Austin, Bird, Jagielo, Judge among Yankees prospects heading to Arizona Fall League

8/26-8/28 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers
Game 130: New Heights

4:43pm: Norris says the Yankees are also sending a catcher to be named later to the AzFL. Maybe Kyle Higashioka after he missed the first half of the season following Tommy John surgery?

4:17pm: According to Josh Norris, the Yankees are sending OF Tyler Austin, 1B Greg Bird, 3B Eric Jagielo, OF Aaron Judge, RHP Caleb Cotham, RHP Branden Pinder, and RHP Alex Smith to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League after the season. I thought they might send LHP Manny Banuelos to continue pitching following Tommy John surgery, but it’s already been a long season for him. The AzFL season begins October 7th.

The Yankees are sending more top prospects to the desert this year than I can ever remember. Usually they only send one or two top prospects. Austin (wrist, groin), Bird (back), Jagielo (oblique), Pinder (groin), and Cotham (unknown) all missed several weeks due to injury this summer and will be making up for lost time. Pinder is Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter and the club probably wants some more time to evaluate him. Judge is the team’s best prospect and Smith has had a nice year out of the bullpen for High-A Tampa (2.40 ERA and 3.29 FIP). Great crop of players going to the AzFL this year.

8/26-8/28 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers
Game 130: New Heights
  • http://secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

    I’m surprised they didn’t send Hensley out there. He’s going to finish this season having throw only around 30-35 innings.

    • Travis Lincoln

      What are the rules on sending players? Cant they only send one player from the A levels? That would make Judge, Jagielo and Smith though.

      • andrewyf

        Perhaps some promotions are in the cards.

    • dkidd

      ditto (see above)

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I don’t ever remember seeing a GCL/Short Season kid go. Usually teams are only allowed to send one player below Double-A and the Yankees are sending three (Judge, Jagielo, Smith).

      • Big Game Thames

        Why Judge? I can understand everyone else with injuries, but what does Judge have to prove?

        Unless it’s to help showcase him for the hot stove?

        • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          He’s not done developing, you know.

          • Big Game Thames

            I know, but didn’t he have a full year – and an excellent first one at that? Isn’t it unusual to send a prospect with 600 regular trips to the plate to the AFL?

            • Preston

              He’s played in 126 games with six to go. There are only 30 games in an AZFL season, and guys get plenty of rest. It would basically get him exactly a full MLB season of games.

              • Big Game Thames

                It’s still strange, no? He had a very solid, full, first year. What difference does another 30 games make?

                • Preston

                  It could help him transition to AA next year. Which is often considered the biggest jump in the minors. I don’t see how getting extra ABs in a semi All Star league could hurt him.

                • Stratocaster

                  Could be a big difference if you intend to fast-track a guy somewhat. It could also be a nice showcase in case the right deal presents itself this winter. I don’t see the downside either way unless the guy is gassed, and the organization would know if that were the case. I really don’t think they’d gamble with their top prospect if they thought he’d be at significant risk.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Very good point. Thank you.

      • Stratocaster

        A last minute bump or two to qualify possibly? Not sure how strict those rules are, but could they move a couple guys up even if they were to start them back at the previous level next season?

    • YakaTanaka

      He’s in the NYPL… Might not get enough outs to actually accumulate innings at what’s often called a AA+ level.

      He’ll likely keep throwing in instructs if they think it’s what’s best.

  • JLC 776

    Please, no injuries… please…

  • govinthegreat

    Wow this will be a good year to watch the AFL. I’m glad Austin is getting another chance out there. He was doing pretty good until his wrist injury popped back up

  • Travis Lincoln

    I could have sworn that Caleb Cotham was a MiLB free agent after this season.

  • dkidd

    no hensley?

    • RetroRob

      He would be a logical candidate if they want to give him some more innings and exposure. Yet, I wonder if teams send many players off their low-A rosters to the AFL?

      • Preston

        AZFL is very offensive friendly and he’d be pitching against better competition than he’s ever faced. He’d probably get lit up pretty bad.

        • RetroRob

          And a good point. I noted after my comment that Mike posted something that they rarely send players to the AFL from the lower leagues probably because they might be a bit overmatched. It is definitely a hitters’ league, although I once asked Klaw why that was and he said part of that is because many of the pitchers are gassed. There were other contributing factors.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Wouldn’t have been a bad idea.

      *kidnaps Kyle Higashioka*

      I’m glad Kyle’s getting so much play on here today. I’d forgotten how to spell his last name. Used to nail it every time.

