- Right-hander Brian Anderson has been released. He had been on the Double-A Trenton disabled list with a biceps issue, though his performance when he did pitch was pretty good: nine strikeouts and just one walk in 7.1 IP.
- Mark Newman again said that Gary Sanchez is out with a “stiff lower back,” though he’s playing in Extended Spring Training. He is on the Low-A Charleston disabled list at the moment, and he’ll return there when healthy.
- Both Slade Heathcott (.376 wOBA) and J.R. Murphy (.385) will “probably” move up to High-A Tampa this summer. That’s a yes, though I was wondering if Heathcott’s brawl would slow down his schedule somewhat.
- Mark Prior is not throwing off a mound and is dealing with some kind of oblique/hip issue. Alan Horne (remember him?) is throwing in ExST, as is Brad Halsey. Graham Stoneburner, Jeremy Bleich, and Steve Garrison aren’t close to returning yet.
- David Adams is still having leg issues. It might be related to last year’s broken ankle, but the leg started bothering him after his one game played this year.
- When asked about who’s impressed in ExST, Newman responded with personal fave Bryan Mitchell. “He’s got electric stuff,” said Newman. “He’s got the stuff to be the next Banuelos, Betances. The high-end guy. That’s Mitchell.”
- Carlos Silva can opt out of his minor league deal in mid-June, so he could probably make another two or three or maybe even four starts for Triple-A Scranton before the Yankees have to make a decision about whether or not to call him up.
Got some minor league links to pass along…
Yankees set to promote Brackman
Perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) development in the Yanks’ minor league system this year has been Andrew Brackman’s breakout. Granted, we’re talking about seven starts here (39.1 IP, 33 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 6 BB, 41 K, ~2.00 GB/FB), but the scouting reports have been great, which is the most important thing. Joel Sherman says that the Yanks are set to promote Brackman from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton before the All Star break, which is less than a month away. If he’s truly on his way back to being an elite prospect, there’s no sense in holding him back. Great news.
Short Season Staten Island Yankees rosters
Robert Pimpsner tweeted the SI Yanks roster last night, which Greg Fertel was nice enough to round up in one spot. Outfielders Kelvin DeLeon, Ramon Flores, Eduardo Sosa, and Carlos Urena highlight the prospect crop, but Mikey O’Brien is the only significant piece on the pitching staff. Once more draft picks sign, the team with get a bit more exciting. Pretty surprising that Carmen Angelini isn’t on the roster. If he’s not on the Rookie level GCL squad, that means he’s been released. Boy was I wrong on him.
The SI Yanks kick their season off tomorrow with their annual home-and-home series against Brooklyn.
Stoneburner continues to open eyes
Aside from Brackman, Graham Stoneburner’s arrival as a legit power pitching prospect has been one of the biggest story lines of the 2010 minor league season. Kevin Goldstein reports today (sub. req’d) that “Stoneburner’s fastball and slider both rate as plus,” which doesn’t exactly jive with what we’ve heard from the Yanks. Pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras said last month that his slider was not even a big league average pitch, so who knows what to believe. Goldstein’s source could have seen Stoneburner on a good day, Nardi could have seen him on a bad one. Chances are the reality is somewhere in the middle.
Kahnle hopes to sign soon
Fifth round pick Tommy Kahnle said he hopes to sign with the Yankees soon, though he indicated that nothing is imminent. The hard throwing righty from Lynn University is one of several power college arms the Yanks drafted that projects to be a reliever down the road, something they surprisingly lack in the system. I ranked him the tenth most important sign of the draft class, though I was kinda spit balling it.
This is the third installment of our four-part What’s going on with some of my favorite minor leaguers? series. Today, we head down south to Tampa, Florida, where the Hi-A Tampa Yankees might actually be the most popular baseball team in town, which is really actually kind of sad. (I know the Trop sucks and it’s a hassle to go to, but c’mon Tampa fans, please watch your team play baseball. They’re really good. /unrelated rant)
Tampa features the most intriguing pitching staff in the Yankee farm with Adam Warren, Andrew Brackman, Graham Stoneburner and fan-favorite Pat Venditte. Among hitters, only Bradley Suttle and Corban Joseph really stick out at you, although Melky Mesa is also a fairly well-known name. I know he’s a fun novelty item, but I just don’t see Venditte (or Mesa) as a real prospect, so the list will only include Warren, Brackman, Stoneburner, Suttle and Joseph. We’ll start with the hitters.
Bradley Suttle, 3B
Drafted as an above-slot bonus baby in the 4th round of the 2007 MLB draft, Suttle was known for two things – 1) He had a fantastic hit tool, maybe the best in that entire draft; and 2) he also happens to be this man in disguise:
Suttle has Type-1 diabetes. Since coming into the system, he’s been pretty up and down and his time has been largely marred by injury. In 2008 at Charleston he put up a line of .272/.345/.457. I wouldn’t call it a bad season, but it’s not eye-catching either. You’d ideally like a bit more out of a guy considered by many to be the best pure hitter in college coming out of the draft, but he didn’t totally struggle either. Still, it seems odd that a guy known for great plate discipline would notch 91 strikeouts and only 42 walks in 372 plate appearances.
