Less than four weeks until the start of the Grapefruit League season. The Yankees will play their first spring game in three weeks and six days. I can’t wait. I’m getting really antsy for baseball, especially after this mostly lame offseason. Anywhere, here are some bits of news to check out.
Yankees second in Law’s farm system rankings
A few days after posting his top 100 prospects list, Keith Law (subs. req’d) released his annual farm system rankings. The Braves, who have been tanking pretty hard for a few years now, claim the top spot. The Yankees are second. They’re just ahead of the Padres, who are also tanking pretty hard. Being a World Series contender with a great farm system is better than tanking to have a great farm system, if you ask me. Anyway, here is Law’s write-up:
The brilliance of Brian Cashman has been in how he has deployed the products of his farm system to bolster the big league club while holding on to the core guys. In another era, Aaron Judge or Gary Sanchez or Luis Severino would have been used to trade for established veterans, but Cashman has held on to the right guys — you might even argue he has been too conservative in trading prospects, but I doubt Yankees fans would complain right now. Even in trades for Giancarlo Stanton and three players from the White Sox at the deadline, the Yankees have kept their top tier of prospects intact. The result is a system with five guys in the top 100, three more with strong cases and continued depth for future acquisitions.
Keep in mind the Yankees rank second despite losing a lot of talent within the last 18 months or so. Judge, Sanchez, Clint Frazier, and Jordan Montgomery all graduated to the big leagues since August 2016. Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian, Dustin Fowler, and Blake Rutherford were all traded away. That’s a lot of good prospects leaving the farm system! But they left for good reasons — they’re contributing to the MLB team either directly (on the roster) or indirectly (as trade chips) — and the Yankees still have a very good farm system. Pretty rad.
Captain’s Camp is underway (I think)
It appears this year’s edition of Captain’s Camp is now underway. The Yankees haven’t officially announced the start of Captain’s Camp — that’s not unusual, they’ve never announced anything about it — but several prospects have been in Tampa for a few weeks now based on their Twitter feeds, including Gleyber Torres and Justus Sheffield. Even guys who report to Spring Training early don’t show up that early, and this is the time of year the Yankees have held Captain’s Camp in the past, so yeah.
“Last season, we really started to see production from a lot of different guys that came through the system and had success. Now we have to keep it going,” said new farm director Kevin Reese to Dan Martin, who confirmed a bunch of prospects are already in Tampa. Captain’s Camp was a Gary Denbo creation designed to not only help prospects work on their game, but also bring them together to build relationships and foster leadership. I’m glad to see the Yankees are still doing it even after Denbo left, assuming they are actually doing it and not simply bringing guys to Tampa for super early work.
A-Rod joining Sunday Night Baseball
Once again, Alex Rodriguez is replacing Aaron Boone. Earlier this week ESPN announced A-Rod is joining their new Sunday Night Baseball booth. It’ll be A-Rod, Jessica Mendoza, and Matt Vasgersian. Rodriguez will also do some special event work with ESPN, and continue his postseason work with FOX. (Vasgersian will continue his MLB Network work as well.)
“I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my broadcasting career. It’s an exciting time in baseball and now I get that front row seat to tell that story every Sunday night on ESPN,” said A-Rod in a statement. Kinda remarkable how Alex has gone from hated player to beloved broadcaster, isn’t it? Watch, A-Rod won’t get into the Hall of Fame as a player because of the performance-enhancing drug stuff, but will one day win the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence. That’d be a hoot.