DotF: Austin’s big day at the plate leads Scranton to a win

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Syracuse)

  • RF Ramon Flores: 0-4 – threw a runner out at the plate
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 E Fielding) — just a heads up, I accidentally listed him at third base yesterday, but he was at second … just a typo, not a position change, my bad … also, that’s his third error in four games
  • DH Kyle Roller: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • LF Tyler Austin: 3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI — having a nice little start to the season
  • C Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Chase Whitley: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1/5 GB/FB — 53 of 84 pitches were strikes (63%) … nice first start of the season
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3/3 GB/FB — 30 of 41 pitches were strikes (73%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 14 of 21 pitches were strikes (67%)

Double-A Trenton, Game One (5-3 win over Erie in seven innings) makeup of the Opening Day rainout

  • CF Jake Cave: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — he’s reached base in eleven of his first 16 plate appearances (.688 OBP)
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-4, 3 K
  • 1B Greg Bird:1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB — has a walk in all three games so far, unsurprisingly
  • DH Dante Bichette Jr.: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • 3B Eric Jagielo: 0-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • LF Mason Williams: 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI – off to a nice little start to the season
  • SS Cito Culver: 1-4, 2 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 16 of 21 pitches were strikes (76%) … he came over in the Shawn Kelley trade, and there was some talk he needed Tommy John surgery, but he sure he seems healthy to me
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — ten pitches, seven strikes … he came over in the Chris Stewart trade last year
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K — 16 of 22 pitches were strikes (73%)

Double-A Trenton, Game Two (3-2 loss to Erie in seven innings)

  • LF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • DH Aaron Judge: 2-3, 1 RBI, 1 HBP – I assume they checked the ball for injury after it hit Judge
  • 1B Greg Bird: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K — make it a walk in all four games, though this one was intentional
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-4, 2 K
  • 3B Dante Bichette Jr. & SS Cito Culver: both 0-3
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-3, 1 E (throwing)
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 3/3 GB/FB — 50 or 79 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Caleb Cotham: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 15 of 20 pitches were strikes

High-A Tampa (4-2 loss to Lakeland)

  • CF Mark Payton: 0-4, 1 K
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — nine hits in his last 12 at-bats (.750)
  • 1B Mike Ford: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Angel Gumbs: 0-3, 2 K
  • LHP Derek Callahan: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 40 of 70 pitches were strikes (57%)

Low-A Charleston (4-2 win over Lexington)

  • SS Abi Avelino: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SB — got picked off first
  • DH Jorge Mateo: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 4 SB — already 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts this year after going 11-for-12 in 15 games last year
  • 2B Gosuke Katoh: 0-2, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • RF Austin Aune: 1-4, 2 K
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 4/3 GB/FB — 59 of 88 pitches were strikes (67%) … he should carve hitters up at this level

DotF: Sanchez homers once, Jagielo twice in Trenton’s win

With LHP Matt Tracy getting called up to the big leagues to help the bullpen, there were a bunch of roster shuffling in the minors to get the affiliates the arms they need. RHP Gio Gallegos went from Extended Spring Training to High-A Tampa, LHP Eric Ruth went from Tampa to Double-A Trenton, and LHP Eric Wooten when from Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, replacing Tracy. That all comes from Matt Kardos and Nicholas Flammia.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 loss to Syracuse)

  • RF Slade Heathcott: 1-5, 2 K – threw a runner out at the plate
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-4
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 E (fielding) — second error in two games
  • DH Tyler Austin: 0-4, 2 K
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — only ten of 21 pitches were strikes (48%) … makes his first career start as the fill-in for Tracy
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 4/0 GB/FB — half of his 26 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 21 of 38 pitches were strikes (55%), but the walk was intentional

[Read more…]

DotF: Judge starts the season with a homer in Trenton’s blowout win

Just a heads up, the Aaron Judge Watch is now up in the sidebar, underneath the RAB Tickets and YES Network links. He was the overwhelming choice in our poll. Also, Baseball America post lists of the youngest players at each level, with LHP Jacob Lindgren, LHP Miguel Sulbaran, RHP Luis Severino, and 3B Miguel Andujar ranking among the youngest players in their leagues. Bryce Harper is the youngest player on an NL Opening Day roster for the third straight year. El-oh-el.

