2015 Draft: Baseball America’s Mock Draft v2.0

Ponce. (Cal Poly)
Ponce. (Cal Poly)

Yesterday afternoon, John Manuel at Baseball America published his second mock draft, and this time he has the Diamondbacks selecting Vanderbilt RHP Carson Fulmer with the first overall pick. Last week it was UC Santana Barbara RHP Dillon Tate. I think Fulmer would be a big reach with the first pick, but that’s just me. The mock draft is free for all. You don’t need a subscription to read it.

Manuel has the Yankees selecting UCLA RHP James Kaprielian with their top pick, 16th overall, which is the same as the last mock draft. Kaprielian is a classic “safe” college pitcher with four pitches, good command, a sturdy frame, and a track record of success. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer loves his Southern California pitchers (Ian Clarkin, Gerrit Cole, Ian Kennedy, etc.) and Kaprielian fits. Kaprielian threw nine no-hit innings last night, by the way.

In the supplemental first round, Manuel has the Yankees taking Cal Poly Pomona RHP Cody Ponce with the 30th pick, the compensation pick for David Robertson. Another SoCal pitcher! Ponce tore up the Cape Cod League last summer, and success on the Cape is another Oppenheimer trademark, so Ponce makes sense. Here’s a snippet of his free MLB.com scouting report:

Ponce stands out primarily for his size and fastball. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder sits at 91-94 mph and touches 96, though his heater gets hit more than it should because it tends to straighten out. Ponce’s secondary pitches are still a work in progress. His improving cutter is his No. 2 option, he’s not afraid to throw his firm changeup and he also has a curveball that often devolves into a slurve.

As a reminder, Manuel’s mock drafts are informed speculation, he’s not just guessing. It’s based on industry buzz and all that, so it’s very likely the Yankees have real interest in both Kaprielian and Ponce. Manuel notes they’re also in on California HS C Chris Betts, but are likely to steer clear of injured hurlers Duke RHP Mike Matuella (Tommy John surgery), Florida post-grad LHP Brady Aiken (Tommy John surgery), and California HS LHP Kolby Allard (back).

This draft class is very pitcher heavy, there isn’t much position player talent at all, and it seems like the Yankees are leaning towards arms for their top picks based on the little we know right now. Obviously a lot can change in the coming weeks. The Yankees could use some pitching depth in the farm system, and although I’m not a fan of drafting for need with top picks, it just so happens their needs and the strength of the draft line up this year.

Saturday Links: Leyritz, Tommy John Surgery, Tulowitzki

The Yankees and Royals continues their series with a dreaded Saturday night game (man I hate those) later today. Until then, here are some miscellaneous links to help you pass the time.

Jim Leyritz invited to Old Timers’ Day

For the very first time, Jim Leyritz has been invited to Old Timers’ Day, according to George King and Steve Serby. Apparently Leyritz ran into Jennifer Steinbrenner over the winter and that got the ball rolling. “I don’t want to think the Yankees define who I am, but I spent 11 years there, it was my family. To be back and part of that family, I can’t tell you what it means to me. I am so pleased it’s finally happening,” said Leyritz.

Leyritz hit one of the biggest home runs in franchise history in Game Four of the 1996 World Series, when he tied the game with a three-run shot off Mark Wohlers in the top of the eighth. That homer altered the course of two franchises. Of course, Leyritz has had ugly off-the-field issues since the end of his playing career, most notably facing DUI and manslaughter charges following an accident in 2010. He was acquitted and ended up serving one year probation, plus he settled a civil suit with the family of the woman who was killed for six figures.

Yankees lend their arms to Tommy John surgery research

Over the last year or so, the Yankees have been bit by the Tommy John surgery bug like just about every other team. Last April they lost Ivan Nova to the zipper, Masahiro Tanaka is trying to avoid surgery for his partial ligament tear, and a few days ago Chase Whitley suffered an elbow injury that may require Tommy John surgery. Top prospects Ty Hensley and Domingo German had their elbows rebuilt earlier this year as well.

In an effort to help find a way to reduce torn elbow ligaments, the Yankees and several other teams have participated in biomechanical research conducted by MLB and American Sports Medicine Institute, according to Mike Vorkunov. Here are the details:

Last March, in eight spring training camps around baseball, including the Phillies and Yankees, 80 pitchers — 40 with no history of ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction and 40 with one — were stamped with 23 reflective markers and threw 10 fastballs at full effort as 10 cameras tracked and analyzed their movement.

It was the first attempt by Major League Baseball, the players association and ASMI to learn if there was a bio-mechanical underpinning to pitchers that eventually had to have Tommy John surgery and those that had avoided it to that point.

