Tyler Wade cracks Baseball America’s top 20 Florida State League prospects

Wade. (MLB.com screen grab)
Wade. (MLB.com screen grab)

Baseball America continued to roll out their individual league top 20 prospect lists today with the High-A Florida State League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. Cardinals RHP Alex Reyes sits in the top spot while Mets OF Michael Conforto and Pirates OF Austin Meadows round out the top three.

SS Tyler Wade is the only Yankees farmhand to crack the top 20, and he ranks 18th. “He’s a grinder, particularly against righthanders, who can work counts, draw walks, move runners and make contact, with enough gap pop to earn pitchers’ respect,” said the write-up. “Wade’s arm strength and range are sufficient for shortstop, but he’s a better fit at second base, where with more experience he should be an above-average defender.”

Wade, 20, was the Yankees’ fourth round pick in the 2013 draft. He hit .280/.349/.353 (117 wRC+) with two homers, 31 steals, a 15.6% strikeout rate, and a 9.3% walk rate in 98 games and 418 plate appearances for High-A Tampa this year before being bumped up to Double-A Trenton, where he struggled (37 wRC+). “He has a high floor as a lefthanded-hitting utility infielder and a solid shot at a ceiling as a regular,” said the scouting report.

The write-up notes SS Jorge Mateo would have ranked third on the list had he spent enough time with the Tampa Yankees to qualify. Also, in the subscriber-only chat, John Manuel said 3B Miguel Andujar “clearly didn’t stick out” and the “consensus was that he doesn’t control the strike zone well enough for his bat to play, and he’s erratic defensively.” Manuel also said RHP Rookie Davis was in the No. 21-25 range with OF Dustin Fowler not too far behind.

Apparently Baseball America is going out of order with their league top 20s, so the next list of interest to Yankees fans will be the Low-A South Atlantic League. That’s due out Friday. Mateo will be eligible for that list — he was with Low-A Charleston almost all season — and should rank near the top. It’s unlikely any other RiverDogs will make the top 20 though.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League, Rookie Appalachian League, Short Season NY-Penn League

Jennings: Tyler Austin replaces Eric Jagielo in Arizona Fall League


According to Chad Jennings, the Yankees have decided to not send third base prospect Eric Jagielo to the Arizona Fall League this year. Jagielo was one of six players the team originally planned to sent to the desert this year, along with Gary Sanchez, Tyler Wade, Dustin Fowler, Chaz Hebert, and Tyler Webb. Ian Clarkin was added to the roster yesterday.

“Everything we’re doing right now is more with an eye toward 2016 and making sure he’s ready for Spring Training,” said assistant GM Billy Eppler to Jennings. Jagielo suffered a knee injury sliding into home plate in late-June this year and later had the knee scoped. The injury ended his season. A recent check-up showed everything is healing well, but apparently the Yankees decided not to push it.

Jagielo, 23, will miss the Arizona Fall League for the second straight year. He was scheduled to play the AzFL last season before being hit in the face by a pitch during Instructional League. Jagielo suffered a facial fracture and had to have surgery, so he was unable to play. This year it’s the knee injury keeping him from playing the AzFL. Two dumb, fluky injuries. So it goes.

In 58 games with Double-A Trenton this year, Jagielo hit .284/.347/.495 (141 wRC+) with nine home runs. He’s a career .266/.356/.469 (140 wRC+) hitter with 33 homers in 205 pro games since being the first of New York’s three first round picks in the 2013 draft. (Aaron Judge and Ian Clarkin were the other two.) Jagielo missed time with an oblique injury last year as well.

Outfielder Tyler Austin will replace Jagielo on the Surprise Saguaros roster. Technically it’s an infielder-for-infielder replacement, so Austin will end up playing a whole bunch of first base (and maybe third base? he has experience there) in the AzFL. The Yankees outrighted Austin off the 40-man roster a week ago but apparently still think enough of him to send him to the Fall League.

“He’s still young. (There is) a chance for him to continue to bridge the gap,” said Eppler. Austin, 24, hit .240/.315/.343 (92 wRC+) with six homers in 94 games split between Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton this year. He started the season with the RailRiders, but played so poorly he had to be demoted at midseason. Maybe he can get himself back on track in the AzFL.

The 32-game AzFL season begins October 13th and runs through November 19th. The Championship Game is scheduled for November 21st. Yankees prospects will play on a team with Royals, Brewers, Cardinals, and Rangers prospects.

Acevedo, Jackson, Holder among Baseball America’s top 20 NY-Penn League prospects

(Staten Island Advance)
Acevedo. (Staten Island Advance)

Baseball America’s look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued today with the Short Season NY-Penn League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. You need a subscription for those. Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi owns the top spot and is following by Nationals OF Victor Robles.

The Yankees have three players on the list: RHP Domingo Acevedo (No. 3), OF Jhalan Jackson (No. 10), and SS Kyle Holder (No. 18). Acevedo was slated to open the season with Low-A Charleston before a blister forced him back to Extended Spring Training for several weeks, leading to his assignment to the Staten Island Yankees. Jackson (seventh round) and Holder (supplemental first) were 2015 draft picks.

“Acevedo hit 103 mph at least once this summer and routinely worked his fastball at or around triple digits. He sits 95-96 mph early in starts but reaches back for 98-100 when he needs it,” said the write-up, which also noted Acevedo’s penchant for overthrowing. He also has a “plus changeup at 85-88 mph” and a below-average slider he can throw for strikes. The write-up likens the 6-foot-7 Acevedo to a young Dellin Betances.

Jackson claiming a spot in a top ten is surprising, though the scouting report says his “power is a legitimate plus tool.” That’s a good tool to have. “Jackson has profile right-field tools, with a plus arm and at least average speed,” added the write-up. Jackson is also said to have a raw approach at the plate and can get caught guessing at times. That’s a big obstacle to overcome, but you can’t teach this kind of power and athleticism.

As for Holder, the scouting report says “most scouts and evaluators agree that Holder is a plus defender, with some going so far to say that he is the best defensive college shortstop they’ve ever seen.” His defensive tools — body control, movement, hands, instincts, etc. — all draw big time praise. Holder’s offense is the question. “Few project him to be an impact offensive player because of his uphill swing, lack of power and substandard bat speed,” said the write-up.

Acevedo, 21, had a 1.69 ERA (2.85 FIP) with very good strikeout (27.7%) and walk (7.7%) rates in 48 innings with the Staten Island Yanks. The 22-year-old Jackson hit .266/.338/.452 (133 wRC+) with five homers and a 29.8% strikeout rate in 49 games. Holder? The 21-year-old hit .213/.273/.253 (57 wRC+) with a 13.6% strikeout rate in 56 games. Yuck. Both he and Jackson missed time with minor injuries.

In the subscriber-only chat, Michael Lananna says RHP James Kaprielian “would’ve likely ranked in the top 5″ had he thrown enough innings with Staten Island to qualify for the list. “I heard nothing but positive things,” Lananna added. “I think he could be a fast riser. Some have said he could’ve pitched out of the major league bullpen this year, but obviously that’s not going to happen … He’s a polished, promising pitching prospect.”

The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the Low-A South Atlantic League. That’ll be out sometime next week. SS Jorge Mateo is a lock — he won’t get the top spot (Red Sox 2B Yoan Moncada almost certainly will) but he figures to rank high — and others like OF Dustin Fowler, SS Angel Aguilar, and RHP Jordan Foley have an outside chance to make it too. LHP Jordan Montgomery may fall just short of qualifying for the list because of his quick promotion.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League, Rookie Appalachian League

Update: Ian Clarkin added to Arizona Fall League roster

(MLB.com screen grab)
(MLB.com screen grab)

September 24th: Well, there has been a change of plans. MLB Pipeline reports Clarkin is instead heading to the Arizona Fall League, not Instructional League. That’s a pretty big deal. The AzFL is much more competitive than Instructs and less informal too — Clarkin is returning to true game action. He must be perfectly healthy. Good news.