Triple-A Scranton (6-0 loss to Syracuse)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 0-4, 1 K
  • LF Ramon Flores: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 E (fielding) — error led to two runs
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 0-3, 2 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 K
  • RHP Jaron Long: 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 7/1 GB/FB — 51 of 83 pitches were strikes (61%) … rough Triple-A debut
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 22 of 36 pitches were strikes (61%)
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K — 14 of 19 pitches were strikes (74%)

[Read more…]

Sanchez: Cuban infielder Andy Ibanez planning showcases for scouts this month

Ibanez at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. (Koji Watanabe/Getty)
Ibanez at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. (Koji Watanabe/Getty)

According to Jesse Sanchez, free agent Cuban infielder Andy Ibanez is planning to hold showcase events for scouts in Miami later this month. He was cleared to sign by MLB and the Office of Foreign Assets Control back in February.

Ibanez, 21, hit .283/.348/.419 with 60 doubles and 13 home runs in 242 games in the Cuban league from 2011-13 before defecting. He was on Cuba’s roster for the 2013 World Baseball Classic but rode the bench in the deference to their veteran infielders. Here’s a mini-scouting report from Ben Badler:

At 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, Ibanez has a thicker build for a middle infielder but he’s athletic and has good body control. With fringy speed and an average arm at best, Ibanez isn’t flashy, but he has a good internal clock and a high baseball IQ, fitting best at second base. Ibanez’s power is mostly to the gaps, projecting as a doubles hitters rather than a big home run threat, but what’s sold some scouts on him is his bat.

“He’s a strong guy who doesn’t have your prototype, ideal body for a second baseman, but he moves around well for his stature,” said another scout. “And he performs. He’s a good hitter. I liked his swing and the way he manipulated the bat.”

The Yankees have been rumored to have interest in Ibanez and I’m sure they’ll attend his upcoming showcases. They seem to go to all of ‘em. Ibanez is no budding star like Yoan Moncada, however. He’s looked at as more of a solid player going forward. A complementary piece, not a centerpiece. Think Adeiny Hechavarria or Jose Iglesias, not Yasiel Puig or Jose Abreu. Then again, who knows. Cuban players have shown a knack for outperforming expectations.

Because of his age and limited experience in Cuba, Ibanez is subject to the international spending restrictions. The Yankees are free to sign him for any amount prior to June 25th, but, after that, they will only be able to offer him $300,000 as a result of the penalties from last July’s international spending spree. The Angels signed the less-heralded Roberto Baldoquin to an $8M bonus back in January, and I’m guessing it’ll take similar if not more money to get Ibanez.

As always, it makes sense for the Yankees to add talent whenever possible, and by all accounts Ibanez has some skills and will be able to help an MLB club in some capacity in the near future. The Yankees don’t have a long-term solution at second base — they might have one in Rob Refsnyder — and middle infield talent is hard to find in general. Of course, the Yankees always seem to stop just short of offering enough to sign a Cuban player. Enough to say we tried but not enough to get him. Until they buck the trend and sign one of these guys, I have no reason to think they’ll actually do it.

