Saturday, January 5, 2008
Those That Missed The Cut Pt. 1
The following is a brief rundown on the prospects THAT did not make my Top 25. Questions, comments, and criticism are welcome. I’m going to attempt to have the Top 25 done by the time ST rolls around, but…no guarantees. The following list isn’t in any specific order. Ages listed are “baseball ages” for the 2008 season.
Eric Duncan, 1B, 23 In Duncan’s time in the Yankee minor league system I have ranked him as the 3rd (‘04), 1st (‘05), 2nd (‘06), and 10th (‘07) best prospect in the organization. While Duncan’s high initial rankings were due in part to the Yankee system being terrible, I think that knowing what I know now, I would not have ranked him as high. 2007 was the same old story for Eric. He drew a good amount of walks and didn’t strike out too much, but an inability to hit for average killed his overall numbers: .241/.323/.389. I’m at the point where I don’t believe Duncan will ever learn to do that and his power, on base skills, and defense aren’t strong enough to make him worthwhile unless he can his average up a lot. The Yankees seem to have soured on Eric as well, leaving him unprotected for the Rule V draft, where no one picked him up. It can no longer be said that “Duncan is so young, players his age are normally in [insert favorable minor league level here]” and being what he is, a “slugger” who has trouble providing offensive value due to an inability to turn quality ABs into quality outcomes, I could not leave him in my top 25.
Chris Garcia, RHP, 22 If he can somehow get healthy and stay that way, Garcia has the ability to make me look stupid for leaving him off. However, having missed time due to TJ surgery and then a knee injury while rehabbing, which followed a ‘06 where he also struggled with injuries…I’m beginning to think Garcia just won’t stay healthy enough for long enough to show why some talent evaluators felt he had more ability than Phil Hughes.
J.B. Cox, RHP, 24 Cox could also make me look foolish, but in my defense, he was one of the last guys cut. I’m confident that he will be back to some level of “normal” this year, but a guy coming off an injury whose projected future ML role is 7th inning guy didn’t strike me as someone I wanted in the top 25.
Tim Norton, RHP, 25 This one really hurts. Norton had filthy stuff. Great low to mid 90s fastball and developing splitter. While the Yankees were using him as a starter, he seemed destined for the bullpen as a shutdown reliever. Unfortunately, 5 starts into his ‘07 he had to undergo shoulder surgery, which is not something I tend to be forgiving with.
Brett Gardner, OF, 24 I think this is the one I’m going to get the most hate for, but…I just don’t see it. I’ve gone over his stat lines numerous times, I’ve seen him play, and I just don’t get the Brett Gardner love. Last year I said he could be “the player that everyone thinks Scott Podsednik is” in ranking him 16th and now I think he might just be the real Scott Podsednik. He is not Jacoby Ellsbury. Brett MAY be just as fast and while they may provide equivalent baserunning value, that’s about the only area where they are comparable. Instead of making him a standout defender, Brett’s speed helps him to be a good one due to his making his share of poor reads on the ball. In addition, at the plate, while Jacoby is never going to hit for much power, he has far more than Brett and that is going to help Jacoby’s skills translate to the major league level. Brett walks a good amount now, but major league pitchers are going to knock the bat out of his hands rather than walk him. He also strikes out way more than a player of his skill set should, but has made progress in that regard. Overall, Brett Gardner is REALLY fast and may one day use that to turn into a 5th OF or something, but that’s not enough.
Steven Jackson, RHP, 26 Jackson is a sinkerballer who gets his share of groundballs, but makes far too many mistakes, leading to an elevated home run rate. Outside of his sinker, 88-92, Jackson didn’t demonstrate much in the way of secondary pitches. He’s looking like a one pitch guy, which eliminates him from being a starter long term, and his one pitch isn’t dominant enough to make him a great reliever, at this point.
Alberto Gonzalez, SS, 25 I really like Alberto Gonzalez. It was really tough for me cut a guy from the top 25 who I believe is a really good defender with a developing bat. For the Yankees he could be one of the league’s best backup infielders and on another club he may be a league average SS. I believe that whatever the Yankees did to Gonzalez when he was demoted to AA, it worked because he has been a very different player since then, making a huge cut in his K rate while upping his walk rate. This lasted through his AA time, his return to AAA, and is now carrying over in the winter leagues. Of course, if that improvement isn’t real he’s just a good glove who can’t hit and that’s not worth much.
Steven White, RHP, 27 White has a good fastball, in the low 90s, but it’s not a great fastball. He has decent, if inconsistent, secondary pitches. His control isn’t great. I think he could be Luis Vizcaino, a serviceable reliever, but not much else. He has no long term future starting.
Colin Curtis, OF, 23 Curtis looks like Brett Gardner without the speed. I wanted to believe there was more there last year, but it seems the scouts were correct in writing him off as a ‘tweener. He has time to change this evaluation, but it’s always scary when a guy who lacks power is promoted and proceeds to see good offensive numbers turn into terrible ones due to an increase in strikeouts and decrease in walks.
Chase Wright, LHP, 25 Wright has an average fastball and slightly above average change, but his control and command of all his non-change pitches leaves a lot to be desired. As a result, he is consistently behind in the count and this leads to predictable pitching sequences, which could one day lead to him doing something historic, like giving up a lot of homers in a row or something. The lack of command and control also makes Wright a less than ideal candidate for a bullpen role, so he doesn’t seem to have much of a big league future unless he can learn to command his very average stuff.
Kevin Whelan, RHP, 24 Thanks to a pretty good fastball and splitter combo, Whelan will always have supporters. Unfortunately, his control left him too frequently last year for him to put up the numbers he could/should have. I do wonder how his numbers would have looked if he were limited to just 1 innings more frequently. He’s a guy that I wouldn’t be surprised to see jump back on to the 25 next year.
*To Be Continued*
Monday, October 15, 2007
It’s been a while…
2007 Minor League Pitcher of the Year
This one is a tie between Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy. Joba’s performance was more impressive on a rate basis, but Kennedy gets extra credit for the larger body of work. To be fair to Joba, he would have had more innings had he not been so awesome that he was called up with a month to go in the minor league season.
2007 Minor League Hitter of the Year
Austin Jackson wins in what was not much of a competition. Despite a poor statistical performance at Charleston, Jackson was hitting the ball hard in games I listened, but just right at people. He then went to the FSL and raked. After a slow start in Hawaii, he is raking again.
2007 Minor League All Star Team
C Francisco Cervelli
1B Juan Miranda
2B Prilys Cuello
3B Brandon Laird
SS Reegie Corona
OF Austin Jackson
OF Jose Tabata
OF Justin Snyder
LHP Michael Dunn
Alan Horne’s Bullpen Candidacy:
As mentioned in a thread earlier today, I’m not sure Horne would be a good candidate for the bullpen. He has the fastball as well as groundball and strikeout tendencies I like to see in a potential reliever, but there are two things that make me think he might not transition well to such a role. First is that his game is based around having one very good pitch, his fastball, and several solid pitches, his curve, change, and slider. Anecdotally, it seems most shut down relievers live off of two really good pitches. In addition, it has been said that something that gets Horne into trouble from time to time is his arm action as it is not ideal. If that problem exists, one would expect it to cause the most issues when he first gets in the game and, tellingly, Horne’s first inning walk rate this year was 5.4 per 9. His walk rate for the rest of the game was about 3 per 9. Take this information with a grain of salt, but it seems to make sense given the available qualitative information.
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.
Friday, August 17, 2007
-Baseball America has the scoop on Jose Tabata having surgery to remove his hamate bone. The Yankees expect him to begin rehab six weeks after the surgery and he might still have a shot at playing winter ball. This is, probably, the reason he’s struggled so much to hit for power. Don’t expect him to come back ripping the ball into the gaps and over the fences, it sometimes takes guys a while to get adjusted following this procedure.
-Christian Garcia pulled a Phil Hughes and injured his knee doing some running during his rehab from surgery. Nothing major, but it forces him out of participation in instructs, it seems.
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.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Kenney and Chamberlain were promoted to AAA with Wright and Clippard moved down to AA. This move speaks volumes about how highly the Yankees think of these two. The Wright demotion makes perfect sense, in my opinion, but I would have liked to see Clippard get some more time to overcome whatever problems he’s facing. It looks like any shot he ever had at consistent rotation time is now gone.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
-I don’t want to jinx it, but Austin Jackson’s numbers are getting better just about every day. Jackson hit a homer and a double today to up his season line at Tampa to .425/.469/.699. Jackson still strikes out more than you’d like, but it’s dramatically reduced from last year. Jackson has struck out in 23.3% of at bats this year, which is improved from 28.2% last year. In 227 less at bats he’s hit 4 less doubles, 2 less triples, and 3 more home runs so his power is also up. Austin still has to come back to Earth a bit because there’s no way he’s this good, but the hot start at Tampa is going a long way to placing him in the discussion for the Top 10 of one of the best systems in baseball.
-As if the Yankees needed another elite right handed pitching prospect…Zach McAllister had the best start of his pro career. In 6 innings, he gave up 3 hits, no walks, and struck out 10. McAllister is now sporting a 10.4 K/9, a 4.5:1 K:BB ratio, and a 5:1 Ground Out:Fly Out ratio. In other words, ignore the 3.86 ERA, he has been terrific. With Jeff Marquez having just a solid season, perhaps McAllister is the best hope for a groundball/strikeout monster.
Friday, July 6, 2007
-So…I’m sure most of you’ve noticed, but since arriving in Tampa, Austin Jackson has been hitting and hitting very well. Jackson was 3 for 5 today with a homer and a triple. In 50 FSL ABs he’s hitting .420/.483/.640 with a 6:8 BB:K ratio. This has boosted his season line to .288/.362/.421. I was ambivalent about Jackson’s promotion to Tampa despite poor numbers and me being a stathead. The reason was that despite poor production, Jackson was making consistent hard contact and it seemed that he was suffering from some bad luck. Well…in Tampa his luck has completely turned around. Given the poor state of things in the Yankee farm system on the position player side, if Jackson can continue to hit well, not this well, but well enough, he could be the second best offensive prospect in the system by this offseason.
-Zach McAllister has a 5.19 ERA, but he’s striking out a batter an inning and generating almost 5 outs on the ground for every out in the air. Other than a poor first start, he’s rolling. Nice to see.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Recently, I’ve been watching Scrubs on late night FOX, it’s a quality show, and I think I’ll pick up the DVDs…I really like the White Castle “like collecting” commercial…Austin Jackson was promoted to Tampa, I don’t think he’s proven it, necessarily, and I’m not sure why Seth Fortenberry wasn’t promoted, but thems the breaks…Juan Miranda and Colin Curtis were/are promoted to Trenton, per NYYFans…Futures Game rosters were announced and Joba Chamberlain was the only Yankee selected to participate in the game. This makes this year’s game considerably less exciting than last year’s Tabata and Hughes celebration, but better than the Kevin Thompson year. Yeah, somewhere between those two.
Matt DeSalvo had a weird start. On the one hand, he struck out 10 guys in just 4.2 innings. On the other, he also gave up 10 base runners. DeSalvo’s ERA now stands at 1.96 in a little over 40 AAA innings. Matt is in a weird position. I think the best way to learn and adjust is to experience failure, but Matt is good enough, it seems, that he can post decent minor league ERAs despite peripherals indicating that he isn’t pitching as well as he could. I wonder if this makes it more difficult to drive home the point that he really needs to work on his control and command.
Eric Duncan had his 2nd awful game in the last 3. This time he was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts. With the recent increase in strikeout rate, there’s just about no positive you can hang your hat on for Duncan. He hasn’t been healthy, he hasn’t hit for consistent power, he hasn’t hit for average, and he hasn’t controlled the strike zone. Alberto Gonzalez was 2 for 4 with a double. The 2 hits were his first in a week. The last game in which he had a hit was also a 2 for 4 with a double game.
Ian Kennedy picked up his first AA loss despite not pitching TOO poorly. Kennedy’s line of 5-3-1-1-2-3-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) was not enough as the Trenton bats were asleep. The only guy in the lineup to do anything was Brett Gardner, who was 4 for 5. With Colin Curtis and Juan Miranda arriving soon, the Trenton offense should get a bit of a boost. If they can get some offense to go along with the pitching they already have, they might not ever lose again, kind of like how the Yankees were never going to lose again and then the Rockies swept them.
Reegie Corona was 3 for 4 with a walk as he attempts to reverse his trend of decreasing month-to-month offensive performance. Corona’s a really small guy, so fatigue may be why he’s slowed down both of the past two seasons. Or it could be that the league has figured him out each time. Given my aggressive ranking of him, I hope it’s the former. Colin Curtis and Juan Miranda ended their FSL careers in style, going 0 for 4. Curtis drew a walk and Miranda struck out once. Jose Tabata was 1 for 2 with a double and 2 walks. Of Tabata’s 9 doubles on the year, 3 of them have come in his last 8 games. Maybe something is finally clicking. Marcos Vechionacci was an uninspired 1 for 4 with a strikeout.
Ivan Nova posted another underwhelming line; this one was 6-6-4-4-0-4-0. My new conclusion is that Nova is throwing too many strikes, or not enough quality strikes. His stuff is good enough that he can leave it over the plate and be effective. However, because the pitches are too fat, he’s not striking out as many as he should. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Mitch Hilligoss was 3 for 5 with a strikeout as he continues to hit singles with great regularity. Seth Fortenberry was 1 for 5 with a double and a strikeout, taking over Austin Jackson’s CF spot. Eduardo Nunez was 0 for 4 with a strikeout. Hitting right handed doesn’t seem to be working out much better than being a switch-hitter. Jose Gil was 2 for 3 with a walk.
Zach McAllister’s much anticipated debut went poorly, 3-6-5-4-3-3-0. The good was that McAllister’s fastball seamed to have a lot of run to it, getting in on right-handed batters and he kept it down for the most part. Unfortunately, he kept it too down and as a result ran a lot of deep counts. He also REALLY struggled with his curveball, throwing a lot of hangers up in the zone. The other good part was that McAllister just looks like a guy with a lot of physical potential. He’s listed at 6’6’’ and 240, but looks like he still has a lot of room to add weight.
The GCL guys had a fairly quiet game. Abe Almonte was 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout, Cuello was 2 for 4, and Zoilo Almonte was 0 for 3.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Ok Start for the Phenom
Eric Duncan’s second game in the 3-hole was better than his first. Duncan was 2 for 5 with a homer and a K. Alberto Gonzalez showed no sign of life, going 0 for 3 to drop to .223.
Steve White picked up the victory, but was mediocre, at best. White’s final line of 5-4-3-3-4-2-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) was not encouraging. Because he’s got solid velocity, if White can string together some good outings and Igawa struggles he might be the kajillionth Yankee prospect to get a shot. Chris Britton relieved him and gave up a solo homer while striking out 3 batters in 2 innings of work and Edwar Ramirez struck out 2 in his lone inning of work.
Alan Horne picked up his 7th victory. Perhaps no one in the Yankee system has seen their stock rise more than Horne and he continued on that path with a 6-5-1-1-1-4-0 outing against the league’s top offense. Horne’s emergence will be reflected in the midseason Top 30, unveiled later today.
Brett Gardner was 2 for 5 with 3 strikeouts and Cody Ehlers was 1 for 4 with a walk and 2 strikeouts. It’s weird to see Gardner have a multi-strikeout game this year. Last year, not so much, but this year, yes. As long as it doesn’t happen too often, he’ll be fine.
Dan McCutchen went 7 strong, striking out 3 while walking 1 and allowing 2 hits. McCutchen hasn’t struck out as many guys as you would expect for someone with his stuff, but he’s been effective at keeping runs off the board. He’s also averaging almost 7 innings a start, which is a positive considering his innings eating potential was a large part of the organization’s attraction to him.
Reegie Corona and Juan Miranda struggled at the plate, going a combined 1 for 10 with 3 strikeouts. Tabata and Curtis fared better, 3 for 9 with 2 strikeouts. Curtis also stole a base.
All Star Break
Dellin Betances made his much anticipated season debut and showed flashes, but ultimately wasn’t sharp enough. The umpire was also squeezing him a bit, according to the announcer. Dellin’s final line was 4-5-3-3-2-5-0 and a couple of his hits allowed were of the infield variety. Not a great outing, but I’ll take it. I’ll also expect better going forward.
Daniel Gil picked up his first victory despite having an inconsistent outing. Similar to Betances, Gil’s line showed a bit of his potential as well as some of his inexperience 3-4-2-2-0-4-0.
Prilys Cuello was 1 for 3 with a walk, a strikeout, and, surprisingly, two steals. Zoilo Almonte was an impressive 3 for 5 with 2 doubles and a strikeout. I’ve had my eye on Almonte for some time, so I’m very interested in seeing how he does.
Zach McAllister going for Staten Island on Sportsnet New York.
C. Basak-Playing at AAA and hitting well enough at the level, but doesn’t offer too much with either the stick or the glove, his arm also seems a bit short at times on plays at short and third
R. Pena-Playing at AA, offers nothing with the bat, but is reputed to be a standout defender
G. Lopez-Playing at AA…a homeless man’s Hispanic David Eckstein
A. Baldiris-Playing at AA…can draw the occasional walk, but nothing else and is a poor defender
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Happy Catch Up Time
Tim Norton is rumored to be done for the year with major shoulder surgery, which pretty much means he’s done as a prospect…George Kontos finally returned last night…Brett Gardner returned from the DL during my silent period…Jesus Montero WILL play this year, hopefully by the end of the month…Eric Duncan has been placed on the DL with a thumb injury that has been bothering him all season according to the SWBY blog. On the one hand, it makes me hopeful that Duncan has an explanation for his poor performance, on the other hand, there always seem to be an excuse…
The Yankee AAA rotation was supposed to be a source of excitement, but that can no longer be said. Clippard is in the bigs, Ohlendorf and Hughes are injured, and Steven Jackson has been moved to the bullpen, finally. Matt DeSalvo and Steve White are plugging away, but neither guy is terribly impressive.
On the offensive side, there’s not much to look for as Alberto Gonzalez continues to struggle and Eric Duncan has returned to the disabled list. The June sample size is small, but thus far Gonzalez has a 2007 OPS trend of .668, .605, and .527.
The recent news at AA is far more positive. Brett Gardner has returned from the disabled list and is playing extremely well. He is hitting .455/.520/.591 in 6 games back and his season line is up to a somewhat respectable .259/.357/.384. I wasn’t a huge fan of Gardner coming into the season and I still am not, but he’s been showing enough secondary skills to make himself interesting as a potential future reserve.
Unlike Brett Gardner, Cody Ehlers is struggling since coming off the DL. Ehlers seems to be trying to hit for power as his positive BB:K ratio from has been replaced by a ratio of 3:10 in June. While it has resulted in more power, it hasn’t been enough to make his line look good as his June stands at .213/.250/.340. For the season he is at .226/.317/.315 and with Juan Miranda raking in Tampa, he might not have much time left to correct himself.
With the recent promotions of Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, the AA rotation now goes Chamberlain-Marquez-Horne-Kennedy-Smith. Wow. AAA was supposed to be impressive, but this quintet blows that one out of the water. Joba was impressive in his first AA start despite throwing a lot of pitches. However, that’s bound to happen when you strike out 9 guys in 5 innings. Chamberlain is still primarily a fastball pitcher, with his slider showing flashes, but he’s one of the few guys with a truly dominant fastball, it could probably be described as plus plus, so that’s ok for now.
During the offseason, Jeff Marquez mentioned that it was the development of his curveball that allowed him to start getting more strikeouts in the 06 season. During a recent interview with Pinstripes Plus, Marquez mentioned that he had struggled somewhat with the curve this year, but seemed to be getting the hang of it again and in his last 13 innings he’s struck out 13 men. It seems he has a good idea of how his repertoire works.
Ian Kennedy had a better go of it in his second AA start and so far so good. There are rumors Kennedy has touched 94 recently, I’m not so sure about that. If it’s true, and it becomes a consistent for him, it obviously helps his prospect status quite a bit. If not, he’s still a solid prospect.
Alan Horne and Brett Smith both continued to lay waste to AA batters. If you’re an EL hitter, you have to HATE facing Trenton. They have a team ERA of 2.38 and the second place team is at 3.51.
The Tampa lineup has been a bit of a feel good story. Marcos Vechionacci is as hot as he has been in his minor league career, Juan Miranda is hitting like Barry Bonds, Colin Curtis is proving that slow and steady wins the race, and the Tampa offense is doing all right for itself.
Jose Tabata is plugging along, doing well enough to keep respectable numbers, but not breaking out enough to need a promotion. It was recently rumored that Tabata has a cyst on his wrist, which is supposedly the source of his power troubles and wrist/hand maladies, but there has been no official word on it. Either way, to this point, Tabata’s prospect status has dimmed just a bit for me. Still an excellent prospect, it’s just that he’s looking more like a future Bobby Abreu than something otherworldly.
Francisco Cervelli is in the midst of a huge slump. He’s hitting just .188 in his last 10 games and his overall line is down to .302/.421/.407. That’s still a terrific line for a 21-year-old C in the FSL. If he can correct himself, or even just maintain his current line, Cervelli would have done a TON to enhance his prospect status this year.
Daniel McCutchen and George Kontos have replaced Kennedy and Chamberlain as the top two in the rotation. They aren’t as exciting a duo, but they get the job done. Kontos was out for a while with an undisclosed injury. It was rumored to be something having to do with the shoulder, but I REALLY REALLY think it was disciplinary action. Either way Kontos returned last night and pitched very well 4-2-0-0-1-6-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) and McCutchen pitched well today 6-7-0-0-1-4-0. Hopefully, both guys can keep up the good work.
Ivan Nova continues to get the job done, but in a scary way. A guy throwing as hard as Nova, consistent low 90s and touching the mid 90s, should not have only 19 strikeouts in 43 innings. Even if his secondary pitches were all awful, and they’re not, you would expect more Ks at that level on the basis of his fastball. Until he starts getting the strikeouts up, I can’t get too excited about him.
While Nova has struggled with the lack of Ks, Mike Dunn has just struggled with what appears to be fatigue. He’s getting the job done, but not in an especially pretty matter.
The Charleston offense has been terrific lately. Mitch and Austin have been getting on base fairly consistently and Seth Fortenberry, who is in serious need of a promotion, has been driving them in. Jose Gil has continued to show flashes of power, which seems to be at the cost of his plate discipline, and Eduardo Nunez is struggling. The Yankees recently turned Nunez from a SH to a RHB, so when looking at his season numbers, keep this in mind.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Ian Kennedy Fails His 1st Test
Jose Tabata has missed the last two games for Tampa with some minor nicks/bruises/soreness/whatever you want to call it. He’s fine…On another note; I would love to know where Tim Norton and George Kontos have been…Tyler Clippard was solid tonight. He did a much better job commanding his fastball, but is still not where he needs to be. He doesn’t seem to be ready yet, but hopefully he can continue to defy his peripherals. I’m surprised/disappointed Joe took him out as early as he did, but I guess he figured he was guaranteed to get 7+ innings out of Wang in the next game.
Chase Wright took the mound for Scranton and was effective. Wright’s final line of 5.2-5-3-3-2-6-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) was better than any of his recent outings and solid pitching overall. Wright now has 1 more K than BB at the AAA level. Today was a big day for him. Coming in to relieve Wright was Edwar Ramirez. Ramirez was scored upon for the 2nd game in a row, which is weird. His line was 2.1-2-1-1-1-2-0. One of the hits he gave up was a double to Andy Marte, which could be a good or bad thing depending on whether you still think Marte is a rising star or if his time has come and gone. Anyway, Ramirez is now at 13-8-2-2-4-19-0 at the AAA level. Britton is up, so Ramirez is next guy to campaign for.
Alberto Gonzalez led off and was 1 for 6, while Eric Duncan was 2 for 5 with a walk and a strikeout. Duncan is hitting .300+ over his last 13 or so games. Needs more power and more average. The discipline and patience are excellent.
Cody Ehlers had a tough day at the plate, 0 for 5 with 3 strikeouts.
Ian Kennedy made his AA debut and there was some good and some bad in his 5-6-4-4-0-6-1 line. The home run was on a pitch that he didn’t get far enough in, which was bad. He was able to strike guys out painting corners and changing speeds, which was good. Kennedy’s performed very well this season, but I’m not THAT excited about him yet. I don’t think Clippard is a world beating prospect and I’m not sure I’d put Kennedy ahead of Clippard. I’m willing to be convinced otherwise, and once I can see him in person, I’ll be able to make a better judgment.
Colin Curtis and Juan Miranda continued to hit well, Reegie Corona continued to struggle, and Marcos Vechionacci continued being inconsistent. Vechionacci was 0 for 2 with a strikeout and a sac fly, following back to back 2 hit games. Reegie was 0 for 3 with a walk and 2 strikeouts. Despite a recent 5 for 14 stretch, Corona is only hitting .178 in his last 10 games. Curtis was 2 for 3 with a walk and a steal and Miranda was 2 for 4 with a double and 2 strikeouts. Miranda is up to .270/.342/.475 and starting to look like he might not be a waste of money.
The Riverdogs put 12 runs and 18 hits on the board as just about everyone had a great night. 38 Games Hilligoss was 1 for 6 with 2 strikeouts, as he continues to cool down. Action Jackson was 2 for 6 with a double. Seth Fortenberry was 3 for 6 with a homer. Fortenberry needs to go to Tampa, I think. He’s already 23 and in addition to hitting .277/.372/.477 on the year, he is hitting about .290/.380/.510 since May 1st. Wilmer Pino was 3 for 5 and Jose Gil was 1 for 4 with a homer and a walk. Gil and Pino are both guys I’d like to see heat up considering my preseason faith in them.
Jeff Marquez getting the early morning start for Trenton. Marquez needs to start picking up the K rate.
Friday, June 1, 2007
I Am A Witness
Chase Wright made the start for Scranton and was…not very good. Wright’s K:BB ratio had been unimpressive in his AAA stint and now, so are the rest of his numbers. Wright could only muster a 3.2-6-7-7-4-3-3 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) line. His AAA totals now stand at 36.2-34-20-19-18-15-5. Not very good. Despite the tremendous start at AA, Wright’s AAA performance would seem to indicate he is ill-prepared for the level. Edwar Ramirez came out of the bullpen and shut down the opposition, 3.1-2-0-0-0-5-0. Ramirez now has a AAA line of 9.2-5-0-0-2-15-0. Ramirez prospers because of a tremendous change, so he might be one of those one-trick ponies that get exposed at the MLB level. Then again, he might not be. Luis Vizcaino is uninspiring so it would be nice to see him or Britton get a shot.
Eric Duncan had a quiet night, 1 for 5 with a strikeout, and Alberto Gonzalez was 1 for 4 with a double and a strikeout.
Jeff Marquez started the game for Trenton and picked up the victory, but I’m going to say he needs to improve. The line on Jeff was 6-5-3-3-3-1-1. As you can see he only managed 1 strikeout on the night and his disappointing season total in that category is now 35 in 65.1 innings. These aren’t the types of numbers I envisioned from Jeff in ranking him higher than everyone else, but he’s been able to get the job done thanks to strong groundball tendencies. However, if his performance is going to be transferable to the major league level, he’s going to have to put up some more Ks.
Ian Kennedy continued to toil pointlessly in the Florida State League; tonight’s dominant outing entailed 7-2-0-0-1-8-0 line. Kennedy’s line in the month of May is 38.2-21-3-3-11-44-0. There’s no reason for him to be in Tampa anymore. None. Promote him, please. Promote Joba too.
Colin Curtis was 2 for 5 with a double to up his AVG to .281. In his last 10 games, Curtis is hitting .386, despite just a 2:10 BB:K ratio. Jose “Ichiro” Tabata, who in Player Journal on milb.com says he feels he’s ready for AA, still is not showing any power. The RF was 3 for 4 with a walk and a steal. With his OBP above his SLG, it’s clear that Tabata is going to make a great leadoff hitter someday. Marcos Vechionacci and Francisco Cervelli were each 0 for 3 with a walk as their discipline continued to help them contribute despite slumping.
Mitch Hilligoss now has one of the longest hit streaks in the last 50 years of minor league play or something. The Streak was extended to 37 games when the 3B went 4 for 5 today. Of the 4 hits, 1 was a homer and another was a double as Hilligoss is beginning to flash some power. If he continues to do that, I would think the Yankees will contemplate promoting him once his streak ends. The soon to be 22-year-old’s line stands at .335/.377/.437. Seth Fortenberry cooled down a bit, going 1 for 5 with 2 strikeouts. Austin Jackson was 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and a strikeout.
