Mailbag: Minor League Starting Rotations

CC Sabathia's two-seamer and ground ball rate
Sunday Night Open Thread
Left out. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Chris asks: Can we see a post on the Minor League rotations? So far I see them looking something like…

Scranton: Phelps, Warren, DJ Mitchell, Brackman, Noesi (assuming Nova makes the big club)
Trenton: Banuelos, Igawa, Betances, Stoneburner, Bleich
Tampa: Jairo Heredia, Jose Ramirez, Brett Marshall, Shaeffer Hall , Sean Black
Charleston: Bryan Mitchell, Gabe Encinas, DePaula, Cotham, and Rutckyj

I agree with your Triple-A rotation, though I don’t think they’ll line up in that order. Not that it matters, just sayin’. Kei Igawa won’t start in Double-A, he’ll do the swingman think out of the Triple-A bullpen yet again. If Nova doesn’t make the big league team, then I suppose Adam Warren would go back to Double-A. That would only be temporary anyway, he won’t stay there all season.

Jeremy Bleich is on his way back from major shoulder surgery, so he won’t be ready to start the season in any rotation, let alone Double-A. Hall pitched pretty damn well last season (2.61 FIP in 68 IP for Low-A then 3.30 FIP in 69 IP for High-A), so I expect him to jump up to Trenton. Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances are obvious locks for Double-A. That last spot could go to one of two guys: Craig Heyer or Cory Arbiso. Both did nice jobs after shifting into the rotation in the second half last year, and it really depends on what they do with Heyer (the actual prospect). If they move him back to the bullpen, his ultimate destination, it’ll be Arbiso. If not, then it’ll be Heyer.

Your High-A rotation is spot-on except for Hall. That spot will probably go to Josh Romanski, who signed early last year then pitched to a 3.44 FIP in 88.1 IP for Low-A Charleston last summer. He also made a three start cameo with Tampa at the end of the year and figures to go back there.

The Low-A rotation is interesting and completely unpredictable. I could see all those guys starting the year there, but I could also see none of them there. Rafael DePaula still hasn’t secured a visa, so he’s not even in the United States. Let’s count him out. Cotham is still coming back from labrum surgery and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready in time to start the season, so let’s count him out as well. The Yankees have been pretty reluctant in recent years when it comes to pushing high school pitchers into full season ball in their first full pro season, so I would be surprised if Encinas and Evan Rutckyj started in Charleston. Ditto Taylor Morton.

Mikey O’Brien had a fine stint with Short Season Staten Island last year (3.10 FIP in 60.2 IP), so he’ll probably get a Low-A assignment. Nik Turley will probably make his full season debut as well (3.18 FIP, 0 HR allowed in 61.2 IP with Staten Island last year), and I could see both of SI’s college guys – Zach Varce (2.61 FIP in 71.1 IP) and Shane Greene (3.38 FIP in 49 IP) – in Charleston as well. Greene actually finished last season with four starts there, so he’s a safe bet. The last spot could go to Dustin Hobbs, who made seven starts with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Yankees last year before making a pair with Staten Island. Evan DeLuca’s pretty raw and probably needs more time in Extended Spring Training.

Alright, so based on all that, here is my best guess at the rotations (in no particular order one through five)….

Triple-A: Noesi, Brackman, Warren, Mitchell, Phelps
Double-A: Banuelos, Betances, Stoneburner, Hall, Heyer
High-A: Heredia, Ramirez, Marshall, Black, Romanski
Low-A: O’Brien, Turley, Varce, Greene, Hobbs

That leaves guys like DeLuca, Morton, Encinas, Rutckyj, Brett Gerritse, and Matt Richardson for the short season league rotations, plus 2011 draftees. Trenton will clearly have the most exciting rotation, but Scranton isn’t far behind. Marshall and Ramirez are reason enough to pay attention to Tampa, and Charleston … hey, Gary Sanchez!

CC Sabathia's two-seamer and ground ball rate
Sunday Night Open Thread
  • Jerome S.

    Will DePaula ever make it to the US?

    • Jake H

      No guarantee that he does. He doesn’t get paid thou unless he does.

    • NJYankeeFan

      The Steinbrenner’s must have a fast boat docked at their estate in Tampa. Fire that baby up.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        I’ve said this on Twitter, but it would be nice if the Yankees had a former Senator on their board to help with these matters. *cough Sen.Mitchell cough*

  • mason

    “…and Charleston … hey, Gary Sanchez!”

    as a new Charleston resident, this makes me very happy.. I’m hoping some of the 2010 draft picks (culver, gumbs, m. williams) are also in the lineup.

  • AndrewYF

    Isn’t DJ Mitchell a future bullpen guy? I can’t see him ever starting a game for the major league club. I think we could see him moved to the bullpen if there’s a starting pitcher squeeze in Scranton.

  • Sam

    Also, you forgot Bryan Mitchell who’ll probably starting in Charleston, no?

    • Mike Axisa

      No, I think Staten Island.

      • dennis

        he is pitching for the riverdogs in minor league spring training. probably means he is starting there.

    • Accent Shallow

      Baseball Reference is wonderful.

      It tells me that Bryan Mitchell, a player who has no professional PAs, and likely never will, bats left.

  • NJYankeeFan

    I think I’m more excited to take in some Trenton Thunder games this year than I am to see the big league Yanks.

  • vin

    I assume you’re thinking Kontos will be in the pen?

    • Mike Axisa

      Yes, definitely. That was always his ultimate role.

  • ultimate913

    Mike. In your honest opinion, from each staff, who do you believe has the most upside? As in, choose one from each projected staff of AAA, AA, High A and Low A.

    I’m sure Banuelos would be your answer from Trenton. But I don’t know much about the lower levels and the AAA staff for that matter.

    • Mike Axisa

      Warren, Banuelos, Marshall, and I guess Turley.

      • A.D.

        Warren over Brackman?

      •!/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

        Warren has more upside than Brackman?

        • Mike Axisa

          I forgot about Brackman, he clearly has the highest upside of the AAA group.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        I thought that Betances had a higher upside, but Banuelos had a higher probability.

        If hypothetically, they both realize their full upside potential, who is the better pitcher?

        • Chris in Maine

          If both realize their full upside potential, who cares who is better? They both would be crazy good.

          • murakami

            Agreed but Betances has the most upside in the whole MiL system.

            Brackman has more upside than Warren, the latter being more polished. Ceiing-wise, Brackman easily trumps him.

        • Mike Axisa

          I think the upside is basically the same, but Banuelos is a much, much safer bet.

  • Adam

    how do you pronounce Rutckyj

    • T-Dubs

      “Root-ski” I believe.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    I bet Taylor Morton gets to start in Charleston.

  • Mike Myers

    Igawa needs Girardis dentist. ASAP.

  • J. Scott

    Yanks – Phillies game on MLBNetwork now in NY Metro area. Broadcast started at 5:00PM

    • steven

      thank you so fucking much

  • Katesogreat

    Looking forward to the Tampa Rotation.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Ehh…that AA rotation has a lot of guys who will throw five or six inning starts a piece. I think Igawa would be an asset down there to absorb innings to protect the arms with actual upside.

  • VTYankeesFan

    Where is Steve Garrison going to be? I was assuming AA, since he is still in ML Camp and continues to get innings. He seems to have decent enough stuff. Seems like he would be inline for something about High-A.