DotF: Torres and Amburgey lead the way in Tampa’s win

The notes:

  • High-A Tampa manager Pat Osborn told Randy Miller that RHP James Kaprielian (elbow) has resumed throwing. The Yankees are taking is slow, and, unsurprisingly, it’s unlikely Kaprielian will pitch in another game this season. “He’s playing catch. He’s not off a mound,” said Osborn. “I talked to him the other day. He said he’s doing all right. He’s in his throwing program. As far as his time table and when he’s gonna be back on the mound, I don’t know.”
  • OF Billy McKinney, who was part of the Aroldis Chapman trade, has reported to Double-A Trenton. OF Lane Adams was released to clear a roster spot, the team announced.

Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off-day.

Double-A Trenton (6-1 win over Altoona)

  • DH Tyler Wade: 0-4, 4 K — zoinks
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 1-3, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI — his last 15 hits: five doubles, three triples, two homers, five singles
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-4, 1 K
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI — got picked off second … 20 doubles are a new career high … he’s already doubled his previous career high homer total too
  • RF Billy McKinney: 0-3, 1 BB — first game since the trade … he went from a last place team in the Cubs system to a team that is 25 games over .500 and heading to the postseason, so that must be cool
  • SS Cito Culver: 2-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 E (throwing) — back-to-back games with a jack
  • 2B Abi Avelino: 1-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (missed catch) — not a bad Double-A debut
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 3 WP, 5/6 GB/FB — 61 of 98 pitches were strikes (62%) … up to 102.1 innings this season … he threw 134.1 innings last year and 119 the year before
  • RHP Matt Wotherspoon: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HB, 2/2 GB/FB — 31 of 47 pitches were strikes (66%)

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DotF: Austin and Fowler go deep in wins

Got some notes to pass along:

  • The Yankees posted a photo of a bunch of rehabbing players visiting a children’s hospital in Tampa, and the good news is RHP James Kaprielian‘s arm was not in a sling or anything. He went for a second opinion on his elbow a week or two ago and it was easy to assume the worst. The fact he’s not wearing anything on his elbow tells us he didn’t have Tommy John surgery. (That doesn’t mean he won’t at some point, unfortunately.)
  • The Yankees reportedly picked SS Gleyber Torres over OF Eloy Jimenez as part of the Aroldis Chapman trade, and J.J. Cooper wrote about that decision. “They were faced with a fascinating choice,” he wrote. “(What) gives Torres the edge is his increased defensive value, and a slightly better hit tool, but it was surely a¬†difficult decision for the Yankees.”
  • Cooper also put together an updated list of the youngest players in each pro league. I’ll let you skim through yourself, but I do want to point out Torres is the second youngest player in the High-A Florida State League. Also, four of the ten youngest players in the rookie Appalachian League are Yankees.
  • Randy Miller spoke to a scout with an NL team about several of the Yankees’ top prospects, so check that out. The scout sure does love him some RHP Chance Adams. “He’s the best-kept secret in baseball,” the scout said. “I see a guy who can be a No. 2 starter in the big leagues.”
  • RHP Conor Mullee (hand) is with Triple-A Scranton and he threw a bullpen session today, according to Shane Hennigan. He’s expected to make a rehab appearance in the coming days. Mullee is on the big league DL with some sort of nerve issue at the moment.
  • Thanks to their notable Tuesdays, both Gleyber (debut with Yankees) and RHP Luis Cessa (shutout in Triple-A) landed in today’s Prospect Report, so make sure you give that a click.

Triple-A Scranton (6-0 win over Buffalo)

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • RF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K — 5-for-20 (.250) during his five-game exactly one hit streak
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-4 — he took a foul tip to the thumb but remained in the game, according to Shane Hennigan … apparently it was his left thumb, his glove thumb, not the thumb he fractured on a foul tip earlier this year
  • 1B Ike Davis: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • DH Tyler Austin: 3-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — that’s his 16th homer of the season … he hit six last year, nine the year before, and six the year before that
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 HBP
  • RHP Brady Lail: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 53 of 72 pitches were strikes (74%) … that is pretty easily the best of Lady Brail’s 17 career Triple-A starts
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1 IP, zeroes, 2/1 GB/FB — five pitches, four strikes
  • RHP Kirby Yates: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GB/FB — nine of 16 pitches were strikes

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The Yankees will soon have to make some decisions about their outfield prospect logjam

Cave. (AP)
Cave. (AP)

When the season started, the Yankees were obviously very deep in left-handed hitting outfield prospects at Triple-A and Double-A. That is still the case even after Slade Heathcott was released a few weeks ago. The Yankees not only still have Ben Gamel, Mason Williams, Jake Cave, and Dustin Fowler, they just added another lefty hitting outfield prospect in Billy McKinney. He’s in Double-A too.

