Thinking about minor league promotions

The RAB Radio Show: June 29th, 2012
Yankees recall David Phelps, send Ryota Igarashi to Triple-A
(Matt Burton/MiLB.com)

The minor league season is a little more than halfway complete, with the four full-season affiliates having already played at least 74 games out of their 144-game schedules. That means promotions should be upon us, and in fact this week’s Dellin Betances demotion might represent the start of a wave of player moves. Josh Norris recently spoke to someone who said to expect some movement in about a week, and last night the Yankees bumped righty reliever Nick Goody up from Short Season Staten Island to Low-A Charleston. He’ll be the first 2012 draftee to appear in a full-season league.

The Yankees have already made some very minor promotions, like Mikey O’Brien to Double-A Trenton and Chase Whitley to Triple-A Empire State, but the most notable moves should come very soon. Here’s a preview of what could be in store in the next week or two…

C Gary Sanchez to High-A Tampa
This one seems like a total no-brainer. Sanchez is repeating Low-A Charleston and doing so in a big way — .304/.357/.534 with 13 homers and 11 steals (!) in 277 plate appearances. He’s also played ten fewer games behind the plate than last year and has 16 fewer passed balls. A move up to Tampa would force Sanchez to split catcher and DH duties with J.R. Murphy, which they did for the first few weeks of last season. Murphy is having a great June — .316/.354/.494 with three homers — but his overall performance (.260/.324/.374) has been underwhelming. Splitting catching duties is not ideal, but Sanchez needs the promotion and it will help keep both guys from wearing down in August and September. As an added bonus, Francisco Arcia and his .305/.393/.495 batting line would get a chance as the full-time catcher for the River Dogs once Sanchez is promoted.

OF Tyler Austin to High-A Tampa, OF Rob Segedin to Double-A Trenton
Moving Austin up is another no-brainer. He’s been the best hitter in the farm system this year, with a .328/.408/.621 batting line to go with 14 homers and 17 steals in 292 plate appearances for Low-A Charleston. It’s pretty clear that he isn’t being challenged enough at the level, so move him on up. In a corresponding move to clear an outfield spot, Segedin can move up to Trenton. He’s hitting .291/.359/.446 in 312 plate appearances this year after finishing last season in Tampa. The Thunder outfield is pretty packed with the Almontes (Abe and Zoilo) and Melky Mesa, but Cody Johnson’s injury and Neil Medchill’s general non-prospectness free up the DH spot. Segedin can also play third on occasion.

RHRP Phil Wetherell to High-A Tampa, RHRP Mark Montgomery to Double-A Trenton
Wetherell’s numbers are not eye-popping — 5.05 ERA with 38 hits allowed in 35.2 innings — but he’s missing bats (9.3 K/9 and 23.3 K%), limiting walks (3.3 BB/9 and 8.2 BB%), and keeping the ball in the park (just one homer allowed). As a 22-year-old college reliever, there’s only so much to be gained from facing Low-A hitters. Montgomery, on the other hand, has the huge numbers — 1.54 ERA with 53 strikeouts (13.6 K/9 and 38.1 K%) and 12 walks (3.1 BB/9 and 8.6 BB%) in 35 innings — and the wipeout slider to back them up. A short reliever with a breaking ball that good should overwhelm Single-A competition like Montgomery has, and now it’s time to get him up to the next level.

(Beverly Schaefer/The Times of Trenton)

LHSP Vidal Nuno to Triple-A Empire State
The Betances demotion as well as the Adam Warren recall thinned out the Triple-A rotation in a hurry. They still have D.J. Mitchell, Ramon Ortiz, and John Maine in their regular spots and could pull Nelson Figueroa and Mike O’Connor out of the bullpen, but moving Nuno up should also be a serious consideration. He’s an older guy (25 next month) the Yankees plucked out of an independent league last season and he’s done nothing but dominate since joining the organization: 154 strikeouts (8.1 K/9 and 22.8 K%) and just 32 walks (1.7 BB/9 and 4.7 BB%) in 171 innings. Nuno has been stellar since moving into the Double-A rotation last month, allowing just four earned runs in 40.1 innings across seven starts. The Yankees lack left-handers in the system and moving Nuno up gives them a chance to evaluate him at the highest possible level.

* * *

Last month I wrote about the idea of promoting Mason Williams based mostly on his insane contact rates, though I could see it going either way. I would understand if they bumped him up to Tampa or kept him in Charleston, there are viable reasons to do both. Sanchez and Austin are the definite promotions though, ditto Montgomery. The four (really six) moves listed above seem like the most logical ones to make this July.

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The RAB Radio Show: June 29th, 2012
Yankees recall David Phelps, send Ryota Igarashi to Triple-A
  • Robinson Tilapia

    Well Nuno’s certainly been unheralded. Jesus. Maybe there actually is something there.

    Can’t wait to see some of the lower level guys get challenged.

  • Todd

    I thought Sanchez should have started the year in High A Tampa, though some of his attitude problems prevented that. If he rakes in Tampa, maybe starting at Trenton next year isn’t out of the realm of possibility?

    • Ted Nelson

      Yeah, it was maturity and defense that kept him in Low A. I think that was the right move. Teach him the right habits and fundamentals now. No rush.

      • D23

        He was also hurt. He basically only had a 1/2 year experience at Charleston. Now he has about enough ABs that makes one complete season. He is definitely moving up soon. His PBs is quite alarming and his game calling with pitchers is just adequate from what I read.

        Austin should be the first guy to move up in my opinion. Yes he was just at GCL and Staten Island last year while his strikeout rate could be better but he is becoming a complete player, 17 SBs is quite impressive!

  • Kosmo

    I wonder what the ceiling is on F. Arcia ?

  • Fernando

    Let’s see if Nuno can produce at SWB. There is no reason to waste starts on O’Connor and Figueroa.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      They’re never wasted starts.

  • the Other Steve S.

    Shame about Betances. I got a chance to see him live in Louisville a couple weeks ago. Big strong guy with a powerful arm. Just never sure where the ball is going. If he ever figures it out, he’s a star.

    • JMK

      Yeah, unfortunately you can say that about a lot of guys. Hope he does find it though.

  • M-Three

    I’m looking forward to seeing if Nuno continue this in Triple-A. He has pitched well at every level so far. What Nuno has done in the minors reminds me a bit of Alfredo Aceves with him being another mid-20’s pitcher we found in the independent leagues. It would be cool if he could eventually help us and fill that same role as Aceves because thats something I feel the Yanks have missed the last 2 years.

    • BK2ATL

      +1.

      Exactly what I was thinking, with reference to Aceves. Hopefully we get a write-up on him. Those numbers are what I was expecting out of Banuelos.

  • Fernando

    It’s a good time for the young guys to show what they can do. They could carve out nice roles next year when as many as three spots can be available (Pettitte, Garcia & Kuroda). It should have been Betances and Banuelos turn, but the control problems and the injuries have cost them.

    • JMK

      Speaking of which, anyone know Banuelos’ current injury status? I know he’s on the DL but haven’t heard really anything in a month or so.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        It’s as if ManBan has fallen off the face of the earth.

      • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        I saw a JMK comment and just had to drop in. Party like it’s 1999.

        • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          (or 2009. Brain fart.)

  • LiterallyFigurative

    I agree with all of the suggested moves, and agree with promoting younger players in general, provided they show they can handle it. Even if they haven’t fully passed the respective level, the promotion may do wonders for their confidence and help their performance.

    I suppose you just take it case by case. But I am excited to read and hear about the prospects.

  • NYCSPORTZFAN

    at least now iknow why some of my questions about promiotons in todays chat went unanswered..lol I love Nuno getting promoted, as hes been insnely dominant and is LH’d… With QUintana’s recent success, it makes Nuno just that much mmore apeeling…

    • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Please tell me this was posted via phone.

  • YankeeGrunt

    Tracy is probably a possibility too, 1 or 0 ER in six of seven starts at Tampa, not being challenged much. The injuries are a concern though, plus this is first full year of his life spent just pitching.

    • YankeeGrunt

      Until tonight.

  • JScott

    While talking to Francesa yesterday (about the CC And Andy injuries), Cashman mentioned that Banuelos had begun a throwing program in Tampa. So his clock seems to have resumed running.