The study found no link. The results were hardly dispositive and the research itself was just an initial step for the group.

Another study — this one spanning five years — started this spring and will monitor pitchers with five organizations fresh out of the draft. The Mets are participating in that but it’s unclear if the Yankees are as well. “That the elbow ligament, when it tears, is the end result of multiple processes. We’re not going to find one unifying theory. My guess is it’s multiple factors,” said Dr. Gary Green, MLB’s chief medical officer. The league is also looking into less invasive ways to repair a partial tear, like Tanaka’s. Check out the article, some interesting stuff in there.

Tul-oh no! (Victor Decolongon/Getty)
(Victor Decolongon/Getty)

Tulowitzki will not request a trade from Rockies

Well this is interesting. Troy Tulowitzki told Thomas Harding will not request a trade from the Rockies after meeting with his agent a few days ago. “Whatever happens on the Rockies’ end happens, but for me to sit here and try to force my way out of here, that’s not the case,” said Tulowitzki. “I don’t think it’s fair to my teammates and the relationships I’ve built here to take that route.” (Tulowitzki left last night’s game with a quad injury, by the way.)

I’m not normally a conspiracy theorist, but I get the feeling there is much more going on here behind the scenes. Perhaps Tulowitzki asked the Rockies for a trade but agreed to not make it public, not only to avoid bad PR, but to also avoid killing the team’s leverage in trade talks. If other clubs know Tulowitzki demanded a trade out of Colorado, they’re going to make nothing but low-ball offers. The Rockies’ hands would be tied. The Yankees supposedly don’t have interest in trading for Tulowitzki, but, either way, my guess is this will not be the last time his name pops up in some sort of trade rumor.

Surprise! Infield shift usage is up in 2015

This should come as no surprise. According to Pat Graham, use of the infield shift is up considerably around baseball this year. It’s up nearly 33% (!) in fact. The Rockies and Diamondbacks, two teams with new GMs after not being known as very stat savvy in recent years, have increased their shift usage the most from 2014 to 2015. The Yankees used the shift as much as any team in baseball last year and the same is true this year. They seem to get burned by it constantly, but who really knows? Shift usage and success is very tough to evaluate based on the little freely available data we have.

Yankee pitching implodes in a 12-1 loss to the Royals

It’s not often you see a game where Chris Young (the pitcher) is more unhittable than Michael Pineda. Well, that’s just baseball. It’s also not often you see a game where Yankee pitching seemed to have imploded despite starting their staff ace. It wasn’t just the pitching though – the bats went pretty quiet, collecting only five hits and a run. Overall, this was a match that made me want to fall asleep early to forget.

Oh yea, they’ve also lost four in a row. That’s not pleasant either.

Tonight’s start was not as cool as the pose. (Source: Getty)

5.1 IP, 10 hits allowed, 1 K,

If I told you before the game that Big Mike was going to pitch this poorly, would you have believed it? Probably not. Well, the Royals are very contact-oriented team. Entering tonight’s game, their hitters have the lowest strikeout rate with a 14.6% – the next lowest in the list is the Braves at 16.7%. I didn’t think he was going to strike out 16 hitters again but not gonna lie, it was just weird to see him not punch out anyone until the fifth inning.

Well, no strikeouts aside, up to five innings, Pineda was throwing a decent start – he had allowed only 2 runs and the score was a close (2-1). In the sixth inning, however, all heck broke loose. Alex Gordon doubled to lead off the inning and Pineda induced a grounder from Salvador Perez, which advanced the runner to third.

With one out and a runner on third, the Yankees hoped to prevent a run by playing infield and outfield in, but Omar Infante drove a meatball into way deep outfield for a RBI triple. 3-1 Royals. You’d think that allowing a booming XBH to a hitter with 68 wRC+ would get Pineda out of the game, but Joe Girardi let him face Paulo Orlando. The outfielder hit a single to drive in another run and then Pineda was out. Engh.

I’m not too worried about Big Mike after this start. He’s a good pitcher and good pitchers do go through rough patches because they are human. His velocity wasn’t outrageously low or anything. Sometimes hitting beats good pitchers and that’s pretty much how I see it happened tonight.

Bullpen Implosion

So we have Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, great! But Yankees didn’t really get to use either tonight. I was hoping that David Carpenter would somehow get the Yankees out of the jam at 4-1, but, alas, life isn’t perfect. He induced a grounder that Stephen Drew fielded, but the second baseman botched the toss to Didi Gregorius – all runners were safe. Girardi didn’t waste any time and pulled the right-hander out for Justin Wilson. Welp.

