DotF: Staten Island walks off with ten-inning no-hitter

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 win over Gwinnett)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • DH Aaron Judge: 1-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB — tenth homer of the season … on pace for 22 homers this year after hitting 20 last year and 17 the year before
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-3, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI — would he still be in Triple-A if Austin Romine wasn’t playing so well?
  • LF Jake Cave: 3-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RF Cesar Puello: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Luis Severino: 8.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 10/5 GB/FB — 68 of 104 pitches were strikes (65%), plus he picked a runner off first … took a no-hitter into the sixth … that’s the longest outing of his career, majors or minors
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eleven of 16 pitches were strikes (69%)

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DotF: Torrens returns, Staten Island plays 20 innings on Opening Day

To the notes:

  • C Luis Torrens is healthy! He’s on the Short Season Staten Island roster. Hooray for that. Matt Schneldman wrote a nice puff piece on Torrens, so check that out. We’ve been hearing about him for a while now, but Torrens turned only 20 last month. In fact, he’s still the third youngest player on Staten Island’s roster.
  • Both 1B Chris Gittens and RHP Chance Adams made today’s Prospect Report, which is not behind the paywall. Gittens hit three home runs last night and Adams chucked 5.1 scoreless innings in his Double-A debut.
  • The Yankees have signed IF Josh Gardiner out of the independent Frontier League, the team announced. The 22-year-old hit .311/.406/.489 with two homers and six steals in 23 games with the Schaumburg Boomers.

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 loss to Gwinnett) they faced former RailRider Manny Banuelos

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 BB — he’s now 24-for-63 (.381) with five doubles and three triples in his last 15 games
  • 1B Nick Swisher: 2-4, 1 BB — apparently his opt-out date was earlier this week, so no, he didn’t opt-out … usually in these cases the two sides agree to push the opt-out back a few weeks, so Swisher might be able to leave at some point in the future
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-4, 2 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-4, 1 K — 5-for-26 (.192) since coming back from the broken thumb
  • DH Tyler Austin: 0-3, 1 BB, 3 K — no contact night
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K — threw a runner out at second
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 7/1 GB/FB — 50 of 83 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — nine of 13 pitches were strikes … second rehab outing, and he came out of the bullpen this time rather than start the game
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 12 of 17 pitches were strikes (71%)

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King: Yankees have interest in Cuba infielder Yulieski Gurriel

(Eyder Peralta/NPR)
(Eyder Peralta/NPR)

According to George King, the Yankees have interest in Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel, who was recently declared a free agent by MLB. Gurriel will reportedly work out for teams privately rather than hold open showcases. No word on whether the Yankees will bring him in for a workout. They probably will. They always do.

I covered everything you need to know about Gurriel and the Yankees the other day. He’s said to be a Yankee fan because his favorite player in Alex Rodriguez, plus he’s close friends with Aroldis Chapman, though who knows if that will influence his decision. I imagine money will be Gurriel’s top priority. It is for most, after all.

“This is a veteran player with a lot of experience. This is not a rookie. He has all the qualities needed to be a good player at this level,” said Chapman to King. “He is a really good player and a really good person. He is a great contact hitter with power, a quality swing.”

The Yankees need to rebuild their offense because the guys they’ve been counting on for so long, like A-Rod and Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran, aren’t going be around a much longer. We saw the other day what the lineup looks like without them. Starlin Castro, Chase Headley, and Didi Gregorius batting 3-4-5 is just … no. It’s just no.

In recent years the Yankees have brought pretty much every big name Cuban free agent in for a workout. They just haven’t signed any of them. Gurriel is not a kid, he just turned 32, and he’s been a star in Cuba for a long time. Everyone expects him to be an impact bat right away, and boy, the Yankees sure could use one of those going forward.

DotF: Gittens goes deep three times in Charleston’s win

The video above is OF Jake Cave’s home run from last night’s game. The camera loses track of the ball in flight, but the announcer says it landed on the roof of the building beyond the right field. That’s quite a shot. Cave has six homers in 58 games this season. He had nine homers total in 264 games from 2014-15.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Toledo)

  • DH Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K
  • 1B Nick Swisher: 1-4, 1 BB, 2 K — his opt-out date has to be coming up soon, but I think he’s going to end up sticking around … what other team will add him to their roster? and what other team is on their fifth string first baseman?
  • RF Aaron Judge & C Gary Sanchez: both 0-3, 1 BB — Sanchez struck out and committed a passed ball
  • LF Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R
  • CF Cesar Puello: 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — got picked off third … ouch
  • RHP Chad Green: 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 11 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 68 of 103 pitches were strikes (66%) … 51/7 K/BB in his last 50.1 innings at this level
  • RHP Matt Wotherspoon: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — nine of 12 pitches were strikes

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DotF: Gamel and Judge stay hot in Scranton’s win

RHP Brady Lail has been placed on the Triple-A Scranton DL, reports Shane Hennigan. I’m not sure what’s wrong with him. It might just be a paper move to temporarily clear a roster spot. LHP Phil Coke was activated off the DL to replace Lail on the roster.

