Ian Clarkin throws 4 innings in Arizona Fall League debut

(MLB.com screen grab)
(MLB.com screen grab)

For the first time in 2015, left-hander Ian Clarkin pitched in an official game this afternoon. Clarkin threw four innings for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League, allowing one run on three singles, one double, and three walks. He struck out two, got six ground outs, no fly outs, and threw 37 of 64 pitches for strikes (58%). Here’s the box score.

“I thought I pitched pretty well,” said Clarkin to William Boor. “It’s really good for me to have a starting point to make adjustments into my next start … It felt great. It was hard for them to take me out of today’s game. Obviously when they tell me I’m done, I’m done, but I wanted to go back out there”

Clarkin, 21, came into the season as the Yankees’ fourth best prospect. He then came down with a mysterious elbow injury and missed the season. It was originally called inflammation back in Spring Training. Clarkin was on a throwing program in August and September and has been pitching in Instructional League the last few weeks.

Keith Law was at this afternoon’s game and said Clarkin was sitting 90-92 mph with “that same good curveball he’s always had,” so that’s good news. His fastball/curveball combination has returned to where it was before the injury. Clarkin also throws a changeup and picked up a cutter last season. Here’s video of him warming up in the bullpen today.

“I think he threw the ball well, worked ahead in the count,” said Saguaros and Double-A Trenton pitching coach Jose Rosado to Boor. “It’s fun to watch a lefty so young in this league. It’s fun, especially when he’s able to work ahead in the count.”

The 2015 season is a lost season at this point, but at least the AzFL stint will allow Clarkin to get some competitive innings under his belt before going home for the winter. The AzFL season ends in about a month, so with any luck, Clarkin will throw another 25-30 innings this year.

“All I’m worried about is going out and dominating,” added Clarkin. “I have a lot more left in the tank. I’m happy that I have a starting point, but I can do a lot more. I expect a lot more.”

DotF: Gary Sanchez off to great start in Arizona Fall League

Sanchez. (Presswire)
Sanchez. (Presswire)

Before we get to the first fall/winter ball update of the season, here are a bunch of minor league notes and links to pass along:

  • LHP Ian Clarkin, who did not pitch in official games at all this season due to ongoing elbow trouble, will make his first Arizona Fall League start on Monday, reports Josh Norris. Clarkin did pitch in Instructional League the last few weeks.
  • Baseball America posted a Scout’s Take piece on C Gary Sanchez. (It’s free. You don’t need a subscription.) The scout likes Sanchez as a potential middle of the order bat and also sees him as an average defender, which is nice improvement from where he was earlier in his career.
  • Based on the Twitter feeds of various players, the Yankees had Alfonso Soriano and Scott Rolen working with their minor leaguers during Instructional League. Rolen and farm system head Gary Denbo know each other from their days with the Blue Jays.
  • Know that giant Ferris wheel they’re building in Staten Island? It’s creating headaches for Short Season Staten Island, writes Everett Merrill. Construction has limited parking and led to traffic delays, and even knocked the team’s phone lines out for a few days. Attendance took a hit this year and the team is trying to come up with aggressive marketing strategies for next season.
  • And finally, with 1B Greg Bird and RHP Luis Severino graduating to MLB, OF Ben Gamel and SS Thairo Estrada jumped on MLB.com’s top 30 Yankees prospects list, according to High-A Tampa. Here’s the full list.

Now let’s get to the fall ball action, starting with the Arizona Fall League.

