Archive for Minors

Baseball America continued their look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league today with the short season NY-Penn League. The list is free but the scouting reports are not. Mets RHP Marcos Molina, Nationals RHP Reynaldo Lopez, and Mets SS Amed Rosario claim the top three spots. C Luis Torrens is the only Yankees farmhand on the list and he ranks fourth after playing 48 games with the Staten Island Yankees.

Torrens, 18, hit .270/.327/.405 (115 wRC+) with two homers in 48 games with SI. “He continued to stand out for his show-stopping arm,” said the scouting report, which lauds his other defense skills as well. “Offensively, Torrens has intriguing life in his bat and flashes some pull power … He recognizes spin out of the pitcher’s hand and does a good job staying back on breaking balls. He drives balls from gap to gap and handles velocity well … He is confident and poised beyond his years.”

The SI Yanks had the least amount of high-end talent among Yankees’ affiliates this year — RHP Ty Hensley didn’t throw enough innings to qualify for the list — and Torrens was far and away the best prospect on the team. The next relevant list is the Low-A South Atlantic League, which is a few days away. OF Aaron Judge and RHP Luis Severino are locks for that list. Other possibilities include 3B Miguel Andujar, SS Abi Avelino, SS Tyler Wade, LHP Ian Clarkin, and RHP Brady Lail.

Other League Top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League.

Categories : Asides, Minors
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Now that the 2014 regular season is over, the 2015 amateur draft order has been finalized. The Diamondbacks had baseball’s worst record at 64-98 and will pick first overall for the second time in team history. They selected Justin Upton with the top pick back in 2005. J.J. Cooper looked a possible first overall pick candidates earlier this month. There is no Upton/Stephen Strasburg/Bryce Harper-esque slam dunk prospect for next year’s draft, at least right now. Lots will change the next few months.

The Yankees finished the season with the 12th best record in baseball at 84-78 and will pick 19th overall next June. Here’s the full draft order. The Astros have a compensation pick (second overall) for failing to sign top pick LHP Brady Aiken this year, pushing everyone else back a slot. That’s why the Yankees are set to pick 19th instead of 18th. The last time the Yankees picked as high as 19th was 2005, when they took Oklahoma HS SS C.J. Henry with the 17th pick. The 19th pick came with a ~$2.1M draft pool value this year and the slots are expected to go up next year. It goes without saying the Yankees may forfeit this pick as free agent compensation.

Categories : Asides, Draft
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Via George King: Soon-to-be free agent Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas already has a $75M contract offer from an unknown team, though it is not the Yankees. King and Ben Badler said Tomas looked good during his showcase over the weekend and that hundreds of scouts showed up. The Phillies and Rangers have scheduled private workouts and Jesse Sanchez says more are expected to happen in the coming days and weeks.

Tomas, 23, has established residency in Haiti and been unblocked by the Office of Foreign Asset Control, but he still hasn’t been declared a free agent by MLB. That is expected to happen soon but he is unable to sign at this very moment. The Yankees’ level of interest in Tomas, a right-handed power hitting outfielder with some swing-and-miss concerns, is unknown at this point. They did invite recent Cuban free agents Aledmys Diaz and Rusney Castillo for private workouts, so I assume they will do the same with Tomas. If he is truly a middle of the order hitter with power, I think the Yankees should be all over him.

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Baseball America officially kicked off prospect season today by releasing their list of the top 20 prospects from the rookie Gulf Coast League. The list is free but the scouting reports are not. Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers, Marlins RHP Tyler Kolek, and Braves SS Ozhaino Albies claim the top three spots. The Yankees had two players make the list: SS Jorge Mateo at No. 4 and SS Angel Aguilar at No. 15. OF Leonardo Molina was the only other serious candidate to make it, but he didn’t have a great summer at all (58 wRC+).

Mateo, 19, hit .276/.354/.397 (119 wRC+) with 11 steals in 12 attempts in 15 games while missing time with wrist inflammation. “An explosive, premium athlete, Mateo is a top-of-the-scale runner … He has plus bat speed with average power potential and solid understanding of the strike zone, though he will swing through good breaking pitches. At shortstop he has good range and footwork, while his arm is another plus tool,” said the scouting report. GCL Yanks manager Patrick Osborne compared Mateo to Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson for his quick-twitch athleticism.

The 19-year-old Aguilar hit .331/.373/.536 (159 wRC+) with seven homers in 39 games around a groin injury this summer. The scouting report lauds his strength and bat speed, calling him “an intriguing profile as a shortstop who can hit for average and power.” The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the short season NY-Penn League, which probably won’t come out until late next week. The Staten Island Yankees weren’t exactly loaded with prospects this year but I think C Luis Torrens is a lock to make it. RHP Ty Hensley didn’t throw enough innings to qualify for the list.