Depth is never a bad thing, but the Yankees are starting to reach a bit of a breaking point with these players. There are only so many roster spots to go around after all, and soon it’ll be difficult if not impossible to put all of these players in places that are appropriate for their development. Rushing players is bad. So is holding them back and having them go stale. There’s depth and there’s excess. The Yankees have an excess.

The trade deadline is Monday and the Yankees could always move one or two of these lefty outfielders for help at other positions, but it’s not like these guys have a ton of trade value. McKinney was the second piece (arguably the third piece) in a package for a rental reliever. (Okay fine, a great rental reliever.) Are Cave and Fowler and Gamel worth more than, say, Ramon Flores? I don’t think so. It’s easy to say “trade them!,” but to which team and for what?

Let’s sort through these five guys and try to figure out where they fit long-term and what the Yankees should do with each of them. The players are listed alphabetically.

Cave: The Rule 5 Guy

The Pluses: Cave, 23, is one of those guys who does a little of everything but nothing exceptionally well. He’s a solid defender in all three outfield spots and he can hit a little. So far this season he owns a .286/.349/.472 (131 wRC+) line with a 21.6% strikeout rate and an 8.0% walk rate in 352 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A. It’s worth noting Cave has already hit seven homers this year after hitting two all of last season and eleven total from 2013-15, so he may be growing into some power.

The Minuses: The biggest knock on Cave is his roster situation. He didn’t stick with the Reds as a Rule 5 Draft pick this spring, and he will be Rule 5 Draft eligible again this winter. If he’s selected and doesn’t stick, he’ll be able to elect free agency as a two-time Rule 5 guy. So either the Yankees add Cave to the 40-man roster after the season or they’ll lose him. There’s no middle ground, realistically. Also, he has a major knee injury in his history (broken knee cap in 2012) and there’s some concern he won’t hit lefties at the next level.

Fowler: The Fast Rising Prospect

The Pluses: Fowler is the youngest player in this post at 21 and he’s really come a long way since being an 18th round pick in 2013. He was a three-sport guy in high school (baseball, football, wrestling) whose athleticism has translated into baseball tools and ability. Fowler has some raw pop and a good idea of what he’s doing at the plate, plus he’s a ballhawk in center. He won’t be Rule 5 Draft eligible until after next season, and given his age — he’s more than three years younger than the average Eastern League player — sending him back to Double-A Trenton to start 2017 wouldn’t be crazy.

The Minuses: Fowler is not having a great statistical season, hitting .278/.307/.408 (96 wRC+) with four homers in 19 steals in 95 games with the Thunder. He’s also not a fan of drawing walks (4.2 BB% in 2015 and 4.6 BB% career), so he’ll probably never be a high on-base guy. It’s more of a Jacoby Ellsbury-esque low-walk/low-strikeout profile than a true hacker low-walk/high-strikeout profile. A good defensive outfielder with an okay-ish OBP is a decent player, but what if the power doesn’t come?

Gamel: The “Safe” Bet

Gamel. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Gamel. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Pluses: Gamel, like Cave, does a little of everything but nothing at an above-average clip. He can play all three outfield spots and run a little, and he’s flat out destroyed Triple-A pitching for two years now. Gamel, 24, has a .303/.362/.448 (133 wRC+) line with an 8.5% walk rate and an 18.7% strikeout rate in nearly 1,000 Triple-A plate appearances since the start of last season. He’s already on the 40-man roster and has two options left for 2017 and 2018, which gives the team flexibility.