AzFL Surprise (6-5 loss to Peoria) Tuesday’s season-opener

  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 PB — hit the first home run of the AzFL season … the linked scouting report above says the passed ball was a cross-up, remember most of these pitchers and catchers haven’t worked together before
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 2-4, 1 2B — he’s here in place of 3B Eric Jagielo, who is still recovering from his knee surgery … it’s an infielder for infielder replacement, so Austin has to play first (or third I guess, but he hasn’t done that in a while)
  • SS Tyler Wade: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI — the AzFL will be a good test for him since he’ll be facing a bunch of older pitchers

AzFL Surprise (5-4 win over Peoria in ten innings, walk-off style) Wednesday’s game

  • DH Gary Sanchez: 3-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • LF Dustin Fowler: 0-3, 1 K
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 23 of 35 pitches were strikes (66%) … first game action since late-June … he missed the end of the regular season due to a tendon issue in his hand

AzFL Surprise (3-0 win over Mesa) Thursday’s game

  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 K — started and batted cleanup in each of their first three games, so it appears he’s going to play a lot these next few weeks
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Tyler Wade: 0-2, 1 K
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (74%) … he hit 99 mph according to Josh Norris, who also posted video

AzFL Surprise (20-6 win over Mesa) Friday’s game … no Yankees prospects played

The various Caribbean Winter Leagues have either just started their seasons or will do so relatively soon. Here are the assignments so far.

Dominican Summer League: RHP Andury Acevedo, UTIL Jose Rosario

Mexican Pacific League: RHP Gio Gallegos, RHP Luis Niebla, RHP Cesar Vargas

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico): No rosters yet

Venezuelan Winter League: C Francisco Arcia, IF Ali Castillo, RHP Luis Cedeno, OF Ben Gamel, C Juan Graterol, OF Ericson Leonora, RHP Jaron Long, RHP Mark Montgomery, OF Teodoro Martinez, RHP Diego Moreno, and IF Jose Pirela.

Keep in mind that just because a player is on a winter ball roster, it does not necessary mean he’ll play. It just means that team holds the player’s winter ball rights. Also, more players can still be — and inevitably will be — added to winter ball rosters in the coming days and weeks. Right now it sure looks like the VWL is the one to watch.

Update: Ian Clarkin added to Arizona Fall League roster

(MLB.com screen grab)
(MLB.com screen grab)

September 24th: Well, there has been a change of plans. MLB Pipeline reports Clarkin is instead heading to the Arizona Fall League, not Instructional League. That’s a pretty big deal. The AzFL is much more competitive than Instructs and less informal too — Clarkin is returning to true game action. He must be perfectly healthy. Good news.

September 22nd: This is some pretty encouraging news. Left-handed pitching prospect Ian Clarkin has been added to this year’s Instructional League roster, reports Josh Norris. Here is the original Instructional League roster. Instructs started last week and they start playing actual games next week.

Clarkin, 20, did not pitch at all during the minor league season this year due to an ongoing elbow issue. He was shut down with elbow inflammation in Spring Training, reportedly returned to throw some innings in Extended Spring Training in May, but had to be shut down again at some point.

According to assistant GM Billy Eppler, Clarkin has been on a throwing program in recent weeks, which advanced as far as facing hitters in live batting practice. Clarkin even posted a photo of himself throwing off a mound four weeks ago. The elbow injury, whatever it is, did not require surgery.

The assignment to Instructional League means Clarkin is healthy enough to pitch in actual games now, which is a big deal after the lost season. It’s not much — Instructs only last about four weeks, so he’ll get maybe 15-20 innings, if that — but it’s better than nothing. He needs to get some innings under his belt this year. More than zero.

Clarkin was the third of the Yankees’ three first round picks in the 2013 draft, following Eric Jagielo and Aaron Judge. The southpaw had a 3.12 ERA (3.65 FIP) with a 24.7% strikeout rate and a 7.6% walk rate in 75 innings last year, almost all with Low-A Charleston. He did made one late-season spot start with High-A Tampa.

I ranked Clarkin has New York’s second best pitching prospect coming into the season because he’s a four-pitch lefty — low-90s heater, cutter, changeup, curveball — with a bat-missing breaking ball to go with good location and deception. He doesn’t necessarily have ace upside, but Clarkin is a no-doubt starter with few flaws. A boringly good prospect, I’d say.

