All posts by Joe F

Doomed: Rays 16 Yankees 1


Well, that didn’t go as expected. Coming into tonight’s game it looked as if there would be a good pitching duel going down in St. Pete but of course, that all depended on whether or not “super” Ivan Nova showed up. It turned out Nova was not so super. Nova went only four innings due to injury, giving up eight runs on eight hits – four of them were home runs. He was shaking his elbow in displeasure on the mound.

The bullpen didn’t pitch any better. The call up, Matt Daley, went an inning and a third giving up four earned on five hits. However, he only gave up one home run. Positivity, right?

Oh, and Dean Anna pitched. If that doesn’t make you realize this game was a dumpster fire, I don’t know what will. Anna surprising only gave up two runs in his appearance. His windup resembled that of a slow pitch beer softball league. His fastball was sitting in the mid 50’s.

As for the offense, the Yankees didn’t look comfortable at the plate at all. The entire lineup combined for just three hits and one run on the day.

  • The Rays hit a home run in four consecutive innings
  • Ryan Hanigan hit two home runs off Nova and drove in 6 runs on the day
  • Wil Meyers also hit two home runs
  • Noted above, Ivan Nova left the game with an injury. Bryan Hoch reports Nova has some elbow soreness in his throwing arm and will undergo tests (an MRI has been scheduled).
  • Chris Archer improves to 4-0 in his career against the Yankees. He went 6.2 IP and only gave up 1 run on 3 hits.

This is the Yankees’ second tough loss in a row. Let’s hope the pitching wakes up so they can string some wins together.

McCann and his BABIP with the Shift

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Since putting on the pinstripes, Brian McCann hasn’t impressed many Yankees fans with his bat skills. So far, McCann has produced a triple slash of .152/.176/.152 in 34 plate appearances which are not exactly the numbers the Yankees were looking for from McCann when they gave him 5 years $85 million this offseason. I realize it’s early in the season and that 34 plate appearances is a small sample size, but I still wanted to explore why McCann is struggling early on and if this trend will continue.

I took a look at McCann’s spray charts thus far and matched his hits and outs with the type of hit to get a feel for how many hits he should have.

Hit Type

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 Hit Result

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It’s easy to see from the spray charts that McCann has lost a lot of his should be hits to the shift. I counted about five hits that McCann lost to the shift. Those five hits would raise McCann’s average to .303 (10/33). If you look at his career .288 BABIP compared to his 2014 BABIP of .172, it’s obvious that McCann is getting unlucky at the plate. That number should rise, but what we have to keep in mind is that’s his BABIP against all types of defenses. Teams are specifically using major shift alignments against McCann this year so in this case we should look at McCann’s BABIP against the shift.

I looked at McCann’s 2013 BABIP against the shift thanks to the data provided by Jeff Zimmerman of The Hard Ball Times. According to his data, McCann hit into the 12th most shifts of any player in 2013 (123), his BABIP with the shift on is .179, which is a scary number for Yankees fans since that’s only a .07 increase from his BABIP this season and McCann’s BABIP is also the worst on the list with at least 100 balls in play with the shift. League average BABIP with the shift on is .289.

While researching this topic I also stumbled across an article written by a Fangraphs community member, scotman144 in which he points out the major difference between shifts usage in the AL East against the NL East. For instance, the Orioles shifted 470 times last season which was the most in the MLB while the NL East as a whole shifted 473 times. He points out that 108 of those shifts were from the Braves. Still, the point remains that the AL East is going to be a different monster for McCann when it comes to hitting against the shift. The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox come in as the number two and six teams in shift usage for 2013 respectively with 466 and 364 shifts.

Of course, BABIP can waver in such a small sample size, but the idea of this becoming a regular thing is scary. If his BABIP does not see see an increase, McCann may want to change his approach at the plate. Instead of pulling the ball, perhaps he can try going the other way more. Hopefully McCann could make teams shift less by keeping them honest for a bit but that also may cause another problem: hurting his ability to hit home runs.