Triple-A Scranton (7-3 win over Toledo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 3-6, 1 R, 2 K — threw a runner out at third … 25-for-55 (.455) in his last 13 games
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — 18-for-44 (.409) with only eight strikeouts since the 0-for-24 slump
  • DH Gary Sanchez: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB — hasn’t slowed down since being promoted
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K — six homers in 58 games this year … he hit two homers in 132 games last year
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 7/1 GB/FB — 41 of 63 pitches were strikes (65%) … that’s much more like it, Luis
  • LHP Phil Coke: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 20 of 31 pitches were strikes (65%) … they have six starters for five spots at the moment, so the fact he went back to the bullpen tells me Lail will back soon
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 2/1 GB/FB — 25 of 41 pitches were strikes (61%)

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Finding comparable prospects to Blake Rutherford using MLB.com’s scouting grades

(MinorLeagueMadhouse.com)
(MinorLeagueMadhouse.com)

Last Thursday, after weeks of rumors about high school arms and college bats, the Yankees used their first round pick to select California HS OF Blake Rutherford. He was a consensus top ten talent — Keith Law (6th), MLB.com (8th), and Baseball America (9th) all ranked Rutherford highly — who fell because of bonus demands and the fact he turned 19 last month. The signing deadline is July 15th.

It’s been a long time since the Yankees had the opportunity to draft a player like Rutherford, a highly coveted prospect who slipped due to bonus demands. That is partly the result of the bonus pools. Talent comes off the board more linearly nowadays and fewer prospects are slipping. (And those who do slip are often unsignable.) The Yankees have also forfeited some first round picks recently (2011, 2014) and made some surprise selections.

The scouting report on Rutherford is awfully exciting. Keith Law (subs. req’d) said he has a “unique combination of hit and power and has shown an ability to spray well-hit balls to all fields,” while Baseball America (subs. req’d) wrote “(some) scouts see him as a potential power-hitting center fielder in the Jim Edmonds mold.” Here’s a piece of MLB.com’s free scouting report:

Rutherford has the chance to be an above-average hitter with above-average raw power. He’ll record average to plus run times, and his speed helps him on the basepaths and in the outfield. Rutherford is a solid defender in the outfield, though most feel he’ll move to right field in the future. The good news is his bat should profile just fine if that move does happen.

Gosh that is fun to read. The Yankees have been picking late in the first round for two decades now, so we’re used to reading scouting reports about talented players with obvious flaws, flaws that prevented them from going near the top of the draft. The biggest concern with Rutherford is that he had the audacity to be born in May and not July or August. That’s all.

Scouting reports are great, but it’s difficult to quantify words. Baseball is a numbers game. It’s tailor made for record keeping and statistical analysis. So, to help us understand exactly what kind of prospect Rutherford is, let’s turn to MLB.com’s scouting grades. They’ve been handing out scouting grades with their draft prospects list for a few years now, so we can compare Rutherford to other highly touted prep players.

A crash course: the grades are on the 20-80 scouting scale. A 20 is the worst possible grade. Alex Rodriguez has 20 speed. Carlos Beltran is a 20 defender. An 80 is the best possible grade. Aroldis Chapman has an 80 fastball. Andrew Miller has an 80 slider. A 50 is an average grade, so you can go three standard deviations up and three standard deviations down. MLB.com has grades for the five tools: hit for average, hit for power, running, throwing, and fielding.

There are two important things to understand about MLB.com’s 20-80 grades. One, they’re future grades. These are what the player projects to be, not what he is today. Two, they tend to be conservative. You won’t see many 70s or 80s at all, especially with high school kids. No one wrote up Mike Trout as 70 hit, 70 power, 70 run a few years back because they’d get laughed at, yet that’s what he’s become. A 50 prospect doesn’t sound sexy, but trust me, that’s really good.

Okay, so with all that in mind, let’s compare Rutherford’s scouting grades to the grades for other top left-handed hitting prep outfield prospects in recent years. We need to be specific here. There’s a big difference between being left-handed and right-handed, between being an outfielder and an infielder, and between high school and college. What’s the point of comparing Rutherford to, say, Kris Bryant, a right-handed hitting college third baseman? They couldn’t be any more different.

