DotF: Heathcott returns, helps AAA sweep doubleheader

RHP Domingo Acevedo landed in the ninth spot on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. He struck out 13 and allowed three hits in eleven innings this week. Pretty, pretty good.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (6-4 win over Rochester in seven innings) makeup of the April 9th rainout

  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 1-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 K — whacked the go-ahead two-run triple in the top of the seventh in his first game back from a hand injury
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • 1B Nick Swisher: 1-4, 2 K
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 4.2 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 6/5 GB/FB — 49 of 91 pitches were strikes (54%) … weird pitching line
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — eight of 13 pitches were strikes (62%) … 15/1 K/BB in 10.1 innings for the three-time Tommy John surgery guy

[Read more…]

DotF: Andujar and Avelino homer in Tampa’s win

Got some notes to pass along:

Both Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton had scheduled off-days.

High-A Tampa (5-4 win over Dunedin)

  • SS Jorge Mateo: 2-5, 1 3B, 1 CS — 13-for-34 (.382) with a triple and two homers in his last nine games
  • DH Mark Payton: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 1B Billy Fleming: 2-5, 1 R
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — four homers in 18 games this year … he didn’t hit his fourth homer until his 33rd game last year
  • 2B Abi Avelino: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB — his ninth career home run was a grand slam
  • LF Zack Zehner: 0-2, 1 BB, 1 HBP
  • CF Michael O’Neill: 1-3, 1 BB
  • C Francisco Diaz: 1-4, 1 K
  • LF Jake Skole: 1-4 — the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft is hitting .216/.241/.333 with 19 strikeouts and one walk in 14 games
  • RHP Jose Campos: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 3/4 GB/FB — 56 of 87 pitches were strikes (64%), plus he picked a runner off first … 26/12 K/BB in 28.2 innings so far
  • LHP Caleb Frare: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K — 21 of 32 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Matt Marsh: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 15 of 26 pitches were strikes (58%)

Low-A Charleston was rained out. The game was cancelled and will not be made up. Seems like it’s a little too early in the season for that, but whatever.

2016 Draft: Josh Lowe

Josh Lowe | 3B/RHP

Background
Lowe attends Pope High School in the Atlanta suburbs and is committed to Florida State. He played fall ball with the East Cobb Yankees last year, though they’re not affiliated with the New York Yankees. They’re a very prestigious prep travel team for Atlanta area players that happens to be named the Yankees. Brian McCann is a former East Cobb Yankee.

Scouting Report
Lowe, 18, is the best two-way player in the draft, though he’s a better prospect as a position player than pitcher. He’s a left-handed hitter with tremendous raw power thanks to his bat speed, strong hands, and lower half leverage. Lowe is a big guy — he’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 190 lbs. — with long arms and that leads to some swings and misses, though his swing is level and he knows the strike zone. He’s not a true all or nothing hitter. Although he’s a third baseman now, there’s some thought Lowe will end up in the outfield long-term because his hands are a bit clunky. He runs well, so center field is a possibility. If not, right field it is.

On the mound Lowe works in the 90-92 mph range and touches 94 regularly. His breaking ball is somewhere between a curveball and a slider, and his changeup is rudimentary as well. Lowe’s a good athlete with good body control, so he repeats his delivery fairly well. Here’s video of him on the mound:

All in all, Lowe is a classic projection high school player. Put him on the mound full-time and he could be living in the mid-90s with a sharp breaking ball in a year or two. Stick with him as a position player and you dream of that power potential developing into in-game power and 30+ homers down the line. Lowe is not short on tools. No siree.

Miscellany
Baseball America, MLB.com, and Keith Law (subs. req’d) rank Lowe as the 11th, 17th, and 18th best prospect in the 2016 draft class in their latest rankings, respectively. The Yankees hold the No. 18 pick. Lowe figures to begin his career as a position player — most two-way guys start as a position players because it’s easy to go from hitter to pitcher down the line than vice versa — and his power is a great carrying tool. Lefty pop is a Yankees trademark for sure. He’s right up their alley.

DotF: Starting pitchers rule the day in the minors

The video above is the highlights from Double-A Trenton’s combined no-hitter last night. The performance earned RHP Ronald Herrera a spot in Baseball America’s daily prospect report, so make sure you check that out. It’s not behind the paywall. Also, Joel Sherman spoke to a scout who praised Herrera. Don’t miss that either.