Brett Smith going for Trenton.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Stealing The Show
Cody Ehlers is rehabbing and should be back in Trenton sometime within a week…Great Joba footage (hat tip to PP forums)...As for the majors, Clippard has average velocity on a regular day and today he didn’t even have that. He also didn’t have any control. He was also facing a lineup heavily slanted to RH power bats. Despite all this, he somewhat luckily managed to go 5 innings and give up just 3 runs to earn his 2nd major league victory. Given how poorly Igawa and DeSalvo pitched this week, that is probably good enough to give Clip at least one more start as the 5th starter. Actually, given that Hughes is likely out until August, we could be seeing a lot of Clippard over the next two months. For a guy who wasn’t very highly regarded coming through the minors, this might be a make or break career opportunity.
Steven Jackson was getting results early in the game, but his stuff didn’t look very crisp and by the end of his outing, it caught up with him. Jackson’s final line, 6-8-5-5-3-5-1 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR), fits in nicely with the rest of his year, which is not a good thing. He needs a demotion or some time off to fix himself because he’s been throwing BP for the better part of the season.
Alberto Gonzalez had a quiet night, going 0 for 3 and Eric Duncan collected 1 of Scranton’s 4 hits, going 1 for 4 with a K. Duncan had good ABs, as is his custom, and a hard hit out to left center, which is another custom of Duncan’s game.
Nothing to see.
Juan Miranda’s extra base hit streak ended as his lone hit in 4 at bats was a single. Colin Curtis was the only other prospect of note to get a hit; he was 2 for 4 with a strikeout. And what about the rest of the guys? Jose Tabata, Reegie Corona, Francisco Cervelli, and Marcos Vechionacci were a combined 0 for 12 with 1 walk and 2 HBPs. Hey, at least they didn’t strike out.
The longest hit streak in SAL history now belongs to Mitch Hilligoss. Mitch was 1 for 5 with a walk and a strikeout as he got a bunt single to extend his streak to 36 games. He also stole his 7th base of the year. Austin Jackson had a rough game, going 1 for 5 with 3 strikeouts. Seth Fortenberry has been stealing the show from Mitch and Austin. The LF was 3 for 5 with a homer and a walk. His season line is up to .278/.365/.485 as he has gone 15 for his last 34 with 3 doubles, 4 homers, 7 walks, and 5 strikeouts in that span. With Fortenberry being 23 years old, it might be time for a promotion.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Steve White made his season debut tonight…Joba Chamberlain picked up his second FSL pitcher of the week award as well as the number 2 spot on the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet…Mitch Hilligoss’ streak has him at 18 on the Hot Sheet…Nice feature on Ian Kennedy
Eric Duncan might be breaking out. Duncan was 3 for 3 with a single, 2 homers, and a HBP. All of this on a night when the rest of his team could only manage 3 hits. Duncan’s OPS is over 1.000 in his last 10 games. I’m not sold, but I’m paying attention. Alberto Gonzalez collected 2 of those remaining 3 hits, going 2 for 4 with 2 singles. Gonzalez is hitting .314 in his last 10 with a SLG just south of .500.
Kei Igawa, following Roger Clemens’ footsteps back to the majors, had a line of 5-8-4-4-1-6-1 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR). If Tyler Clippard pitches poorly tomorrow, Kei might be taking his spot, whether or not he deserves to, is an open question.
Nothing to see here.
Steve White, who we definitely would have seen already this year had he not been injured, made his 2007 debut pitching in Tampa. The Yankees are probably billing this as rehab while they figure out where they want everyone to be, a roster shuffle is upcoming. White’s line was pretty much what one would expect from a guy who should be in AAA, 6.1-6-1-1-1-6-1. The homer that he gave up was to Cameron Maybin, so I guess he can be forgiven for that.
Juan Miranda was 1 for 1 with a double and 3 walks. Miranda’s last 3 hits have been for extra bases, which has boosted his line all the way to .250/.324/.444. Juan even threw in his first steal of the year, for good measure. Jose Tabata continued his singles hitting, going 2 for 5 with a strikeout, and Reegie Corona continued to slump, going 0 for 5. Corona is just 4 for his last 27 and is down to .281 on the year. Colin Curtis and Francisco Cervelli were a combined 2 for 7 with a walk and a strikeout. The last prospect in the lineup, Marcos Vechionacci, had a big game, going 3 for 3 with a walk.
Ivan Nova might not have the K totals you would like in a top pitching prospect, but tonight he convinced me has top prospect ability. Nova pitched into the 7th inning for a final line of 6.2-5-1-0-2-4-0. That was good enough for his 3rd victory as well as lowering his ERA to 1.44 in 25 innings. Nova was throwing his fastball for strikes up to 93 and 94 MPH the ENTIRE game. Sometimes younger prospects have trouble maintaining their velocity, so it was impressive that he was able to do this.
Mitch Hilligoss made matters dramatic by waiting until his final AB before extending his hit streak. The hit was a double, which is nice, and Mitch also struck out once during his 5 at bats. Seth Fortenberry blasted a first inning homer and, after that, Columbus was terrified of him as he would walk his next 4 times up. Austin Jackson was 1 for 5 with 2 strikeouts. Statistically, Jackson isn’t having that great of a season, especially when considering that he is repeating the league, but on a subjective level, his ABs have been more impressive and he’s been doing a much better job making good contact.
Ian Kennedy going for Tampa tonight. Not sure what the point is. He might have a poor outing, but at this point he’s proven himself at the level.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Roger Clemens made his final rehab start as a member of the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Clemens’ final line was 6-2-0-0-2-6-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) and while he looked good, he didn’t look that good. Maybe this is just depression from the way the Yankees as a team are playing creeping into my overall outlook, but I think that a 3.50 ERA with 6 innings a start is a best case scenario for Clemens. That’s worth something, but definitely not 28 million and I don’t think it’s enough to make a huge difference in the overall playoff outlook. I hope I’m wrong.
Alberto Gonzalez was 0 for 3 and Eric Duncan was 1 for 3. Duncan’s single was kind of a luckily placed hit, but at this point, he deserves the luck. Balancing out the good luck on that hit was a hard hit ball deep to the outfield for his second out of the game.
Edwar Ramirez came out of the bullpen and dominated, as has been the case all season. Ramirez throws a terrific change-up and the rail-thin righty has done a great job keeping hitters off balance with the pitch all year long as shown by his AAA line of 6.1-3-0-0-2-10-0 and season line of 23-9-1-1-10-43-1.
Alan Horne picked up the win for Trenton while being impressive without his best stuff. The final line for Horne was 6-7-4-1-2-7-0. A combination of bad defense and well-placed hits lead to the unearned runs that Horne gave up. It didn’t help that Horne seemed to struggle with his secondary pitches all game. The change, slider, and curve were all difficult for him to get over for quality strikes on this afternoon. Fortunately, Horne’s fastball was enough to get the job done, which is a testament to the quality of the pitch. This is getting a bit repetitive, but Horne really needs to be promoted. Today was a day when he didn’t have it and he was able to just go to his fastball and get by, if that doesn’t say that a guy should be promoted to a more challenging level, I’m not sure what does. As I’ve said in the past, the minor leagues are for learning and you can’t learn if you’re not getting punished for mistakes.
34. Mitch Hilligoss’ hit streak reached 34 games as he got himself 3 singles in 6 at bats. That should show me for speculating the streak was coming to an end soon. I’m starting to notice people clamoring for Mitch’s promotion, and while I wouldn’t have a problem with that move, I don’t think Hilligoss has done enough where such a move is a no-brainer, despite the flashy AVG and hit streak. Seth Fortenberry and Austin Jackson were both solid, going a combined 3 for 10 with 2 doubles, a walk, and a strikeout. Jose Gil was 2 for 5 with a homer and is now up to a whopping .233/.286/.359. In his last 10 games, which is stretch over the last 3 weeks, Gil has gone 11 for 36 with a double, 2 homers, 5 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Maybe he’s turning the season around or, maybe I’m just a fanboy. Hopefully, it’s the former.
Ivan Nova going against Columbus. Nova’s off to a nice start; let’s see if he starts striking out some more guys.
At exactly noon today, the first part of my draft preview will be available.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Joba For President
Steve White will be back soon, destination unknown.
Eric Duncan was 2 for 3 with a walk to get his average up to .231. With the walk, Duncan’s K:BB ratio inched ever closer to becoming even. Alberto Gonzalez also had a 2-hit game, going 2 for 4 with a strikeout to reach .247.
Chris Britton pitched a scoreless inning of relief, granting 1 hit. Britton’s ERA dropped to .78. In 23 innings he has given up 20 hits and 9 walks while striking out 26.
The big news out of AA was Brett Smith’s first poor outing of the year. Smith’s line of 5-7-3-3-2-2-1 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) would have made sense in year’s past, but not this time around. It could be just a blip on the radar in an otherwise tremendous season, or it could be a sign that Smith is beginning to cool off from the season long hot streak he’s been on.
Despite not picking up the victory, Joba Chamberlain was outstanding. Joba would post a final line of 8-2-0-0-2-9-0 while tossing 98 pitches. The most impressive part of the outing was that Chamberlain seemed to get stronger as the game went on, generating a ton of swings and misses in his last 3 innings. The Yankees have been slow to promote Ian Kennedy to AA despite his dominance, and I think that can be blamed on them wanting to promote Joba and Ian at the same time. Following this start, I can’t see the duo staying in Tampa past mid-June.
Jose Tabata was 1 for 4 with a walk, a double, and a strikeout. Tabata has hit 2 of his 6 doubles on the year in the last 3 games. Most impressive in his ABs today was the patience Jose was demonstrating. Reegie Corona does not seem to be seeing the ball well, as he went 1 for 4 with a walk and a strikeout. The box score wasn’t that bad, but Reegie had a lot of swings and misses and was able to put together a decent game in spite of that. The poorest showing of the day, however, belonged to Marcos Vechionacci. Marcos was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts and when he did make contact, it was excessively weak. Francisco Cervelli was 1 for 3 with a double and a strikeout and Colin Curtis was 1 for 4 with a walk. Both guys had the types of at bats that would have them classified as professional hitters by announcers across America. Unfortunately, while Curtis is heating up, Cervelli seems to be heading in the opposite direction. Francisco has struck out at least once in 9 straight games, including 2 games where he struck out thrice. He has 13 strikeouts in the last 36 at bats.
33. Mitch Hilligoss was 1 for 4 with a walk and a strikeout to push his streak to 33 games. Mitch has managed just 1 hit in 4 of the last 5 games, so it would seem that the streak is nearing its conclusion. Austin Jackson was 2 for 5 with a double and Jose Gil was 1 for 3 with a walk as the Charleston offense posted 6 runs on 11 hits. The member of the lineup most responsible for the scoring was Seth Fortenberry, who was 3 for 5 with his 9th double and 7th homer. Despite my love for age relative to league, I have a soft spot for Seth, so I’m happy to see that he seems to be warming up.
Mike Dunn, who definitely seems to be going through some type of fatigue, had a line of 5-7-3-3-1-5-0. It was good enough to pick up Dunn’s 5th victory of the year. As a converted pitcher, it makes sense that Dunn might have more battles with fatigue than the other guys on the farm.
Alan Horne and his 6:1 K:BB ratio going for Trenton.
Friday, May 25, 2007
It is my belief that the Yankees have a vested interest in Steven Jackson doing well. Right now, Luis Vizcaino is pitching terribly at the major league level and Ross Ohlendorf is on the disabled list with a back problem. Alberto Gonzalez is having a mediocre AAA season, but given that he plays SS, nothing he does will really have an impact on the team. That leaves Jackson as the only part of the deal currently available to making an impact. To demote him would be to admit that another piece from that deal isn’t what the Yankees originally thought he was. That’s the only explanation I can see for why a guy who just had a start with a line of 4.2-11-6-6-2-1-1 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) to up his season totals to 45.1-66-38-31-19-30-6 is still in AAA. I thought Jackson was a pretty solid sleeper pick going into the year, but he’s been a huge letdown.
Speaking of letdowns, the Eric Duncan struggles continued. Duncan was 0 for 3 with 2 walks. He is now down to a .217 AVG in 115 at bats, but a 21:23 BB:K ratio, which is really weird. You would think that a guy who’s displaying such terrific patience and discipline would hit for a higher average, but Duncan still manages to pop the ball up a lot. His average shouldn’t be THIS low, but he hasn’t been as unlucky as his BB:K ratio would leave you to assume. It just hasn’t been a very good year. I expect him to start hitting LHP soon, because he always has, and hopefully that will bring up his overall numbers. He is currently hitting .042/.200/.167 against them in 24 at bats.
Kei Igawa picked up his first minor league victory with a dominating line of 5-4-2-2-1-4-0…Igawa now has an ERA of 2.00 in 9 Advanced A innings.
The guys with the bats in their hands had some impressive nights. Well, everyone except Reegie Corona who was 0 for 4 with a walk and a steal. Jose Tabata seems to be emerging from his season long power outage because though he was 4 for 5 with all 4 being singles, he was hitting liners all over the field last night. Soon, some of those hard hit singles will begin finding the gaps, I think. Juan Miranda had a huge game, going 3 for 4 with a double and 2 homers, but his season line is still an uninspiring .244/.305/.423 with 14:44 BB:K ratio in 168 at bats. Colin Curtis was 2 for 5 with a homer, a steal, and a strikeout. Curtis was hitting the ball the opposite way in the air, including the homer, which is something he hasn’t done that much this year. Marcos Vechionacci had the quietest positive night by going 1 for 3 with 2 walks. While he hasn’t been hitting the ball with enough authority, Marcos has still managed an 8:10 BB:K ratio in 60 at bats. The key number there is the amount at bats as Vechionacci has tons of time to work on his .217/.309/.283 line. Finally, after a stretch where he was 2 for 12, Francisco Cervelli has heated up in the last 3 games. Francisco was 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, a stolen base, and a strikeout. Cervelli was another guy lacing the ball to the opposite field last night. Over the last 3 games he is 6 for 13 and his season line is incredibly impressive at .347/.439/.466.
First thing’s first, Mitch Hilligoss is now at 30 games. The 3B was 1 for 3 with a walk and a caught stealing. 30 is kind of a big number, and I would expect Hilligoss to start earning some press clippings now, even though his .324 average and 30-game hit streak have been fairly empty. Austin Jackson was 1 for 4 with a strikeout in his second game in the 3rd slot. Jackson has been hitting the ball up the middle and the opposite way a lot this season, but hasn’t had much to show for it. If he can cut back on his strikeouts and start getting lucky with some of those balls to the opposite field, he should be fine.
20-year-old Ivan Nova was the star of the game from the Riverdogs’ side. Nova’s 3rd start of the season resulted in his 2nd victory and a line of 6-2-0-0-1-4-0. Nova has just 11 strikeouts in 18.1 innings, which is initially surprising given how impressive his repertoire supposedly is, but not as surprising when considering he struck out “just” 36 batters in 43 Gulf Coast League innings last year.
Tyler Clippard. He’s facing Jered Weaver and there has to be some poetic justice to this match up. Weaver was pegged as number 3 starter and has thus far performed like an ace. Clippard was pegged as a back of the rotation guy and will be looking to prove his doubters wrong in as fantastic a fashion as Weaver has.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The Major Leagues Are Depressing…
Almost as depressing as the major league team is at this point is the minor league hitting. Eric Duncan had the best night of the non-A ball position prospects by going 1 for 4 with a single and a strikeout. Despite my whining about Duncan’s BABIP, and it certainly is low, it’s not THAT low. It’s also not as if he’s consistently made terrific contact and has been getting robbed. I mean, that’s happened, but it’s not enough to disregard the fact that it’s May 23rd and Eric Duncan is hitting .223 at AAA and hasn’t hit above .250 since 2004.
Alberto Gonzalez was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts. Just like that, his 3-game hit streak is over. Perhaps he should have discussed how to extend that with Mitch Hilligoss.
Alan Horne followed Brett Smith’s no-hit bid with an excellent start of his own. Horne’s final line of 6.1-5-1-1-1-7-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) is just another in a long line of excellent outings this year. Horne’s established himself as one of the best prospects in the system with this start and is now charging into consideration as one of the better overall prospects in baseball. He’s always had the hype/stuff, but there were questions about command/results and this year he seems to be answering those questions.
Joba Chamberlain picked up his 2nd win of the year and upped his ERA to 2.25 while posting a line of 6-4-2-2-2-7-0. Chamberlain now has 7 walks in 20 innings, which some seem to be concerned about, given what Joba did during Hawaii Winter Baseball. The reality is that Chamberlain’s control isn’t that good. He’s not going to struggle with walks, but he’s not going to be going out there posting Curt Schilling K:BB ratios either, so if he walks a man or two here and there, it’s not a cause for concern.
Jose Tabata, Colin Curtis, and Marcos Vechionacci had uninspiring offensive nights as they were a combined going 2 for 13 with 2 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Francisco Cervelli got back on track following his recent slump, by going 2 for 4 with 1 strikeout. Reegie Corona, my new favorite prospect, had the best night of all as he was 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 steals.
Michael Dunn, who hasn’t been as sharp as he was in the early going, gutted through the game for Charleston with a 5-8-3-3-1-4-1 line. Dunn turns 22 today and the time for him to be making mistakes at the A ball level is running out.
On offense, Austin Jackson had a game reminiscent of the second half of the 2006 season by going 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Mitch Hilligoss was 2 for 5 to extend “The Streak”. Hilly’s AVG is now up to .327. “The Streak” is now at 28 or 29 games depending on who you ask.
The Yankees have an old guy that they picked up as an undrafted free agent going for Trenton tonight. He’s got pretty horrendous age contextualized stats, but perhaps there’s more to him.
Monday, May 21, 2007
The Morning After
My child, I’ve watched you grow up to be famous
And now I smile like a proud dad, watchin his only son that made it
In case anyone missed it, Tyler Clippard won his major league debut last night with a line of 6-3-1-1-3-6-1 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR). Clippard, in my admittedly biased opinion, looked good. Good enough to go on to a career of posting league average ERAs and 200 innings, which is really all it takes to be a number 3. Good enough to perhaps count as one of the 100 or so best prospects in baseball. He managed to make that impression despite not having the command of his change-up that he typically does. The fastball and curveball were about what one can expect from him going forward, but the change-up should be better. What was impressive was that he was able to recognize that and shy away from the pitch even though it is a bread and butter pitch for him. Given injuries and the like, Clippard is the Yankee number 4 starter and, really, should be in the rotation until Hughes comes back because he is more talented than any other replacement we’ve seen this year. Prior to him, DeSalvo was the most talented and Clippard is DeSalvo with a better curveball, better control, and more deceptive delivery.
As far as injuries, Angel Reyes is now on the disabled list for Charleston, no word as to why.
Eric Duncan and Alberto Gonzalez were a combined 4 for 9 with a walk and a strikeout. Surprisingly, the walk and strikeout both belonged to Gonzalez who was also caught stealing. Duncan has struck out just twice in his last 36 at bats, but has only 2 hits to show for it. After walking twice in his first 110 at bats, Gonzalez has walked 5 times in his last 30 as his OBP edges closer and closer to .300.
In my last recap I mentioned that Jeff Marquez was due to receive some ERA correction and yesterday it began, 4.1-8-5-5-4-1-0. Jeff’s ERA now stands at 2.75, which, for this Trenton staff, is terrible. I expect Marquez to start getting some more strikeouts shortly because just about everything I’ve heard from people who’ve seen him pitch this year is that he is throwing the ball very well.
Speaking of throwing the ball well, Ian Kennedy was brilliant once again for Tampa, 7-5-0-0-2-9-0. Kennedy upped his record to 5-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.24. At this point, I think he’s about 1 start away from AA, if he isn’t promoted before then. Supposedly, Kennedy’s velocity has gone from the mid to high 80s of 2006 back to his sophomore year high 80s low 90s level. At that velocity, Kennedy is a far more interesting prospect.
Colin Curtis had his first good game in forever. The LF was 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Marcos Vechionacci picked up his first hit since returning from injury as he would go 1 for 4 and Jose Tabata finally reached .300 by going 2 for 4, but still no signs of power. The most surprising news of the game was that not only was Francisco Cervelli 0 for 4, but he was 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts.
No game scheduled.
Joba attempting to follow Kennedy’s masterpiece so that he can put himself in position to be promoted at the same time.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Tyler Clippard Day
Since my last post, Marcos Vechionacci has returned from his lengthy stay on the disabled list. This leaves Tim Norton and George Kontos as the remaining DL casualties of unknown injury timetable.
The big news for today is that Tyler Clippard will be making his major league debut. I’ve been a huge fan of Clippard since he was drafted in the 9th round of the 2003 First Year Player Draft and as a result I am incredibly excited to see him reach the big stage. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Clippard’s start tonight will be the biggest start in the history of Major League Baseball, ever. The first reason why is that the Yankees are currently playing terrible baseball and have dug themselves an almost insurmountable hole in the division. If they want any chance at making the playoffs, the charge needs to begin now. The second reason is that Tyler Clippard has been one of the most controversial prospects in recent memory. He’s always put up eye catching stats, but scouts have been slow to warm to him. Despite scouts’ concerns about Clippard, he has, in my uneducated opinion, a good repertoire. He throws a fastball regularly clocked at 89-91 MPH, touching 92, a change-up at about 80 and a curveball around 75. Clippard’s change-up is his best pitch, his curve his second best, and his fastball a third offering. In the past Tyler has struggled with keeping the ball down, but has done a pretty good job of that this year. I’m cautiously optimistic about his chances.
Due to injuries, both at the major league and minor league level, the AAA pitching rotation has become very uninteresting outside of Steve Jackson and Chase Wright. Even focusing on those two, the rotation isn’t that interesting. Jackson was knocked around in his last outing, with a line of 5.2-10-6-6-2-3-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR). Jackson’s ERA is now up to 5.53 and he has just had an extremely uninspiring year. Jackson is looking more and more like Ramiro Mendoza Red Sox edition and less like Ramiro Mendoza Yankee edition. This is not a good thing.
Chase Wright’s start today was uninspiring in the sense that he is just continuing to get lucky rather than actually pitch well. With a final line of 7.2-6-3-2-3-2-0, Wright now has a AAA ERA of 2.93 despite an 8:13 K:BB ratio in 27.2 innings. Given Rasner’s injury, if Clippard does poorly today, Wright may be back in the bigs.
Alberto Gonzalez is 4 for his last 15 with a double, 3 walks, and a strikeout. The 3 walks in the stretch are half of his total for the year, which really hurts when you have a .235 AVG. Eric Duncan was 4 for 16 with a double, 3 walks, and a strikeout. One strange thing about Duncan’s performance this year, other than the extremely low BABIP, is that he has really struggled against LHP. Despite being a LHB, Eric has actually hit LHP better than he’s hit RHP over the last two years. Hopefully this means he’s going to begin hitting lefties again and get his AVG out of the low .200s.
With the AAA rotation starting to feel the crunch of constant roster movement, the AA guys continued to shine and wait for their chance. Brett Smith, Jeff Marquez, and Alan Horne put up a combined line of 20-11-6-6-6-16-1 during the past week. Based on his peripherals, Marquez isn’t quite where he needs to be yet, but the reports from those who’ve seen him have been glowing, so I’m not going to worry much, if at all, but I will acknowledge that his ERA is due for some correction. Smith has been a beast with run prevention and Alan Horne has put up phenomenal peripherals. Overall, the pitching at the major league level has been righting itself as of late, and the minor league prospects are serving notice that the club should not have to worry about pitching in the future.
Ian Kennedy, Daniel McCutchen, and Joba Chamberlain continued to perform as the FSL version of the Smith, Marquez, and Horne. The combined line of the advanced A trio was 18.2-14-5-5-4-23. Kennedy has done a terrific job overall, but I am a bit worried by his walk total, 18 in 44 innings. When these guys are promoted may depend on some of the people behind them. I would like to see the Trenton Three go to AAA, and the Tampa Three to AA as soon as possible. The only problem is that other than Michael Dunn, there are really no easy choices to step into the Tampa rotation.
Reegie Corona is 4 for his last 19 with 1 double, 1 homer, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, and 3 steals. I wasn’t a big believer in Corona prior to this season, but the way he’s been playing this year as well as the way he looked in the Clemens game has me reconsidering my evaluation. Corona seems to have a live body with room for growth, a solid sense of the strike zone, good range, and a solid arm. He might not be a star, but looks to be a good player nonetheless. He just has to get more under control in the field and not rush the game too much. With Robinson Cano’s nightmare season, middle infield prospects in the Yankee organization are becoming important once again.
Jose Tabata is 6 for his last 22 with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts in that stretch. There was a point this off-season when I was considering placing Tabata ahead of Hughes on my prospect ranking. It was partially to be controversial and partially because I didn’t feel there was much difference between the two as prospects. However, I decided against it because doing it just to be controversial would have been stupid and because I couldn’t get over my fears about his history of hand injuries and his weight. Spring training came and it seemed all was well. Tabata looked to be in better shape than he was last year and he was driving the ball, but a month and a half into the season and Tabata is having trouble driving the ball, expected in the FSL, and is very much out of shape, not as expected. I scoffed at the initial Baseball America reports of Tabata being 220 pounds, but now I’m not sure. Making matters worse, Tabata seems to be loafing, both at the plate and in the field. While I hope Tabata can work his way back into shape, he has established himself as a guy who struggles to keep his weight under control and that is going to be a huge mark against his prospect status.
Juan Miranda is 3 for his last 16 with a home run, a walk, and 4 strikeouts. Miranda’s performance has been highly uninspiring, but he stood out in the Clemens game as an impressive physical specimen. He has monstrous forearms and despite being at least 24 years old, looks like he has room on his frame to get even bigger. I’m not sure he’s going to hit much, but he could probably sell a few jeans.
Colin Curtis was 2 for 10 with a walk and 2 strikeouts. Curtis is really struggling at the moment, which is something a guy with questionable tools can’t afford to do, as he will be buried quickly. Colin didn’t leave much of a lasting impression in the Clemens game as he seemed to be your run of the mill scrappy player.
Francisco Cervelli was 3 for 11 with a double, a homer, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts. My concern when I saw Cervelli play last year was his discipline or lack thereof. This season his statistics have shown him to be a much more disciplined hitter and he looked the part as well. I’ve been straddling the fence a bit on him, but right now I’m a big Cervelli backer. He is probably a Top 3 position prospect in the system at the moment. Hopefully he finishes the year as strong as he started it and Posada does the same, so that we can then begin planning the Posada to Cervelli transfer.
After a month off with injury, Marcos Vechionacci returned to the lineup to go 0 for 7 with a walk. Vechionacci’s eye didn’t suffer any from the layoff, but his timing did as he is not squaring up with the ball when he swings. This is a critical year in Marcos’ development as I, and many others, have been waiting on him for some time now. He needs to get things going, which he seemed to be doing prior to his DL stint. Luckily for him, he’s only had 42 at bats, so even if things don’t go smooth immediately, he will have ample time to make his numbers look nice.
Michael Dunn and Ivan Nova both had good outings this past week. Dunn posted a 6.2-4-0-0-1-3-0 night and Nova had a 7-5-1-1-0-4-0 night. Both guys had rough outings last time out, so it was nice to see them bounce back. If Reyes can get his issues with the strike zone in control, the Yankees may have another pitching trio on their hands.
Mitch Hilligoss is now the proud owner of a 26 game hit streak. Over the last 5, Hilly was 7 for 20 with 2 walks, 6 strikeouts, and a steal. Hilly’s season line now stands at .323/.367/.406 (AVG/OBP/SLG). That isn’t too impressive and is a concern about his overall future effectiveness, but his flashy AVG and extended hit streak is also evidence of why scouts think he’s such a great pure hitter. Hopefully he’s one of the great pure hitters who is able to eventually develop some power; otherwise, that tool/skill won’t do him much good.
Austin Jackson is 6 for his last 19 with 3 doubles, a walk, 5 strikeouts, and 2 steals. The production has been solid, but the strikeout total is beginning to creep up again and more than anything else, that is what he needs to keep under control. Eduardo Nunez went 5 for his last 15 with 4 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 2 steals in 3 attempts. Despite only having 3 extra base hits through 39 games, I’ve been impressed with the way Eduardo has played. If he can continue to raise his average and pick up his walks, I’m comfortable, for now, with the lack of power.
Tyler Clippard going in the majors and Jeff Marquez going for Trenton. It should be an exciting day/night.
