Wednesday, September 5, 2007
The Hughes Report (9/6/07)
The difference in his performance tonight was that he did a better job of mixing his pitches. We actually saw the fastball, curveball, AND change. On the downside, Phil is still throwing too many fat pitches when he needs to get one over. If you’re down in the count, yeah, you need to throw a strike, but it can’t be a fat one because those get hit hard. And now, on to the velocity report.
Velocity Drop: Following the 4th inning
-John Sickels’ thoughts on Ian Kennedy: http://www.minorleagueball.com/story/2007/9/5/12490/10875#commenttop
-Good Reading: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/minors/features/264668.html
-P.S.: How about that A-Rod guy?
Monday, September 3, 2007
Ian Kennedy’s Debut
The Good: Kennedy’s velocity was a bit better than the “high 80s” thrown around by some in the prospect analysis community. In actuality, the range on his fastball was 87-92, which is more in line with the reports from Pinstripes Plus than anywhere else, so kudos to Patrick, Frankie, and the rest of the guys over there. The average velocity of the 54 fastballs thrown was 90.5. In addition to showcasing solid-good velocity, Kennedy had great fastball command. The home plate ump was a bit inconsistent, on both sides, but Kennedy did a great job of hitting the corners with his fastball.
Ian also showed flashes with his Vulcan change. The movement to the pitch was a bit funky because he places the ball between his middle and ring finger, forming the V for Vulcan. This was the pitch that he was able to fool left-handers with. Overall, he did a good job with this pitch.
The Bad: Kennedy also flashed his slider, curveball, and sinker on Saturday. On this day, I would say the slider probably showed the most promise. Despite that, I don’t think any of these pitches looked especially great (Don, don’t kill me). While the pitches themselves showed promise, Kennedy left more than his fair share of them up in the zone, so his command wasn’t great with respect to this portion of his arsenal. Fortunately, the Devil Rays were not able to take advantage of this and he escaped largely unscathed.
The Verdict: I was very pleased with Kennedy’s debut and feel he showed enough to warrant another start. With Hughes’ current struggles, I wouldn’t mind if the Yankees kept the 5-man rotation in tact just to have a better idea of who has the hot hand heading into October between the two rookies. I think Hughes has more long-term potential, but if at the end of the month the Yankees are in the playoffs and Kennedy has performed superior, he should get the post-season nod.
-The minor league season is, essentially, over. Austin Jackson was promoted to AAA as a reward for his great year and Marcos Vechionacci to AA as a reward for his hot finish. Both players will, almost assuredly, start next year for Trenton. AA will have its best collection of position player talent in quite some time between those two and Jose Tabata.
-The GCL Yankees won their league championship for what seems like the 12th time in the last 4 years. Jesus Montero, who very quietly had a good season, killed the ball in a small playoff sample. He hit .280/.366/.421 in 107 regular season ABs and then went 6 for 16 with a double, 2 homers, 2 walks and 4 Ks. Just a very solid year for a guy some wanted to write off so soon after being regarded as the best prospect on the international market.
-On a final, “funny” note, here at RLYW and within the Yankee blogosphere we’re all worried about Phil Hughes’ velocity. Hughes has been pitching at 90-93, touching 94. Within these same communities, we’re also all pleased with Kennedy’s velocity during his first game where he was 89-92. Over in Red Sox land, everyone is in love with Clay Bucholz. Bucholz is sitting 90-93. I’m not going to ignore that more troubling than Hughes’ velocity range has been his tendency to tire quickly, but for those who are dismayed regarding Hughes’ overall velocity…please calm down. Now, if only he could regain some feel for the change, we wouldn’t even have to have this discussion.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
All Hughes, All The Time
*I have made no efforts to read this over and check for grammar or anything like that. I’m studying for the LSATs. I just moved. I’m in recovery from one of the worst migraines of my life. I have a new, super time consuming internship. Grammar sucks.*
My initial goal with this entry was to figure out what’s wrong with Phil Hughes. However, after going through his last 4 outings pitch by pitch, I can’t say that there is anything wrong with Phil Hughes. What he’s going through is typical of young pitchers, even immensely talented ones, making their first go round in the bigs. This much SG has attempted to illustrate.
For those that are concerned about his velocity, I’m not sure there’s any sense in worrying about it too much. While he was only 89-91 against Detroit, he has otherwise pitched consistently at 90-93 with the occasional 94 or 95 thrown in. The good is that that 90-93 is comprised primarily of 92+s in the early going. The bad is that he’s had trouble maintaining it for the entire game. That should hopefully come with time…or as soon as Clemens gets him on the workout. Hughes is also a guy that for all the glowing minor league reports, has had stretches where he wasn’t quite right mechanically and his velocity would dip into that upper 80-91 range. So, my hope is that what we saw in Detroit was due in part to that and it will be fixed before his next start. Maybe he can talk to Mo about that after he’s done running with Clemens.