DotF: Ramon Flores hits for the cycle to open 2015

Okay, now the 2015 season has really begun. The minor league season opened today, so I suppose I have to announce OF Aaron Judge won this year’s Prospect Watch poll rather convincingly. He received almost exactly half of the 2,900+ votes that were cast. Here are the full results. I’ll get the Prospect Watch up either later tonight or tomorrow. Now let’s get to some season-opening notes:

  • LHP Daniel Camarena either already has or will soon make a trip to New York to have his elbow looked at. Apparently Tommy John surgery is likely. RHP Jared Burton (lat), LHP Jose DePaula (shoulder), and C Juan Graterol (arm) are all starting the season on the Triple-A DL. UTIL Ali Castillo (hand) and RHP Zach Nuding are also hurt. [Josh Norris, Donnie Collins, Matt Kardos]
  • RHP Felix Santiago, C Roybell Herrera, C Bismar Nunez, C Daniel Vavrusa, 3B Juan Lorenzo, SS Melvin Aquino, SS Allison Reyes, OF Hector Asencio, and OF Adolfo Morillo have all been released. Morillo ($50k) and Nunez ($10k) signed as international amateurs last July. Vavrusa was signed out of the Czech Republic back in 2011. Also, IF John Murphy and RHP Chris Smith were released, the two announced on Twitter. [Matt Eddy]
  • Judge (No. 5) and 1B Greg Bird (No. 10) were ranked as two of the ten best power prospects in the game by Chris Crawford (subs. req’d). Judge “should be hitting 20-plus homers a year in Yankee Stadium as soon as 2016,” wrote Crawford, who said Bird “has the potential to hit 30 homers in his prime, with 20-plus more likely.”
  • And finally, Double-A Trenton was named the eighth most talented team in the minors by Norris. “Starting the year with two Top 100 Prospects is excellent in its own right, but Trenton will have even more sock in its lineup with the additions of Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez and Eric Jagielo to complement Judge,” wrote Norris.

Now for the game recaps. Since it’s the first game of the year, here are the full lineups and results.

Triple-A Scranton (8-3 win over Syracuse)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K — hopefully his strong spring carries over into the season (and hopefully he stays healthy)
  • LF Ramon Flores: 4-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — Opening Day cycle? awesome
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 3-5, 1 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-4, 3 RBI
  • DH Jonathan Galvez: 0-5, 3 K – only guy who didn’t get invited to the party
  • 3B Cole Figueroa: 1-4, 1 R
  • SS Nick Noonan: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B
  • C Eddy Rodriguez: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K – Austin Romine just cleared waivers yesterday, so he’s probably not with the team yet … he has something like 72 hours to report I believe
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 48 of 83 pitches were strikes (58%) … Bad Mitchell showed up on Opening Day
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 13 of 23 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K — 12 of 21 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — only 13 of 27 pitches were strikes (48%)
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1/0 GB/FB – three pitches, two strikes … it’ll be interesting to see how they use him since most relief prospects work on a set schedule, but if he throws with no apparent schedule, they’ll prepping him for a call-up and use in any situation
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — ten pitches, seven strikes

[Read more…]

Yanks have 18th best farm system in Baseball America’s organizational rankings


Early last week, Baseball America released their annual farm system rankings, which are predictably topped by the Kris Bryant-led Cubs. The Red Sox and Dodgers round out the top three while the Angels, Orioles, and Tigers claim the bottom three spots. The farm rankings and write-ups are free. You don’t need a subscription.

The Yankees are ranked 18th overall, which, believe it or not, is actually down from 13th last year, when the Yankees had that miserable 2013 season. That’s because Baseball America considered Masahiro Tanaka a prospect last year — he was fourth on their 2014 top 100 prospects list — and he’s graduated to the big leagues. I guess the massive international spending spree doesn’t make up to Tanaka’s graduation. Anyway, here’s the blurb on New York’s farm system:

How They Got Here: The Yankees got breakout seasons from Luis Severino and Aaron Judge, who are opposites physically. However, the Yankees have failed to develop in-house young replacements for an aging roster that has missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. New York’s unprecedented July 2 international spending ($17.3 million) brought in impressive depth, obviously with risk that is ameliorated by the depth.

High-Ceiling Sleeper: The system is full of them, but a spring candidate who was emerging was 21-year-old Domingo Acevedo, a big-bodied Dominican signee who is starting to coordinate the long levers in his 6-foot-7, (listed) 190-pound frame. His fastball was sitting in the 94-96 mph range during the spring and reaching higher, and it was still just March. He’s headed for his full-season debut.

