2016 Midseason Review: The Farm System

Now that the All-Star break has arrived, it’s time to look back and review the first half of the season. We’ve already looked at the catchers, infielders, outfielders, bench, rotation, bullpen, and role players. Now let’s go down into the farm system.

Judge. (Presswire)
Judge. (Presswire)

The Yankees are a team in transition. They’re trying to get younger wherever possible while waiting out the last few years of all those big money contracts. Most of them will be off the books by the end of next season. There’s no denying the Yankees have had their problems developing players over the last few years, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of the farm system. If anything, it makes the farm system more important going forward. Let’s review the first half of 2016 in the minor league system.

The Top Prospects

The order may vary, but pretty much everyone was in agreement OF Aaron Judge, C Gary Sanchez, and SS Jorge Mateo were the Yankees’ three best prospects coming into the season. I ranked them in that order in my Preseason Top 30 Prospects List. Others had Mateo first and Judge third. The order doesn’t really matter. Those were the three guys.

Judge and Sanchez both opened the year in Triple-A and they’ve had very different seasons. Judge has been up and down. He started well, slumped hard in May, then caught fire in June. At one point he hit nine home runs in 15 games. Overall, Judge is hitting .261/.357/.469 (139 wRC+) with 16 homers and a strong 11.4% walk rate in 83 games. His strikeout rate, which was the No. 1 concern coming into 2016, sits at 23.2%, down from 28.5% in Triple-A last year. Judge unfortunately hurt his knee last week and will be out a month.

Sanchez, meanwhile, has mashed pretty much all season. He hasn’t had the big peaks and valleys like Judge. Sanchez, who is still only 23, is hitting .286/.328/.489 (133 wRC+) with nine homers in 56 games around a fractured thumb caused by a foul tip. My favorite thing about Sanchez is the progression of his strikeout rate:

Low-A: 25.0%
High-A: 19.2%
Double-A: 18.7%
Triple-A: 16.3%

Sanchez is making more contact as he climbs the ladder, and his defense is improving too. That’s pretty awesome. He and Judge factor prominently into the team’s long-term plans. The Yankees envision these two as not only as their catcher and right fielder of the future, but their middle of the lineup of the future too. They’re both having success in Triple-A right now, which is exactly what the Yankees wanted to see this summer.

As for Mateo, he’s down in High-A and gosh, he had an incredible start to the season. He was hitting .299/.364/.485 (149 wRC+) with five homers on June 1st — last year Mateo hit two homers, one of which was an inside-the-parker — and he looked very much like an electric power-speed threat at shortstop. Since then though, Mateo has hit only .211/.250/.246 (46 wRC+) in 122 plate appearances, and last week the Yankees suspended him for violating team policy. He reportedly complained to team officials about not being promoted. Not great, Jorge.

Both Sanchez and Judge are performing as hoped in Triple-A, which puts them in position to assume fairly prominent roles with the 2017 Yankees. It’s not out of the question we see them with the Yankees in the second half. Mateo has had a fine statistical season — he’s hitting .266/.323/.396 (112 wRC+) overall even with the recent slump — but this suspension is a bummer, regardless of why it happened.

The Breakout Prospect

Andujar. (MLB.com video screen grab)
Andujar. (MLB.com video screen grab)

There has been no bigger breakout prospect in the system this year than 3B Miguel Andujar, who always had the tools to be a high-end prospect, but had not yet turned those tools into baseball skills. He’s doing that this year, hitting .291/.343/.446 (128 wRC+) with ten homers and a measly 11.4% strikeout rate in 83 games split between High-A and Double-A. We’ve been waiting a while for Andujar to put it all together, and it’s happening this year.

The other notable breakout prospect this year is a reliever turned starter. The Yankees took last year’s fifth rounder, RHP Chance Adams, and moved him into the rotation this season because of his stuff and pitchability. The results have been better than anyone expected. Adams has a 2.63 ERA (2.97 FIP) with a 29.4% strikeout rate and a 7.5% walk rate in 85.2 innings between High-A and Double-A. He still has work to do with his changeup, but Adams is able to hold his stuff deep into games, which is always a big question with these reliever-to-starter conversation guys.