Where I would worry about Hughes is pitch selection. I’ve noticed Hughes shaking off some pitches here and there, which tells me he is being allowed to take a role in calling his games. If he is, the Yankees need to stop that. If he isn’t, and the Yankee coaching staff is, then I’m worried about the Yankee coaching staff. Hughes has had 12-15 pitch sequences in games where he will throw 90% fastballs. This is fine and dandy when you’re Wang and throwing a mid 90s sinker or Joba and throwing upper 90s 4-seamers, but I’m not so sure how effective this is with a low 90s 4-seamer. I’ve never played organized baseball, so I might be off there.
Another strange thing about Hughes’ pitch selection is that he doesn’t tend to mix changes and curves within an inning. Going through the past 4 games it’s almost as if it is decided that in Inning X he will use the change as his off-speed pitch and in Inning Y it will be the curve and never shall there be a deviation. Once again, I don’t have the real baseball experience to say what’s going on here or what the thinking is, but I would assume that this is something the opposition has picked up on and it’s allowing them to have an easier time guessing. I’d be curious to see if someone (SG) could run the numbers and see how batters tend to hit against Hughes with 1 out, 2 outs, 3 outs as far as batted ball outcomes.
So, in conclusion, I’m hopeful Hughes will right himself and I also really hope the Yankees decide to mix up the pitch selection. Long-term, I’m still a Phil Hughes fan, but in the short term there may be some growing pains, which will be tough to deal with given that Phil is now one of the guys the team needs to count on.
-Austin Jackson is in the AFL. I hope he performs as well there as he has at Tampa. Look, no negativity, Don.
-Nice to see Marcos Vechionacci making the late season charge for a .700 OPS, which may be enough to get him to Trenton for the start of the ‘08 season.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The Yankees Lost a Series?
With the way the team has been playing for the past month and a half, a series loss comes as a shock. However, given that Jeff Karstens took the mound on Tuesday and that Baltimore put Erik Bedard on the mound on Wednesday, this was not so shocking.
Anyway, I was at the game yesterday and was surprised to find a lot of negativity regarding Hughes during the liveblog/game chatter when I came home. Now, my vantage point was from at an angle behind home plate, so I can’t comment on whether or not he was really missing the zone or just getting squeezed, but his raw stuff seemed pretty good yesterday. The curveball was terrific, he used his change sparsely for a couple easy fly balls, and his fastball seemed to be fine (90-93 for his entire outing, including the final frame). The only time the crowd really got on him was the play where he dropped the ball attempting to cover first. The hits he was giving up were, for the most part, very weak and/or helped by the defense. The one at bat where it seemed an Oriole hitter was really on his stuff was Millar’s final at bat where he hit rocket after rocket foul down the LF line. Hopefully, Hughes is better next time out, or at least gets better results.
-On the issue of velocity…while I noticed the velocity dip this year, I forgot that Carlos Gomez had attributed it to a change in his arm angle. While 90-93 is good enough, if you can maintain it, which he’s been steadily improving on, 92-95 would be, if nothing else, sexier.
-On the issue of fastball types…Hughes does throw both a 2-seam and 4-seam fastball, so sometimes when you see those 88s, it’s not fatigue it’s a 2-seamer.
-Edwar was very very good. I wonder if he’s going to have to wait 12 days to pitch again.
-Henn was very good as well. He’s struggled throwing strikes all year, but did a good job of that yesterday. He has good enough stuff from the left-side where if he just throws strikes, he’s going to be a very serviceable reliever. It’s just a question of whether his control will be there consistently.
-Marcos Vechionacci is closing out the year with a hot streak. This might be enough to get him promoted to Trenton to start ‘08. Unfortunately, his year has still been terribly disappointing. While it’s great that his glove continues to get rave reviews, at some point he’s going to have to start hitting. If this year didn’t kill his prospect status, one more year of not hitting will.
-Looks like the FSL has figured out Austin Jackson. He’s still had a nice year and made some real improvement, but perhaps not as much as it seemed when he was hitting everything a couple weeks ago.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Fortunately, we have both.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
The Return of Hughes
So, as you may have heard, Phil Hughes made his return this afternoon. Hughes’ final line looks pretty poor, 4.1-7-6-6-2-5, but there was some good and bad mixed in there. The good is that Phil was pretty good through this first 4 innings. He needs to become more economical, but he was getting the job done. The bad is that, for whatever reason, he isn’t maintaining his velocity. He was throwing in the low 90s for the first couple innings, but then dropped to 88-91. I’m not sure what to make of this at the present time. I was able to watch Hughes in person last year, as well as get reports from others who attended his games, and he was always able to maintain his velocity. I’m hoping this is a matter of him just needing to get some innings under his belt. The one piece of evidence for this viewpoint would be that the 90-93, touching 94 that he was throwing in his first couple innings was better velocity than he had shown at any point in his first two ML starts.
Anyway, the velocity loss wasn’t much of a problem for Hughes until he began missing his spots with his fastball. The biggest example of this would be the home run. Phil missing spots with his fastball also wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if he was commanding his curveball, which he wasn’t. The change-up also wasn’t there today. So, Hughes wasn’t good today, but the command problems are solvable and hopefully the velocity is as well.
