Archive for Minors

Baseball America’s look at the top prospects in each minor league continued on Wednesday with the Triple-A Intentional League, the last list relevant to the Yankees. The list is free, the scouting reports are not. Pirates OF Gregory Polanco, Red Sox IF/OF Mookie Betts, and Indians SS Francisco Lindor fill the top three spots. Triple-A Scranton didn’t have a ton of top prospects this year, though 2B Rob Refsnyder did made the list at No. 13.

“Refsnyder’s short, powerful stroke from the right side is polished, and when combined with a keen batting eye, he projects to hit for average and get on base at a high rate,” said the write-up while noting Refsnyder “lacks fluidity and must improve his double-play pivot skills.” One scout said he is “a work in progress, but the bottom line is he can hit.” The 23-year-old Refsnyder hit .300/.389/.456 (137 wRC+) with 19 doubles and eight homers in 77 games for the RailRiders after a midseason promotion from Double-A Trenton. I’m pretty confident we’ll see him at second base sometime next year.

Other League Top 20s: Double-A Eastern League, High-A Florida State League, Low-A South Atlantic League, Short Season NY-Penn League, Rookie Gulf Coast League.

Categories : Asides, Minors
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Refsnyder. (MiLB.com)

Refsnyder. (MiLB.com)

Baseball America continued their breakdown of the top 20 prospects in each minor league with the Double-A Eastern League today. As usual, the list is free but the scouting reports are subscriber only. Nationals OF Michael Taylor, Red Sox IF/OF Mookie Betts, and Indians SS Francisco Lindor claim the top three spots. C Gary Sanchez (No. 11) and 2B Rob Refsnyder (No. 13) represent the Yankees. RHP Luis Severino didn’t throw enough innings with Double-A Trenton to qualify for the list.

“On the field, Sanchez still draws raves for his bat, which shows the potential for both a high average and lots of power. He can get his hands in and turn on the inside pitch with power, but evaluators did note that he struggled with both breaking pitches and changeups this season,” said the scouting report, which also noted Sanchez has a top notch arm but still has a lot of work to do defensively. They also say his maturity continues to be an issue. Sanchez, 21, hit .270/.338/.406 (108 wRC+) with 13 homers in 110 games for Double-A Trenton this summer.

The 23-year-old Refsnyder hit .342/.385/.548 (159 wRC+) with 19 doubles and six homers in 60 games with the Thunder this year before being promoted to Triple-A Scranton. “Refsnyder drew raves from evaluators for his ability to hit line drives to all sectors and also for possessing premium bat speed. He’s got pop, but it’s more of the gap-to-gap, doubles variety than true home run power,” said the scouting report. It also says Refsnyder is “still crude technically” in the field but he has improved at second base.

The Eastern League list is probably the most impressive list I’ve seen so far. There was a ton of top talent in the league this summer. Severino didn’t qualify for the list and others like OF Tyler Austin, RHP Bryan Mitchell, and LHP Manny Banuelos simply didn’t make the cut. The last list relevant to the Yankees is the Triple-A International League, which is due out tomorrow or the next day. The RailRiders were devoid of prospects for most of the summer. Refsnyder should make the list but others like RHP Shane Greene and C John Ryan Murphy will probably fall short.

Other League Top 20s: High-A Florida State League, Low-A South Atlantic League, Short Season NY-Penn League, Rookie Gulf Coast League.

Categories : Minors
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The video above, courtesy of Kiley McDaniel, is SS Jorge Mateo running down the line a few times in Instructional League. McDaniel says he clocked him at 4.0 seconds down the line from the right side of the plate, which is basically 80 speed. Kid’s fast.

In other video news, Josh Norris posted some Arizona Fall League footage the other day. It’s not embeddable, but just click the link to watch. It includes clips of both OF Tyler Austin (2:17 to 2:36) and 1B Greg Bird (2:36 to 3:27). The video is from the first game of the AzFL season, when Bird hit two doubles and a homer. Austin singled twice. Check it out.

