So much for that super-utility guy idea

If you don’t already know, Alberto Gonzalez – one of the guys picked up in the Big Unit deal – is basically the shortstop version of Marcos Vechionacci, meaning he’s frickin’ awesome with the glove. Since he plays a position occupied by someone whose name I forget at the big league level, there’s been thought of using Gonzalez as a utility guy.

Well, Gonzalez make an error in today’s game that ultimately cost the Yanks the win. Why is this signifcant? Because he was playing third at the time. This is Gonzalez’s second error of the spring, with the other error coming as he manned second. Granted this falls into the “small sample size” category, but still, he doesn’t seem as comfortable at non-natural positions.

He’s got some serious value as a trade chip, too bad Yankee fans most likely won’t ever get to see him pull a Rey Ordonez (with the glove, not the bat) impression in the Bronx.

Live Phil Hughes blog

Hughes is on the mound right now facing the Indians, here’s how it’s going:

First Batter: David Delluci walked

Second Batter: Ryan Garko struck out

Third Batter: Shin-Soo Choo GIDP’ed. Inning over.

Update: My bad, Dellucci was picked off first…

And we pick it up in the 5th (tied 2-2, Kevin Reese with a 2-run job):

First Batter: Hector Luna slapped a single

Second Batter: Mike Rouse GIDP’ed (no mistake this time)

Third Batter: Grady Sizemore good morning, good afternoon, good ni…ground out

Days likely over for Phil, who dropped his spring ERA from 8.18 to 2.70. His line: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4-0 GB/FB ratio.

Minor League Q & A

I enlisted two of my fellow Yankee prospect bloggers to help me out on this one, and I’m sure you’re familiar with both of them: Fabian of RLYW fame, and EJ from Pinstripe Potentials, who will eventually take over that other blog I was at. I wanted to do something interesting and different, but keep it simple, so I just asked them some questions about the Yanks farm system, they answered, and I posted. Done and done.

I’ve been sitting on this for nearly a month now, but between the move to RAB and the heavy work load at the ol’ 9-to-5, there just wasn’t time to put this together. Both EJ’s and Fabian’s responses are nearly a month old, which is entirely my fault, so if something sounds outdated to you, blame it on me. Enjoy.

1) We all know Phil Hughes is a stud, the best Yankee prospect since…blah blah blah. What do you realistically expect from the kid in 2007? How do you think the media will react if he struggles in his first couple big league outings, just like he has every other time he’s moved up a level?

[Read more…]

Top 100 List

BA released their Top 100 prospects list, with 5 Yankee prospects making the cut:

#4 Phil Hughes (behind Dice-K, Alex Gordon and Delmon Young, just ahead of Homer Bailey)

As good as Chien-Ming Wang has been, this homegrown ace will be even better
Opening Day Age: 20. ETA: 2007

#27 Jose Tabata

Friendly rivalry with Martinez began last season in low Class A and will pick up soon in New York.
Opening Day Age: 18. ETA: 2009

#57 Humberto Sanchez

Key piece to Gary Sheffield trade could help New York as a starter or a reliever this year
Opening Day Age: 24. ETA: 2007

#75 Joba Chamberlain

Highest-drafted Native American ever could be a steal with the 41st overall pick last June
Opening Day Age: 21. ETA: 2008

#100 Dellin Betances

He’s raw, but he also has good stuff and plenty of projection remaining.
Opening Day Age: 19. ETA: 2010

Not a bad job with yesterday’s guesswork I’d say… 

My guesses at the Top 100

Baseball America will be releasing their annual Top 100 Prospects list tomorrow, so I thought I’d have a little fun and try to predict what Yankee farmhands will make the list. You can find BA’s top 10 Yankee prospects (pre-Sheff and Unit deals, and pre-Garcia and Melancon injuries) here.

Phil Hughes – he’s the shit, and lock for the top 10, nevermind the list. I’ll guess number 5, with Dice-K, Alex Gordon, Delmon Young and Brandon Wood ahead of him, and Homer Bailey breathing down his neck. He won’t be eligible for the list next year.

