Arizona Fall League Wrap-Up

The Arizona Fall League has ended, with the Championship game slated for tomorrow when the Salt River Rafters will take on the Peoria Javelinas. The Yankees’ prospects spent the season with the Scottsdale Scorpions, who ended up 15-16 and 2.5 games behind the Rafters. There were some performances to get excited about, but – as has been the theme for the Yankees’ this season – the players closest to the Majors continued to struggle. I’ll get the bad news out of the way first.

Dellin Betances wasn’t able to get past the rest of his rough 2012 season, going 1-3 with a 5.25 ERA over eight appearances and twelve innings, though the news wasn’t all bad. After an ugly first outing, Betances did string together some solid performances, keeping opposing teams scoreless over four games (5.2 innings). He only allowed three hits and one walk, which was a good sign for a pitcher whose lack of control was particularly problematic this season. Betances got knocked around for four runs on five hits, no even lasting an inning against Salt River. He came back and threw two scoreless innings in his last outing of the year. While Betances has clearly seen his prospect drop off quite a bit this year, the fact that he only walked four, while striking out fifteen, in Arizona was a welcome sign.

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Baseball America’s top 10 Yankee prospects

Baseball America is out with their list of the Yankees’ top ten prospects today, and the list has some rather…interesting quirks. You can get the whole list for free here, but need to be a subscriber to read the full scouting reports. Here’s the list:

1. Mason Williams OF
2. Slade Heathcott OF
3. Gary Sanchez C
4. Tyler Austin OF
5. Jose Campos RHP
6. Brett Marshall RHP
7. Angelo Gumbs 2B
8. Manny Banuelos LHP
9. Ty Hensley RHP
10. Rafael DePaula RHP

I won’t put out my own rankings until late February, but I’ve got some quick thoughts on these rankings after the jump.

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Yankee kids have good day in Rising Star Game

The Arizona Fall League held its annual all star game yesterday and the Rising Star Game, as it is called, ended up being a nice showcase for some Yankee prospects. Austin Romine tripled in one of his two at bats and scored the tying run at the time on a wild pitch.  David Adams went one for four and played second the entire game. Adams’ one hit was a double and it drove in two runs. He would later score a run. Mark Montgomery pitched the eighth inning and threw a perfect inning, striking out all three batters he faced.

The only semi-negative aspect of the game was the two stolen bases that Billy Hamilton recorded while Romine was behind the plate. Hamilton stole over a hundred bases this season in the minors, so it’s not like Romine is alone in that category. And Romine’s throw to second on the first steal was a laser and appeared to beat Hamilton there.

Romine’s triple came off of Kyle Gibson, who up until that point, was having a dominant AFL experience.

The AFL East team that included the Yankee prospects won the game 9-4.
Continue reading Yankee kids have good day in Rising Star Game

The Arizona Fall League’s Rising Star Game

Just in case you are jonesing for live baseball like I am, the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars game will be shown tonight at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on MLB Network.

Yankee prospects Mark Montgomery, Austin Romine and David Adams were all selected for the roster. And just in case you haven’t seen Billy Hamilton, phenom shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, he will also will also be playing in tonight’s game.

So far in AFL play, Montgomery has pitched in seven games – 8.1 innings – and has only allowed two hits and one earned run while fanning 15 batters. Romine has managed to stay healthy so far this Fall – he suffered a back injury in Spring Training and missed nearly the minor league entire season. He’s batting .273 with three doubles in 12 games. And Adams, while his average isn’t anything to write home about (.226) he has hit six doubles which leads the team.

Tonight’s game will be a chance for us poor baseball deprived people to watch a real live game again and will also give us a chance to check out some of the Yankee prospects we haven’t seen before.

As excited as I am to see the Yankees prospects, I’m even more excited to see Hamilton. In 82 games in 2012, Hamilton had a .323/.413/.439 line and he stole 104 bases (No, that’s not a typo). He was caught stealing 21 times. I want to see how fast Hamilton really is and I hope he steals second, third and home in this game. Continue reading The Arizona Fall League’s Rising Star Game

Yankees Reassign Nardi Contreras

The Yankees have reassigned long-time minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras and have replaced him with Gil Patterson.

From the New York Post:

Gil Patterson was hired as minor league pitching coordinator. Patterson had been a candidate to become pitching coach after Dave Eiland’s departure two years ago and most recently worked with the A’s. The former Yankees pitcher replaces Nardi Contreras, who will stay with the organization.

