Prospect Injury Updates: Gumbs, Whitley, Ravel

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Earlier today we learned RHP Ty Hensley is likely to miss the rest of the season following hip surgery, and now it’s time to get caught up on some other injured minor leaguers. Chad Jennings has all the updates…

  • RHP Angelo Gumbs (finger) is a couple of weeks away from return to High-A Tampa. He’s playing in Extended Spring Training games now. Whenever he is ready, I have to think Rob Refsnyder will get bumped up to Double-A Trenton to make room.
  • RHP Jose Ramirez started the season on the DL with fatigue, there was no injury. He pitched in winter ball and overextended himself a bit in big league camp, so they held him back. Ramirez has since rejoined the Double-A rotation.
  • RHP Jose Campos (elbow) had a bone bruise last year according to VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman. Campos said himself it was a small fracture. I don’t know who to believe, but I suppose something could have been lost in translation.
  • RHP Chase Whitley (oblique) is about ten days away from being activated and returning to game action. He might have been called up instead of Preston Claiborne last week had he been healthy.
  • LHP Manny Banuelos (elbow) is on schedule as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. He’s expected to miss the rest of the year.
  • OF Adonis Garcia (wrist) is taking batting practice while OF Ravel Santana (ankle) is playing in ExST. The ankle injury has completed derailed his career.
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2013 Season Preview: The Second Basemen

Starting this week and continuing through the end of the Spring Training, we’re going to preview the Yankees position-by-position and on a couple of different levels.

(Star-Ledger)
(Star-Ledger)

Second base is one of the four premium up-the-middle positions, but it is the fourth-most important of those positions. It doesn’t require the athleticism of shortstop or center field or the pure toughness of catcher, nor does it require the arm strength — second baseman have the most time to make the routine play of any infielder. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s a rough position because of the blind double play pivot, but it sorta is the black sheep of the up-the-middle spots. That said, second base is the highlight of the Yankees’ organization for a number of reasons.

The Starter
Robinson Cano isn’t just the best player on the Yankees, he’s the best second baseman in baseball and one of the very best players in the game period. The 30-year-old has hit .311/.370/.539 (142 wRC+) over the last three seasons and put up career-highs in doubles (48), homers (33), extra-base hits (82), ISO (.238), SLG (.550), walks (61), walk rate (8.8%), wOBA (.394), wRC+ (150), fWAR (7.8), and bWAR (8.2) last summer. It was his third consecutive MVP-caliber season and there’s really no reason to expect his performance to suddenly fall off a cliff in 2013. He might not be as amazingly awesome again, but there’s no obvious reason why he would be anything less that excellent.

In the field, Cano is dynamite gloveman in the eyes of DRS (+17 career), Total Zone (+43) and FRAA (+45.1), but not so much UZR (-30.2). Robbie doesn’t have the greatest range going to his left, but c’mon. That UZR stands out like a sore thumb because it doesn’t jibe with the eye test. He might not be as good as Total Zone and FRAA say, but Cano is clearly above-average defensively in my opinion. His range to his right is very good and his arm is a rocket, and when you add in the fact that he plays pretty much every single game year after year, you’ve got a two-way threat who is among the most dependable players in the world.

Cano’s performance in 2013 will be very important and not just to the Yankees given all the offense they lost over the winter. Robbie will be a free agent after the season and is in line for a mammoth nine-figure contract, and in fact Brian Cashman confirmed the club has already extended a “significant offer.” Scott Boras won’t go down that easily though, so expect contract talks to linger pretty much all season long. It will be the cloud hanging over the team all summer, kinda like CC Sabathia‘s opt-out clause two years ago. The off-field issue doesn’t diminish Cano’s on-field awesomeness or importance, however.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Backup
The bench is still a few weeks away from being finalized, but the two obvious candidates are Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix. The 25-year-old Nunez is a defensive nightmare who has been working out at shortstop exclusively since last May, though Cashman did say he would return to a utility role if he makes the team. The speed and contact ability are certainly useful tools, useful tools that are negated (and then some) by the unusable defense.

