Archive for Prospect Profiles

Jan
18

Prospect Profile: Branden Pinder

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(Photo via Robert Pimpsner)

Branden Pinder | RHP

Background
A Southern California kid born in Torrance and raised on Corona, Pinder lettered in baseball all four years at Centennial High School. He earned All-Division honors his final two years in school, was named league Pitcher of the Year as a junior, and helped the Huskies to the league title as a senior. Despite all that, Pinder wasn’t much of a pro prospect and he went undrafted after graduating in 2007. Oregon tried to woo him to their re-instated program, but he instead opted to attend Santa Ana College.

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(Jamie Scott Lytle/The North County Times)

Daniel Camarena | LHP

Background
A Southern California kid from just south of San Diego in Bonita, Camarena grew up a fan of the Yankees and Andy Pettitte. He starred both on the mound and in the outfield for Cathedral Catholic High School, pitching the Dons to the California Interscholastic Federation title this spring. Camarena struck out 76 and walked just six in 49 IP as a senior, and four of those walks came in one outing. He took home a ton of hardware in high school, including Rawlings First Team All-American and California All-Region in 2011. He was also named First Team All-CIF and an AFLAC All-American in 2010.

Camarena was strongly committed to The University of San Diego, where he would have both pitched and played the field. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked him as the 15th best prospect in SoCal and 138th best prospect overall prior to the draft, but the USD commitment caused him to slide to the Yankees in the 20th round, the 629th overall pick. He agreed to an above-slot $335k bonus about a week before the signing deadline, but did not appear in a game after signing.

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(Photo via The Orlando Sentinel)

Dante Bichette Jr. | 3B

Background
The son of former big leaguer Dante Bichette Sr., Dante Jr. first popped up on the radar in 2005, when he helped his Maitland, Florida team to the Little League World Series. He went on to star at Orangewood Christian High School just outside of Orlando, twice being named the All-Central Florida Baseball Player of the Year. He also led the Rams to the state tournament his junior and senior years.

Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Bichette as 15th best prospect in Florida and 108th best prospect overall heading into the 2011 draft, so it was somewhat surprising when the Yankees drafted him with their first selection, the 51st overall pick. They’d received that pick as compensation for the loss of Javy Vazquez to the Marlins. Bichette signed quickly for a $750k, passing on his commitment to Georgia for roughly $55k over slot.

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(Photo Credit: www.longwoodlancers.com)

Mark Montgomery | RHP

Background
A standout player at Bruton High School in Williamsburg, Virginia, Montgomery set a school record by striking out 107 batters in 60 IP as a senior. He was named to the All-District Team his final three years with the Panthers, and was also named to the All-State and All-Region Teams as a senior. Team MVP and Player of the Year honors from the Virginia Gazette and All-Daily Press followed his final year. He also ran track. Montgomery wasn’t much of a pro prospect at the time though, so he went undrafted in 2009 and headed to Longwood University.

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Nov
09

Prospect Profile: George Kontos

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(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

George Kontos | RHP

Background
A Chicago-area kid from Lincolnwood, Illinois, Kontos was a three-sport star at Niles West High School. He played varsity baseball and golf for three years, and also lettered in basketball. Kontos pitched to a 1.02 ERA and hit .480 as a senior, earning him Central Suburban Player of the Year, Team MVP, and First-Team Illinois Coaches Association honors. He was also named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state. Despite his success, Kontos was not considered much of a pro prospect at the time, so he went undrafted out of high school in 2003 and followed through on his commitment to Northwestern.

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Oct
26

Prospect Profile: Tyler Austin

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(Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

Tyler Austin | 1B, 3B

Background
A Georgia kid, Christopher Tyler Austin attended Heritage High School in Conyers, about a half-hour outside Atlanta. He was a fixture at showcase events and in various travel leagues, and was a high-end recruit for Kennesaw State. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked him as the 24th best prospect in the state prior to the 2010 draft, but noted that he could come off the board as early as the fourth round. The Yankees were patient and able to nab Austin with their 13th round pick, the 415th overall selection. He signed for $130k close to the signing deadline, over-slot but actually a bit of a bargain.