It may be too early to worry about this, but with the data showing McCann struggling against the shift in the past combined with a division full of teams that love to shift, it’s definitely something to look into.

Yangervis Solarte At The Plate

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

With all the Yankees’ major acquisitions this winter, it’s odd to be talking about a 26-year-old who has bounced around the minor leagues since 2006 and yet, here we are because journeyman Yangervis Solarte has been on a tear since spring training began. He batted .429 and had an OBP of .489. during camp and he has not slowed down yet. Since the start of the regular season, Solarte has produced a triple slash of .458/.519/.708 in 27 plate appearances.

Obviously, 27 plate appearances is an extremely small sample size but it got me thinking about whether Solarte could maintain somewhat respectable numbers because as we all know, players don’t usually maintain a .458 BA. So for this piece, I decided to take a look at his mechanics at the plate and to also look at how opposing pitchers are pitching to him so far and to see how well he’s making contact.

His Mechanics

Solarte has some solid mechanics that have helped him be successful thus far.

  • He has a real strong swing, but makes a lot of contact. This puzzles me, but it’s somewhat similar to how Dustin Pedroia can swing his hardest and not have a lot of whiffs.
  • Solarte’s swing has a great foundation. He has a balanced and normal stance. Solarte also uses a minor leg lift toward the pitcher as he loads his hands back.
  • Solarte turns his hips and uses his fast hands to generate bat speed.
  • His plant leg is firm in the ground creating necessary balance and he gets great extension because of this, he seems to make contact before the pitch is able to travel deep into the zone.

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His Eye

Solarte also has an excellent eye at the plate which is probably why he has such a high contact percentage. Fangraphs Pitchf/x data has Solarte swinging at only 26% of pitches outside the strike zone and making contact on those pitches 85% of the time. Inside the zone, Solarte swings at 60% of the pitches and makes contact 92% of the time. According to Brooks Baseball’s data, Solarte has a very good eye against fastballs, an exceptionally good eye against breaking balls, and a poor eye against offspeed pitches. His whiff % against those pitches this season respectively are 0%, 8%, and 22%.

How Pitchers Are Handling Him So Far

From looking at his Zone Profiles, I’ve noticed a trend that pitchers are throwing middle in or high and inside to Solarte from both sides of the plate. Another zone a lot of pitches are going to is low and outside and so far this season, Solarte has been crushing those mid-high pitches for doubles, especially from the left side. He leads the Yankees with six doubles this season.

Right Side

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Left Side

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With all this being said, can Solarte manage to be a productive player moving forward? I’d say he definitely has the raw talent to do so. He has an excellent eye that can help him through periods where he’s struggling. His ability to make contact and put the ball in play could provide value at the bottom of the lineup if he’s able to move runners over. Being a switch hitter could also work in Solarte’s favor because the Yankees could platoon him if he were to go cold from one side of the plate.

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Single by Solarte

Perhaps my biggest question pertaining to Solarte is whether he’ll develop into a pull hitter. I’ve seen some instances where he’s pulled outside pitches, but still managed to hit them well enough for a hit. In the still shot above, Solarte is out in front, but manages to pull an outside pitch into right field.

In the picture below, Solarte jumps on an outside pitch, but somehow lasers a double to left field. He shows great strength and extension here.

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It’ll be interesting to see how Solarte performs during the next few series (against the Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Tampa Rays) and how other teams will decide to pitch him but so far, he has been a nice addition to the Yankee lineup and hopefully he can be a be solid contributor to the offense in 2014.

Game Five: Yankees at Blue Jays 4/5/14

Michael Pineda will be making his Yankees debut today after battling through shoulder issues for the past two seasons. He impressed many in spring training and now looks to be back to his 2011 form again.

The Yankees offense will have the pleasure of facing off against R.A. Dickey.