September 22nd: This is some pretty encouraging news. Left-handed pitching prospect Ian Clarkin has been added to this year’s Instructional League roster, reports Josh Norris. Here is the original Instructional League roster. Instructs started last week and they start playing actual games next week.

Clarkin, 20, did not pitch at all during the minor league season this year due to an ongoing elbow issue. He was shut down with elbow inflammation in Spring Training, reportedly returned to throw some innings in Extended Spring Training in May, but had to be shut down again at some point.

According to assistant GM Billy Eppler, Clarkin has been on a throwing program in recent weeks, which advanced as far as facing hitters in live batting practice. Clarkin even posted a photo of himself throwing off a mound four weeks ago. The elbow injury, whatever it is, did not require surgery.

The assignment to Instructional League means Clarkin is healthy enough to pitch in actual games now, which is a big deal after the lost season. It’s not much — Instructs only last about four weeks, so he’ll get maybe 15-20 innings, if that — but it’s better than nothing. He needs to get some innings under his belt this year. More than zero.

Clarkin was the third of the Yankees’ three first round picks in the 2013 draft, following Eric Jagielo and Aaron Judge. The southpaw had a 3.12 ERA (3.65 FIP) with a 24.7% strikeout rate and a 7.6% walk rate in 75 innings last year, almost all with Low-A Charleston. He did made one late-season spot start with High-A Tampa.

I ranked Clarkin has New York’s second best pitching prospect coming into the season because he’s a four-pitch lefty — low-90s heater, cutter, changeup, curveball — with a bat-missing breaking ball to go with good location and deception. He doesn’t necessarily have ace upside, but Clarkin is a no-doubt starter with few flaws. A boringly good prospect, I’d say.

Given how aggressively the Yankees have moved their prospects the last year or two, Clarkin might have made it to Double-A Trenton this summer, if healthy. That would have put him in position to help at the MLB level next year. Injuries happen, that’s part of pitching, so Clarkin’s development has hit a bump in the road. Hopefully next year he can pick right up where he left off in 2014.

Wilkerman Garcia ranked among top 20 Gulf Coast League prospects by Baseball America

Garcia. (MLB.com screen grab)
Garcia. (MLB.com screen grab)

Baseball America’s breakdown of the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued today with the rookie level Gulf Coast League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. You need a subscription for those. Red Sox RHP Anderson Espinoza sits in the top spot and is followed by Nationals OF Victor Robles and Astros OF Kyle Tucker.

The Yankees have just one player on the GCL list: SS Wilkerman Garcia, who ranks sixth. Interestingly, Garcia is right smack in the middle of a group that includes 2015 first rounders Phillies SS Cornelius Randolph (tenth overall pick, ranked fifth in GCL), Rays OF Garrett Whitley (13th overall, seventh in GCL), and Tigers RHP Beau Burrows (22nd overall, eight in GCL).

“He’s a switch-hitter with a sound hitting approach from both sides, using all fields and showing good patience and bat-to-ball skills,” said the write-up of Garcia while noting he’s a very instinctive player. “While scouts from other clubs felt Garcia would fit better at second or third base, the Yankees were convicted he could play shortstop. He’s backed up their confidence by showing a plus arm, good hands and footwork along with a knack for slowing the game down.”

The Yankees signed the 17-year-old Garcia for $1.35M last summer as part of their massive international spending spree. That’s late first round money, so I guess it makes sense he’s ranked among a bunch of actual first round picks in the GCL top 20. Anyway, Garcia hit .281/.396/.347 (131 wRC+) with more walks (16.0%) than strikeouts (12.7%) in 37 games for the GCL Yanks this summer.

In the subscriber-only chat, Ben Badler said 3B Dermis Garcia “wasn’t really in the mix” for the top 20 despite receiving the largest bonus ($3.2M) among last year’s international haul. “He does have huge raw power and a big arm, but he’s still fairly crude as expected as a hitter and is going to have to keep his conditioning in check going forward,” said Badler. RHP Gilmael Troya, who signed for $10,000 last year, was considered for the list because his velocity jumped into the low-90s and he has a “chance for an above-average curveball and pretty solid feel for pitching.”

