Will Johan Santana be traded? November 24, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Boston Red Sox, Johan Santana, LA Dodgers, Yankees.
The third segment:
Will Johan Santana be traded?
It seems that there are more rumors about a possible Johan trade once the Twins offered him 5yrs/$93 M, and Johan asked for 6yrs/$126 M (Barry Zito money) to start. The usual candidates are the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers, who have some of the deepest farm systems in baseball. Now, time to analyze each team’s chances:
Yankees: The Yankees have seven premier prospects/young players that a team would gladly take in a trade–Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Alan Horne, Ian Kennedy, Jose Tabata, Melky Cabrera, and Robinson Cano. Cano doesn’t make sense for the Twins only in that they have a young second-base prospect, Alexi Casilla. However, Cano gives them pop that is expanded in the “homerdome”. He isn’t a CF, though, and that also limits his value with the Twins, and, besides, it creates a gaping hole at 2B for the Yankees. Cabrera is a young, energetic CF who plays well in a turf park that plays his speed, and the “homerdome” also increases his home run value. His defense in arm will remind people of Hunter’s, though it is not nearly as polished. Moreover, Brett Gardner does many of the same things Cabrera does, except he has no power. Thus, with that and the fact that Austin Jackson is moving through the system, Cabrera is expendable. Tabata is a toolsy young outfielder who has suspect power but a great eye and great contact skills. His hamate bone injury should help his power development, and it would be a shame to let him get away if he actually does turn out to be Manny Ramirez lite. Kennedy is a young pitcher with average stuff, but a great mind and great control that helps him pitch. The Yankees have other prospects with better stuff and good enough control, so he could be expendable. Horne has seemingly been around the prospect world forever, but is finally honing his stuff and is a half-season or a little more away from being able to contribute to the Yankees. He has amazing, live stuff, with developing control, and that, combined with experience pitching in the system, makes him valuable to both the Twins and the Yankees. Joba isn’t going anywhere, so no need to discuss him. Phil Hughes, once the best prospect in the system (he is no longer rookie-eligible), now has a rotation spot entrenched for him, and he looks to have a rebound season after battling hamstring and ankle, as well as adjustment, problems, in the majors. His value has seemingly decreased slightly, but the Yankees should hold on to him.
Verdict: It will be hard to get him without giving up prized blue-chippers, although the Yankees are willing to surrender Cabrera and increasingly willing to part with Hughes. After that, it seems easy to choose a third and, if necessary, fourth prospect. I would be hard-pressed to give up Tabata, but his youth and injury makes his projectability difficult. If those three and Jeff Marquez, say, are dealt, I would give the Yankees a leg-up on the deal. The only question is are they willing. My guess is that they make the trade.
Red Sox: The Red Sox have a great group of prospects of their own: Clay Bucholz (he of no-hitter fame), CF Jacoby Ellisbury, 1B slugger Lars Anderson, and cancer-survivor Jon Lester. Moreover, they have a nice assortment of B-prospects, namely Michael Bowden, Jed Lowrie, and Brandon Moss. This is a nice assortment of prospects, but the Sox’s system isn’t really as the Yankees or the Dodgers and, if one of the top prospects is dealt, there aren’t really any great B-level guys to take over. Now, Bucholz compares to Hughes, but his value is higher because of his immediate and resounding big league success. Ellisbury has Johnny Damon (in his prime) potential, but incumbent Coco Crisp is the one Boston prefers to deal. Anderson is untouchable, and he is the next big masher in the Boston lineup. Lester has Mark Mulder (in Oakland) potential, Bowden should be a Jake Peavy-lite, Lowrie is a Carlos Guillen-lite, and Moss has Bernie Williams potential. Not a bad group of prospects, but, again, it will be hard for the system and the aging big club to part with one of these guys.