Meanwhile, in the minors…Austin Jackson is for real. He’s cut down on his K rate a ton and is drilling the ball. By the end of the season you could say he’s a better prospect than Tabata and get taken seriously. Hell, if you’re the aggressive type, you might even be able to pull it off now.
In addition, the Joba Chamberlain Relief Project is going swimmingly. Joba made his third relief appearance, this one a 2-inning outing. In his 2 innings Joba gave up 1 hit and struck out 5. He has 18 Ks in 8 AAA innings. I fully expect him to be with the team by the end of the week. I might not love the idea of him being in the pen, but at least it gives me another reason to watch.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
-So, I’m sure most of you have heard by now, but Joba Chamberlain has been moved to the Scranton bullpen. The Yankees have said that the move is to see if he can help them out of the big league pen this year, but that his long term future is as a starter. I have mixed feelings about this move. On the one hand, it would be awesome if Joba could help the team this year because Kyle Farnsworth and Scott Proctor aren’t QUITE getting the job done. On the other hand, working out of the bullpen is something Joba is not used to and he’s about to be asked to do this in the big leagues, in a playoff race, in New York, 1 year out of college. How Torre will use Joba also needs to be considered. I’m not the biggest fan of Joe Torre’s bullpen management because he tends to overuse guys when they’re going well and under use them if he doesn’t trust them. Ideally, I think the Yankee brass would have liked to have Edwar Ramirez in this spot, but since Torre was determined not to use him, they’re going to Joba. I hope this works out and that this doesn’t impact his long term ability to be a starter. He needs more time to refine his game, but has overpowering raw stuff, so maybe this will all work out. I would love to see SG run some sort of MLE projection of what Joba can contribute…taking into account guys getting better when they go to the pen and such things. Thanks, SG.
-Ian Kennedy was very good in his first AAA start. Ian has done a terrific job in the minors this season, but guys with average fastballs don’t get shots to help out the bullpen. One thing that I do like though is that Kennedy is being given the opportunity to get his innings totals so that, hopefully, it won’t be too difficult for him to transition to a 6-month season next year. This is something that Joba or Hughes may struggle with next year due to their relatively light workloads.
-Speaking of Phil…Phil didn’t seem to have his best command today, missing off the edges a bit, but still got the job done. He kept the ball down in the zone, even when missing, and was able to turn in a Wang-ian performance. Hughes’ next start will be in the big leagues and not a moment too soon. The Kei Igawa Experience has been…underwhelming.
-Looks like I jumped the gun on Austin Jackson cooling down. He’s swinging at everything and hitting it hard, impressive stuff.
-Jesus Montero has had a nice start to his pro career, .282/.364/.487 in 39 ABs with a 5:8 BB:K ratio.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
-Phil Hughes was terrific tonight. His fastball was in the low 90s all night and he was locating it to the corners. He was getting both of his curveballs over for strikes and swings and misses and he even did a solid job of flashing the change. He might need one more outing to get his pitch count up, but stuff wise he’s good to go. The sooner the better, I tire of Kei Igawa.
-I don’t think Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain are being rushed. They’ve both done enough this season to convince me that they’re better than AA. At the same time, I do think they’re being rushed. Neither has demonstrated that they’re at a level where there is nothing more that they can learn from the AA experience. I would think the Yankees realize this, but feel that the promotion is a necessary step in figuring out how close these two are to contributing to next year’s rotation. For Joba, it is also probably a test to see how much he might help this year’s bullpen. Considering this, I support the promotions.
-To clarify, when I made my comment about Clippard losing his shot to be a part of the Yankee rotation I didn’t mean that he would never recover. Clippard has less stuff than Chamberlain, Hughes, and Kennedy (probably). However, prior to this year he was more ready as far as inning totals and minor league level. Now, all 3 of those guys are ahead of him in terms of readiness, which means they are more than likely going to get full shots at a rotation spot before he does. Even assuming injuries, just having guys ahead of him lessens his shot.
-Despite rocky outings his last two times out, I’m curious as to how well Alan Horne has to pitch before he gets Ross Ohlendorf’s AAA rotation spot.
-After a terrible mid-season slump, Francisco Cervelli seems to be getting back on track. He’s 10 for his last 30 with 2 doubles, a triple, a homer, 2 walks, and 5 Ks.
-After a tremendous start, Austin Jackson has cooled down. He’s only hitting .256 with 0 walks and 6 strikeouts in his last 10 games. Hopefully, he can start drawing walks again so he’s not using up as many outs.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Another Hammy Ruins The Day
Let’s get the big one out of the way; Phil Hughes hurt his hamstring attempting to strike out Mark Teixeira of the Texas Rangers during the 7th inning of his potential no-hitter. It sucks that this happened and I was devastated at the time, but I take exception to Pete Abraham’s evaluation of the situation. He essentially said that this is the type of thing that would not have happened had Hughes been in the minors like the Yankees said he would. I understand what he’s saying, and it makes some sense, but pitchers are so fragile that some other random injury could have occurred while he was in AAA and how would that have looked? Rather than focus on the injury, I’d like to focus on the fact that Hughes displayed the fact that he is/was ready. He got tons of groundballs, a good strikeout rate, and had the home plate umpire not squeezed him a bit, not many walks. He was placing his fastball with precision to the outside corner, keeping his pitches down, the curve was making batters look silly, and that change-up the Yankees wanted him to work on…well, just ask Mark Teixeira about it…Moving on to the minors, Marcos Vechionacci is still out.