The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the Short Season NY-Penn League, which will be posted either tomorrow or early next week. RHP Domingo Acevedo is a lock for the NYPL top 20 and others like IF Thairo Estrada and SS Kyle Holder should receive consideration as well. First rounder RHP James Kaprielian and second rounder LHP Jeff Degano weren’t with the Staten Island Yankees long enough to qualify for the list.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Appalachian League

Hoy Jun Park among top 20 Appalachian League prospects

(Sports Q)
(Sports Q)

The minor league season is complete, which means we’re now entering prospect ranking season. The crew at Baseball America started releasing their annual top 20 prospects list for each individual minor league this week, including the rookie Appalachian League today (no subs. req’d). That is home to the Pulaski Yankees, who just completed their first season in the Yankees organization.

Astros OF Kyle Tucker, the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft, claimed the top spot in the Appy League top 20. Not much of a surprise there. Braves 3B Austin Riley and Twins SS Jermaine Palacios round out the top three. The Yankees had one farmhand make the list: SS Hoy Jun Park at No. 12.

“Park is a rangy shortstop with quick feet, slick actions and smooth glove work … he could develop into an outstanding defender,” said the subscriber-only scouting report. “His swing has some length to it, but he creates intriguing torque with long levers and quick hands … He showed the ability to punch the ball to the opposite field or pull the ball over the fence.”

Park, 19, was part of last summer’s massive international spending spree, getting a $1.16M bonus. He hit .239/.351/.383 (109 wRC+) with five homers, 12 stolen bases, a 13.0% walk rate and a 19.1% strikeout rate in 56 games during his pro debut with Pulaski this summer. My guess is Park will get bumped up to Low-A Charleston to begin next season.

In the subscriber-only chat, Hudson Belinsky noted RHP Drew Finley was “tough to leave off the list.” Finley was New York’s third round pick this year after going into the draft as a potential late first/early second round talent. Belinsky says Finley made strides with his changeup and is a prospect who “gets it,” for what it’s worth. RHP Brody Koerner, this year’s 17th rounder, also received some praise after the Yankees tweaked his delivery. 2B Gosuke Katoh? He’s more suspect than prospect at this point.

The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the rookie Gulf Coast League, which will be released later this week. 3B Dermis Garcia, SS Wilkerman Garcia, OF Trey Amburgey, OF Leonardo Molina, and SS Yancarlos Baez are all candidates for the top 20, though I wouldn’t expect them all to make it. RHP James Kaprielian, this year’s first round pick, wasn’t in the GCL long enough to qualify for the list.

2015 Minor League Awards

The Staten Island Yankees won their division in 2015. (Robert Pimpsner)
The Staten Island Yankees won their division in 2015. (Robert Pimpsner)

Moreso than at any other point in the last, I dunno, 10-15 years or so, the Yankees dipped into their farm system for help this summer. Whether it was the bullpen shuttle, injury replacements, or late-season call-ups, the Yankees showed faith in the young players and have largely been rewarded at the Major League level. That alone qualifies 2015 as a good season for the farm system.

The Yankees welcomed yet another affiliate to the organization this year in the rookie level Pulaski Yankees. The team’s eight (!) domestic full season affiliates went a combined 422-403 (.512) this summer, giving them back-to-back winning seasons in the minors. (The system had an overall losing record in 2013 for the first time in at least 30 years.) None of the affiliates won a championship but Pulaski, Short Season Staten Island, and Triple-A Scranton all qualified for the postseason. Staten Island advanced to the Championship Series.

Now that the postseason is over, it’s time to hand out some awards for the minor league season. As always, these awards are totally subjective and completely meaningless. I have no authority whatsoever. This is just my look back at the season with recognition for those who played well. This isn’t any sort of top prospects list. It’s a best performers list regardless of prospect status. That make sense? Good.

Here are my 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 awards posts. Hard to believe I’ve been doing this nine years already. Time flies, man.