I just finished Finals this past week, I have LSATs on June 11th, and I begin work for the Yankees on Monday. If my posting slows, you know why.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Good News Bad News
The good news is that there is a reason Ross Ohlendorf has been sucking as of late. The bad news is that it’s due to a lower back injury. I’ve speculated about Ohlendorf potentially hiding an injury from the second or so week of the season, so I don’t want to say I told you so, but…I told you so. Before it’s brought up that the Yankees are only admitting to the injury occurring recently, I want to say that teams rarely fully reveal the extent and duration of injuries and come on…how does a guy go from walking 29 men over the course of 182.2 innings one year to walking 19 in 34.2 innings the next year, if not for injury? Anyway, the initial diagnosis is that the injury, a strained lumbar spine, isn’t really that serious. However, because of it, the AAA rotation is now Clippard, Jackson, Wright, and the bullpen so Brett Smith, Alan Horne, Jeff Marquez, or Jason Jones could be getting the call.
One of the three healthy AAA starters left, Chase Wright, took the mound and pitched decently. Wright’s final line of 6.1-8-1-1-1-2-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) was nice because he only walked 1 person, but not so nice because he seemed to have major trouble putting hitters away. A fun fact about Wright is that he’s given up 0 homers in 40 innings between AA and AAA and…well, he gave up more than 0 homers during his stint in the majors.
Alberto Gonzalez was 0 for 4 with a strikeout and his average has dipped to .231. Eric Duncan was given the night off due to his recent struggles.
No game scheduled.
The Tampa offense could only muster 4 hits and 0 runs last night, but at the least the prospects didn’t have completely lost nights. Tabata, Corona, and Miranda were all 1 for 4 with a single. Miranda picked up a customary strikeout as well. Colin Curtis was 0 for 3 with a strikeout to drop his AVG to .237. and his OPS below .700. Francisco Cervelli, however, was immune from the difficulty the rest of his teammates had as he went 1 for 2 with a single and a walk. Cervelli now has a 15:16 BB:K ratio in 90 ABs and is having an excellent season.
One of the Yankees more highly touted international arms, Ivan Nova, made his full season debut and pitched predictably poor. While he flashed potential with his fastball, change, and curve at times, the overall results were not good. Considering that he was pitching in Ashville, I’m not too concerned. The final line of 5.1-4-4-3-3-3-1 shouldn’t be too disconcerting to anyone. Nova has terrific scouting reports, but I’m going to wait on him to develop a track record before jumping on the bandwagon.
Mitch Hilligoss was 3 for 4 with all singles and now has his AVG up to .319. An OPS of .800 is within sight as his hit streak has reached 21 games. Austin Jackson was 0 for 2 with 2 walks and a stolen base. Jackson’s BB:K ratio is a solid 15:30 and he has stolen 10 bases in 12 games. In both aspects he is showing that he has refined his game from where it was during the 2006 season. Seth Fortenberry and Jose Gil were a combined 1 for 8 with 2 strikeouts. Both hitters have been maddeningly hot and cold. Eduardo Nunez was 3 for 4 with 2 singles and his first home run of the season. Nunez now has 1 of each type of extra base hit. While his season cannot be categorized as good or promising, Nunez does seem to be making some type of progress from last year’s complete train wreck.
Ian Kennedy taking the mound for Tampa. I know…I think.
From the Comments:
What players are the Yankees targeting in the upcoming draft? Will they fall back on their bad old days or will it be more like 2006? Or more waste of times like Poterson or Duncan or Henry?
I wonder what round Mike Moustakas will go in, I’d like the Yankees to be bold and draft and sign him. Firm commitment to USC and Bora$$ is representing him.
I have no idea what the Yankees are going to do with regards to the draft. If I find out anything more concrete than that, I will be sure to discuss it, but at this point the Yankees choosing at the end of the round and the 56,490 picks that occur between the Yankees first pick and their second pick make draft speculation more difficult than normal.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Nothing new to report.
Steven Jackson started for Scranton, but had no idea where the ball was going. Jackson’s final line was 5-3-3-1-5-3-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) as he continues to struggle tremendously. While Randy Johnson hasn’t been setting the world on fire, the guys acquired for him have been playing poorly to varying degrees so it hasn’t been great from either end.
Eric Duncan and Alberto Gonzalez were a combined 0 for 7 with a walk. Shockingly, the walk was for Alberto and not Eric, but the point remains that both of these guys are struggling big time.
Nothing to see here.
No game scheduled.
So, I was checking out some splits yesterday morning and couldn’t help but think that Jose Gil was unlucky. He responded to my observation by going 2 for 5 with a double, a homer, and a strikeout. I hope the Yankees stick with Gil for a bit longer before giving up on him because he deserves a sizable amount of at bats, if for no reason than the lack of any other legitimate C prospect to take his place. Mitch Hilligoss was 2 for 5 with a single, a double, and a strikeout in extending his hit streak to 20 games. Austin Jackson continued to have a productive cooling off period by going 1 for 4 with a single, a walk, and a strikeout. Wilmer Pino was 1 for 5 with a single to get his hit streak to 9 games. Seth Fortenberry was 2 for 4 with a single, a double, and a walk. The streaky OF is hot again as shown by a 5 game hit streak in which he has gone 8 for 19 with 2 doubles, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts.
On the mound, Angel Reyes continued his process of turning into Abel Gomez by going 4-4-4-4-6-0-2. Reyes has been very unimpressive overall thus far and I again have to wonder how he is at Charleston and McAllister or Dellin are not. I don’t fault Angel for giving up runs in Asheville, that’s expected, but to give them up by walking everyone is the problem.
Ian Kennedy taking the mound for Tampa. I think.
From The Comments:
This is going to be the section for when people post Game Reports or interesting analysis in the Comments of a previous entry. Here’s what Kyle had to say yesterday (and for the record, I agree with pretty much everything he says…unless it proves to be wrong):
I took a closer look at Tabata’s and Cervelli’s stats for this season. None of these are park adjusted, but thought they might be interesting anyway. For each stat it will go Tabata, Cervelli, League Average.
BA: .300, .352, (.255)
OBA: .380, .452, (.323)
SLG: .392, .443, (.363)
OPS+: 125, 162, (100)
BABIP: .385, .431, (.311)
BB rate (BB/AB+BB+SF): 9.7%, 13.7%, (8.4%)
XBH rate (XBH/(AB-SO): 7.6%, 11.1%, (9%)
Contact: 76.9%, 81.8%, (78.8%)
SO/BB: 2.15, 1.14, (2.29)
GB%: 60%, 42.6%, (51.4%)
LD%: 11.1%, 17.6%, (13.3%)
FB%: 28.9%, 30.9%, (28.7%)
POPUP%: 0.0%, 22.2%, (18.6%)
Tabata so far really likes to hit the ball on the air, and even with the low linedrive rate, you’d expect a high BABIP with all the GB and obviously no popups. The only thing missing so far is power, and while I’m wondering where it is, he’s still very young for this league and I’m confident he has the tools to develop into a 20-25 HR, 40+ 2B hitter in his prime. I just hope the reports from BA are false, and/or he really works his ass off to get back in shape. As much talent as he has, he’s one I really worry about since we’ve heard about weight issues for two years in a row, and I’m always worried about guys that have had hand/wrist injuries.
I really like what I’m seeing from Cervelli. It looks he lifts the ball a lot, and while his BABIP is certainly flukey, I’m happy to see a lot of linedrives thus far. I can’t believe how well he’s controlled the strike zone as well, not only walking frequently, but also walking nearly as often as he’s struck out. Even with a below average IsoP, he’s hitting XBH a bit more than most players, they’re just not going for HR. I’m confident that even when his BABIP regresses he’ll still be a very good hitter.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I Think I’m A Believer
Mitch Hilligoss played today, so apparently he wasn’t hurt.
Tyler Clippard had far from his best stuff yesterday, but was able to battle and get pitches over when it mattered in order to post a line of 5.1-8-2-2-2-3-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR). Some type of correction is going to be occurring with Clippard very soon. He’s allowed 56 baserunners in 38.2 innings, which means he really should not have an ERA of 2.79. At the same time, he’s struck out 38 men in those 38.2 innings and has been very unlucky as far as BABIP. Being a faithful Clippard fan I’m going to hope that he just pitches a couple no-hitters and then the stats will line up.
Eric Duncan was 0 for 4. Again, it’s nice that Duncan isn’t striking out, but hits really need to start dropping in.
Alan Horne might have made a believer out of me yesterday. Horne went 6-4-1-0-2-8-0 to lower his ERA to 2.66. In 40.2 innings he has a 50:9 K:BB ratio. His numbers are off the charts excellent. His approach was excellent as well. Throwing breaking balls in fastball counts and throwing fastballs by hitters who knew the fastball was coming. Another start or two like this and Horne is going to be in AAA. I really missed the boat on him this past offseason.
Joba Chamberlain had the worst control of his brief amateur career with a line of 5-0-0-0-4-6-0. It’s early, but Joba is looking good.
Thanks to a completion of yesterday’s game a lot of ABs were had. Jose Tabata reached .300 by going 3 for 9 with 2 singles, a double, a walk, and a strikeout. My official stance on the Tabata weight issue is that I’m not going to believe he’s suddenly 225 pounds and grossly overweight. Tabata is a big guy, no doubt, but he’s built solidly and I’m trusting that had this changed dramatically, Pinstripes Plus would have broken the story. Reegie Corona was 3 for 11 with 2 singles, a triple, a stolen base, and a strikeout. Colin Curtis was 0 for 7 with 2 walks and is now 1 for his last 15. Francisco Cervelli was 0 for 2 with 2 walks to end his hit streak, but his BB:K ratio edged ever closer to 1. Seeing him play at SI last year and looking at his stat line, his control of the strike zone was my concern about his performance, and thus far he has made me look silly for doubting that.
Charleston played on the road at Asheville and as should be expected in that environment, lots of runs were put up. Mitch Hilligoss was 3 for 5 with 2 singles and a double to up his average to .302. Despite the .302 average, Hilly’s OPS is only .745. He really needs to show more in terms of secondary skills, especially given his age. Anyway, his hit streak is now 19 games. Austin Jackson was 1 for 4 with a double, a walk, and 2 strikeouts. Jackson seemingly isn’t as locked in as he was earlier in the week as he is beginning to strike out again. Eduardo Nunez was 0 for 2 and Wilmer Pino was 1 for 4 with a single and a strikeout. Pino now has an 8-game hit streak going. During the stretch he is 9 for 32 with 2 doubles, a home run, a walk, and 2 strikeouts. I’m not typically a fan of hackers, but would love it if Pino could get it going.
Steven Jackson going for Scranton and feeling the pressure of Brett Smith and Alan Horne’s starts to the season.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Waking Up From Slope Weekend
Cody Ehlers is on the DL retroactive to May 3rd with a sore right elbow…Brett Gardner is out 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right hand, given the state of the Yankee position player prospects, this is especially painful…Marcos Vechionacci will be back shortly...Matt DeSalvo had a solid major league debut. He gave up a lot of flyballs and got no strikeouts, which is atypical for him. It also worries me going forward. Outside of the box score results DeSalvo’s stuff looked fine and certainly better than Rasner or Karstens’. He threw a fastball at 87-92, a good change-up, which generated a few awful looking swings, and some get me over breaking pitches. While he really struggled with his control in the early going he was able to get out of jams without using too many pitches and eventually he settled down and cruised. All this comes with the caveat that it was against Seattle’s awful offense.
Scranton has played 5 games since I last updated. In that time, Eric Duncan has done some solid work on increasing his batting average. Duncan is 7 for his last 18 with 2 doubles, 4 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Duncan’s average is now up to .257 and he has looked much better at the plate as his strikeout rate goes down. Alberto Gonzalez is 6 for his last 18 with 3 doubles and a stolen base. Gonzalez was in a bad stretch for a while, but he seems to be back on track. His lack of walking…ever…is really hurting his offensive value though.
Steven Jackson pitched on May 3rd and showed flashes, but was still unimpressive. Jackson seems to be having trouble keeping his arm slot up and as a result his pitches are flattening out. When breaking balls don’t break and sinkers don’t sink, they’re very hittable and the AAA batters have been proving that.
Chase Wright only gave up 1 hit in 6.2 innings, but he also gave up 5 runs, all earned, thanks to 6 walks. Wright has put up some good numbers at AA this year, but his lack of command might prevent him from reproducing those results or anything close, at AAA. When he’s not throwing his change-up it seems to be a guessing game as to where the pitch is going to end up.
Ross Ohlendorf posted a line of 6.1-5-0-0-3-4-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) on May 5th in what was his best start of the year. He now has 10 walks to go before he equals his total from 2006. I’m still not sure what’s going on with him.
Tonight’s game was started by Tyler Clippard and he performed impressively. The difference between Clippard early 2006 and late 2006 was the emergence of his change-up as a legitimate out pitch. The difference between Clippard early 2007 and Clippard the last 3 starts has been improved command. Tyler’s always had good control, but his command has given him trouble at times. Right now he is nailing the corners, keeping the ball low, and tossing it high and by guys when he needs to. There were about 3 balls hit hard against him last night and he just looks great out there right now. Matt DeSalvo had a nice debut and Rasner has pitched well thus far, but if either of those guys falters prior to Clemens’ return, Clippard could get a look, especially if there is any delay in Hughes’ rehab.
Brett Smith, Jeff Marquez, and Alan Horne continued the run of dominant Trenton pitching in my absence. Right now all 3 guys are getting strikeouts, limiting walks, and getting groundballs to varying degrees. Smith, I’m still cautious about, but Marquez and Horne have a reputation for good stuff and I’m more inclined to believe that their performance is for real.
Brett Gardner was 1 for 5 with a single and a strikeout prior to getting injured.
Daniel McCutchen had a good outing for Tampa on the 4th. His line was 6-2-1-1-2-7-0. His ERA is now down to 2.50, but his peripherals aren’t that great. The sample size is small though, so we’ll see what happens. The more important pitching news to come out of Tampa was that Joba Chamberlain is finally fully recovered from his hamstring problems and made his first start of the season. Chamberlain’s line of 4-3-1-0-0-5-0 is similar to the lines he posted during the Hawaiian Winter Baseball league. Joba has terrific fastball command and since he uses the pitch a lot, he should be able to generate some low walk totals. It’ll be interesting to see if the Yankees wait on him to get some more innings under his belt before they promote Kennedy to AA.
Reegie Corona was 3 for 21 with 1 double, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts as he is clearly in a bit of a slump. Corona’s OPS is still above .700 though and for a young middle infielder in his first taste of the FSL, that is solid. Colin Curtis is coming back to Earth a bit as he went 4 for 22 over the recent stretch with 1 home run, 1 walk, and 5 strikeouts. Juan Miranda was 7 for 22 with a double, 2 triples, 1 walk, and 7 strikeouts. Miranda has been unimpressive thus far and this hot streak appears unsustainable thanks to the strikeouts. Overall, Miranda has had a tough time controlling the strike zone and may not be as polished as initial reports touted. The hottest hitter on the team has been Francisco Cervelli, who has gone 8 for 12 with a double and 1 strike out. Cervelli’s value is highly batting average related, but any type of offensive value from a C in the FSL makes them one to pay attention to. It appears that I may have really missed the boat on Cervelli in the offseason, especially given my Jose Gil infatuation. Jose Tabata returned from injury to go 5 for 17 with 2 doubles and 4 strikeouts. Tabata is doing a good job maintaining for Tampa. That is probably all the Yankees need or want to see from him given the tough offensive environment he is playing in.
Michael Dunn had another good game for during my inactivity. Dunn is a converted LHP with good stuff and may be headed to Tampa if he keeps up his early season performance. Dunn’s line of 6-7-2-1-1-7-0 is perfectly in line with what he has been doing thus far. Whether or not he receives a promotion is likely tied to what is done with Ian Kennedy.
Mitch Hilligoss’ hit streak has now reached 17 games. Hilligoss was 7 for 23 with 1 double and 4 strikeouts over the last 5 games. Hilligoss still isn’t hitting for much power or drawing too many walks so while it’s nice to see him with a .288 AVG, you still want more. Austin Jackson went 6 for 14, all singles, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 2 stolen bases. Jackson has really cut down on his strikeouts as of late and is beginning to show the promise that so many were whispering about after seeing him during Spring Training. Seth Fortenberry was 4 for 16 with a homer, a walk, and 4 strikeouts. Fortenberry continues to run hot and cold, which is especially dangerous for his prospect status given his 1983 DOB. Eduardo Nunez, Mr. Single, was 4 for 16 with a strikeout and 2 stolen bases. Finally, Jose Gil was 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout. Gil is a favorite of mine, but it appears the boat is sailing on his prospect status.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Clippard Smells Blood…or Hears Popped Hammy Followed by Seeing Rainout
No sign of Vechionacci, Norton, or Kontos…According to Pinstripes Plus, Joba Chamberlain should be back within the next week.
Tyler Clippard could not have picked a better time to have his best start of the season. Facing a Toledo lineup that Matt DeSalvo had shut down about 15 hours earlier, Clippard posted an impressive line of 7-5-0-0-1-11-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR). With last night’s game being rained out and a doubleheader on the schedule for today, it appears Clippard is perfectly lined up to start for the Yankees during their next turn through the rotation. Clippard was able to get the job done against Toledo by using all of his pitches. He was getting a good amount of running movement on his fastball and of course the change and the curve were there. Clippard was also no doubt thinking about Kevin Goldstein’s article today in which he mused that ”[Tyler] can’t get lefties out” and cited their OBP against him this year. Never mind that the sample size for this year is small, the one thing Clippard has proven capable of throughout his career is getting LHB out. At every level he has dominated them. He’s been noted as a guy that pitches backwards, and that’s what guys who pitch backwards tend to do. Why Goldstein would make the remark, even if it was off-hand, is beyond me.
Eric Duncan was 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout. Duncan seems to consistently just miss as he is driving the ball, but for fly ball outs. Alberto Gonzalez was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts and looks incredibly lost at the plate right now. He’s hacking at everything and not doing a great job covering the plate, resulting in an increased K rate.
Alan Horne took the mound for Trenton and continued the trend of pitching well at the AA level. Horne’s final line of 5-3-2-2-3-6-1 was actually one of Horne’s less impressive outings this year. Still, through 27.2 innings, he has been very impressive and while I’m not quite ready to buy into his performance yet, I’m beginning to consider it. School is out soon and hopefully I can go watch Horne in person to make a better evaluation.
Brett Gardner was 0 for 1 with 3 walks. Strangely, he did not pick up a stolen base, but he did manage to get caught stealing. You can’t be safe every time.
On a side note, Goldstein’s aforementioned article describes Jeff Marquez as a sinker/slider guy and I hate that. That implies that he doesn’t have much of a fastball and is a relatively low ceiling prospect. That is not the case. Marquez has a low 90s power sinker, a terrific change, and a solid curveball, amongst other pitches. He is a nice sleeper prospect. Generally speaking, I think my prospect views align pretty closely with Goldstein’s, but sometimes I feel he has a gap in information caused by the fact that he is 1 person apparently attempting to cover the entire minor leagues for a publication.
Ian Kennedy picked up his second win of the year with his longest professional outing, 8-3-0-0-1-4-0. Kennedy has struggled a bit with the walks in the early going, so it was nice to see him limit it to just 1 in 8 innings. He also managed 9 groundouts to 9 flyouts, which is nice considering his typical rates. Kennedy’s ERA now stands at 1.67 and he should be in Trenton by the beginning of June if he keeps it up.
Reegie Corona had a terrific day at the plate. The SS was 3 for 3 with 3 singles and 2 walks. Corona also stole a base, his seventh of the season, while being caught stealing for the first time. I doubted Corona entering the year because I looked at him as all AVG and nothing else, but he seems to be bringing walks back as part of his game. If he can do that, it makes him far more interesting. Colin Curtis was 1 for 5 with a double and a strikeout. Francisco Cervelli was 1 for 4 with a single and Juan Miranda was 1 for 4 with a double, a walk, and a strikeout.
Angel Reyes kept the walks under control for Charleston today, but once again this made him far more hittable. The hard throwing lefty posted a line of 5.1-7-4-4-1-4-1. His ERA is now up to 3.42 and he was pinned with his second loss of the season. Thus far, Reyes seems to be getting the ball up more than he did last year, but the sample size is small.
While Reyes did not do a great job of limiting the opposition’s offense, the Charleston offense did not do much either. Hilligoss, Jackson, and Fortenberry were all 1 for 5 with a single and a strikeout. Wilmer Pino was also 1 for 5, but he did not strike out and his hit was a home run rather than a single. Pino has now hit in 3 consecutive games, though it was only 1 hit in each game. Eduardo Nunez was 0 for 5 with a strikeout.
Steven Jackson, who will be looking to hang on to a spot in the AAA rotation by continuing what DeSalvo and Clippard started.
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.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Fresh Off The DL
Eric Duncan returned from the AAA DL in a big way today…Still no word on Vechionacci, Joba, or Kontos
Darrell Rasner got the start for Scranton and pitched well before being pulled early. Rasner’s line was 5-4-0-0-1-3-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K-HR) when he was pulled after 83 pitches. I can’t think of any other reason for him leaving the game this early, given how well he was pitching, so I’m going to speculate that he will be recalled sometime this week and the Yankees didn’t want to fully stretch him out.
Alberto Gonzalez had the day off, but there was a prospect in the Scranton lineup in the form of Eric Duncan. While he struck out in his first AB, Eric had a terrific day. He finished 2 for 4 with the previously mentioned strikeout, as well as a single, and a home run. The non-strikeout out was a fly ball deep to RF, but to be entirely fair, the single was also a pop to short LF so there’s some give and take there. Duncan had quality ABs and attacked pitches middle away, as is his tendency. It’s nice to see him get right back into the swing of things. It’d be nice if he could put up a big enough first half that he can become the full time 1B at the ML level.
Jeff Marquez picked up today’s victory for AA Trenton in impressive fashion: 7-7-0-0-0-6-0. The right-hander gave up some seeing eye singles in the first few innings, but settled down nicely. Most impressive about his outing was his confidence in all of his pitches, as well as the quality of said pitches. More so than Phil Hughes and Tyler Clippard when they were at Trenton, he did an excellent job of using his entire arsenal when needing out pitches. Right now, he is the Yankees best pitching prospect in the minors.
Brett Gardner utilized his speed to get a 2 for 5 night while striking out once between picking up the two singles. The CF also managed a stolen base. It was a busy day for him that even included a collision at 1B where, for a second, it seemed he might have been hurt. In the game following his hit streak being broken, Cody Ehlers got back on track by going 2 for 3 with 2 singles and 2 walks. Cody had a very solid approach at the plate today.
Daniel McCutchen found the going a bit tougher in his second High-A start. The right-hander could only muster a 5.2-7-3-3-2-4-1 line. McCutchen is really old for the level, so he’s going to have to adjust quickly to be taken seriously as a prospect.
Reegie Corona was 2 for 4 with 2 singles and a walk. Corona now has 4 walks in his last 4 games as he seems determined to provide value beyond AVG. Speaking of value beyond AVG, Jose Tabata was 1 for 1 with a single and 2 walks. Tabata has drawn 5 walks in the last 2 games. Unfortunately, he was removed from the game in the late innings. I don’t buy that the Yankees would utilize Colin Curtis as a defensive replacement for Tabata, which is supposedly what occurred, so I suspect something might be up. Hopefully, it’s just some type of slight discomfort. After coming in to play defense for Tabata, Curtis was 0 for 1 at the plate. Meanwhile, Juan Miranda continued to struggle. The 1B was 0 for 4 and is now 1 for his last 15. Next thing you know he’ll be bunting every time up…
Another day, another hit for Hilligoss. The 3B went 1 for 3 with a triple and has now hit in 11 straight games. Austin Jackson, Seth Fortenberry, and Jose Gil all had major struggles on this day though. They were a combined 0 for 11 with 3 strikeouts. Each of them has shown flashes this season, but struggled with consistency. Hopefully, they can heat up as Hilly has. Eduardo Nunez was 1 for 2 with a walk, a single, and a strikeout. Nunez has done a solid job controlling the strike zone thus far. Hopefully, the power comes next.
Michael Dunn was a bit victimized by poor defense, but still had a solid outing as far as peripherals: 6-9-5-1-1-9-2. Dunn is a bit old for the level; he will turn 22 in a few weeks, but should be given some leeway in regards to this because he is a converted pitcher. Thus far, the conversion has gone very well. In a system lacking LHP, Dunn is quickly making a name for himself.
Ross Ohlendorf taking the mound for Scranton. Ohlie will be attempting to get back on track, just like much of the AAA rotation seems to be attempting to do these days.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Up and Down with T-Clip
The New York Yankees aren’t playing so well.
Tyler Clippard was able to pick up his first career AAA victory by showing an ability to adjust. Given the lack of an overpowering fastball, Clippard has often been told to keep his pitches down in the zone. Unfortunately for him, he was missing low at the game’s outset. It wasn’t by much, but it was running up his pitch count and putting him in poor situations with hitters. Then, from about the 3rd inning on, Clippard adjusted and began throwing high. He was able to better hit his spots while doing so and pitch better. His overall line ended up being 5.1-3-1-1-4-5-0 and the way things are going at the big league level right now, that could be enough to name him the number 1 starter. I kid, I kid.
Alberto Gonzalez was 1 for 4 with a single, a strikeout, and an error, his 4th of the season, as he continues to scuffle a bit. Hopefully, he can find his footing.
Brett Gardner showed signs of life last night by going 1 for 3 with a single and 2 walks. Getting on base 3 times in 5 plate appearances led to 2 stolen bases. Whether by single or walk, the key for Gardner is getting on base. If he can do that and continue to hit the gaps as he’s done in the early going, it would be great.
Ian Kennedy got the start for Tampa and his final line was not representative of how well he pitched. Still, 5.1-6-3-3-3-9-0 is a fairly impressive performance, but it would have looked much better had the runners he left on not been allowed to score. Similar to his performance in Hawaii, Kennedy is striking out a ton of guys, but also walking his fair share. The walks are the only thing keeping me from declaring him ready for AA.
Jose Tabata, who had been 1 for his last 12, picked up 2 hits in 4 at bats, while striking out once. Tabata is currently hitting .288 and while he isn’t showing much in the way of power or patience at the moment, as long as he keeps his average up, I’ll be optimistic. He was also caught stealing for the second time this season. Reegie Corona was 2 for 4 with a single and a double, as well as a stolen base. Corona has now collected 4 2-hit games in a row. The groove he is in is reminiscent of the way he was hitting during early 2006. Juan Miranda had a blah night as he went 1 for 4 with a single and a strikeout. Colin Curtis and Francisco Cervelli had good nights though. Curtis was 1 for 2 with a single, a walk, a strikeout, a stolen base, and a caught stealing. He had a busy night to say the least. Cervelli was 2 for 3 with 2 singles, a walk, and a strikeout. I’ve really been impressed by Francisco’s transition to full season baseball thus far.
Angel Reyes got the start for Charleston and, as has been the case for him in the early going, was able to overcome control issues and put together a solid outing. His final line of 5-5-3-2-3-6-0 seems in line with expectations. His control problems aren’t Abel Gomez bad, but they do need to be worked on. Given the amount of walks, passed balls, and wild pitches that have occurred while Reyes is on the mound it seems strange that Dellin Bettances wouldn’t be in full season baseball.
Mitch Hilligoss overcame 2 strikeouts to finish the game 2 for 4 with 2 singles. His hit streak is now at 9 games, with 3 2-hit games thrown in. Wilmer Pino had a single and 2 strikeouts of his own in 4 at bats. Seth Fortenberry was 1 for 3 with a single, a walk, and…2 strikeouts. Eduardo Nunez was 1 for 3 with a single and a walk. Eduardo has a very nice 8:9 BB:K ratio in 62 at bats, but has shown little of anything else. My boy, Jose Gil, had a rough go of it; he was 0 for 4 with a strikeout and had to deal with Reyes’ pitches.
Steven Jackson, previously on the Scranton hot seat, gets the start today. With the troubles being faced by the major league rotation leading to Hughes’ call up, Jackson is safe at AAA, for now. However, if he continues to pitch poorly and guys like Alan Horne and Jeff Marquez continue to push well, he’s going to begin feeling pressure.
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.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Eric Duncan was officially placed on the disabled list, retroactive to last Friday…Eric Hacker has been promoted from Charleston to parts unknown. In 2005, when Hacker was dominating the SAL with Phil Hughes, I thought there might be a chance for him as a prospect, but injuries have done too much to derail in his career. Still, it’s nice to see that he’s finally leaving Charleston…Marcos Vechionacci is still out.
Ross Ohlendorf got some poor results yesterday, with a final line of 5-9-4-4-2-4-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR), but in spots he looked the best I’ve seen him this year. Ohlie was getting his fastball over at 93, 94 MPH and showing good break on his off-speed pitches. The problem for him, as it seems to have been all year, is that his control and command would come and go. There were times when he looked like the guy the Yankees held up as the center piece of the RJ deal, and then there were times when he looked like nothing more than cannon fodder. In addition, his final line would have looked better, at least ERA wise, if 2B Andrew Beattie had not dropped a sure fire DP ball in the 4th inning, which led to 2 runs getting across.