Nix, 30, was solid in a limited role last year, mainly by hitting lefties (97 wRC+) and playing all over the field. He’s a second baseman by trade and a much better defender than Nunez, but no better than average overall. I don’t think it would be a surprise if either guy made the team as a reserve infielder, and heck, there’s even a scenario in which both make the team. Either way, the step down from Cano to either Nix or Nunez is enormous. Maybe the biggest drop-off from one player to their replacement in all of baseball.

Knocking on the Door
The Yankees are blessed with very good second base depth, including at the Triple-A level. Both 25-year-old David Adams and 24-year-old Corban Joseph are slated to begin the season with Triple-A Scranton and they’re cut from a similar cloth: bat-first players who are below-average defenders at second. Adams, a right-handed hitter, used to be a solid defender at the position but has lost a few steps following the massive ankle injury he suffered in 2010. Joseph, a left-handed hitter, has always been a below-average defender. Both guys can hit and are willing to walk though, making them very good depth pieces (and trade bait). Adams is dealing with a back injury and could miss the start of the season, which I guess makes Joseph first in line for a call-up.

(Post and Courier)
(Post and Courier)

The Top Prospect
One of New York’s best and most exciting prospects is second baseman Angelo Gumbs, who placed ninth on my preseason top 30 list. Still just 20 years old (with an October birthday!), the right-handed hitter signed for $750k as the team’s second round pick in 2010 and hit .268/.317/.428 (102 wRC+) with seven homers and 26 steals (in 29 attempts) in 278 plate appearances for Low-A Charleston last season. His season ended prematurely due to a partially torn elbow ligament, but he’s 100% healthy and even managed to squeeze in a few winter ball games. Gumbs stands out of his electric bat speed — best in the organization and among the best in minor league baseball — and athleticism, so he’s a premium breakout candidate for 2013 if healthy given his age. The Yankees will bump him up to High-A Tampa this year, so he won’t be a big league factor this summer unless he’s traded for an actual big leaguer.

The Deep Sleeper
Gumbs, Adams, and Joseph are exceptions — there just aren’t many true second base prospects throughout baseball. There aren’t as rare as true first base prospects, but most second base prospects are failed shortstops (like Cano). The Yankees don’t have a deep second base sleeper prospect, but they do have 2012 sixth rounder Rob Refsnyder. The 21-year-old followed up his College World Series Most Outstanding Player performance by hitting .247/.324/.370 (95 wRC+) with four homers and 11 steals (in 12 chances) in 182 plate appearances for Charleston last year. Although he played the outfield in his pro debut, the Yankees announced him as a second baseman at the draft and are expected to move him back there going forward. Refsnyder played the position in high school and would raise his long-term profile quite a bit if he shows he can handle second adequately. He’s not as good a prospect as the other three guys but he’s definitely interesting, hence his inclusion in my not top 30 prospects post.

* * *

The Yankees have more quality depth at second base than at any other position, and it starts right at the top with Cano. He’s the team’s best and most important player heading into the 2013 season, after which he will sign a gigantic contract to either remain in pinstripes or leave the only organization he’s ever known. Adams and Joseph give New York legitimate alternatives in Triple-A if needed, and Gumbs boasts breakout potential despite already being one of the team’s better prospects. Second base is a major bright spot for the organization from top to bottom.

Other Previews: Catchers, First Basemen

Keith Law’s top ten Yankees prospects list

Keith Law published his list of baseball’s top 110 prospects yesterday, and he followed up today by releasing individual top ten prospects lists for each American League club (subs. req’d). The top five prospects are the same guys from the top 110 yesterday (in the same order), and numbers six through ten are RHP Ty Hensley, LHP Manny Banuelos, RHP Jose Campos, RHP Mark Montgomery, and 2B Angelo Gumbs.