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 CS — he’s been on base 19 times in the last nine games
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-4, 2 K
  • DH Gary Sanchez, 1B Nick Swisher & 2B Rob Refsnyder: all 1-4 — Sanchez struck out once, Refsnyder twice … Refsnyder also committed a fielding error
  • LF Cesar Puello: 0-1, 1 K, 2 HBP — first game off the DL … he was out with a concussion after being hit in the back of the head with a swing … he explained to Brendan Kuty how it happened
  • RHP Chad Green: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 5/4 GB/FB — 71 of 105 pitches were strikes (68%) … his best start of the season so far
  • LHP James Pazos: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine of 12 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

DotF: Herrera, Holder toss combined no-hitter for Trenton

Got a whole bunch of notes to pass along:

  • Slade Heathcott (hand) has been shagging fly balls, says Shane Hennigan. He’s inching closer to a return. OF Cesar Puello (concussion) went through a full workout yesterday and again today. He could return tomorrow. IF Deibinson Romero (unknown) will go through a few more workouts before returning.
  • RHP James Kaprielian (elbow) was officially placed on the High-A Tampa DL, according to Nicholas Flammia. RHP Jose Mesa Jr. was send down to Low-A Charleston while both LHP James Reeves and RHP Brody Koerner were brought up.
  • Remember when I mentioned the Yankees signed RHP Luis Rodriguez yesterday, but I didn’t know which Luis Rodriguez? Matt Eddy says he’s a 19-year-old international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic, so that answers that.
  • And finally, OF Mark Payton was named the High-A Florida State League Offensive Player of the Week, so congrats to him.

Triple-A Scranton (4-3 win over Lehigh Valley in ten innings, walk-off style)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB — he was at the plate when the winning run scored on a passed ball
  • DH Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 BB, 2 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-4, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-5 — got picked off first … he’s hitting .190/.257/.238 on the season
  • 3B Donovan Solano: 3-4, 2 R, 1 BB
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/4 GB/FB — 46 of 72 pitches were strikes (64%) … I thought maybe he would get called back up to replace RHP Nick Goody in the bullpen, but I guess not
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 16 of 23 pitches were strikes (70%)
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — nine of 14 pitches were strikes (64%)

[Read more…]

2016 Draft: Dakota Hudson

Dakota Hudson | RHP

Background
A few years back Hudson, 21, was considered a fourth or fifth round talent out of Sequatchie County High School in Tennessee, but his strong commitment to Mississippi State caused him to fall to the 36th round (Rangers). This spring Hudson has a 2.82 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 24 walks in 67 innings for the Bulldogs. Last summer he had a 1.43 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 14 walks in 56 2/3 innings for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the prestigious Cape Cod League.

Scouting Report
At 6-foot-5 and 205 lbs., Hudson has the kind of big frame teams look for in a future workhorse starter. His best pitch is a darting cutter in the 88-91 mph range that he’s able to bust in on the hands of left-handed batters. Hudson sits around 92-95 mph with his straight four-seam fastball, and he also has a low-80s slider he’ll back foot to lefties. Neither his curveball nor his changeup are anything to write home about. The cutter is his go-to weapon against lefties. Control problems limited Hudson to only 34 total innings his first two years on college, but nowadays he has good control and improving command.

Miscellany
In their latest rankings Hudson is ranked as the 17th, 20th, and 33rd best prospect in the 2016 draft by Keith Law (subs. req’d), Baseball America, and MLB.com, respectively. The Yankees hold the 18th overall pick, and they really seem to value Cape Cod League success. Hudson does not fit the mold of a polished college starter. He has a deep arsenal and a big frame, but he’s still learning to throw strikes consistently. The pitches are there. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning some things.

Dietrich Enns pitching his way on to the prospect map

(Martin Griff/Pinstriped Prospects)
(Martin Griff/Pinstriped Prospects)

Over the last few seasons the Yankees have had some success turning late round draft picks into useful big league arms. Most notably, David Robertson went from 17th rounder to shutdown reliever. Others like David Phelps (14th), Chase Whitley (15th), and Shane Greene (15th) have proven to be valuable in different ways. Getting value from those late picks is pretty cool.