But where Suttle really struggled was against southpaws – he hit .219/.323/.324 against them while at Charleston. For a guy without a great defensive reputation, with average power and mediocre athleticism, that sort of thing isn’t what moves you up the levels. Still, all things considered, Suttle had a fairly decent season.
But ut-oh! 2009 was entirely missed due to multiple shoulder injuries, including labrum surgery. Not great for a guy that might not have profiled as a 3B anyway. Arm strength is kind of critical. So we fast forward to 2010. On the year, Suttle is hitting .242/.306/.327. As you can see, he’s not hitting for any power but he’s also hitting 46% of balls into the ground. If you don’t have very good speed, you’re not going to see a lot of those fall in for hits. He’s also struck out 44 times in 165 AB’s and walked 16 times. That approach will get you nowhere if you don’t at least make solid contact when you do hit the ball. As I’ve said, he doesn’t. But there are some bright spots. He’s hitting left-handers better this year at .317/.344/.362 but that’s also aided by a BABip of .404. Considering his age at the level, the injury issues and the regression in on-base skills, it’s hard to see Suttle going much further. Hopefully he’s still feeling the ill-effects of surgery and will bounce back and at least show off great hitting skills.
2010 season at Hi-A: .242/.306/.327
Last ten games: .206/.293/.206
Corban Joseph Multi-Pass was the Yankees’ fourth-round pick of the 2008 draft. Originally drafted as a shorstop, it seems most people didn’t believe he could stay there, including the Yankees, who moved him to second base. He also rated negatively (per Total Zone on B-Ref) at Charleston in a limited sample, but he it’s unlikely he’d develop the power to play at a corner, so 2nd would likely be a position he’ll have to pick up to move up and be a big-league player at some point. But he was solid at the hot corner, so maybe the team would direct him along the path of Kevin Russo. Who knows.
Now, that said, CoJo can hit. Last year in Charleston he was one of the more consistent hitters, throwing a line up of .300/.381/.418. He had a line drive rate of 25% and was pretty even with his strikeouts to walks ratio (61/49). He did have a crazy-high BABip over the last few months which made up for early season struggles, so it really was a tale of two seasons. So what has 2010 looked like for the Tennessee native?
He’s again one of the better hitters on the team and still a young player at 21. He’s hitting .303/.354/.415 and has two home runs on the year. I don’t know how his defense has been on the season, but his stick has again been very solid. He’s really the only hitter I can see on the Tampa team realistically continuing to move up with a real shot in the show. At this rate anyway. Still, the defense will have to really improve.
2010 season at Hi-A: .300/.381/.418
Last ten games: .343/.425/.371
Adam Warren, SP
What can I say about Adam Warren that hasn’t already been said? The dude has just been straight rolling though Hi-A hitters. It’s not even fair. Selected out of the University of North Carolina (go Heels!) in the 4th round of the 2009 draft, Warren should be a guy that advances quickly. He was a polished college senior, had an uptick of velocity (hitting 96) and has the potential to impact the big club possibly as early as 2011. Last year at Staten Island he ran over New York Penn League hitters, holding them with an ERA of 1.43 and solid peripherals.
In Tampa, he’s thrown 54 innings with just 14 walks and has registered 40 strikeouts. Batters are hitting .235 against him, which jumped considerably due to a poor outing on Friday. Per MILBSPLITS, Warren has gotten tons of groundballs (60%) and has kept the ball in the park (3% HR/FB ratio). I’m not sold that will look the same in Trenton, but there’s nothing it seems Warren needs to learn here at Hi-A. Expect to see him in lovely Trenton very shortly. If anyone knows how his velocity has been and the look of his secondary pitches this year, please let me know. As you can see by his last two starts, he finally ran into some trouble this year. Hey, it happens. He was lopped for 5 runs in less than three innings before exiting the game. No biggie. He’ll be fine.
2010 season at Hi-A: 54 IP, 2.67 ERA, 48 hits, 18 runs, 40 K, 14 BB, 2.43 GB/AA
Last two starts: 7.2 IP, 7.83 ERA, 8 hits, 6 Runs, 3 K, 0BB
Andrew Brackman, SP
Maybe one of the more hated prospects in the Yankee system, Andrew Brackman has had a strange season thus far. Signed as a classic bust/boom player as the Yankees’ 1st round pick in 2007, I don’t think anyone really expected what they saw out of him last year. Plagued with wildness and diminished stuff last season, he needed to show some positive signs of development this year. And he has. Brackmonster started the season off as we saw him in the throes of last year: 20 runs in 16.2 innings. Still, despite the crazy amount of runs, he walked one batter in that time frame. I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievable that is.
