Quick Hit: Greg Bird Off To A Hot Start In The AZFL

The Arizona Fall League is a little over a week underway and so far it’s been mostly uneventful for the Yankee reps.  Tyler Austin and Dante Bichette Jr. are both off to slow starts with the bat and Aaron Judge has only appeared in 3 games.  None of the 3 pitchers are doing anything special in their first few appearances.

The one player who is making headlines is Greg Bird.  He’s gotten the most burn out of the 4 position players, playing in 8 of the 9 games so far, and he’s been a fixture hitting in prime middle-of-the-order spots and playing first base.  In 36 plate appearances, Bird has a .394/.444/.758 batting line with 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 9 R scored, and 9 RBI.  His 25 total bases are almost double the next highest total on his team.

About the only thing Bird hasn’t done well is limit his strikeouts.  He’s K’d 10 times in his 36 plate appearances.  …

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Refsnyder Ranks 13th In Baseball America’s Top 20 International League Prospects List

Refsnyder SWB

Courtesy of Andrew Krech/NY Daily News

Fresh off the heels of his 13th place ranking in yesterday’s Double-A Eastern League list, Rob Refsnyder became a 2-time member of Baseball America’s league-by-league top 20 rankings today when he was named to the list for the Triple-A International League.  Coincidentally, he came in at number 13 on this list as well, joining Aaron Judge as the only Yankee prospects to appear on multiple lists.

Refsnyder hit .300/.389/.456 with 28 XBH and 47 R scored in 77 games for the SWB RailRiders (333 PA).  That, paired with his results from Double-A, gave Refsnyder a .318/.387/.497 slash line for the full season.  That’s very impressive when you remember that he didn’t hit for that kind of average or nearly that kind of power in 117 games at the High-A level last year.  He may be a work in progress defensively at second base, but Refsnyder has proven beyond a doubt that he can handle the stick at any level of the Minors and that’s why he’ll be knocking on the Major League door come next spring.…

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Sanchez And Refsnyder Named To Baseball America’s Top 20 Eastern League Prospects List

Baseball America’s year-end run through the top 20 prospects in every minor league is almost over.  Today it was the Double-A Eastern League’s top 20 and the Yankees had 2 of their big names show up on the list.  Catcher Gary Sanchez came in at number 11 and second baseman Rob Refsnyder was lucky 13.

Sanchez hit .270/.338/.406 in 477 plate appearances over a full season at the Double-A level.  He continued to show great promise with the bat and improvements in his defensive game, but not at a level as high was what his original ceiling made him out to be.  Refsnyder was arguably the best position player in the Yankee system this year, and in his short stint in Trenton he hit .342/.385/.548.  Sanchez is no longer the top Yankee prospect on my board, but he and Refsnyder are both top 5 easily.  Refsnyder should be in competition for the starting second base job next spring and Sanchez could be in serious consideration for a roster spot in 2016.…

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Quick Hit: AZFL Begins Today

The season never really ends in the world of prospects, and the next stage of the 2014 cycle kicks off today with the opening of the Arizona Fall League season.  From a Yankee perspective, things have changed some since they announced the initial batch of participants.  Here’s a quicker refresher on who’s going and why.

Position Players: Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Greg Bird, Dante Bichette Jr., Kyle Higashioka

Bichette is in for the injured Eric Jagielo, who will miss the season due to his facial HBP and resulting surgery.  Bichette re-established his prospect value some this season with a .271/.352/.410 season at High-A Tampa, but he’s 4 years into his pro career now and just had his first good year since 2011.  There’s nothing he can do to really help or hurt his standing here.  Same goes for Judge, Austin, and Bird, although it would be great to see all of them continue their hot-hitting finishes to the regular season.  …

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Aaron Judge Ranks 15th In Baseball America’s Top 20 Florida State League Prospects List

Fresh off his 8th place showing on the South Atlantic League’s list last week, Aaron Judge showed up again on the latest list released by Baseball America today.  His .283/.411/.442 tripleslash (.397 wOBA, 149 wRC+) was good enough to get him 15th place on BA’s top 20 Florida State League prospects list, and the dual recognition for both leagues gives him another feather in his cap heading into the Arizona Fall League season.  He was the only Yankee farmhand to make the list.

