Update: Luis Torrens to miss 2015 due to shoulder surgery

(MLBpipeline.com)
(MLBpipeline.com)

Tuesday: Torrens was diagnosed with a torn right labrum and will have surgery tomorrow, the Yankees announced. He will miss the entire 2015 season. Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York will perform the surgery. Bummer.

Monday: Luis Torrens‘ shoulder is acting up again. George King reported late last week that the young backstop was heading for tests on his right shoulder, and today assistant GM Billy Eppler told Chad Jennings the team is still gathering information and will know more in the next 24 hours. Earlier today reports were floating around that Torrens needs surgery and will miss the season, but the Yankees aren’t ready to commit to that yet.

Torrens, 18, missed two months last season with a right shoulder strain. He returned from the injury in mid-June and hit .270/.327/.405 (115 wRC+) with two homers in 48 games for Short Season Staten Island as one of the youngest players in the NY-Penn League, so if the shoulder was still bothering him, it didn’t show in his performance at the plate.

In 109 games across two minor league seasons, Torrens has thrown out 50 of 122 attempted base-stealers (41%), which is excellent. Especially considering he did not become a full-time catcher until the Yankees signed him out of Venezuela for $1.3M during the 2012-13 international signing period. Hopefully the injury does not compromise his arm behind the plate, because it is a weapon.

I ranked Torrens as New York’s sixth best prospect two weeks ago because he’s taken to the catcher position extremely well and shows offensive promise. Losing an entire season at age 18 (he turns 19 in May) or even just a chunk of it would be pretty serious though. He’s at a crucial stage in his development. Yeah, Torrens is still very young and will have time to recover, but this is crummy news. No other way to put it.

Update: Yankees have $7.885M bonus pool for 2015 draft

This year it’ll be Rob Manfred at the podium. (Getty)

February 28th: The Yankees will have a $7,885,000 spending pool for the 2015 draft, according to John Manuel. That’s slowly lower than the estimations Mayo dug up earlier this month. The team still has the sixth largest bonus pool for this year’s draft thanks to their extra pick for Robertson. We still don’t know the individual slot values for the top ten rounds and those are pretty important.

February 11th: Now that James Shields has signed, the 2015 draft order is more or less finalized. The 12 competitive balance lottery picks can still be traded before the draft, but unless the Yankees somehow acquire one of those picks, it won’t change their draft situation at all. New York has two first rounders this year: 16th overall and 30th overall. The 30th pick is compensation for losing David Robertson. The entire draft order is right here.

On Tuesday, Jonathan Mayo got his hands on estimated bonus pool numbers for the 2015 draft. The Astros, by virtue of having two of the top five picks (they failed to sign first overall pick Brady Aiken last year and get the second overall pick as compensation this year), have the largest bonus pool at $17.37M. The Rockies are a distant second at $14.06M. The Mets are dead last $3.6M after forfeiting their first rounder to sign Michael Cuddyer.

The Yankees have the sixth largest bonus pool for the 2015 draft thanks to the extra pick for Robertson. The Astros, Rockies, and Braves are the only teams that will pick twice before New York, which is a nice change of pace from previous years. Here is the club’s draft pool situation according to Mayo:

16th overall: $2,555,200
30th overall: $1,923,900
Total Bonus Pool: $7,922,200

As a reminder, the bonus pool covers the top ten rounds only. If a team pays one of those picks a below-slot bonus, they can use the savings elsewhere. Anything over $100,000 paid to a player drafted after the tenth round counts against the pool, but teams can’t save pool space with picks after the tenth round. Got it? Good.

The Yankees had a measly $3.2M bonus pool last year after forfeiting their top three picks to sign free agents. A nearly $8M bonus pool is a ton of money, especially since the Yankees tend to take cheap college seniors in the eighth, ninth, and tenth rounds as a way to save pool space for other picks. They have enough pool space to land big bonus guys not only at 16 and 30, but also at 57 (second rounder) and maybe even 92 (third rounder) as well.

Here are MLB.com’s top 50 draft prospects. I’m telling you though, it is way too early to get an idea of who will be available or who the Yankees might target with those 16th and 30th picks. The college and high school seasons are just now getting underway. The draft runs from June 8-10 this year.