Perhaps the most interesting breakout prospect is an older guy: 26-year-old C Kyle Higashioka. Higashioka was the Yankees’ seventh round pick back in 2008, and this year he’s hitting .321/.379/.589 (168 wRC+) with 14 homers in 62 games between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s dealt with a bunch of injuries over the years, including Tommy John surgery, but he’s finally healthy now. Higashioka has always had power and he’s the best defensive backstop in the system. Catchers tend to be late-bloomers moreso than any other position. Higashioka may be 26, but they don’t check IDs on the field. A good defensive catcher with power is a legitimate big league prospect.

Other prospects who have raised their stock in the first half this season include RHP Vicente Campos, OF Jake Cave, and SS Tyler Wade. All three have been on the prospect map for a while. Campos is healthy for the first time in years and is having success as a starter, really for the first time since coming over in the Jesus MonteroMichael Pineda trade. Cave has developed some power after being returned as a Rule 5 Draft pick this spring. Wade is doing the bat control/strike discipline/good defense thing in Double-A.

The Inevitable Injuries

Kaprielian. (MLB.com video screen grab)
Kaprielian. (MLB.com video screen grab)

Injuries come with the territory and they’re unavoidable. The biggest injury in the system this year is RHP James Kaprielian‘s elbow injury, which was only recently diagnosed as a flexor tendon strain. Kaprielian, who was the Yankees’ first rounder last year, was limited to three High-A starts this year. That’s a bummer. He was expected to shoot up the ladder rather quickly. There’s no timetable for Kaprielian’s return, as far as we know.

Elsewhere in the system, LHP Jacob Lindgren came down with an elbow injury after completely losing the strike zone in High-A. He threw seven innings and hasn’t been heard from since. RHP Ty Hensley had to undergo a second Tommy John surgery, unfortunately. The team’s first rounder in 2012 has thrown 42.1 innings in parts of five seasons. Ouch. RHP Nick Rumbelow and RHP Branden Pinder had their elbows rebuilt early in the season too.

One of the biggest names — and longest tenured players — in the system saw his time with the organization come to an end following an injury. OF Slade Heathcott, who the Yankees selected in the first round way back in 2009, hit .230/.271/.310 (58 wRC+) with a 32.0% strikeout rate in 23 Triple-A games before coming down with another knee problem. He’s had a bunch of those over the years. The Yankees released Slade in May and he hooked on with the White Sox a few weeks later.

The Prospects Returning From Injury

Clarkin. (MLB.com video screen grab)
Clarkin. (MLB.com video screen grab)

Last year the Yankees seemed to have an inordinate number of full season injuries in the farm system. Several big name prospects missed the entire season, including C Luis Torrens (shoulder), LHP Ian Clarkin (elbow), RHP Domingo German (elbow), and RHP Austin DeCarr (elbow). Clarkin avoided the knife. The other three guys all had surgery. All things considered, their 2016 seasons have gone well to date.

Clarkin was one of New York’s three first round picks in 2013, and so far this season he has a 3.12 ERA (3.16 FIP) in 95.1 innings with High-A Tampa. He’s not only avoided another injury, he’s gotten stronger as the season has gone on. When it comes to the first 100 innings back following a lost season, Clarkin’s season has gone about as well as hoped this year. He’s healthy and he’s getting outs.

Torrens, German, and DeCarr all returned within the last few weeks and haven’t played much. German and DeCarr went through the usual 14-16 month Tommy John surgery rehab — it used to be 12 months, but nowadays teams are stretching it out a bit more — while Torrens was said to be ready to go in Spring Training. He had to be shut down with shoulder discomfort though. Torrens is the healthy now and he’s picked up right where he left off before the injury.

Other Notables

RHP Domingo Acevedo is having an excellent statistical season but still has to work on his secondary pitches … OF Dustin Fowler has climbed the ladder rather quickly after being a two-sport guy in high school and an 18th round pick in 2013. He’s have a good but not great season in Double-A … LHP Jordan Montgomery is inching closer to being a big league option after a strong half-season in Double-A … SS Hoy Jun Park, who was part of that big 2014-15 international class, is having a solid two-way season in Low-A … SS Kyle Holder is still playing the heck out of shortstop, but he’s not hitting much in Low-A … LHP Jeff Degano spent most of the first half in Extended Spring Training, apparently because he’s no longer able to throw strikes.