Alberto Gonzalez was 1 for 4 with a single as he continues to chug along. He also put together another highlight reel play in the Top of the 5th as he fielded a ball deep in the hole, set himself, and threw a laser to the 1B. Defensively, he has come as advertised. This is the type of play where Jeter’s lack of range would necessitate a jump throw.
Jeff Marquez had a solid go in his 4th AA start with a line of 6-7-3-2-0-3-0. He was able to generate a lot of bad contact, and while that sometimes led to well placed hits, for the most part it kept the opposition off the board. Unfortunately, he was not able to pick up the victory as the Thunder offense did not come alive until late in the game.
While the Thunder offense would score 5 runs, Brett Gardner had no part of it. The struggling leadoff hitter was 0 for 5 with a strikeout. It’s still in the early going, but Gardner’s .190 AVG is unsightly. Fortunately, Cody Ehlers seems to be heating up, just as he said he would once the weather got warmer. Ehlers was 1 for 3 with a single and a walk. His average is up to .217, he is 4 for his last 11, and he has not struck out in 4 games.
Daniel McCutchen made his season debut after serving a 50-game suspension dating back to last season. While McCutchen’s name was originally linked to steroids, it turned out that the illegal substance that got him suspended was actually prescription medication he had not made MLB aware of. Anyway, McCutchen, who is reputed to have very good stuff, was solid. His final line of 6.1-3-1-1-0-2-1 can attest to that. Once Joba makes his way back, the Tampa rotation will be rolling.
Reegie Corona had a solid night, 2 for 5 with 2 singles, and Juan Miranda did the same, but in 4 at bats. Jose Tabata DHed and went 1 for 4 with a walk and a strikeout, while Francisco Cervelli had his first entirely unproductive game in a long time. The C was 0 for 4. Tim Battle also responded to my giving up on him as a prospect by going 3 for 5 with a stolen base and…wait for it…a strikeout.
Charleston had an early morning game, which they won despite only putting up 2 runs and 7 hits. Though the offensive totals were meager, the prospects played a large part in compiling them. Jose Gil, 0 for 3 with a strikeout, was the only guy who was entirely left out of the party. Eduardo Nunez, who is still in search of his first extra base hit, was 1 for 3 with a single, and Wilmer Pino was 1 for 4 with a single. After a hot start to the season, Pino has cooled considerably and is looking to get back on track. The offense’s elder statesmen, Mitch Hilligoss and Seth Fortenberry, had the best go of it at the plate. Hilligoss was 1 for 4 with a double and a strikeout and now has a 7-game hit streak with doubles in 4 of his last 5. Fortenberry was 2 for 4 with a double and a strikeout. He has authored a 3-game hit streak with an extra base hit in each game of the streak.
Garret Patterson started the game, and while he did not allow a run in his 4 innings, I refuse to get excited about a guy born in 1982, in his second season of A-ball, who consistently struggles to throw strikes…even if he is left-handed and can touch the high 90s.
Scranton. Hopefully, Tyler Clippard breaks out of the early season funk that everyone in the AAA rotation seems to be experiencing. Alberto Gonzalez should also be good for another highlight reel play as well as a single.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Most of the speculation by the press in Trenton and Scranton is pointing to Steven Jackson being the guy to get demoted from AAA. Every one of the guys in the AAA rotation has legitimate reasons for being there, so that decision is going to be a tough one.
Due to a lack of days off following a doubleheader, a Scranton game was started by a pitcher who doesn’t figure prominently into the Yankees’ immediate plans. On offense, Eric Duncan had another day off, and as a result Alberto Gonzalez was the only player of note to get playing time. Gonzalez was 0 for 4 with a strikeout as his OPS gets closer to .700.
Brett Gardner continued to struggle to hit for average in 2007 as he could only muster an 0 for 3 with a walk outing. Gardner’s greatest tool is his speed, but if he’s not hitting for average, he’s going to have to draw a ton of walks in order to utilize that speed. It’s hard to draw a ton of walks when you hit for a low average and don’t have a ton of power. It’s a vicious cycle.
No game scheduled
Mitch Hilligoss went 1 for 4 with a single and extended his hit streak to 5 games during Charleston’s game. Seth Fortenberry, Eduardo Nunez, and Jose Gil had productive nights as well. Fortenberry was 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a strikeout. Given the hot and cold nature of his career to this point, this could be the start of something big for Seth. Eduardo Nunez was 1 for 3 with a single and continues to plug along the long road to respectability. Finally, Jose Gil was 2 for 4 with a double. His OPS is up to .740 and now all I need is for his BB:K ratio to even out and I can begin promoting my adoration for him once again.
Tampa. George Kontos takes the hill and attempts to give a follow up performance to the best start of his pro career.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Clip Gets Rocked
Hideki Matsui played for Tampa last night and should be back in short fashion. This is great news for the big league club, as Melky Cabrera seems to have simply had a career year last year…According to Pinstripes Plus, Joba Chamberlain can be expected back in the next few weeks…George Kontos had an interesting evening in Tampa…Eric Duncan has a bruised left hand.
Tyler Clippard started the first game of Scranton’s doubleheader and had his worst start of the season. Clippard gave up 7 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings, which led to 4 runs, all earned, and a loss. Clippard’s issue on this day was not being able to nail the corners. Because he doesn’t have great fastball velocity, Clippard, obviously, needs to his spots. While his strike to ball ratio does not display this issue, it was evident in his K:BB ratio as well as during the game. So, there, I said it, Clippard sucked on this night and hasn’t been very good thus far in AAA. I don’t think it’s time to start thinking AAAA yet, but it definitely isn’t good for Tyler that he’s digging a hole for himself on the Carl Pavano DL Watch.
The other starter for Scranton yesterday was Matt DeSalvo. DeSalvo didn’t have a problem of missing at the corners, but rather was all over the place. Despite this, he managed to get good results as attested by his 5 inning, 3 hit, 4 walk, 4 strikeout, and 1 run performance. Yankee officials seemed to be very excited about the way DeSalvo pitched during the spring, and at the moment he is validating that by leading The DL Watch. While his walk total is far from ideal, DeSalvo is the type of pitcher that’s always going to walk guys. For others, the walks might be a sign of a complete breakdown, but Matt gets by with high walk totals and less than average BABIP rates. How effective such a skill set would be in the majors remains to be seen.
Alberto Gonzalez continues to impress with the bat. Alberto was 3 for 6 with a triple and through his first 51 at bats he is now hitting .314/.333/.451. In case you forgot, Gonzalez came over in The Big Useless deal as an all-glove no-hit middle infielder. However, as I and a bunch of others pointed out at the time, Alberto’s bat was a bit more interesting than it appeared given the context of his performance. He is validating those suspicions, at the moment, and making himself into a potential regular.
Alan Horne continued to make me look silly by striking out 7 and walking none in 5.2 innings. Yeah, he gave up 9 hits, including a home run, and 4 runs, but more important, especially with Horne is the K:BB ratio. In the early going it stands at 22:2 and his ERA and hit rate should begin to make sense in due time. I didn’t believe that Horne’s improved control at the end of 2006 was a sign of things to come, but Alan is proving otherwise.
At the plate, Cody Ehlers was 1 for 5 with a single and a walk and Brett Gardner was 1 for 5 with a double, a walk, and a strikeout. Gardner is now 2 extra base hits away from equaling his total in 217 AA at bats last year.
Reegie Corona, Jose Tabata, and Juan Miranda were all 1 for 4 with singles for Tampa. Corona supplemented his single with a walk, while Tabata threw in a strikeout in his 4 at bats, and Miranda threw in 2 for good measure. Francisco Cervelli had a more encouraging night with a 2 for 4 line. Both of Cervelli’s hits were singles and he also struck out once.
The Charleston Riverdogs were able to sweep their doubleheader with outstanding starts by Angel Reyes and Tim Norton. Reyes finally had an outing where his walk total was under control, 1 in 4 innings, and continued to limit the hits, 1, while showing off strikeout stuff, 6. Reyes was Baseball America’s pick for a breakout candidate in the Yankee farm system, probably in response to the way they overlooked him last year, and has been doing well in the early going. Last year at Staten Island, George Kontos and Tim Norton seemed to feed off each other and though they are in different locations, it seemed that Norton heard about Kontos’ spectacular outing last go around. Tim went 6.1 innings with 5 hits, 0 walks, and 10 strikeouts.
Jose Gil was 2 for 3 with a double in an attempt to make me look a little less terrible for my obsession with him. Mitch Hilligoss probably had the best day as he was 3 for 8 with a double. As I’ve stated in the past, I’m not a big fan of Hilligoss. Scouts seem to really love his swing, but when I’ve seen him play there’s been nothing about his game that impressed me. He might be an average utility player down the line, but he won’t even amount to that much if he doesn’t start hitting for a much higher average or driving the ball. Being a college draftee, he doesn’t have as much time on his side either.
Scranton. Steven Jackson is on the mound tonight.
Friday, April 20, 2007
The Good, The Bad, and The Expected
Marcos Vechionacci did injure himself during Tampa’s math game (hat tip to Mike). It appears to have occurred on a defensive play and should not keep him out too long. More seriously, Humberto Sanchez underwent TJ surgery on Wednesday (hat tip to Pete Abraham). I guess coming to the Yankees has done nothing to quell Humberto’s issues with staying healthy. I can’t say I’m surprised at this and it’s partially why I wasn’t sure about ranking a guy like him over someone like Clippard who’s taken the ball every time out in his minor league career (knocks on wood). As others have said, it’s a testament to the current state of the Yankee farm system that four pitchers of interest can go down to TJ and it hardly forces you to bat an eyelash. Finally, Chien-Ming Wang toed the rubber for the Tampa Yankees, got through his 5 innings of work, and will be activated in time to start next week.
Ross Ohlendorf gave up his first home run of the season, but got his control in check and had his best start of the season. The Yankees seem to be doing their best to ease their pitchers into heavier workloads as Ohlie left following 87 pitches, 56 of which were for strikes. Ohlendorf was still getting the job done, still keeping the ball low, and for the most part still throwing strikes. However, another factor to consider might be the need to get some of the bullpen arms some work.
Alberto Gonzalez was 2 for 7 with a big triple, a strikeout, and a stolen base. Had Scranton not ended up losing the game, Alberto would have likely been recognized as the hero due to his big hit. Gonzalez has done a very solid job in the early going with his .289/.313/.400, which is respectable for a terrific defender playing in a tough league and park for offense.
Eric Duncan finally showed some single-hitting ability, which is the big question with him, but also flashed his strikeout ability as well. Duncan was 2 for 5 with a walk and 3 strikeouts, but in his defense, he did seem to have some issues with the home plate ump’s interpretation of the strike zone.
Jeff Marquez was pinned with a loss for Trenton, but really did not pitch poorly. He lost his control for a bit in the fourth and that combined with some bad luck on groundballs led to 4 unearned runs crossing for Binghamton. Marquez has typically been a slow starter in his minor league career, so it’s nice to see him doing solid to begin the year.
On offense, Brett Gardner and Cody Ehlers continued to struggle with the ol’ batting average as they were a combined 1 for 8 with 2 strikeouts. The lone hit was a single by Ehlers.
Jose Tabata did not strike out! He didn’t have a great game either, but most importantly for me, he did not strike out. The 18-year-old phenom was 1 for 4 with a single and a steal. Jose seems focused on showing off his baserunning ability and treating the FSL like he did the GCL. Or it could just be that he’s starting this year in better shape than he did his SAL season.
Juan Miranda was 0 for 3 with a walk and 2 strikeouts. He’s shown flashes in the early going, but seems to be struggling with the strike zone. Despite the big contract, I don’t expect too much from Miranda and am willing to be patient with him.
Reegie Corona, last year’s SAL surprise sensation, had the best game of anyone in the Tampa lineup. Corona was 4 for 5 with 2 doubles while striking out once. His average is now up to .263, but he’s going to have to hit even higher than that to be valuable as he does not walk much or hit for power.
I want to say Tyler Clippard is starting tonight, check The DL Watch, but it seems that the Yankees decided to just skip his rotation turn. This might be because he warmed up, but just didn’t get to pitch during the rained out back end of the doubleheader and the Yankees want to keep him as close to regular as possible. Either that or the Yankees are just attempting to keep everyone else as close to regular as possible. So, tonight either Clippard or DeSalvo will be starting for Scranton. Either way, that game gets the spotlight.
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.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Chase Wright pitched how he could reasonably be expected to perform. At the moment he is a left-handed Jaret Wright. I was speaking with Larry last night and the reality of this is that being a left-handed Jaret Wright is not necessarily a bad thing. No one really had too much of a problem with Wright’s performance last year. It sucked that he couldn’t give us innings, but we appreciated that we were at least in the game when he left…for the most part. That’s all the Yankees are asking Chase to do. His performance might not give us great hope for his future, similar to how we were all wary of another go round with Jaret, but as long as he’s keeping the Yankees within striking distance, we can take it. Just give The Carl Pavano DL Watch some time and one of them will emerge as a superior option.
Tampa played in a game that seemed like it would never end as they lost 4-1 in 20 innings. As you can probably guess, no one had a good offensive night. Jose Tabata was 0 for 8 and continues to struggle with the Ks as he would strike out 3 times. Tabata is now up to 16 strikeouts in 48 at bats, which is very much unlike him. However, other than that he’s doing everything perfectly so I guess you can’t complain too much. Marcos Vechionacci left the game early, hopefully it wasn’t due to injury, and was 1 for 3 with 2 strikeouts. Reegie Corona came in late and went 0 for 4 with 1 walk. Juan Miranda was 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout, Colin Curtis was 0 for 6 with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts, and finally, Francisco Cervelli had one of the better offensive games by going 2 for 8 with a double and 3 strikeouts.
The highlight of the game from a Yankee fan perspective was George Kontos’ performance on the mound. Kontos had his best outing in the early going by pitching 6.1 innings of 2 hit, 2 walk, 1 run (it was earned), 11 strikeout baseball. Given his stuff and the way he dominated last year, I really can’t see Kontos being in Tampa much past June. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Yankees work out the midseason prospect shuffle amongst their pitchers.
The Riverdogs had a bad game last night, but their toolsy OF duo plugged along. Josue Calzado, who I have not mentioned prior to this point, was 1 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout. Calzado has huge tools and Baseball America has lauded him for that, but he’s in his age 21 season and just getting to Low-A ball so I’m a bit skeptical. Still, he should be watched just for his physical tools. Another guy with tremendous physical ability, Austin Jackson, seems to be warming up. Jackson was 2 for 3 with a double and a stolen base. Most importantly, he didn’t strike out and in his last 3 games has only struck out once while going 5 for 12 with 2 doubles.
Scranton, as Tyler Clippard, currently 3rd in line for an ML promotion according to the DL Watch, takes the mound and don’t miss Eric Duncan’s battle with the Mendoza Line!
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Weekend Wrap (Friday through Monday)
I apologize for the absence; now back to your regularly scheduled minor league updates.
Alberto Gonzalez has gone 4 for 11 with a double over the last 3 games as he continues to impress in the early going. When Gonzalez was named as part of the RJ deal, I initially wrote him off as a future utility IF, but every time I’ve looked at his performance record and scouting reports, I have just been more and more impressed by him. He definitely has a shot to start in the middle infield for some team.
Eric Duncan was 0 for 5 with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts in the same stretch. Duncan continues to struggle to hit singles. His walk to strikeout ratio is fine and he’s showing power, so he gets more rope.
Matt DeSalvo, Steven Jackson, and Ross Ohlendorf each got a start in the 3-game stretch. While it was great to see DeSalvo with a terrific outing and Jackson with another solid one, I think the most important outing belonged to Ohlendorf. Ohlie has now walked 10 batters in just 9 innings. This is a year after walking 29 in 182.2 innings. This, combined with how unimpressive his pitches have looked, in my unskilled estimation, is making me begin to wonder if he’s hiding an injury. I’m very interested to see how he performs in his next start.
Cody Ehlers was 2 for 12 with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts as he continues to do his best Eric Duncan impression. Ehlers had a huge year in the FSL last year and I’m hopeful that he can put up similar numbers this year and make himself interesting. In the early going, he’s been doing a good job controlling the strike zone, but he needs to start hitting something other than the occasional double.
Brett Gardner was 3 for 14 with a triple and a strikeout. I like Gardner’s start. I figure the average will work itself out and he’s already reached more than half of his AA extra base hit total from last year, which really puts into perspective how poor his power production was.
On the mound, Jeff Marquez, Alan Horne, and Brett Smith all turned in quality outings. Horne and Smith are off to fast starts and I’m very interested in seeing how long they can maintain that as I didn’t have much positive to say about either player this past offseason.
Last night in Tampa, Ian Kennedy picked up his first professional win. He did so in a fashion that was not particularly impressive as demonstrated by his 4 walks and 1 strikeout in 3 innings. Kennedy was not able to start as Jeff Karstens took the mound as he heads towards the conclusion of his rehab. The early returns on Kennedy’s groundball to flyball ratio are pretty scary, but hopefully it will correct itself. If not, I hope he’s a guy who can survive like that by getting tons of popups and only allowing solo homers, which would mean he needs work on that early walk rate as well.
In the past 4 games, the hottest Tampa offensive prospect has been Marcos Vechionacci. He has doubled in his last 3 games and overall was 4 for 10 with 3 doubles, 2 walks, and 1 strikeout. Jose Tabata also continues to pound the ball when he makes contact. Unfortunately, he seems to be struggling a bit with the strikeouts. His overall line is highly impressive, but his rate of production given his peripherals is unsustainable. Tabata’s fast start is reminding me of the similarly hot FSL starts of Bronson Sardinha and Robinson Cano, but hopefully he can do a better job of maintaining his production than they did.
On the positive side, Austin Jackson has only struck out 3 times in his last 17 at bats, on the negative, he’s only picked up 3 hits in that same stretch. The Yankees don’t have much in the way of legitimate position prospects so when guys like Jackson struggle, it really hurts. Fortunately for Jackson, he doesn’t stand out too much, because the entire Charleston offense is struggling. My infatuation with Jose Gil is beginning to look silly as he was 1 for 8 with 3 strikeouts in the 4-game stretch and is off to yet another slow start. Wilmer Pino is the only guy on the team hitting consistently and he was just 3 for 13 with a walk in on the weekend.
Tim Norton and Angel Reyes had similar outings in that their good stuff was able to overcome their control/command issues. Unfortunately for both, their efforts resulted in losses as the Charleston offense is just not getting the job done at the moment.
Yankees and the Indians at the Stadium for Chase Wright’s ML debut.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
With Carl Pavano headed to his rightful place, the Yankees were in need of someone to take over his rotation spot. It was just announced that the pitcher to do so will be Chase Wright. Along with a few other guys, Chase Wright was amongst the most impressive invited to Spring Training. His call-up is a result of that as well as his stellar AA performance to begin the year and his position on the 40-man roster.
Wright throws a 2 seam fastball that typically runs 87-90. He used to throw a bit harder and can, from time to time, get his fastball into the low 90s. However, things seem to turn out better for him when he’s working in his comfort zone. Wright’s fastball doesn’t have a TON of movement, but it is by no means straight and he generally does a great job of keeping the ball down. The 24-year-old lefty does a great job of generating groundballs by keeping his fastball low.
In addition to the fastball, Wright throws a changeup and a slurvy breaking ball. Wright’s changeup is regarded as his best pitch. He is usually able to throw it about 10 MPH slower than his fastball and uses it to get whiffs when needed. His breaking ball is a show-me pitch. There are times when it shows flashes of being more, but his command and control of the pitch is too inconsistent for it to be considered more than a fringe offering. When Wright gets in trouble it’s usually because he has fallen behind in the count and has to throw a fastball to get over. The breaking ball is a contributor to this problem.
This season I’ve compared Wright to Ron Villone. I think that he’s a guy with good enough stuff to be a league average pitcher, but he will be held back by his control issues. While he’s only walked 1 in 14 regular season innings thus far, he did walk 6 in 12.2 spring innings. I think Wright might be ready to give the Yankees performance similar to the other guy named Wright that they had in their rotation last year. If the offense plays like it’s supposed to, this might be enough to weather the storm until one of the guys on The Carl Pavano DL Watch is ready, because I have no faith in Carl Pavano’s ability to recover.
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?
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Just One of Those Days
When you look at the box score for last night’s Scranton game, you’re probably going to think Tyler Clippard pitched poorly. When you give up 8 hits and 7 runs in 4 innings those thoughts are expected. However, much of what went wrong with Tyler was just bad luck. His 4:1 K:BB ratio does a better job of demonstrating the quality of his performance. Clippard was getting swings and misses with his curve, change, and fastball. His fastball was particularly impressive tonight as he was able to nail the outside corner on a consistent basis. Really, he had one pitch that was terrible. The pitch in question was a hanging curveball to T.J. Bohn that was deposited over the LF wall for a 3-run homer in the 3rd inning. Other than that, pretty much every hit Clippard gave up was of the just past a diving X or over the outstretched glove of X variety. So, despite the ugly box score that might lead one to doubt Clippard’s ability to succeed at the AAA level, I’m still in his corner.
One night after looking horrendous at the plate, Eric Duncan was a different batter. While he would finish the game 0 for 3, 2 of those outs were hard liners, one on the ground and one to deep RF. In addition, Duncan drew 2 walks. On Tuesday, when he was in position to draw a walk he started thinking homer and gave away ABs, but Wednesday he remained patient and took what the pitcher gave him. The results were positive.
Alberto Gonzalez had another solid go of it at the plate as he was 2 for 5 with a single and a triple. I’m not going to lie, I don’t remember much from his ABs. I do have a comment on his defense though. Gonzalez has a terrific arm and glides from side to side. I’m beginning to think me not noticing him on defense is a testament to how good he is.
Around The Minors:
Chase Wright continued his hot pitching for AA Trenton. Obviously feeling that his terrific Opening Day performance wasn’t good enough, Wright would strike out 10 in 7 innings of 1 hit, 1 walk ball. Wright had a little bit of hype surrounding him when he first entered full-season baseball, but the hot start isn’t enough for me to think of him as more than perhaps a potential solid swingman. Where his performance does provide immediate help is in giving the Yankees another option in case the rest of the staff feels like getting injured.
Cody Ehlers was 1 for 4 with a double as he ran his streak of not striking out to 2 games in a row. Brett Gardner, obviously responding to his watch on the sidebar, was 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. The thought of Brett Gardner hitting for extra bases just brings a smile to my face.
Tampa had a doubleheader today with mixed results for the offense. Jose Tabata was 1 for 6 with a walk and 2 strikeouts, Marcos Vechionacci was 1 for 4 with a double and a strikeout, and Reegie Corona was 2 for 7 with a double and 2 strikeouts. The older guys on the team, Juan Miranda and Colin Curtis, had good games. Miranda was 2 for 5 with a homer, a walk, and 2 strikeouts and Curtis was 2 for 4 with a double.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Ian Kennedy took a complete game loss. He went 6 innings and struck out 4 while walking 2 and giving up 3 hits. Unfortunately, 1 of the 3 hits was a solo homer that would leave Kennedy with the loss.
The Charleston offense put 6 runs and 10 hits on the board en route to a victory. Mitch Hilligoss was the star as he went 3 for 5 with a double and a strikeout. Wilmer Pino also had a good game as he went 2 for 4 with a strikeout and 2 steals. Finally, Austin Jackson continued to show newfound power, a double in 5 at bats, with old school deficiencies, 4 outs collected at the plate, 3 of which were strikeouts.
8 games into the season the Yankees have gotten 2 good starts out of their rotation. To make matters worse, Mike Mussina looks DL-bound. So, of course the spotlight is going to continue to shine on Scranton. It doesn’t hurt that Phil Hughes is starting either.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Steve Jackson made his first start for AAA Scranton and was impressive throughout the game. While he tired in his 5th inning of work, giving up back to back home runs, prior to that he was winning me over. Similar to Ohlendorf, Jackson doesn’t seem to have amazing movement on his sinker, but is able to get ground balls by pounding the bottom half of the zone. The difference between his start today and Ohlendorf’s last time around was that when Jackson went to his breaking stuff it had more movement than Ohlie’s and he was able to get swings and misses or weak contact. Unfortunately, in the 5th inning it seemed that he got a bit tired as both home run pitches were just a bit higher than they should have been and dealt with accordingly.
Eric Duncan had a very poor offensive game. In his first at bat he worked a full count before popping up on a pitch in on his hands. His second AB was a giveaway as he quickly struck out on a fastball up and away. His third AB provided a bit of excitement as he got hold of a pitch and drilled it deep and gone, but foul. He would then strike out on another up and away fastball. Fourth time up, Duncan popped up on a pitch down and away to the CF and then in his final AB he had his most frustrating appearance. Bottom of the 9th and his team down a run, Duncan came up with a runner on. He worked the count to 2-0 and things were looking good, but then it all went bad. Duncan would then proceed to pull off on next 3 pitches, which looked to be change-ups, as he was no doubt looking to connect on a game winner, but instead just whiffed.
Alberto Gonzalez was 1 for 4 with a solid line drive single, one of the best hit balls I’ve seen from him thus far, and a walk and a strikeout. He also was finally show off his much talked about defensive tools. On a low line drive grounder to his right during the 9th Gonzalez ranged right, backhanded the ball from a crouching position, and just let loose from the same position to throw the runner out. No jump throw, no leveraging, just a very nice play.
The Riverdogs took their first loss of the season as their hitters were simply over matched by Josh Sullivan of the Asheville Tourists. On the defensive/pitching end, Tim Norton also ran into a bit of bad luck. While none of the 3 hits or foul balls that he gave up in his 4.1 innings was particularly hard hit, Norton struggled just enough with his control, 3 walks, that the opposition was able to push runs across. At the least, Norton was as advertised, stuff-wise. The vast majority of his pitches were fastballs, on this night he was 90-96, and he seemed a bit reluctant to go to his secondary stuff. The opposition could not handle his fastball in the early going, but after a while they learned to deal with it and the secondary arsenal was on and off.
Offensively, no one had a good game. Even Mitch Hilligoss’ 2 hit night was of the “it will look like a line drive in tomorrow’s paper” variety. Austin Jackson knocked the crap out of the ball a couple times, but got nothing to show for it as he still seems to just give ABs away every now and then. Wilmer Pino also drew another walk, no clue what’s going on there. Unfortunately, after he got on base he had the less than terrific idea to try and steal home. While he was caught doing so, it was kind of cool that he made the play close; he’s got some good speed.
Around The Minors:
Trenton lost in extra innings as nothing too exciting happened for their prospects. Brett Gardner was 0 for 3 with 2 walks and 1 strikeout, Ramiro Pena struck out twice but also collected a single in 6 ABs, and Cody Ehlers was 0 for 5 with a walk and the game winning RBI. On the mound, Kevin Whelan pitched 2 innings, gave up 1 hit, and struck out 2.
Tampa was rained out and will play a doubleheader today.
Scranton is the place to be as Tyler Clippard gets his 2nd AAA start and Eric Duncan looks to snap out of his funk.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The best lefty prospect in the organization, Angel Reyes, had a start to remember for Charleston. The 20-year-old has terrific stuff, which he demonstrated by striking out 9 men in 3.1 innings while only giving up 1 hit. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always know where it’s going as demonstrated by the 3 wild pitches, 1 passed ball, and 3 walks during that same stretch. This looks like a line out of the Abel Gomez school of pitching, but Reyes has, in the past, demonstrated better control than Gomez ever did. It’s just a matter of him getting in synch.
On the other side of things, Mitch Hilligoss had a solid game going 1 for 5 with a triple and a strikeout while having “professional” ABs. Austin Jackson, from the box score, looks like he had a poor night as he was 0 for 3 with a strikeout, but this was not the case. He put together quality at bats and on 2 occasions he mashed the ball to the warning track, only for the opposition’s OF to make the play. Jackson came into camp with added muscle and it is definitely making an in-game difference. Seth Fortenberry had a terrific game at the plate, but was unlucky on the basepaths. Seth was 4 for 4 with 2 singles, a triple, and a home run, but was caught stealing twice, including a failed hit and run. Eduardo Nunez was 2 for 3 with 2 singles and an RBI and Jose Gil and Wilmer Pino each picked up an extra base hit. Gil’s was a homer and Pino’s a double. Pino also picked up a walk, which is always unexpected.
