Daily Archives: March 1, 2013
The more we chant “It’s Just Spring Training”, the more frustrated we become. Why? Because the Yankees last (and only) win came one week ago, tomorrow. Now, the fans don’t like to see the Yankees lose, but the Yankees are playing sloppy baseball. That’s what summed up today’s 10-5 loss against the Phillies. Sloppy.
There was more bad than good that came out of the game, a game that was plagued with four errors. Now, let’s try to look at the bright side, because that’s all that we can do at this point.
Francisco Cervelli: Francisco Cervelli is seemingly pulling himself away from the catchers competition, going 2-for-2 with a walk, and throwing out yet another runner. Chris Stewart hasn’t played since the second inning of yesterday’s game, where he was ejected for allegedly pointing at the umpire after the umpire warned him not to point, so it gives Cervelli an edge so far this Spring.
David Robertson: D-Rob came into another tight jam, relieving Hiroki Kuroda who only went 1.2 IP and allowing 4 runs (1 earned). In five pitches, Robertson got out of the jam and stopped the game from further damage at that point. I said it once and I’ll say it again: D-Rob is in midseason form.
Hiroki Kuroda: Now, some people will argue that Kuroda had a bad outing, but when you watched the game, the numbers don’t translate to how he actually pitched. He actually got the ground-balls when he needed them, unfortunately, the infielders were unable to field the ball and their positions, allowing three unearned runs to score. Was Kuroda sharp? No. But did he look decent for his first time on the mound? Yes.
Melky Mesa: If the Yankees are looking for someone to take Curtis Granderson‘s spot for the next 4-6 weeks, then I strongly suggest Melky Mesa. He played the entire game, and hit another home run. He hit one yesterday vs. the Astors as well, making his total 2 HR’s and 4 RBI’s in the last two days. His bat’s on fire, and just in time too. He’s planning on going to the World Baseball Classic.
— The Yankees will try again to get their second win of the Spring tomorrow against the Detroit Tigers, who are coming from Lakeland to Tampa. Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira are both slated to play their last game with the Yankees before heading off to their separate teams for the World Baseball Classic. That game will be at 1:05 p.m. on YES Network.
Height: 6′ 0″ Weight: 195
Signed 1st Round 2009 Draft
Slade made his very brief debut in the GCL for a handful of AB’s, and then moved on to SI in 2010 where he put up a .258/.359/.352/.712 quad slash over 298 AB’s, good for a .335 wOBA and 108 wRC+. He worked 42 walks, struck out 101 times and stole 15 bases in 25 attempts. He also assaulted a catcher after a HBP, a move that sparked the blogosphere to revisit his past. Slade injured his shoulder that year and underwent his first of two shoulder surgeries to repair the damage. He returned to Charleston in 2011 and hit .271/.342/.419/.761 (.346 wOBA, 110 wRC+) working 19 walks and striking out 57 times. His base stealing sunk even further, getting caught in 7 of 13 attempts. Slade saw a promotion to Tampa mid season, but played one game and ended up back under the knife for his shoulder. After two years of injury laden baseball, Slade broke out in 2012. After a delayed start to the season due to a cautious bout of rehab, Slade appeared in the FSL and hit .307/.378/.470/.848, a .389 wOBA and 142 wRC+. He worked 20 walks and struck out 66 times. His base stealing improved dramatically, stealing 17 of 21 bags. After an abbreviated stint in regular season ball the Yanks sent Slade to Arizona to play in the Fall Leagues. Slade went postal, putting up a .388/.494/.612/.1.106 quad slash, good for a .499 wOBA and 192 wRC+ over 67 AB’s. Not only did he tear the cover off the ball, but he put up a near 1:1 K/BB ratio (14/12) and stole 5 bags in 8 attempts. The performance got him ranked 6th best in the league, with at least one evaluator giving him top honors.
Slade has quick strong hands and exceptional bat speed. He’s able to pull his hands in on inside pitches and hit them with authority. He can also extend on outside pitches, covering the outer half of the plate. Line drive hitter that can spray the ball to all fields. Has had a tendency to press in the batters box, possibly due to his lost time from injuries and tries to make up for it by rushing himself at the plate. He can also get overly aggressive making his swing longer than it needs to be. Pitch recognition needs work as well, and his K rate north of 22% indicates just that. His numbers in the AFL saw a bit of a turnaround in the patience department; Slade spoke about his altered approach in the fall leagues during a YES interview, and if he can keep it up it will mean a big step forward in his hitting.
Slade’s hitting all around has come around and that includes the power department. He has the strength to turn on the inside pitch and drive the ball, and what has been power to the gaps could lead to balls leaving the park. Some of that will depend on him being able to pick his pitch and let his swing do the rest. He shows power to all fields and the ability to get under the ball and get some lift to it. Being a left hander in Yankee Stadium never hurts either. Overall he grades out as above average power to all fields and some plus power to the pull side. Baseball America gives Slade a 60 potential on the 20-80 scale, putting him in the ~25+ range on the high end.