* * *

Kaprielian’s injury and Mateo’s recent suspension have put a bit of a damper on the top prospects in the system, but Judge and Sanchez are having strong seasons in Triple-A, Andujar and Adams are breaking out, and both Clarkin and Torrens have returned well after missing last season with injury. The Yankees haven’t been able to dip into their farm system for help like they did last year, when RHP Luis Severino and 1B Greg Bird had an impact in the second half, but the tippy top prospects are performing well and the key injured prospects have come back strong. That qualifies as a good season in the minors to me.

Four Yankees make Keith Law’s updated top 50 prospects list

Judge. (Presswire)
Judge. (Presswire)

Earlier today, Keith Law posted his midseason list of the top 50 prospects in baseball (subs. req’d). Astros IF Alex Bregman, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, now sits in the top spot. Several of the top prospects coming into the season have graduated to MLB, including Dodgers SS Corey Seager and Twins OF Byron Buxton. Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito and Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi fill out the top three behind Bregman.

The Yankees landed four players on Law’s list: OF Aaron Judge (No. 23), C Gary Sanchez (No. 36), OF Blake Rutherford (No. 43), and SS Jorge Mateo (No. 50). Welcome to the top prospect lists, Blake. Law says Judge has “made some progress in his plate coverage this year” and Sanchez has “become sort of adequate behind the plate and hit for increasing power the last two years.” Adequate defense and power definitely makes for a starting catcher.

As for Rutherford, the write-up says he is an “advanced enough hitter with above-average present power and should be able to (start 2017 in full season ball) given how well he performed against good competition last summer.” Law is probably the high man on Rutherford. You might see him on various top 100 lists in the coming weeks and months, though I don’t think anyone else will rank him as high as No. 43. Not yet, anyway.

The Mateo write-up is rather scathing. Law says it is “time for him to start performing up to the level of his tools,” specifically by cutting down on his strikeouts (21.5% in High-A this year) and making hard contact more consistently. “If the rumor that Mateo wanted a promotion to Double-A is true, that’s great, but he needs to understand that hitting .266/.323/.396 won’t get him there. Harder contact and all-the-time effort will,” wrote Law.

Even with the last two months being the worst of Mateo’s career, the Yankees still landed four prospects in Law’s top 50, and that’s really awesome. Remember, RHP James Kaprielian made Law’s preseason top 100 list as well, so there’s some high-end talent in the system. Rutherford and Mateo are years away, but Judge and Sanchez are knocking on the door of MLB, and that’s pretty darn exciting.

2016 Midseason Review: The Role Players

Now that the All-Star break has arrived, it’s time to review the first half of the season. We’ve already looked at the catchers, infielders, outfielders, bench, rotation, and bullpen. Now let’s tackle the role players.

Green. (Presswire)
Green. (Presswire)

As always, the Yankees have had to dip into their farm system for help at times this season. That’s mostly the result of injuries. Sometimes they called up a legitimate prospect and gave him a chance, like Rob Refsnyder, and other times they brought in a journeyman veteran to plug a short-term hole. Either way, they were all Yankees. Let’s review the spare parts.

Chad Green: The Sudden Sixth Starter

Over the winter the Yankees looked at their rotation and bullpen depth, and decided to rob Peter to pay Paul. They traded reliable setup man Justin Wilson to the Tigers for two Triple-A starters because they figured they had enough bullpen arms, but not nearly enough starters. Starters under control beyond 2017, especially.

One of those two Triple-A starters is Green, who has spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Scranton, where he’s been dominant. Detroit’s 11th round pick in 2013 currently leads the International League in ERA (1.54 ERA) and FIP (2.18), and that performance has earned him three big league starts. One went well. Two didn’t.

