Report: Yanks Sign Another Top International Prospect

No, it wasn’t Yoan Moncada, but the Yankees continued their international spending barrage by snapping up the last of Baseball America’s top 30 guys.  Via Ben Badler, the Yanks have inked 16-year-old Colombian outfielder Bryan Emery, the 23rd ranked prospect on BA’s list.  No specifics were given on the dollar amount, but because they’re already way over their budget, it will cost the Yankees double.  Here’s what Badler had to say about Emery:

“Emery is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds with a loose swing from the left side. He had been switch-hitting, though he’s hit exclusively lefthanded in recent months. He’s strong and generates easy, explosive power, though leading up to July 2, there were mixed reviews about his game hitting, partly because of his environment…

Some scouts who have seen him recently have seen better game performance, with a simplified hitting approach and a cleaner setup that helped him stay more direct to the ball. Emery’s athletic for his size, has a strong arm and has worked out for clubs in the infield and the outfield, but he fits best in right field, where he will begin his career.”

Athletic, good arm, plus power potential, and improving mechanics.  …

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Group Chat: Would You Sell Half the Farm for Tulo?

Scott: Matt’s Yankees Shortstop Options post was depressing, and rumors are flying about possible trades for Elvis Andrus or Troy Tulowitzki, with one rumor suggesting that the Yankees could have Tulo for something like Luis Severino, Greg Bird, and Manny Banuelos. Would you take that deal, or something like it? I absolutely would. (1) Severino is great, with no red flags to date, but has only 25 IP at AA; it’s a long road yet to being a real MLB starter, much less the sort of #1-#2 starter you might regret giving up for a Tulo. (2) Bird has real holes in his game – rough at 1B (1 error every 10 games) and striking in 23% of PA in the low minors (bad but more a yellow than red flag); his 7 HR in 95 AB at AA, and great AFL showing, may signal exciting improvement, but to regret trading him for Tulo, he’d have to show continued progress.…

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Report: Yankees Had “A Large Contingent” At Yoan Moncada’s Workout Last Wednesday

Moncada Workout 11-12-14

Moncada at last week’s public workout. Courtesy of SA & UACUTE; L MART & IACUTE; NEZ EFE

The announcement that 19-year-old Cuban prospcet Yoan Moncada was officially declared a free agent by MLB created some serious buzz on the international free agent circuit last week.  Moncada is highly-touted, with some scouts seeing him as a legitimate 5-tool talent, and he held his first public workout for MLB scouts last Wednesday in Guatemala.  There were 60+ scouts in attendance, and according to a report by Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com, the Yankees were out in full force.  Here’s the money quote:

“The Yankees were reported to have a large contingent at his workout last week.”

Quick-draw reaction?  Good.  They should have a large contingent there.  They played it safe and missed out on the last few big Cuban free agents, and Moncada comes with a much better scouting report attached to him at a much younger age than any of those other players.  …

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Greg Bird Wins AZFL MVP

He didn’t have as dynamite a regular season as he did in 2013, but Greg Bird put an exclamation point on his stellar Arizona Fall League season by being named MVP of the league yesterday.  Bird got off to a hot start in the first 2 weeks and kept his performance up over the length of the season, finishing with a .313/.391/.556 slash line in 99 at-bats.  He led the league in home runs (6), runs scored (21), and hits (31), and was second in RBI (21). and total bases (55).  Among hitters with at least 70 at-bats, his .947 OPS was best.  He also did this.

Bird has been on the offensive upswing ever since the Yankees moved him out from behind the plate to first base prior to the 2013 season.  He’s still nothing special defensively at the position, but he’s shown an ability to hit for plus average, plus power, and draw a ton of walks over the last 2 seasons, and he’s worked himself into serious consideration for a spot on the Major League roster in the near future.  …

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Early Offseason Big Picture: Optimism vs Pessimism re 2015 – a Group Chat

Scott:The Worst is Yet to Come,” happy sunshine guy Dan Szymborski reports in predicting late-stage-empire decay of the post-90s/2000s Yankees. Let’s discuss: Agree or disagree?