On defense Heathcott shines. Plus defender whose speed takes him gap to gap with ease. An aggressive all out style of play in the field, he foes back on the ball well and will charge hard on the plays in front of him laying out to make the big play. He shows some good instincts reading balls, gives max effort and his incredible athleticism carries him in spite of some loopy routes on certain plays. Despite a pair of shoulder surgeries, his arm is still a plus tool which will allow him to play any position in the OF. Accuracy an issue on occasion as he let’s the ball get away from him from time to time, but easily corrected through repetition. He’s shown some decent improvement in the short time he’s spent in the pro’s and could compete for a fielding award so long as he doesn’t run through the OF wall chasing down a fly ball. Slade’s plus speed has him launching out of the batters box and gives him a chance to steal 20-25 bases. His reads on the paths were worlds better after returning from his last surgery which should keep his SB% at an acceptable clip.
As many are aware, Heathcott had a bit of a rough upbringing; he bounced around a bit, lived in his car at one point and turned to alcohol as an escape/coping mechanism. This manifested while Slade was a new prospect and the Yankees nipped it in the bud, giving him a mentor that helped him get back on track. No one could ever accuse the kid of not giving it his all, and from what I can gather from various interviews, he’s focused on baseball and improving on his craft every day. His max effort approach to the sport will serve him well and take him far as long as his body holds up.
An outstanding athlete; physically gifted with explosive athletic ability. Tools are incredible and the ones that aren’t there yet have the potential to be a plus grade. Has the tools to stay in center field in spite of the shoulder injuries. His defense is already enough for the position but is still improving. His hit tool has the potential to be a plus grade if he can get his patience at the plate under wraps. If what we saw in the AFL is for real, the hit tool has taken a big step forward. Plenty of pop to both gaps, and has the bat speed and enough projected power to play at a corner spot with plenty of glove to field it. There’s no lack of hustle to his game; Keith Law described him as “playing like his hair is on fire”. This could actually be a bit of a drawback for him, as he holds nothing back on the diamond which has led to his injuries and sending him to the DL. Toning it down by just a bit wouldn’t be a bad thing.
It’s really up to him. He ended the year knocking on the door to Trenton and then tore up the AFL. With that said things could move even more quickly….he’ve heard comments from Mark Newman about how he might make his way up later this year, and Cashman just yesterday indicated that he could be in the Bronx shortly. His biggest obstacle is staying healthy, so if he can do just that we’ll be seeing him sooner than later. In summation, Slade is a balls to the wall do or die type of player that is full of tools and ambition. He’s the kind of guy that brings people to the ballpark. He has one of the highest ceilings in the entire system, but at the same time due to the aforementioned high risk profile, also has a pretty low floor. He could end up a perennial All Star, or broken down and out of baseball entirely. He’s the kind of guy you want to root for because he’s going to leave it all on the field trying to win.
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 165
2010 4th Round, W Orange HS
Mason made a short debut back in the Gulf Coast League after being taken in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. He then moved on to Staten Island in 2011 where he hit for a .349/.395/.468/.863 quad slash, with 20 walks and 41 strikeouts in 269 AB’s. That works out to a .404 wOBA and 148 wRC+. He swiped 28 bags while getting caught a dozen times. 2012 found Mason in Charleston with several other of NY’s big prospects. Before getting promoted to Tampa Williams logged 276 AB’s, sporting a .304/.359/.489/.848 line, (.381 wOBA, 131 wRC+) with 21 walks and 33 K’s. His SB% fell a bit, getting caught 9 times while stealing 19 bases. His power started to come around though, going deep 8 times as opposed to only 3 in SI in a similar number of AB’s. His doubles power increased as well, from 11 in 2011 to 19. Mason, along with Sanchez and Austin earned himself a mid season promotion to High A Tampa. His stint in the FSL was short lived however, as Mason injured an already aggravated left shoulder and ended up having a torn labrum repaired, ending his 2012 campaign. He finished up in Tampa with 83 AB’s in which he hit .277/.302/.422/.724, a .331 wOBa and 104 wRC+. He suffered from a bit of a reverse platoon split in the second half, so those numbers and the smallish sample size, combined with him adjusting to a new level are likely a poor representation. In his roughly two years in the minors Williams was named to the SAL AS team, the MiL Org AS team, a Topps short season/rookie AS, BA short season AS, NYPL AS as well as a couple of player of the week awards.
