criticized for taking Culver with their 1st pick in 2010 but he’s impressed scouts with his rocket arm and a nice compact swing from both sides of the plate. Like most players right out of HS, he was inconsistent during the season but he showed a good approach at the plate but his poor August had him finish at .250/.323/.337. Cito is going to take a while to develop both offensively & defensively as he must cut down on his 17 errors. One area he is advanced in is his base running, as he shows good instincts and above average speed which he used to steal 10 of 10 bases.

3B - Tyler Austin, 20 – 6’2″ 200

Tyler Austin mashed all year long

Austin was a 13th round pick in 2010′s draft who started the season in the Gulf Coast Lg where he mashed the ball to a .390/.438/.622 clip in 20 games before he was promoted to Staten Island.  He kept on hitting after the promotion in 27 games to finish a combined .354/.418/.579 for a .997 OPS.  Tyler was also a perfect 18 of 18 in Stolen Base attempts.

Leading up to the draft Austin was considered a high ceiling H.S. player with big time power and solid speed & arm strength. But many thought he was a project but he has come out mashing.  Tyler overcame testicular cancer as a teenager and battled back from a broken had last yr.  He also has a reputation as a “gamer”, a hard-nosed type of player.  He sounds a lot like Bichette to me and it seems the Yanks are looking for guys like this based on their recent draft picks. With his MLB power, solid speed & attitude, Austin is one of my favorite prospects and I will be following him closely as he develops.

PITCHERS

RHP - Bryan Mitchell – 20, 6’2″ 175

Raw righthander Bryan Mitchell

Mitchell is a tantalizing prospect with a high ceiling but is still very raw. He has plus stuff but his questionable mechanics and inconsistent arm angle make him a project. The couple of videos I saw of him look like 2 different pitchers. Mitchell had a mediocre season but finished with 4 strong starts at the end of the season during which he gave up 3 ER in 21 IP.  Overall, he went 1-3 with a 4.09 ERA, 8.6 K/9,  4.5 BB/9 & impressive 2.19 GO/AO ratio. The high strikeout & ground ball rates are very encouraging as he is likely to improve his command/control as he refines his mechanics.

LHP - Evan DeLuca - 20, 6’1″ 195

DeLuca is a New Jersey kid who played his HS ball at Immaculata in Somerville where he was picked in the 44th rd of the 2009 draft by the Yankees.  Like Mitchell, he has taunted with his amazing stuff and wild bouts of inconsistency.  I read scouting reports on him in the beginning of the season where he was sitting at 91-93 and topping at 94-95 and was getting excellent results at 3-1 2.19 ERA through July 22.  But later reports had him at 87-89 which led to him getting ripped in his last 4 starts and eventually finish the yr on the DL.

LHP - Matt Tracy – 22, 6’3″ 212

Tracy was a 24th rd pick out of U of Mississippi this yr who had a solid season splitting time as a starter and reliever.  He was 1-2 with a 3.04 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 9.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 2.26 ground out to Air out ratio. He was the team’s best starter in the post-season going 2-0 including 6 shutout innings of 3-hit ball in the clincher.

RHP - William Oliver – 24, 6’2″ 185

Oliver had a strong season going 5-2 with a 3.45 ERA, 7.5 k/9, 3.7 bb/9 & 1.83 GO/AO rate.  The 35th rd pick in 2010 out of Palomar College is a lot older than most of the players in this league so will need to prove himself at a higher level to show he’s a prospect.

RHP - Branden Pinder - 22, 6’3″ 210

Branden Pinder dominated NYPL hitters

Pinder was a 16th rd pick out of Cal State Long Beach this year and quickly got himself comfortable as Staten Island’s closer.  He used his 94-95 MPH fastball with excellent command to finish 2-2 with 14 saves and a minute 1.16 ERA. He held hitters to a .152 BA and had a 11.0 k/9 & 1.5 bb/9 in 31 ip.  He really has no quality secondary offerings but with command of a mid 90s heater he need only develop one other pitch to advance as a MLB reliever.

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