Verdict: Coming of a World Series, the team will soon enter an area of decline due to the aging veterans (Ramirez, Lugo, Drew, Varitek, Lowell, Crisp, Schilling, Timlin, Wakefield, and even Ortiz). There aren’t enough prospects to fill up some of these holes if a package of prospects are traded, and although they can go back-to-back if they get Santana, the question is: struggle now or later? They already dealt some B prospects for Gagne, and there are only so many to go around. My guess is the Sox won’t get him.
Dodgers: The Dodgers have a strong, deep system, and have several young and key major leaguers. These guys include LHP Clayton Kershaw (the grand prize), C Russell Martin, OF Matt Kemp, 1B-OF James Loney, OF Delwyn Young, OF Andre Eithier RHP Chad Billingsley, RHP Jonathan Broxton, RHP Jonathan Meloan, SS Chin Lung Hu, INF Tony Abreu, and 3B Andy LaRoche. The Dodgers are an aging team on some ends, with unproductive veterans Juan Pierre, Nomar Garciappara, Rafael Furcal, and, for 2007, Luis Gonzalez contributing to one of the NL’s worst offenses. These guys are the core of the team and the foundation for future championship runs, and the long, hard, work of the scouts and head of minor league development. The Dodgers are at a crossroads now–they don’t have enough starting pitching yet to be a pitching-first team, but don’t even have enough hitting to sustain even that. Now, they could also go out and seek to become a hitting-first team by dealing Kershaw, Kemp, and, say, Meloan for Miguel Cabrera. The Dodgers can’t go both ways, and when Santana and Cabrera are being shopped around, this is the time to decide.
Verdict: As is, the Dodger’s biggest problem is hitting, and although hiring (and subsequently firing) Eddie Murray didn’t solve that, something’s gotta give. They are going to have to go after someone to help that, be it Aaron Rowand to actually play offense and defense in centerfield, or trade for Miguel Cabrera. They have enough pitching to stay alive, though. Thus, the verdict is no, they get Cabrera instead.
What can the Yankees do with the Rule 5 draft? November 24, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Chris Lubanski, Dan Smith, Eric Duncan, Frankie Cervelli, Jeff Marquez, Marcos Vechionacci, Michael Gardner, PJ Piliterre, Rule 5 Draft, Steven Jackson.
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So here is the second in a series of segments on MLB and Yankees questions:
What can the Yankees do with the Rule 5 draft?
Well, to begin, Rule 5 eligibility is when a player that was signed or drafted at 18 or younger did so 5 years ago, or when a player that was signed or drafted did so 4 years ago, and is not on the 40 man roster. The Yankees have several players eligible–Francisco Cervelli, Jeff Marquez, Steven White, PJ Piliterre, Eric Duncan, Marcos Vechionacci, Steven Jackson, and Michael Gardner. The first three were protected on the 40-man roster, and the deadline to set the roster was midnight on Tuesday. That means that Piliterre, Duncan, Vechionacci, Jackson, and Gardner are eligible. Piliterre projects best as a Brad Ausmus-type–that is, a low-batting average, great defensive catcher. At worst, he can be a Wil Nieves type. If he is taken, there is no real loss there. Duncan, thus far, is a 1st round bust from 2003, but he is young for his level (AAA) and should have been protected, as the kid has potential to be a solid ML-first basebman. However, due to the time he takes to adjust to a new level, he likely won’t make it through 2008 on another team. He will likely be taken and returned, so no biggie there. “Nacci” is a raw player with an amazing glove but developing bat. He has yet to be consistently above HiA, so he won’t hit much if he is selected. However, he could always be selected in the AAA or AA phases. Jackson struggled largely in his transition from sinkerballer to power pitcher, but did better in AA and could eventually be a decent middle reliever. However, there are other, better prospects who can do the same thing better. Gardner is just an older, non-prospect, organizational player. No loss here.
On the other hand, talking of the protected guys, Cervelli, who has only played as high as HiA Tampa, was protected mainly because the Nationals selected Jesus Flores, also a catcher, from the Mets system, and he did well for the Nats. Besides, he is ready enough to be the 3rd catcher on the 40-man roster, anyway. Marquez is probably on the 40-man to be able to serve as a replacement-level starter for 2008, or to be traded for a heating-up Johan Santana deal. White, once the best pitching prospect in the system, has had an injury-ravaged minor-league career and has struggled while adjusting to new levels. However, he is able to help out the Yankees in the bullpen next year, a weak spot in the bigs.
Now, Mike over at River Ave. Blues has a great post at who the Yankees can take in the Rule 5 draft. None of the lower-profile guys intrigued me more than a fairly young lefty named Dan Smith, from the Braves. This is what he had to say on Smith:
He backs his low-90’s heat with a great changeup, although he struggles to spin his breaking ball consistently. He comes over-the-top and uses a huge downhill plane, which makes him tough to hit (7.00 Hper9 career) and is the main reason he’s given up only 18 homers in 338 career innings.
Smith’s biggest pitfall is that his command comes and goes, as he’ll rack up big walk totals (4.36 BBper9) to go along with big strikeout totals (9.74 Kper9).
Not bad, and the Yankees can fix him out. At least he will cost less and his peripherals are more honest than those of 36-year-old Ron Mahay, whom the Yankees are reportedly pursuing.
Of the high profile players–well, of the only one, really, it would also be nice if the Yankees can get the #5 overall pick from 2003, Chris Lubanski, from the Royals.
Val Majewski, the prospect/suspect of the Baltimore Orioles, is also eligible. I’d take a pass.
There are your Top 30! November 24, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Kevin Whelan, Steven White, Top 30 Prospects, Yankees: Looking to the Future.
So there is your top 30 prospects list for the New York Yankees! I hope that you, our readers, post any comments, complaints, compliments, or gripes on any post you feel necessary.
However, there is no Top 30 without an honorable mention section. The honorable mention prospects:
Steven White: White, the 4th round pick out of Baylor in 2003, has seemingly been around forever. He once held the title of best Yankees pitching prospect, but later surrendered that title next year to Phil Hughes. He’s supposedly lost a tick or two off that big 96-97 MPH fastball he had when drafted. His slurve comes in at 77-80, and a plus changeup at 80. However, White needs to not overthrow when in a jam, and needs time to adjust to a new level. He has seemingly been around the system forever, largely because of a variety of bizarre injuries since his drafting that have held him back. That, his age, and his inability to crank up the big strikeouts anymore don’t make him a Top-30. However, White has some upside, and projects best as a reliever since there are better pitchers who are and will be in the rotation. He should struggle a little bit in New York for the first few months, then do better.
Ceiling: B-, Health: C+, Comparison: Luis Vizcaino
Kevin Whelan: Whelan isn’t in the Top 30 because, although he was lights out for a good part of the year, there is no place to put him. I felt like putting him in the 20s range, but that didn’t seem right. He is a prospect, and to me, he is really #30a. Regardless, Whelan is a 23-year-old right-hander who was drafted, by the Tigers, in the 4th round out of Texas A&M in 2005. He was a catcher, but the Tigers converted him to the mound since he couldn’t hit and throws hard. His fastball is plus, checking in at 92-95. Whelan’s splitter his easily his best pitch and largely used for strikeouts. The big thing, though, is that Whelan is wild. He did well in Tampa in his first full season with the Yankees organization, but when promoted to Trenton, he held a low hit rate, but also walked 6.96 per 9, a deplorable ratio. His hit rate is amazing (around 4 per 9 for the season) but the walks haunt him. His strikeouts are strong as well, and all he really needs to do to get into the Top 30 is walk less batters.
Ceiling: B, Health: B+ (couldn’t go to Arizona due to shoulder fatigue), Comparison: Kyle Farnsworth, for now
Jose Calzado: Calzado, a 2003 international signing out of the Dominican Republic, spent three years in the Dominican Winter League before debuting in GCL in 2006, and then in Charleston in 2007. Calzado has 5-tool potential, and already possesses an amazing arm, fringely plus contact skills, and great speed that is developing into base-stealing speed. His power is developing as well. Calzado mades strides in the second half, and instead of free-swinging, he became more patient. Calzado has the potential to be a solid and even above-average outfielder (his speed and his bat, if it develops fully, should play anywhere) hitting 5-7 in the lineup. His defense and arm should merit Gold Gloves if he is to reach the big leagues.
Ceiling: B, Health: A, Comparison: Torii Hunter
Others I considered but didn’t include (in no particular order): Cody Ehlers, Colin Curtis, Phil Coke, Kevin DeLeon, Chris Britton, Edwar Ramirez, Austin Romine, Chase Weems, Tim Battle.
Top 30 Prospects: #1 Joba Chamberlain November 23, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Joba Chamberlain, Top 30 Prospects.
Drafted: Supplemental 1st Round, 2006, out of U. of Nebraska
Position: Starting Pitcher
Stuff: Chamberlain has some of the most wicked stuff in the system, second only to maybe Dellin Betances. He flashes a plus with a little movement 93-102 MPH fastball, a devastating, wicked, plus plus slider that goes 87-90 MPH, an above-average curveball, and an average and developing changeup.
Control/Performance: Chamberlain has really harnessed his stuff and now has plus control and above-average command. His command is developing, but he is doesn’t need it that much since he throws the hardest stuff on the planet. Chamberlain, like Kennedy, ascended through 4 levels of the minors this season in less time than Kennedy. Chamberlain was great at all four levels, and even became the Yankees’ best set-up man down the stretch. In the minors, he went 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA, and, in 88.1 IP, he allowed 62 H and 27 BB. He also struck out 135. In the bigs, he pitched 24 innings, he went 2-0 with a .38 ERA and allowed only 12 H and 6 BB while striking out 34. His peripherals are good and should continue to develop.
Outlook: Chamberlain has ace potential, and his stuff is largely there. He needs more experience, and should be the Yankees’ #3 starter next year. If Mariano Rivera hadn’t re-signed, he likely would have been the closer. Chamberlain needs more polish on his secondary breaking pitches, but, again, that comes with experience. He will be very good for years to come; however, his weight also provides a little concern, doesn’t it?
Ceiling: A/A+, Health: B+/A-, Comparison: C.C. Sabathia
Top 30 Prospects: #2 Austin Jackson November 23, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Austin Jackson, Top 30 Prospects.
Weight: 180 lbs
Drafted: 8th Round, 2005, out of Ryan HS (TX)
Tools: Jackson is a legitimate 4-tool player: speed, contact, glove, and power. Jackson is a 65 speed on the 20-80 scale, or slightly faster than, say, a Bobby Abreu. He is a true athlete, who, until 2007, was all tools and not much results. However, he isn’t polished, as he is still learning how to steal bases (which he has an ability to do 40-50 of them annually).
Performance: Jackson started out slowly in Class A Charleston, hitting .260 with 3 HRs and 25 RBIs in 235 ABs, but cutting down on the strikeouts. The Yankees promoted him to Tampa, and he never looked back, hitting .345 with 10 HRs and 34 RBI in the hitter-killing FSL. He walked 22 times and struck out 48 times in 258 ABs, good for a .398 OBP and a .566 SLG. Jackson even got a 1-game cameo at a AAA game, and went 1-3. In total, Jackson batted .304 with 13 HRs and 54 RBI in 128 games, owning a .370 OBP and a .476 SLG.
Outlook: Jackson’s potential as a 5-tool player finally came out and shined. He is a great player, and just needs more polish and he will soon be a great major leaguer. He has passed Jose Tabata in the depth charts as the best Yankee outfielder in the system. Jackson projects to start mashing in AA, with a mid-season call-up to AAA not out of the question. He also might get a September call-up if he impresses the Yankees staff.