May 15th @ D’Backs: 4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR (MLB debut)
July 3rd @ Padres: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 HR
July 8th @ Indians: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 4 HR

Seven homers in 14.1 innings is really bad! Left-handed hitters have hit five of the seven homers, which makes sense because Green hasn’t really shown a reliable changeup yet. He did add a cutter while in Triple-A between his first and second starts, which is promising, though clearly the Indians had no trouble with it last week.

Green did throw one perfect relief inning with the Yankees in mid-June, so right now he has a career 7.04 ERA (7.09 FIP) in 15.1 innings. Surely he’s looking to improve those numbers, and my guess is he’ll get multiple chances to do so in the second half. Green seems to have climbed to sixth in the rotation depth chart, ahead of Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino. How about that?

Second Half Outlook: If the Yankees do sell at the deadline, I could see them giving Green an extended look as a starter in the second half. There’s really no reason to keep running impending free agent Ivan Nova out there in the second half if they’re out of the race. More than likely Green will go up and down a few more times and be the team’s sixth starter, giving the regular rotation members extra rest.

Nick Goody: The Last Shuttle Reliever Standing

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The Yankees opened Spring Training with a small army of Triple-A relievers ready to go up and down as needed. We saw it last year. It seemed like one or two of them would be given an extended look at some point this season, but that hasn’t been able to happen. They’ve almost all gotten hurt. The list:

The hope was one or two of those guys would step up and become a permanent piece of the bullpen. Instead, they’ve combined for one big league inning (by Pinder) this season. Baseball, man.

Goody is the last young shuttle reliever standing. He started the season in Triple-A but has had a few stints with the big league team, throwing a total of 22 innings across 19 games. Goody has a 4.91 ERA (4.59 FIP) in those 22 innings, and he’s been alarmingly home run prone (2.05 HR/9). His strikeout (27.4%) and walk (5.3%) numbers are great! But there’s more to life than that. Not a good year to be a young reliever with the Yankees.

Second Half Outlook: Goody is actually on the big league roster right now. He was called up when Green was sent down following his start in Cleveland. Something tells me Goody is going to end up back in Scranton at some point. Then back in New York. Then Scranton. Then New York. You get the point. He’s the very definition of a spare up-and-down arm.

Plans E & F at First Base

At one point in the first half the Yankees had their Plan A (Mark Teixeira), Plan B (Greg Bird), and Plan C (Dustin Ackley) first basemen on the DL. Plan D turned out to be Refsnyder, who basically had an afternoon of prep work at the position before being thrown into game action. The Yankees didn’t want to overwhelm Refsnyder, so a few days after Teixeira’s injury, they called up Plan E: Chris Parmelee.

The Yankees signed Parmelee over the winter after Bird got hurt. He hit .252/.343/.444 (128 wRC+) with seven homers in 43 games with Triple-A Scranton — Parmelee thoroughly outhit Nick Swisher with the RailRiders — before being called up. In his first game in pinstripes, Parmelee went 3-for-4 with a double and two homers. For real! Check it out:

The very next night Parmelee singled in a run in the fifth inning to tie the game against the Angels. No one expected Parmelee to keep hitting like that, but hey, he gave the team a nice little shot in the arm. You need those out-of-nowhere contributions to contend.

The Yankees are not allowed to have nice things though. A few innings after that game-tying single, Parmelee popped his hamstring while stretching for a throw at first base. He suffered a Grade II strain and will be out two months or so. Just like that, Refsnyder was the first baseman again. Plans A, B, C, and E at first base were hurt.

To replace Parmelee, the Yankees signed Ike Davis (Plan F) after he opted out of his minor league deal with the Rangers, and he didn’t even go to Scranton. The Yankees added him to the MLB roster right away. Davis appeared in eight games with the Yankees, went 3-for-14 (.214), then was designated for assignment when Teixeira came off the DL. Davis is currently with Scranton waiting for Teixeira’s next injury.

Second Half Outlook: Parmelee was slated to begin baseball activities a week or two ago and is still a few weeks from returning. The Yankees don’t really have anywhere to play him right now, not unless they trade Teixeira or Carlos Beltran at the deadline. Neither Parmelee nor Davis have much of a role with the Yankees going forward. They’re just injury fill-ins. Parmelee had a memorable moment in pinstripes. Davis … not so much.