Minor League Player of the Year: OF Ben Gamel
After spending the last two seasons as a light-hitting, somewhat interesting outfield prospect at High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, the 23-year-old Gamel broke out in 2015 and was the best player in the farm system from start to finish. He hit .300/.358/.472 (138 wRC+) in 129 games with Triple-A Scranton and led the system in both hits (150) and extra-base hits (52). Gamel ranked third in doubles (28), first in triples (14), eighth in homers (ten), and second in plate appearances (592). His defense reportedly improved as well, so much so he took regular turns in center field down the stretch for the RailRiders. If there was voting for this award, I think it would be unanimous. Gamel was that much better than everyone else in the system in 2015.

Minor League Pitcher of the Year: RHP Luis Severino
Severino is in the big league rotation right now, but he spent the majority of the season in the minors and finished the year with the 19th most innings in the system (99.1) despite getting called up in early-August. The 21-year-old had a 2.45 ERA (2.45 FIP!) with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this summer, striking out 24.8% of batters faced while walking only 6.8%. Among the 25 pitchers who threw at least 80 innings in the system this summer, Severino ranked fourth in strikeout rate and third in K/BB ratio (3.63). The guys ahead of him are all older, pitched at a lower level, or both. Even in an abbreviated minor league season (abbreviated for a good reason, of course), Severino was the best pitcher in the organization this year. Honorable Mention: RHP Brady Lail and LHP Jordan Montgomery

Minor League Hitter of the Year: C Gary Sanchez
By self-imposed rule, the winner of my Minor League Player of the Year award is not eligible for the Hitter or Pitcher of the Year award, because that would be boring. Gamel would win this too. Sanchez, 22, gets the hitter honors instead after hitting .271/.329/.476 (131 wRC+) with 23 doubles and 18 home runs in 96 games split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. Even though it feels like he has been around forever, Sanchez was still two and a half years younger than the average Eastern League player this year. He was eighth in doubles and second in homers in the system — his 18 homers were fourth most among catchers in the minors, the leader had 20, and the three guys ahead of Sanchez all played at least 12 more games — despite, you know, being a catcher. Catching is hard. Honorable Mention: OF Aaron Judge and 1B Greg Bird

Breakout Player of the Year: RHP Rookie Davis
A 3.86 ERA in 130.2 innings doesn’t jump out at you, but the 22-year-old Davis broke out this summer thanks to his greatly improved command and control. He went from middling strikeout (19.1%) and walk (7.6%) numbers with Low-A Charleston in 2014 to a very good strikeout rate (23.5%) and an excellent walk rate (4.7%) with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2015. That 3.86 ERA comes with a 2.47 FIP, 11th lowest among the 569 pitchers to throw at least 100 innings in the minors this year. Simply put, Davis improved his prospect stock more than any other player in the system this summer, and that’s why he gets the award. Honorable Mention: RHP Domingo Acevedo and RHP Cale Coshow

Best Pro Debut: OF Trey Amburgey
This was not an easy call. Several 2015 draftees and international free agent signees has big debuts in their first taste of pro ball, but Amburgey, New York’s 13th round pick this summer, was better than all of them. The 20-year-old from Florida’s east coast hit .335/.388/.502 (161 wRC+) with 12 doubles, six triples, five homers, and 21 steals in 25 attempts (84%) in 62 games for the Rookie GCL Yankees and Short Season Staten Island. Amburgey also had a solid 15.5% strikeout rate in his first summer as a professional. What a beast. Honorable Mention: OF Carlos Vidal and SS Wilkerman Garcia

Comeback Player of the Year: LHP Dietrich Enns
Enns, 24, blew out his elbow last May, had Tommy John surgery, and returned to the mound this June. In 58.2 carefully monitored innings across 12 starts and one relief appearance, Enns posted a 0.61 ERA (2.39 FIP) with a very good strikeout rate (23.7%) and an acceptable walk rate (8.6%) considering location is usually the last thing to come back following elbow reconstruction. Almost 1,900 pitchers threw at least 50 innings in the minors this year (1,393 to be exact). None had a lower ERA than Enns. Honorable Mention: OF Slade Heathcott and OF Mason Williams