Here are your lineups:


Ellsbury CF

Jeter SS

Beltran RF

McCann DH

Soriano LF

Johnson 1B

Cervelli C

Solarte 3B

Anna 2B


Cabrera LF

Rasmus CF

Bautista RF

Encarnacion 1B

Lind DH

Lawrie 3B

Thole C

Goins 2B

Diaz SS

Enjoy the game.


International Free Agent Aledmys Diaz Scouting Report

The Yankees have recently stated that they’re going to spend a lot of money on international free agents this year. The team is plans to replenish its farm system with a lot of talented players from the international free agent market. One specific player that the Yankees have been linked to is Aledmys Diaz, a shortstop from Cuba.

Diaz cannot sign until February 19th due to an age discrepancy in 2013. Diaz was actually born six months after his initial claim to the MLB, which is noteworthy to mention because most cases have players claiming younger ages. This is due to the collective bargaining agreement, which states that any player 23 or older is exempt from international bonus pools. Essentially a player 23 or older from Cuba would make more money than a player under 23 because they’d be placed in an unrestricted free agent market. If the Yankees were to sign Diaz, the signing would not dip into the international pool.

As Mike said in his post about potential Cuban players and Aledmys Diaz here, there isn’t much film on him. From the limited videos we have, I have come to some conclusions that should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s hard to scout a player that you’ve only seen a couple of videos of. So this is going to be a combination of film, stats, and other scouts’ opinions on Diaz.

Name: Aledmys Diaz

Age: 23 years old

Position: SS

Height: 6-1

Weight: 185 lbs.

I’m going to agree with everything Mike said. His set up is simple, however, his front leg has a lot of movement. His toe tap never really leaves the ground, but he does lift the back of his foot and brings his front leg and knee in so that he can stride into the ball. I think he has good hands and bat speed, but Mike did bring up his long swing. Yet, his walk numbers have been higher than his strikeouts over the past couple seasons. Looking further into his stat line he should hit a lot of doubles and home runs. I could see him being a 20 home run hitter in the bigs. Scouts say he’s a major league ready hitter right now. If I had to guess it seems that he should be around a 60 hit tool and a 60 power tool.


Defensively, Diaz looks to have an extremely strong arm. From the videos I’ve seen of his he looks to have the arm strength to throw runners out from the hole. He has an above average arm, maybe a 60-70 on the scouting scale, again there’s not much to work with here. Range wise he should be okay. In the gif above Diaz makes a throw while moving towards the third base side across his body showing both range and arm strength. I have yet to see him make a play up the middle however. Some short scouting reports I read on him say he has solid range which should be more than enough when he has three plus tools.

The Yankees and Diaz might be the perfect match. With this season likely being Derek Jeter’s last year and no real solutions at shortstop in the minor leagues, Diaz could be the next Yankees’ shortstop for a long time. This also would help Diaz as he wouldn’t be thrown into the fire right away against major league competition. He could develop and readjust in the minors and then earn a call up in 2015.

Extending Replay Is Not a Waste of Time

Getty Images
Getty Images

Forget Alex Rodriguez or Masahiro Tanaka, the big news this week was that Major League Baseball voted to expand replay for the 2014 season.

“Beginning this season, each manager will start a game with one challenge. If it is upheld, he retains his challenge but can never have more than two in a game. If the manager exhausts his challenges before the start of the seventh inning, he is out of luck, adding a new element of strategy to the game. Beginning in the top of the seventh, the crew chief is empowered to institute a review.”

Among the many changes being made to replay, MLB has decided to implement a system similar to the NFL’s challenge system. Managers will get a challenge and once it’s used, they will not be able to use another one for the rest of the game. I think it’s a good idea and should work out but it is important to remember that this system will be a work in progress. Baseball will be looking closely to see how everything works over the next season and replay will be evaluated then will likely be improved on a yearly basis until it’s almost perfect.

Replay and challenges in baseball have been a long time coming. It seems ever since the Armando Galarraga “perfect game” was blown by Jim Joyce on what seemed to be a clear out at first, fans have become advocates for replay. The blown call was a turning point and baseball began to explore the possibility of more replay especially since Joyce came out and emotionally stated he had indeed blown the call.