Matt DeSalvo had a good outing for AAA Scranton and could get the call for Phil Hughes’ next start. The Yankees had DeSalvo slotted in as their first starter to get called up from the minor leagues following last year’s Spring Training and he’s gotten off to a hot start this year. 25.2 innings into the season, DeSalvo has an ERA of 1.05. Yes, he’s walked a lot of guys, but last night’s start was exemplary of why. DeSalvo’s final line was 5.2-2-0-0-5-5-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) and he only threw 49 of his 97 pitches for strikes. DeSalvo probably has better stuff than Darrell Rasner, which is not saying much, but it is better. That said, unlike Rasner who would rather focus on throwing strikes and potentially give up a big hit, DeSalvo likes to avoid the big hit at all costs. As a result, on 3-2 pitches, he will throw something off-speed or go for a fastball on the outside corner while Rasner would throw a fastball over the plate. The result is that DeSalvo walks more guys and gives up fewer hits. Once again, I don’t think he is or will be any great shakes, but hopefully he or Rasner can hold the fort until The Franchise™ returns. By the way, for those who haven’t seen DeSalvo pitch, imagine Kevin Brown’s motion combined with Mike Mussina’s physical stature as well as Moose’s nibbling. The results won’t be as good as either guy, obviously.
Eric Duncan and Alberto Gonzalez both had quiet nights. Gonzalez was 0 for 4 and is down to .262 while Duncan’s battle to ever hit higher than .250 continues. The NJ bred slugger was 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout.
Brett Smith had a very nice outing for Trenton last night as everyone who touches the ball in that rotation continues to deal. Smith’s line was 6-4-0-0-1-5-0 and he now has a 1.16 ERA in 23.1 innings to go with excellent peripherals. Smith was a part of the 2004 draft class with Phil Hughes, Chris Garcia, and Jeff Marquez and was supposed to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys, but has been disappointing to this point in his career. It’s too late for a complete turnaround, but the way things are going this year, he might find himself in the majors after a few more hamstring injuries.
Brett Gardner had a tough game as he would go 0 for 5 with a strikeout. Gardner seemed to be heating up, so hopefully this is just a blip on the radar. Cody Ehlers was 1 for 1 with a single and 3 walks. He’s got the strike zone under control and the AVG is making steady progress, but the power needs to show up.
Juan Miranda showed a sign of life in yesterday morning’s Tampa game. The Cuban slugger was 1 for 4 with a bottom of the 9th 3-run homer to send the game to extra innings. He also struck out once. Colin Curtis, hitting in Jose Tabata’s vacated 3-slot, was 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout.
Austin Jackson had a breakout game for Charleston yesterday despite the team as a whole only managing 4 hits. Jackson was 2 for 3 with a single, a home run, 2 walks, and no strikeouts. Jackson’s ISOs are solid, but he really needs to work on his AVG as well as his BB:K ratio. Wilmer Pino was 1 for 4 with a double and a walk. After back-to-back hitless games, Pino has had back-to-back games with 1 hit; hopefully this starts something for him. The BB:K ratio is solid, but it appears he may simply be getting the bat knocked out of his hands. Seth Fortenberry, Jose Gil, and Eduardo Nunez were a combined 1 for 13. On the bright side, they only struck out once.
Tyler Clippard and the Scranton club. With Hughes out 4-6 weeks and the big league rotation consisting of Moose, Wang, Pettitte, Igawa, and Pitcher X, this is Clippard’s time to make a move. A few strong outings and he might be in the majors.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Hughes Didn’t Dominate
The big news was/is Phil Hughes’ major league debut, which saw him pinned with a loss. Watching the game, Hughes showed flashes of what excites people about him, fastball command and a plus curveball. He pitched better than his overall line would show, go ahead and call me an apologist if you would like, but due to a combination of poor timing on hits, some questionable ball/strike calls, and Miguel Cairo’s throwing arm, Hughes’ final line was 4.1-7-4-4-1-5-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR). While the Blue Jays were able to pick up some stolen bases on this day, controlling the running game is not a long term concern for Phil. Over the course of his career, a high percentage of the runners that have gone on Hughes have been caught stealing, it was also evident that Jorge Posada was more to blame for this than Phil.
For Hughes to truly be a big contributor to this year’s Yankee team, he’s going to have to go deeper, and that will come with time. The announcers seemed to intimate that Hughes was never allowed to throw more than 5 innings or 75 pitches last year, but that was not the case. Those measures were only put into place after it was clear Hughes was going to blow by the amount of usage the Yankees had targeted him for. As he gets used to the big leagues, Hughes will become more efficient and as the season goes on his pitch count will likely be raised to the point where he can be counted on for around 100 pitches, as was the case for much of the summer last year.