Ceiling: A, Health: A, Comparison: Curtis Granderson
Top 30 Prospects: #3 Jose Tabata November 23, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Jose Tabata, Top 30 Prospects.
Weight: 160 lbs
Drafted: International Signing, 2005, out of Venezuela
Tools: Tabata is a 2-tool player (for now). He has an amazing ability to get base hits everywhere, has plus plus plate discipline, and has a plus glove in the outfield. His power is developing, and the lack of it thus far is explicable as far as a debilitating hamate bone injury.
Performance: Tabata played through said injury all season, until he finally couldn’t in August and his season ended after 103 games. He did, however, hit 5 HRs in the unfriendly-to-hitter’s league that is the FSL. Tabata does have gap power as is, but, again it was largely sapped due to this injury. For as much as he could, however, he mashed the FSL, hitting .307 with 5 HRs and 54 RBI in 411 ABs in 103 G. He walked 33 times and struck out only 70 times, owning a .371 OBP and .392 SLG.
Outlook: Tabata’s wrist injury that has lasted roughly 2 seasons is finally healed–or it’s supposed to be, at least. He should finally develop some power, but there are legitimate concerns considering the importance of the wrists for power production. He probably will never hit 40HRs yearly, but he should develop into a legitimate slugger always in contention for batting titles and showing a nice glove in the outfield. Tabata figures next year to start in AA, and could earn himself a September callup if he excels and impresses.
Ceiling: A, Health: B-, Comparison: Manny Ramirez lite
Top 30 Prospects: #4 Ian Kennedy November 23, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Ian Kennedy, Top 30 Prospects.
Drafted: 1st Round in 2006 out of USC
Position: Starting Pitcher
Stuff: Kennedy does not have outstanding, or even great, stuff. He has no true plus pitch, but his curveball, changeup, and slider are above-average. Kennedy’s greatest tool is not is pitches, but his mind, and the way he approaches hitters, combined with his control, makes him difficult to hit on the mound, and that is what makes him great.
Control/Performance: Kennedy’s control is plus, and, as stated above, is his best weapon. Kennedy advanced through four levels of the minors this season, and his performance maintained a high level of excellence in HiA Tampa, AA Trenton, AAA Scranton, and even in the majors. In total in the minors, Kennedy went 12-3, with a 1.91 ERA and 163 K’s in 146.1 IP in 26 games and 25 starts, the strikeouts good for second best in the system. He allowed 91 H and 50 BB, and had an BAA of a mere .182. In the majors, Kennedy owned a 1.89 ERA in 19 IP and 3 games and starts, striking out 15 and allowing 13 H and 9 BB. His peripherals in the majors are not impressive, but they should improve with experience. He ended his season with a slight back injury and was thus left off the postseason roster.
Outlook: There are varying beliefs on Kennedy. Some believe he can be a decent #2/solid #3, and others believe he is strictly a back-end of the rotation starter. I tend to stand towards the former belief, because his mind and control compensate for the lack of great stuff. His peripherals in the minors were encouraging, and he should build on that success in the majors. Kennedy looks to start Spring Training in a competition for rotation spot with Joba Chamberlain, assuming Andy Pettitte comes back. GM Brian Cashman is seemingly more willing to deal Kennedy in a deal than the rest of the “trinity” of Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, so he could conceivably be moved for Johan Santana. He should be a Yankees rotation mainstay, if he stays, for years to come.
Ceiling: B+, Health: B+, Comparison: Mike Mussina
Top 30 Prospects: #5 Alan Horne November 23, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Alan Horne, Top 30 Prospects.
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Weight: 195 lbs
Drafted: 11th Round, 2005, out of the University of Florida
Position: Starting Pitcher
Stuff: Horne features a plus 94-96 fastball that has regained some velocity since Tommy John surgery. He also owns a plus 12-6 curve with a devastating downward break, and a plus slider also with devastating movement.