2015 Rookies: A concussion this spring interrupted 2B Jose Pirela’s chase for a utility role or to compete with Rob Refsnyder for the second-base job. LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP Bryan Mitchell competed for staff roles in spring training, with Mitchell headed back to the minors to start the year in a rotation role.

Acevedo continues to get a lot of love this spring. A strong year with Low-A Charleston should shoot him up prospects lists. Also, I’m surprised Jacob Lindgren was not mentioned as a top 2015 rookie in the write-up, but whatever. We know he’ll be up at some point and that’s all that matters.

Baseball America is the high man on the Yankees’ farm system this spring, though not really. Keith Law had them 20th and Baseball Prospectus had them 21st, and there’s not really much of a difference between 18th and 21st. It’s a matter of personal preference at that level, not quality or quantity of talent. As I’ve been saying all winter, the farm system figures to take a big step forward this summer thanks to the international talent haul. That’s a lot of talent added at once.

Isikoff: Cuban star Yulieski Gourriel wants to play for the Yankees, but won’t defect

Now here’s an interesting story. Cuban infielder Yulieski Gourriel, who has long been one of the best players in the country, wants to play for the Yankees because his favorite player is Alex Rodriguez, according to Michael Isikoff. Gourriel, however, is unwilling to defect and betray the government. He’ll only come to MLB if the U.S. lifts the embargo and the Cuban government lets him leave.

Gourriel, 30, played in Japan last season and was supposed to do so again this year, but the Yokohama BayStars terminated his contract last week, according to Ben Badler. Gourriel is reportedly nursing a hamstring injury and didn’t report to the team. Cuban players are allowed to play overseas during the Cuban league offseason, though the government negotiates the player’s contract and takes a nice big cut.

In 62 games with the BayStars last season, Gourriel hit .306/.349/.536 with 22 doubles and eleven home runs. He also hit .343/.432/.577 for Industriales in Cuba. Gourriel is a career .330/.412/.570 hitter with two MVP awards in parts of 14 seasons in Cuba. He’s been a beast. Badler (subs. req’d) called him the best player in the country last August. (Recent Dodgers signee Hector Olivera was sixth.) Here’s a snippet of the scouting report:

Gourriel is a lightning rod player for scouts, many of whom see him as a disinterested, Jekyll-and-Hyde player who can blow you away at times and make you scratch your head at others … Gourriel could step in and be an immediate all-star in Major League Baseball …  Gourriel has terrific bat speed, good hand-eye coordination and barrel control, which helps him make consistent contact. He does chase pitches at times but generally has a sound hitting approach, staying within the strike zone and using the middle of the field, with 65 raw power on the 20-80 scale.

Gourriel has played both second base and shortstop in the past, though he’s settled in as a third baseman recently. “Every time you see (Gourriel), you see something special,” said Rangers play-by-play man and Cuban baseball guru Eric Nadel to Isikoff. “He rises to the occasion in international tournaments. He’s no secret … He’s legitimately a Major Leaguer in any league.”

Back in December, President Barack Obama said he was taking steps to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, and reportedly the two countries started to discuss lifting the 50-year-old embargo in late-January. I have no idea if or when it will be lifted, and until it happens, the Yankees have no shot at acquiring Gourriel. “(We) are ready when they say we have permission to play. We are ready for the lifting of the blockade. Then we can come play,” he said to Isikoff.

I thought it was pretty neat Gourriel’s favorite player is A-Rod. They’re similar in a lot of ways — Gourriel is the biggest name in Cuba and he’s a very polarizing player, with lots of fans and lots of people who love to hate him. He’s already 30, so his best years are likely behind him, and since it doesn’t seem the embargo will be lifted anytime soon, it’s unlikely Gourriel will ever wear pinstripes. It sure would be fun though. He’d be one exciting player to follow.