Yet, there are still those who believe that replay is not good for baseball. Their main arguments are that it will “take up too much time” and that “the human element is apart of the game.” Baseball began back in a time where there wasn’t technology available to help the umpires get the right call. Today, in a billion dollar industry like MLB, getting the calls right is important to not only the players who play the game, but also to the fans who watch it. Before expanded replay was approved, it seemed that being wrong was acceptable in this baseball which was silly because tools were available which could prevent human error.

I recently was discussing replay with a couple of friends of mine and one of them recalled how the Little League World Series using replay. And if I remember correctly, it worked smoothly and the right call was made. Now, if 12 and 13-year-olds can sit through a replay for two to three minutes in order to get the right call, I think the average MLB fan can do the same.

Lately, stats are being thrown around on twitter that are in support of the umpires. Some of them have even stated that MLB umpires are correct 99.5% of the time. Of course, that looks like a great percentage without the proper context. If you take away the easy calls like swinging strikeouts, popouts, easy groundouts, etc. you will see how that percentage drops. It’s not the easy out calls that beckon for replay, it’s the more difficult ones that do.

Back in 2010, ESPN did some research on how often MLB umpires blew close calls. It was a small sample size of games, from June 29 to July 11 – which worked out to 184 in total. The researchers reviewed nearly every call – they did not include balls and strikes – and what they found was amazing and not in a good way.

…the “Outside the Lines” analysis found that an average of 1.3 calls per game were close enough to require replay review to determine whether an umpire had made the right call. Of the close plays, 13.9 percent remained too close to call, with 65.7 percent confirmed as correct and 20.4 percent confirmed as incorrect.

That’s a fairly high percentage of wrong calls being made on close plays, many of which can determine the outcome of a game or even a division race. So while this new replay system won’t be used to help the umpires make the easy calls, it will definitely help improve the percentage of the close calls they’ve been missing in the past.

Future Without Cano, Payroll, Familiarity

This weekend’s events have yet to register with me. Robinson Cano is not a member of the New York Yankees. When Cano first signed with Roc Nation and Jay Z, I figured that this was a way of saying that he wanted to stay in New York. I guess I was wrong, as he now supposedly made remarks about not liking Joe Girardi batting him second. Cano’s reasoning was that he wouldn’t get as many RBI opportunities in the two hole, and thus his free agent value would fall.

It’s also been rumored that Cano has felt the team underappreciated him, which likely comes from their relatively low contract offer. But branding-wise, he was never the guy in New York, where Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez always found a way to hog the spotlight. Fans were also unsympathetic towards his weaknesses, and often criticized him for a lack of hustle.

In fact, you could see why Cano would feel unliked by the organization from the very beginning. The Yankees shopped him often over his early career. Of course, they had good reason. Cano wasn’t really an elite prospect, and it wasn’t until later that he developed at the major league level. Yet, Cano was better than Jeter and Rodriguez for a majority of the last five seasons. Unlike the rest of their stars, Cano was durable, a player you can rely on to right your lineup for the entire year.

After looking at the Yankees future payroll obligations via Baseball-Reference, Excel/Tableau wizard Jason Rosenberg made this graphic depicting the team’s payroll moving forward. [Note, these mainly represent real salaries and not AAV. This graphic also excludes bonuses and some low-end estimates for the kids down at the bottom of the chart. Also, given the lack of visibility in new deals to McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran, the AAV was used.]

image001 (1)

It looks as if the Yankees have a ton of money coming off the books within the next three years. Next year Derek Jeter, Ichiro, Brett Gardner, and David Roberston are all free agents. I don’t see all of them coming back, maybe two of them at most. Then Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, and possibly CC Sabathia’s contracts are off the books in 2017. (Sabathia has a $25 million vesting option with a $5 million buyout.) In 2018, Sabathia will most definitely be a free agent, as will Alex Rodriguez.