The lefty faced five hitters and got only one out. It took three singles and a walk for Joe to pull him out and put in… Jose Ramirez. Mercifully, the young righty got New York out of the inning but he allowed three more runs in the next inning before getting substituted for Branden Pinder. So when it was all said and done, it was seven earned runs allowed by the Yankee bullpen in 2.2 IP. They also allowed three walks and struck out only one. As Pusha T would say, yuck.

Several more of these would’ve been great (Source: Getty)

Leftovers:

Yea this was a pretty forgettable game offense-wise. Mark Teixeira did go 2-for-3, A-Rod hit that booming double to lead off the fourth inning and scored the lone Yankee run and… besides that, meh.

Box Score, WPA, Standings:

Here’s the box score and updated standings. And, of course, WPA.

Source: FanGraphs


Yankees have a 7:10 PM EST start tomorrow. The big lefty Sabathia goes against Danny Duffy. First win since Monday or a five-game losing streak? We shall see.

DotF: Judge extends hit streak to 14 games in Trenton’s win

Got some notes to pass along before we get to the game action:

Triple-A Scranton (8-4 win over Durham in eleven innings)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 0-6, 1 K
  • LF Ben Gamel: 3-6, 1 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI — capped off the four-run rally in the 11th with a two-run double
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-5, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB — got picked off second
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • C Austin Romine: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HB, 1/4 GB/FB — 54 of 93 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 25 of 42 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 15 of 25 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 22 of 40 pitches were strikes (55%) … walked a batter? better leave him in Triple-A another six weeks to iron that out
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K — ten of 13 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 37: Big Mike vs. Even Bigger Chris

BIG MIKE IS HERE

There’s a reason Michael Pineda has been nicknamed Big Mike. The dude is huge. He’s listed at 6-foot-7 and 260 lbs. on the team’s official site, and having been near him in person, I think that sells him short a bit. Pineda’s just a massive human. It’s part of the reason why he’s such an awesome pitcher. Between his height and his long arms, it looks like he’s handing the ball to catcher.

Despite his massive size, Pineda is only the second tallest starting pitcher in tonight’s game. Veteran right-hander Chris Young will be on the bump for the Royals, and he’s listed at 6-foot-10 and 255 lbs. on the team’s official site. A total of 17 pitchers 6-foot-7 or taller have appeared in a game this season and five (five!) are Yankees. One other was on the Yankees last year. Young is taller than all ’em. You don’t see many 6-foot-10 hurlers, not even these days. Here is Kansas City’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s cloudy and humid in Kansas City, and there is a little bit of rain in the forecast later tonight. Not much, and it shouldn’t be an issue unless the game goes long or something. Tonight’s game will begin a bit after 8pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on WPIX. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) threw a 35-pitch bullpen session as scheduled this afternoon. “I don’t feel it at all,” he told reporters, referring to his troublesome wrist issue … in case you missed it earlier, Chase Whitley (elbow) has been placed on the 15-day DL and Jose Ramirez has been called up.

5/15 to 5/17 Series Preview: Kansas City Royals

(Getty)
(Getty)

Man, 2015 is weird. The Royals are the defending AL champs, the Yankees have missed the postseason the last two years, the Royals have one of the game’s top closers over the last few seasons, the Yankees are on their third closer in three years … what in the world is going on here? The Yankees and Royals begin a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium tonight.

What Have The Royals Done Lately?

The Royals had to settle for a split of their four-game series with the Rangers this week. They’ve won six of their last ten games and are 22-13 with a +42 run differential on the season. That’s the best record and run differential in the AL, both slightly ahead of the Yankees (21-15, +28).

Offense & Defense

After getting just enough offense en route to the AL pennant a year ago, the Royals are one of the best offensive teams in the league this year, averaging 4.94 runs per game with a team 115 wRC+. They still don’t hit for a ton of power (only 28 homers) but they once again have baseball’s lowest strikeout rate (14.6%) by several percentage points. They put the ball in play and run like hell.

Hosmer and Gordon. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
Hosmer and Gordon. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

The Royals are without OF Alex Rios (127 wRC+) due to a broken hand, but the lineup still features breakout stars 1B Eric Hosmer (172 wRC+) and 3B Mike Moustakas (136 wRC+). They’re perfect examples of why you don’t give up on young hitters if they struggle early in their careers. Sometimes it takes time. Moustakas has reinvented himself as an opposite field hitter in an effort to beat the shift. Teams still shift on him — he was the ninth most shifted hitter last year and so far this year he’s 11th — but now he can beat it on occasion and isn’t totally helpless.

