A/Another Chance For A Couple Of Fringe Guys

If there’s a silver lining to be had in this recent bout of injury problems, one might say it’s the opportunity for the Yankees to call up more of their young players and get a look at what they might have in them.  Nothing makes the “play the kids” decision easier than a lack of healthy bodies, and the Yankees are short more than a couple at the moment.  To deal with that, they’ve called up outfielder Zoilo Almonte and right-hander Chase Whitley from Triple-A SWB, 2 older, fringe prospects who’ve spent plenty of time at the highest levels of the farm system.  We’re definitely going to see one of them in action tonight and we may not see the other one at all, but each has a chance to carve out a role for himself and possibly earn a more long-term roster spot.

The player we might not get to see is Zoilo.  He was called up when Shawn Kelley was placed on the DL, but the actual need for him and opportunity to play is based solely on the health of Carlos Beltran and Ichiro Suzuki.  …

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Prospect Stock Watch: April 2014

Peter OBrien Tampa 2014

Courtesy of Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com)

It’s been a tough start to the year for the farm system.  With a handful of top prospects missing the start of the season as they recovered from offseason health problems (Slade Heathcott, Greg Bird, Ty Hensley), the Yankees have watched more injuries strike down a significant portion of other recognizable names.  From Nik Turley and Jose Ramirez in Spring Training, to Tyler Austin last week, to the announcement of Jose Campos‘ season-ending TJS over the weekend, there’s seemingly been a top guy going on the DL every few days.  That’s created opportunities for other players to step up, but so far nobody has created a bigger name for himself than he already had.  With April 2 days away from ending and the sample sizes growing to an almost meaningful size, here are the guys who’ve helped and hurt their prospect stock the most in the first month.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre

Stock Up: Dan Burawa

He followed the “Jose Ramirez 2013 Spring Training” career plan and impressed coaches in camp with his velocity and attitude, and he carried that momentum into the start of the Triple-A season.  …

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Thoughts On The Minor League Rosters

JR Murphy vs FSU

Should be the Triple-A starting catcher.

The Minor League season gets started tonight, and while I don’t want to steal any of Tamar’s team-by-team season preview thunder, I did want to comment on some of the roster decisions.  Each club officially released their Opening Day rosters yesterday, some more complete and correctly than others.  There are some surprising and not so surprising decisions at almost every level, which is pretty par for the course in the world of managing a wide range of prospects and non-prospects.  Here’s my 2 cents on the early roster breakdowns for the 4 full-season MiL teams (click the team names for the full rosters).

Low-A Charleston RiverDogs

- Not a bad starting rotation at all.  Via Josh Norris, it’s going to be Rookie Davis, Luis Severino, Gio Gallegos, Brady Lail, and Caleb Smith.  Everyone should be familiar with Severino by now, but don’t sleep on Davis, Lail, or Gallegos as legitimate starting prospects.  …

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Yanks Assign ManBan To MiL Camp, Make The Right Call

ManBan ST 2014

Months back, I wrote a post advocating for Manny Banuelos’ inclusion in the Spring Training rotation competition if he was healthy enough to do so.  My thinking was that if he showed no ill effects from the Tommy John Surgery that cost him his 2013 season, he offered more upside as the 5th starter than anybody else the Yankees had in-house.  I didn’t expect the Yankees to deviate from their cautious plan with ManBan, but I would have been fully on board with the idea if they did.

As it turns out, there were plenty of ill effects from Banuelos’ TJS on display in his 2 Spring Training outings, although none that were physical or arm-related, and ManBan made it easy for the Yankees to cut him from Major League camp yesterday morning and assign him to High-A Tampa camp.  While his fastball velocity was encouraging in the low 90s, his command wasn’t there on any of his pitches and Banuelos got knocked around for 7 ER on 4 H and 3 BB in 1.0 total IP over his 2 appearances.  …

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Yanks Need To Stay Aggressive With Their Outfield Prospects

Trenton Thunder OF 2013

The double whammy of Alex Rodriguez dropping his lawsuits and Masahiro Tanaka being introduced to the press all but a put a bow on the 2013-2014 offseason.  In a few short days it’ll be back to baseball. The focus will shift back to the diamond and the gaggle of new players that will be gracing it in Yankee pinstripes this season.  The outfield is arguably the most revamped part of the roster, with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran taking over for Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner shifting back to left field, and a full season of Alfonso Soriano to look forward to.