AzFL Scottsdale Scorpions (6-3 loss to Salt River) Wednesday’s game

  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 15 of 28 pitches were strikes (54%) … looks like he replaced RHP Branden Pinder on the roster for whatever reason … Norris says Haynes sat 93-95 mph with a hard slider and changeup both in the mid-80s … he’s the guy they got from the PirateS for Chris Stewart last winter
  • RHP Caleb Cotham: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 2/0 GB/FB — 17 of 29 pitches were strikes (59%) … both hits were solo homers
  • RHP Alex Smith: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 1/0 GB/FB — 16 of 32 pitches were strikes (50%) … he plunked ex-battery mate Peter O’Brien

AzFL Scottsdale Scorpions (11-2 loss to Peoria) Thursday’s game

  • 1B Greg Bird: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 3B Dante Bichette Jr.: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 E (fielding) — replaced 3B Eric Jagielo on the roster after Jagielo had his face broken by an errant pitch in Instructional League a few weeks back

AzFL Scottsdale Scorpions (6-5 win over Glendale) Friday’s game

  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K
  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — got picked off first … 7-for-16 (.438) with three doubles in a dinger in his first three games out in the desert
  • DH Dante Bichette Jr.: 1-4, 1 K — got picked off second … Judge, Bird, and DBJ hit 3-4-5 in the lineup
  • RHP Alex Smith: 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 18 of 29 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — nine pitches, six strikes

AzFL Scottsdale Scorpions (7-6 win over Surprise in ten innings) Saturday’s game

  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-5, 1 R, 2 K
  • 3B Dante Bichette Jr.: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 CS — 2-for-11 (.182) in the early going
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 BB
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 3-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
  • RHO Caleb Cotham: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 18 of 28 pitches were strikes (64%)

The Dominican Winter League season begins next Friday. The rosters have not yet been released but don’t worry, there will be more than a few Yankees’ farmhands playing here this winter.

The Mexican Pacific League just started Friday and no one’s gotten into a game yet. RHP Luis Niebla, RHP Gio Gallegos, and OF Jose Figueroa are all listed on rosters.

The Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico) doesn’t begin play until October 30th. No rosters yet.

Venezuelan Winter League

  • C Francisco Arcia: 3 G, 3-11, 1 R, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 3 K (.273/.273/.455)
  • UTIL Ali Castillo: 3 G, 2-9, 1 R, 2 K, 1 CS (.222/.222/.222)
  • OF Ramon Flores: 2 G, 2-6, 2 R, 1 K (.333/.333/.333)
  • UTIL Adonis Garcia: 3 G, 3-12, 2 R (.250/.250/.250)
  • C Jose Gil: 1 G, 0-2, 1 BB, 1 K (.000/.333/.000)
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 2 G, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HB (0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP)

The VWL season just started Thursday, so obviously there hasn’t been much action. In addition to the six guys who have already appeared in games, OF Ericson Leonora, RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Wilking Rodriguez, SS Angel Aguilar, and C Frankie Cervelli are all listed on rosters. Remember, just because a player is listed on a roster, it doesn’t mean he will play. That just means the team controls his winter ball rights.

Categories : Down on the Farm
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Via Nick Cafardo: Hiroshima Carp right-hander Kenta Maeda told the media in Japan he would prefer to play for either the Yankees or the Red Sox next season. He is expected to be posted this offseason and early speculation has him in line for a five or six-year contract in the $100-120M neighborhood. The 26-year-old had a 2.56 ERA with a 154 strikeouts in 179 innings this season. Here are his career stats.

Ben Badler (subs. req’d) recently gave a scouting report on Maeda, saying he “doesn’t have overpowering stuff of a frontline starter like we’ve seen from fellow Japanese righthanders Masahiro Tanaka or Yu Darvish, (but his) ability to command his fastball and mix his pitches allows him to keep hitters off-balance.” Badler said Maeda sits anywhere from 87-94 with his fastball and his go-to pitch in a low-80s slider. He also throws a mid-80s changeup, an upper-80s cutter, and a slow low-70s curveball. Here’s video. The Yankees need pitching and I’ll sure they’ll kick the tires on Maeda, but I think they’d go after a known commodity like Jon Lester or James Shields if the price is $20M+ per year.

(Martin Griff/The Times of Trenton)

(Martin Griff/The Times of Trenton)

Jacob Lindgren | LHP

Background
Lindgren, who will turn 22 in March, is from Bay St. Louis in Mississippi, which is about 50 miles outside New Orleans. He played both football and baseball at St. Stanislaus High School and won state championships in both sports. Lindgren had a 1.26 ERA with 197 strikeouts in 107.1 innings as a junior and senior while earning All-State honors. The Cubs selected him in the 12th round of the 2011 draft, but he did not sign and instead followed through on his commitment to Mississippi State.