Within the write-up, Law notes the system is top-heavy with high-end guys, and their only real impact prospects for 2013 are Montgomery and RHP Dellin Betances if he takes to the bullpen. He lists Hensley as the organization’s sleeper, saying the shoulder abnormality hasn’t stopped him from running his fastball up to 98, and “if he can just show that kind of stuff and last for a 120-140 inning season in 2013, he’s a likely top-100 guy.” Interestingly enough, he notes the Yankees love OF Ben Gamel, and they expect him to show more power this summer after bulking up thanks to his offseason conditioning program.

Mailbag: Price, Bonifacio, Plouffe, Gumbs

Got four post-Winter Meetings questions for you today. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Daniel asks: I know you guys always refer to David Price as “Future Yankee David Price.” But I’m not exactly sure why. When is his contract up and what are the chances we could actually pull off a deal?

The Future Yankee David Price thing is mostly a joke built around the idea that he’s an ace-caliber left-handed pitcher on a small market team who they won’t be able to sign long-term. The kind of guy we tend to expect the Yankees to swoop in and sign when he’s a free agent. Plus I like to poke some fun at some Rays fans friends of mine.

Price, who just turned 27 in August, is going to make massive money through arbitration with his credentials. Even before he was named the Cy Young Award winner, MLBTR projected him to earn $9.5M through arbitration this winter, which would be a new record for a second time eligible pitcher. He’s also a Super Two, meaning he still has two more years of arbitration left ahead of him. He could (and should as long as he doesn’t get hurt) be earning upwards of $20M+ by 2015, before he even hits free agency. The Rays figure to trade him at some point, but I highly doubt they would trade him within the division. The Yankees will have to wait three more years until he’s a free agent.

Richard asks: If the Yankees were able to initially smoke-and-mirror their way to something approaching contention with cheap pickups and players from the minors, which teams would be out of the running in mid-season (assuming the Yankees aren’t) and which players better suited to the Yankees’ needs might become available?

This isn’t the easiest question to answer because there is so much offseason left, but I think the most obvious candidates are the Cubs, Twins, Astros, Marlins, and Rockies. The Indians, Pirates, Mariners, and Padres are the next tier since you can kinda see sneaking into contention if things breaks right. The Twins have Josh Willingham and Jamey Carroll to offer while the Cubs have David DeJesus and the pricey Alfonso Soriano, but that’s really it. Maybe Ramon Hernandez of the Rockies stays healthy and becomes available. The Astros have nothing and the Yankees don’t really have the pieces to land a Dexter Fowler type. Maybe they will at midseason.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Zac asks: Would Trevor Plouffe make sense as a 3B option for the Yankees, and would the Twins consider trading him? Also, seeing that Emilio Bonifacio is potentially available, would he be an option?

I’ll say yes and no for Bonifacio. Yes he would be an option given his ability to play all over the infield and dabble in the outfield, but no I don’t think he’s an option because the Blue Jays hate trading within the division. GM Alex Anthopoulos has said so publicly many times.

As for Plouffe, I assume the Twins are open to dealing anyone following the Denard Span and Ben Revere trades. The 26-year-old hit .235/.301/.455 (106 wRC+) with 24 homers in 465 plate appearances for Minnesota this year while spending most of his time at third base. He also dabbled at second base and in right field. Plouffe is a right-handed hitter who does almost all of his damage, especially in the power department, against lefties. He wasn’t a big prospect and he really doesn’t offer much except power, though he is under team control for five more years (and will be a Super Two). Does Ivan Nova in a one-for-one trade work? I feel like that’s too much given the fact that a starting pitcher is far more valuable than a platoon bat.

Frank asks: When Angelo Gumbs came out of prep school he was touted as a CF/SS prospect with decent tools. Since the Yanks really don’t have a SS prospect that’s highly rated, wouldn’t it benefit the Yanks to try him at short again?

Before we start, here’s what Baseball America (subs. req’d) wrote about Gumbs’ defense in their recent top ten Yankees prospects list…

Gumbs has made significant growth defensively and is beginning to take advantage of his plus arm and range. He still has some stiffness and hardness to his hands, but as his footwork improves with repetition, he should be a solid defender at second base.