    • YakaTanaka

      AzFL is generally considered to be something like AA+ level competition. Kids from short season ball just aren’t generally ready for that kind of competition. Hensley could keep throwing in instructs if they think that’s what’s best.

  • Big Game Thames

    Why Judge? He’s had a full season. Don’t see what can be gained?

    Unless they hope he has a huge AFL campaign as a showcase?

    • Big Game Thames

      This is the only answer I can come up with. That’s he’s a monster there and so helps in the trade market. No other reason I can see. He’s played alot this year.

      • Bigdan

        Sometimes they send guys to the AFL to work on a certain thing or a new position. Maybe they are sending Judge to the desert to work on hitting the ball over the wall lol. It’s a good place to put up some numbers.

        • Big Game Thames

          So…Hotstove. I’m fine with it, but I can’t see any other reason. These guys get gassed playing all year. It could come back to bite them.

          But if Judge puts up huge numbers and helps land Stanton, sounds good to me!

          • Bigdan

            I’m going out on a limb. I say Austin and Bird hit better than Judge and Jagielo this fall season. I think Bird will open some eyes nationally.

            • YakaTanaka

              Considering that they’re further along in their development, I would say that is the opposite of going out on a limb.

          • Thunderfingers (prev. I’m One)

            I’d hate to see him go, but if he brought back the right piece ……

      • Stratocaster

        Could be to showcase him in case the right trade comes up in the off-season. I’m not saying they would or wouldn’t, but it gives them options. It might also simply be an attempt to speed his progress.

      • YakaTanaka

        You are reaching for the most complicated possible answer when there are far simpler answers. None of us know… but that they just think it’s the right thing for his development is infinitely more likely than showcasing him for a trade. I don’t know that teams make more than a small fraction of a percent of all of their decisions with that in mind. Developing a guy in the best way possible is what’s going to best showcase him.

    • http://yankees.lhblogs.com/ Need Pitching & Hitting

      What can be gained?
      More reps and more experience.

    • YakaTanaka

      This will be the highest level of competition that he’s ever played against… lots to be gained. He’s also a RF, so it’s not much of a risk to keep playing him. Many, many position players spend their winters playing by choice (heck, even lots of Ps).

  • Bigdan

    That is an awesome group. I had predicted Jagielo and thought Austin was possible but I never thought Judge would go. I thought he had done enough this year. Bird to me is a surprise as well although he did miss some ABs earlier in the year so I guess that makes sense. I thought Flores was a better choice overall because of his time lost.

    For the Yanks, it always seems to be the position player top prospects who are chosen over the pitchers. Probably because the Yanks would rather keep their own hands on their pitchers in the Instructional League or something.

    I think this is a strong message about Austin. I wrote a couple days ago how I felt he, along with Refs, had a decent shot of a major league role next year if he kept hitting. The Yanks want a right-handed COF bat with some pop. And the AFL is a good place to show off some pop. I’ll need to make a trip to Phoenix.

  • Mick

    acoby Ellsbury CF

    Derek Jeter DH

    Brian McCann C

    Mark Teixeira 1B

    Carlos Beltran RF

    Martin Prado 2B

    Stephen Drew SS

    Chase Headley 3B

    Ichiro Suzuki LF

    RHP Brandon McCarthy

    • Mick

      Jeter must be on fumes to chance playing Beltran in RF.

      • Bigdan

        If Jeter is on fumes he should get the day off. This Girardi “half day” stuff is nonsense. Beltran should be the DH going forward. In fact, he should have just been the DH all year. He would have had a better year.

        • ACX

          You dont know that at all. If he didn’t hurt his arm in that game earlier this year, who knows what happens. A lot of hitters do not like being the DH….

      • http://yankees.lhblogs.com/ Need Pitching & Hitting

        Partially a way to get better IF defense with McCarthy pitching without having to just bench Jeter.

        • BearNJ

          That makes the most sense.

          • Mick

            What makes more sense is always running Ells or Gardy with Jeter up.

    • forensic

      Again, right on topic. Good job…

      • Mick

        maybe you should get some sleep..

  • Austinmac

    Is Austin’s wrist the reason he is currently out?

    • Bigdan

      He’s been out a few days. Haven’t heard why.

    • RetroRob

      After a blistering stretch, he also was scuffling a bit his last few games. Perhaps the wrist issue has flared up again, or something else.

    • MTU

      Another talented young man who has a hard time staying healthy.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Yup. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and other clichés.

  • Lou Zullo

    Not sure Kyle H is AFL material

    • Preston

      The AZFL teams need roster filler for the bench and teams don’t like sending their top prospects to sit on the bench. Everybody sends a couple of non prospects to fill out the roster.