Categories : Asides, Minors
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Via George King: The Yankees will be among the teams in attendance when soon-to-be free agent Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas works out for scouts in the Dominican Republic. The early front-runners to sign him are the Giants, Padres, Rangers, and Tigers, according to Peter GammonsJim Salisbury says the Phillies also have “legitimate interest.”

Tomas, 23, is billed as a right-handed power hitter with some swing-and-miss-ability and a strong right field-caliber throwing arm. Here’s some video. He has established residency in Haiti and has been unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, but he’s still waiting for MLB to declare him a free agent. That should happen soon. Given his age and their need for a big right-handed bat, I hope the Yankees make a real strong push to sign him. The fit is obvious.

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One thing is very clear with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season: the Yankees need to improve their offense this offseason. They tried to do it last winter by signing Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann to big free agent contracts (while simultaneously letting one of the best hitters in world leave) but it didn’t work. They’re on pace to score only 627 runs this year, 23 fewer than last year.

The Yankees are locked into players at catcher, first base, left field, center field, maybe third base, and either right field or DH already, so their options to fix the offense are limited. Martin Prado is going to play somewhere — I’d prefer second base until the inevitable Alex Rodriguez injury, but that’s just me — leaving shortstop and either right field or DH as the most obvious places to add an impact bat. There are slated to be plenty of free agent shortstops but not as many impact outfielders outside of Melky Cabrera and Nelson Cruz.

The free agent market is likely to add another potential impact outfield bat in the coming weeks, when MLB officially declares Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas a free agent. (It’s Yasmany, not Yasmani, apparently.) Jesse Sanchez and Ben Balder report that Tomas has already established residency in Haiti and has been unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, an important step needed to become a free agent. Badler says MLB should declare him a free to sign relatively soon.

Tomas, 23, defected back in June and he is scheduled to hold a showcase for scouts in the Dominican Republic this Saturday, according to Badler and Tomas. There’s no word on whether the Yankees (or any other team, for that matter) will be in attendance, but they’ve gone to see every other notable Cuban free agent at their workouts, so I expect them to be there just to do due diligence, at the very least. Here’s what we know about Tomas, first from Sanchez:

Tomas is known for his power and he has a reputation for launching long home runs, but he’s also prone to big swing and misses. He’s agile for his size, and he has a strong arm, but there is room for improvement on defense. As a result, he’s characterized as “high-risk, high-reward” type of player in some international scouting circles. He is said to be in much better physical shape and has worked on his approach at the plate since leaving the island.

And now from Badler:

At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Tomas is a righthanded hitter with plus-plus raw power, although with some swing-and-miss tendencies, and a strong arm that should fit in right field. A standout on Cuba’s 2013 World Baseball Classic team, Tomas hit .290/.346/.450 with six home runs, 21 walks and 46 strikeouts in 257 plate appearances this past season in Cuba’s Serie Nacional.

One scout told Nick Cafardo that Tomas will likely command upwards of $100M while Jay Alou, Tomas’ agent, told Jorge Ebro (translated article) he is shooting for a record deal this winter. The contracts for big name Cuban free agents are only getting bigger and bigger, going from Yoenis Cespedes ($36M) to Yasiel Puig ($42M) to Jose Abreu ($68M) to Rusney Castillo ($72M, the current record for an international position player), so I can totally buy the $100M number, especially since Tomas is several years younger than Abreu and Castillo. It doesn’t sound far-fetched.

The Yankees have an obvious need for a big right-handed power bat and they have room on the roster for right field-type heading into next season. They’ve begun showing more interest in Cuban players this year, reportedly spending much more time scouting Aledmys Diaz and Castillo than they did Cespedes and Puig, even inviting them down to Tampa for private workouts. They didn’t sign either guy but it wasn’t because they didn’t take the time to evaluate them. Like I said, I expect them to do the same with Tomas out of due diligence if nothing else.

The jury is still out on Castillo and Diaz (and Jorge Soler and Alex Guerrero), but Cespedes, Puig, and especially Abreu have all exceeded expectations so far. Alexei Ramirez, Leonys Martin, Jose Iglesias, and Adeiny Hechavarria have all been pretty much exactly what they were expected to be. Dayan Viciedo is the only notable disappointment among the current crop of Cuban big leaguers. We’re talking position players only here, not pitchers. This small sample of players suggests Cuban players have a pretty high success rate when it comes to being at least serviceable big leaguers.

