Minor League Playoffs Abstract September 14, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, Jhonny Nunez, Justin Christian, Minor League Playoffs, Phil Hughes.
The Minor League Playoffs are over. Now time to briefly recap the Yankee affiliates’ fortunes in September (all awards are post-season only):
AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre won the Governor’s Cup, which means they are the best of the International League. They beat the stacked Durham Bulls (David Price, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, anyone?) 20-2 in the finale and 3-1 in the series overall.
MVP: OF Justin Christian. There’s not much to choose from, but he orchestrated the comeback after Niemann’s dominating performance and also was instrumental to start the beating in the final game (3-7, 3 RBI).
Best Pitcher: Phil Hughes. Is there much of a competition. I think 25 Ks in his 13 IP (one run) would do that for you. ‘Nuff said.
Scranton will now face AAA Sacramento (A’s) in the Bricktown Showdown. It’ll be on ESPN2 on Tuesday, and the MVP will receive the first-time ever Bobby Murcer Award. Ian Kennedy will start that game (h/t Chad Jennings and Mike at RAB)
AA Trenton is the Eastern League Champion after defeating Akron (CLE) 5-1 in the final game, and 3-1 in the series.
MVP: Austin Jackson. He homered off laptop thief Clay Buchholz earlier in the postseason, and also did so again yesterday. He also robbed two homers yesterday and drove in a run today.
Best Pitcher: There’s a few intersting candidates, but I’ll go with RHP Jhonny Nunez. He was manager Tony Franklin’s go-to guy in the postseason and flat-out dominating since coming here. (h/t Mike Ashmore)
SS Staten Island didn’t make it out of the first round of their playoffs.
LVP: Casey Erickson, for allowing six runs in 2IP in his start.
HiA Tampa, LoA Charleston and GCL Yankees did not make the playoffs.
Some Questions I Answered January 25, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Abraham Almonte, Andrew Brackman, Austin Jackson, Edwar Ramirez, Frankie Cervelli, Jairo Heredia, Jeff Marquez, Joba Chamberlain, Jose Tabata, Kevin Whelan, Phil Hughes, Prylis Cuello, Scott Patterson.
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A fellow blogger asked me several questions regarding the Yankees and the system. These are interesting questions, and either point can be argued. Here are the questions and answers.
Who is your breakout candidate of the year for the Yankee farm system?
Kevin Whelan–I think he’ll get his control together.
If one player is going to disappoint this year in the Yankee farm system, who would you pick?
Jeff Marquez. I don’t think he’s that good, and AAA hitters may finally catch up to him.
Who is your sleeper?
Jairo Heredia–I think his stuff translates into serious results at a young age.
Which Milb-affiliate will be most interesting this year?
AAA Tacoma (Rays)–at various points throughout the season, most (or all) of Evan Longoria, Wade Davis, Jacob McGee, Reid Brignac, David Price, and Desmond Jennings will pass through there.
You’re Brian Cashman in the 2007 draft. Do you select Andrew Brackman? If not, who do you select and why?
I would select Brackman. Pitching depth in the system is incredibly deep, as by the time all of the veteran’s contracts expire, there will be enough spaces for the younger players/prospects, many of whom are turning out nicely. The way things are turning out, there are more prospects than spots, so there is no need for a player who will develop quickly, someone Brackman is not.
Prylis Cuello or Abraham Almonte?
Both are extremely raw and projectable, but I’ll lean towards Almonte, since their isn’t much OF depth in the system.
Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes?
Joba–I may be one of the few who think that injury concerns aren’t a particular problem with Joba–he’s dropped
significant amounts of weight, and he has very good mechanics (for what I hear). Joba’s two (going on three?) plus pitches are better than Hughes’s two. Joba is superior in stuff, strikeouts, and hittability, and, from what we saw last year in the majors, the control is a crapshoot between the two. That said, both will be very good/excellent pitchers for a long time.
Austin Jackson or Jose Tabata?
AJax–he’s a surer bet once his tools translated into success last year. If Tabata develops good power this year, though, I might lean towards Tabata.
Scott Patterson or Edwar Ramirez?
Edwar–he’s the younger of the two Indy leaguers, and his changeup is a plus plus pitch. He can add a little frame to get some juice on his FB, and I think he can add another pitch (curve?). Patterson is in his prime as we speak, and won’t be around for long.
Francisco Cervelli, great catcher or greatest catcher ever?
“Merely” great. I think Cervelli has plus defense, and although he hasn’t shown much power, he has improving contact skills and solid on-base skills. If he adds some power (12-15 HR power)–well, you never know.
On a different note, the mailbag will be up by Sunday–thanks for the responses so far, and keep them coming! Everyone’s questions will be answered.
BA Yankees Top 10 Prospects January 12, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Alan Horne, Andrew Brackman, Austin Jackson, Baseball America Top 10 Prospects, Brett Gardner, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Top 30 Prospects.
