Looking at the Double-A and Low-A rosters

The RAB Radio Show: April 5, 2011
Gardner's trouble with the high pitch
The anchor(s) of Trenton's bullpen. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The minor league season is now just two days away, so the rosters for the four full season affiliates are starting to trickle in. Yesterday we learned that David Phelps will get the ball on Opening Day for Triple-A Scranton, and over the winter I made an attempt to piece together the rest of the roster. Remember, that was back in December, so a lot has changed. I also took a stab at the minor league rotations and previewed the farm system as a whole last month.

Rosters for Double-A Trenton and Low-A Charleston were released yesterday, so let’s dive in and take a look. First up, the Thunder, courtesy of Mike Ashmore

Pitchers: Cory Arbiso, Wilkins Arias, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Steve Garrison, Shaeffer Hall, Fernando Hernandez, Craig Heyer, Kei Igawa, Tim Norton, Naoyo Okamoto, Graham Stoneburner, and Pat Venditte.

The Yankees signed Hernandez and Okamoto as minor league free agents back in February and October, respectively. The starting rotation is pretty clear cut with Banuelos, Betances, Garrison, Hall, and Stoneburner, and there’s a good mix of lefties and righties in the bullpen. Hernandez might be the de facto closer so Heyer and Venditte can pitch multiple innings in middle relief as part of their development. One of these guys has to go, since the Thunder won’t be carrying 13 pitchers on a 24-man roster, and I suspect it’ll be Norton.

Catchers: Austin Romine and Myron Leslie.

Infielders: Corban Joseph, Addison Maruszak, Yadil Mujica, and Jose Pirela.

Outfielders: Cody Johnson, Austin Krum, Ray Kruml, Melky Mesa, Jack Rye, and Damon Sublett.

Johnson was acquired from the Braves in November for cash considerations, and Mujica came on board a little more than a month ago. Baseball America ranked Johnson as Atlanta’s ninth best prospect before the 2010 season, calling him a “minor league version of Adam Dunn.” He owns a .233 ISO, a 10.0% walk rate, and a 39.0% strikeout rate for his career. I suspect he’ll see more time at DH and first base than in the outfield though, since his defensive value is nil.

Romine returns after posting a .328 wOBA last year, the right move for him after he wore down late in the season. Melky Mesa won the Florida State League MVP last year after putting up a .378 wOBA with 19 homers and 31 steals while playing center field. Those two figure to bat three-four in the lineup with Johnson providing protection in the five-hole. Krum (64), CoJo (58), and Pirela (57) ranked one-two-three in the system in walks last year, and I get the feeling that the first two will bat ahead of Romine & Co. Sublett provides some nice flexibility since he can play the outfield or the infield in a pinch. David Adams won’t be ready to start the season, he’s currently battling plantar fasciitis.

Heathcott and Murphy aren't the only guys to watch in Charleston this year. (Photo via Andy in Sunny Daytona)

Let’s move on to Low-A Charleston, with the roster coming via milb.com

Pitchers: Manny Barreda, Dan Burawa, Nathan Forer, Mike Gipson, Shane Greene, Tommy Kahnle, Fred Lewis, Rich Martinez, Zach Nuding, Mikey O’Brien, Wilton Rodriguez, Kramer Sneed, and Nik Turley.

It’s definitely a veteran-laden staff, in that most of these guys were drafted out of some kind of college (either four-year or JuCo). The only exceptions are Barreda (HS), Martinez (IFA), O’Brien (HS), Rodriguez (IFA), and Turley (HS). The Yankees have emphasized power arms in recent years, and this staff shows it. Nuding is a major sleeper after signing for $265,000 as a 30th round pick last year; his fastball has been clocked as high as 97, though he’s maxed out physically at 6-foot-4 and 265 lbs. Greene is another hard thrower and was the ace of last year’s Short Season Staten Island club. Those two plus O’Brien and Turley will make up four-fifths of the rotation, and the other spot could go to any one of Forer, Gipson, Lewis, or Sneed. Barreda, Burawa, and Kahnle are arguably the three best relief pitching prospects in the system, and all three offer big-time fastballs. Again, one of these guys is going to have to go because of roster limitations, maybe Rodriguez.

Catchers: Jeff Farnham, J.R. Murphy, Gary Sanchez.

Infielders: Kelvin Castro, Anderson Feliz, Jose Mojica, Kyle Roller, Rob Segedin, and Jose Toussen.

Outfielders: Kelvin DeLeon, Ramon Flores, Slade Heathcott, and Eduardo Sosa.

New manager Aaron Ledesma (former Triple-A Scranton third base coach) is going to have his work cut out for him with the lineup, just by making sure everyone gets playing time. Murphy and Sanchez will presumably do the catcher-DH dance that Jesus Montero and Romine enjoyed a few seasons ago, likely relegating Flores to first base so he plays every day. There’s also a chance Murphy moves around (he played third and some outfield in Instructional League last fall), but that doesn’t really clear up the logjam. Segedin will definitely play everyday at the hot corner, and masher Kyle Roller (.362 wOBA for Staten Island last year) is probably going to get stuck on the bench since DH and first base figure to be occupied by actual prospects. It’s a good problem to have, but it’ll take some creativity. Again, someone has to go because of the roster size, and I’m guessing it’ll be Toussen.

The process of elimination tells me that first rounder Cito Culver and fellow 2010 draft picks Mason Williams, Angelo Gumbs, Gabe Encinas, Taylor Morton, Ben Gamel, Tyler Austin, and Evan Rutckyj are staying in Extended Spring Training and will then be assigned to Staten Island or the rookie level Gulf Coast League when the seasons start in June. A (finally) healthy Abe Almonte, Rob Lyerly, Luke Murton, DeAngelo Mack, Kyle Higashioka, Jairo Heredia, Scottie Allen, Sean Black, and Chase Whitley seem like safe bets for High-A Tampa. Ditto Bradley Suttle, who will be repeating the level after last year’s .348 wOBA. That’s a shame, but it’s better than being released.