While I love the insight that Peter Abraham provides at the LoHud Yankees Blog, I find his criticism of the move to promote Hughes ridiculous. Firstly, at some point, the needs of the big league team must be addressed as best they can, which dictates promoting Hughes. Furthermore, the majority of his criticism seems to rest on the fact that Hughes pitched poorly in Spring Training, which makes no sense. Why take that handful of innings over the 200+ innings he has pitched in the minors over the last 2 years? As far as Hughes needing to learn about pitching with runners on and/or the bases loaded in the minor leagues…that makes sense, assuming you believe in the validity of those criticisms, until you consider that Hughes isn’t going to get exposed to those situations much because minor league lineups aren’t good enough to consistently put him in those positions. Finally, Pete has taken to blaming Cashman for mishandling the offseason pitching plan as a reason why the Yankees are in this position. While Kei Igawa’s first few starts haven’t instilled much confidence in me, I think it’s too early to be writing him off. That said, it’s not as if there was this great pitching market this past offseason. Ted Lilly, a guy that Abraham has advocated as being someone the Yankees should have looked into, would not have saved this rotation either.
Hughes didn’t perform great last night and the Yankee rotation is no great shakes. However, what we do know is that the difference in the quality of AAA and AA batters is not great enough that one needs to consider AAA batters as some great obstacle for Phil Hughes to overcome. His stuff is good enough. His performance record is without question. It is simply a matter of waiting for him to adjust and get his stamina up and everything will be fine. You never know when pitchers are going to get hurt, so the Yankees might as well get some use out of him now (knock on wood). Mr. Abraham, please stop worrying and trust the organizational decision makers on this one (If you told me 3 years ago that I would one day write that or something of a similar ilk, I would have laughed at you).
Alberto Gonzalez, who is in a bit of a slump, went 0 for 2 as Scranton won a pitcher’s duel by the score of 3-1. Picking up the victory for Scranton was Matt DeSalvo. DeSalvo continued to make the Yankee front office personnel that felt he still had something left to give look good by posting a line of 6-4-0-0-1-3-0. He now has an ERA of 1.35 and an 8:18 BB:K ratio in 20 innings. This is more in line with what everyone expected Matt to do last year.
Brett Gardner was 0 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base as his AVG dropped to .182. Cody Ehlers was 1 for 4 with a single and a strikeout to raise his AVG to .219. Gardner is just in a really bad funk right now and needs to snap out of it. It’s not going to be fun to have to dig out of a .1XX hole following the first month of the season.
Overall, the Trenton offense did not do much, only providing 2 runs and 6 hits, but they didn’t need to because Alan Horne continued to pitch very well. Horne’s final line was an impressive 6-5-1-1-2-6-0. His ERA has been lowered to 3.18 in 22.2 innings to go along with a sparkling 4:28 BB:K ratio. I doubted Horne going into the season, but I’m about 2 starts away from becoming a believer. He is looking like a terrific sleeper pick by Bryan Smith over at Bronx Banter. I think either Mike from River Ave. Blues or EJ from Pending Pinstripes had him as a guy to watch as well, but I’m too lazy to check.
Seeing that the Tampa offense put up 9 runs and 14 hits might lead one to get excited about what Jose Tabata contributed, but, unfortunately, he contributed nothing on this night. The new #1 Yankee prospect was 0 for 5 with a strikeout. While he has continued to do a good job of putting the ball in play, with power, to the opposite field, Jose has not been able to get anything to drop in. This should work itself out shortly.
Juan Miranda was 1 for 4 with a double and a strikeout. Miranda has been a fairly steady performer thus far this season. Reegie Corona and Colin Curtis both had excellent games, as did former prospect Tim Battle. Battle was 3 for 5 with 2 singles, a triple, and…a strikeout. He also managed a stolen base. Reegie picked up 2 singles in 3 at bats to go along with 2 walks. The night drove his overall line up to a respectable .293/.348/.366. Colin Curtis was 4 for 4, all singles, with a walk. He is up to .291/.418/.400. I know Curtis, technically, shouldn’t amount to too much, but I like him and am very pleased by his progress thus far. Lastly, Francisco Cervelli joined Jose Tabata in having a poor night, by going 0 for 4 with a walk and 2 strikeouts.
Tim Norton followed up an exceptional outing with an unremarkable one. His final line was 5-9-5-2-1-3-0 and his ERA on the year is now up to 3.71.
The offense was not able to overcome the hole that Norton put them in. Mitch Hilligoss and Seth Fortenberry were both 1 for 4 with singles, Hilligoss had 1 strikeout in there while Fortenberry had 2. Jose Gil was 1 for 4 with a single and 2 strikeouts while Wilmer Pino had the same line, minus the single. Eduardo Nunez probably had the best night of anyone on offense and he didn’t pick up a hit. The teenage SS was 0 for 1 with 3 walks. His BB:K ratio is now a promising 7:9. In the early going, Nunez has shown signs of 2005, other than his power being absent.
