John Sickels Releases His 2016 Top 20 Yankees Prospects List

We haven’t had a good prospect ranking list in a while.  Luckily for us John Sickels came through and dropped his top 20 Yankees prospects for 2016 late on Sunday night.  I always appreciate Sickels’ rankings because he does the extra 10 and he always has a few selections that are off the beaten path, so it’s a good read.  This year is no exception.

For starters, Sickels doesn’t have Aaron Judge as his number one.  That spot went to Gary Sanchez, with Jorge Mateo coming in at 2 and Judge at 3.  I can’t argue with the decision to put Sanchez over Judge, especially with the way each of them performed upon their promotions to Triple-A.  But I’m not willing to say Mateo is a better prospect than Judge right now even with Judge’s struggles in Triple-A.  That’s just me.

Other highlights include Wilkerman Garcia at 7, Kyle Holder at 9, Ben Gamel at 15, and Hoy Jun Park at 17.  … Click here to read the rest

Quick Hit: Yankees Sign Donovan Solano To MiL Deal

Well it ain’t Juan Uribe, but the Yankees did do something to address their lack of upper level infield depth by signing Donovan Solano to a Minor League deal yesterday.  Solano, 28, is a long-time MiL player in the Cardinals and Marlins systems and has seen small chunks of time at the MLB level over the last 3 seasons.

A right-handed hitter, Solano has a .257/.307/.328 tripleslash in 1,145 career MLB plate appearances and a .263/.314/.323 tripleslash in over 3,000 career MiL plate appearances.  If nothing else, he’s been freaky consistent as he’s worked his way up the ladder to the show.  As a whole, he’s not much offensively.  He can put the bat on the ball, but that’s about it.  Doesn’t draw walks and doesn’t hit for any power.  Defensively he’s much more useful, spending time at second base, third base, and in the outfield corners in his MLB career and some at shortstop back in his MiL days.… Click here to read the rest

Quick Hit: Yankees Lose 2, Select None In The Rule 5 Draft

The Rule 5 Draft just wrapped up a little while ago, and as expected the Yankees lost Double-A outfielder Jake Cave.  He was taken with the 2nd pick of the draft by the Reds.  What was extremely unexpected was the Braves taking right-hander Evan Rutckyj with the next pick, although maybe that should be expected given the number of former Yankee prospects and MiLers that the Braves have stockpiled over the last few years.

The Yankees did not select anybody in the 3 rounds of the Major League draft, but did add 3 players in the Triple-A portion.  They also lost 4 more players in that portion of the draft, so it certainly seems as though the Yankee farm system has improved as far as their competitors are concerned.

Cave was expendable thanks to the team’s upper-level OF depth and I don’t expect Rutckyj to stick on the Atlanta roster all year, so no big loss for the Yanks.  The full draft results can be found here.Click here to read the rest

2015 Arizona Fall League Wrap-Up

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The Arizona Fall League championship game was played on Saturday, with the Scottsdale Scorpions defeating the Surprise Sagueros 6-4.  The Yankees were well represented in the Surprise lineup, with Gary Sanchez starting at catcher and hitting cleanup, Tyler Austin starting in left field and hitting 6th, and Dustin Fowler starting in center and hitting 8th.  They all performed well too, each recording at least 1 hit in the game and Fowler hitting a home run.

With the AZFL season officially over, here’s a final tally for the Yankee representatives:

Sanchez: .295/.357/.625, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 16 R in 88 AB
Austin: .272/.344/.444, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 13 R, 7 SB in 81 AB
Fowler: .279/.313/.410, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 14 R, 7 SB in 61 AB
Tyler Wade: .220/.313/.268, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 6 R in 41 AB

Ian Clarkin: 24.2 IP, 34 H, 16 ER, 14 BB, 17 K, 5.84 ERA in 6 App
Chaz Hebert: 14.1 IP, 13 H, 7 ER, 10 BB, 12 K, 4.40 ERA in 7 App
Tyler Webb: 12.1 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 12 K, 5.84 ERA in 9 App
Domingo Acevedo: 12.0 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 11 K, 2.25 ERA in 7 App

The standout numbers still belong to Sanchez, who fell short in his bid to win league MVP despite leading in homers and ribbies.  … Click here to read the rest

Reviewing The Rule 5 Draft Roster Situation

Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to set the 40-man Major League, Triple-A, and Double-A rosters in preparation for next month’s Rule 5 draft.  The Yankees always seem to be under a 40-man roster crunch and never seem to have enough spots for protection-worthy players who are Rule 5 eligible, and this season is no different.  Here’s a quick breakdown of where the roster stands, what other moves might be made to clear space, and my thoughts on what players the Yankees will, won’t, should, and should not protect.