      • Lou Zullo

        Yeah but organizational fodder ?

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          That’s what a non-prospect is.

          Not a big deal. Yes, they could have sent one other person who needed playing time, but does that really sway the needle that much?

          • YakaTanaka

            They also have to coordinate with other orgs to actually fill out a roster. You can’t just send 5 OFs from your org if the other teams want to send OFs too.

            Upper level C prospects are fairly rare, and you may not want to put more innings on the legs of your upper level C prospects who played full seasons already.

            KH seems like pure speculation by Axisa, but if it’s him it might have just been “we need a C and no one really wants to send one, you got anyone with fresh legs who won’t embarrass himself against AzFL comp?”

            • Deep Thoughts

              If I recall correctly, he’s lost a lot of time and development to injury. The extra reps might help him, or might show the organization that he’s done. One way or another it’s a way to shake off rust and gather some more information.

              • YakaTanaka

                Yeah, he hasn’t played much in two years. I don’t think they’ve treated his development as a priority, but he has steadily progressed to the point where he could be AAAA C depth in a year or two.

  • vicki

    um. pj pilittere is the hitting coach? that pj pilittere?

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/afl/club.jsp?team_id=544

    • RetroRob

      Seems so. Not sure when Mike wrote this, though, as it’s not dated and the comments section is now gone. I suspect maybe 2012.

      http://riveraveblues.com/tag/p-j-pilittere/

      • forensic

        So sad that all the old comments are gone and apparently not coming back. I’ll never forgive disqus for that.

    • Deep Thoughts

      I know right? Drew Henson has a similar gig in the organization.

    • MTU

      Some guys can teach better than they can play.

    • YakaTanaka

      Being able to actually hit is really not a requirement for teaching hitting. Understanding how to hit and being able to communicate well are.

      Often, in fact, the most talented athletes make lousy coaches. Perhaps in part because they didn’t much have to think about how to do certain things that came to them naturally. Also just because a whole lot more goes into being a good coach.

    • forensic

      The old saying:
      Those who can, Do.
      Those who can’t, Teach.

      • cheney2jail

        Those who can’t teach, administrate.

  • RetroRob

    Would they really waste a spot on Kyle Higashioka? He’s basically an org catcher. I suspect it’s one of the name brands.

    • Big Game Thames

      Me too. John Ryan really hasn’t played all that much.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Higashioka Guns and Ammo is a huge brand in Arizona.

  • Aaron Juez

    Manny would’ve had a bad time in Arizona anyway given the way he looks. Poor guy would be stopped every 10 minutes.

  • Big Game Thames

    I am concerned that Judge is already gassed. His monthly splits are trending in the wrong direction.

    • Preston

      He played 11 games at Tampa in June, and August isn’t over. So he only has one full month at the level. So I don’t know how his stats can be trending in any direction. But just for arguments sake.

      June OPS .878
      July OPS .853
      August OPS .855

      Not much of a downward trend.

      • Big Game Thames

        As compared to earlier in the year. Yes, it could be the level. But for the sake of argument, he got 581 ABs in his three college years. He could approach that this year alone.

        • Preston

          If you think he’s “gassed” because his stats are lower while playing at a more difficult level you’re just being chicken little. College players may play less games, but the work out with the team year round. Most Latin players play in a winter league. It’s not the same as a pitcher, getting more ABs just helps him get better.

          • Big Game Thames

            I don’t think he is – how could I know? – I’m just asking. It was a strong first pro season. Don’t see the need to push it unless they are showcasing him – which I’m fine with.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              “I am concerned that Judge is already gassed. His monthly splits are trending in the wrong direction.”

              Funny. I didn’t see a question there.

            • Bigdan

              I totally agree. I think Judge is an odd choice. He’s played enough this year. Baseball players need rest, even if it’s just the brain that needs a break. Flores is a better choice. It’s wouldn’t surprise me if they get switched out in the next few weeks. That happens occasionally.

              • YakaTanaka

                Always fun to apply broad generalizations to individual players!

  • MTU

    IMO it is good for MiLB players to get used to the rigors and demands of ML baseball.
    If they can’t handle a MiLB schedule how the heck are they going to deal w a ML one ?

  • Mick

    Rally ’round the Horsehead. Sweep the Tigers!

    “I always laugh. I think it’s funny when I see somebody with a horse head on. I giggle.” – Shawn Kelley pic.twitter.com/Jbu7KNfmf7

    • forensic

      Completely on topic. Well done…