As a freshman with the Bulldogs, Lindgren was a middle reliever who eventually worked his way into the rotation and made two starts late in the year. He finished the season with a 3.18 ERA and a 24/7 K/BB in 28.1 innings across 14 appearances, including the two starts. Lindgren was named to the Conference Freshman Academic Honor Roll and played summer ball with the East Texas Pump Jacks of the Texas Collegiate League.

The late season audition didn’t just earn Lindgren a rotation spot as a sophomore, he started on Opening Day and was the team’s Friday night starter for much of the year. Lindgren had a 4.18 ERA in 56 innings spread across 14 starts, striking out 65 and walking 18. He was again named to the Conference Academic Honor Roll. After the season, Lindgren pitched for the Bourne Braves of the Cape Code, posting a 4.15 ERA with six strikeouts and one walk in 4.2 relief innings.

Lindgren moved back into the bullpen full-time his junior year once it was decided the whole starting thing wasn’t going to work out. He quickly emerged as one of the top relievers in the country, pitching to a 0.81 ERA with 100 strikeouts and 25 walks in 55.1 innings. He was used as a multi-inning high-leverage reliever rather, not as the closer. Lindgren was a candidate for both the Stopper of the Year Award (top reliever) and Gregg Olson Award (breakout player) in addition to being named to the Conference Academic Honor Roll a third time.

Prior to the 2014 draft, Baseball America and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked Lindgren as the 50th and 67th best prospect in the draft class, respectively. Baseball America had him as the second best prospect in the state of Mississippi. The Yankees selected Lindgren in the second round (55th overall) of this June’s draft, which was their top pick. He signed within about a week of the draft for the full slot $1,018,700 bonus.

Pro Debut
Lindgren made his pro debut two weeks after signing and it was nothing more than a tune-up appearance with the rookie Gulf Coast League Yankees. He struck out two in a scoreless inning. The Yankees bumped Lindgren up to Low-A Charleston (5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K), then to High-A Tampa (7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 17 K), then to Double-A Trenton (11.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 9 BB, 18 K). All told, Lindgren struck out 48 batters and walked 13 in 25 pro innings after signing (2.16 ERA).

Scouting Report
Listed at 5-foot-11 and anywhere from 180-205 lbs., Lindgren is a short little lefty who regularly sits in the 92-95 mph range his fastball, which runs back inside on lefties. His moneymaker is a vicious low-to-mid-80s slider with hard and late break that chews up righties and lefties alike. Lindgren turns his back to hitters during his delivery and the deception helps his fastball-slider combo play up. Here’s some video:

Lindgren does not have a changeup nor will he need one going forward because he’s a full-time reliever — both Brian Cashman and amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer confirmed he will remain in the bullpen going forward. His fastball sits in the upper-80s as a starter and his command is just okay overall, so there isn’t enough upside to make it worth trying him in the rotation. Lindgren played against top competition in the SEC throughout his college career and his makeup is said to be well-suited for a late-inning role.

2015 Outlook
The Yankees will invite Lindgren to big league Spring Training next year and the expectation is that he will be given every opportunity to win a bullpen job. If he doesn’t, he’ll go to Triple-A Scranton and bide his time. The Yankees didn’t draft Lindgren with their top pick — even if it was in the second round — to coddle him in the minors for several years. They aggressively moved him up the ladder this summer and he’ll make his MLB debut at some point next season, likely sooner rather than later. If he doesn’t, then something went very wrong.

My Take
I don’t love the idea of taking a reliever with your top pick, though the Yankees did not have a first rounder and these days the talent comes off the board fairly linearly. The best players go first. Their options with the 55th overall selection were some raw high schoolers — the kind of players they haven’t had much success developing lately — or a near-MLB-ready reliever. They opted for a reliever and Lindgren will help him in some capacity this season. I like that Lindgren has an elite put-away pitch in his slider and that he isn’t just a specialist; he’s an Andrew Miller-esque southpaw who will be able to pitch full innings against both lefties and righties. It’ll be nice to see a top draft pick pay some immediate dividends after these last few years.