AAA Scranton as Tyler Clippard attempts to keep up with DeSalvo by having his first no doubt about it good start of the year.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Phil Gets Going
In his start against Syracuse, Phil Hughes seemed to emerge from his early season slumber. Sitting around 93 and touching 95, Hughes was able to dominate the lineup of the Toronto AAA club. In 6 innings, Hughes struck out 10 and generated 6 groundball outs while keeping hitters at bay. Hughes’ primary weapon on this day was his fastball command. He was able to place the ball wherever he wished, especially down and in to both right and left-handed hitters. Not to be forgotten was the curveball and change-up. The curveball was excellent on this night, but he pitched off of the fastball due to the outstanding command of it that he had. The command of the fastball extended to change-up command on this night and it was a preview of what might if/when Hughes puts it all together. As a result, these hitters could not get wood on the ball, if they got wood on the ball at all. Hughes was consistent throughout the game and only left after 6 innings due to the Yankees playing it safe with him.
Eric Duncan was solid at the plate. He only managed to pick up a single in 4 at bats, but one of his fly outs was the type of connection that would have left the ballpark during the summer, according to the announcers. Alberto Gonzalez, on the other hand, had an entirely frustrating night, which is atypical to this point. Gonzalez was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts.
In a cruel scheduling twist of fate, the Tampa Yankees had an early game today following their 20-inning marathon the previous night. Juan Miranda was awake enough to go 1 for 4 with a single and Colin Curtis obviously had some Starbucks as he was 1 for 2 with a single and 2 walks. Miranda, thus far, has not separated himself into the boom or bust categories as he has just been ok in the early going. The same can be said for Colin Curtis.
At Charleston the lineup was switched around in hopes of sparking some run scoring. The early returns aren’t that great with only 1 run and 6 hits being produced today, but it was enough for the win. Josue Calzado was 1 for 3 with a strikeout, Wilmer Pino was 2 for 5 with 2 singles, and Mitch Hilligoss was 1 for 3 with 2 walks, on the positive end. On the negative was Seth Fortenberry who was 1 for 4 with a walk, 2 strikeouts, Eduardo Nunez was 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts, and Jose Gil was 0 for 4 with a strikeout. Fortenberry, to this point in his career, seems like a very streaky hitter.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Another Of Those Days
Phil Hughes had a game similar to Tyler Clippard’s last one. His stuff wasn’t as crisp as could be, but the primary issue was his control and command. Hughes would consistently just miss outside of the zone or within the zone and as a result he struggled to put batters away. In another similarity to Clippard’s start, Hughes was able to keep the ball low in the zone and generate groundballs. Unfortunately, as is often the case when there’s a combination of groundballs and no strikeouts, hits would fall in or bad hops would occur. Overall, I wouldn’t worry much about Hughes’ start, just like I wouldn’t worry about Clippard’s last one. These types of starts happen from time to time and aren’t reason to condemn a player. When a player falls apart and everything is out of the strike zone or everything is being hit hard, I worry. When guys are missing by a bit and serve up the occasional meatball to get over, I don’t worry. It also doesn’t hurt if those guys have great track records.
Eric Duncan built on the previous night’s game as he went 1 for 2 with a single and a walk. The single was a line drive groundball up the middle and he just looked very comfortable at the plate. Other than the night where he struck 3 times, Duncan has looked good thus far.
Around The Minors:
Trenton was rained out and will made up as a doubleheader.
At Tampa, Jose Tabata seems to be taking Bobby Abreu’s spring advice about being patient to heart as he was 2 for 3 with 2 singles, 2 walks, and 1 strikeout. His strikeout is higher than ideal at the moment, but it’s early and everything else is great, so I’m not worried.
Juan Miranda seems to be finding his power stroke; he went 1 for 2 with a double, a walk, and a strikeout.
Finally, Francisco Cervelli continued to hit well, going 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.
On the mound, George Kontos struggled a bit. Judging by the box score, Kontos just got tired as most of the damage against him was done late.
Finally, in Charleston, Jose Gil was 1 for 2 with a single and Wilmer Pino continued his hot start by going 2 for 4 with 2 singles. Pino’s start probably reminds some of Reegie Corona’s from last year, but I like Pino’s tools a bit more so I’m more excited by what he is doing than I was by Corona. Austin Jackson also had 2 hits, but struck out twice, so I would chalk that up as a negative night.
Scranton. The guy on first and the guy on the mound might help out soon. Who knows?
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Hughes’ AAA Debut
Phil Hughes made his AAA debut last night and did so in impressive fashion. He worked in the low 90s with his fastball and spotted it to the corners and was able to go to his curveball for swings and misses as well. While Nardi Contreras was recently quoted as saying he’s impressed with how much Hughes’ changeup has advanced this past spring, I wasn’t able to confirm or deny that because Hughes didn’t go to the pitch that much. He might have just been trying to keep it simple for his AAA debut. Another thing I picked up on Hughes was that he seemed focus to get the out at 2nd whenever the ball was tapped back to him and there was a runner on first. For the most part, this strategy worked out last night, but I’m not sure how great of a tendency this is. After all, the last thing we need is to endanger The Hitting Machine™.