The Roster: Currently stands at 38 players.  21 pitchers, 3 catchers, 6 infielders (not including Ackley), 7 outfielders (including Ackley), and 1 Alex Rodriguez.

The Potential Casualties: Caleb Cotham, Domingo German

Cotham is a 28-year-old MiL lifer who just made his MLB debut in 2015.  He pitched to a 6.52/6.55 ERA/FIP split in 9.2 innings and gave up 14 hits and 4 homers.  He’s most likely a Quad-A player at best, and the Yankees have enough to righty relief depth to make up for his loss.… Click here to read the rest

Ian Clarkin Throws 4 Innings In His 2015 Debut

Guess these fall league updates will be more frequent than I thought.  That’s with good reason this morning, as Ian Clarkin finally made his 2015 in-game debut yesterday in the AZFL.  He missed the entire MiL season due to a still undisclosed elbow injury, but started throwing bullpens and BP again in August and September and took the hill in his first real game of the year yesterday for the Surprise Saguaros.

By all accounts, I’d say it was a pretty solid debut.  Clarkin went 4 innings, gave up an earned run on 4 hits and 3 walks, and struck out 2.  He threw 64 pitches, 37 strikes, 1 wild pitch, and got 6 outs on the ground.  The command wasn’t there, as one would expect from a 20-year-old pitcher who didn’t pitch all season, but it sounds like the stuff was.  Keith Law was at the game and tweeted this about Clarkin:

Throwing with good velocity, throwing plus offspeed pitches, and coming through the outing with no physical problems.  … Click here to read the rest

Arizona Fall League Starts Off With A Bang For Yankee Prospects

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The Cubs advancing to the NLCS and the Dodgers forcing a Game 5 last night was cute, but the real highlight was the 2015 Arizona Fall League getting started with its first games.  The Yankees are well represented on the Surprise Saguaros roster, with 8 players on the team, and they had more than a few stars in last night’s 6-5 loss.

The biggest and brightest was Gary Sanchez, who popped a 3-run home run in the top of the 1st to get the Saguaros on the board early.  He finished the night 2-4 hitting from the cleanup spot, and he was matched in that feat by fellow Yankee farmhands Tyler Austin and Tyler Wade.  Both guys doubled as one of their hits and Wade drove in 2 runs batting from the 9-spot and playing second base.  Austin hit 7th and played first.

There were no Yankee pitchers involved in last night’s game, but that’s where there figures to be the biggest focus once the season gets going.  … Click here to read the rest

The 2015 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

The RailRiders’ 2015 season ended on Friday night, a week earlier than they would have liked, as they lost three straight games to the Indianapolis Indians in the semifinals on the International League playoffs. Despite the disappointing ending, it was a strong year for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, who ended up with a 81-63 record (breaking their two year streak of going 68-76). For the tenth time in history (sixth as a Yankee affiliate), the RailRiders won the IL North Division title.

Scranton was a solid team on both sides the of the diamond, in large part to an array of top prospects put on their uniform at some point in 2015, but also thanks to some lesser known players. As a team, Scranton hit .271/.339/.389, giving them the highest average and on base percentage in the IL, and the fourth best slugging percentage. They did better than average when it came to pitch selection, striking out 979 times as a team, which was the fifth lowest total in the IL, while taking 480 walks – the fifth highest in the IL.… Click here to read the rest

Checking in on the Staten Island Yankees

Staten_Island_YankeesThe Staten Island Yankees are hosting a lot of the Yankees top draft picks of this year, so I thought this week we would check in on the Yankees’ New York-Penn League team. The short-season team is actually leading the McNamara division with a 28-26 record, despite the team having no clear strength. They lead both Aberdeen and Hudson Valley by a game and half.

The Staten Island hitters are putting up a combined slashline of .249/.327/.348. All of those put them squarely in the middle of the NYPL, yet they hold the third most runs (257), doubles (94) and RBIs (220). The Baby Bombers have shown that they can get on base and make it count, drawing 186 walks and stealing 46 bags. While the number of steals isn’t that impressive, they have only been caught 13 times, the lowest in the NYPL. For comparison, Williamsport has stolen the second most bases (67) but has been caught the most (44).… Click here to read the rest