If Gumbs, 20, truly has “plus arm and range” at second base, I think it’s worth a shot to try him back at shortstop since the whole Cito Culver thing just isn’t happening. That’s very easy to say from here, especially since my knowledge of Gumbs’ defense doesn’t extend far beyond those two sentences above, but the Yankees should look to maximize his value and shortstop is more valuable than second base. The team has some solid second base prospects in David Adams and to a lesser extent Corban Joseph, but that shouldn’t really be a factor in moving him. If Gumbs can play the more premium position, they should try it.

Baseball America’s Top Ten Yankees Prospects

Heathcott. (Jordan Megenhardt/MLB.com)

Baseball America published their list of the top ten Yankees prospects today, and the list is free for all. The scouting reports, however, are not. You need a subscription for them. The four names atop the list shouldn’t be a surprise (the order might), but things do get a little wacky after that. Let’s break it down…

  1. OF Mason Williams
  2. OF Slade Heathcott
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. OF Tyler Austin
  5. RHP Jose Campos
  6. RHP Brett Marshall
  7. 2B Angelo Gumbs
  8. LHP Manny Banuelos
  9. RHP Ty Hensley
  10. RHP Rafael DePaula

Two things stand out about the list. First, the Yankees are suddenly very top heavy with position player prospects, particularly outfielders. Outside of Jesus Montero, their recent top tens were mostly dominated by upper level arms. The Yankees are going to need that infusion of young bats and relatively soon, but Heathcott is only position player on the list who I think will open next year at Double-A. Austin has a chance, but it would surprise me a bit.

Williams. (NY Daily News)

Secondly, everyone’s hurt. Five of those ten guys missed significant time this season due to injury, and that doesn’t include Hensley’s shoulder “abnormality” or the month Austin missed with a mild concussion. Heathcott (shoulder) obviously came back healthy and Gumbs (elbow) has as well (based on the fact that he’s playing winter ball), plus Williams (shoulder) was just cleared to resume workouts. Banuelos will miss all of next season with Tommy John surgery though, and a club official said Campos (elbow) will “hopefully” be ready for Spring Training in the subscriber-only write-up. That doesn’t sound promising, but what can you do.

The write-ups include scouting grades (on the 20-80 scale) for each team’s top prospect and the grades for Williams are just insane — 60 hit, 60 power, 70 speed, 70 defense, 50 arm. That’s four above-average tools and one average one. Those are future grades and not present — they think he’ll grow into a 60 hitter, not that he is one today — but they still seem a little optimistic, particularly the power. A 60/60 bat is a .290-.300 hitter with 25 or so homers. Add the 70 speed and 70 defense and you’ve got 30+ steals and near Gold Glove defense. That’s a star player, it’s Grady Sizemore in his prime, but again the grades strike me as optimistic based on everything we’ve heard about Williams to this point.

Elsewhere in the write-up they note that Heathcott offers “explosive tools” — yesterday Keith Law said Heathcott has louder tools than Williams, though Mason is more refined — and that while Sanchez doesn’t stack up to Montero offensively, he has a much better chance of sticking behind the plate. Campos was “electric” before getting hurt while Banuelos was still struggling to command his fastball. They call DePaula the biggest x-factor in the system and say his “ceiling is as high as any Yankees minor league pitcher.” He’ll make the big jump to High-A Tampa next year.

With Banuelos essentially out for the season, the only top ten prospect who figures to spend significant time at Triple-A next year will be Marshall. The Yankees will have Adam Warren and maybe a veteran signing or two ahead of him on the call-up depth chart, possibly even Dellin Betances if things break right. The talent gap that has been slowly climbing the ladder in recent years has hit Triple-A, meaning the Bombers will have to make sure they bring in some depth pieces via free agency to shore up potential holes on the big league roster. The team’s top prospects just aren’t in a position to help next year, and maybe not in 2014 as well.

Update: Reports from Instructional League

Friday: McDaniel following up with a part four looking at a number of secondary pitching prospects — including an interesting 18-year-old right-hander just brought up from the Dominican Summer League — as well as OF Slade Heathcott, SS Cito Culver, and SS Austin Aune. So yeah, get on that.