Also impressing in the Scranton game was Eric Duncan. Duncan was only 1 for 4 in the box score, but the 1 was an impressive home run to right-center field. In addition, in the at bat prior to the homer, Duncan hit a long fly ball to left-center field. Every at bat was a quality one and Duncan is looking good thus far in 2007. I was once again pleased with his defensive play.
Alberto Gonzalez had another nondescript afternoon with the most noteworthy moment being the 4 pitch walk he drew in his first plate appearance. The odds of this happening again are probably not great. His two hits were also of the right place at the right time variety as he hit one off of the 2B, which was a play that could have been made, and the other was a tapper.
Around The Minors:
Elsewhere in the minors, Jeff Marquez started his season off with 5 no-hit innings before finally giving in in the 6th. I was very encouraged by the start for Marquez as I have him rated higher than everyone else and as long as he keeps his walks in check, I feel confident he’ll make me look good.
Ian Kennedy made short work of the competition in Tampa, striking out 8 in 5 innings and really, he should not be long for Tampa. I expect him to consistently put up big strikeout totals in the FSL until the Yankees promote him. Most noteworthy, for me at least, will be his GB:FB ratio. He’s supposedly been working on a 2-seamer.
Jose Tabata continues to dominate in the early going as he was 3 for 4 with a triple and a strikeout. It’s early, but Tabata looks like he wants to make good on his goal of reaching Trenton and proving, by the end of the year, that he can hit big league pitching.
Austin Jackson showed off his newfound power in Charleston last night going 2 for 4 with a double and a home run. The double was to center and the home run was to left-center.
You could go with Scranton, where Ross Ohlendorf is making his system debut. At the same time, you could go with Tampa where Joba should be making his full-season debut. The choice is yours. I’m more interested in Joba, I think.
Monday, March 5, 2007
Spring Training Notes (3/5/07)
-Phil Hughes struggled in his first appearance of the Spring, but that’s not much of a worry. When a guy has the physical ability as well as performance track record of a Hughes, you don’t get worried because he does poorly his first time out in the Spring. He was obviously a bit nervous and that hurt him, as he wasn’t finishing on most of his pitches, leading to spotty control and poor break on his curveball.
-Jose Tabata seems to be in good shape. The difference between when I saw him last year and seeing him this year seems to be that last season he was built like a big kid and now he looks like an NFL running back. He solidified this opinion my going 1st to 3rd very quickly on A-Rod’s botched double in the first game of the Spring. This has eased some of my worry about his weight/development as I feel he might just be one of those stocky fast guys with a broad base of skills, a la Bobby Abreu. I was afraid he might have to be downgraded to a one-dimensional slugger, one of the primary reasons I didn’t grade him as a straight A on my Top 25. -Marcos Vechionacci looks like he’s beginning to grow into his body. He’s already gotten pretty big and he has plenty of room to get bigger. I was impressed by the way he pulled the ball on his first hit as that was something that he has struggled with in the past and I don’t think the less meaty Vechionacci that we saw last year would have been able to do the same thing. I think strength and leveraging that stretch as he gets bat to ball will be the most critical aspect of Marcos’ development this year. He has the plate discipline to succeed in Tampa; it is just a matter of improving the quality of his contact. -Ross Ohlendorf was very impressive in his first outing of the Spring. The Princeton product looked a lot like Wang and you have to assume that’s the projection the Yankees were making in acquiring him. He worked off of his 92-94 MPH sinker and had a very nice outing. Reports in the offseason made it seem as though his velocity on the pitch would be a tick lower than that, but I think this is about what should be expected. I think he’s going to have to refine his secondary pitches some more though because I’m not sure his sinker is of the quality of Wang’s, which is what allows Wang to get by with such a limited repertoire. -Steven Jackson got some work in today, but didn’t look very good at all. He was mainly 89-90 and it looked incredibly straight for a guy who is supposed to be a sinkerballer. He didn’t show much in the way of other pitches and got knocked around a bit as well. I’ve speculated on Jackson as a poor man’s Ohlendorf and Ohlendorf as a poor man’s Wang. The problem with this is that Wang, despite great performance thus far, does not have the greatest room for error. The more you downgrade the quality of Wang…the less enticing the pitching prospect. Hopefully that makes as much sense to you as it did in my head. -I love Tyler Clippard. I’m not going to pretend I’m without bias because the fact of the matter is that I’ve had a huge man crush on him since 2003 and every time Baseball America or someone else has questioned his ability, it has made my man crush larger. That said, I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that Clippard was terrific today. His much-maligned fastball was 89-92 and looked like it had solid movement on it. His changeup gave him the most trouble as there were a couple of times he didn’t finish on the pitch and it flew on him, most noticeably on the HBP. His curveball wasn’t thrown much, but he got his lone strikeout on it and would have had another strikeout in an earlier AB had the umpire not blown the call, so that pitch was working well. He also displayed what seemed to be a quick move to 1st. Overall, I would say Clippard did a good job of showing what he’s all about and why his future may not be as dull as some seem to anticipate. -As a result of injuries, Humberto Sanchez has not pitched any Spring innings. Is anyone surprised? I didn’t want to rate Sanchez ahead of Clippard during the offseason, but gave into everyone’s raving about his stuff. I’m beginning to regret that decision, but you know, small sample size and all. -The Run Fairy™ is alive and well. -Bronson Sardinha is Melky Cabrera with less discipline and, as a result, less ability to hit for average, but more power. He might be John Vander Wal.