Mason’s hit tool is easily his best asset. Strong forearms and wrists, simple swing that can get a little long at times but generally consistent. To this point he’s shown an innate ability to make contact, which has cut into his walks some. He’ll be challenged more as he sees better and better pitching and guys start to tempt him out of the zone, so he’ll have to adjust. He has a smooth swing with plus bat speed that he can keep in the zone, but can take a nit to get there. He does on occasion get an uppercut path going, possibly selling out in attempts to go deep. He can sometimes get ahead of himself at the plate, pulling his head and front shoulder off the ball as well as well as getting a little aggressive early in counts and going after some ugly pitches, but his flaws are easily correctable. All in all he has a nice loose easy swing and a great ability to barrel up the ball. He can hit line drives to all fields, as well as lay down a bunt for an infield single. Can handle breaking and offspeed pitches as well the fastball.
Power has been the question when referring to Mason’s bat, but that appears to be becoming less of an issue these days. When he was first brought in to the system, he was a rail thin kid that didn’t have much projection in him in the slugging department. That’s changed over the last season and rolling in to 2013, as he’s reportedly added about 30 pounds over that time and could add a bit more muscle yet. Combine some added raw strength with his bat speed and contact ability and you can see those power numbers going up as he moves along. Ultimately his potential lies in him getting stronger and refining his pitch selection, and from what we hear that’s beginning to unfold. Evaluators have him pegged anywhere from a 10-15 HR guy, to one that could top 20+ every year. As far as center fielders go that would be a nice addition to the lineup.
Williams shows plus to plus-plus speed in the outfield and on the bases, although his instincts and ability to get good jumps need a bit of refinement. On some plays in the field he’ll look like he’s knocking on the door of a fielding bible award, but he’ll sprinkle in a blooper reel play as well. Mason has excellent range and the ability to track balls, but is hampered by some inconsistent routes and trouble with balls hit straight over him. He also tends to go all out on plays that can lead to either a visit to the highlight reel or unnecessary extra bases. Over time his decision making should sharpen up, but I can’t say I don’t like a guy that will lay out to make the big play, so long as he’s not completely reckless in doing it. His baserunning is under aggressive at times and he needs to work on his jumps, but with work he could see SB totals in the 25-30 range at the ML level. Of all his tools, his arm is the least impressive. It currently grades out as average, having a long release, a ball that doesn’t carry well and throwing from a lower arm slot that tends to impart a natural run on his throws. Accuracy is not an issue, and adding some strength and getting on top of the ball more will help to correct that and get him into the above average realm. As it is he’s got enough for to play center, anything more is just gravy. Both his base stealing and defense rely more on his raw speed right now than technique, but he shows the plus side and simply needs to be more consistent. He has the potential to become a plus plus defender at a premium position and the ability to steal 25+ bags a year. The arm could use some improvement, but it not detrimental to him staying in center.
While Mason is advanced for his level, he still has some maturing to do. In scouring various articles and reports on him I ran into an account of him being cocky. Being the only source this came from i’m not sure if I buy it. What I have seen repeated by various sources is Mason’s tendency to get down on himself when things aren’t going well. Wether it’s acting out over frustration or failing to run out a routine pop out behind the plate, it’s something he needs to address. Being his own worst critic is one thing, but if it causes any sort of distraction or derails his focus then it becomes an issue. Again, we’re talking about a 19-20 year old, but the sooner he gets his emotions under wraps the better. He worked hard to get back in line following his surgery last year and is supposedly ready to start the season on time in the FSL, so his work ethic isn’t in question. He certainly has a good group of prospects around him, and a few who he’s come up through the system with so there’s the whole camaraderie and familiarity element with his teammates and some friendly competition amongst the teams best prospects that doesn’t hurt either.
Impressive young player. His combination of athleticism and advanced skills at a young age profile well. The fact that he has certain drawbacks yet still performs at the level he does is a good thing as it leaves ample room for further projection. A natural contact hitter that uses the whole field, hits for average and decent power while fielding an award capable glove at a premium position is something any club would sign up for. While he has some mechanical and maturity issues to correct, all of them are attainable fixes. Something along the lines of hitting .290-.300 with 20 HR’s and 40 doubles seems fair. With impressive contact skills but a yet to realize walk rate he may not be a top of the order high OBP guy, but might profile as a #2 or #5 type when all is said and done.
OK so any time anyone mentions comps it opens up the flood gates for scrutiny, but let’s go there anyway. At his best Mason could wind up being in Andrew McCutchen territory. If his body catches up to his physical skills it’s not insane to see him as that toolsy centerfield guy that can hit for average, has pop, can steal bases and play outstanding defense. On the low end you’re looking at a Brett Gardner type profile albeit with more power. Mason has a while to go, but has a pretty good chance to contribute to a major league ball club. His ceiling may fall a bit short of fellow CF’er Slade Heathcott, but his chances of achieving that potential are greater. If all goes well and Mason stays on the field, you could expect him to make a play for Trenton later this year, a cup of coffee in 2014, and a regular on the big club some time in 2015.