Tuesday: Over at FanGraphs, Kiley McDaniel put together some scouting notes on various Yankees prospects he saw in Instructional League the last few weeks (part one, part two, part three). Among those covered were OF Tyler Austin, 2B Angelo Gumbs, RHP Hayden Sharp, 3B Dante Bichette Jr., RHP Dellin Betances, 3B Miguel Andujar, C Peter O’Brien, and C Gary Sanchez. Some of the reports are good, others not so much. They’re all worth the read though, so make sure you head over to check all of them out.

Tuesday Trade Deadline Open Thread

(Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The trade deadline is 4pm ET today, and the Yankees will definitely be in the market for a fill-in third baseman with Alex Rodriguez on the DL with a broken bone in his hand. Mark Teixeira‘s wrist problem could spring them into further action as well, and pitching help — both rotation and bullpen — is always on the agenda. The Bombers are almost certainly done with the outfield market following the Ichiro Suzuki pickup, however. We’re going to keep track of any Yankees-related trade deadline rumors right here throughout the day, so check back often for updates. The latest will be on the bottom. Here are Sunday’s and Monday’s rumors if you missed them…

  • 10:00am: Teixeira’s injury should have no impact the team’s deadline plans, and the Yankees are still trying to acquire a defense-first type player for third base. Things are pretty quiet right now. [Ken Rosenthal]
  • The Yankees are focused on acquiring 40-man roster depth pieces, guys they can stash in Triple-A to cover for any injuries that pop-up down the stretch. [Joel Sherman]
  • Reports indicate that the Yankees have stepped up their pursuit of Ryan Dempster in the last 48 hours — lines up with when we learned about Andy Pettitte‘s setback, no? — but that has since been shot down. Dempster has 10-and-5 no-trade protection and seems hellbent on joining the Dodgers. [David Kaplan, Jon Heyman & Jayson Stark]
  • 12:34pm: There is still a “distinct possibility” the Yankees will acquire Ty Wigginton before the deadline. The Phillies are selling off all their movable pieces, with Shane Victorino headed to the Dodgers and Hunter Pence headed to the Giants. [Matt Gelb]
  • 12:56pm: The Yankees don’t believe Wigginton can handle third and are valuing defense at the position. A deal is said to be “highly unlikely.” Guys like him will get through waivers in August. [Sherman]
  • 2:03pm: The Yankees are “engaged in heavy discussions” with the Cubs about Dempster. I think this might be a case of the Cubbies trying to drive up the price for the Dodgers, but who knows. It’s worth mentioning that pitching coach Larry Rothschild knows the right-hander from his time in Chicago. [Bob Nightengale, Sherman & Rosenthal]
  • 2:14pm: The Dempster stuff is basically due diligence, the Yankees did their homework and expressed some level of interest yesterday. [Marc Carig]
  • 2:25pm: Dempster has told the Cubs that he will waive his 10-and-5 rights to join the Yankees because of his relationship with Rothschild and special advisor/former Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Chicago would have to kick in some money to facilitate a deal. [Heyman, Sherman & Sherman]
  • 2:29pm: The Cubs are said to like Angelo Gumbs and Dante Bichette Jr., but the Yankees are unlikely to part with them for a fifth starter upgrade. [Sherman & Sherman]
  • 3:12pm: Ownership has not been presented with any kind of financial information for a potential Dempster deal yet, so it doesn’t sound like anything is close as of right now. The commissioner’s office has to approve any trade involving more than $1M exchanging hands. [Sherman & Sherman]
  • 3:31pm: With less than a half-hour to go, the Dempster talks are still “nothing serious.” Either they’re going to scramble to beat the clock or the deal isn’t happening. [Carig]
  • 3:53pm: The Yankees “may” have acquired Dempster. No confirmation yet, however. [Jim Bowden]
  • 3:58pm: Scratch that, Dempster has been traded to the Rangers. [Buster Olney]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.