Badler: Yankees have $2.26M spending pool for 2015-16 international signing period

Top 2014 IFA Juan DeLeon. (Photo via @BenBadler)
Top 2014 international signee Juan DeLeon. (Photo via @BenBadler)

According to Ben Badler, the Yankees will have a $2,262,800 spending pool for the 2015-16 international free agency period, which opens on July 2nd. The Diamondbacks ($5.39M) have the largest pool because they had baseball’s worst record last year and the Angels ($1.97M) have the smallest pool because they had the best record.

The Yankees far exceeded their spending pool during the 2014-15 signing period, and, as a result, they will be unable to sign a player to a bonus larger than $300,000 during the 2015-16 signing period (and 2016-17 as well). So they still have a full spending pool but the individual bonuses are capped. Got it? Good. (The $2.62M pool works out to 7.5 individual $300,000 bonuses.)

Teams are allowed to trade up to half their pool space — the pool is actually broken into unequal slots and the individual slots are traded, it’s not a lump sum of any amount — and since their bonuses are capped this year, it could make sense for New York to trade some international cash. Then again, it doesn’t have much trade value. The Marlins acquired a good Double-A bullpen prospect (Matt Ramsey) for a little over $1M in pool space last year, for example.

The $300,000 bonus limit isn’t much on the international market but the Yankees have shown they are very good at finding prospects on the cheap. Top prospects RHP Luis Severino ($225,000) and SS Jorge Mateo ($250,000) signed for small bonuses, as did fellow Top 30 Prospects SS Abi Avelino ($300,000), SS Angel Aguilar ($60,000), and SS Thairo Estrada ($49,000). The Yankees should still be able to find quality prospects, but they won’t be able to make competitive offers for the top talents.

With no Yoan Moncada, Dermis Garcia and Juan DeLeon headline Yankees’ international haul

Dermis. (MLB.com)

As you know, the Yankees missed out on Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada earlier this week. He took a $31.5M bonus from the Red Sox. It’s disappointing but at this point there’s nothing to say that hasn’t already been said. The Yankees didn’t strike out internationally this year just because they didn’t get Moncada though. Far from it.

When the signing period opened last July, New York spent roughly $30M in bonuses and penalties within the first day or two. As you can imagine, ranking 16-year-old kids as prospects is a fool’s errand, but the consensus is the Yankees signed many of the top talents. Here’s part of a table from my international free agency recap showing the team’s top five international signings (by bonus) with the corresponding Baseball America and MLB.com rankings:

Player Bonus Baseball America MLB.com
SS Dermis Garcia $3.2M 9th 1st
3B Nelson Gomez $2.25M 6th 2nd
OF Juan DeLeon $2M 2nd 5th
OF Jonathan Amundaray $1.5M 22nd 7th
SS Wilkerman Garcia $1.35M 7th 14th

Baseball America says the Yankees signed four of the top nine available prospects while MLB.com says they signed four of the top seven, including the top two. MLB.com’s rankings paint a rosier picture but who the hell knows. Two years ago SS Jorge Mateo was a small bonus ($250,000) afterthought who is now one of the top shortstop prospects in the game. When it comes to prospects, no one knows anything, and that goes double for 16-year-old international guys.

Anyway, I looked through the various scouting reports soon after the Yankees signed all these guys and developed some personal favorites. Everyone does that, right? I’m not weird or anything. Based on the reports, the two who stood out to me as the most exciting prospects were Garcia and DeLeon. Both Baseball America and MLB.com ranked them very highly, especially DeLeon, and in the 2015 Prospect Handbook, DeLeon (No. 24) and Garcia (No. 25) were the only members of last year’s international haul to crack the Yankees’ top 30 prospects. I feel validated!

MLB.com’s scouting reports are free, so I’m going to blockquote them. Here’s a snippet of their report on DeLeon, which says he has average or better tools across the board, include grade 60 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) hit, power, and arm tools:

There’s a belief that DeLeon might have the best all-around combination of tools and body among outfielders in this year’s class from the Dominican Republic. Evaluators often use words like “explosive” and “electric” to describe the outfielder’s skill set, and some view him as a potential five-tool player … DeLeon, who played in the Dominican Prospect League, has also been praised for his above-average bat speed, accurate arm and raw power … The consensus is that DeLeon does everything well and has a chance to be an impact player. Scouts are keeping an eye on the development of his hit tool, because it might dictate how fast he moves through a Minor League system.