The Up & (Mostly) Downers

Johnny B. (Elsa/Getty)
Johnny B. (Presswire)

There are still nine players who played for the Yankees this season that we have not yet covered as part of this crash course midseason review. Let’s wrap up the big league portion of the midseason review with one sentence on each of those nine players. Sound good? Good.

  • RHP Johnny Barbato: For a while it looked like Barbato would stick as a middle reliever, but the bloom came off the rose and he’s now in Scranton.
  • LHP Richard Bleier: The 29-year-old rookie has not only appeared in ten games with the Yankees, he’s still on the roster!
  • LHP Phil Coke: Sure, why the hell not?
  • RHP Luis Cessa: Cessa made the Opening Day roster and keeps going back and forth between big league reliever and Triple-A starter.
  • OF Ben Gamel: His hair is pretty great and pushes the limits of team regulations.
  • RHP Conor Mullee: The three-time major elbow surgery guy got affordable health care for life this year, so that’s cool.
  • LHP Tyler Olson: Olson appeared in one game with the Yankees, then was lost on waivers.
  • C Gary Sanchez: “Hey, Gary, we’re going to call you up for a game and make you face Chris Sale, sound good?”
  • RHP Anthony Swarzak: It’s literally Anthony Swarzak.

Second Half Outlook: Sanchez definitely has a future with the Yankees. He’s the long-term plan behind the plate. Barbato, Cessa, Gamel, and Mullee might have roles with the team going forward too. We’ll see them again in September, if not earlier. Everyone else? They’ll be gone soon enough.

Saturday Links: Midseason Prospect Lists, Miller, Gurriel

The Judge and the GM. (Presswire)
The Judge and the GM. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Indians continue their four-game series with the third game later this afternoon. Here are some links to help you pass the time until first pitch.

Four Yankees make BA’s midseason top 100

The Baseball America crew released their midseason top 100 prospects list yesterday. The entire piece is free. You don’t need a subscription to see the list or the write-ups. Red Sox 2B Yoan Moncada sits in the top spot (groan) and is followed by Cardinals RHP Alex Reyes and Phillies SS J.P. Crawford in the top three. The Yankees have four players on the list: SS Jorge Mateo (No. 19), C Gary Sanchez (No. 36), OF Aaron Judge (No. 42), and RHP James Kaprielian (No. 99).

Both Mateo and Judge have climbed the rankings since BA’s preseason top 100 — Mateo was No. 26 and Judge was No. 76 coming into the season — though at least part of that is due to the graduation of prospects ahead of them. Still nice to see such a big jump for Judge. Sanchez stayed in the same spot (No. 36) and Kaprielian makes the midseason top 100 after not making the preseason top 100. He did that despite his elbow injury. It should be noted 2016 draftees were not eligible for the midseason top 100. OF Blake Rutherford will definitely be in the top 100 mix next spring.

Two Yankees make BP’s midseason top 50

Baseball Prospectus released their midseason top 50 prospects list earlier this week as well, and again, it’s free. It’s not behind the paywall. That’s always cool. Crawford, Moncada, and Dodgers LHP Julio Urias sit in the top three spots in that order. Players selected in the 2016 draft are not eligible for this list either.

The Yankees landed only two players on BP’s midseason top 50: Judge (No. 25) and Mateo (No. 29). Judge dropped a few spots while Mateo climbed many spots from the preseason top 101. Judge was No. 18 before the season and Mateo was No. 65. Sanchez was No. 92 before the season, so the BP crew is lower on him than BA. Jumping from No. 92 before the season into the top 50 at midseason is tough to do.

Miller atop Cubs’ wish list

According to Jon Heyman, Andrew Miller is believed to be atop the Cubs’ wish list as they look for bullpen help. That’s no surprise. Miller is awesome and signed to a favorable contract, plus Theo Epstein had him with the Red Sox too, so I assume there’s still some affinity there. The Cubs also would like Dellin Betances but “wouldn’t even ask,” says Heyman. Why not ask? You’re not doing your job if you don’t ask.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

In a separate piece, Heyman says someone with the Yankees put the chances of a Miller trade at “less than one percent.” That could just be posturing though. Also, apparently the Nationals made an offer for Miller over the winter. That makes sense, though we didn’t hear about it in the offseason. The Dodgers and especially the Astros were the two clubs most connected to Miller over the winter. The Yankees wanted Lance McCullers Jr. from Houston, but no dice.