Jose Tabata – also the shit, albeit a not as advanced version. Before the nagging hand injury, I’d have guessed he’d be in the 15-20 range, but now I’m thinking 25-30. Amongst outfielders, he’ll be behind (in no particular order) the Youngs (Delmon and Chris), Jay Bruce, Andrew McCutchen (the best prospect no one is talking about, the kid had a .853 OPS at AA as a 19-yr old last year for chrissakes), Cameron Maybin, Justin Upton and probably Fernando Martinez.

Humberto Sanchez – the lack of durability is a concern, but he’s got an electric arm. He needs to lose some weight and tighten up his mechanics if he wants to stick in the rotation, but he could be a poor man’s Joel Zumaya (as in he’ll only hit 97-98 instead of 100-101 with each pitch) out of the pen. I see him slotting into the 50-55 range, littered amongst the Chuck Lofrgens and Jacob McGees of the world.

Dellin Betances – I think he’ll sneak onto the list, somewhere in the 95-100 range. You may laugh now, but look for a 80-85 spot jump for Betances in the 2008 list. Amongst ’06 prep pitcher draftees, I see only Betances, Kasey Kiker and Clayton Kershaw making the list. Sorry Kyle Drabek, but you’re too much of a brat.

Joba Chamberlain – He’s on the fringe, and if he made it it would be as number 99 or 100. It’s ok, he could the Yanks secret weapon.

Ian Kennedy, Tyler Clippard and JB Cox are the longshots, putting it nicely.

There’s alot of truly great minor leaguers out there nowadays; the generation that followed the Yankee Dynasty and Summer of ’98 as pre-teens are all starting to graduate high school or head into their junior years of college. Just for fun, here’s my list of the top 10 prospects in baseball (not counting that Japanese guy):

  1. Alex Gordon
  2. Delmon Young
  3. Phil Hughes – jumps a spot because the next guy changed positions
  4. Brandon Wood
  5. Homer Bailey
  6. Tim Lincecum – there’s no better potential 1-2 combo in the game right now than Cain-Lincecum. He’s filthy.
  7. Cameron Maybin
  8. Jay Bruce
  9. Andrew McCutchen
  10. Yovani Gallardo – every bit as good as Hughes and Bailey in 2006, but no one really noticed

Holy Hilligoss Batman!

From the Journal Gazette-Times Courier:

Before Central Illinois snow could melt, Mitch Hilligoss headed to work in a much better climate.

The pride of Windsor is still to learn whether he is going to spend his summer with the New York Yankees lower Class A team in Charleston, S.C., or higher A team in Tampa, Fla.

“Other things could happen but most likely those are the choices,” Hilligoss said. “Both would be nice places to be around.

“I have no idea really. We don’t know what to expect. We all went out to eat and talked about it. We don’t really know. (The Yankees) probably have a good idea. As far as me knowing, they don’t tell you that information.”

A year ago at this time he was at Purdue starting his junior season on the way to his second year as an All-American and All-Big Ten Conference star.

Now, after taking a full load of classes in the fall semester continuing toward graduation, Hilligoss is just a ballplayer.

Until arriving at the Yankees’ spring training site in Florida this week before games begin March 3, he has been a player on his own in Illinois winter.

“I tried to get some running in, get the legs in shape,” Hilligoss said. “I tried to get some swings in. With the weather it is tough. I worked out with the weights at the civic center in Sullivan. People at Windsor High School were nice enough to let me in and use the batting cage. The body feels pretty good right now.”

“It’s a different ballgame,” Hilligoss said of using the wooden bat. “You’ve got to perfect your swing. I don’t know if you hit the ball harder or not. It’s just different.”

Defensively, Hilligoss is glad opposing batters don’t use aluminum anymore. After playing shortstop at Purdue, he moved to the third base hot corner in pro ball and expects to stay at that position this year.

“Third base wasn’t as bad as I thought,” he said. “The wood bat helps.”

Well, I can answer the “will it be Low-A Charleston or High-A Tampa for Hilligoss” question for you, and it’ll be Low-A Charleston. Why you ask? It’s simple, some guy named Vechionacci will be manning the hot corner in Tampa. Groundbreaking analysis, I know.

Hilligoss had the Troy Tulowitzki split working in ’06, batting .394 vs LHP but only .260 vs RHP. Of course, Tulowitzki is a right-handed batter while Hilligoss bats from the left side, which makes his split a whole lot more interesting. I’m curious to see if he keeps that up.

Via TPA.