Tomas at the 2013 WBC. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)

(Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)

Does that mean Tomas will work out? Of course not. His propensity to swing-and-miss is a concern, especially since the pitching in Cuba is pretty weak, but 70 power (which is what Badler said Tomas has back in June) is an unteachable skill. Unteachable like Cespedes’ and Abreu’s power or Puig’s freakish athleticism. It’s also a very rare and valuable skill in this era where the entire league seems to have forgotten how to hit. If you want to dream, maybe the big righty pop and swing-and-miss-ability means he’s Alfonso Soriano without the steals. That would be pretty great, actually. Soriano was awesome in his 20s.

I think one of the reasons the Yankees passed on Castillo was because he is an imperfect fit for the roster. (Whether that’s right or wrong is another matter.) He was billed as a leadoff hitter type with strong defense, and, well, the Yankees already have two of those guys in Brett Gardner and Ellsbury. A third isn’t necessary. Tomas profiles more as a middle of the order hitter and that’s something the Yankees desperately need. Add in the fact that he is only 23 (four years younger than Castillo), has a strong right field-caliber arm, and plays a position of need, and you’ve got a player who makes a lot more sense for New York going forward.

As always, information about these Cuban players is very limited. Everything I know about the guy is in this post. The number of teams that pursue Tomas when he becomes a free agent — Cespedes, Abreu, and Castillo (and Masahiro Tanaka, he was in a similar situation) all had multiple top dollar suitors while the Dodgers reportedly blew everyone out of the water for Puig — will tell us more about how teams view him than anything Baseball America publishes. Teams don’t go hard after nobodies. The Yankees went all-in on Tanaka because he was an ace in his mid-20s. If Tomas is a middle of the order hitter in his early-20s, then they need to go all-in on him as well.

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A few days ago we learned the Pulaski Yankees of the rookie Appalachian League will be joining the organization as the Yankees’ eighth domestic minor league affiliate starting next season. The club will serve as a stepping stone between the two rookie Gulf Coast League affiliates and Short Season Staten Island. Here are some more minor league notes with the Arizona Fall League still more than three weeks away.

  • According to George King, the Yankees have known about the impending retirement of VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman since February. He’s been with the team since 1988 and has been running for the running the farm system for the last 15 years now. King adds that special assistant Trey Hillman, who was tabbed as Newman’s likely replacement, may not be interested in the job. Hal Steinbrenner will conduct a “total evaluation” of the player development system after the season and it may result in a “complete overhaul.”
  • C Kyle Higashioka has been re-signed after becoming a six-year minor league free agent, according to Matt Eddy. Josh Norris adds Higashioka has been assigned to the Arizona Fall League as the team’s last position player. He missed most of these season following Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are sending several top prospects to the desert this year, including OF Aaron Judge, 3B Eric Jagielo, 1B Greg Bird, and OF Tyler Austin.
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder was named the second baseman for Baseball America’s Triple-A International League All-Star Team. No other Yankees’ farmhands made their classification All-Star Teams. SS Angel Aguilar, UTIL Bryan Cuevas, and OF Alex Palma all made the official GCL postseason All-Star Team.
  • Marc Hulet of FanGraphs reviewed the year the was in the team’s farm system. RHP Shane Greene and RHP Luis Severino understandably earned praise for their rises this season, albeit at very different levels.
  • And finally, Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs put together a super early look at the 2015 draft class. Lots of names and lots of information. Make sure you check it out. The Yankees are currently slated to have the 18th overall pick.
Categories : Minors
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(MiLB.com)

Once a Mariners affiliate, now a Yankees affiliate. (MiLB.com)

The Yankees have added another minor league affiliate to the organization. Yesterday afternoon the team announced the addition of the Pulaski Yankees, a rookie level affiliate in the Appalachian League. The franchise had been affiliated with the Mariners from 2008-14. The team will play in 2,500-seat Calfee Park in Pulaski, Virginia.

“We are excited to add an Appalachian League team to our affiliation. Obviously baseball is our business and in that business you try to find the best ways to develop your talents,” said Brian Cashman in the team’s statement. The Yankees and Pulaski still have not finalized the length of their player development contract but that is only a formality. They wouldn’t have announced the affiliation if they weren’t close to a deal.

The Appalachian League is a short season league — they begin play in late-June every summer — and although it is technically classified as a rookie league, the quality of competition is generally better than what you’ll find in the rookie level Gulf Coast League but not quite as good as the Short Season NY-Penn League. Consider it a stepping stone between the GCL Yanks and the Staten Island Yankees.