         Quick initial take: Agree with Dan that (a) declining oldsters are preventing improvement at many positions, (b) imminent help from the farm is modest, and (c) the free agent pool has gotten shallower now that teams extend young talent before free agency. On the other hand, (a) they’re already an above-average team, (b) some free-agent and rookie talent infusions are likely for 2015-16, and (c) they won’t lose literally a whole rotation (5 starters) to injury every year (like in 2014), right? Can the impending improvements exceed the impending declines enough to net the several extra wins they need to make the playoffs?

William: My take on it is this: Predicting gloom and doom sells papers and creates pageviews and makes off season people read ZiPS. Teams like the Orioles in 2014 and yes, the Royals and Giants show that a lot has to go right for a team to get the golden apple and a lot can go wrong too.…

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The Prospects Most Likely To Help At The Major League Level In 2015

No matter what you think the Yankees should do this offseason, which players you think they should sign and which players you think they shouldn’t sign, one thing we can all agree on is the need for them to get something from their farm system next season.  There’s been a lot of talk from the highest levels of the front office about how they need to get younger and need to get more from their prospects, but very little action in the way of roster building and playing time decisions to back up that talk.

Next season is the time for the actions to match the talk.  The Yankees have an aging, broken down group of veterans, a rotation full of injury risks, and a greater number of legitimate fill-in options at the upper levels of their system than they’ve had in recent years.  When guys start getting hurt, or before guys even start getting hurt, the focus for next year’s roster should be on supplementing or replacing them with some of the upper-tier prospect talent in place of cheap, washed up veteran bums.  …

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Video: Greg Bird’s Moonshot From Yesterday’s AZFL Fall Stars Game

Yeah, that one went a little ways.  Good thing the decision makers smartened up and added Bird to the game.  Prospect hype or not, there’s no reason for the best player in a league to not be in that league’s All-Star Game.

Maybe that homer will start to get Bird some hype on the national stage.  Dude definitely deserves it.

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Baseball America Releases Its 2015 Top 10 Yankee Prospects List

Baseball America has moved on to its new organizational top 10 prospect rankings and today was Yankee day.  Josh Norris has the full list and writeup for free right here, but if you’re just looking for the top 10, it is as follows:

1) Luis Severino
2) Aaron Judge
3) Jorge Mateo
4) Greg Bird
5) Gary Sanchez
6) Ian Clarkin
7) Rob Refsnyder
8) Jacob Lindgren
9) Luis Torrens
10) Miguel Andujar

You’ll notice former top 10 mainstays like J.R. Murphy, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, and Mason Williams are gone and replaced by a new and very young crop.  Mateo, Clarkin, Torrens, and Andjuar are all under 20 years old, and guys like Severino, Bird, and Sanchez are young for their level.

My biggest thought here is how surprising it is to see Mateo that high.  I know he gained some support on the scouting circuit with a strong year in the GCL, but he’s still very raw as a hitter.  …

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Aaron Judge Named To AZFL’s “Fall Star Game”; Greg Bird Not

Arizona Fall League update.  They announced the rosters for this upcoming weekend’s Fall Star Game (get it?) and the Yankee representative is going to be Aaron Judge.  Judge gets the nod over fellow Yankee farmhand Greg Bird despite Bird leading the league in games played, at-bats, hits, runs, doubles, home runs, RBI, and total bases, and he’s getting the nod because this game is designed to showcase top prospects rather than reward good performance.

Whatever.  I get that.  The AZFL is more of a showcase than anything else, so it makes sense to highlight the bigger prospects to get more people familiar with them now in case they turn into big All Stars at the Major League level later.  I actually love this for both guys.  Judge gets to go out and be the big freakshow athlete with the monster power potential that he is, and if he hits a monster home run in the game it will be the first thing people remember when they’re talking about the game online the next day.  …

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