The Minuses: There aren’t a ton, really. I think Gamel’s the safest bet to be a useful big leaguer of anyone in this post. Yeah, he might be a ‘tweener who doesn’t have enough power for a corner or enough defense for center, but even ‘tweeners can carve out long careers as fourth outfielders. Gamel can hit a little bit, he’s adequate in the field, and he plays with a ton of energy. He’s one step down from Heathcottian in that regard.

McKinney: The New Guy

The Pluses: McKinney is the second youngest guy in this post — he’s four months older than Fowler — and, depending who you ask, he was a top 100 prospect as recently as this spring. The talent is there, particularly his pure left-handed swing and innate bat-to-ball skills. McKinney is the best pure hitter in this group and one of the best in the entire farm system. He also doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man roster until after next season, and because he is so young, sending him back to Double-A next April wouldn’t be unreasonable.

The Minuses: For starters, McKinney hasn’t hit much this year, so his stock is down. He owns a .252/.355/.322 (101 wRC+) batting line with only one homer and two steals in 88 Double-A games. His strikeout (19.5%) and walk (13.5%) rates are fine, but still. McKinney is coming off a fairly significant knee injury (hairline fracture from a foul ball) and he’s going to be limited to left field by his arm and range. Also, his swing is so level he might never be more than a 15-homer guy. McKinney’s swing is beautiful and he can spray line drives from line to line. Besides that, there’s not much else going on here.

Williams: The High Upside Guy

The Pluses: I think Williams has the most natural ability out of anyone in this post. He’s an outstanding athlete and a great runner, and he has a strong arm, all of which makes him a top notch center field defender. Offensively, Williams makes contact (career 12.9 K%) and knows the strike zone (career 7.6 BB%), and he’s got some sneaky power too. The proverbial light bulb went on last year and Williams hit .318/.397/.398 (133 wRC+) with more walks (11.5%) than strikeouts (9.8%) in Double-A and Triple-A before his impressive (albeit short) big league debut. He’s on the 40-man roster but does have an option left for 2017.

Williams. (Getty)
Williams. (Getty)

The Minuses: There are more than you’d like to see, for sure. For starters, Williams is coming off major shoulder surgery. He’s been back about a month. That’s all. Secondly, Williams did not hit a lick from 2013-2014, putting up a .223/.290/.304 (66 wRC+) batting line at Double-A. There were also some issues with his maturity and effort, which led to a few benchings. It appeared Williams grew up a bit last season, but who knows? Between the less than impressive track record and recent shoulder injury, there are some significant red flags here to go along long with his natural talent.

* * *

The Yankees are pretty much out of time with Gamel and Cave. If they keep Gamel at Triple-A any longer, he might stagnate. Cave has to go on the 40-man roster after the season to avoid being lost to the Rule 5 Draft or free agency, and really, how many of these guys can the Yankees carry on the 40-man at once? Game, Cave, and Williams? That’s a lot of spots tied up in similar players. It hinders flexibility.

Things aren’t quite as pressing with McKinney and Fowler. The Yankees have another year before they’re Rule 5 Draft eligible, and based on their performances this year, an assignment back to Double-A next year wouldn’t be unreasonable. There’s only about six weeks left in the minor league season, you know. There’s not enough time to really turn things around. Williams? I don’t know what to think. Love the ability, but there are a few too many red flags.

Don’t forget the Yankees have other minor league outfielders too. It’s not like these are their only options at Double-A and Triple-A. There’s Aaron Judge, first and foremost, and also Cesar Puello and Mark Payton (he’s a lefty too) and Michael O’Neill. Carlos Beltran likely won’t be back next year, so even if Judge or Gamel or Williams gets that big league right field job, there’s still going to be an outfield crunch next year. That’s a problem. (Also, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are lefties too.)

My guess is the Yankees will end up jettisoning Cave at some point, either at the trade deadline or the offseason. McKinney and Fowler wind up back in Double-A to start next season, leaving Gamel and Williams as Triple-A up-and-down options. This is definitely one of those things that will take care of itself. Hopefully it works itself out in a positive way and these players all prove useful to the Yankees, either as MLB players or trade chips.