The Yankees could have signed Cano to a contract similar to the one he signed with the Mariners. They only have four players signed through 2017 and only two through 2018 at the moment. However, management wasn’t ready to hand over another 10 year deal similar to what they did with Rodriguez.

Overall, I have no problem with how things were handled by both sides. It’s hard to fault the Yankees because they stuck to their plan and didn’t repeat the mistake of the Rodriguez contract. And it’s hard to blame Cano for taking an offer worth $65 million more.

Now the Yankees are forced to move in another direction, a direction that has gotten them Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran. It’s likely a strategy that could also involve Masahiro Tanaka, assuming he is posted. If not, they’ll explore other options. The decision to not give into Cano has given the Yankees financial flexibility. And even outside of this offseason, the team now has the opportunity at obtaining many good players that may hit the free agent market within the next three years.

Next year the Yankees may find a Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez replacement in Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and/or Chase Headley. They may also set their sites on Clayton Kershaw if the Dodgers do not extend him during the season. In 2016 players like Ian Desmond, Jason Heyward, and Yoenis Cespedes stick out. Then the top free agents of 2017 could be Giancarlo Stanton and Stephen Strasburg.

I’m not a fan of doing this and would normally never condone it, but there are reasons to dream about the future free agent markets. The Yankees lineup could look like this by 2017.

C- Gary Sanchez
1B- Brian McCann
2B – ? Insert FA like Howie Kendrick or prospect like Gosuke Katoh
SS- Ian Desmond
3B- Chase Headley
OF- Jacoby Ellsbury
OF- Giancarlo Stanton
OF- Mason Williams

As for the team in 2014, the Yankees lack familiarity. Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner are the only two homegrown players in the Yankees lineup. If you consider the fact that Jeter may not be himself this year and Gardner may be traded, then this team is really going to be different. Last season, the fans had little connection with the team because of injuries. This year, the fans lack a connection with the team because it’s mostly made up of free agents.

When Boston went on their own free agent run last season, a core of Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Jacoby Ellsbury remained. The Yankees don’t have this strong core any longer, so it will be hard to judge how good this team can be next season. It’s going to be interesting to watch who rises up as The Guy on this Yankees team.

Ellsbury Deal and Money Talk

There’s a lot going on in baseball right now, and to be specific, a lot of that noise has to do with the Yankees. First, I’d like to say that I was not too happy about the Jacoby Ellsbury deal. I actually hated it, because it feels like the Yankees just spent a ton of money on a player who is pretty much made of glass. But that might not be true, and now I’m coming around on the signing. Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs wrote that Ellsbury’s injuries have been a matter of bad luck more than anything. His injuries have come about after colliding with a few guys, where he ended up hurting himself. Most baseball players would bust their ribs if they collided with Adrian Beltre.

Sullivan also explains that this doesn’t mean his injuries are unconcerning. There is a possibility that Ellsbury could be more fragile than the average big leaguer, but there’s really no exact way of proving this true. The Yankees took a risk and it may very well payoff if Ellsbury doesn’t have the bad luck he had in Boston.

Hating the deal is one thing, but hating it because of his freak injuries is not the right way to go about it. The bigger concern is his long term future. Ellsbury is going to break down just like all the other players who are signed for too long. This is true, but this is what baseball has come to. Teams sacrifice the future for now all the time. Whether it be with prospects or adding a player who will most likely regress by the time the deal is over. This is a risk for all teams, but it’s less of a risk for the Yankees who can afford to take a hit once in a while.

Now, the team is not immune to bad signings. The team had to absorb the playoff-less 2013 season and wait for some money to clear before going all out this off-season. The team has improved two of their weakest spots in 2013, at catcher with McCann, and in the outfield with Ellsbury. Most, if not all Yankee fans, were okay with the McCann signing. However, the Ellsbury deal is a bit different, I suppose, one, It was a surprise, and two, it was for a lot more money than we expected them to spend. This can set off any fan, especially when there is believed to be a budget and your star second baseman is negotiating with other teams.

