The Yankees Need to Platoon Mason Williams and Chris Young

The Yankees will call up Mason Williams to the big team:

You can read my recent post on Mason Williams to get my thought on him. Summary: He’s hitting well in 2015, could be really good, and also has a pretty high floor thanks to defense and a low strikeout swing. He’s been hitting even better at Triple-A since I wrote that post.

With Jacoby Ellsbury out, Chris Young has been getting a lot of playing time. The results haven’t been pretty. Check out these splits:

  • Vs. RHP: 77 PA, .149/.171/.284
  • Vs. LHP: 52 PA, .327/.407/.673

And Mason Williams in 2015:

  • Vs. RHP: .331/.414/.411
  • Vs. LHP: .280/.345/.360

This should be a no-brainer, and probably should have been the day after Ellsbury got injured: Mason Williams and Chris Young should be strictly platooned. Combined, the Yankees could have all-star level production simply by preventing each player from facing their weak sides. Continue reading The Yankees Need to Platoon Mason Williams and Chris Young

Second Half Turnaround On The Horizon For Mason Williams

MiLB: JUL 08 Class A Advanced - Tampa Yankees at Dunedin Blue Jays

It’s been a trying season for top prospect Mason Williams.  There was his DUI arrest in late April, a slow start at the plate after that carried over into the early part of June, and questions about his attitude and hustle popping up again in scouting reports.  He’s missed games both due to minor injuries and undisclosed team reasons this season, and as recently as a month ago had a season OPS in the mid-600s.  Since about the middle of June, however, Williams has started to find himself at the plate and is currently in the middle of a pretty wicked 2-week hot streak.  He got knocked off track early, but Williams now appears primed for a strong finish to his 2013.

In his last 10 games, Williams has 18 hits in 42 at-bats (.429/.467/.595) with 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 R, 3 RBI, and 3 SB.  He has at least 2 hits in each of his last 4 games and has walked just as much as he’s struck out. Williams is hitting .440/.462/.560 for the month of July, and that’s after putting up a .805 OPS in June.  The hot month has raised his season batting line to .269/.344/.372 (.333 wOBA), right in line with his level of production after his initial call up to High-A last year.

His improvement in BB and K rates this season combined with his scorching July suggests Williams has figured it out at this level.  His power is down, but that being his weakest projected offensive tool anyway, it’s probably not a huge concern for the Yankees.  He’s still over a month short of his 22nd birthday and he still grades out as a 4-4.5-star centerfield prospect at his peak.  To have a player like that on the cusp of moving to Double-A ball is not a bad thing when you need as much help up the middle as the Yankees do.

It’s been another down year for the Yankee farm system in 2013 and Williams has been a big part of that.  He’s struggled on and off the field and lost a lot of the hype he’d built up over his first 2 pro seasons, evidenced by him dropping of most every national mid-season top prospect list after appearing on more than 1 preseason list.  A continuation of his current hot hitting trends through the end of the season would go a long way towards re-establishing his prospect value and towards giving the Yankee system something good to build on for next season.

(Photo courtesy of Cliff Welch/ Continue reading Second Half Turnaround On The Horizon For Mason Williams

Growing Pains For The Top Outfield Prospects

Tyler Austin 2013

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod.  Stats are as of Wednesday)

The Yankees entered this season with what appeared to be very good prospect depth in the outfield.  At best, 4 of their top 10 organizational prospects were outfielders, with 3 of them showing up in almost every respectable top 5 list.  Anticipation and expectations were high for this group based on what they did in 2012, and it was starting to look like the outfield was going to be one spot where the team would have good options for the future if they were planning on committing to a reduced payroll.  Almost 2 months into the MiL season, it appears as though the first potholes in this group’s development have been hit.

Mason Williams– .229/.328/.331, .311 wOBA in 184 PA

Tyler Austin– .248/.365/.348, .340 wOBA in 192 PA

Slade Heathcott– .236/.292/.343, .293 wOBA in 155 PA

Ramon Flores– .244/.332/.318, .308 wOBA in 206 PA

That’s as sobering a collection of slash lines as you’ll see from top hitting prospects.  The biggest point of emphasis is the major drop in power that they’ve all experienced.  For projected gap hitters like Williams and Flores, it’s not as big a deal and they still bring tools to the table with respect to speed, defense, patience, and contact.  For someone like Austin, however, the dip in power could seriously impact his ceiling as a Major Leaguer.  He’s a guy who’s going to rise and play on the strength of his bat, and whose role (starter vs. bench player) is likely going to be determined by how much power he offers.