The reports sounds great and the offensive tools are exciting. DeLeon is listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 lbs., and here’s some video from Instructional League that shows his projectable frame and “explosive” bat speed:

DeLeon is a classic “you can dream on this guy” international prospect. He looks great in a uniform and his overall physicality is impressive, at least to my untrained eye. DeLeon is the kind of prospect who appears to have the potential to do a little bit of everything down the road. Hit for average, hit for power, steal a few bases, and play the hell out of center field. Maybe right field, but either way, he looks like the total package.

Garcia is not the same kind of prospect. He’s a bat first guy. MLB.com listed him at 6-foot-2 and 182 lbs., but the 2015 Prospect Handbook notes he’s already gained 15 lbs. since signing. Here is part of his MLB.com scouting report, which gives him 55 hit and 65 power grades but below-average speed (35) and defense (45):

Some scouts believe he has the best power and the best arm in the entire class of international prospects this year … Evaluators like Garcia’s bat speed and his easy power. Some believe he’s going to have a plus arm in the future … Garcia is not the fastest baserunner, but he’s a smart baseball player and will not run into any outs on the bases … There is room for improvement on defense, and Garcia is expected to become a more disciplined hitter with experience, but there is no denying that he is one of the most talented prospects on the market this year. He has also gained a reputation as a hard worker and has the potential to be a team leader.

Even before he signed, there was talk Garcia would have to move off shortstop and over to third base. Since he’s already added weight since signing, that move is even more likely. Here’s video of Garcia from last year and you can immediately see the difference between him and DeLeon. DeLeon’s swing has that explosiveness, but Garcia’s is much more fluid and controlled (/amateur scout):

Garcia and DeLeon are two different types of players and they seem to cover the wide range of international prospects — one is a toolsy guy who can do everything and the other is a bat first guy with big offensive upside.

If the system worked the way it was intended to work, the Yankees would have been able to sign only one of these two. Probably DeLeon because their bonus pool was only $2.19M and Garcia received a $3.2M bonus. Had they not decided to make a mockery of the system and spend like crazy, their international haul would have been something like DeLeon and bunch of third tier guys. Instead, it’s DeLeon, Garcia, Nelson Gomez, and several other top talents.

Let’s face it, without Moncada, the team’s international haul for the 2014-15 signing period feels sort of incomplete, which sucks because the Yankees added some serious talent, including Garcia and DeLeon. This isn’t a talent class that should be viewed negatively. It’s a potentially franchise altering haul, that’s how it was viewed before anyone knew who Moncada was, and that’s it should continue to be viewed. Garcia and DeLeon are the best (in my opinion) of a group of players who will shape the backbone of the farm system going forward.

Sanchez: Red Sox agree to deal with Yoan Moncada

(Jesse Sanchez)
(Jesse Sanchez)

10:43am: Brian Cashman told Dan Barbarisi the team made their “final and best offer” yesterday but were told by David Hastings, Moncada’s representative, it wasn’t good enough.

10:15am: The Yankees offered Moncada $25M and were willing to go to $27M, according to Sherman. So they were outbid by $4.5M, which is really $9M with the penalty. Though that assumes Boston wouldn’t have raised their offer. Either way, they bid just enough to not get him.

9:53am: Joel Sherman says Moncada is getting $31.5M. Add in the penalty and it’s $63M total.

9:12am: Once again, the Yankees did not sign a top Cuban free agent. Jesse Sanchez reports the Red Sox have agreed to sign 19-year-old infielder Yoan Moncada for a bonus in the $30M range. Including the tax for exceeding their bonus pool, the total investment is $60M up front.

The Yankees worked Moncada out privately three times, including twice last week. By all accounts the team loved his talent, so it seems they fell short financially, which is dumb. Hal Steinbrenner and the rest of the brass have been talking about building from within and yet they stopped short of signing a projected star.

The Yankees have not signed a top Cuban free agent since Jose Contreras more than a decade ago, and he blew up in their face. At some point they’re going to have to get back in the game though. They can’t ignore a talent source like that, especially since several top Cuban players have actually exceeded expectations (Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig, specifically.)

Because they exceeded their spending pool last summer, the Yankees will not be able to sign an international player for more than $300,000 during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods. Moncada was basically their last chance to land a top international talent for nothing but money for another two years.