The press release called the Pulaski franchise the Yankees’ tenth minor league affiliate, indicating they will still continue to field two GCL squads in the future. Pulaski joins the organization’s four full season affiliates (Triple-A Scranton, Double-A Trenton, High-A Tampa, Low-A Charleston), one short season affiliate (SI Yanks), two rookie ball affiliates (GCL Yanks1 and 2), and two Dominican Summer League affiliates.

There is nothing but good that can come from adding another minor league club to the organization. Anything that allows prospects to get more playing time that early in their careers — the Appy League average age was approximately 19.5 this summer — is a positive. The Yankees went bonkers on the international market this summer and they’re going to need places to play all of those kids in the near future, and the new Pulaski affiliate will help accomplish that. Good news all around.

Categories : Minors
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Sep
04

2014 Minor League Awards

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Judge. (MiLB.com)

Judge. (MiLB.com)

After the nightmare that was 2013, the Yankees’ farm system rebounded to have a strong but not really great year in 2014. It was more of a normal season than anything. There were a few surprises, a few disappointments, a bunch of injuries, and several comebacks. Pretty typical year for a minor league system, and, for the Yankees, a typical year meant a huge step up from last season.

The team’s seven domestic minor league affiliates combined to go 387-373 (.509) this summer, so after having their consecutive winning season streak snapped at 30+ years last year, they got turned things around quickly. None of the four full season affiliates qualified for the postseason, however. Only the two Rookie GCL Yankees squads did. The system did not have at least one league champion for only the third time in the last eight years.

As a reminder, this annual awards post has nothing to do with prospect status. This is all about recognizing 2014′s notable performances in the farm system. Pure production with future outlook taking a backseat. These are also my awards and my opinions, so you’re welcome to disagree. There is no right answer with stuff like this. Here are my 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 awards posts. So, without further delay:

Minor League Player of the Year: 2B Rob Refsnyder
From start to finish, the best and most consistent player in the system this year was Refsnyder. The 23-year-old opened the year with Double-A Trenton, hit .342/.385/.548 (159 wRC+) with 19 doubles and six homers in 60 games, then was promoted up to Triple-A Scranton. Refsnyder hit .296/.386/.453 (135 wRC+) with 19 doubles and eight homers in 77 games with the RailRiders, giving him an overall .317/.385/.495 (~145 wRC+) batting line. The team’s fifth round pick in the 2012 draft led the farm system in batting average (min. 400 PA), doubles (38), and total bases (255) while placing second in hits (163). He also cut his error total from 25 in 108 games last season to 12 in 122 games this season. Refsnyder put himself on the map a year ago and this year he proved he was no fluke. He’s played his way into big league consideration just two years after being drafted and asked to change positions.

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Categories : Minors
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This is the final DotF of the year, folks. The 2014 minor league season is over for all six of the Yankees’ affiliates. The Arizona Fall League season starts on October 7th — the Yankees are sending several high-profile prospects to the desert this year — and the other winter leagues start, well, in the winter, but we’ll keep you updated along the way. Until then, DotF is on hiatus until the AzFL.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (2-1 win over Lehigh Valley, walk-off style) completion of yesterday’s game, which was suspended due to rain in the top of the eighth

  • 2B-SS Jose Pirela: 0-4, 1 K — hit .305/.351/.442 with 21 doubles, eleven triples, ten homers, 15 steals, 37 walks, and 73 strikeouts in 130 games
  • DH Chris Young: 0-3, 1 K — played yesterday, not today
  • PH-DH Scott Sizemore: 0-1, 1 K — played today, not yesterday
  • CF Zoilo Almonte: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • RF Ramon Flores: 0-4, 1 K
  • C John Ryan Murphy: 2-3, 1 2B – played yesterday, not today … finishes the season with a .246/.292/.397 batting line and nine doubles, six homers, 13 walks, and 42 strikeouts in 51 Triple-A games, a disappointing follow-up to last year’s breakout
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-1, 1 2B, 1 RBI — took Murphy’s spot in the lineup today and hit a walk-off double
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 5/2 GB/FB — 30 of 50 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 1/1 GB/FB – 26 of 44 pitches were strikes (59%) … back up from Trenton for the final weekend of the season … finishes the year with a 79/30 K/BB in 62 innings after a 66/42 K/BB in 66 innings last year
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 24 of 39 pitches for strikes (62%) … last year’s seventh rounder climbed four levels this year and posted a 2.67 ERA with a 83/18 K/BB in 60.2 innings
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — eleven of 18 pitches were strikes (61%) … last year’s tenth rounder climbed three levels this summer and had a 97/22 K/BB in 69.2 innings

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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