Yet, a lot of us, especially (but not all) people who are into sabermetrics and putting a dollar value on a player’s production, are critical of almost every signing that isn’t a bargain. And then there’s those who say, “Well it’s not your money don’t worry about it.” There’s definitely a common ground that has to be met here. The deal has to be analyzed in a few ways. To keep it simple let’s break it down and divide it into two categories: the short term and the long term. In the short term, the Yankees expect to have a solid player. Ellsbury was worth 5.8 fWAR in 134 games last season. He was going to definitely get into the 6 fWAR range had he not missed most of September with a fracture. Ellsbury did play in the playoffs and was effective for the Red Sox. Boston, who had a nice cushion in the AL East, was able to rest him and save him for the post-season. Long term, the Yankees are probably going to not like the end of this deal. Like most deals that are 7-8 years long, the player signed will be in his late 30’s. This is where regression sets in. Surprise, surprise, the Alex Rodriguez mega-deal, the Sabathia extension, and the Teixeira contract are beginning to rear their ugly heads and perhaps teach the Yankees a lesson.

Ellsbury is different than those players though. It’s common among the baseball community to believe that speed and defense doesn’t age very well. When actually that’s been proven false by many. The most recent data found by Dave Cameron shows that speed driven players actually age well. There are exceptions to any data though, but the examples from the past are definitely in the Yankees and Ellsbury’s favor. Speaking of the past, I’m in the midst of reading Dollar Sign on the Muscle, by Kevin Kerrane. It’s a book about the world of baseball scouting, and in the first chapter Branch Rickey suggests what type of players he wants to build his ball club around. Kerrane states, “For the Cardinals the most important tool, even in the new age of home runs, was running speed: Rickey called it the common denominator of offense and defense, and he believed it to be the best single indicator of major-league potential.” (Pg. 8 Kerrane) Rickey seems to be right about his assessment as players similar to Ellsbury have better track records than players like Albert Pujols in the late stages of their careers.

As it has been said many times over the past few days, the Yankees have the money to go out and sign these players. It just doesn’t make sense for the team to build the team around bargain deals and hope to make the playoffs. They don’t have to budget their payroll like the Rays, A’s, and other teams. Do they have the capability of doing that? Absolutely. The team was missing countless starters last year and was in the Wild Card race until the very end. However, the Steinbrenner’s are better off risking their money in almost-sure-things in order to make the playoffs, rather than signing taking on high-risk/high-reward players like Kevin Youkilis or Vernon Wells. They saw the results of what happened in 2013. They didn’t improve the team and the Yankees missed the playoffs. Injuries or no injuries, they missed the playoffs and lost revenue. The Yankees spend money to make money.

I am a spoiled Yankees fan, I’ve only witnessed them miss the post-season twice. When plan 189 was seemingly going on, I figured I was going witness some bad seasons in the Bronx. That nightmare never came to fruition and now appears to be over. So thank you Hal and co, the Boss would be proud.

Yankees’ Prospect Scouting Report: Peter O’Brien

Peter O’Brien

Bats: Right, Throws: Right

Height: 6′ 3″

Weight: 215 lb.

Age: 23

High School: Braddock HS (Miami, FL)

College: Bethune-Cookman College, University of Miami

Background: O’Brien was originally drafted by the Rockies in the 3rd round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft, but he decided not to sign. Instead, he waited a year and played ball at the University of Miami where he hit 10 home runs in his senior season. Before he transferred to Miami, O’Brien hit 38 home runs at Bethune-Cookman College. His home run totals caught the eye of the Yankees and they selected him in the 2nd round of the 2012 MLB June Amateur draft.

O’Brien has played well in his two years in the Yankees minor league system. The highest level he has reached is high A ball, but he should move a little faster than most prospects due to the fact that he played college ball and is already 23 years old. In his first year as a Yankee prospect, O’Brien hit 10 home runs. All 10 of those home runs were hit while he played in the New York-Penn League. In 2013, O’Brien divided his 22 home runs evenly between Charleston (A) and Tampa (A+).