The regular 4-man outfield rotation is set, which could leave very little playing time for Ichiro as the 5th outfielder and even less for Zoilo Almonte as the emergency 6th.  With this boost in outfield depth, it may seem like the Yankees have reason to pump the brakes on developing their group of top outfield prospects.  …

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Yankees Land Four On ZiPS Projected Top 100 Prospects

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve not only entered prospect season, but we’ve also entered projection season. Today, Dan Szymborski applied his projection system ZiPS to minor league players, and then compared the projections to Keith Law’s top 100 prospect list. The Yankees landed four prospects on this list, far more than we’ll see on any top 100 prospect lists this year.

Gary Sanchez ranked 38th overall (68th on Law’s), J.R. Murphy at 45 (not on Law’s), Mason Williams at 91 (87th on Law’s), and Slade Heathcott at 95 (not on Law’s).

I’m assuming there are a number of reasons for these discrepancies. All four of these players are position players, and I’ve assumed for a while that Yankee hitters are undervalued due to playing in perhaps the most pitcher-friendly system in baseball. Another reason would be the weight of injuries, and I’m not sure how much ZiPS takes into account the injury plagued seasons of Heathcott and Williams. Finally, these ZiPS projections are looking at overall career win contributions, and Keith Law is looking for breakout impact players that could be All Stars.…

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Yankees Sign 17-Year-Old Australian Pitcher Brandon Stenhouse

Brandon Stenhouse

Stenhouse and his dad.

Already over their 2013-2014 international spending limit, the Yankees pushed themselves further over by reportedly signing Australian pitcher Brandon Stenhouse to a 6-figure contract yesterday.  Stenhouse, 17, is a right-hander who drew the eye of scouts after pitching in the Under 18 National Championships.  There’s not much out there on him scouting report-wise, but the report from Australia references fastball velocity in the low 90s and the pictures make him look like he’s got a decent frame.

The exact figures of the deal are unknown, but the Yankees’ plan for Stenhouse is not.  He’s going to report to the team’s Tampa complex for a 2-week Extended ST “orientation” in April and then go back to Australia to complete school.  Once that’s done, he’ll return to the US to start his professional baseball career full-time.

Due to the small amount of information available on him, it would be unfair to even try to guess what Stenhouse’s potential is and what kind of ceiling he has.  …

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Keith Law Puts Yanks Farm System 20th Overall

In an insider only piece, Keith Law of ESPN.com put the Yankees farm system at 20th overall. Law includes a few details on why he put them there, noting that most of the top prospects had disappointing seasons. He also points out that their great 2013 draft should help the system in a big way.

In Domenic’s interview with Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks last week, he also looked for a consensus on where the organization ranks. Parks also has the Yankees in the 20′s, though he believes they’re not one of the worst farm systems in the game. The Yankees hold a number of high upside players in the lower levels, though as Parks said, they lack any major league ready impact players.

I agree with both of these assessments, though it’s easy to see how the Yankees could fall in the top 10 next year. They have a number of extremely high upside players at the low levels, which includes Ty Hensley, Ian Clarkin, Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge, Rafael DePaula, Jose Campos, Greg Bird, Abi Avelino, Luis Torrens, Luis Severino, and Gosuke Katoh.…

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Yankees Land Two Prospects On MLB.com’s Top 100

It wasn’t a great year for the Yankees’ farm system, but they still managed to land two players on MLB.com’s top 100 prospects.

Gary Sanchez finds himself at 47th overall after placing 27th in 2013. Sanchez hit just .253/.324/.412 while splitting time between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Both ballparks are notoriously pitcher friendly, and despite that, Sanchez combined for 15 home runs at the age of 20. The catcher also showed some improvements with his plate blocking skills, and scouts have been blown away by his arm. Sanchez still has a lot to prove, and hopefully he can find some more success in Trenton in 2014.

Mason Williams, who ranked 37th overall in 2013, placed 75th overall in 2014. Williams hit just .245/.304/.337 between both High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2013. The outfielder’s struggles were exacerbated by off the field issues, which included an arrest for a DUI in April. Williams’ value comes from his raw tools.…

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