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Feb
02

Prospect Profile: Dan Brewer

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(Photo Credit: Flickr user paul.hadsall)

Dan Brewer | OF

Background
Raised just outside of Chicago in Brookfield, Illinois, Brewer comes from an athletic family and has three siblings that played sports at the collegiate level. He starred in three sports at Lyons Township High School, playing both baseball and football all four years while wrestling for the first three. Named to the All-Conference First Team three times and twice receiving All-State honors (once First Team, once honorable mention), Brewer helped the Lions to IHSA Class AA State Championship as a sophomore, and hit .460 with 13 homers and 57 runs driven in as a senior.

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Jan
19

Prospect Profile: Rob Segedin

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(Photo Credit: Tulane University)

Rob Segedin | 3B

Background
A semi-local kid, Segedin grew up a Yankees fan in Old Tappan, New Jersey. He attended Northern Valley Regional High School, where he lettered in baseball all four years. Segedin helped the Golden Knights to the county championship as a freshman, and the state sectional title as a junior while placing as the runner up as a sophomore and senior. As you can imagine, he racked up plenty of hardware, so let’s recap…

  • Owns the New Jersey state record with 181 career hits
  • All-League honors all four years
  • New Jersey Hitter of the Year as a junior and senior
  • First Team All-State as a junior and senior
  • First Team All-County as a junior and senior
  • Second Team All-County as a sophomore
  • Member of the National Honor Society

Segedin also played for the Bayside Yankees, a prestigious travel team whose alumni includes Jon Lester, Rocco Baldelli, Steve Karsay, Nick Hundley, John Lannan, and Pedro Alvarez. He helped them to the Premier National Baseball championship in 2006 and 2007, winning team MVP honors in ’06. Because that’s not enough, Segedin also served as his class vice president and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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Jan
05

Prospect Profile: Hector Noesi

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(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Hector Noesi | RHP

Background
The Yankees signed Noesi out of his hometown of Esperanza in the Dominican Republic when he was a 17-year-old way back in 2004. He was signed by then scout and the team’s current supervisor of Dominican scouting Victor Mata, who has also signed players like Gary Sanchez, Ivan Nova, Jose Ramirez, Eduardo Nunez, and the Melkys (Cabrera and Mesa) through the years. I can’t find any info on Noesi’s signing bonus, so we’re out of luck there.

Pro Career
Noesi didn’t start his professional career in the United States until the 2006 season, when he threw just seven impressive innings (11 K, 1 BB, 0.49 FIP) with the team’s rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliate. A 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program delayed the start of his 2007, but once he served his time he was assigned to Low-A Charleston. Noesi made five starts with the River Dogs (20 IP, 4.60 FIP) before going down with an elbow injury. He had Tommy John surgery soon thereafter, which kept him out until the second half of the 2008 season. Noesi threw 48.2 (essentially rehab) innings with the GCL team and the short season Staten Island Yankees after coming back from surgery, posting a 3.55 FIP.

Four full years after originally signing, Noesi was finally healthy and able to begin his career in earnest in 2009. The Yankees sent him back to Charleston to start the year, where he made eleven starts and seven relief appearances (75.2 IP, 2.09 FIP) before earning a midseason promotion to High-A Tampa. Noesi made nine starts in Tampa to close out the season, pitching to a 2.57 FIP in 41.1 IP. He had effectively pitched himself back onto the prospect map after the long injury layoff, and was rewarded with a 40-man roster spot after the season to avoid exposure to the Rule 5 Draft.