DotF: Gleyber Torres makes debut with Tampa

SS Gleyber Torres has reported to High-A Tampa, the team announced. SS Abi Avelino was promoted to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot. Also, OF Jake Skole was released.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (3-2 win over Buffalo in eight innings, walk-off style) makeup of yesterday’s rainout

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 K
  • DH Mason Williams: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B — scored the winning run on a walk-off wild pitch … 21 doubles in 66 games this year after hitting 23 doubles in 93 games last year
  • 1B Ike Davis: 1-2, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-2, 1 BB — 12 walks and 12 strikeouts in his last 12 games
  • LF Jake Cave: 0-3
  • RHP Vicente Campos: 5 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 8/1 GB/FB — 48 of 79 pitches were strikes (61%) … it took him nearly four years to get out of Low-A, and this year he’s zoomed from High-A to Triple-A … naturally, in his first Triple-A game he faced Jesus Montero, the guy he was traded for … Campos has thrown 121 innings so far and his previous career high was 87 innings back in 2013 … I have to imagine the Yankees will scale back on his workload soon given his injury history, they don’t want to push him too hard in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery

[Read more…]

DotF: A loss at every level on a rainy night in the minors

Here are the day’s notes:

  • Baseball America provided free scouting reports for all players involved in today’s Aroldis Chapman trade, so don’t miss that. It’s not behind the paywall.
  • RHP Vicente Campos has been promoted to Triple-A Scranton, reports Shane Hennigan. He’s replacing RHP Luis Severino, who was called up to take Chapman’s spot on the roster.
  • Also, RHP Conor Mullee was in the Scranton clubhouse today, according to Hennigan. Mullee is on the MLB DL with a hand injury and this might indicate he’s close to starting a rehab assignment.
  • RHP Will Carter has been bumped up to Double-A Trenton, according to Nick Flammia. Carter’s promotion is part of the Chapman-Severino-Campos chain reaction.
  • LHP James Reeves and RHP Chad Martin were named the Pitchers of the Week in the High-A Florida State League and Rookie Appalachian League, so congrats to them.

Triple-A Scranton was rained out. They’re going to play a doubleheader tomorrow.

Double-A Trenton (5-2 loss to Portland in seven innings) completed early due to rain

  • SS Tyler Wade & 3B Miguel Andujar: both 0-2 — Wade drew a walk and committed a fielding error
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 0-3, 1 RBI
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-3, 2 K — in an 8-for-40 (.200) rut
  • RHP Will Carter: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 8/3 GB/FB — 55 of 85 pitches were strikes (65%) … Double-A debut for last year’s 14th rounder … he is the team’s second 2015 draftee to reach Double-A behind RHP Chance Adams

[Read more…]

DotF: Wade, Fowler, and Andujar help Trenton to a win

Triple-A Scranton (4-3 win over Durham)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 R, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — six walks and four strikeouts in his last seven games
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-1, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB — 19-for-48 (.396) with 12 walks and 13 strikeouts in his last 14 games
  • DH Jake Cave: 0-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RF Cesar Puello: 0-0 — he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the second inning for an unknown reason after running into the wall in the first inning
  • PH-RF Mason Williams: 2-4, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 2 WP, 8/3 GB/FB — 65 of 104 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • RHP Kirby Yates: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1 HB, 1/0 GB/FB — eleven of 16 pitches were strikes (69%)
  • RHP Nick Goody: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K — seven of ten pitches were strikes

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DotF: Hendrix stays scorching hot in Tampa’s loss

Triple-A Scranton manager Al Pedrique told Sweeny Murti that OF Aaron Judge should return to the lineup in 4-5 days. Shane Hennigan says Judge hit against soft toss and did some long toss throwing today, so he’s working his way back. Good news.

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 win over Durham)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 R, 3 K
  • RF Mason Williams: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB — that’s his sixth steal of the season, and no, it’s not a career high … he stole 15 bases (!) back in 2012
  • DH Ike Davis: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 BB
  • LF Cesar Puello: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HBP, 3 SB — that’s hit-by-pitch No. 14 … no one else in the system has more than seven
  • LHP Dietrich Enns: 5 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1/4 GB/FB — 55 of 97 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 20 of 37 pitches were strikes (54%)
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1/0 GB/FB — ten of 19 pitches were strikes (53%) … he’s been really good of late, but this wasn’t his best outing
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 2 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 20 of 29 pitches were strikes … two-inning save in a one-run game in his second Triple-A outing

[Read more…]