Back in 2012 the Yankees used their 19th round pick on Central Michigan southpaw Dietrich Enns, who, like Phelps and Whitley and Greene, was an unheralded college arm. Of course the Yankees liked his ability and believed there was something interesting there, that’s true of every pick, but it was easy to overlook Enns and assume he was minor league fodder. Just a guy to soak up some innings, basically.

Enns, now 24, opened this season with Double-A Trenton, though his rise through the minors hit a bump in the road two years when he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Here’s a really quick rundown of his career stats:

Level G/GS IP ERA FIP K% BB% GB%
2012 Short Season 22/0 42.2 2.11 2.84 18.9% 8.6% not avail.
2013 Low-A, High-A 28/8 82.2 2.94 2.74 32.7% 10.2% 40.3%
2014 High-A 13/1 25.1 1.42 3.15 26.3% 10.1% 45.2%
2015 Rookie, High-A 13/12 58.2 0.61 2.39 23.7% 8.6% 48.3%
2016 Double-A 3/3 16.2  0.00 3.03 26.6% 17.2% 41.2%

I’ve mentioned this stat before but it bears repeating: last season 1,902 pitchers threw at least 50 innings in the minors, and none had a lower ERA than Enns. Ryan Dull, who we just saw in the A’s bullpen last week, was second with a 0.74 ERA. Pretty big gap between him and Enns.

As always, minor league stats come with a lot of caveats. First and foremost, the further away you get from the big leagues, the less they mean. There’s just too much noise. In the low minors many hitters have no real plan at the plate and lots of pitchers are control challenged. Enns has only 16.2 career innings above Single-A, and Baseball Reference tells me he is 0.4 years older than the average Eastern League player this year. Context is important.

At the same time, a player like Enns is going to have to perform very well to get any attention. He was an unheralded late round pick — Baseball America didn’t even have a pre-draft scouting report on Enns, and they seem to write up everyone — out of a school not really known for baseball. (Central Michigan has had four players drafted in the single digit rounds in the last 20 years, one of which was Yankees’ 2014 fifth rounder Jordan Foley.)

Enns owns a 0.48 ERA (2.53 FIP) with a very good strikeout rate (24.3%) in 75.1 innings since Tommy John surgery, and in his most recent start, and he fanned a career high eleven in six innings. He did that with farm system head Gary Denbo and special advisor Gene Michael in attendance, as noted by Jon Mozes. The heavy hitters were there.

The scouting report is pretty basic and it’s not something that will jump out at you. Enns lives in the 89-92 mph range as a starter — he’s a tick above that when working in relief — and he backs his fastball up with a low-80s slider, a low-80s changeup, and rudimentary curveball. There are lots of those guys kicking around in the minors. That’s why Enns has to perform so well to get noticed.

As good as his ERA and strikeout rate have been over the years, they do not paint a complete picture. Enns has consistently run high walk rates throughout the minors — surely the elbow reconstruction contributed to that somewhat — and his ground ball rates aren’t any good. Almost all pitching prospects worth a damn have high ground ball rates because they overwhelm less talented hitters.

There’s also this: Enns went unselected in the Rule 5 Draft last December. That’s telling. Here you have a 24-year-old left-hander with unreal numbers and three pitches, yet no team took a shot at him. No one bothered to bring him to camp for an extended look or anything. Maybe they were scared away by the recent Tommy John surgery, but boy, any half-decent lefty tends to get scooped up in the Rule 5 Draft. No one felt he was ready.

If nothing else, Enns has put himself on the prospect map with his performance since last year. It’s tough to ignore basically zero runs allowed with an above-average strikeout rate. Those numbers alone do not make Enns a prospect, but they do get people to pay attention. Enns is now in Double-A and performing well, and if he continues to do so, he’ll soon find himself in Triple-A.

The Yankees are already down three key shuttle relievers (Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow, Jacob Lindgren) thanks to elbow problems, and they showed last year they’re willing to dip deep into the farm system for bullpen help. That’s how guys Joel De La Cruz and Matt Tracy wound up with affordable healthcare for life. Enns is cut from a similar cloth. He’s that guy you don’t necessarily expect to get called up who ends up getting called up, know what I mean?

On an individual level, Enns wants to put himself in position to either land a 40-man roster spot with the Yankees after the season, or be taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Continuing to perform this well at Double-A and maybe Triple-A figures to accomplish that goal. Enns is the classic example of a player who has done a lot with the small opportunity usually affording to late round picks. He’s been really good since being drafted and especially so since elbow reconstruction.