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.
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.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
SG is swamped at work (see below) and I’m swamped at school, but I just wanted to point something
out. A little while back I did a minor league Q&A with two of my favorite Yankee prospect bloggers. The “discussion” was recently published and is linked in the headline.
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-
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
Page 1 of 1 pages: