Yankees place six on Baseball America’s top 20 Gulf Coast League prospects list

Monday Night Open Thread
Non-Mariano thoughts following the off-day
Katoh worked out with the Yankees soon after the draft. (Jeff Gross/Getty)
Katoh worked out with the Yankees soon after the draft. (Jeff Gross/Getty)

Baseball America has started publishing their annual top 20 prospects lists for each of the 16 minor leagues this week, and the series continued today with the Rookie Gulf Coast League. Ninth overall pick OF Austin Meadows (Pirates) topped the list, predictably. The Yankees landed six (!) players in the top 20: C Luis Torrens (#10), 3B Miguel Andujar (#11), SS Abi Avelino (#13), 2B Gosuke Katoh (#15), RHP Luis Severino (#17), and SS Thairo Estrada (#20). LHP Ian Clarkin didn’t not have enough innings to qualify.

In the subscriber-only scouting report, Baseball America says Torrens “has a sound hitting approach and a loose, easy swing with good hand-eye coordination” while lauding his ability to recognize breaking balls and power potential because “his swing generates loft.” He is rough around the edges defensively, mostly due to a lack of experience — he moved from shortstop/third base to catcher last year — but his arm is strong and accurate. The Yankees gave Torrens a $1.3M bonus as their top international signing last summer.

Andujar “did a better job recognizing breaking pitches and taking a better hitting approach to use the whole field” this year than he did at the same level last year, though the write-up says he’ll sell out for power and still needs to improve his approach. “Avelino has a mature hitting approach for his age, with good barrel awareness that allows him to use the whole field and the discipline to not expand his strike zone,” said Baseball America while also cautioning that his lack of power has some concerned about how his bat will play at the upper levels. “At shortstop he has a good internal clock, shows smooth hands and footwork along with an above-average arm,” they added.

Katoh, who led the GCL in homers (six) and was second is SLG (.522), was described as a “difficult out” because of his “plate discipline and bat-to-ball ability … (he) works the count, uses the whole field and has plus speed.” Baseball America says his defense at second is a plus despite not having the arm for short. Severino “sits in the low- to mid-90s and has reached 98,” but can get radar gun happy at times. His changeup has jumped ahead of his slider, but the latter still shows signs of being a put-away pitch. Estrada, who is praised for his defense, is also said to have “excellent instincts and is an advanced hitter for his age. He has good bat control, makes plenty of contact and has a good hitting approach.”

Six prospects in a league top 20 list is an awful lot, though the obvious caveat here is that this is rookie ball. It’s the lowest level of domestic minor league baseball and literally every team has interesting prospects this far down. These six guys — I’m a fan of Avelino and Severino, in particular — are going to be real important to the Yankees going forward and not just because they might be able to plug them into the lineup down the road. Developing into trade bait would be a big help as well.

Anyway, the next league top 20 of interest to Yankees fans is the Short Season NY-Penn League, which will be released on Friday. 3B Eric Jagielo will definitely make that list while OF Michael O’Neill, OF Brandon Thomas, RHP Rookie Davis, and RHP Gio Gallegos are on the fence.

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Monday Night Open Thread
Non-Mariano thoughts following the off-day
  • MannyGeee

    “Abi Avelino”

    Who?

    • I’m One

      Next great Yankee SS, that’s who. (Really hope they come up with someone before he’s ready for the Show.)

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      Hahaha

  • jjyank

    Cool. Of course it’s Rookie Ball, but still nice to see some recognition.

    • I’m One

      I’m still waiting for that breakout star in the Yankee system that moves quickly through the system (like Joba, but with sustained success. Preferably a hitter and not a pitcher.). Seeing the recognition these guys are getting gives me hope that one of them will show enough success to be brought up quickly and have sustained success at the MLB level. Perhpas not from this group, but maybe there’s someone in the system (or coming into the system). Jagielo or Judge perhaps?

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I’d say Jagelio the most likely to have that sort of potential, inky because he’s a very different type of layer than what the Yanks tend to draft. The bat is much closer to being upper-level rady, from what we’ve rad.

        That being said, I just don’t care about guys skyrocketing up a system. I’d actually rather see them sweat a bit and deal with some adversity. I like my Tyler Austin’s getting back up and mashing in the playoffs. I like my JR Murphy’s gutting through every level and making it.

        We really didn’t see how Phil Hughes dealt with adversity until he hit the majors. Now, that doesn’t mean a damn thing in the grand scheme of things, but rocketing through a system doesn’t always make you unstoppable.

  • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixiera – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew)

    I just can’t get excited about Yankee prospect rankings anymore. The last few years, unfortunately have made me quite jaded.

    • Paco Dooley

      This is all we have left now that the Big League club is basically done for the year, the free agent class is pretty poor (after Robbie) and the club is full of ageing players on the decline.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      I feel the same way. Now that doesn’t mean what they’re doing should be ignored but at the same time it’s we’ve been down this road before.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Honestly, that’s not the worst thing. We get too caught up in prospect rankings sometimes.

      R-Til’s Cruel Reality of Prospects reads as follows:

      Prospect will break your heart, no matter what team you’re a fan of.

      You’re going to agonize more about the success rate of your favorite team’s system more than you will someone else’s.

      You’re going to put more of your focus on the guys who you constantly read are supposed to make it, while ignoring the first thing I said.

      You’re going to forget that rocketing up a system is a guarantee of nothing and that setbacks happen to players who do wind up becoming major leaguers.

      You’re going to notice less when that less heralded guy makes it before the more heralded guy.

      • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixiera – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew)

        Agreed.

        Also I tried to embed Aerosmith’s “Jaded” video into my comment but for some reason it didn’t show up. Was really going for some dramatic effect.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          It’s now in my head, no matter.

  • John C

    I agree it is hard to get excited about guys only in Rookie ball, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. As for the NY Penn League, I agree Jagielo is exciting. Saw him play a couple of times and he looks legit. Its a shame that Judge didn’t get into a few games down the stretch. HOpefully he’s down at Fall Instructs getting some much needed time in. I doubt O’Neill will be on that list, as his swing and miss ratio was very alarming. I think he struck out more than anyone in that keague. Thomas could be a sleeper. Hs a nice approach at the plate but needs to make more consistent contact. Did not see Severino or Davis but both were pretty impressive in their short stints at S.I.

  • Travis L.

    Are we expecting any of these kids to make the preseason top 20 next season?

  • JohnnyC

    This is obviously a feeble attempt at humor on the part of BA. Everyone knows the Yankees’ farm system is non-existent and simply the product of Randy Levine’s fevered imagination. BA should stop trolling us.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    And no one pans out (because they never do) and we go through this same process over the next few years after the Yankees change nothing about the way they develop prospects and we act like it was just the luck of the draw (Sometimes every single prospect you have for twenty years-I guess it will be twenty five at that point-just busts! No one is to blame!) and we start the process anew.

    Its the Yankee way.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Every prospect in the last twenty years has been a bust?

      • I’m One

        Sure. Robinson Cano, Chien Ming Wang, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, Dave Phelps, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, etc., all figments of your imagination.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Twenty years ago would even include some clearer busts that just sat on folding chairs in the middle of the field on Sunday.

          I’m going to assume Matt just threw the number out there for dramatic effect.

          • JAG

            I hope so, we just had a huge celebratory event for one prospect who was definitely not a bust (and saw four others in attendance who weren’t busts either).

          • http://www.twitter.com/mattpat11 Matt DiBari

            Its more that I somehow conflated the dates people were drafted (with Derek Jeter twenty-one years ago being the last honest to goodness star the team drafted) and when they debuted. It more or less confused everything and ruined whatever point I was making.

            I also was sort of tongue in cheek, because I’m not exactly gonna hold rookie ball rankings against the Yankees if these guys don’t pan out.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Gotcha, and agreed.

        • Dan

          You just tried to prove your point by including Phil Hughes and Joba as successes . . .

          • I’m One

            They are major league players and have had some successful years. They never truely lived up to their hype, but have had some (unsustained) success.

        • LK

          People are still citing Hughes and Chamberlain as examples of success?

          I would also say Phelps has a ways to go before being considered anything notable.

          The Yankee farm system hasn’t been all busts, but if anything your list above mostly indicates to me just how slim the pickings are.

          • MannyGeee

            Yes. Prospects that become Major League baseball players for more than a cup of coffee (even if they are not super stars) would be considered successes in my book.

          • mitch

            Any prospect that makes it to the big club and hangs around for 6+ years has to be considered somewhat of a success. Ultimately they were disappointments based on the expectations we set, but it certainly could have been worse.

            • I’m One

              Happy so many agree with my definition of “success”. I knew I was taking a chance mentioning those 2.

            • LK

              Oh in general I absolutely agree. But when you’re defending the overall productivity of a farm system, players who are ~1 WAR/year probably shouldn’t be part of the crux of your argument. They’re find to have on the list of triumphs; if they’re near the top of it you’ve got a problem.

              • Cool Lester Smooth

                Phil Hughes has already produced more value than the average player drafted in his spot.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                This is where so many arguments end up here, though. Different people have different thresholds as to what is a “success.” Some people want to judge the system only by elite talent. Some say sustained success. Some say it’s just playing a role.

                To me, both guys contributed to several teams that made the postseason and earned rings. I can’t dismiss that, even if their career arcs fall well short of what I expected for them. That puts them well into the “success” column for me. Very well into it.

        • MannyGeee

          Melky, A-Jax, Jeter, Mike Lowell, IPK, Axford, Sergio Romo… all Yankee Prospects over the last 20 years… but none of them really happened.

          poof.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    THAT’S KATOH?!

    Someone get that man some protein and weights, please.

    This really does get a “oh, nice” from me and little else. It’s great to have toolsy guys at these levels. They’ve all got a loooooooong way to go, though, and a ton could happen before then. Hey look, it’s Ravel Santana…..can I help carry something for you?

    • I’m One

      Give the kid a break. He’s not even 19 yet. Plenty of time to add some muscle to that frame.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I know. I was just……surprised.

        By the time I was 19…..yeah, fuck it.

        • I’m One

          At 19, my son was about 5’11 and maybe 160. He’s now 27 and about 210, solid muscle. And he’s not an athlete (anymore. He finished his HS/Club hockey career at 18.)

        • Mr. Roth

          He looks like he has Derek Jeter’s frame from 1994. I really need a picture of Katoh from behind to properly scout and assess the level at which his butt sits.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          I mean, I was 5’10”, 135 at 19, so I’m not about to judge..

  • Vern Sneaker

    C’mon, cheer up, everybody. Of course prospects rarely turn out to be special, or anything at all for that matter. Everyone knows that. But they’re fun! Keeps the fan juices flowing.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      There is no better time to say “Cashman failed” than in a post mentioning the accolades that recent draft picks and international signings received.

      • Vern Sneaker

        Right. My sister, God bless her, is a diehard Mets fan. How she suffers. We are so spoiled.

      • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?

        Plus, flowing juices.

  • steves

    One thing that the next group of Yankee prospects will most likely have that no group has had since the early 90’s is opportunity. The core 4 or core 5 (depending on who you count) made it not so much because they were heralded but because they developed and were given a chance coming off a pretty steep down cycle. By the time some of those Gulf kids are ready even CC and Tex will be gone or just about gone.

    • I’m One

      So true. Jeter, in particular, got thrown into a starting role due to a season ending injury to Tony Fernandez. Had that injury not happened, who knows how long he would have been a backup and what that would have done to his career. Maybe nothing (or very little), or maybe it would have destroyed his confidence and he would have been another high-profile prospect that never really lived up to expectations. Williams, Pettitte, Rivera and Posada all got opportunities because of the team’s needs.

    • Billy

      Weren’t Hughes, IPK, and Joba handed important roles in 2008? Which ultimately led to them missing the playoffs for the first time in over a decade…

      • The Big City of Dreams

        Which also led to them being more gun shy with prospects.

      • viridiana

        Yeah, and the very next year Hughes — in giving air-tight eighth inning relief — pretty much led the Yankees to the pennant. He’s been good,, and he’s
        been bad. But a dominating set-up year, an 18 win year and a 16 win year don’t exactly qualify Hughes as a bust.

        Hughes might not make the top 10 in Yankee talent produced over the last decade. Cano, CM Wang, D-Rob, Gardner, A-Jax, Nova and a few others (Melancon? IPK?) may trump him. But a guy who’s had three productive MLB seasons is not a bust.

      • Smoegel

        PLAY THEE KIDS NO….BAD SMOEGEL DO NOT PLAY THEE KIDS….OH THE SWEET PRECIOUS….

  • Dan

    The Yankees need to fire who ever does their minor league development. This does not surprise me at all. So what the hell happens where they all flame out at AA?

    • MannyGeee

      *LOUD NOISES*

      • Dan

        Do you honestly trust our development system to turn these guys into Major Leaguers? I don’t, and I haven’t seen anything in the past 5 years to convince me otherwise. Yes 5 years is an arbitrary number, but it’s a long enough period where we should have seen something by now.

    • Vern Sneaker

      They don’t all flame out. We got good production this year out of four relatively young players from our system: Robertson, Gardner, Nova, and Warren. (Nunez and Claiborne highly debatable). Hardly any minor leaguers ever make it as far as AAA from any system. People would be much less down on the our system if A-Rod, Jeter, Tex, and Granderson (and to a lesser extent Sabathia) hadn’t all gotten hurt in the same year — a very unusual turn of events without which we wouldn’t have cared as much about the lack of major league-ready system replacements.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      We call you, the vacuum cleaner repairman, and you send them to the Granite State.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        Haha

  • Chris Z.

    Jeter said it all when he was quoted as saying the young guys have it easy these days. (speaking about the farm system)

    If they make any changes I hope to god its in a place where teh prospects feet are held to the fire a bit more. Promote the guys who are doing well and demote or cut the ones that arent.

    Im not saying do this on a weekly basis but the team needs to refocus its efforts on ringing out the garbage so they have the spots open for guys to show what they have.

  • JGYank

    This tells me we have been drafting better recently or at least are getting better results from the picks.

  • http://YES Dave Harris

    Great article, six is a lot but let’s face it, but the same thing is likely to happen, they burn out at AA.
    I love the Yankees but their farm system is awful and their scouting is worst!