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The RAB Radio Show: April 5, 2011
Gardner's trouble with the high pitch
  • TMiller

    I’m going to the Thunder game vs. Fisher Cats game in Manchester on Thursday. Hoping to see Manny B!!

    • MannyGeee

      you must live near me, then. I am pretty local to Manchester.

      I am downright pissed I am not gonna make it to the game on Thurs. hoping things shake out OK and I can get to the park on Friday to see Dellin light em up!

      • TMiller

        I’ve got about a mile or so walk to the stadium which will be nice. And it’s supposed to be pretty nice weather Thursday. I’m pumped!

        • MannyGeee

          nice, the worst part about that stadium is the parking and ultimate pig screw that is leaving that ‘one way in, one way out’ stadium…

  • bakekrukow412

    Why is Igawa only on Double-A?

    • Rick in Boston

      Because he’s a victim of the roster crunch in AAA. Yes, I’m using victim loosely, here.

      • A.D.

        Lucky he made the AA squad

    • http://hardballtimes.com Dan Novick

      Triple-A roster is full of real prospects and/or pitchers who might actually join the big league club this season

  • Yankee1010

    It seems that Suttle is actually going to be in Trenton and there was just a miscommunication. Mark Newman has confirmed it.

    • Scout

      I was just about to ask, so thanks for the update.

  • pat

    Connor Mullee and Ravel Santana are my two big sleepers. Mullee is a reliever with a big time fastball and clean mechanics for a guy who only pitched a few innings in college and Santana has the looks of a legit 5 tool player who can stick in CF. He’s gotta get his visa straightened out, but once he does, watch out GCL.

  • JSquared

    Any idea where Steve Evarts will start the season? Seems like they might hold him off until Short Season starts…

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    Mike:

    Any word on whether DePaula and Paniaugua will get their visas anytime soon so they can come over here?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Nothing yet.

    • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

      Aranguere sounded like DePaula may never get his visa.

  • J

    DePaula is not looking good visa-wise.

  • MannyGeee

    sidebar… my nomination for the “Graham Stoneburner farmhand name of the year” goes to DeAngelo Mack

    • Monteroisdinero

      Ravel Santana is a close second. Classical french and Latin jazz. Great combo.

  • Gonzo

    Mike, are you holding out any hope for Higgy? I loved the signing at the time, and I like kid, but his bat is not putting up pretty numbers.

    What’s the dirt on Jairo? I remember having high hopes for him years ago.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      A little bit of hope for Higashioka just because he’s really good defensively. Even if he turns into a backup, that’s valuable.

      Not a Jairo fan, he showed up to camp in 2009 and 2010 overweight and the Yankees were pretty pissed. Plus he didn’t pitch all that well.

      • Gonzo

        Thanks. Dang, I hope Higgy can improve with the stick. I heard from somewhere that he was a good kid, but that’s just hearsay.

  • NC Saint

    Wait, you have Flores listed as an outfielder, but then you say the logjam at catcher means he’ll mostly play 1B. Is there a typo in there, or am I just being dense?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I worded that weird. He’s listed as an outfielder, but the OF is full with Heathcott, Sosa, and DeLeon. Normally he would just rotate at DH with the guys, but that spot goes to Sanchez/Murphy, so Flores will get stuck at 1B/

  • tophitter

    I believe Suttle will be with Thunder. Newman said that it was adm error why he has not been listed.

  • http://cjfrmnny@aol.com CJ

    Were is Brett Marshall starting the year? I have read he could be this years Manny Banuelos if he puts it all to together and that he has No.1/2 starter stuff.And does anyone believe that the first prospect to be called up won’t be Montero(As I believe if they live him at AAA and he’s killing the ball his trade value is much higher) but it’ll be Andrew Brackman I mean man they been patient with him he’s 25 so if Gracia struggles 3-4 outing we could see him right?

  • Johnny O

    Who is the anti-breakout guy for 2011? The guy who’s performance will cause a big drop in prospect status. For some reason I’m not at all excited about Heathcott.

    • CS Yankee

      You must be one of those guys that expects an OF to hit.

      /agreewithyourthoughtsbuthopeyourwrong’d

    • Jorge

      Jeter.

    • Gonzo

      Could be Dellin or ManBan. AA is a big jump in talent.

      For me, I expect one of last year’s touted picks to fall flat. Not that I want them to, but one usually does.

  • Chris V.

    Bryan Mitchell extended spring/Staten Island?

    Was hoping they would be aggressive and start him at Charleston.

    • dennis

      i though the same thing. really high on the guy, he has been 94-96 this spring

  • CMP

    Trenton is pretty exciting this year with 4 of the 5 starters (everyone but Garrison) and Romine, Suttle, Adams, Mesa and CoJo all having decent chances at eventually making an MLB roster.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      Garrison will never make the MLB roster?

      • CMP

        I think he has a chance too as a LOOGY but I think he’d be the lowest ranked pitching prospect compared to ManBan, Betances, Stoneburner and Hall.

  • RalphieD

    i bought milb.tv…hope its worth it this year…cant see how it cant be worth it

    • CMP

      My iphone MLB.com app has a free April subscription for MLB TV but so far every time I’ve tried to use it for the yankees, it says the game is blacked out.

  • sean

    So is Gordon Lassiter gone? non-prospect? haven’t heard his name in some time.