Contreras was instrumental in developing the “Joba Rules” and pitching count guidelines while holding his coordinator position. He will remain within the organization.
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Building a bullpen without Mo

The Yankees got their first taste of life without Mariano Rivera this year, after the greatest closer of all time tore his ACL in Kansas City in early May. That was supposed to be something they didn’t have to repeat in 2013, but yesterday we learned that Rivera is having “second thoughts” about a return to the mound, even going so far as to share those thoughts with Brian Cashman. Having Mo call it quits would definitely be an emotional and psychological gut-shot for Yankee fans, but would would it mean for the team’s bullpen? Maybe not as much as you’d think.

Now, to be clear, the Yankees are obviously better with Rivera than without him, and the difference between Mo and the guy who would take his roster spot is enormous. The Yankees should absolutely hope that Rivera returns for at least one more season, I’m just saying that it wouldn’t be a catastrophe for the unit as a whole if they don’t have Rivera anchoring them next season.

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Looking at the Yankees’ future at catcher

As Brien mentioned, the Yankees job for starting catcher is up for grabs right now. Russell Martin‘s contract was for one year and the Yankees have yet to indicate whether they plan to resign him. This year they sent a pretty clear signal that they do not view Francisco Cervelli as a viable option, while they groom their next backstop of the future. First, they traded for Chris Stewart at the end of Spring Training, sending Cervelli to the wandering Empire State Yankees and then only gave him three at bats and a handful of innings behind the plate after being called-up in September. While thinking about this potential hole in their lineup, it struck me that the Yankees have found themselves in a place many of us thought they would avoid, given their penchant for drafting and developing some strong catching prospects.

For much of the 1990s and 2000s, the Yankees had a solid starting catcher behind home plate. This can be attributed in part to the Jorge Posada‘s arrival in the majors, first as a backup and later as one of the Yankees’ key players during their impressive string of playoff runs and World Series titles.  As Posada’s career neared the end, Yankees fans saw few reasons to be concerned, after all, we had been hearing about Jesus Montero for years.  It was understood that there were many questions about Montero’s ability to be a serviceable major league catcher, however, his offense was what excited people. After all, if Montero proved unable to work out defensively, the Yankees had Austin Romine right behind him. Now, Montero finds himself in Seattle, having been traded for Michael Pineda, a move that will likely be hotly debated at least until the young hurler finally dons pinstripes on a mound at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees signed Martin to fill the gap between Posada and the prospects, but after a hot start Martin has seen mixed results during the past season and a half, often garnering a lot of frustration and discussion from fans this past season. Meanwhile, Romine spent the bulk of the season on the DL, after injuring his back during Spring Training and suffering multiple setbacks, making it hard to know just when/if he will be ready for the Bronx. As I mentioned earlier, the Yankees have made it a habit to draft some strong, offensively-minded catchers and they have quite a few working their way up the ladder. So, while we will have to wait and see what Brian Cashman decides to do behind the plate in 2013, let’s take a look at who and where the potential Yankee backstops of the future are now.

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Banuelos to miss all of 2013

Brian Cashman is giving an interview on WFAN, and while much of the conversation is very similar to the interview he did on ESPN Radio Sunday, the Yankees’ general manager did confirm that Manny Banuelos, the team’s top pitching prospect, will miss the entirety of the 2013 season following Tommy John surgery. That’s not a surprise, obviously, but the Yankees arent even going to hint that he could make an early return, apparently.

Banuelos, who was all the rage after a strong Spring Training performance in 2011, struggled with walking batters after being promoted to Double-A that season, and then missed almost all of 2012, first with a back injury and then with an elbow injury. The latter problem was originally diagnosed as being non-structural and the Yankees were hoping to have him pitching in winter ball, but announced that he would indeed need Tommy John surgery during the last week of the regular season.

(h/t to Rob Abruzesse for alerting me to the interview) Continue reading Banuelos to miss all of 2013

Baseball America’s draft report card for the Yankees

Baseball America has released their draft report cards for 2012 and the Yankees’ is one of the handful that do not require a subscription. They singled out fifth round pick Robert Refsnyder as the best pure hitter drafted by New York. The outfielder from the University of Arizona started his career in Charleston this season, after winning the College World Series. Peter O’Brien (second round) is cited as the best power hitter, but he is a big question mark defensively at catcher. Corey Black (fourth round) and top pick Ty Hensley got nods for having the best fastballs, while Nick Goody (sixth round) was mentioned as having the best debut and being closest to the majors. Goody, a closer for LSU worked his way up to the Tampa Yankees with a combined 1.12 ERA over 32 games, averaging 14.6 Ks per nine and a 5.78 K/BB ratio. Austin Aune, Taylor Dugas, Saxon Butler and others are all mentioned as well so make sure to check it out. Continue reading Baseball America’s draft report card for the Yankees