Gurriel done with private workouts

Free agent Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel finished his private workouts with teams this week, reports Jesse Sanchez. Gurriel did indeed work out with the Yankees at some point. I know this because he posted it on Instagram. (Journalism!) Sanchez says Gurriel worked out with the Astros, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, and Padres in addition to the Yankees. I’m surprised it wasn’t more teams.

With the workouts over, I assume Gurriel and his agents will shift into contract negotiation mode. I really have no idea what to expect. I could see him getting big money (five or six years at $12M+ annually) or just a moderate short-term deal (three years at $10M per year). His age (32) and the usual concerns associated with the transition to MLB complicate things even though Gurriel has mashed everywhere he’s played.

Red Sox get Ziegler

Late last night the Red Sox picked up reliever Brad Ziegler from the Diamondbacks for two low level prospects, both teams announced. This is good for the Yankees if you’re on #TeamSell. It’s simple supply and demand. The supply of available relievers has now shrunk by one while the demand, as far as the Yankees are concerned, is unchanged. They weren’t going to trade with Boston anyway. The Red Sox took an available late-inning reliever away from the Cubs, Nationals, Rangers, Dodgers, Giants, and whoever else. Now the Yankees just have to, you know, sell.

King: White Sox asked about Gary Sanchez this week, but asking price was “far too high”

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to George King, the White Sox asked the Yankees about top catching prospect Gary Sanchez earlier this week, but talks didn’t progress far because the asking price was “far too high.” The ChiSox just lost Alex Avila to a hamstring injury and are looking to stay in the wildcard race. Also, Sanchez would be a long-term solution behind the plate.

Sanchez, 23, went into last night’s game hitting .281/.321/.487 (132 wRC+) with nine homers in 55 Triple-A games. He missed a few weeks earlier this season after taking a foul tip to the thumb and suffering a fracture. Sanchez spent one day in the big leagues a few weeks ago, serving as the DH against the White Sox, coincidentally enough. Anyway, I have three quick thoughts on this.

1. So the Yankees asked for one of the lefties, right? I’m guessing the Yankees asked the ChiSox for one of their three left-handed starters, meaning Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, or Carlos Rodon. When a team asks about one your top prospects, you ask about getting one of their best players in return. That’s how this usually works. Sale and Quintana are presumably off-limits and I’m sure the Yankees knew that. They were probably asking for Sale or Quintana, and willing to “settle” for Rodon. He’d satisfy their need for young pitching controllable beyond 2017.

2. What else do the White Sox have to offer? The White Sox don’t have a great farm system, especially with Tim Anderson now holding down the shortstop position in the big leagues. Carson Fulmer, the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft, has a 4.76 ERA (4.11 FIP) with a 13.0% walk rate in Double-A this year. His stock is down because concerns about his high-effort delivery and imprecise command are manifesting themselves in pro ball.

Here is MLB.com’s top 30 White Sox prospects, for your perusal. I don’t see anyone — or even a combination of multiple players — worth giving up Sanchez to get. Maybe I’m just a raging homer. If nothing else, that prospect list shows why the Yankees (probably) focused on the White Sox’s lefty starters. What else do they have to offer? Brett Lawrie? No thanks.

3. Sanchez is the most “untouchable” prospect the Yankees have. As far as I’m concerned, the Yankees do not have an untouchable player in their organization. They don’t have a young franchise cornerstone like Mike Trout or Francisco Lindor, and they don’t have a truly elite prospect like Lucas Giolito or Dansby Swanson. Those guys should be untouchable. Not players like Sanchez or Didi Gregorius or Aaron Judge.

That said, it would be tougher to part with some players than others, and Sanchez is one of them as a Triple-A catcher with a chance to hit in the middle of the order. Those guys are hard to find. Trading Judge would make more sense because the Yankees have a ton of outfield prospects in Double-A and Triple-A. Trading Jorge Mateo would also make more sense because he’s only in High Class-A and the Yankees have a whole bunch of other quality shortstop prospects. They only have one Sanchez though. Outfield and shortstop are positions of depth. Catcher isn’t.

* * *

Austin Romine‘s surprisingly competency as Brian McCann‘s backup has bought the Yankees some time. They’ve been able to leave Sanchez in Triple-A so he can continue to work on his defense. He is clearly the catcher of the future, and his path to the job is pretty clear. Sanchez figures to spend next year as McCann’s understudy before taking over as the No. 1 guy in 2018 or 2019. Trading him shouldn’t be off the table, but the Yankees are right to set the price high.

Jorge Mateo, Gary Sanchez to represent Yankees at the 2016 Futures Game

Sanchez in the 2015 Futures Game. (Getty)
Sanchez in the 2015 Futures Game. (Getty)

Shortstop Jorge Mateo and catcher Gary Sanchez will represent the Yankees at the 2016 Futures Game next month, MLB announced earlier today. Here are the full Team USA and World Team rosters. Baseball America also has free mini-scouting reports for every player selected for the game, so check that out.

Mateo, 21, is heading to his first Futures Game. He is hitting .275/.333/.417 (122 wRC+) with five homers and 26 steals in 37 attempts (70%) for High-A Tampa this season. Mateo has actually been slumping pretty hard of late; he’s hitting .207/.250/.241 (45 wRC+) in 21 games this month. Still, the Futures Game is a showcase for the game’s top prospects, and Mateo certainly qualifies.

This is the second Futures Game selection for Sanchez, who also played in the game last year. The 23-year-old is hitting .279/.324/.500 (135 wRC+) with eight homers for Triple-A Scranton this season. Sanchez missed about three weeks with a thumb fracture after being hit by a foul tip. Last summer he went 1-for-2 with a double off Giants right-hander Tyler Beede in the Futures Game.

Teams do have some input into the Futures Game rosters. I remember last year there was talk the Yankees declined to let Luis Severino participate because there was a chance he would get called up before the All-Star break. That was never confirmed and Severino wasn’t called up until early-August. Still though, the Yankees wanted to be prepared in case they needed him.

Last year Sanchez and Aaron Judge represented the Yankees in the Futures Game. The year before it was Severino and Peter O’Brien. The year before that it was Rafael DePaula. The 2016 Futures Game will be played in Petco Park on Sunday, July 10th. Trevor Hoffman will manage Team USA and Moises Alou will manage the World Team.

DotF: Austin, Higashioka, Puello all have big games in AAA win

Some notes:

  • C Gary Sanchez (thumb) has started hitting again, according to Shane Hennigan. He was scheduled to take batting practice today for the first time since a foul tip broke his thumb.
  • In a bit of a surprise, OF Estevan Florial as been promoted to High-A Tampa, reports Josh Norris. I think this might be temporary. One of those “Tampa needs an outfielder so let’s grab someone from the minor league complex across the street” things. Florial was talked up all winter as the team’s next great prospect, and he still only 18.
  • OF Aaron Judge placed 12th on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet, so check that out. Judge rebounded nicely from that ugly 0-for-24 stretch a week or so ago.

Triple-A Scranton (10-7 win over Louisville)

  • CF Jake Cave: 0-5, 2 K — threw a runner out at second
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-3, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 3-5, 2 R, 3 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — 11-for-27 (.407) with six doubles and two homers in seven games since being promoted … you know, the big league first base job is pretty wide open
  • DH Kyle Higashioka: 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB — 18-for-44 (.409) with four doubles and five homers in eleven games since coming up to fill in for Sanchez
  • LF Cesar Puello: 4-5, 1 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 1 E (throwing) — the former Mets farmhand is hitting .322/.459/.471 on the season
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 1.1 IP, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 32 of 50 pitches were strikes … yuck, though, to be fair, he barely pitched the last three weeks
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 27 of 44 pitches were strikes (61%)

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