Given how aggressively the Yankees have moved their prospects the last year or two, Clarkin might have made it to Double-A Trenton this summer, if healthy. That would have put him in position to help at the MLB level next year. Injuries happen, that’s part of pitching, so Clarkin’s development has hit a bump in the road. Hopefully next year he can pick right up where he left off in 2014.

DotF: Scranton clinches division title, Pulaski takes Game One

Got some links and notes to pass along:

  • LHP Ian Clarkin has faced hitters in live batting practice, assistant GM Billy Eppler told Chad Jennings. Clarkin has not pitched at all this year after suffering some kind of elbow injury in Spring Training. The minor league season ends early next week, so it’s unlikely he’ll get into a game.
  • IF Cole Figueroa has been outrighted to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. He was designated for assignment earlier this week to make room for September call-ups. No word on OF Tyler Austin yet. I’m guessing they’re trying to trade him before putting him on waivers.
  • Chad Jennings put together a really great breakdown of how the various minor league lineups have evolved this season. There’s been a ton of turnover since Opening Day, which is normal, but most of it is positive turnover. Guys getting promoted, etc.
  • Low-A Charleston will have a slightly new logo and new uniforms beginning next season, reports Josh Leventhal. They added “wrought-iron accents native to the Charleston area” to their classic chomping dog logo. Pretty slick.
  • And finally, SS Tyler Wade was named to the High-A Florida State League end-of-season All-Star Team, so congrats to him.

Triple-A Scranton (12-2 win over Buffalo) they have officially clinched the division title for the first time since 2010

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — that’s his third homer of the season and his first since the one he hit in the big leagues before his injury
  • 2B Ali Castillo: 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB
  • DH Ben Gamel: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — leads the system with 50 extra-base hits
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB — 6-for-16 (.375) in his last four games … he’s second in the system with 49 extra-base hits
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HBP
  • 3B Cito Culver: 4-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K — you know the offense is clicking when Cito has four hits
  • LHP Eric Wooten: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3/9 GB/FB — 60 of 88 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 12 of 18 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Nick Goody: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 0/1 GB/FB — ten of 15 pitches were strikes … 84/21 K/BB in 62.1 minor league innings

[Read more…]

DotF: Hendrix extends hitting streak in Staten Island’s win

IF Abi Avelino was named the High-A Florida State League Offensive Player of the Week, so congrats to him. Also, Chad Jennings posted a bunch of minor league notes earlier today, so make sure you go check ’em all out. Here are the important injury updates:

  • LHP Ian Clarkin (elbow inflammation) is currently on a throwing program “with no complaints,” according to assistant GM Billy Eppler. So now we know Clarkin is throwing with unknown intensity and frequency. Hooray? The left-hander hasn’t pitched at all in 2015 and it seems unlikely he will get into any games before the minor league season ends in a few weeks.
  • 3B Eric Jagielo (knee) had arthroscopic surgery last week and will resume baseball activities in eight weeks, so his season is effectively over. Maybe Jagielo can get healthy in time to play in the Arizona Fall League. The season usually begins in early-October.
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren (elbow) is “progressing well” following surgery to remove bone chips. He’s scheduled to begin a throwing program next week and the expectation is he will pitch again this season. Also, OF Mason Williams (shoulder) is still rehabbing and will be re-evaluated this week.
  • And finally, RHP Brady Lail has been promoted to Triple-A Scranton and RHP Rookie Davis has been promoted to Double-A Trenton, report Matt Kardos and Josh Norris. We probably see a few more guys promoted for final few weeks of the season as well.