Categories : Prospect Profiles
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Via George King: The Yankees do not appear to have serious interest in free agent Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who is expected to receive a nine-figure contract. “He is a good player, but for $100M? I don’t know. He is better than [Rusney Castillo], but that doesn’t mean he is worth $100M,” said one evaluator to King.

Tomas, who turns 24 next month, worked out for scouts two weeks ago and King says the Yankees attended the showcase. He’s been traveling around for private workouts these last two weeks though it’s unclear if the Yankees invited him to Tampa for one. I’ve been saying this the whole time: if Tomas truly looks to be a middle of the order right-handed hitter with power, the Yankees should be all over him. Guys with that skillset at age (almost) 24 don’t come around all that often.

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According to Matt Eddy, the Yankees have re-signed RHP Diego Moreno and C Francisco Arcia. They both became six-year minor league free agents after the season. Also, LHP Josh Outman elected free agency rather than accept his outright assignment. He was designated for assignment last month when the Yankees claimed Eury Perez off waivers.

AzFL Scottsdale Scorpions (7-4 win over Salt River) Tuesday was Opening Night in the Arizona Fall League

  • DH Greg Bird: 3-5, 3 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — this is a big time hitter’s league, he should put up some nice numbers here
  • RF Tyler Austin: 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB
  • C Peter O’Brien: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — no, he’s no longer a Yankees farmhand, but he played for Salt River tonight so I included him for old time’s sake

The Yankees also sent OF Aaron Judge, 3B Dante Bichette Jr., C Kyle Higashioka, RHP Caleb Cotham, RHP Branden Pinder, and RHP Alex Smith to the AzFL, though they didn’t play tonight. Bichette replaced 3B Eric Jagielo, who had his face broken by a pitch in Instructional League a week ago.

Categories : Down on the Farm
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Baseball America published their list of the top 20 prospects in the Florida State League today as they continue looking at the best players in each minor league in 2014. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. Pirates RHP Tyler Glasnow, Phillies SS J.P. Crawford, and Blue Jays LHP Daniel Norris make up the top three. OF Aaron Judge ranked 15th and is the only Yankees’ farmhand on the list. RHP Luis Severino didn’t throw enough innings with High-A Tampa to qualify.

Judge, 22, hit .283/.411/.442 (149 wRC+) with eight homers in 66 games for Tampa this summer after a midseason promotion from Low-A Charleston. “He has prodigious tools to go with his jumbo frame, yet the separating factor in his success may be his short swing for a man his size … Judge works with a swing geared for the gaps, so his huge raw power may not necessarily translate into future 30-homer seasons … He fits the right-field profile, running well enough for the spot and flashing double-plus arm strength, with improved arm accuracy,” said the scouting report.

The write-up also notes 3B Eric Jagielo had support from league personnel but fell short off the top 20. Others like OF Jake Cave and 1B Greg Bird are good prospects but not top 20 in the entire league material. The Double-A Eastern League is next up, and C Gary Sanchez should make the list while 2B Rob Refsnyder is a good bet as well. Other possibilities include OF Tyler Austin, RHP Bryan Mitchell, and LHP Manny Banuelos. Severino didn’t throw enough innings with Double-A Trenton to qualify.

Other League Top 20s: Low-A South Atlantic League, Short Season NY-Penn League, Rookie Gulf Coast League.

Categories : Asides, Minors
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In case you missed it, 3B Eric Jagielo will miss the Arizona Fall League after taking a fastball to the face in Instructional League over the weekend. He will be out 4-6 weeks after having surgery. Jim Callis confirmed Jagielo suffered slight fracture in his zygomatic arch near his left eye. “He should be fine. His vision is A-OK and we don’t anticipate any lingering issues. He’ll be back for Spring Training,” said director of player personnel John Kremer to Callis. Scary. Here are some more minor league notes.