MLB.com has been listing scouting grades since 2013, and from 2013-15, a total of 15 lefty hitting high school outfielders ranked among their top 100 draft prospects. It’s not a huge sample, but it’s what we have to work with. Here’s are those 15 plus Rutherford and their scouting grades. The green cells are tools that received the same or a better grade than Rutherford:

Blake Rutherford comps

Right off the bat you see no lefty hitting prep outfielder matched all five of Rutherford’s tools from 2013-15. Only four of those 15 players matched Rutherford on four of the five tools: Austin Meadows and Ryan Boldt are short on power while Kyle Tucker and Mitch Hansen are short on run. Heck, Mickey Moniak, this year’s first overall pick and another lefty hitting high school outfielder, doesn’t match Rutherford’s five tools either. He’s short on power.

Compared to his peers over the last three drafts, Rutherford has a very unique skill set. There’s a reason only four left-handed hitting high school outfielders rated as at least 55 overall prospects from 2013-15. It’s hard to be good at baseball. Here’s a really quick look at what those four players have done in pro ball.

  • Trent Clark, Brewers: Career .284/.409/.418 (128 wRC+) hitter in 337 minor league plate appearances. He’s at Low-A and Baseball America ranked him the 49th best prospect in all the land coming into the season.
  • Alex Jackson, Mariners: Career .207/.304/.375 (98 wRC+) hitter in 531 minor league plate appearances. Jackson is still in Low-A. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 20 prospect in baseball prior to 2015. He wasn’t on their 2016 list.
  • Austin Meadows, Pirates: Career .305/.370/.476 (147 wRC+) hitter in 1,260 minor league plate appearances. He is currently in Double-A and is crazy good. Meadows has landed on three Baseball America top 100 lists, topping out at No. 22 before this season.
  • Kyle Tucker, Astros: Career .279/.337/.403 (113 wRC+) hitter in 515 minor league plate appearances. That includes a 133 wRC+in Low-A this season. Tucker was ranked the 61st best prospect in baseball by Baseball America before this season.

Meadows, Tucker, and Clark have developed into awesome top prospects since they were drafted. Jackson is fizzling out, though three out of four ain’t bad at all. We could probably blame the Mariners for what Jackson is doing anyway. Their top position player prospects never seem to work out. Point is, the left-handed hitting high school outfielders most similar to Rutherford have generally gone on to be very good prospects.

Now, does this mean Rutherford is destined to become a top 50 caliber prospect, or even a top 25 caliber prospect like Meadows? Of course not. Every player is their own person, and what Meadows or Jackson or anyone else has done has zero effect on Rutherford’s development. All we’re doing is looking for context. How many players have had similar skill sets in recent years? The answer is not many at all. Most of the few who have gone to be pretty good.

The Yankees still haven’t signed Rutherford but that’s not surprising. The draft happened not even a week ago. The signing deadline is July 15th this year and it’s not uncommon for high picks to wait until the very last moment to sign. James Kaprielian did it just last year. The Yankees have already saved a ton of pool money and you can bet they’re planning to shovel most (if not all) of it in front of Rutherford.

Should the Yankees sign Rutherford — I fully expect him to sign, but you can never be 100% sure — recent history suggests they’re adding a significant prospect to the system. The various draft class rankings indicate that, and when you look at his individual tools, you can see very few players are as well-rounded as Rutherford. Those who have been closest have gone on to grow into very promising young players.

Update: I’m a dolt. Alex Jackson is a right-handed hitter. Disregard him. My bad.

DotF: Charleston clinches first postseason berth since ’05

Some promotion news:

  • 3B Miguel Andujar has been promoted from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, reports Matt Kardos. That was very much expected. Andujar hit .283/.343/.474 (144 wRC+) in 58 games in his second stint with Tampa. Now comes the hard part: Double-A.
  • C Kyle Higashioka was sent from Triple-A Scranton to Double-A Trenton, so says Chad Jennings. Higashioka had a monster three weeks filling in for C Gary Sanchez, but, at the end of the day, Sanchez is the priority here, and he’s going to start behind the plate.
  • Old friend alert: OF Slade Heathcott has signed a minor league deal with the White Sox, the team announced. He was placed on their Triple-A DL. I thought Slade was going to end up with the Angels because they’re short on outfielders and Billy Eppler knows him. Alas.

Triple-A Scranton (7-5 win over Toledo)

  • LF Ben Gamel: 3-5, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 CS — 22-for-49 (.449) in his last 12 games
  • DH Nick Swisher: 0-4, 1 BB
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-3, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB — 16-for-39 (.410) in eleven games since the 0-for-24 slump
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB — first time behind the plate since the broken finger
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-5, 1 K
  • RHP Brady Lail: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 6/1 GB/FB — 48 of 75 pitches were strikes (64%)

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