Here’s the table of O’Brien’s stats from Baseball Reference.

2012 21 2 Teams 2 Lgs A–Rk NYY 52 227 212 29 45 10 0 10 34 0 1 10 62 .212 .256 .401 .656 85 10 3 0 2 1
2012 21 Yankees GULF Rk NYY 4 14 14 2 5 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 .357 .357 .500 .857 7 1 0 0 0 0
2012 21 Staten Island NYPL A- NYY 48 213 198 27 40 8 0 10 32 0 1 10 61 .202 .249 .394 .643 78 9 3 0 2 1
2013 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-A NYY 119 506 447 78 130 39 4 22 96 0 1 41 134 .291 .350 .544 .893 243 13 6 0 12 2
2013 22 Charleston SALL A NYY 53 226 194 47 63 22 1 11 41 0 0 22 58 .325 .394 .619 1.012 120 4 4 0 6 1
2013 22 Tampa FLOR A+ NYY 66 280 253 31 67 17 3 11 55 0 1 19 76 .265 .314 .486 .800 123 9 2 0 6 1
2 Seasons 171 733 659 107 175 49 4 32 130 0 2 51 196 .266 .321 .498 .818 328 23 9 0 14 3
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/30/2013.

Positioning: O’Brien originally was supposed to play catcher, but the Yankees do not have the room for him to play catcher at any high levels with Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy already in their system. Because of this, O’Brien has been moved to third base. The only other strong third base prospect the Yankees have is their first round selection from 2013, Eric Jaigelo. O’Brien should remain a few levels above Jaigelo and with prospects it’s always good to have an abundance of potential talent at the same position because prospects are difficult to project to the bigs. We all know how Jesus Montero and Austin Romine look right now.

With Alex Rodriguez on the verge of possibly missing some or perhaps the entire season to suspension, some believe the Yankees should try O’Brien out in Spring Training for the third base job. I think he’s still raw and believe he would be better off playing another year or two in the minors before making the jump to the majors. He had a strong arm as a catcher, but he just wasn’t all that amazing at pop time and the defensive part of the game behind the dish so playing third base seems like it would make sense for him. The worst case scenario for O’Brien defensively is either right field or first base.

Mechanics: I’ve been looking at some videos of O’Brien’s swing and this video from Baseball America has given me the best look at what his current swing looks like. I’ve watched this video countless of times and focused on each part of his swing: legs, hips, hands, follow through, etc.

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O’Brien has a solid foundation in his batting stance. He has good rhythm before the pitch is thrown helping him out with his timing.

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In still two, you can see how O’Brien locks and loads back. He has a good trigger here and his hands wait back on the ball until it cross into the zone.

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In still three, take a look at O’Brien’s balance. His feet are planted and are in almost perfect position for hitting, his back foot pivots for full rotation and his hips rotate well enough to generate power and get around on the ball. I’ve read some past reports about his swing after he was drafted and scouts had said that he had a long swing, but I can see where he’s made improvements. His hands are tucked in more when he’s about to swing which should help his swing become short and compact, not long. A long swing has a lot of holes, but I like what I see from O’Brien here. O’Brien transfers his weight well and has plus bat speed. The ball just explodes off his bat and if you watch the video of him taking BP you’ll hear how loud the ball sounds.

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Still four is where he shows his ability to extend his arms after he makes contact with the ball. This will help O’Brien drive the ball and is one of many reasons as to why he has so much power.

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Still five deals with his beautiful finish. Right here you can see some loft in his swing – loft is not an uppercut and is a sign of raw power. O’Brien shows both BP and in-game power and I look forward to seeing how he plays in 2014.

Scouting Scale: The power part of the scouting scale projects a players home run total they may one day achieve. O’Brien should be a 60 (20-26) or 70 (26-35) on the power scale.