Noesi opened the 2010 season back with Tampa, but he wasn’t there long. He made just eight starts (43 IP, 2.20 FIP) before getting bumped up to Double-A Trenton, where he made 16 starts and one relief appearance (98.2 IP, 2.99 FIP). Noesi pitched so well that he earned a spot in the Futures Game, where he allowed a single to current big leaguer Logan Morrison in his scoreless inning of work. Another promotion came his way in August, and he finished off his season by making three starts with Triple-A Scranton (18.2 IP, 3.20 FIP). Overall, Noesi’s 2010 campaign featured a 2.80 FIP in 160.1 IP. Over the last two years, he’s pitched to a 2.57 FIP.

Scouting Report
Long and lanky at 6-foot-2 and 175 lbs., Noesi stands out for his command and a delivery that is both simple and fluid, two things that are not mutual exclusive. Although control is typically the last thing to come back following elbow surgery, Noesi has unintentionally walked just 51 batters in 326 innings since returning from TJ (1.41 uIBB/9), a testament to how well he can command the baseball. He has also been perfectly healthy since the elbow surgery, leading the farm system in innings pitched in 2010 and holding his velocity deep into games.

Noesi’s best pitch is lively fastball with a little boring action in on righties, routinely sitting at 90-93 mph and touching as high as 96 the last few years. He backs that up with quality changeup, his second best offering, and he also throws both a slider and a curveball. Neither of the two breaking balls is even an average big league pitch right now, and Noesi doesn’t command any of his offspeed pitches as well as he does his fastball. He helps himself by fielding his position and holding runners well.

Here’s some video of Noesi from this past June, and there’s plenty more on Mike Ashmore’s YouTube channel.

2011 Outlook
The Yankees do have some questions at the back of their big league rotation, so Noesi will be part of a group of upper level arms that will get a very long look in Spring Training. More than likely he’ll be assigned to Triple-A Scranton to start the season with a callup possible at pretty much any time. He’s almost guaranteed to make his major league debut at some point during the 2011 season, and it could come as either a starter or reliever.

My Take
Noesi’s grown on me over the last two years, and I’m pretty sure it’s obvious as to why. The performance is outstanding and he’s now knocking on the door of the big leagues, a combination you want to see in a prospect of any caliber. The ability to command a fastball with some giddy-up is far too uncommon, and Noesi has that part of the game down to a science. His ceiling will be limited to a back of the rotation starter until one of his breaking balls steps forward and becomes a go-to pitch, but he still has plenty of time to work on that. If nothing else, Noesi will be serious competition for Nova and Sergio Mitre in Spring Training, and he’ll be one of the first called up whenever an arm is needed in some capacity. On the other hand, he’s a prime piece of trade bait as a cheap, workhorse type starter.

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Dec
22

Prospect Profile: David Phelps

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(AP/File)

David Phelps | RHP

Background
Raised in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood, Phelps attended Hazelwood West High School and starred both on the baseball field and on the basketball court. He was named to the All-Conference Team as both an outfielder and pitcher as a sophomore, and was then named All-Conference, All-Metro Performer, and team captain as a junior and senior. His career with the Wildcats featured a 2.96 ERA with 172 strikeouts in 109.2 innings pitched, and he also set a school record with a 30 inning scoreless streak as a senior. He was also a member of the National Honor Society.

Committed to Notre Dame, Phelps was ranked as the sixth best prospect in Missouri prior to the 2005 draft, though he went undrafted due to the strong college commitment. His older brother Mike was drafted out of Central Missouri State in the 11th round that year by the Cubs. Phelps was a sparsely used reliever in his first season with the Irish (though he did make three mid-week starts), striking out 23 and walking ten in just 26.2 innings (7.09 ERA). After the season he joined the Mat-Su Miners of the Alaska League, striking out 36 with 23 walks in 47.3 innings.

Phelps slid into Notre Dame’s rotation as a sophomore and establishing himself as the staff ace with one of the best pitching seasons in school history. He made 15 starts and threw five complete games, striking out 102 batters and walking just 30 in 110 innings (1.88 ERA). He became just the second pitcher in school history to record 100+ strikeouts with a sub-2.00 ERA in a single season, joining Aaron Heilman. As a reward, Phelps was named to the All-Conference First Team and received Academic All-District and Academic All-American honors. He joined the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod League after the season, but shut himself down to rest his arm after making just a pair of starts.