And check this out: he’s gotten much, much better since that bad stretch. Brackman has had only one start since then in which he’s given up more than one run. The walks are still minuscule at 5(!) in 38 innings and he’s notched 29 strikeouts this year. That’s pretty good. But the weird thing is it hasn’t fallen in with his scouting report. Kevin Goldstein reported that he’s been in the low-90’s (touching 94) with bad breaking balls. I don’t quite know how someone is able to put numbers up like this with two bad breaking balls and a fastball in the low 90’s, so I’m thinking maybe Goldstein saw him earlier in the season when he was getting bombed.
In May, which sandwiched a few rough starts with the rest of his good starts, Brackmonster has gotten hitters to ground out in 58% of at bats, his FIP is a crisp 3.24 and he wasn’t getting battered by a BABip of .455 like he did in April. Yeah, .455. Wow! I’m not going to say he pitched very well in April, but that’s an unbelievably high BABip, even in the minors. His FIP in April, after all, was only 4.20. He really wasn’t as bad as the box score would indicate.
The stuff is perhaps more important than the results. If Brackman is hitting 96 with his nasty hammer curve (two pitches that once hit 80 on the scale), I’d rather have that than weak stuff but solid results. Andrew Brackman just isn’t a prospect without a great fastball and breaking ball. At best he becomes John Rausch, who while a productive baseball player with similar size, relies on control. Andrew Brackman has never featured that. It’s totally possible he could, but I wonder how far he could get without great stuff. I’m hoping he’ll regain that velocity and feel for his curve. If Brackman does develop (a huge if), that’s easily the best pitcher in the system in terms of talent. Definitely my favorite guy to watch not named Jesus.
2010 Hi-A season:
38 IP, 5.92 ERA, 48 hits, 28 runs, 29 K, 5BB
Last two starts: 12 IP, 0.83 ERA, 9 hits, 1 run, 9 K, 2 BB
One of the overslot signings of the 2009 draft, Stoneburner, featuring a plus-name and a lot of potential, has unequivocally been one of the best pitchers in the Yankee farm this season. You may remember he started the year in Charleston, where he stole batters’ lunch money and did donuts in the faculty parking lot. He brutalized them until being promoted in mid-May. How’s he looked in his promotion?
Well, there’s such a thing as a free lunch still in Tampa. Stoneburner, in 22 innings, has an ERA of 3.68 and has struck out 24. He does have 10 walks and had two very sharp starts and two rocky outings, so the consistency is not quite completely there at Tampa. In Charleston he was able to use his heavy sinking fastball to register a GB% of 55% and it’s particularly high against righties. Lefties seem to fare better against Stoneburner. In Tampa they’ve racked up 7 runs in 9.2 innings and 8 walks. That’ll need to improve but there’s a lot to like about Stoneburner’s hot start this year. He has a great arm and he continues to rack up strikeouts and limit walks. Spare a couple poor outings, Stoneburner’s been unreal this season. He might end up a reliever if his breaking balls don’t fully develop, but even in that role, he could be a good one. And one that rises quickly.
2010 Hi-A season:
22 IP, 3.68 ERA, 11 hits, 9 runs, 24 K, 10 BB
Last two starts: 12 IP, 2.50 ERA, 6 hits, 3 runs, 13 K, 4 BB
Ok folks, that’s all from Tampa. When I get back from vacation we’ll do Charleston. You can check out some of my other work at http://www.mystiqueandaura.com/
Despite his all-out assault on the Low-A South Atlantic League, the reports coming out on Graham Stoneburner might be even better than the stats. In today’s Minor League Update, Kevin Goldstein mentions that the righty from Clemson has “broken out a much-improved slider this year, along with well-above average command.” Back when I profiled Stoneburner during the offseason, reports indicated that he had an average at best slider and command that came and went, so obviously he’s taken a huge step forward early in his career. Whatever tweaks the Yankees had him make, well bravo.
The 22-year-old Stoneburner has a 2.78 FIP with a 43-9 K/BB ratio and a 2.30 GB/FB ratio in 38 IP (six starts), and he struck out 11 in seven innings of work last night. It’s only a matter of time before he gets the bump up to High-A Tampa. The Yanks signed him for just $675,000 as their 14th round pick last year.
Graham Stoneburner | RHP
Stoneburner grew up in Richmond, Virginia, not far from the talent hotbed that produced players like Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright, Justin Verlander, and The Uptons in recent years. He lettered in baseball all four years at Mills E. Godwin High School, though he didn’t explode onto the prospect scene until his junior year, when he posted a 0.21 ERA with 74 strikeouts in just 43 innings, not to mention three homers and a .313 batting average. Stoneburner was named First Team All-Metro and Second Team All-District as a junior, and was expected to garner consideration for the top two rounds of the 2006 draft with a strong senior season.