Around The Minors:
Matt DeSalvo begin his start in positive fashion, but had to leave quickly. The good is that his stuff was there and he could generate swings and misses in moments of need. Unfortunately, the bad was that he struggled to throw consistent strikes and put batters away, so as a result he threw 77 pitches in 3 innings, 44 of which were strikes.
Offensively, Eric Duncan had his first tough game of the year. He still worked deep counts, but ended the day 1 for 4 with an opposite field single and 3 strikeouts. Alberto Gonzalez was also promoted to 2nd in the lineup and responded by going 1 for 4 with 2 strikeouts of his own. Part of the reason for the strikeouts was Buddy Carlyle being on the mound for the opposition and while he might not have done much in the majors, he’s quite adept at getting guys out in the minors, which he demonstrated in his time in the Yankee farm system a little while back.
In Brett Smith’s first start of the new season The Thunder went 12 innings. Smith lasted 5 innings and struck out 6 while giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, all of them earned. At the time he was drafted, Smith was reputed to throw in the low 90s and looked like one of the organization’s shining stars on the mound. Unfortunately, his velocity has been closer to high 80s/90 and without overwhelming secondary stuff the result has been that he plays the role of semi-interesting organizational filler.
Brett Gardner, responding to his MYB sponsored watch, was 1 for 4 with a double and 2 walks. Ramiro Pena, who according to the Pinstripes Plus folks looked terrific in spring training, finally flashed something as he went 1 for 4 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base. Cody Ehlers was 2 for 5 with a double, a walk, and 2 stolen bases. Similar to EJ Fagan, I like Ehlers better than most. When you are a hitter and perform as well as he did in the FSL last year, I take notice.
The Tampa offense put 10 runs on the board, and as would be expected, a lot of the offensive prospects had good nights. Reegie Corona, who has struggled tremendously in the early going, was 2 for 5 with a double, a stolen base, and 2 strikeouts. Given his history, I’m surprised at how much Corona is striking out right now, but it’s probably just a small sample size issue. Jose Tabata, who has also struck out a bit in the earl going, was 1 for 3 with a single, a walk, and 2 strikeouts. He also managed to pick up a sacrifice fly RBI. Marcos Vechionacci tripled his season hit total by going 2 for 5 with 2 singles. Finally, Colin Curtis was 3 for 5 with a double and Francisco Cervelli was 0 for 3, but picked up a walk.
Charleston is the place to be as Tim Norton gets his second start of the season. I’ve also come around on the roster of offensive prospects at Charleston, realizing that this is the second best prospect offense in the Yankee farm. Will Pino walk again? Will Action Jackson continue to hit it hard? Find out tonight.
Monday, April 9, 2007
Week 1 Review
Scranton’s game was canceled due to inclement weather conditions and so there was no time to keep track of Eric Duncan’s bat and Matt DeSalvo’s recovery. With scheduled off days for Tampa and Trenton, the only place to go for minor league action was Charleston. The Riverdogs picked up a win in solid prospect fashion. Mitch Hilligoss had his best game of the early going, as he was 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. I’m not as sold on Hilligoss as more scout oriented types/sites, but am waiting to be sold, so what he does this year is going to have a large effect on how I view him. Austin Jackson was 1 for 5 with 2 strikeouts, and while he is hitting well in the early going, he is also striking out a lot. Eduardo Nunez was 1 for 3 with a walk and has been walking a lot in the early going. This season is huge for Nunez because right now, 2005 is the only season on his resume where he has hit well and he is in jeopardy of quickly becoming an afterthought. Finally, Wilmer Pino was 1 for 2 with a walk. As anyone who has seen him play can attest, it is always shocking when Wilmer walks.
Around The Minors:
Week 1, but not really, of the minor league season is just about wrapped up. Thus far the pitchers have done what they were expected to do. The hitters have had some pleasant starts with Jose Tabata beginning the year much hotter than could reasonably be expected, Eric Duncan crushing the ball, and Austin Jackson showing signs of life. However, outside of that some of the guys who really need that big year have gotten off to a slow start. Fortunately, it’s 1 week in and I’m not going to crucify those guys. For now, I’m going to focus on the positive in my daily reviews and once it gets to the point where the slow starts are worrying me, I’ll begin focusing more on those guys and what it seems they are doing that’s contributing to such a slow start.
Another day, and it’s still Scranton. Honestly…given the state of the major league rotation as well as 1B being the everyday position most likely to need an in-season replacement, the spotlight might be on Scranton all year unless there’s a special event such as Jose Tabata’s 1st AA game or something of that nature.
Sunday, April 8, 2007
Ross Ohlendorf made his first start of the year for AAA Scranton and wasn’t that great. Typically allergic to walks, Ohlendorf had no such luck on this day. It wasn’t so much that he was wild with his pitches and couldn’t find the zone as it was that he was just missing off the edges. In addition, the opposition was able to place their hits in the right place and the result was a less than pleasant final line. While watching Ohlendorf, I couldn’t help, but think that he just does not impress me that much. His fastball velocity is good, getting up to 94 MPH, he keeps the ball down, and he typically has excellent control. That might seem like enough, but I’m concerned with the movement or lack thereof on his pitches. Even his sinker did not seem to have great sinking motion as it was that he was simply keeping the ball down. I might be wrong, but I’ll try to keep an eye on this. Finally, for what it’s worth, he does seem to have quite the physical presence on the mound.
Eric Duncan had a third straight positive game. Once again, he did a good job on defense and at the plate. The key moment for him, offensively, was during the 6th inning when he blasted a home run to right center field to give Scranton their winning margin. He also drew a walk on the day as he consistently had patient, quality at bats. One thing that has stuck out about Duncan is that he seems to love the ball low and middle of the plate to low and out.
Alberto Gonzalez…to be honest, I didn’t even realize he played, so I don’t have much to say regarding his performance.
Around The Minors:
Alan Horne began his season in solid fashion. Judging by the box score, he might have tired down the stretch, but it was a fine start for Horne and the guys such as Mike from River Ave Blues and Bryan Smith, who believe that Horne could be headed for big things.
Brett Gardner was 2 for 5 with his first extra base hit, a triple, first stolen base, and first strikeout of the season. I’m hoping he does lots of two of those things. For a guy with all the speed Gardner has, you’d like to see him exceed his 2006 total of 24 combined doubles and triples.
George Kontos made his full season debut for Tampa yesterday and went 6 solid innings. He would give up 2 runs on 1 homer, 6 overall hits, while striking out 5 and walking 1. I expect a lot out of serious pitching prospects in the Florida State League, so this start was just ok to me.
Jose Tabata managed to have another terrific day. The 18-year-old phenom was 2 for 3 with an opposite field home run as well as a walk and a strikeout. Oh yeah, he also picked up his second steal of the season. Given his age and his environment, I was expecting something along the lines of .300/.365/.425 from Tabata. It’s early, but I might have to raise my expectations and I’m not upset about that.
The guy most likely to be affected by when/if Tabata is promoted to Trenton, Austin Jackson, had a good day at the plate as well. Jackson was 2 for 3 with a walk and his first stolen base of the season. Jackson seems to think that a lot of his struggles last year were due to the fatigue of playing baseball full-time for the first time. I believe him and hopefully his performance validates that belief.
Finally, Wilmer Pino was 1 for 3 with a double and a steal. I saw Pino last season at Staten Island, and was impressed by him. He’s a hacker, but seems to have a solid set of tools and I’m rooting for him.
Eric Duncan’s bat and Matt DeSalvo’s comeback. Scranton it is.
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.
Friday, April 6, 2007
Clippard’s AAA Debut
Opening Night Review:
Tyler Clippard was solid in his AAA debut last night. He had a little trouble locating the fastball, but could go to the curve and the change for outs whenever he got into a jam. While his fastball isn’t particularly fast, he does seem to get a good deal of movement on it. Some of that is unintended as it sails on him from time to time. His command of his secondary pitches appears to be superior to his fastball command, which could explain some of the “Clippard pitches backwards” stuff that’s heard from time to time.
Eric Duncan looked ok at the plate. He had a couple of poor appearances against a good pitcher, Hayden Penn, but also knocked a looooong opposite field double off the wall. Defensively, he looked much improved from when I saw him last year. His actions around the bag appeared smoother and more confident, which was my primary point of concern with his defensive game.
Alberto Gonzalez was up hacking and did not last long enough in any of his Abs to take note of anything other than the fact that he likes to swing. In the field he didn’t do anything noteworthy.
Around The Minors:
-Chase Wright pitched a phenomenal game for Trenton. He went 7 and struck out 9 while giving up 3 hits and 0 walks. Wright was pretty impressive in spring training, despite some control problems. He’s fairly old to be considered a big time prospect, but he might be Ron Villone, we’ll see.
-Jose Tabata started his season off right by singling and immediately stealing a base.
-Tim Norton also got started correctly by tossing 5 innings of 1 hit shutout baseball. He also took the time to strike out 5 while just walking 1. Despite concerns about his secondary pitches, I doubt Norton will be long for Charleston.
-Scranton is once again the affiliate to watch as Phil Hughes makes his 2007 debut.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
What To Watch in 2007 (Minor Leagues)
Minor league opening day, the real opening day, is finally upon us. After much pomp and circumstance about the improvement in the quality of the Yankee farm system, it’s finally time to see who is going to back up their winter press clippings with impressive performances. With that in mind, here are a few players to watch/listen to internet audio/keep track of in box scores:
Tyler Clippard, RHP, Scranton
Clippard has succeeded at every level thus far in his minor league career, but because he does not throw particularly hard, he still has his share of doubters. He will be taking the mound for Scranton today as he attempts to pass his final minor league test. I am a big fan of Clippard and expect him to do what he has done at every other level: ERA in the low to mid 3s, eat innings, and strike out lots of guys.
Eric Duncan, 1B, Scranton
The Yankees have decided to start Duncan off at Scranton. No doubt, they feel that the hitting he did for the first 180 or so plate appearances in AA last year represent the real Duncan. If he can stay away from any recurring back problems, I expect Duncan to surprise a lot of people and put himself in line for a shot at the 1B job come next spring. Strikeouts have not been a problem for him for some time now and it is just a matter of knowing that his back is healthy so that he can drive the ball when he does connect.
Alberto Gonzalez, SS, Scranton
With the A-Rod saga developing to the point where it is not set in stone that he will be a member of the 2008 Yankees, Gonzalez goes from future super utility player to potential infield regular. There is a weak 3B market coming up and if A-Rod bolts, the Yankees might look within. If they do, the quality of the season Gonzalez has will play a large role in deciding how confidently the Yankees go in that direction.
Brett Gardner, CF, Trenton
Gardner can run really, really, really fast. He also knows how to take a walk. Those two skills will not mean much if he fails to hit with enough power to stop pitchers from attempting to knock the bat out of his hands. He already strikes out a lot for someone of the speedy leadoff man ilk, so it will be interesting to watch whether the strikeouts increase as he tries to hit for at least gap power. I doubt he is going to show much power and will probably have to settle for being rated as a future 4th OF/defensive replacement, but I hope he does better.
Marcos Vechionacci, 3B, Tampa
Marcos has impressed everyone with his defensive performance for some time now, but it is time for the bat to start catching up. He is another guy whose season becomes just a little bit more crucial with A-Rod’s status as a Yankee up in the air. I’ve always been a big Vechionacci supporter and given that he looked stronger in spring training I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and expect a year that has him ending in Trenton.
Ian Kennedy, RHP, Tampa
Kennedy is basically Clippard with a smaller build. Much like Clippard, he’s going to have to prove himself every step of the way. Tampa is step 1.
Jose Gil, C, Charleston
I love Gil’s swing. I love his sense of the strike-zone. I think he’s got defensive potential. This year he’s going to cease switch-hitting and just stick to being a righty batter, hopefully he begins to live up to my expectations.
The overall team to track this year is Tampa as it will have the most prospects. Scranton should also be good for keeping track of the potential rotation injury replacements. Finally, for those that were not aware, Dellin Betances and Zach McAllister did not make the opening day Charleston roster. I’m not sure why, but I would speculate that it was due to refinements being made to their motion (Betances) or pitches (McAllister).
And finally, if you’re into prospects, I highly recommend going to minorleaguebaseball.com and subscribing to MiLB.tv and enjoy watching the outstanding Scranton rotation so that when one of them makes it to the bigs, you can tell your friends all about what to expect.
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, January 24, 2007
2: Jose Tabata
Jose Tabata, 18, RFPreviously Ranked: 4th prior to 2006
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 2nd, Baseball
Physical Ability: Jose Tabata is an extremely young, extremely gifted teenager in the Yankee farm system. He possesses solid or better tools across the board and it is this broad base of tools that make him an exciting prospect. While his American debut gave the impression that he was/is a speedster, Tabata has lost some of that ability due to weight gain. How well he is able to keep his weight under control may be the determining factor in how far he goes as a big leaguer. At present, Tabata still possesses solid speed and is surprisingly adept at picking his spots on the bases. Unlike many young hitters, Tabata does not struggle to get on base as he both hits for average and controls the strike zone. Tabata is a good hitter for average due to level stroke and consistently getting good wood on the ball. While he projects to hit for power in the 30 home run range, Tabata has only tapped into a bit of that raw ability. Defensively, Tabata has played all three OF positions to this point of his career. He projects as a solid or better defender in either OF corner.
What Happened in ’06: Tabata began the year playing for the Charleston Riverdogs of the South Atlantic League. Through the July 4th weekend his performance was excellent as he had posted an OPS of .824 while making consistent adjustments and improvements at the plate. It was around this time where he began to suffer through a series of hand injuries that would derail his season. The Yankees tried a DL stay as well as some good old fashioned time off, but neither was effective in curing what ailed their top offensive prospect. Tabata would cap his year by playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. While he was initially a bench player, Tabata’s offensive performance forced his coaching staff’s hand and he took hold of a starting spot. Unfortunately, it was then that his was derailed by a wrist injury.
What Lies Ahead: Normally, I’m afraid of what going to the Florida State League will do to an offensive prospect’s numbers, but in the case of Tabata, I’m fairly confident he will have a representative season. He does not put the ball in the air that much and did a good job dealing with an adverse offensive environment in
Grade: At the moment, there are two flaws in Tabata’s prospect profile. The first is his weight, the second is injury history. In regards to the former, Tabata came into the year overweight and while he worked his way into shape as the season progressed he was still wider than you’d like a top hitting prospect to be at his age. So, that’s going to be a concern until it can be established that last offseason’s weight gain was a fluke. His build is also going to be a contributor to this problem as well as inflating the issue. The second concern is injuries. Over the past few months, Tabata has battled some hand and wrist issues, which are particularly troublesome. They have a tendency to sap power and it appears that that may have occurred in Tabata’s case. The Yankees are once again claiming Tabata is fully recovered, so hopefully that is a thing of the past. If you’re looking for or find any other legitimate flaws, you’re probably looking too hard. If things work out, Jose has a chance to be a Kevin Mitchell/Bobby Abreu type and if everything goes right, he may just be Manny Ramirez. A-
Friday, January 19, 2007
3: Humberto Sanchez
Humberto Sanchez, 23, RHPPreviously Ranked: N/R
What Others Say: Baseball America N/A, Pinstripes Plus N/A, John Sickels 3rd (B)
Physical Ability: Humberto is…a big RHP who…pitches off his low to mid 90s fastball. In addition to the being big, right-handed, and throwing hard, Humberto also displays the other Yankee pitching prospect trait of throwing a heavy fastball. The fastball is typically complemented by a slider and change. The change isn’t too great at the moment, but the slider has shown potential. When he’s able to snap it off correctly, he can go to it for the strikeout. Humberto is going to need to improve the control and command of both those pitches because neither is overwhelming to the point that he can miss with them and get away with it. As far as battling left-handed batters, as long as Sanchez holds up physically he has enough stuff to not have to worry too much about platoon issues, but his health is a major question at this point.
What Happened in ’06: Sanchez began the year pitching for AA Erie in the Tigers organization and got off to a quick start. Considering he was repeating the level that was somewhat to be expected. The key to his success seemed to be better command of his stuff than he had demonstrated in the past. He finished the year in AAA and struggled down the stretch as he had to deal with injuries for the umpteenth time in his young career.
What Lies Ahead: Sanchez should open 2007 at AAA Scranton. Beyond that, his role is up in the air. There have been rumors that he may be placed in the bullpen, but that has not been confirmed in any way. Whether he’s in the bullpen or in the rotation he should have ample time to ready himself for big league action as there will be numerous options for both positions. I think the Yankees start him off in the rotation, and based on how he does there, they will decide whether or not that is his final role. I can’t see them putting the ceiling of reliever, even if it is shut down reliever, on a guy that for all intents and purposes is one of their big offseason acquisitions.
Grade: Since Sanchez has only been in the organization this fall/winter, I don’t have as great a read on him as I do a lot of the other guys on this list. That said, I think his prospect status is a bit overblown. Yes, he’s a big guy with a big fastball, but his fastball is not THAT big. Yes, his slider has been a great pitch at times, but those times haven’t been frequent enough. Yes, he showed great progress in his performance last year, but he still had his playing time cut short to injury. As you can tell, I see a lot of red flags with Sanchez. When he was in the Futures Game I remember thinking “how did this guy get here”. However, on the strength of the opinion that others have of him, I am going to concede that there may be something I’m missing. I’m very interested to see how he progresses this year. B
Joba Chamberlain 4
Thursday, January 18, 2007
4: Joba Chamberlain
Joba Chamberlain, 21, RHPPreviously Ranked: N/R
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 11th, Baseball America 4th, John Sickels 4th (B)
Physical Ability: Joba Chamberlain is yet another big bodied Yankee hurler. Standing 6’3’’ and listed at 225, Joba has actually been considered too big at times. As you would hope with a guy his size, Joba also possesses a terrific fastball. Joba The Hutt typically pitches in the mid 90s with his fastball and can even get it up to the high 90s at times. In addition to throwing his fastball very hard, Joba has uncanny control and command of the pitch. His repertoire is rounded out with a slider, a curveball, and a changeup. At the moment, none of these pitches is anything to write home about. Fortunately, they aren’t terrible either. The slider has shown the most promise thus far. It will be interesting to see whether the Yankees let him be with that as his breaking ball of choice or try and push him towards the curveball as is the organizational preference. As I’ve alluded to, Chamberlain has struggled with his weight at times. Some feel that his struggles with a knee injury during college can be attributed to carrying too much weight. It remains to be seen how much of a problem that, as well as his triceps tendonitis of the past year, will be in the pros.
What Happened in ‘06: Like just about every other Yankee draft pick in 2006, Chamberlain was an early favorite to go in the first round. In fact, he was projected in the top 10. However, due to the aforementioned injury concerns, which led to poor performance, Joba fell on draft day. Unlike a guy such as Ian Kennedy, Joba did not have much, if any, track record to fall back on as he had only emerged as a legitimate prospect the year prior. Fortunately for Joba he has greater physical talent than Kennedy and once he was signed and allowed to play, he made teams begin to regret their decision to pass on him. Chamberlain’s pro debut was in the resurrected Hawaiian Baseball League where he was probably the league’s best pitcher. While his control wasn’t as good as the 46:3 K:BB ratio would indicate, it was still impressive. More impressive was his command, especially on the occasions where he would fall behind batters only to perfect place a pitch and get opposing hitters to turn hitter’s counts into outs.
What Lies Ahead: Chamberlain will most likely begin 2007 in Tampa. I don’t expect him to be long for Tampa. In fact, I hope/think his 2007 will look a lot like Phil Hughes’ 2006. Despite that, I think he’s further away at this point than Phil Hughes was a year ago. In terms of top pitching prospects, Joba is more Mike Pelfrey than Phil Hughes. In other words, he’s going to be able to get at least decent minor league results because he has an overpowering fastball. What will determine how quickly he can be ready is getting one of his secondary offerings, most likely the slider, to the point where he can give batters a different look. Developing those secondary pitches will help him have the means to get outs against quality left-handed batters.
Grade: While Clippard lacks stuff, Joba lacks a performance record. While Clippard has never missed a turn in the rotation (hey, more Barry Zito similarities), Joba has injury concerns. Overall, I think they’re fairly comparable pitching prospects and I’m going to err on the side of potential and “tools”. We’ll see how it turns out. Hopefully, Joba makes good on his ability and can give the Yankees some terrific years near the front of the rotation. B
Tyler Clippard 5
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
5: Tyler Clippard
Tyler Clippard, 22, RHPPrevious Ranking: 3rd prior to 2006, 5th prior to 2005, 7th prior to 2004
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 5th, Baseball America 7th, John Sickels 5th (B)
Physical Ability: Though he has now increased his weight to about 200 pounds, by most accounts, the 6’4’’ Clippard still has a somewhat slight build. Some look at that as evidence that he may have even more filling out to do, which will lead to a further increase in his velocity. This is such a critical point because Clippard’s velocity is universally cited as the red flag of his prospect profile. As it stands, a typical Clippard fastball registers 90 on the radar gun. When he’s locked in and reaches back for something extra, he can get that up to 94. When it comes to fastball velocity, there are days when Clippard is 86-90, then there are days where he is 89-92, and finally there are the days when he just repeatedly hits 90. It all has to do with how well he’s finishing his pitches and how in-sync his motion is. In addition, to the 4-seam fastball, Clippard’s other primary pitches are the curveball and change-up. He throws a slider from time to time, but it’s not a huge part of his repertoire. Clippard’s curveball regularly comes in at 75 on the gun and has the 12-to-6 break that everyone loves to watch. In the past, he has struggled with leaving this pitch up, but did a better job of commanding it in the second half of 2006. Clippard’s change-up has never been as good as it was from June onward this past year, garnering consistent 80 MPH strikeouts.
What Happened in ’06: Clippard began the year pitching for the Trenton Thunder, and pitching terribly. In the early going, it was simply a matter of opponents being able to count on a bloop and a blast. However, as the losses piled up, it became more than that. On June 9th, Tyler Clippard hit rock bottom. His control was poor, rainy conditions did not help, and his ERA ballooned to 5.29 following a 1 inning outing. The results accumulated by the Tyler Clippard who pitched prior to and during that game were never as dominant as the results accumulated by the Tyler Clippard who pitched following June 9th. While Clippard has had hot months in the past, he has never pitched so well for so long as he did to close out last year’s regular season. His fastball was the same, his curveball was the same, but his change-up took a giant leap forward. Having the change-up as a reliable weapon made life much easier for Clippard. Instead of relying on his curveball when he needed a big pitch. He could now go to his change-up without worry, which allowed the fastball to become more of a weapon in those situations as well.
What Lies Ahead: Having successfully made the AA transition, Clippard now has to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and repeat his success at AAA. That’s the reality of being right-handed and not having a “wow” fastball. In a rotation that will be looked at as Phil Hughes, The Injury Replacements, and some other guy, Clippard may be able to force himself to the forefront. The Yankees do not want Phil Hughes to pitch more than around 180 innings in 2007. As such the likely candidate for first call-up will be one of The Injury Replacements. If Clippard is measurably outperforming them and/or they struggle when given their shot, Clippard may be able get a roster spot and a chance in the big leagues. It’s a narrow window of opportunity, but it’s there.
Grade: Based on results, Clippard is probably about a B prospect, but given that there are valid concerns about how he gets his result, his grade gets knocked down a bit. It should also be noted that he is not the extreme flyballer many would have you think, but rather, a pitcher with fairly neutral batted ball tendencies. In addition, I think his potential is more than simply back of the rotation. He might pitch “backwards”, but I think if everything works out, Clippard can be a guy you slot in at the 2/3 slot on a club and sit back and watch as he gives you 200 innings of 3.8-4.1 ERA baseball. Again, that’s IF EVERYHING WORKS OUT. At the least, I think he should be able to give decent innings in a swingman role out of the bullpen. B
Jeff Marquez 6
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
6: Jeff Marquez
Jeff Marquez, RHP, 22Previously Ranked: 6th prior to 2006, 14th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 9th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels 17th (C)
Physical Ability: Jeff Marquez is a 6’2’’ right-hander who weighs in around 190 pounds. Marquez doesn’t have the natural downward plane of some of the taller guys in the system, but nonetheless generates tremendous sink on his 2-seam fastball. It is a pitch that typically registers in the low 90s and is complimented by a 4-seam fastball that Marquez can touch the mid 90s with. In addition to the sinking fastball, the other pitch Marquez is well known for is his change-up, which has been a plus pitch for him to this point in his career. Jeff’s primary arsenal is completed with the curveball, which is probably the pitch Jeff is working on the most at this point. Despite still needing some work, it has been a plus pitch for him on occasion.
What Happened in ’06: In 2006, things just didn’t break right for Marquez. Jeff came into the season hoping to pitch well in Tampa and get promoted to Trenton. I thought that was a reasonable enough expectation given his talent and the composition of the minor league squads at the time. Unfortunately, that did not happen. As tends to happen with groundball pitchers from time to time, Marquez was beset with bad luck in April. His BABIP was way beyond where it should have been and resultantly, so was his ERA. Then once the numbers began to make sense, Marquez was placed on the disabled list with a muscle strain. This would keep him out for the better part of 2 months. Upon returning to Tampa, Marquez continued to pitch well, but at that point it was too little too late and he would have to settle for only having a solid year at Tampa. Sent to the HBL to complete the calendar year, it seemed that Marquez would dominate, unfortunately he struggled with his command and the results were poor.
What Lies Ahead: The key for Jeff’s development will be how well he commands his fastball within the strike zone. At the moment, he’s got pretty good control, he can get the ball in the strike zone on a regular basis, but he needs to throw more quality strikes. Once he does that, the natural movement on his pitches, particularly his fastball, will further increase his already excellent groundball rate. The other development to watch with Marquez will be how quickly he picks up the curveball. It has shown flashes, but is still not dependable. If he can get the hang of it, Marquez could potentially be the proud owner of 4 plus pitches. Additionally, while he has not shown any pronounced platoon splits to this point, such a development would allow him to more easily dispatch left-handed batters. Given the logjam of pitching, especially at the upper levels, the Yankees will be able to be patient with Marquez.
Grade: Marquez is probably the prospect where my opinion is the most divergent from the mainstream. Part of this is that he is one of the guys that I just have a good gut feeling about. The other part is that I feel he profiles very well from a tools point of view. In addition, his performance has been better than his more basic numbers would indicate when accounting for the type of pitcher he is. He already strikes out a fair amount of guys, and I think he may strike out more as he develops as a pitcher, he’s got solid overall control/command, and he gets tons of grounders and pop ups. If everything works out, I think Jeff Marquez might just be Brandon Webb (you know, Chien-Ming Wang without the little voice in the back of your head whispering “where are the strikeouts?”) and for that, I’m bullish on his prospect status. B
Monday, January 15, 2007
7: Dellin Betances
Dellin Betances, RHP, 18Previously Ranked: N/R
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 3rd, Baseball America 3rd, John Sickels 6th (B)
Physical Ability: I guess with Christian Garcia’s injury, Betances takes the title of Yankee Minor League Pitcher With Unlimited Physical Potential, or YMLPWUPP. Betances is rail thin at 6’7’’ and 185 pounds. His tall frame allows him to throw on a downward plane, but he still gets the ball up in the zone from time to time. In addition, his build worried some scouts that he would have serious issues repeating his delivery, however to this point in his pro career he has done well at keeping himself under control. Betances’ fastball is a four seamer that comes in around 93-95 and has touched all the way up to 98. In addition, Betances has thus far proven to be a fast learner, as his change-up and curveball have been much better than expected given his amateur background.
What Happened in ’06: Months ahead of the 2006 draft, Betances was looking like a sure-fire first-rounder, but fell precipitously as the draft neared. The primary reason was his stuff supposedly taking a step back as he was reportedly throwing only high 80s on occasion and looked as though he may be far greater a project than your typical HS pitcher. This decline was coupled with an increase in bonus demands and so the Yankees were able to snap him up in the 8th round and pay his asking price. During the 2006 GCL season, he looked very much like the guy who deserved to go in the first round. GCL batters were simply overpowered by Betances, struggling to make solid contact with anything he threw at them. While I was concerned Betances would be a high walk guy, he did not demonstrate such a problem in ’06, hopefully that will continue.
What Lies Ahead: Betances will begin 2007 as the star of the Charleston squad. Regardless of how well he does, I doubt he ever gets promoted due to the amount of pitching in the organization as well as the Yankees preference to take it slowly with first year HS pitchers. The most important thing to watch for with him should be walk totals. Given the worries about his lack of polish prior to the draft, I’m leery of taking his post-signing performance as who he suddenly is. Rather, I would expect him to struggle with his control from time to time, but still show flashes of dominance. Basically, I think when it’s all said and done his first full year in the system will be more Christan Garcia than it will be Phil Hughes.
Grade: Betances has higher flameout potential than just about everyone in the Top 10. However, his physical talent is also amongst the best in the system. While I’m not ready to disregard my concerns about him, I can’t ignore his raw talent. As such, I feel my ranking is striking a compromise. If he does better than I expect, he may well make his way to the top of the list. B-
Saturday, January 13, 2007
#8: Ian Kennedy
Ian Kennedy, RHP, 22
Previously Ranked: N/R
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 6th, Baseball America 5th, John Sickels 10th (B-)
Physical Ability: Kennedy is another in the lineage of dominating USC pitchers. Unlike his predecessors Mark Prior, Randy Johnson, Tom Seaver, or even Barry Zito, he did not have something that made scouts say “wow”. A slightly built right-hander standing 6’0’’ tall and weighing in at 195, Kennedy does not throw as hard as the first 3 guys. Instead, his fastball is typically around 90. He does not have the awe inspiring breaking stuff that the two lefties on that list possess. Rather he throws a curveball that has been solid throughout his career, but can yell “hit me!” when he’s off. Despite those shortcomings, Kennedy still had a terrific first two years at USC and heading into his junior year was poised to etch his name alongside Prior’s in the history books. His success could be traced to terrific control and command and a plus changeup.
What Happened in ’06: Of course, Kennedy fell to the Yankees in the draft because he didn’t have the junior year he was expected to have. Instead of being terrific, he was merely solid. His fastball velocity dipped from solid to below average, he struggled with his curveball, and his changeup took a slight step back. In other words, everything went wrong. Despite this, Kennedy still had a solid season and the Yankees tabbed him with first pick, presumably because they had inside information on “fixing” him thanks to Mark Newman and the infamous USC network. Kennedy signed late and made a couple starts for Staten Island during the end of the regular season and playoffs. His performance there was similar to the performance he would go on to have in the Hawaiian Baseball League. He walked more than you would expect given his pedigree, allowed his share of runs, and struck out a ton of guys. This seems to have been an issue of rust more than anything else as he would struggle with his control early in games. This would leave him in a position where he HAD to get certain pitches over and batters would tee off.
What Lies Ahead: Kennedy will begin the 2007 season pitching for the Tampa Yankees. As he is now, I expect him to dominate in the Florida State League, he is the definition of a polished college pitcher and that is what they do there. Beyond that, how much success he has will be determined by how quickly he is able to improve his curveball. A changeup and command only gets you so far.
Grade: In ranking Kennedy as high as I am, I’m putting a lot of faith in Nardi Contreras’ ability to unlock what Kennedy had going prior to his junior year. Right now, he just isn’t that impressive of a pitching prospect. However, having been a known commodity and with his history of success, I feel Kennedy HAS to be given the benefit of the doubt. If he develops as expected, Kennedy can slide nicely into the middle of a rotation. Despite a similar build and somewhat similar pitching motion, he’s not Mike Mussina and never will be. At worst he’s a safe bet to contribute to the back of a rotation. B-
Friday, January 12, 2007
#9: J.B. Cox
J.B. Cox, RHP, 22
Previously Ranked: 15th prior to 2006
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 12th, Baseball America 8th, John Sickels 6th (B)
Physical Ability: A graduate of the standout University of Texas baseball program, J.B. Cox is a right-handed reliever who stands 6’3’’ and weighs 205 pounds. Cox was Huston Street’s successor in college and may have the opportunity to attempt to replace another highly successful closer down the line. His path to that role is not clear however due to many doubting that he has “closer stuff”. This deficiency is due to Cox primarily working with a sinking fastball that runs about 88-92. When looking for a strikeout, Cox will go to his slider, which most say is his best pitch. Finally, Cox has rapidly improved his changeup to the point where there are no longer worries that lefties will own him in the big leagues. In fact, lefties only posted a .479 OPS against him in 2006, as opposed to the rousing RHB line of .566. I don’t expect this reverse split to continue, nor do I expect him to be tattooed by LHB.
What Happened in ’06: Given his pedigree and how well he performed in a brief 2005 stint with the Tampa Yankees, I expected Cox to move quickly. Instead, the Yankees kept him at AA all season and really focused on developing him as opposed to just getting some immediate use out of him. One way in which they did this was to extend him, so he could often be found pitching 2 or more innings. The Yankees felt doing so would help Cox in the process of improving his fastball. The result was less fastball readings in the mid 80s. Another factor in keeping Cox in Trenton, I would assume, was the EL championship drive. Normally, I’m all for placing a player’s development ahead of winning in the minor leagues, but I feel that there is value in leaving these young players in a pressure situation. Cox also played a bit for Team USA at the end of the summer and was shut down with what has been designated “elbow fatigue”. While any time you see a pitcher associated with any sort of pain you worry it’s something more, I’m going to take the Yankee medical staff at their word.
What Lies Ahead: At the start of the offseason, it seemed as though Cox may have had a shot at breaking camp with the big league club. Since then, the Yankees have added 73 right-handers who may or may not factor into the bullpen scene. It is clear that the organization DOES like Cox a lot…and he may still factor into the big league bullpen picture. If not, he will look to continue shutting down minor league batters in the late innings and work on his sub 2 career ERA.
Grade: Because I don’t believe that all closers need to throw particularly hard, I do believe that given his performance history, pedigree, and tools, Cox may be a closer down the line. For his career, Cox has gotten almost 3 groundballs for every 1 flyball. This makes him a great guy to come in during late innings with runners on base. All told, I might even go so far as to say that if everything goes right for Cox…he just MIGHT be able to catch up to the HOF trail that Craig Hansen has been blazing as a shutdown reliever. B-
Thursday, January 11, 2007
#10: Eric Duncan
Eric Duncan, 1B, 22
Previously Ranked: 2nd prior to 2006, 1st prior to 2005, 3rd prior to 2004
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 7th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels 22nd (C)
Physical Ability: Eric Duncan is a 1B listed at 6’3’’ and 195 pounds (Personally, I think he’s about an inch or two shorter and 10 pounds heavier). 2006 was the first year in which Duncan was a full-time 1B as he had previously been across the diamond, and it showed. His arm plays a bit above average for the position, as would be expected, but he needs to smooth out his actions around the bag. Duncan’s defensive actions could also improve in terms of conviction, but that will likely come with time. Offensively, Duncan has a short and powerful stroke. He typically keeps the ball in the air, which is going to keep his batting average below it’s expected levels due to increased pop ups when he’s going wrong, as well as fly balls turning into hits less than ground balls. However, when he’s right and hits the ball on the screws, Duncan has very impressive power. He still has a chance to be a 30-homer man in the majors.
What Happened in ’06: 2005 was a trying year for Duncan. He struggled for most of his stint at AA Trenton, as he was overmatched by more advanced pitchers, and was not able to contribute to the Trenton playoff push due to being hit in the head by a pitch. He was then sent to the Arizona Fall League where he raked. For some this was reason enough to believe that he was fixed, for others it was not, I was a non-believer. However, when Duncan raked again in Spring Training 2006 and the news came out that the Yankees had tinkered with his spring during the 2005 regular season, I became cautiously optimistic. Duncan then made that optimism look silly as he struggled to keep his average above .200 in AAA. However, there were mitigating factors at work. For one, last year’s International League was a tough hitting environment. Secondly, Duncan was hit unlucky in both the “look at his peripherals” and “watch the games” ways. And finally, and most importantly, Duncan was struggling with some back issues. The Yankees finally placed him on the disabled list and once he was healthy they demoted him to AA Trenton. Upon his return to Trenton, Duncan began to rake, until…he succumbed to further back troubles. Eric would return yet again, but not regain his full effectiveness and during his second stint in the Arizona Fall League he struggled offensively.
What Lies Ahead: In 2007, Eric Duncan will essentially be playing for his career. The prospect light has steadily dimmed for him, in the eyes of most, and if he does not turn in an impressive year, he may be relegated to “potential bench player” status. For my part, I think it all rests on his health. Unlike most left-handed hitters, Duncan has no troubles with left-handers and usually hits them better than he does righties. In addition, the strikeouts are no longer a problem as he has found the balance between patience and discipline while learning to better pick up breaking balls. Finally, all of Duncan’s offensive troubles in 2006 can be directly attributed to either back issues or fluky ball in play trends. All this is to say that I’m confident Duncan will hit…if his body allows him to. Given his past handling, I would expect the Yankees to place him in AAA. Whether he starts there or AA, he can make himself an option at the major league level with a good year.
Grade: Eric Duncan’s pro career has been disappointing to this point. However, I feel that given health, positive things lie ahead. With Giambi nearing the conclusion of his contract, Doug M. only signed for 1 year and no other legitimate 1B candidates ahead of him, the time for Duncan to make his move is now. C+
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
My week old Randy Johnson post
The Yankees have traded Randy Johnson. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Mr. Johnson. I didn’t want him here and each time he pitched I hoped that he would go about 7 innings and give up 7 runs while the Yankees scored 10. He didn’t quite do that, though it seems he certainly tried to in 2006. Johnson wasn’t as spectacular as the Yankees probably felt he would be in dealing for him, nor was he as terrible as I wanted him to be. Instead, he was somewhere in the middle. His first year was pretty good and his second pretty poor, but no matter he was usually good for 6+ innings. As Barry Zito has proven this offseason, innings are important.
I am in no way saying that Randy Johnson is as dependable as Zito. He’s not as healthy and he’s not nearly as young. However, compared to the rest of the Yankee rotation, he might as well have been Zito. Wang will be coming off a season where he pitched about 70 more innings than he ever has in his life, Mike Mussina usually expires after 100 pitches, Kei Igawa is an unknown, Andy Pettitte is a wildcard. So, Randy Johnson with all his injury/age/health issues was probably still one of the more dependable Yankee starters going forward health-wise. As much as I don’t like him, it is tough to lose that.
As for what the Yankees got back, they can best be summarized as a bunch of C+ prospects and a replacement Scott Proctor. Vizcaino might be coming off a solid year in relief, but his performance record and/or stuff is not that of a reliever that you can be fairly certain will shut down the late innings for you. Steven Jackson seems to be of the Darrell Rasner/Jeff Karstens mold of guys you definitely trade if someone comes knocking with something useful. Alberto Gonzalez looks like he has a future as a utility infielder ahead of him. Ross Ohlendorf…is interesting.
Given the logjam of RHP in the organization, the Yankees may consider moving Ohlendorf to the bullpen. It would certainly be tempting to magically have a bullpen arm that can be counted on for 95+ fastballs on a regular basis. However, if left as a starter, Ohlendorf may still prove very valuable. At the moment, his secondary pitches are fringy. Of those offerings, his slider seems to show the most potential, as at times it has been a strikeout pitch. So, how is it that a starting pitcher with only one reliable pitch, in the upper minors, was able to author 182.2 innings of 3.25 ERA ball? Well, his first step was to not walk anyone, 1.4 per 9. His second step was to limit the long ball, .6 per 9. So while he didn’t strike out too many, 6.4 per 9, and allowed a less than ideal amount of hits, 9.2 per 9, he was ok. The pitch he accomplished all this with was a power sinker in the low 90s.
It remains to be seen how effective Chien-Ming Wang will be going forward. However, to this point he has been very effective for the Yankees. I have no doubt that the Yankees saw some of him in Ohlendorf, and they have every right to have made that connection. While the questionable secondary offerings and lack of huge strikeout numbers will keep him from ever having top pitching prospect billing, there is reason to believe that Ohlendorf may be more than meets the eye. Because of this, I feel the trade hinges on him. I will not rank him or anyone from the RJ trade in the current version of the top 25, but after I finish counting down, I will go back and attempt to place them.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Marcos Vechionacci, 3B, 20
Previously Ranked: 8th prior to 2006, 3rd prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 15th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels N/R
Physical Ability: Marcos Vechionacci is a 6’2’’ 170 pound 3B. While I’m fairly certain that his listed weight may be low, it’s not by much as he is still growing into his frame. When his frame fills out Vechionacci may come closer to showing his 30 HR potential. His advanced knowledge of the strike zone and swing also seem to indicate that he will be a solid hitter for average. Defensively, scouts are almost unanimous in their praise of Vechionacci’s game as he has good range, an excellent arm, and is usually consistent with his actions. For the second year in a row he was named the South Atlantic League’s best defensive 3B as well as best infield arm. As you can tell by now, the physical skills are there.
What Happened in ‘06: The Yankees gave Vechionacci an ill-advised promotion to Tampa to begin the year. In addition, they also rebuilt his swing. The combination of the two was a recipe for disaster as Marcos was completely overmatched against FSL pitching. Demoted to Charleston, Vechionacci played much better. He walked more than he struck out, hit for a league average BA, and displayed better than league average power. Had he not had previous experience at the level, this season would have been much better received. Unfortunately, that is something that has to be looked at to place his â€œprogressâ€ in perspective.
What Lies Ahead: Vechionacci is likely ticketed for the Tampa hot corner in 2007. I would expect him to spend his entire year there and am fairly confident that he’s figured things out offensively. This means to expect a solid BA and OBP with a decent SLG. If he comes into camp noticeably larger, I reserve the right to upgrade that SLG expectation. Right now he’s struggling at driving the ball to the opposite field with authority. This may be taken care of by simple physical maturation. Given his struggles in A-ball to this point, I don’t expect him to tear the league apart to the point where the Yankees would be forced to promote him. Of course, it would be nice if that happened.
Grade: Vechionacci has been disappointing thus far. However, because he began playing professionally so young he is still right on track as far as where you want your good prospects to be at his age. In addition, while the tools, other than plate discipline, have not yet completely transitioned to skills they are on their way. Vechionacci may never make the majors. He also has a non-zero chance of being Bill Mueller. If everything works out, he might even be Scott Rolen. Taking that into account as well as his progress controlling the strike zone and showing a bit more power, I really like Vechionacci. If he has a good year, he may just head this list next year. C
Sunday, December 31, 2006
No. 12 - Mark Melancon, RHP, 21
Mark Melancon, RHP, 21
Previously Ranked: N/R
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus N/R, Baseball America 9th, John Sickels 13th (C)
Physical Ability: Mark Melancon is, by most accounts, is the leading in-house candidate to replace Mariano Rivera. This title falls on Melancon’s shoulders because of his low to mid 90s fastball and 12-to-6 curveball. Some impressive movement accompanies the impressive fastball velocity. This allows Melancon to attach any part of the strike zone. Melancon also has solid command and control of both pitches. In addition to those two standout offerings, Melancon has dabbled with a sinking fastball as well as a change-up. Neither has proven to be a quality offering at this point.
What Happened in ‘06: Despite being the top-ranked draft eligible reliever prior to the opening of the college baseball season, Melancon fell to the Yankees. The reason for his draft day drop was concern about the health of his elbow. Melancon’s violent delivery did not help matters. In the end, these concerns proved to be valid as Melancon had to undergo Tommy John surgery following his exit from the Hawaiian Baseball League. Prior to going under the knife, Melancon was a late season addition for the NYPL champion Staten Island Yankees. He seemed to be working off the rust during his regular season appearances, as he was lights out during the postseason.
What Lies Ahead: Tommy John surgery is not much of a concern these days, so I’m not worried about Melancon undergoing the procedure. Furthermore, Melancon has been widely lauded for his makeup, which increases my faith in his being able to successfully complete the rehabilitation process. Melancon should be expected back for the 2008 season and depending on how well he adjusts, he may even see big league playing time that very year.
Grade: Melancon has the mixture of outstanding stuff and excellent makeup that allows the future closer talk to seem reasonable. While he may be an afterthought for this upcoming season, he figures to play a big role for the Yankee organization in 2008. C
Friday, December 29, 2006
No. 13 - Austin Jackson, CF, 19
Austin Jackson, CF, 19
Previously Ranked: 9th prior to 2006
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 17th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels N/R
Physical Ability: A former Division I basketball recruit, Austin Jackson is one of the best athletes in the Yankee farm system. He stands 6’1’’ and weighs 185 pounds. Despite his amateur background, some doubts were raised about Jackson’s athleticism in regards to his play in centerfield. I feel that this should have been viewed as more an issue of him learning the nuances of his position than an indictment of his physical talent. Jackson is a 4.5 tool player with power being his worst projected tool. The best-case scenario for him in that department seems to be about 20 home runs.
What Happened in ‘06: Austin played the entire 2006 season with the Charleston Riverdogs of the South Atlantic League. He got off to a hot start with an April OPS of .824 and was mediocre at best for the rest of the year. However, that hot start as well as his physical talent was enough for him to be selected to the league’s All Star Game. With 2006 being the first year that Jackson would focus solely on baseball, I expected him to struggle at the plate. With a .686 OPS on the year, it is clear that Jackson did struggle. While Jackson was adept at working the count, he struggled with making contact with good breaking balls late in the count. In addition, Jackson struggled with driving the ball consistently. Coupled with his aforementioned breaking ball issue this meant that Jackson was often in front of good breaking balls, pulling them to the SS or behind good fastballs and fisting them to the opposite field. Both situations made for easy outs. When Jackson did hit the ball correctly, he peppered line drives to all fields. Defensively, Jackson was rough around the edges. I’m going to chalk this up as the product of getting used to being the captain of the outfield along with some combination of Tim Battle, Jose Tabata, Estee Harris, James Cooper, Wilkins De La Rosa flanking you. That is, unlike your typical CF, Jackson had to deal with guys who could go get the ball. On the basepaths, Jackson was solid with 37 steals in 49 attempts.
What Lies Ahead: I wouldn’t mind Jackson opening the year back with Charleston, but it seems more likely that he will be with the Tampa Yankees. Either way, I am hopeful for Jackson’s chances to improve on his prospect status. Since power is not a big part of Jackson’s game at this point I don’t expect him to get as mentally ravaged by the FSL playing conditions as other hitters. Hopefully, this will lead to better statistical performance. In addition, if he can stay back on those breaking ballsâ€¦he could hit .300 with 50 steals for the year.
Grade: The Yankee farm system consists almost entirely of RHP. Amidst that ocean of pitching talent, Jackson is one of the few position players that matter. If everything works out for him, you’ve got Derek Jeter offensive performance with good defensive play in CF. If not, you may still have a 4th or 5th outfielder. The strikeouts in 2006 were scary, but I have a good feeling about Jackson and the way he plays the game, so hopefully he will prove me right in 2007. CDarrell Rasner 14
Thursday, December 28, 2006
No. 15 - Darrell Rasner, RHP, 25
Darrell Rasner, RHP, 25
Previously Ranked: 20th prior to 2006
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus N/R, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels 12th (C)
Physical Ability: Darrell Rasner is a 6’3’’ 210 pound right-handed pitcher. Rasner arrived in the Yankee organization as a gift from Jim Bowden. Since being drafted, Rasner’s velocity has declined and he currently works around 88-90 with the fastball. Rasner is able to keep his fastball low and generate his fair share of groundballs. In addition, while his overall repertoire can be described as mediocre, Rasner has the makings of a solid curveball. Unfortunately, he rolls the pitch more often than you would like, resulting in hard hit line drives and fly ball.
What Lies Ahead: Rasner is a virtual lock to begin 2007 back in AAA. There he will serve as part of the Injured Reserveâ„¢ alongside Humberto Sanchez, Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard, Jeff Karstens, and Steve White. Of the sextet, Rasner seems to best combine readiness and stuff. If called upon, expecting anything more than roughly league average pitching may be wishful thinking.
Grade: Rasner does not have much of a ceiling. If everything works out, you are most likely looking at a back of the rotation starter. That may seem negative, but the positive is that he is ready to contribute that type of production right now. In addition, if an organization is looking for someone to step in and immediately give them innings, Rasner is the type of guy you offer in a trade. Rasner is a poor man with an extra penny’s Jeff Karstens. C
Jeff Karstens 15
Sunday, December 24, 2006
No. 15 - Jeff Karstens, RHP, 24’Jeff Karstens, RHP, 24Previously Ranked: 17th prior to 2006, 17th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 26th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels N/R
Physical Ability: Jeff Karstens stands 6’3’’ and weighs in at about 175 pounds. He is a gangly right-handed hurler. Most Yankee fans should be familiar with him from his time with the big league club in 2006. For a refresher, he throws a fastball, curve, change, and slider. Karstens does not throw very hard, topping out at about 90, and his repertoire amounts to the definition of mediocrity. There’s no big breaking pitch or hard diving stuff here fellas.
What Happened in ‘06: Jeff began the year with the Columbus Clippers, but was clobbered at AAA. Coaches/team scouts said it wasn’t due to a lack of stuff, but rather due to a lack of confidence. Having always been a mild fan of Karstens, I believed this explanation and was cautiously optimistic about his chance to bounce back. After working with wunderkind pitching coach, Dave Eiland, Karstens destroyed the EL and along with Phil Hughes and Tyler Clippard made summer trips to Trenton disastrous for Eastern League batters. Promoted back to AAA, Karstens continued to pitch well and ended his year as a semi-regular member of the big league rotation.
What Lies Ahead: Karstens will begin 2007 back at AAA. Exactly what his role will be remains to be seen because there are a ton of arms at that level. However, if/when anything happens to a big league long man or starter, given his 2006 performance, Karstens may be the first to get the call. I don’t expect him to do as well as he did at the level during his second trial there, but definitely better than he did in his first trial. He may also have some value in teaching Tyler Clippard, as he is somewhat of a poor man’s version of Clippard.
Grade: Jeff Karstens, for all intents and purposes, is what he was in his major league trial. Not the ERA, but the stuff. He’s not going to throw anything jaw-dropping and there are going to be occasions when you wonder how he isn’t getting creamed and some of those times he will then proceed to get creamed. So, don’t expect him to be posting lots of sub 4 ERAs in his career, but do expect him to be a decent long man or rotation stop gap. Despite lacking the sexy potential futures of some of the guys behind and ahead of him on this list, Karstens places this high because he has been to the big leagues and been effective, small sample size warnings and all, and he is a safe bet to return and be mediocre. Players like him eliminate the need for your team to trade for the Shawn Chacon’s of the world, which may help them keep the Ramon Ramirez’. At the same time, he is a guy you don’t hesitate to trade if a deal comes along. C
Saturday, December 23, 2006
No. 16 - Brett Gardner, CF, 23
Brett Gardner, CF, 23
Previously Ranked: 12th prior to 2006
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 10th, Baseball America 10th, John Sickels 11th (C)
Physical Ability: Brett Gardner is a 5â€™10â€™â€™ 180 pound center fielder. He has a slight, but very muscled frame. As one might expect, he does not pack much pop in his swing. What he does have is a ton of speed. Gardner uses this speed to bunt for base hits, beat out groundballs, steals tons bases, and cover lots of ground in the outfield. In other words, heâ€™s someone who seems to know his talents very well and utilize them. Gardner has an OK arm in the outfield and though he takes the occasional awkward route, he more than makes up for it with his aforementioned speed.
What Happened in â€™06: Brett began the year playing CF for the Tampa Yankees and while just about all of his prospect teammates floundered, he was able to excel and earn a promotion to the Eastern League by June. Though he posted a very good AVG/OBP/SLG line in Tampa, it was a bit misleading as his BABIP was .416. In the last 3 major league seasons, the highest BABIP posted was .401 by Ichiro Suzuki in 2004. Needless to say, expecting Gardner to continue such success would be foolhardy. This was rectified in the Eastern League where his AVG/OBP/SLG dropped considerably as his BABIP dropped to .331. Given Gardnerâ€™s speed and proclivity for hitting the ball on the ground, such a number is much more reasonable and may even undersell his ability in this area. Brettâ€™s last stop in a whirlwind season was the Arizona Fall League where he posted a .306 BABIP and low AVG/SLG numbers given the league he was in, but good OBP thanks to tons of walks. The common trend across all three levels for Gardner was that his offensive utility was largely dependent on his batting average, which is in turn hugely affected by BABIP. This is important because the more you strike out, the higher your average on balls in play is going to have to be to post a good batting average.
What Lies Ahead: As mentioned, Gardner is going to have to consistently post good BABIP to hold his value. To improve his chances of doing that, heâ€™s going to have cut down on his strikeouts. While his strikeouts arenâ€™t to the point where they are a glaring weakness there is work to be done there, and it presents a delicate situation. Gardner does not strike out due to lack of plate discipline, but rather because of perhaps too much discipline. He consistently works deep counts and waits for his pitch, but may have to attack earlier in the count to avoid strikeouts and their effect on his BABIP. I think it makes the most sense for him to begin the year back at Trenton and, you know, get his OPS over .700 at the least, but it seems that he may be starting in AAA. The shining light with that is that his approach is so advanced, it may affect him less than it would another prospect in the situation of being rushed.
Grade: If everything works out for Brett Gardner, heâ€™s the player that many think Scott Podsednik is. Defensively, heâ€™s rounding into shape, but can make the spectacular play on a regular basis due to his physical ability. Offensively, he is the definition of pest. Itâ€™s a truly enjoyable thing to watch him fluster minor league defenses by beating out base hits and successfully stealing on pitch outs. That said, Iâ€™m very concerned that things arenâ€™t going to work out for him and that he is what he is, which right now is a defensive substitute and a pinch-runner. Gardner displayed just about no power during the minor league season as combined between Tampa, Trenton, and the AFL he only had 31 extra base hits. Given his speed, I would expect him to have collected more just off of the fact that anything in a gap or near a gap is an extra base hit for him. Unfortunately, a huge percentage of the balls he hits do not go much beyond the infield. So, despite the fact that heâ€™s solid or better in the 5 tools, other than power, Gardnerâ€™s limitation in that department is so great that it potentially completely handicaps him. C
Friday, December 22, 2006
No.17 - George Kontos, RHP, 21
George Kontos, RHP, 21
Previously Ranked: N/R
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 29th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels 7th (B-)
Physical Ability: George Kontos is your prototypical current Yankee prospect. That means heâ€™s big, 6â€™3â€™â€™ and 215 pounds, throws right-handed, and has a good fastball, regularly hitting anywhere from 90-94. In addition to that, and strange for a Yankee prospect given their organizational emphasis the past few years, Kontos also throws a pretty good slider. When not tossing a slider or a fastball, Kontos can be found fooling around with a curveball or a changeup. Scouts like Kontosâ€™ stuff when heâ€™s got consistent mechanics going. When he doesnâ€™t do that he gives up walks and hits and is amongst the nationâ€™s leaders in losses while playing for a good Northwestern team.
What Happened in â€™06: As hinted, Kontos had a very poor college season prior to the Yankees drafting him in the 5th round. He played well in the previous yearâ€™s summer leagues so while it would have been nice for him to do something positive with his performance, scouts were able to surmise that he would likely improve against wood bats. The 2006 New York Penn-League would validate this belief as he turned out to be arguably the leagueâ€™s best pitcher. Kontos piled up the strikeouts and had about twice as many groundballs as flyballs while limiting everything else. The only identifiable performance flaw he had as a professional was trouble with left-handed batters. This is a similar situation to Tim Norton in that it is the result of a lack of depth in his arsenal. Hopefully this will improve with experience. <-[endif]-->
What Lies Ahead: George Kontos seems like a good bet for the 2007 Tampa rotation where Tim Norton will once again join him. These two are very similar pitchers in terms of build and stuff, except you replace Kontosâ€™ slider with Nortonâ€™s splitter. So, just like Norton and almost every other pitcher, I expect a good Florida State League performance. Another similarity between he and Norton is that there is some thought to placing him in the bullpen. Hopefully, that will be a last resort.
Grade: I like both Norton and Kontos. They are guys where, to this point, it seems the Yankee scouts really did their job, as neither had college track records that screamed â€œdraft meâ€. I like Kontos just a bit more than Norton for three reasons. One, and this bears watching, he had a superior groundball rate. Two, he is about 2 years younger than Norton. Three, I feel that his secondary pitch, the slider, is more consistent than Nortonâ€™s though I believe Nortonâ€™s to be more devastating. Despite being a college product, Kontos is somewhat raw and will need to be consistent mechanically in 2007. If his walks are in check, heâ€™ll be fine, if notâ€¦weâ€™ll see. I feel that Kontos has the ceiling of a 2/3 type of pitcher, whether that will be reached remains to be seen. Even if he does struggle in that role, he has the type of stuff that allows for an easy switch to the bullpen and so there is some safety in him as a prospect. C
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
No. 18 - Steven White, RHP, 25
Steven White, RHP, 25
Previously Ranked: 19th prior to 2006, 8th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 20th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels N/R
Physical Ability: Steven White is one of many big right-handed pitchers in the Yankee organization. The Baylor University product stands 6â€™5â€™â€™ and weighs in at 205 pounds. With his large frame comes a big fastball that regularly runs in around the low to mid 90s. While you wouldnâ€™t call White a sinkerballer, per se, he does throw a heavy fastball. In addition to the fastball, White throws a serviceable curveball and a serviceable change-up. Neither pitch is consistent for him and both could use work, but for now they are enough to get by with.