King: Yanks held third private workout for Yoan Moncada

(Dodgers Nation)
(Dodgers Nation)

For the second straight day, 19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada was in Tampa for a private workout with the Yankees, reports George King. It was his second straight day at the complex and third private workout with the team overall. They first worked him out last month before bringing him back this week.

Here are some more details on this week’s workouts, courtesy of King:

On Thursday, for the second straight day, the Yankees held a private workout for the 19-year-old switch-hitter that was attended by club scouts, team officials and general partner Hank Steinbrenner, who is rarely seen around the team.

Wednesday night’s workout was held at George M. Steinbrenner Field under the lights. Moncada took ground balls at second and third and faced live minor league pitching. On Thursday the showcase was shifted to the minor league complex and conducted in daylight, and he again faced minor league hurlers.

King says the Yankees don’t want to pay Moncada the $30M to $50M bonus it will take to sign him, which seems like typical Yankees posturing. They always seem to say “we like him, but not at that price” whenever they really want someone.

Moncada’s agent David Hastings has said they hope to sign soon, perhaps by Monday, though that didn’t seem like a firm deadline. Whoever signs him is going to have to pay a 100% tax on the bonus. Steinbrenner being at yesterday’s workout seems to indicate ownership wants to see Moncada firsthand before giving the thumbs up to sign him. Either that or Hank had nothing better to do. Intrigue!

2015 Preseason Top 30 Prospects

For the first time in RAB history, Dellin isn't prospect-eligible. Bittersweet. (Presswire)
For the first time in RAB history, Dellin isn’t prospect-eligible. Bittersweet. (Presswire)

One year after implementing some procedural changes to their player development system, the Yankees took the next step and made some personnel changes last fall. Long-time VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman retired — his contract was up and I get the sense he wasn’t going to be brought back anyway — and was replaced by Gary Denbo, who’s worn many organizational hats over the years. Pat Roessler, the team’s director of player development for more than a decade, was also let go, as where several other staff members.

The changes were made following a season in which the Yankees actually got some help from within. The kind of help that didn’t come at all in 2013. Shane Greene and especially Dellin Betances had an impact on the mound, and others like Chase Whitley, Jose Ramirez, and Bryan Mitchell got a chance to make their MLB debuts. It still wasn’t enough though. The Yankees didn’t have anyone to step in when Mark Teixeira or Carlos Beltran got hurt, and beyond Greene there was no real rotation help to be had.

Overall, the farm system did improve last year. Several prospects hit on something close to their realistic best case scenario and zoomed towards the top of the organizational prospect list. The Yankees also spent more than $30M in international free agency between bonuses and penalties last summer, essentially making a mockery of a broken system while hoarding most of the top available talent. Those prospects are all teenagers though. It’ll be a while before they have any sort of big league impact for New York.

This is, unbelievably, my ninth Top 30 Prospects List at RAB. The other eight can be found right here. This next part is very important: I am not a scout nor am I an expert. I’m a guy with opinions. And they’re wrong. Like, all the time. I read a lot — an embarrassing amount, really — and I have my own preferences for what makes a good prospect. I read everything. Baseball America, Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com, MiLB.com, random interviews with local papers, you name it. There’s plenty of information out there and I try to soak it all in. What qualifies me to put together a list like this? Nothing, I’m just a guy with a blog. Start one of your own and you can put together a top 30. Or a top 100, if that’s your thing. This is meant to be for fun, not any sort of definitive ranking.

I use the rookie limits (50 innings or 130 at-bats) to determine prospect eligibility because that’s what everyone else uses. I don’t pay attention to service time because that stuff is too complicated. Also, I don’t rank any recent international signings because those guys haven’t even played a professional game yet. Just a personal, long-standing policy. I’d rather be a year late than a year early on players like that. Rest assured, next year’s Top 30 will inevitably feature a bunch of guys from last summer’s international spending spree. Four players from last year’s list graduated to MLB and eight are no longer in the organization. That seems like a lot.

Alright, so let’s cut the small talk and get to the rankings. I changed the format slightly this year just to shake things up a bit. Hopefully you like it. All the relevant stats and bio information is listed before the write-up. All headshots from MLB.com or MiLB.com, unless noted otherwise. This year’s Top 30 list starts after the jump. Enjoy.
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