Control/Performance: Contrary to other years, Horne finally has gained control and command of his pitches. However, he takes a while to settle in, posting a 5.4 BB/9 ratio in the 1st inning, but had a 3 BB/9 ratio the rest of the game. He led the Yankees system in strikeouts, with 165, but also had 7 wild pitches in 153.1 IP. Horne owned a 12-4 record in 26 games and starts, and in that allowed 149 hits and walked 57 while posting a 3.11 ERA, and won the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Award.
Outlook: Horne has seemingly been around forever, largely because he missed a year and change due to Tommy John surgery. This is the first year that he looked and performed as if he was fully healthy, and it has raised his status in the prospect world. Horne is now a serious prospect, but can also be a valuable trade chip in the event of a blockbuster trade. Horne has great stuff and knows how to use it, and has experience. He should start out 2008 in AAA, and he is likely the first option to be called up if there is an injury in the majors. However, he can also be in the bullpen, but be wary of the 1st inning walk ratio.
Ceiling: A-, Health: B, Comparison: A.J. Burnett
Top 30 Prospects: #6 Dellin Betances November 23, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Dellin Betances, Top 30 Prospects.
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Drafted: 8th Round, 2006, out of High School
Position: Starting Pitcher
Stuff: Wow. This guy could quite possibly have the best stuff in the Yankees system. Betances, only 19, has a 93-97 MPH fastball, and he is still somewhat lanky, although he has gained muscle since his signing. He has learned a delivery he can repeat, as well as good mechanics, since his signing. Betances also throws a plus knucklecurve in the low 80s that causes many strikeouts. His changeup is also plus, but it is used mostly as a set-up pitch.
Control/Performance: Betances, after coming into camp after his signing, really worked out his control and command. Although his walk numbers in LoA Staten Island this season were frightening, it was largely because of a forearm injury that he tried to pitch through but could not. The elbow was fine, only inflamed, although this is a flag for the future. Because of said injury, he only logged 25 IP, having a 3.60 ERA and allowing 24 H, striking out 29, walking 17, in 6 games and starts. Again, these stats are skewed because of his injury.
Outlook: Next year, with the graduation of Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain, Betances may very well be the best prospect in the system. His ceiling is that of a top-5 ace in the bigs. He looks to start next season in Charleston if he is healthy and pitch some innings there. He should be a quick riser, and soon, every Yankee fan and even every baseball fan will know of this young phenom.
Ceiling: A+, Health: B-, Comparison: Jake Peavy
Top 30 Prospects: #7 Humberto Sanchez November 23, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Humberto Sanchez, Top 30 Prospects.
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Drafted: Draft and Followed 31st Round, 2001, out of Rockland Community College. Traded to Yankees from Detroit Tigers along with Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett for Gary Sheffield.
Position: Starting Pitcher
Stuff: Sanchez, when healthy, has some of the best stuff in the minor leagues. He has a plus very heavy 92-95 MPH fastball that tops out at 96, which breaks and misses bats as well as causing groundballs. His curveball is above averagae and developing and he has an average and developing changeup.
Control/Performance: Sanchez’s control is averagewhen he is in his normal velocity range. However, when his velocity is maxed out, he becomes very wild, although his wild pitches has been cut down since his early going in Detroit’s system. Thus, his command needs work. This can also be solved with him learning not feel the need to overthrow and also to calm down. Sanchez missed the year with Tommy John surgery, the latest of his health problems.
Outlook: If Sanchez was get healthy, he would have made the Yankees bullpen out of Spring Training. However, during that same period, he injured his elbow and had Tommy John surgery. He seemingly cannot throw more than 110 innings a year without being injured. Sanchez projects best out of the bullpen, for his health, and lack of four pitches, and will find good success as set-up man/closer reliever. If he is fully healthy in Spring Training he should make the team, as he is major-league ready.
Ceiling: B+/A-, Health: D+/C-, Comparison: Roberto Hernandez