OF Alex Gordon (144 wRC+), OF Lorenzo Cain (129 wRC+) and DH Kendrys Morales (131 wRC+) are all providing high-end offensive support. SS Alcides Escobar (119 wRC+) too. C Salvador Perez (95 wRC+) has been basically average but 2B Omar Infante (52 wRC+) has been bad, ditto the OF Paulo Orlando (76 wRC+) and OF Jarrod Dyson (42 wRC+) platoon that has replaced Rios. IF Christian Colon and C Drew Butera are the last two bench pieces.

Defensively, the Royals are second to none. Hands down the best defensive team in MLB. Gordon, Cain, Dyson, and Hosmer are elite defenders; Moustakas and Escobar are somewhere between above-average and elite; Perez and Orlando are above-average. Infante is the worst defensive regular on the team and even he isn’t all that bad. It gets no better than this group. Celebrate every time a ball drops in this weekend.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. KC) vs. RHP Chris Young (Career vs. NYY)
The 35-year-old Young has a 0.78 ERA (2.71 FIP) with 23.2 K% and 6.1 BB% in 23 innings spread across two starts and six long relief appearances for Kansas City this year. He started the season in the bullpen but recently moved into the rotation when Jason Vargas went down with an elbow issue. Young is one of the most unique pitchers in baseball. He stands 6-foot-10 and he pitches up in the zone with a mid-80s fastball, generating a frickin’ ton of fly balls (26.8% grounders). Young uses his size and his deception to hide the ball and get pop-ups, and he’s been doing it for a decade now. He’ll also mix in some low-80s sliders but otherwise that’s the plan. Get them to hit the fastball straight up in the air.

Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. KC) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (Career vs. NYY)
Duffy, 26, was a big part of the Royals’ rotation last year, but he barely pitched in the postseason (4.2 innings) due to a late season shoulder issue, and so far this season he has a 5.67 ERA (4.22 FIP) in seven starts and 33.1 innings. His strikeout rate is down slightly from last year (17.7% vs. 18.7%) and his walk rate (9.8% vs. 8.8%), ground ball rate (39.6% vs. 35.8%), and home run rate (0.81 HR/9 vs. 0.72 HR/9) are all up slightly. Righties (.391 wOBA) have hit him substantially harder than lefties (.315 wOBA), which has been true his entire career. Duffy throws really hard, especially for a lefty, sitting in the mid-90s and occasionally touching the upper-90s with his four-seam fastball. His top secondary pitch is a low-80s curveball, though he’ll also throw some mid-80s changeups as well. Duffy’s last two starts have been disasters — four runs in one inning and six runs in 3.2 innings — so I’m sure his confidence is a little low.

Volquez. (Ed Zurga/Getty)
Volquez. (Ed Zurga/Getty)

Sunday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. KC) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (Career vs. NYY)
Replacing James Shields with Volquez has gone … surprisingly not terribly so far. The 31-year-old Volquez has a 3.19 ERA (3.47 FIP) in seven starts and 42.1 innings this season, with league average-ish strikeout (18.9%), walk (9.7%), and ground ball (48.8%) rates. His homer rate (0.43 HR/9) is less than half his career mark (0.92 HR/9). Volquez has a small platoon split (.270 vs. .252 wOBA in favor of righties) and after walking five batters in his first 28.1 innings of the season, he’s walked 12 batters in his last 14 innings. He does still throw hard though, sitting in the mid-90s with his four-seamer and sinker. Volquez also throws a mid-80s changeup and an upper-70s curveball, and on his very best days, both are put-away pitches. His stuff is really nasty when he locates, which is far too infrequently.

Bullpen Status
Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances are awesome, but the Royals have a better bullpen than the Yankees based on depth. The good news is manager Ned Yost used all his key relievers yesterday. That includes closer Greg Holland (3.14 FIP), setup men RHP Wade Davis (1.68 ERA) and RHP Kelvin Herrera (3.44 FIP), and middle relievers RHP Ryan Madson (3.26 FIP) and RHP Luke Hochevar (1.64 FIP). Herrera has pitched the last two days, everyone else just yesterday.

All five of those guys are power relievers — they all throw hard and have a put-away secondary pitch. Madson is finally back from Tommy John surgery too. He didn’t pitch at all from 2012-14 due to elbow reconstruction and numerous rehab setbacks. Pretty cool to see him pitch so well despite the long layoff. LHP Franklin Morales (3.21 FIP), RHP Jason Frasor (4.56 FIP), and RHP Aaron Brooks round out the eight-man bullpen. (Brooks has yet to appear in a game this season.) Check out the status of the Yankees’ bullpen with our Bullpen Workload page, then check out Royals Review for the latest and greatest on the defending AL champs.

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