I was a little surprised to not see Jake Cave or Greg Bird crack the bottom of that list, but neither spent a lot of time at the level and both have already been shuttled up to Trenton.  Based on his .308/.419/.486 season batting line and selection for the AZFL, I have to imagine Judge will be joining them there to start 2015.

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Yanks Put 3 In Baseball America’s Top 20 South Atlantic League Prospects List

Baseball America continues to roll out their year-end top 20 prospects lists and the next one concering the Yankees came out yesterday.  They were represented by 3 players on the top 20 list for the Low-A South Atlantic League.  Right-handed starter Luis Severino was 4th, outfielder Aaron Judge was 8th, and left-handed starter Ian Clarkin was 15th.

Severino, arguably the new top prospect in the entire Yankee system, finished the year in Double-A but was dominant in his season-opening stint in Low-A Charleston.  He pitched to a 2.79/2.70 ERA/FIP split with 70 strikeouts in 67.2 IP.  Judge hit .333/.428/.530 in 278 PA for Charleston before being promoted to High-A Tampa in the middle of the season.  And Clarkin, at 19 years old, pitched to a 3.21 ERA and 3.74 FIP with 71 K in 70.0 IP.

Without knowing much about the rest of the league, I can say these 3 were well deserving of their selections.  I’m actually a little surprised Judge didn’t rank higher, although his age may have had something to do with it.  …

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Quick Hit: Baseball America’s 2014 Top Prospects Lists Are Rolling Out

I’m a little late on this, but Baseball America is in the process of releasing its 2014 “Top 20 Prospects” rankings for each Minor League.  They posted the top 20 for the Gulf Coast League last week and the NY Penn League earlier this week.  Yankee farmhands nabbed 2 spots on the GCL list, shortstops Jorge Mateo and Angel Aguilar at #4 and #15 respectively, and catcher Luis Torrens came in at #4 on the Penn League list.

Mateo is a 19-year-old shortstop who hit .276/.354/.397 with 14 R scored and 11 stolen bases in 15 games for the GCL Yanks 1 team (65 PA).  Aguilar, also 19, hit .311/.373/.536 with 7 HR, 34 R, and 31 RBI in 39 games for the GCL 2 team (167 PA).  Torrens hit .270/.327/.405 in 202 PA for the Staten Island Yanks after an early appearance in Low-A Charleston and a shoulder injury.  He’s still only 18 years old and arguably the Yankees’ best low-level prospect.…

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Prospect Stock Watch: August/September 2014

Jaron Long 2014

Coach’s kid. Courtesy of MiLB.com

It’s a bit belated, but I couldn’t let the Minor League seasons end without getting a final monthly stock watch post up.  The second half of the season felt much better than the first, with guys like Aaron Judge and Rob Refsnyder continuing their hot hitting from early and guys like ManBan, Tyler Austin, Greg Bird, and Gary Sanchez stepping up in the second half.  For the final time in 2014, here are the prospects who did the most to help and hurt themselves in the final month plus of the season.

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre:

Stock Up- Tyler Webb

Webb capped off a very good year that saw him pitch at 3 different levels by settling into the SWB bullpen after being promoted in mid-August and being one of the first names off Brian Cashman’s lips when discussing possible lefty replacements for the departed Matt Thornton.  Webb’s August performance in Triple-A was uneven, with a few clunkers thrown in to juice his ERA up to 4.85.  …

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Thoughts On The AZFL Selections

I missed this when it first came out yesterday, but the Yankees announced their MiL representatives for the 2014 Arizona Fall League season and it’s quite the group.  Via Josh Norris, the players selected were Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Eric Jagielo, Tyler Austin, Caleb Cotham, Branden Pinder, and Alex Smith.  The pitching reps aren’t all that sexy, but that’s a top crop of hitting prospects.  Some random thoughts on the picks and what it means for each player.

– As far as Bird, Austin, and Cotham are concerned, this is a way to get back some of the at-bats and innings they lost due to injury this season.  Austin battled some wrist problems again and has hit .275/.336/.419 in 437 PA for Trenton.  Bird missed a lot of time early in the season as he worked back from his latest back issue.  He’s swung the bat well (.272/.374/.479) in 414 PA split 75/25 between High-A and Double-A.  …

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