There’s also the non-statistical red flags that have popped up this year, namely Williams’ DUI and continued negative reports on his body language and effort from scouts and Heathcott’s health.  Slade has been banged up again, something that he can’t afford as a Double-A player behind the learning curve.  His early poor numbers are easier to swallow because of that, and he’s shown signs of life at the plate in the last week or two, but he needs to show he can stay on the field to maximize his 5-tool potential.

The good part of this situation is that it gives us, and everybody else, a chance to see how each of these players adjusts and evolves their game to improve their production.  It’s great to see Austin raking in A-ball or Heathcott tearing up the AZFL, but the true test of a prospect’s worth is what he does when he gets to the upper levels.  3 of these guys are getting a taste of that this season, with Williams likely to follow later in the summer.  The ability to still work walks and get on base is a good sign.  How they react to this challenge and play over the next few months will be just as good an indicator of their future ceilings as any of their tools.

(Photo courtesy of Beverly Schaefer) Continue reading Growing Pains For The Top Outfield Prospects

Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson

With Curtis Granderson down and out for ten weeks or so, the Yankees have a hole in left field. No injury can have an upside though there can be silver linings. “Luckily,” a lot of Granderson’s rehab time will be taken up by Spring Training and he’ll be back in early May. But on that not-so-lucky side, since it’s Spring Training, the market for outfielders is pretty thin and obviously, the timing isn’t great. There are, however, some internal options. Though it should be obvious, let’s just cross of Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams. Ramon Flores, who’s on the 40-man Continue reading Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson

Sickels ranks farm system 14th in MLB

Yesterday, John Sickels of Minor League Ball ranked the Yankees’ farm system 14th in Major League Baseball, up two spots from last year’s ranking of 16. Sickels comment on the Yankees was as follows: 14) New York Yankees (16): Strengths: quartet of young hitters at the top, with Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott all potential impact prospects, though all have some questions. Good depth in C+ types behind them. Weaknesses: impact pitching. I don’t count Manny Banuelos as an automatic Tommy John recovery. Wildcard: Rafael DePaula, who could vault up lists quickly once he pitches against Continue reading Sickels ranks farm system 14th in MLB

Top-30 Prospects Preview: How Far Has Manuel Banuelos Fallen?

Manuel Banuelos was the no-doubt top Yankee prospect entering this season, and held down the #2 spot, behind Jesus Montero, for a year before that. A lot of people, myself included, expect him to spend time on the Yankee roster down the stretch in 2012, and move on to a bright major league career. Instead, Banuelos had pretty much the worst possible 2012 season: after months of trying to rehab an elbow injury, Banuelos was shut down on August 6th after pitching just 24 innings. Banuelos was 21 years old entering this season, and impressive age for someone starting at Continue reading Top-30 Prospects Preview: How Far Has Manuel Banuelos Fallen?

Gary Sanchez & Mason Williams Get A High-A Education

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) No matter what order you’d rank them personally, there’s little doubt that Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams are the 2 best Yankee position prospects right now (and yes, the order in which I just mentioned them is how I would rank them).  With the way the top-tier pitching prospects have faltered this season, it’s not much of a stretch to say that Sanchez and Williams are the best Yankee organizational prospects period.  When you’re blessed with the natural physical gifts and core baseball tools in the way that these guys Continue reading Gary Sanchez & Mason Williams Get A High-A Education

2012 Pre-Draft Top-20 Prospect Rankings

Its that time again. Three days from now, the Yankees will add 30-40 young baseball players into their organization. Before that happens, it is appropriate that we take stock of the Yankee farm system, so that we may better understand the Yankee draft and signing strategy. Below are my Top-20 prospect rankings. I usually rank 30 players, but given that we’re a year away from the last draft, I figure there are serious diminishing returns to going all the way to 30 at this time of the year. And it also makes the graphics a little too large. And I Continue reading 2012 Pre-Draft Top-20 Prospect Rankings

Nightly Links: Recap, Banuelos, Blown Saves

The Yankees beat the Angels 5-0 today in their home opener in the Bronx. Kuroda’s First Start in the Bronx As a pitcher in the NL West, Hiroki Kuroda never before started in Yankee Stadium. As a pitcher who dealt with groundball issues last year, many questioned how well he would pitch in the hitter’s park aided by the short porch, and today’s results were certainly a statement to all the doubters. With an 8-6 groundball-flyball rate, Kuroda dominated the Angel’s lineup, going 8.0 innings, giving up only 5 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. Of those 5 hits, none Continue reading Nightly Links: Recap, Banuelos, Blown Saves