What Happened in â€™06: I criticized White prior to the season for not having lived up to his scouting reputation to that point of his career. White then essentially went out and made me look foolish, were the Yankee system not much deeper now than it was at the outset last year, his ranking would have shown as much. The first concern that White dealt with was the issue of scouts having always viewed him as an innings-eater despite his previous professional career high in innings being 117.1. This year he averaged over 6 innings a start in order to total 175.1 for the year. This total may have even been higher had he not struggled at times in AAA because unlike their other hurlers, the Yankees had no problem allowing White to go over 100 pitches. Given his age and frame, I have no issue with this strategy. The other issue White dealt with was his performance. All things considered, White performed well in 2006, striking out a decent amount of guys, keeping the ball on the ground and in the park. The one real fault in his overall game was that he still struggled with his control from time to time. By way of Yankee of interviews with Yankee officials courtesy of Pinstripes Plus, it seems this is more an issue of confidence than it is a physical problem. Corroborating that is that Whiteâ€™s walks in 2006 did seem to come in bunches.
What Lies Ahead: Whiteâ€™s Columbus ERA was not great, but some of that can be attributed to luck on balls in play (similar to how he wasnâ€™t as good at Trenton as his ERA there would indicate). In addition, as has been established, his control DOES need to improve. The final concern in his game to be addressed would be that he struggles against left-handed batters. These struggles can be explained by the consistency he needs to develop with his secondary pitches. Lefty hitters are simply sitting fastball and ripping away, which is producing powerful results. White should begin 2007 in the Columbus rotation as one of many RHPs who could potentially be called up to help out the big league squad.
Grade: I am not a huge White fan. He has some glaring holes in his prospect status in terms of left-handed batters and walks. At the same time, thanks to a sexy fastball, if everything works out he could be a mid rotation workhorse, which I doubted much more last year than I do now. Iâ€™m not sure he has the repertoire to be able to fall back on a bullpen role like many other guys with big fastballs do, so he is somewhat of a boom or bust proposition. C
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
No. 19 - Tim Norton, RHP, 23Tim Norton, RHP, 23
Previously Ranked: N/R
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 30th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels 10th (B-)
Physical Ability: Standing 6â€™5â€™â€™ and weighing in at 230 pounds, Tim Norton has the ideal pitcherâ€™s frame. His fastball is almost as impressive as that frame, regularly clocking in the low 90s and touching the mid 90s. It is a heavy sinking fastball that has to this point helped him put up big numbers against wood bats. In addition to that fastball Norton throws a splitter that is at times an average, get me over, pitch and at others a strikeout weapon. The rest of his repertoire is very underdeveloped. He has been playing baseball in cold weather states and only picked the game up in 8th grade. He has no changeup to speak of really and from time to time he tries to mix a slider in, but itâ€™s no good either.
What Happened in â€™06: The Yankees drafted Norton in the 7th round to little fanfare. While he had demonstrated a great fastball there were concerns about him in regards to what he possessed beyond that. Apparently for New York Penn League batters, the fastball was enough. Actually, thatâ€™s not entirely fair, as his splitter did come along a bit as well. Overall, Norton was just completely dominant. He performed well against left and right-handed batters, striking out tons of guys and keeping the ball on the ground.
What Lies Ahead: Most people would consider me to be an age relative to league Nazi. In that sense, itâ€™s surprising that I have Norton rated as highly as I do. However, when it comes to pitching prospects, I also love strikeouts and groundballs and Norton gets lots of those. Iâ€™m also hoping that heâ€™ll be able to move quickly through the system because itâ€™s not as though he is old due to having been stuck in the system for some time. Finally, thereâ€™s also the matter that he shouldnâ€™t be viewed in the light of your average 23-year-old pitcher because, as previously noted, he started late. Norton should begin 2007 in the Tampa rotation where I expect him to do very well given his stuff and performance to date.
Grade: Despite the fact that he was just drafted this year, I have a good feeling about Nortonâ€™s chances of making it to the majors. His role in the majors is still very much up in the air as he really only has one pitch at the moment. However, all it takes is one great pitch and one serviceable pitch to be at least a solid reliever. Furthermore, if the splitter comes along even more, Norton may be able to make it as a starter. As a starter his ceiling would be a middle of the rotation innings-eater. Another factor that makes Norton an appealing pitcher for me is that his one great pitch is a sinking fastball, which seems to be a great pitch for those of limited repertoire. C
Sunday, December 10, 2006
No. 20 - Christian Garcia, RHP, 21Christian Garcia, RHP, 21
Previously Ranked: 5th prior to 2006, 12th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 8th, Baseball America 6th, John Sickels 8th (B-)
Physical Ability: Garcia is often lauded as the most physically talented of the Yankee farm pitchers. I was one of the persons on this bandwagon. When healthy and focused, Garcia deals a mid 90s fastball, with the potential for upper 90s, as well as an outstanding curveball. His changeup was said to have come along this season due to time he spent working on it while hurt. That last word is the key when looking at Garcia.
What Happened in â€™06: Garcia began the year hurt and the initial word was that he would be out a very short period of time and would then drop into Phil Hughesâ€™ soon to be vacated slot in the Tampa rotation. Hughes was promoted and Garcia was still nowhere to be found. The Yankees are typically very secretive on player injuries, but eventually it came out that Garciaâ€™s slight oblique injury, something the Yankees are very cautious about with pitchers, had caused him to have a bit of arm soreness. When he finally returned to the mound, Garcia was in the GCL for a short while, where he had his version of Spring Training, and then returned to the SAL. Garcia performed much better than he had at the level in â€™05, due in large part to throwing more strikes. When it was all said and done he had compiled a 4:1 GB:FB ratio as well as struck out 25.7% of the hitters he faced. Garcia was then sent to the HBL for some winter fine-tuning where he was expected to continue to dominate, but ended up giving up lots of walks and runs. Garcia ran into a bit of bad luck with his defense, as did many of the other Yankee HBL hurlers, but the BB problem would soon be identified.
What Lies Ahead: The source of Christian Garciaâ€™s problem was fixed with elbow surgery. While Garcia was healthy for his short stint in the Yankee system in 2004, he has battled injury the past two years, with this latest one obviously being the greatest blow. While elbow surgery is not nearly the concern it was years ago, and for many prospects wouldnâ€™t be seen as a huge blow, I consider it to be the case with Christian Garcia. Prior to the word coming out on his surgery, I had him ranked in my Top 10, which was the standard for him at the time, but I had to drop him a lot since then. The consistent injuries are concern enough, but coupled with questions about his makeup, Iâ€™m leery of his chances at making it back and fulfilling his potential. There were some in the Yankee organization that prior to this year felt Garcia would not live up to his talent due to not having the dedication to do so and he apparently did little to quell those fears this year whether it was during the rehab, the regular season, or winter league. I would not expect him to pitch in 2007, except for perhaps a return to the HBL, assuming dedication and good luck in the recovery process. Weâ€™ll see how that goes.
Grade: On a rate basis, Garciaâ€™s 2006 was dominating. Lots of groundballs, lots of strikeouts, just the way I like it. Unfortunately, he wasnâ€™t able to compile the impressive counting numbers due to injury. Even more unfortunately, he still has makeup concerns to answer. I like Garciaâ€™s potential. Lesser Homer Bailey like his potential. Unfortunately, there seem to be too many questions piling up about him, but based off of his physical talent, he must be kept on the list. C
Monday, November 27, 2006
No.21 - Zach McAllister, RHP, 18Zach McAllister, RHP, 18
Previously Ranked: N/R
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus N/A, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels 15th (C)
Physical Ability: Zach McAllister is a BIG righty with untapped physical potential that the Yankees are hoping they can harvest. Listed at 6â€™5â€™â€™ and 230 pounds, McAllister was only touching the low 90s at draft time. In addition his go-to secondary pitches were a rough slider and chage-up combination. However, due to being the son of a cross-checker, McAllister had the â€œpolishedâ€ tag attached to him and the Yankees picked him up. Since draft day, McAllisterâ€™s fastball velocity can now be pegged at low 90s due to mechanical adjustments made by the Yankees as well as by emphasizing the 4-seamer with him. He is also in the process of picking up a curveball to replace his slider. Finally, McAllisterâ€™s change-up has to this point been lauded as perhaps the best pitch in his arsenal and an easy plus pitch right now.
What Happened in â€™06: McAllister signed quickly and was sent to the GCL where he was most frequently seen as part of a starter tag-team duo with Dellin Betances. Drafted as a sinkerballer, McAllister was able to experience some early success despite a BB:K ratio of 9:8 through his first 19 professional innings. The reason for this is that over that same span of time he held a groundball to flyball ratio of 43:12, which isâ€¦absurdly good. The Yankees have a club policy of not altering a playerâ€™s game until 30 days into their career and it was about the conclusion of those first 19 innings that they decided to make the aforementioned modifications to McAllisterâ€™s approach and mechanics. The result was that over the final 16 innings of the season McAllister improved his BB:K ratio to 3:20 and his groundball to flyball ratio was still excellent at 23:10.
What Lies Ahead: Zach should begin the year as a member of the Low A Charleston rotation and it seems that physically, the changes that needed to be made have been made, and so what is going to be critical is continuing to work on the mental aspects of the game. This means continuing to have confidence in the 4-seam fastball as well as his changeup and working in a curveball every now and then. McAllister is also going to have to do a better job of buckling down with runners on as he was guilty of giving up â€œthe big hitâ€ in â€™06, though the sample size was small. Another small sample size concern is that McAllister struggled through some control problems against lefty batters.
Grade: McAllister has everything I look for from a statistical perspective in a pitching prospect and I am bullish on him, as the scouting end seems to hold up with his performance record. Hopefully, his big body will allow him to more easily handle some of the fatigue that pitchers deal with in their first full season. The mental side of the game is going to be especially critical for him, and thatâ€™s where having his particular baseball background may come in handy, as it seems that pitchers of his ilk, extreme groundballers, often have to deal with adversity in the form of ugly numbers early in their career. This is thanks in part to poor minor league fields and unpolished defenders. If he can get through that ok, he should be a very interesting pitcher. C
Sunday, November 26, 2006
No.22 - Angel Reyes, LHP, 19Angel Reyes, LHP, 19
Previously Ranked: N/R
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus N/A, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels N/R
Physical Ability: Angel Reyes is, in essence, taking the mantle of hard-throwing undersized lefty from Abel Gomez. Hopefully for the Yankees, Reyes does more with his physical talent than Abel did. Similar to Abel, Angel throws a fastball that is in the low 90s, touching the mid 90s. Also similar to Abel, his secondary stuff is a mixed bag at the moment. Other than the fastball, he utilizes a change up and a curveball, but neither of the pitches is where they need to be at the moment and can be classified as show me pitches. What sets him apart from Gomez, and hopefully will make his transition to full-season baseball easier, is that Angel has displayed pretty good control to this point in his career and does not look like a threat to have a BB:SO ratio in the area of .75, as Abel has over the last 2 seasons.
What Happened in â€™06: Reyes began his 2006 campaign in the Gulf Coast League, but after demonstrating his self to be one of the most dominating pitchers in that league the Yankees moved him to Staten Island to help with their stretch run. In both leagues, Reyes displayed the ideal pitching prospect characteristics of groundballs, strikeouts, and avoiding the walk, though he did seem to battle his control when faced with left-handed batters. Being an undersized starting pitching prospect, stamina is always going to be an underlying concern, but Reyes was able to assuage some of that by improving his strikeout and groundball rates as the season went on.
What Lies Ahead: Reyes should be ticketed for Low-A Charleston in 2007. There he will attempt to replicate the success he has had to this point of his career. As previously mentioned, developing his secondary pitches will be key as full-season hitters wonâ€™t be as likely to simply be overpowered by Reyesâ€™ fastball. In addition, if he still struggles with the consistency of those secondary offerings, given his size, donâ€™t be surprised to see a move to the bullpen.
Grade: Generally speaking, there are going to be two types of players at the end of this list, the high-risk high-reward, or the low-risk low-reward, Reyes qualifies as a double high. If he can even get one of his secondary offerings to the point where it gives him something other than a fastball to rely on, thereâ€™s little reason he wonâ€™t have a successful SAL debut. He doesnâ€™t have overwhelming fastball velocity, though it is very good for a lefty, but hitters are rarely able to lift the pitch. Instead, they consistently pull it on the ground to the left side of the infield for easy outs or fight it off in the air to the opposite field for more easy outs and some singles. He has the ability to move way up this list depending on how â€™07 and the quest for a second pitch goes. C
Saturday, November 25, 2006
No.23 - Tim Battle, OF, 21Tim Battle, OF, 21
Previously Ranked: 11th prior to 2006, 15th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus N/A , Baseball America N/A, John Sickels N/R
Physical Ability: Tim Battle is arguably the most physically talented position player in the Yankees system, and that is primarily why he appears on this list. A CF throughout his minor league career, Tim played some on the corners during the 2006 season in deference to superior overall prospects Austin Jackson and Brett Gardner. Defensively, Battle profiles well at all positions as he has excellent range and an accurate, strong throwing arm. Offensively, Battle has good raw power and projects as an above average offensive player as long as he makes contact, which is the big question at this point. Tim also possesses excellent raw speed and is often rated the fastest or second fastest player in the system, next to Brett Gardner.
What Happened in â€™06: I had very little faith in Battleâ€™s ability to do well going forward and 2006 accurately represented that beliefâ€¦to an extent. His performance in Tampa was poor as pitchers consistently fooled him and got him to strike out. When he did make contact it was poor contact and he hit the ball on the ground a lot. Upon demotion Battle regained his stroke. His walk rate went up, K rate went down and he hit the ball in the air more as well as hitting more line drives. This resulted in a .700 OPS, which is nothing too exciting, and less than his â€™05 performance, but it was more promising as the secondary numbers point to it being a more sustainable performance. Tim Battle with a K rate around 25% is much more exciting that Tim Battle with a K rate in excess of 30%. Tim Battle with a 25% K-rate has a non-zero shot at being Mike Cameron.
What Lies Ahead: Battle will likely return to Tampa to begin 2007 and once again be a starting corner OF as Austin Jackson mans center. If he can maintain a K rate in the neighborhood of 25% of his at bats, Battle MAY be ok. The key to doing that will be to stay aggressive early in the count as he has serious issues hitting with 2-strikes. How well FSL pitchers will be able to exploit this will determine his level of success in the coming year. Iâ€™m not hopeful about his performance given that only during August did he do all the things he needs to do to produce offensively, i.e. attack early in the count and stay within his self hitting the ball to the opposite field
Grade: Tim Battle can easily be summed up as your prototypical high-risk, high-reward, 5-tool outfielder. Battle is regarded as excellent defensively, which in addition to his game-changing speeds gives him a greater shot at appearing in the majors than your average A-ball prospect of his ilk, but his bat is a huge question mark. In looking at minor league stats, something that should be acknowledged is that a hitter who walks all the time isnâ€™t always the best thing and such is the case for Battle. He simply does not have the skill set at the moment to be anywhere near effective deep in counts so he is going to have to do what he can early in the count. Keeping this in mind, a low-walk rate should prove beneficial for his career prospects asâ€¦he has all the tools. C
Saturday, November 11, 2006
No.24 - Jose Gil, C, 20
Jose Gil, C, 20
Previously Ranked: 25th prior to 2006
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus N/R, Baseball America N/A
Physical Ability: Jose Gil is a converted catcher without a standout tool. He has defensive potential, but isnâ€™t maximizing it at the moment due to working out some of the mechanical kicks of being a catcher. On offense he has a pretty swing, but there is not much, if any, loft to it. His swing right now is more contact focused than anything, which somewhat limits his offensive potential. On both sides of the ball he is someone that can get by at the moment, but having seen him play, there seems to be a lot of potential there.
What Happened in â€™06: Gil started the year in Charleston with the rest of 2005â€™s promising GCL standouts, but was quickly demoted. On the one hand, the demotion seems out of hand because it was just 74 ABs into the year, but on the other hand it seems justified in that he was struggling to drive the ball. Gil then re-emerged as part of a tandem C duo with Francisco Cervelli (who would have made this list had I extended it a bit further). At Staten Island, Gil drove the ball a bit better, but still struggled with elevating it as 58.4% of his balls in play were on the ground. As I said, this seems to be a by-product of his swing, which while pretty just does not have much lift to it. Another by-product of his swing and approach, this one positive, is an impressive BB:K ratio of 17:16 at Staten Island. This was in line with his 19:18 in the 2005 GCL, making the 4:15 in his short Charleston stint seem completely out of whack.
What Lies Ahead: I want to say that Gilâ€™s low BABIP is a positive indicator for the future, but I know that itâ€™s a â€œrealâ€ low BABIP based on his approach and speed. Right now, Iâ€™m banking on his approach, as far as the numbers and how it looks to me, translating into a more representative performance in 2007. It will be interesting to see where he is placed, as Iâ€™m not sure having him and Cervelli serve as tandem C again will help their development. Thereâ€™s also some hope on my part that he will add more mass to his frame, as he has room to go, and may drive the ball better as a result of this.
Grade: Gilâ€™s physical ability and performance are both solid, but I believe there is A LOT of potential to be tapped. Thereâ€™s a bunch of guys around his grade when trying to rank these guys and I chose to go with Gil because I have a good gut feeling about him. Cervelli might have been here as well as it seems he has a bit more talent, but having seen both play, Gilâ€™s style strikes me as having an easier time adapting to higher levels, 2006 Charleston notwithstanding. C
Thursday, November 9, 2006
Melancon Has Elbow Surgery-Mark Melancon had elbow surgery, will be out for the season. As far as I’m concerned, this was almost expected.
-The Yankees purchased the SI Yanks and are thinking about doing the same for Scranton.
-Randy Levine responded to Sheff.
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
No.25 - Eduardo Nunez, SS, 19Eduardo Nunez, SS, 19
Previously Ranked: 7th prior to 2006
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 14, Baseball America N/A
Physical Ability: Eduardo Nunez is your prototypical toolsy shortstop, or so he was lauded prior to the opening of the 2006 season. He is seen as having above average, at least, tools across the board with power being the most average. His strongest tool is his throwing arm.
What Happened in ‘06: As I feared in my rankings last offseason, Nunez was overwhelmed starting the year in the Florida State League. His raw offensive performance was horrid, but upon hearing of his demotion to the South Atlantic League, I was optimistic about how his season would conclude. The reason for my optimism was that Nunez had been playing with a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) of .197, which is about .100 points about where it would normally be expected to lie. It seemed that Nunezâ€™s luck was bound to rebound, which coupled with facing lesser competition made for a recipe for breakout. Unfortunately, this was not the case as Nunez posted a higher batting average, but his secondary skills further deteriorated as he hit for just about no power. In addition to performing terribly on offense, Nunez was a negative on the defense end. Despite having well regarded defensive tools, Eduardo has yet to turn this into defensive production. For every spectacular play he made, there was an inept one. He especially struggled on not throwing the ball at max effort on each play.
What Lies Ahead: I expect Nunez to open the season starting at SS for Charleston. Though he is still very young, his 2006 season was very damning for him in my eyes. While statistics below the full season A ball level should always be regarded with a ton of skepticism, it is worth noting that prior to 2005, Nunez had not hit at any level. In fact, the only reason he was in Staten Island to begin that season was because injuries had forced the Yankees hand in regards to his development. Furthermore, itâ€™s extremely difficult to find ANY silver lining in Nunezâ€™ struggles in 2006. He did not control the strike zone at either level and this offensive approach resulted in him struggling to hit the ball in play to the opposite field with any strength. In addition, Nunez was adept at popping the ball up.
Grade: Nunez still has the physical ability that wowed observers a year ago, but there is some worry on my part that these tools may not translate seeing as they have done so only 1 year out of the last 4, offensively. Defensively, the huge amount of errors is scary, but I do have some confidence in him. He is a prospect with an exciting ceiling, but at this point, the chance that he reaches it seems small and is shrinking. C
2006 Top 25
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.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Kind of, Sort of, Flashback
So…I was thinking about which Yankee minor leaguers I would give year end awards to when I realized that while I had done this for the Minor Yankee Blog at the end of ’04, I forgot to do it in ’05. The awards ranged from placement on the Yankee Prospect All Star Team to Breakout Prospect, Comeback Prospect, Hitting Prospect, and Pitching Prospect of the Year awards. So, I’m going to do give the ’05 awards out now and I won’t take ’06 into account. The winners are based purely on a combination of prospect status as of ’05 weighted against performance (you’ll have to trust that I’m being honest). There are minimums of 60 IP and/or 180 PA. Players are listed with their baseball age for the 2005 season, level, and then AVG/OBP/SLG for hitters and ERA/K9/BB9/H9/HR9 for pitchers. Without further ado:
style="font-weight: bold;" class="MsoNormal">2005 Yankee Prospect All Star Team:
C: Irwil Rojas, 20, A- .281/.345/.336
1B: Eric Duncan, 20, AA .235/.326/.408
2B: Justin Christian, 25, A-/A+/AAA .303/.376/.466
3B: Marcos Vechionacci, 18, A- .252/.314/.348
SS: Eduardo Nunez, 18, SS .313/.365/.427
OF: Tim Battle, 19, A-
OF: Brett Gardner, 21, SS .284/.377/.376
OF: Melky Cabrera, 20, AA/AAA .269/.319/.402
LH: Matt Smith, 26, AA/AAA 2.73/10.1/3.9/7.7/0.5
RH: Tyler Clippard, 20, A-/A+/AAA 3.32/10.6/2.0/7.4/0.8
Breakout Prospect: Tyler Clippard
class="MsoNormal">Comeback Prospect: Tim Battle
Hitting Prospect: Tim Battle
Pitching Prospect: Tyler Clippard
Now…this list…is ugly, no bones about it. To some extent, when you think about the playing time constraints as well as the nature of the Yankee system, both then and now it is RHP dominated, this is to be expected. But still…this list is really ugly and much more of a tallest midget contest than anything else. To some, that makes it entirely irrelevant, but I like it as a way of getting an idea of where the system is weak. The ’06 list doesn’t look to be as depressing, but will have some dry spots as well. I’ll give a prize, but not really, to anyone who can correctly the name the winner of each of these positions for the ’06 team. Keep in mind; this list will be less ceiling (Baseball America) and more performance (Baseball Prospectus) than my eventual Top 25.
On the subject of the year-end All Star team, it’s cool to look back and see that 40% of that original team has already had major league impact with Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro, and Melky Cabrera looking like solid contributors while Robinson Cano has displayed star potential and, in some ways, may already BE a star.
Friday, September 8, 2006
Hughes and MatsuiVideo links from Trenton’s playoff opener for Hughes.
Video links from Trenton’s playoff opener for Matsui.
-Courtesy of Pending Pinstripes
Wednesday, January 7, 2004
The Return of the Me
Sorry to be absent for so long, I will try and pick up right where I left off though.
In the beginning of this past baseball season the Yankees won the rights to negotiate with pitcher Ramon Ramirez, formerly of the Hiroshima Carp. Here was the scouting report on him at the time, as provided by Jim Callis of Ask Baseball America fame, “Though the 21-year-old Ramirez is just 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds, he has been clocked as high as 94 mph. He usually works in the low 90s, and also throws a slider, curveball, shuuto (a reverse slider that sinks and breaks in on righthanders) and a changeup. Ramirez uses a three-quarters arm slot. ” Not too much of a ripple was caused by the signing of Ramirez in the prospect community and he was sent to the A+ Florida State League to begin his Yankee career, here is what he did:
Of the above numbers, the walks and K’s were good, a little more hits allowed than you would like, home run rate not as strong as you would like, but not that bad of a line for a 21 year old pitcher in High A. Of course, missing from all this was his ERA: 5.21 in 74.1 innings pitched. Because the peripherals and ERA do not add up to me in this case, I am not going to hold it against him, and this is an example of exactly why when analyzing pitching prospects I stray away from using their ERA. Anyway, the Yankees also apparently felt that Ramirez was pitching better than his record and sent him to the AA Eastern League, here is what he did there:
So after being promoted what did Ramirez do? Well, his hit rate took a significant dive, while his walks were up by about one every nine innings and his K’s went on a slight incline. His home run rate also rose by about one extra home run every eighteen innings. Overall, with all the increases and decreases I would say his performance in the Eastern League, a hitters league this past season, was equivalent or thereabouts to his performance in the FSL. You what his ERA was in his 21 and a third innings of AA ball? 1.69. So this time his ERA was better than his peripherals would have you believe, further strengthening my distrust of ERA as a method of evaluating pitchers, especially prospects. Well, after his short, but impressive stint in the Eastern League, the Yankees decided to promote Ramirez to the AAA International League here is what he did there:
Once again, there was a drop in the hit rate and increase in home run rate. However, the K rate went down as did the walk rate. This time his ERA was 4.5, compiled in a GRAND total of 6 innings. Therefore, I don’t really consider this to be much evidence in either a positive or negative direction for Ramirez as there are HUGE small sample size issues associated with his AAA performance, as opposed to the somewhat lesser small sample size issues associated with his AA performance. Well, by the end of the regular season the Yankees felt they wanted to give Ramirez another test, making sure they got their money’s worth I guess, and sent him to the Arizona Fall League, which is usually a hitters league. Here is what he did there:
Those stats are phenomenal as he showed improvement in his hit rate, walk rate, K rate, and HR rate despite playing in an offensive league as he posted a 1.44 ERA in 25 innings of work. Performance-wise he was one of, if not the, best pitcher(s) in the AFL, but somehow managed to get no recognition in Baseball America, but that is a story for another day. To evaluate Ramirez’s year on a whole, let’s put his line from A+, AA, AAA, and the AFL (considered to be about AA quality) together:
So in 126 innings, about 40% of which were in the upper minors, Ramirez demonstrated that he has excellent control (demonstrated by his walks), the ability to shut offenses down (demonstrated by his K’s and to a lesser extent hits allowed) and decent command (demonstrated by his home run rate). All of his peripherals combined with his age, 21 for the entire regular season, are encouraging signs for Ramirez as a prospect. The last question would be about his “stuff” and whether they seem good enough for a starter (3 quality pitches) or a reliever (1 or 2 great pitches). Well, judging by his earlier mentioned pitch selection (scroll up if you forgot it) I would say he has the stuff to be a starter. The only thing Ramirez has to do now is continue at his current rate and disprove the stigma of the short starting pitcher. If he can do this I see him as a good 4 or 5 starting pitcher on a championship ballclub. In fact, I think Ramirez is definitely a dark horse candidate for the number 5 spot in the Yankees rotation this year.
Sorry for the delay in updates, but I’m back in school and have been swamped by a combination of work and sport commitments. Once again, any questions, comments, or suggestions send them to email@example.com. And just a general reminder, Friday Baseball America will be having a chat session at 2 PM Eastern Standard Time to discuss the Yankees Top 10 Prospect list, make sure to go and ask some questions, their chats are a great resource.
Saturday, January 3, 2004
Before I get to the point of my newest article, there is something I need to get off my chest. I have recently realized that when I mention a name on this blog, this blog can them become eligible for being a search result for that word. With that being said I would like to thank the New York Yankees for being a wonderful baseball team, George Steinbrenner for spending money, Joe Torre for being a horrible manager and allowing us to be closer to the pack, Derek Jeter for being so “clutch” and being the “Lord of the Rings”, thereby making him a better shortstop than Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra put together. I would also like to thank Rob Neyer, the folks at Baseball Prospectus, Larry Mahnken, Alex Belth, Aaron Gleeman, NYYFans.com, and everyone else involved in making me a more intelligent observer of America’s past time. I would also like to thank Barry Bonds for his greatness, Babe Ruth for making baseball popular back in the day, and Baseball America for making prospects exciting to me. That is all. I shall now continue with the regularly scheduled entry.
Now, back in the summer of 2001 when I first started following prospects closely, one in particular who interested me was Sean Henn. There were three main reasons for this. One was that he played for the Staten Island Yankees who are actually a pretty big thing in New York in the summer and as a result of my proximity to them I had access to their television and radio broadcasts. The other reason was that I knew Sean Henn was a left-hander who at the time consistently threw 91 to 95 mph fastballs and topped out at 99. You’ll have to excuse me, but wow! That is absolutely spectacular velocity for a lefty. On top of that Henn stood 6’5’’ and 205 pounds meaning there was some room for projectability and he had a dominant mound presence. Just knowing this I was sold.
Then as a 20 year old playing the NY-Penn League, which usually features recent college draftees, Henn began putting together a very nice season as his pitching line can attest to:
Once again, pardon me, but wow! So let’s summarize what we have here, he was a physical wow as a pitching prospect in addition to being a statistical wow. So, what went wrong, why isn’t Henn knocking on the Yankee Stadium door waiting to blow away hitters? Three words, Tommy John surgery.
At the beginning of this season when I learned Henn would in fact be finally making his way back to the mound, my initial thought was that he took ridiculously long to recover from the procedure. In reality the prognosis for recovery is supposedly 12 to 18 months so Henn was not out for as long as I thought (I probably just felt this way, because I couldn’t wait for him to get back, and Brandon Claussen came back ridiculously fast so I was spoiled). Anyway, what happened when Henn came back? This is what he did this past year in 8 innings in the GCL and 72.1 innings in the A+ Florida State League:
There are a couple of ways you could go on these sets of numbers. One is that you could look at it from the perspective that Henn was somewhat old for his leagues as he was 22 and the ideal prospect age for the FSL at least, would be 19/20 I think. In addition to being somewhat old league, Henn’s K rate fell, he walked more batters, allowed home runs at a higher rate, and allowed more hits. Looking at it from this angle it was a disappointing season. However, the other perspective is that this was Henn’s first season back from Tommy John and he worked with less than his best stuff. That being said, reports out of Tampa are that his fastball velocity was improving as the season went on, and he was able to throw it in the low 90’s consistently.
All things considered, I would call this past season a wash for Henn, he did nothing to really enhance his prospect, but nothing to really hurt it either in my opinion. I still feel he has a huge ceiling and this year could go a long way to deciding his future. He can either go out and dominate the AA Eastern League and be ready for the majors by the end of the year now that he is fully healthy, or not. If he doesn’t dominate, and that is what I am expecting, I think his prospect shine is gone, this might be a bit dramatic, but his surgery has really set him back and he needs to get back on track as soon as possible.
Once again, questions, comments, concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, I am now heading back to school and my goal is to update this site once every weekday, whether I meet that goal depends on how much time I will have and the length of my posts might also be affected.
Friday, January 2, 2004
One of the great things about being a person addicted to the study of baseball and the Yankees is that I get to take constant Litmus tests on how fellow fans feel about the team’s personnel. Acknowledging this, a popular cause of discontent with Yankee fans of late has been Alfonso Soriano. There are a few main criticisms laid against him, one is that “he has no plate discipline and isn’t focusing enough on this”, two is that “he was a horrible 2B in 2001 and hasn’t gotten better”, and three is that “he doesn’t hit in the clutch”. Let’s tackle the issue and see if Soriano deserves the criticism he has been getting.
Ahhh, Soriano’s lack of plate discipline. This is probably the most infamous aspect of Soriano’s game as it has led some misguided analysts to compare him to Vladimir Guerrero and Nomar Garciaparra who in reality are very different hitters than Soriano, but those two are stories for another day. While many Yankee fans don’t necessarily care about things such as OBP and walking, they do, somewhat oddly to me, love to point that Soriano does not walk much and strikes out a lot. This theory is true to an extent. Yes, Soriano does in fact not walk much; here are his unintentional walk rates for each of his full major league seasons:
So yes, Soriano has been rather impatient thus far in his major league career, even more so after his rookie season, which ironically was his least productive year in the bigs. In fact, just looking at those 3 years, the less at bats it has taken for Soriano to walk, the more productive he has been, I have no explanation why that has happened with him and I won’t try to explain it now. Anyway, we have now established that just as Yankee fans think, Soriano does not walk much and he has not really made strides in that aspect of his game. Now, here are Soriano’s K rates thus far:
So, the first question that must be answered is: Does Soriano strike out a lot or is that perception skewed because he walks so little and has so many at bats? Let’s look at the K rates for the top 20 players in Ks this past season outside of Soriano:
Jim Thome 3.2
Jose Hernandez 2.9
Brad Wilkerson 3.3
Richie Sexon 4.0
Sammy Sosa 3.6
Pat Burrell 3.7
Jason Giambi 3.8
Preston Wilson 4.3
Carlos Delgado 4.2
Mike Cameron 3.9
Derrek Lee 4.1
Wes Helms 3.6
Dmitri Young 4.3
Rocco Baldelli 5.0
Jim Edmonds 3.5
Alex Rodriguez 4.8
Bobby Abreu 4.6
Adam Dunn 3.0
Bret Boone 5.0
So after looking at the list of the top 20 K guys in MLB we see that of that 20, Soriano struck out at a higher rate than…none of them. This disproves a large part of the Soriano K theory, which is that he is always amongst the top K guys making him detrimental to the team, when in actuality his place on this list is more a function of his position in the batting lineup than anything else. On top of that, Soriano has indeed improved greatly in this aspect of his game. So if a Yankee fan, you know, one of the ones that say they “watch all the games” tries to say, “Soriano has no plate discipline and isn’t focusing enough on this” it is only partially true. Yes, Soriano lacks plate discipline, but since he has become much better at making contact it would seem that he has been working/focusing on this.
Soriano’s defense is perhaps the aspect of his game most attacked by Yankee fans, ESPECIALLY the aforementioned ones who “watch all the games”. The general feeling amongst this crowd is that Soriano is horrible defensively, and if they choose to use statistical evidence, they point towards his somewhat consistent error totals. This is very faulty logic. What is ignored in this generalization of Soriano’s defense is his range…factor:
FP RF ZR Year
.973 4.45 .796 2001
.968 4.55 .813 2002
.975 4.82 .811 2003
So yes, Soriano his rookie year was pretty horrible, he made a lot of errors and did not get to many balls. Then his second year, Soriano made more errors, but his zone rating and range factor both went up. In his third year he had his best fielding percentage, along with his highest range factor by a wide margin and his second best zone factor. I think it is safe to conclude from these numbers that Soriano has made strides defensively each year. Therefore the theory about Soriano’s defense does not hold water.
Another weakness of Soriano’s according to those naysayers is that he does not hit in the clutch. With this in mind they point to the most recent postseason and his numbers with RISP this past season. In regards to these in general, I am of the belief that clutch hitting does not actually exist and if you give any player enough time, over the course of that time his “clutch” stats will resemble his normal stats very closely. However, let us take for example that RISP for Soriano does represent that he is “unclutch”. If that is the case, what was the case in 2002 when Soriano hit .329/.357/.564 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with RISP? Was he clutch then? If he was not clutch then, what is clutch? If he was clutch then, how come he was not clutch this year? It is simple. Clutch does not truly exist, but is more a function of small sample size variations.
After reading this, you may think I am a huge Soriano fan, in actuality, while I appreciate his talent I am somewhat wary of him because of how unique a player he is, making it more difficult than normal to know exactly how he will develop. In fact, I would have much rather had the Yankees trade him to get Vazquez than Nick Johnson. That being said, Soriano is still hugely talented and probably the second best 2B in baseball, and I appreciate him for that. He also does not deserve the negativity the average Yankee fan may throw at him, so I had to defend him.
It’s been a little while since I discussed a prospect now, but I will be getting back to that soon. Questions, comments, suggestions, email@example.com
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
The Stathead Blogger Rite of Passage
Now, I was ready to go ahead and write an article about the rumor Will Carrol might be revealing to the public sometime soon. So I figured, if I’m going to do this I want to give a prediction as to what the outcome will be. Knowing this I felt like I should head over to ESPN and see what my choices were for my prediction. Then something happened. I stumbled across an article by Phil Rogers. Now Phil is a columnist that has been beaten up by many a blogger and I never felt like I would do this type of post, but his article just struck me as too poor to be ignored, and I HAD to get my opinions about it off my chest.
One of the initial statements by Rogers that caught my eye was that “Rodriguez is languishing on a free-agent market that has rewarded many lesser players”, that within itself I have no problem with. After all, there ARE players lesser than Rodriguez than have been signed. My problem comes with what he intimates next, that that list of lesser players includes Miguel Tejada, Gary Sheffield, and Keith Foulke. The evidence for Tejada being less than Rodriguez is that Tejada is “arguably the fourth-best shortstop in his league”. What Mr. Rogers is making sure to do here is alert us that Tejada already received free agent compensation and he’s not that good, in fact, he’s so not that good that he doesn’t even rank within the top 3 in his own league, much less the entire majors.
This is pretty faulty logic for a few reasons. One is that sighting the league when comparing shortstops pigeonholes good shortstops in the American League because some guys named Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Nomar Garciaparra. For those keeping score at home, Rodriguez has a career 144 OPS+, Nomah has a 135 career OPS+, and Jeter has a 122 career OPS+. Aside from being great hitters, one is a good defensive player, one is a very good defensive player, and one has played on several championship teams. Between them they have 1 AL MVP, 3 Batting titles, 2 Gold Gloves, 2 Rookie of the Year awards, 1 All Star Game MVP, and 1 World Series MVP. Basically, they are just great and 3 of the best to ever play the shortstop position. Tejada is no slouch either, he is an above average hitter and an above average fielder. He is a good baseball player, however, by playing in the American League he is playing in the shadow of 3 all time great shortstops. Were Tejada in the National League he would undoubtedly be the best all around shortstop in that league, so his standing within the American League is no fault of his own, neither should it be an indictment of his talent.
Now, if Rogers is calling out Tejada for not ranking that great amongst fellow shortstops, and I would say he is about 4th overall, then Pudge must rank really high. Let’s find out. Amongst everyday backstops, Ivan Rodriguez’s rank in EQA last year was tied for 3rd amongst catchers:
Lopez .337 174
Posada .318 146
Rodriguez .293 124
Varitek .293 120
Not included in that list is Mike Piazza who hit for a .301 EQA and 124 OPS+ albeit in injury shortened playing time. What can we conclude from these stats? That Pudge was probably the 3rd best hitting catcher in all of baseball last season, with another catcher vying for that third position with him. In addition to that, Mike Piazza outhit Rodriguez last year and is defined by being the “best hitting catcher ever” so I feel it is safe to say that Pudge is tied for fourth amongst catchers in offensive prowess. I do not feel defense is an important part of being a catcher so I will disregard that for now. So, basically what we have here is Rodriguez is tied for the fourth spot amongst catchers. Hmmmm, Miguel Tejada is holding onto the fourth spot amongst shortstops yet that is not good enough, meanwhile, Pudge is tied for fourth amongst catchers and that IS good enough. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that makes much logical sense.
After his words on Tejada, Mr. Rogers also has some not so nice words for Yankee offseason signee, Gary Sheffield. Instead of attacking Sheffield’s production, Phil goes after him for being “a noted knucklehead old enough to run for the U.S. Senate”. There are two obvious points being made about Sheffield’s signing here, one is that he has character flaws that prove detrimental to a team’s success and the other is that his age is an issue. I have not followed the personal aspects of Gary Sheffield’s career close enough to know exactly what Rogers is referring to, but since Pudge was an American Leaguer for so long and I am a Yankees fan, there IS something I know about him. In the past, Pudge has been noted for frequently calling fastballs in order to have a better pitch to throw out potential baserunners on and improve that aspect of his numbers, if that is not a “knucklehead” activity to partake in, I don’t know what is. In regards to Sheffield’s age, let’s look at some numbers:
On the left, you have Gary Sheffield’s OPS+ over the last 4 years, on the right you have Ivan Rodriguez’s OPS+ over the last 4 years. From this we can gather that despite aging, both players have managed to pretty much maintain their offensive performance so they are even in that regard. However, hidden within that is that over the same 4 year stretch Gary Sheffield has played a total of 574 games, or 144 per year, Ivan Rodriguez has played a total of 454 games, or 114 per year, THAT is what I call a significant difference. During that time Pudge has suffered severe season ending injuries while Sheffield has stayed away from that. While Sheffield is 4 years older, this age difference is skewed because Pudge plays a more physically demanding position and has logged an incredible amount of innings at that position so in actual baseball mileage I would call them at least equal. Now if you have two players, equal in mileage, both having character issues, but one has proven to be significantly healthier than the other, and is willing to accept a 3 year deal versus vehemently seeking a 4 year deal, which player do you choose? That’s right, you choose Gary Sheffield who is not a lesser player than Pudge in that they both have character questions and Sheffield gives less reason for age related worry.
The next player mentioned by Rogers in comparison to Pudge is Kieth Foulke, “a closer whose best pitch is a changeup”. That statement, meant to indict Foulke is completely and utterly ridiculous. It is the equivalent of trying to downgrade A-Rod by saying he is “a shortstop who can hit” or even I-Rod by saying that he is “a catcher who can hit”, simply ridiculous. Just because a player does something that is not conventional does not make them any less of a player, the name of the game is getting results and since 1999 his body of relief work matches up favorably to any relief pitcher in the game. Once again, it is not how you do the job, but THAT you do the job. Otherwise we would never have had the A-Rods and Piazzas of the world.
Personally, I find what Rogers does near the end of the article quite humorous. He states that “[d]uring the regular season, Florida’s pitching staff had a 3.82 earned run average with him behind the plate and a 4.80 ERA without him”. Of course, what Rogers means here is that by being behind the plate, Pudge’s game calling allowed him to call for the perfect pitches to be thrown by the Marlins staff and their pitching success is attributable to him. All right, fine Mr. Rogers, if you want to believe that then fine. But wait, 5.35, 5.71, 5.20, those are Pudge’s catcher ERA’s from 2000-2002. Since he was so responsible for the success of Florida’s pitching staff in 2003, then he must theoretically also be responsible for the failure of every Rangers pitching staff ever. What counts more, 2 seasons of a CERA (Catcher ERA) below 4 or 9 seasons of a CERA above 4.5? I’m thinking 9, and that would mean Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate is bad for a pitching staff, this is using Rogers’ theories of course.
Before closing his article, Rogers engages in hyperbole. “He’s played 13 years and never had a bad season. He’s made every team he’s been on better”. That is in reference to Pudge of course. I would first like to ask how one would judge whether or not a player has made EVERY team he has been on better? Quite frankly, I am not sure, but the best I can come up with is that adding Pudge to a team makes them better than they were before he was added, well since Pudge has changed teams once there is only one example of this, that would be this past season’s Marlins. Yes, they did in fact get better, but because of sample size issues with Rodriguez making teams better and because he was not the Marlins only addition, I have no way judging of this and I won’t. Hopefully, Mr. Rogers sees this and can alert me as to how one would go about making such a judgment. More importantly however, Rogers said that Pudge has “never had a bad season”. I am going to have to disagree with that statement, because when a player has OPS+‘s of 75 and 88, I consider that a bad season, and that is what Rodriguez did in 1991 and 1992.
So, basically, what I am saying is that Phil Rogers is a horrible journalist who should never have been hired by ESPN. No, I’m joking. However, for Rogers to write an article touting Pudge as undeserving of not being signed by a team already, when considering his demands and track record is just a little far fetched, the “facts” and evidence he used to support his ideas were faulty. I had a problem with this, and I just felt particularly compelled to break down what he said. Happy New Year to all and remember, if you have questions, comments, suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wow, that was damn near Gleeman length, or Gleemanic if you will.
Monday, December 29, 2003
Before the 2003 major league draft, some publications had Eric Duncan going as high as the 14th pick, then on draft day, he fell into the Yankees’ lap, and they made sure to draft the bat they coveted. Duncan is currently 6’2’’ and 195 pounds so I am not sure he has too much wiggle room to work with when it comes to adding muscle mass. He has “passable third-actions and an average arm, but is destined to end up at first base” according to Baseball America. Despite that, I will evaluate him as a 3B because some observers feel he can stay there, and his bat works a lot better there in my opinion.
.278/.348/.400(AVG/OBP/SLG) .257 GPA
.373/.413/.695(AVG/OBP/SLG) .342 GPA
The first line is Duncan’s performance in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League, where he was first assigned this summer. That line was compiled over the course of 201 plate appearances in a league where high school draft picks are commonly placed. The second line is Duncan’s performance in the New York Penn League, where the Yankees promoted him after he went on a hot streak near the end of his GCL stint. That line was compiled over the course of 63 plate appearances, so it is a much smaller sample size. With that said, what did Duncan demonstrate as he hit .301/.364/.473 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with a .282 GPA overall this summer?
He showed that he can hit for average. He showed that he had at least decent plate patience, though it went away a little once he faced tougher competition, he showed that he can hit for power by sending 35% of his hits for extra bases. He also made good contact, only striking out in 18% of his at bats. In a very positive development, his K rate saw no increase with the change in levels. Basically, Duncan lived up to his expectations as a hitter, showing why scouts have compared him to Chipper Jones at the plate.
With most offensive queries answered positively at this point, Duncan just needs to work on his defense and make sure he can stick at third. If he can stick there, and hit anywhere close to the way Chipper did during his prime, then he could solve the Yankees’ 3B woes for a long time. This potential makes Duncan an extremely exciting prospect that Yankee fans should definitely keep an eye on. At this point he looks like he can be a .300/.380/.500 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .296 GPA 3B, admittedly it is VERY early in the “game” and short season numbers are difficult to project.
*Sorry for the shorter than average post today, got college stuff to attend to. Once again, any questions, comments, suggestions, e-mail email@example.com
Sunday, December 28, 2003
Keep An Eye On
I highly doubt that Joaquin Arias will get much ink in prospect publications over the next few months, possibly a little blurb in Baseball America’s Top 10 Yankee Prospect Rankings. However, I think he is a better prospect than the initial glance at his statistics may give you. If you do that, what you see for the 2003 season is an OK batting average, poor on base percentage, and poor slugging percentage. Thankfully, there is more to prospecting than this and that is what makes it so exciting.
In a somewhat similar vein to the Rudy Guillen-Vladimir Guerrero comments from last offseason, Joaquin Arias received comparisons to Alfonso Soriano based on his speed, quick wrists, and similar 6’1’‘, 160 pound wiry build. So, physically Arias has some potential. He also plays shortstop and by accounts that I have seen, has the defensive tools to remain there.
Despite the physical aspects of being a prospect, one must also produce to some extent. This is my personal view on prospects as it allows one to make safer projections knowing there is evidence supporting their potential to perform at the major league level. With that being said, Joaquin’s 2003 line of .266/.306/.343(AVG/OBP/SLG) .223 GPA is very disappointing. However, as with many statistics, especially those involving prospects (who I tend to believe just have everything click at certain points), the line must be looked at contextually:
.234/.271/.312 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .200 GPA
.323/.359/.401 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .262 GPA
The first line is Joaquin Arias’ production through the first 65% of his season with the Yankees Low-A organization. Needless to say, he was not living up to expectations, then, something happened. While some may say it is sample size fluctuation I feel that there is more to it than this because the performance saw Arias’ already excellent K rate fall from 11% to an incredible 5%. During this change, Joaquin’s walk rate went from a walk once every 17 at bats, to a walk once every 15 at bats. A small change yes, but a small positive one nonetheless. The coupling of an increased walk rate and decreased K rate lead me to believe that Arias definitely brought his game to another level over the course of the last month and a half of the minor league season.
After analyzing the numbers and the physical tools, there is another aspect to look at for Joaquin. He played the entire 2003 season in a full season A-league as an 18 year old. That fact, coupled with decent overall numbers that showed dramatic improvement as the season went on, and good physical tools tell me that while Arias will probably be overlooked this season and next (I wouldn’t normally say this, but for the problem that Arias will have a hard time raising eyebrows in the hitter killing Florida State League), he could/should be one of the game’s big time prospects come 2005.
Saturday, December 27, 2003
The Reports of his Demise are Premature…
Derek Jeter burst onto the scene with a Rookie of the Year 1996 campaign where his GPA was .274, this was followed by GPA’s of .268, .293, and .335 in 1999. Following this were GPA’s of .307, .290, .273, and most recently .289. There seems to be a general downward trend following the 1999 season. Looking closely at all his other numbers only confirms this:
1996: .314/.370/.430 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .274 GPA
1997: .291/.370/.405 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .268 GPA
1998: .324/.384/.481 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .293 GPA
1999: .349/.438/.552 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .335 GPA
2000: .339/.416/.481 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .307 GPA
2001: .311/.377/.480 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .290 GPA
2002: .297/.373/.421 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .273 GPA
2003: .324/.393/.450 (AVG/OBP/SLG) .289 GPA
So, what have we learned by looking at even more of Jeter’s numbers? That yes, these still say he has pretty much been in decline since 1999. But wait, there’s more, otherwise I would have had no reason to give this particular thread the name I did:
The first thing that jumps out about this particular set of numbers is that the 161 is just a huge outlier in all of this. It seems rather “fluky”. What are these numbers, you may be wondering, these numbers are Jeter’s OPS+ over the course of his career. OPS+, to put it as simply as I possibly can, is a player’s OPS relative to the league average, for example a player with a 100 OPS+ would be exactly average. Now, unlike the rest of Jeter’s offensive numbers which we have already perused, these do not show the same consistent decline following 1999, in fact he has been pretty much maintaining his production, what they do show is that 1999 was completely out of line with anything Jeter ever did before or after that. From this it becomes simple to see that Jeter peaked early, while most players have their best seasons somewhere between 27 and 30, Jeter did that at 24.
Looking even further into the numbers, it actually seems that Jeter has been consistently improving since 1999. The reason for this is that starting with 2000, his OPS+ has been increasing other than the 2002 campaign. With this knowledge I think it is safe to say that Jeter should have an even more productive season in 2004, and the reports of his demise (which I once believed), are much too early…for the most part:
The numbers on the left are Derek Jeter’s range factors over the course of his career, on the right are his zone ratings, I think one could make an argument that while has remained pretty consistent offensively, he just MIGHT be slipping defensively, but Derek Jeter and his “defense” (if one so chooses to call it that) is an argument for another day.
Wow, two posts in one day, you are all so lucky, let me know what you think about my first article about the majors: firstname.lastname@example.org
Not So Vlad
Here we go again:
Player A: .260/.311/.414(AVG/OBP/SLG) .243 GPA
Player B: .276/.330/.450(AVG/OBP/SLG) .261 GPA
Player C: .333/.377/.544(AVG/OBP/SLG) .306 GPA
Many Yankee fans who give even the slightest bit of attention to the “farm system”, if one can call it that, should recognize the first line as that of Rudy Guillen. Guillen is yet another of baseball’s 5-tool prospects. This meaning he has the raw ability needed to hit for average, hit for power, run, throw, and field. The reports on Guillen are that he is ok defensively with a good right fielder’s arm, though he plays the majority of his games in center at this time. Most believe he is destined for right field, which he has patrolled in the minors also, this should be a good place for him and he apparently may be able to be at least an average defender there.
Offensively, just looking at Guillen’s season in the purest of forms, it is apparent that he could probably serve to improve his walk rate. However, this need is not as drastic because he only struck out in about 18% of his at bats, which leads me to believe that he has some idea of the process of swinging at pitches one likes. Guillen also displayed good raw power as 36% of his hits went for extra bases. This, accompanied with the fact that he has plenty of room to fill out his 6’3’’ 180 pound frame, leads me to believe Guillen has some pretty good power potential.
Now here is where the Player B comparison comes in handy, for you see, Player A and Player B are actually one and the same. The difference being, that Player A is Gullen for the entire season, and Player B is Guillen from April 30th to the end of the season. Why April 30th? Because Guillen, for whatever reason, began the season hitting horribly and this is around the time he began to turn things around. Perhaps the greatest difference, and most encouraging part of this transformation is that Guillen’s BB:K ratio was about .5 from April 30th on, this, combined with his relatively insignificant K rate, leads me to believe that Guillen does have a better understanding of the strike zone than many would give him credit for and I can see him being the type of player to average about 60 or so BBs per season. Guillen’s other peripherals remained at about the same ratios as his overall season performance.
I felt that Guillen was somewhat overrated by Baseball America following his Gulf Coast League season*, but with one full season under his belt I now feel much more confident about his abilities. With the usual prospect caveats of health and continued progression, I see Guillen becoming the type of hitter can give a team 30-35 HRs along with a line of .290/.355/.525(AVG/OBP/SLG) .291GPA, all in all a good right fielder.
*The main reason I felt Guillen was overrated was that he was being compared to Vladimir Guerrero, who in his age 19 minor league season put up the line belonging to Player C.
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Because once just wasn’t enough, and I liked it so much I might just keep doing it, here is yet another player comparision:
Player A: .234/.291/.412(AVG/OBP/SLG) .234 GPA
Player B: .240/.301/.435(AVG/OBP/SLG) .244 GPA
Ok, no suspense this time. Player A is Drew Henson in 2003, Player B is Drew Henson in 2002, both seasons played for the Columbus Clippers of the AAA International League. As you can see there are slight declines in each of the general offensive categories. In addition to his offensive production, Drew’s fielding has seemingly been spotty as evidenced by high error totals, though I do not know how to properly adjust minor league fielding numbers for field quality, park quality, etc. In support of his fielding Baseball America once ranked him as the best defensive 3B in his league.
Now, why would anyone be interested in Drew Henson you may find yourself asking, after you’ve seen his production or lack thereof. Well, there’s another stat that is important when looking at Drew Henson, 46% and 50%. Those are his extra base hit percentages during the last two seasons, ‘02 and ‘03 respectively. If everytime you get a base hit there is basically a 50% chance of it going for extra bases, I would have to say you have some incredible power or power potential at the least. That is what Drew Henson possesses that is so enticing to scouts, or at least was. Another thing Drew holds, though not as dearly, is an infamous propensity for the strikeout. This has bothered many a prospect analyst over the years, but I am not particularly concerned with a player’s strikeout rate unless he K’s alot and walks very little (I will explain this in the future). Unfortunately, for Drew Henson he is this type of high strikeout low walk player, though he definitely made some very real improvement in that aspect of his game this season. After striking out in 32% of his at bats in 2002, Drew was able to cut that rate to a much more manageable 25% this season. Unfortunately, his walk rate still remained poor.
As Drew Henson has aged, but not matured like a fine wine, some scouts have soured on the initial Mike Schmidt/good Troy Glaus comparisons. I am personally of the opinion that this is the last year for Drew Henson to prove himself. He is 24 and this will be his third full season at the AAA level, all objective reasoning and even some non objective, points towards Drew failing this year. However, something tells me that despite it being a one in a million chance, there is still a chance that Drew Henson can fulfill his considerable potential. I feel this way because I have followed him extremely closely for a few seasons now and I have seen him put together some incredibly dominant stretches, followed by almost equally incredibly awful ones. This may be the year he consolidates his good and my statistical reasoning for this is his reduced K rate, and the fact that he was an improved player in the second half of last season. In the wildly unlikely case that I am correct and Drew does put it together, I think he has the potential to at his best be a .270/.330/.520 hitter, which would be pretty good for a 3B.
I’ve focused on the minors a lot thus far, and I will try and get to the majors in the near future.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Here’s something I grew up with as a big fan of Rob Neyer’s work:
Player A: .338/.398/.434(AVG/OBP/SLG) .288 GPA
Player B: .321/.374/.469(AVG/OBP/SLG) .286 GPA
Pretty close isn’t it? It’s made even closer by the fact that both players played in the same leagues at the same position last year. To save the suspense, Player A is Joe Mauer, the 20 year old lefty swinging Minnesota Twins catching phenom who will probably garner the number one slot in most prospect publications this spring. Player B is Dioner Navarro, a 19 year old switch hitting catcher in the Yankees system, who is much less well known than Mauer.
Seeing that Mauer is one of the consensus top prospects in the land, and that Navarro is actually a year younger than him I sometimes wonder why he does not get as much coverage. Defensively, most scouts favor Mauer, but not because Navarro is a slouch behind the plate, he first gained fame as “Pudgito”, rather because Mauer is supposed to be THAT good defensively. Granting Mauer the edge in defense, and calling their offense a draw at this point, especially since Navarro is a year younger, I for one will be very interested to see where Dioner ranks among the game’s best prospects come spring.
Quite frankly, the only thing that could Dioner back, is that he is 5’10’’ and 189 pounds, meaning he does not have as much room as the 6’5’’ Mauer to fill out. Despite this Navarro did manage to have 32% of his hits go for extra bases as opposed to Mauer’s 22%, and I feel this is a great indicator of at least some form of power to come for Dioner.
I’m not intimating that Navarro is a better prospect than Mauer, but I am saying he should get more respect than he does (Quite frankly, I feel it will be hypocritical if he is not amongst the top 20). Hopefully Steinbrenner holds on to him so he can succeed Jorge Posada when he succumbs to the perils of catching. I definitely feel that Navarro has all-star potential and that in the next decade he and Mauer should battle it out for all star game starts. The reason I can see this future for Navarro is that his minor league numbers are reminiscent of A.J. Pierzynski’s minor league numbers, except he has done it at younger ages and with more patience. I think it is fair to say Navarro has the potential to become a player that can be counted on for an average yearly line of .300/.360/.450(AVG/OBP/SLG) with about 15 home runs, which would make him a very valuable catcher.
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