Bounceback Player of the Year (started slow, finished strong): 2B Gosuke Katoh
Last season was very rough for Katoh, who followed up his brilliant pro debut with the Rookie GCL Yankees in 2013 with a .222/.345/.326 (96 wRC+) batting line with Low-A Charleston in 2014. Katoh, 20, returned to the River Dogs this year, and hit a weak .161/.264/.202 (42 wRC+) in 39 games before the Yankees pulled the plug. They sent him back to Extended Spring Training for a few weeks before assigning him to the new Rookie Pulaski affiliate. With Pulaski, Katoh hit .287/.426/.416 (143 wRC+) with nine doubles, five homers, 49 walks (!), and 61 strikeouts in 59 games. The end result is a .240/.365/.331 (104 wRC+) batting line on the season. Considering how he started with Charleston, that’s pretty incredible. Honorable Mention: 3B Miguel Andujar and LHP Caleb Smith

Most Disappointing Player of the Year: OF Tyler Austin
This was supposed to be The Year. The year Austin was finally healthy, finally able to prove himself at Triple-A, and maybe even get called up to the show. Instead, he was dropped from the 40-man roster earlier this month to make room for a September call-up, and sailed through waivers unclaimed. Ouch. Austin, 24, hit .235/.309/.311 (82 wRC+) in 73 games with the RailRiders before being demoted to Double-A Trenton, where he hit .260/.337/.455 (128 wRC+) in 21 games. That all works out to a .240/.315/.343 (92 wRC+) batting line with only 21 extra-base hits in 94 games. Yeesh.

All-Minor League Teams

First Team Second Team Third Team
Catcher Gary Sanchez Austin Romine Kyle Higashioka
First Base Greg Bird Chris Gittens Kane Sweeney
Second Base Jose Pirela Rob Refsnyder Thairo Estrada
Shortstop Jorge Mateo Tyler Wade Wilkerman Garcia
Third Base Eric Jagielo Cole Figueroa Donny Sands
Outfield Ben Gamel Trey Amburgey Austin Aune
Outfield Aaron Judge Jake Cave Dustin Fowler
Outfield Carlos Vidal Nathan Mikolas Jhalan Jackson
Starting Pitcher Luis Severino Rookie Davis Jonathan Holder
Starting Pitcher Brady Lail Chaz Hebert Cale Coshow
Starting Pitcher Jordan Montgomery Joey Maher Eric Ruth
Relief Pitcher Nick Goody Caleb Cotham Conor Mullee
Relief Pitcher Evan Rutckyj Alex Smith Johnny Barbato

Lifetime Achievement Award: C Austin Romine
Believe it or not, the 26-year-old Romine is the fifth longest tenured homegrown player in the Yankees organization. Only Ivan Nova (signed in 2004), Brett Gardner (drafted in 2005), Dellin Betances (drafted in 2006), and Jose Pirela (signed in 2006) have been with the Yankees longer than Romine, who was New York’s second round pick in the 2007 amateur draft out of a California high school.

Romine was a significant prospect at one time — he made Baseball America’s annual top 100 prospects list in both 2010 (No. 86) and 2011 (No. 98) — who has instead become a solid depth catcher who spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues. That includes the 2013 season, when he got an extended look as Chris Stewart’s backup (!). The Yankees removed Romine from the 40-man roster at the end of Spring Training this year and he then hit a solid .260/.311/.379 (99 wRC+) with seven homers in 92 games for Triple-A Scranton.

In parts of nine minor league seasons with the Yankees, Romine hit .270/.326/.396 (102 wRC+) with 58 home runs in 689 games and 2,832 plate appearances. His best full season was his first, when he put up an impressive .300/.344/.437 (120 wRC+) batting line with 10 homers in 104 games as the everyday catcher for Low-A Charleston. Romine did that as a 19-year-old catcher in his first full pro season. He was big time back then.

Things never did work out for Romine and the Yankees, though he became a solid organizational catcher who saw time in the big leagues and deserves credit for working with the young pitchers in the farm system. Guys like this are too often overlooked for their roles in the minors.