This is the Baseball America Yankees Top 10 Prospects list that came out on Monday:
1. Joba Chamberlain, rhp
2. Austin Jackson, of
3. Jose Tabata, of
4. Ian Kennedy, rhp
5. Alan Horne, rhp
6. Jesus Montero, c
7. Jeff Marquez, rhp
8. Brett Gardner, of
9. Ross Ohlendorf, rhp
10. Andrew Brackman, rhp
The list, in general, is only OK. The first five, I must say, are identical to our list. Montero at #6 is a bit high, but nothing really to complain about. Seven through nine, are a problem. John Manuel, managing the Yankees’ prospect list, says in the chat that he puts Marquez this high because Marquez is a pretty sure bet to be a #4/#5 in the Majors, particularly because of his sinker. I don’t buy it. Marquez has a great changeup and sinker, but he doesn’t get enough strikeouts (~5.5) to justify his inconsistent groundball rate, either. Gardner is a fourth outfielder/fringe starter, but Manuel reasons his spot because Gardner is very close to being major-league ready. Ohlendorf, another surprise at #9, maxes out as a solid 7th inning reliever, but Manuel says that Ohlendorf’s pitches each went up a grade since his move to the bullpen. These three reasonings are petty and radical, in my view.
Brackman at #10 is fine (we had him at #11).
However, I have one big problem with the list. There is no Dellin Betances to be found in the Top 10. Granted, while his #3 ranking last year could have been a hype machine result, it was widely known that many of Betances’s mechanical issues (as well as his stuff) was greatly improved after his drafting and being sent to Extended Spring Training. However, in the chat, Manuel states that after talking to people in the know, and watching him pitch, that there are still some concerns about mechanics and his rawness. But isn’t he a better prospect than the #7-10 players???
BA also presents the best tools list:
Best Hitter for Average Jose Tabata
Best Power Hitter Jesus Montero
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Brett Gardner
Fastest Baserunner Brett Gardner
Best Athlete Austin Jackson
Best Fastball Joba Chamberlain
Best Curveball Joba Chamberlain
Best Slider Joba Chamberlain
Best Changeup Edwar Ramirez
Best Control Ian Kennedy
Best Defensive Catcher Francisco Cervelli
Best Defensive Infielder Alberto Gonzalez
Best Infield Arm Marcos Vechionacci
Best Defensive Outfielder Austin Jackson
Best Outfield Arm Seth Fortenberry
I think this is a pretty good list. It differs drastically from the 2007 tools list. As can be seen (and expected), Joba dominates the pitching ranks. Austin Jackson’s improvement is also greatly improved.
The tools list makes up for the faltering of the rankings, making this a solid job by BA. I can’t wait until the book comes out to see what BA has to say on the Top 30 prospects (and who they are, of course).
Yankees Take Step Forward, Then Back, With Santana Deal December 2, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Alan Horne, Austin Jackson, Dellin Betances, Jeff Marquez, Johan Santana, Jorge Posada, Mark Loretta, Phil Hughes.
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This past week, I have been very busy, but I still have been following the progression in the talks between the Yankees and Twins.
The Twins, as we know, have told the Yankees that Ian Kennedy cannot be the center of any Santana deal. This is largely based on a rumored B.S. offer by the Red Sox to drive up the price for the Yankees (Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, and a third prospect) that, as it stands, is superior to that of the Yankees. The Yankees didn’t see that, however, so Hank Steinbrenner and Gene Michael convinced Brian Cashman put Phil Hughes in the deal. So as it stands, the Yankees have an offer of Hughes, Melky Cabrera (who has one foot out the door), and a third prospects. Per Jon Heyman of S.I. via MLB Trade Rumors, the Twins are asking for Austin Jackson or Alan Horne. The Yankees are laughing at them and offering only a second- or third-tier prospects, someone along the lines of a Jeff Marquez and even maybe an Alberto Gonzalez.
This trade is bad and getting worse for the Yankees. The Yankees, under Hank Steinbrenner, are a mess as there is no definition of who is in charge of the front office. Despite the championships under George, they were always followed by a period of turmoil due to the nature of acquiring aging stars and signing them to mega-years and mega-money. The farm system-less Yankees of 2002-2005 are largely responsible for the World Series Drought and the end of the 1996-2001 dynasty. Of the few prospects the Yankees have had since that time–Eric Duncan, Dioner Navarro, Phil Hughes, C.J. Henry, Drew Henson, and even Jose Contreras–only Hughes is on the fast track to pan-out to his potential. Now that the system has some depth, the new Steinbrenner in charge is willing to trade the face of hope when there was none (that is, Hughes) for a slowly declining pitcher who hasn’t succeeded against the AL East, gave up 33 HRs, and refuses to throw his good slider. Agreed, there is depth behind Hughes in the system (Alan Horne, Dellin Betances, Humerto Sanchez, Dan McCutchen, etc.) only Horne is close to MLB-ready–and he there’s a chance may be traded anyway. Also agreed, the last time the Yankees traded their top prospect (Dioner Navarro) for a left-handed ace (Randy Johnson), they gave up an equal amount in terms of value, but the Yankees, for all of Johnson’s moaning, groaning, and back problems, clearly got the better of the trade.