Low-A Charleston (5-4 loss to Hagerstown, walk-off style)

  • SS Jorge Mateo: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • CF Austin Aune: 0-4, 3 K
  • RF Alex Palma: 0-4, 1 K — threw a runner out at second
  • RHP Chance Adams: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 29/7 K/BB in 21.1 innings for this year’s fifth rounder

[Read more…]

DotF: Mateo steals three more bases in doubleheader

Got a bunch of updates to pass along:

  • Chad Jennings has a whole bunch of minor league notes to check out. Most importantly, Brian Cashman confirmed OF Aaron Judge is day-to-day with “some minor stuff,” so he’s been out the last three days but it’s not a big deal. Also Jennings hears LHP Ian Clarkin is not expected to have surgery. That’s … good?
  • Other stuff from Jennings: OF Mason Williams (shoulder) has resumed playing catch, OF Slade Heathcott (quad) is close to playing in minor league rehab games, and LHP Jacob Lindgren (elbow) is rehabbing but has yet to begin a throwing program. RHP James Kaprielian is working out in Tampa, but Cashman doesn’t know when he’ll make his pro debut. That’s up to farm system head honcho Gary Denbo.
  • IF Nick Noonan was released from Triple-A Scranton, reports Brendan Kuty. He hit .262/.308/.328 (83 wRC+) in 67 games before landing on the DL. This pretty much confirms IF Cole Figueroa will be the starting shortstop the rest of the season.
  • And finally, 1B Kane Sweeney was named the Appalachian League Offensive Player of the Week. This year’s 29th rounder came into the day hitting .273/.373/.568 (158 wRC+) with three homers in 14 pro games.

Know what I haven’t done this season? Updated the standings. So let’s do that now.

Triple-A Scranton (5-0 loss to Indianapolis) they’re 51-46 and a half-game back in the division

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 K
  • LF Jose Pirela: 2-4 — 13-for-25 (.520) in his last six games
  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 2-3, 1 2B
  • RHP Eric Ruth: 6 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 8/6 GB/FB, 1 E (throwing) — 58 of 88 pitches were strikes (66%) … his strong season at Double-A was rewarded with a Triple-A spot start in place of RHP Luis Severino, who is away from the team because his wife is having a baby

[Read more…]

Aaron Judge ranks 13th on Keith Law’s midseason top 50 prospects list


Over at ESPN (subs. req’d), Keith Law posted his midseason list of the top 50 prospects in the minor leagues today. Dodgers SS Corey Seager, the consensus top prospect in baseball following the wave of recent promotions, is predictably ranked first. Phillies SS J.P. Crawford and Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito rank second and third, respectively.

The Yankees have one prospect on Law’s midseason list, and it’s OF Aaron Judge at No. 13. Judge also ranked 13th on both Baseball America’s and Baseball Prospectus’ midseason lists last week. So I guess that makes him the consensus 13th best prospect in baseball. How about that? Here’s a snippet of Law’s blurb on Judge:

(Judge is) all muscle and is shockingly athletic for someone his size, an average or better runner with a 65 or 70 arm. Judge has good feel to hit and enormous raw power, and he commands the strike zone well, with a lower strikeout rate than you’d expect from a guy with arms this long. He covers the inner third so well that he’s more vulnerable to stuff away, but overall has kept his strikeout rate to about 25 percent or better even as he has moved up three times in the past 14 months.

RHP Luis Severino did not make Law’s midseason list but he is one of seven honorable mentions, so I guess that means he would have made his midseason top 57 prospects list. Round numbers are sexier though. Law does say Severino is “more likely” to be a reliever than starter down the road because of his delivery. Judge ranked 23rd on Law’s preseason list while Severino was on the outside looking in.

Also, in this afternoon’s chat (subs. req’d), Law said the Yankees currently have five top 100 caliber prospects in Judge, Severino, 1B Greg Bird, SS Jorge Mateo, and the just signed RHP James Kaprielian. (Not necessarily in that order.) Bird ranked 80th on his preseason list and Law says Kaprielian would be “in the 51-100 range, probably around 75th.” Also, Law said LHP Ian Clarkin “would be a top 100 guy if he were healthy,” which he’s not, obviously. Hopefully he will be one day.