Thursday, February 1, 2007
1: Phil Hughes
Phil Hughes, 20, RHPPreviously Ranked: 1st prior to 2006, 9th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 1st, Baseball
Physical Ability: Phil Hughes has the ideal pitcher’s build. He stands 6’5’’ and weighs in at about 220 pounds. A lot of that weight is in his lower body, allowing him to get good drive on his pitches. Hughes currently works off of 4 pitches: 2 seam fastball, 4 seam fastball, curveball, and change-up. While the slider was his best pitch as an amateur, he has all but abandoned it in the professional ranks, though he will toss one in from time to time. While Hughes’ curveball isn’t the 12-to-6 most commonly associated with big time pitching prospects, he has good movement on it as it goes 11-to-5. What sets the curveball apart is his impeccable control and command of the pitch. His control and command helps all of his pitches to be graded higher. Hughes utilizes the curveball for strikeouts. He also uses his 92-95 MPH 4 seam fastball for that purpose. When he wants to get a quick out or induce a groundball, Hughes will toss in a 2-seam fastball, which typically gets clocked at 89-93MPH. Finally, Hughes’ changeup is used to keep batters honest, but in time may become a strikeout pitch as well. Outside of his repertoire, Hughes also does a good job of controlling the running game and fielding his position. In the past he has been placed on the disabled list with soreness, but that has been attributed more to Yankee organizational methodology than actual worrisome physical trouble. Still, as a pitching prospect, this should be noted.
What Happened in ’06: Hughes began the year in
What Lies Ahead: Hughes is somewhat of a boring prospect to write about. I said this last year and I will say it again: statistically, he has no flaws. There is nothing about his performance record that you can point to and say “You know, if Phil is going to be a good major league pitcher, or even pitch well next year, he really needs to work on X”. The only thing you can wonder about is how well he is going to hold up to a major league workload. The Yankees had an innings cap of 150 for Hughes last year (he pitched 152, playoffs included) and have the set the cap for this year at 180. This is interesting to me because it has been speculated in the past that amount of innings pitched in a year should not be as closely watched as changes in workload from year to year. If that is the case, Hughes’ jump from 86.1 innings to 152 innings between 2005 and 2006, may be reason for caution. However, given that the Yankees seem to have Phil’s future (Phil…phiiiiiiiiiiiiiil of the future) as organizational priority number 1, I’m going to grant the benefit of the doubt on that issue. I expect him to begin 2007 pitching extremely short outings for
Grade: Grade-wise, the only things holding Phil back are the whispers of workload concern in the back of my head as well as my wariness about any prospect being an A (i.e. no chance of missing). A
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
2. Jose Tabata, OF
3. Dellin Betances, RHP
4. Joba Chamberlain, RHP
5. Ian Kennedy, RHP
6. Chris Garcia, RHP
7. Tyler Clippard, RHP
8. J. Brent Cox, RHP
9. Mark Melancon, RHP
10. Brett Gardner,
Not a big fan of Brett Gardner, but otherwise the list seems to be as expected.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
The 2006 RLYW Minor League Awards
SG reflected on the ’06 major league regular season, so please be sure to check that out below. Now, onto the ’06 RLYW minor league award winners (the numbers for hitters are BA/OBP/SLG and for pitchers they are ERA/K9/BB9/H9/HR9):
2006 Yankee Prospect All Star Team:
C: Jose Gil, 19, A-/SS .229/.310/.291
1B: Cody Ehlers, 24, A .298/.375/.487
2B: Wilmer Pino, 20, SS .326/.363/.410
3B: Marcos Vechionacci, 19, A?A- .235/.327/.346
SS: Reegie Corona, 19, A-/A .293/.347/.369
OF: Brett Gardner, 22, A?AA .298/.395/.370
OF: Jose Tabata, 17, A- .298/.377/.420
OF: Colin Curtis, 21, GCL/SS .311/.374/.437
LHP: Angel Reyes, 19, GCL/SS 1.40/8.5/2.8/5.2/0.1
RHP: Phil Hughes, 20, A?AA 2.16/10.4/2.1/5.7/0.3
Breakout Prospect: Cody Ehlers
Comeback Prospect: Chase Wright
Hitting Prospect: Jose Tabata
Pitching Prospect: Phil Hughes
As previously stated, the minimum qualifications include 60 IP for a pitcher or 180 PA for a hitter; otherwise Francisco Cervelli would have probably taken the catcher slot, though I like Jose Gil more from what I’ve seen. Overall, I would say the hitting aspect of this looks better than last year’s list, but the Yankee farm system is still lopsided as there are innumerable RHP worth prospect consideration with 1 legit LHP, who somehow got left off the GCL Top 20, and 1 stud hitter. Given that the Yankees picked up a lot of position players during the international FA period, it seems they are trying to rectify this issue. So, who did I miss the boat on? For comparison’s sake, check out Mike’s year end minor league awards.