I am not opposed to trading Kennedy–he has 3rd starter potential, has average stuff, doesn’t throw hard, and there are arms with more potential in the system–but the Twins, as we know, won’t take that. But the Yankees shouldn’t trade the face of the system and the future, who has great make-up, stuff, control, and mind away to another team.
POSADA’S DEAL FINALIZED This was expected. Jorge Posada officially signed his 4yr/$52.4 M contract. However, at the press conference, he made two somewhat telling statements.
The first is that he has talked to Andy Pettitte weekly, and Pettitte is seriously considering retirement. This heightens the Yankees’ need for a left-handed starter, preferably Santana, because it isn’t wise to go with a rotation of three kids, Wang, and Mussina, regardless of a near-1000 run offense.
The second is that, speaking of Santana, Posada essentially pleaded for the Yankees to acquire him. While touting Hughes as the best arm the Yankees have got a couple of years ago, he indicated that he would trade Hughes for Santana if necessary. Go back to catching and stop complaining, Jorge.
YANKEES CLOSE WITH LORETTA This is per MLB Trade Rumors. Initially believed to have punched Robinson Cano’s ticket to Minnesota, per what we are hearing, that isn’t quite the case. It is believed that the Yankees could add Wilson Betemit as a deal-sweetner for the Twins, thereby giving the Twins their de facto starting 3rd baseman. In any case, Loretta, once a pesky, high average shortstop with the Padres, is in his decline years but is still a solid “super-utility” middle infielder who represents an upgrade, offensively, over Wilson Betemit or Alberto Gonzalez. However, his range and defensive are notoriously below-average.
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
Hawaiia and Arizona Winter Leagues October 23, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Anthony Claggett, Austin Jackson, Brad Suttle, Brett Gardner, George Kontos, Juan Miranda, Reggie Corona.
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Peoria Javelinas (Arizona)
Brett Gardner .349 AVG 0 HR 2 RBI .400 OBP.395 SLG–still hasn’t shown power…
Juan Miranda .286 AVG 2 HR 8 RBI .375 OBP .486 SLG–could he start in New York next year?
Reegie Corona .208 AVG 1 HR 5 RBI .296 OBP .417 SLG–his struggles have lowered his stock
Honolulu Sharks (Hawaii)
Austin Jackson .246 AVG 1 HR 13 RBI .373 OBP .426 SLG–has been red hot since very slow start
Brad Suttle .116 AVG 0 HR 1 RBI .240 OBP .186 SLG–bad decision to send him here to face top-flight competition
George Kontos 2-2 4 G 4 GS 15 IP 11 H 22 K 7 BB 3.00 ERA–has taken opportunity of chance to shine
Anthony Claggett–1-1 7 G 0 GS 11 IP 13 H 9 K 5 BB 4.09 ERA–numbers overshadow struggles
Progress–some guys have gone up (Miranda, Jackson, Kontos) some have gone down (Suttle, Corona, Claggett) and one has stayed the same (Gardner). C+, as the guys who have progressed are more relevant to the overall scheme of things.
Yankees Eliminated, Torre’s Future in Doubt October 14, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Austin Jackson, Brett Gardner, Chien-Ming Wang, Eric Duncan, Humberto Sanchez, Ian Kennedy, J. Brent Cox, Joba Chamberlain, Joe Torre, Johan Santana, Jose Tabata, Postseason, Ross Ohlendorf.
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Due to the lack of updating, again, I haven’t mentioned a key event–the Yankees were eliminated. Now, this team had a couple of questions with them–Chien-Ming Wang (after the first game and based on his only other performance against Cleveland), the potential need to overuse Joba with a badly-timed slump by the Viz and the constant ineffectiveness of Farnsworth, and the revitalization of the offense after facing two Cy Young candidates. I felt that if the Yankees would have found a way to win this series, they were going all the way. Of course, they didn’t, and they are now stuck looking forward to Spring Training.
This loss doesn’t hurt as much as others, a point on which I agree on with the folks at the Bronx Block. Yes, what could have been is intriguing, but in a way, I was looking forward to see the likes of Marcos V. (can’t spell his last name), Eric Duncan, Juan Miranda, Ross Ohlendorf, and Alan Horne get their appropriate roles assigned, as well as seing Humberto Sanchez and J. Brent Cox come back from elbow surgery and win bullpen spots. There’s also David Robertson seemingly coming out of nowhere. Then there’s Jose Tabata, AJax, and Brett Gardner getting to big league camp and going off to their appropriate levels (that is, Tabata-AA, AJax–AA, Gardner–AAA/MLB). And, most obviously, I look forward to Mike Mussina being gone, Chien-Ming Wang packaged with Jeff Marquez or someone else for Johan Santan (just dreaming…), and Phil Hughes, Joba, and IPK winning rotation spots. Yankee fans, whether this loss is disheartening or not, there is a very bright future ahead of us.
Joe Torre’s future is also in doubt. If he leaves, I am ambivalent, because as nice a guy he is with great people skills, he’s 67 and won’t manage forever. That said, I am not thrilled with the Phil Garners or, until yesterday, Dusty Bakers of the world. Tony LaRussa, as a scout told the Daily News the other day, is not a long-term solution with horrible people skills. Don Mattingly probably needs another year or two as bench coach to be ready to manage, and Joe Girardi’s problems with Florida ownership scare me. The best bet is Torre for two years.
Lack of Updates, Other Tidbits October 14, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Austin Jackson, Brett Gardner, Yankees: Looking to the Future.
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I thoroughly apologize for the lack of updates over the last week, as I have been extremely busy with my obligations. Again, apologies.
Moreover, I realized that I should wait until after the AFL, Hawaiian, and Latin American winter leagues are over to effectively rank prospects, because stock can go up or down.
For example, had I ranked prospects on Monday, Austin Jackson may have been a spot or two lower than now. Same with Brett Gardner, and others.
Back to blogging!
New Poll September 15, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Austin Jackson, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, Kosuke Fukodome, Melky Cabrera, Torii Hunter.
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In response to an article over at Pending Pinstripes, I thought I might add a new poll.
Is Austin Jackson for real? Is he this year’s hot, hot hitter with passable defense, or last year’s seemingly average player with bad defense. Maybe, like EJ Fagan, the article’s author, says, he has cleaned up his swing and has learned to use his tools. Or, it may be a fluke.
I hope its the former, as Jose Tabata is starting to scare me a little with his lack of power, and the Yankees outfield its in its mid-30′s (including Johnny Damon and excluding Melky Cabrera), and they need someone to take one of these players spots eventually.
Now, most NY newspapers declare that the Bobby Abreu should be picked up. I am against it, and would instead go after Kosuke Fukodome or Torii Hunter, but at least Abreu can hold the fort for Jackson or anyone else since it is simply a one-year commitment. If somehow they find someone to take his spot, I would decline it, since he’s not work $16 million, or even the balance between option and buyout, $14 million.
Yankees Lose to Tampa, Seattle September 3, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Austin Jackson, Chris Britton, Edwar Ramirez, GCL Yankees, Ichiro, Kyle Farnsworth, Marcos Vechionacci, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Trenton Thunder.
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Andy Pettitte had a nice outing until the seventh, where he served up a fat one to Carlos Pena and he homered as the Yankees lost, 8-2. Melky Cabrera singled in a run and Bobby Abreu tripled in Johnny Damon for the only Yankee runs. On the flip side, Edwar Ramirez pitched, and gave up homers to Josh Wilson and Akinori Iwamura. His fastball is decent and changeup are nice, but he needs to add another pitch–maybe a slider or curveball. Maybe Mo can teach his successor the cutter.
Today, I went to the game, and Rocket was just terrible. His command was spotty, and he served up 8 hits in 4 innings, as well as a homer to Ichiro. His fastball was back down to 89-90, bottoming out at 87 and topping out at 91. His pitches didn’t have much break, but he threw a nice 86 mph splitter to strike out Kenji Johjima in the second.
Mike Mussina relieved–not sure how 7 hits in 3.2 innings can be relief in my heart, but…he gave up 2 runs and 3 doubles before being pulled for Chris Britton. Kyle Farnsworth-less pitched an inning of electric stuff, K’ing 2.
A-Rod singled in a run in the first, and also burned Ichiro trying to stretch a single to a double…after that, it was all Mariners.
Vechionnaci Promoted As I pointed out on August 16th, I speculated that Marcos Vechionnaci, the slick-fielding Yankee shortstop would be promoted to AA due to his advanced fielding and hot hitting. A couple of days ago, he was promoted for the stretch run for AA, which I am glad to see.
Jackson Promoted The Yankees’ beast prospect was promoted to AAA for the stretch run. I’m anxious to see what he does there, because he can begin next year AA and ascend to MLB, almost like Joba and IPK did this year.
Rookie Yanks are GCL Champions The GCL Yankees beat the GCL Dodgers to win the Gulf Coast League Championship. Kudos to them and to Jesus Montero, who seems to have fully recovered from his ankle injury and hit his 4th homer.