  • 3B Dante Bichette Jr. has replaced Jagielo on the Scottsdale Scorpions roster in the AzFL, according to Chad Jennings. Bichette rebuilt his prospect value some this year by hitting .264/.345/.397 (~113 wRC+) with nine homers between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this year. The AzFL is a great place to hit, so Bichette could put up some nice numbers there.
  • RHP Jose Campos is currently throwing from 90 feet as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery, VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed to Josh Norris. That puts him right on schedule with the usual rehab timetable. It’ll be interesting to see what the Yankees do with Campos once healthy. Bullpen time after two serious elbow injuries in three years?
  • C Luis Torrens was recently named the fourth best prospect in the short season NY-Penn League. In the chat, Aaron Fitt (subs. req’d) said RHP Ty Hensley was “up to 96 at Staten Island, pitched at 90-93, and showed a plus curveball. When he had his fastball command, he looked very good, from what I heard.” Hensley, who was coming off surgery on both hips and a hernia this year, didn’t throw enough innings to qualify for the top 20 list.
  • Jagielo was named one of the most disappointing prospects of the season by Baseball Prospectus (subs. req’d). “He has a gaping hole on the outer half of the plate … His plate coverage was quite poor and will be exposed at higher levels unless he makes a major adjustment,” said the write-up. “Because of his size and strength, he’s still going to run into his share of home runs and should hit for moderate power …. Jagielo profiles as a second-division regular at best.”
  • The Yankees have re-signed RHP Joel De La Cruz and RHP Wilking Rodriguez, according to Matt Eddy. De La Cruz, 25, had a 4.44 ERA (4.09 FIP) in 121.2 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year. He’s the guy Brian Cashman tried to send to the Cubs for Alfonso Soriano instead of Corey Black. The Yankees signed the 24-year-old Rodriguez a few weeks ago, released him a few days later, and now have brought him back.
  • Also according to Eddy, the Yankees have also signed RHP Yoel Espinal. The 21-year-old has not pitched since 2012 due to injury and was released by the Tigers in May. He had a 6.89 ERA (6.18 FIP) with nearly as many walks (24) as strikeouts (26) in the rookie Gulf Coast League back in 2012. Doesn’t sound like much, but every so often someone like this turns into Jose Quintana.
  • J.J. Cooper compiled a verified list of pitching prospects who have hit 100+ mph in the minor leagues this year. The only Yankees’ farmhand listed is 20-year-old RHP Domingo Acevedo. The 6-foot-7, 242-pounder had a 4.11 ERA (2.42 FIP) in 15.1 rookie ball innings this year. I wrote him up as a prospect to watch back in February.

And finally, in honor of his final season, Baseball America re-published their story naming Derek Jeter their 1994 Minor League Player of the Year. It’s free, you don’t need a subscription. “He’s a level-headed kid who would be able to handle the bad with the good. Being under the microscope in New York, I think with his makeup he would be able to handle that. He seems unflappable as far as what surrounds him,” said then Double-A Albany manager Bill Evers. Yup.

Categories : Minors
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Severino at the 2014 Futures Game. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Severino at the 2014 Futures Game. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Baseball America continuing breaking down the top 20 prospects in each minor league today with the Low-A South Atlantic League. The list is free but the scouting reports are not. Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito, Phillies SS J.P. Crawford, and Nationals RHP Reynaldo Lopez claim the top three spots. Three Yankees’ prospects made the list: RHP Luis Severino (No. 4), OF Aaron Judge (No. 8), and LHP Ian Clarkin (No. 15).

“In Severino’s case, he throws a 95-97 mph fastball that he locates to both sides of the plate with excellent life. His changeup is not always consistent, but it was average at least most of the time. His slider varied between well below-average to average depending on the outing,” said the scouting report, which also notes Severino is very quick to the plate and “nearly impossible” to run on. He is clearly the top pitching prospect in the organization after posting a 2.46 ERA (2.40 FIP) in 113.1 innings at three levels this summer.

The write-up notes Judge is a complete hitter more than a brute masher, and he is viewed as a “capable defensive right fielder with a strong arm.” Clarkin “doesn’t necessarily have an above-average pitch, but he throws a solid-average three-pitch mix consisting of a fastball, curveball and changeup,” according to scouting report, which also called Clarkin one of the “safer bets” among league pitching prospects. “He already shows a feel for keeping hitters off-balance by pitching backwards at times.”

You could make the case Severino, Judge, and Clarkin are three of the organization’s top four prospects right now, along with C Gary Sanchez. The Yankees have Severino on the fast track and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him in the big leagues in 2015. The next list of interest to Yankees’ fans is the High-A Florida State League, which will be released next week. Judge is a lock for that list and 3B Eric Jagielo, 1B Greg Bird, and OF Jake Cave are good bets to appear as well. Severino didn’t throw enough innings with High-A Tampa to qualify.

Other League Top 20s: Short Season NY-Penn League, Rookie Gulf Coast League.

Categories : Minors
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