Expected to anchor the rotation again as a junior, Phelps was unable to match the success he had a sophomore, striking out 75 and walking 28 in 93 innings (4.65 ERA). Baseball America ranked him the fifth best prospect in the state of Indiana before the 2008 draft, expecting him to be drafted within the first eight rounds. The Yankees were able to select him in the 14th round with the 440th overall pick, later signing him for a $150,000 bonus, the maximum allowed after the fifth round without MLB’s approval.

Pro Career
Assigned to the Short Season Staten Island Yankees shortly after signing, Phelps made 15 starts for the Baby Bombers, making the All Star team after walking 18 batters and striking out 52 in 72.2 innings (3.27 FIP, 2.72 ERA). The Yanks were a tad conservative with Phelps in 2009, sending him to Low-A Charleston to start the season. After he pitched to a 3.41 FIP (2.80 ERA, 90 K, 25 BB) in 112.2 innings with the River Dogs he was promoted to High-A Tampa, where he struck out 32 batters and walked just six in 38.1 innings (2.34 FIP, 1.17 ERA). Phelps led all Yankee farmhands with 151 IP in 2009.

After just seven starts with Tampa to finish off the ’09 season, the Yankees sent Phelps to Double-A Trenton to begin 2010 and he just kept on pitching well. In 88.1 innings with the Thunder, he struck out 84 and walked just 23, good for a 2.44 FIP (2.04 ERA). He was promoted to Triple-A Scranton at midseason and again performed well, striking out 57 and walking 13 in 70.1 innings (2.92 FIP, 3.07 ERA). Phelps finished second in system with 158.2 innings this time around. His minor league career features a 7.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9, and a 2.96 FIP (2.50 ERA) in 382.1 innings.

Scouting Report
Phelps has come a long way since high school. Once a scrawny kid that would sit in the low-90′s on a good day, Phelps has filled out his 6-foot-3 frame (190 lbs.) and now throws his fastball at 93-95 mph consistently. Minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras made some minor adjustments soon after Phelps signed, leading to the improved velocity. He also throws a two-seam fastball right around 90 mph, a good curveball, and both a below average slider and changeup. The curve is the closest thing Phelps has to a strikeout pitch, but it still needs some more improvement. At the moment he’s a ground ball pitcher, but that can change if one of the offspeed pitches takes that step forward.

Although his secondary stuff is good but not great, it all plays up because Phelps has very strong control and pounds the bottom of the zone. His delivery is very simply and easily repeated, which bodes well for future command and health. He’s already demonstrated the ability to be a workhorse, logging no fewer than 151 innings in each of the last three seasons. Here’s a brief clip of Phelp’ delivery courtesy of Mike Ashmore, and you can see a few more on his YouTube channel.

2011 Outlook
Phelps will start the season back with Triple-A Scranton and should be among the first call-ups when the Yankees inevitably need a pitcher. He’s at a slight disadvantage because he’s not on the 40-man after the moment, though he’ll have to be added after the 2011 season to avoid exposure to the Rule 5 Draft. If the Yankees don’t sign a pitcher and both Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova have unimpressive Spring Trainings, Phelps has an outside chance at opening the season with the big league team. Very unlikely though.

My Take
Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer has proven to be very skilled at finding undervalued pitchers in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft, and Phelps is just another example of that. He was an absolute steal both in terms of draft round and bonus money, and climbing the ladder that quickly with so many other quality arms around him is pretty impressive. Phelps has already exceeded all possible expectations, and although I remain nothing more than cautiously optimistic because of his lack of a knockout offspeed pitch, he’s a quality pitching prospect that could contribute to the big league club either on the mound or as a piece of trade bait very, very soon.

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