The Short-Season Staten Island Yankees won the regular season 14-team New York Penn League with a 45-28 record and also won the league post-season championship. They did so with a strong all-around team that was 2nd in team average (.265), 3rd in runs scored and 5th in team ERA (3.50). The success of the Yanks 2 lowest level teams (Staten Island and Gulf Coast Yanks) proves the success of the latest drafts in 2010 & 2011 and bodes well for the future of the organization.
Williams was arguably the best prospect in the entire NY Penn Lg and he did nothing to disappoint with his on-field performance. He tore up the league finishing 2nd with a .349 average and 1st with 28 stolen bases & 94 Hits. He also finished in the top 10 in OBP (.395), SLG(.469), OPS(.863), Triples(6), Total Bases(126) and Runs(42). Mason is a wiry athlete with plus speed, a plus arm and a smooth left-handed stroke. He has a good feel for the strike zone but was very aggressive at the plate.
Williams has been compared to Brett Gardner because of his outstanding speed and defense. He projects to add more power as he grows into his slim frame and could end up being a cross between Gardner & Curtis Granderson.I was impressed to see that despite his immense physical talent, his coaches also regard him as a very hard worker who lives in the batting cage and has an infectious personality. Be prepared to see Williams in everybody’s Yankee Top 10 prospect lists this year and with his skill set & work ethic he could rocket through the system. He’s shown the ability to make hard contact so it will be interesting to see how much power he can generate as he starts to add more strength and weight to his 6’0″ 150 lb frame.
Wilson was a 21st round pick out of Arizona State who finished 2nd in the lg with 10 HRs plus a big solo shot for the 1st run in the 2-1 championship game. He hit .256 with a .346 OBP & .456 SLG% but doesn’t do anything particularly well except hit for power.
Gumbs is an athletic, up the middle player taken by the Yanks in the 2010 Draft. He got a $750,000 bonus as a 2nd -rd pick and has flashed all of the tools the team paid for despite tailing off at the end of the season due to injuries. He has great bat speed and a lot of raw power which he used to hit .264/.332/.406 with 3 HRs. Gumbs showed off his good speed with 11 SBs & 4 triples. This speed may make him better suited as a CF or LF moving forward because he wasn’t great at 2B with 9 errors.
SS – Cito Culver, 19 – 6’0 185
The Yanks were criticized for taking Culver with their 1st pick in 2010 but he’s impressed scouts with his rocket arm and a nice compact swing from both sides of the plate. Like most players right out of HS, he was inconsistent during the season but he showed a good approach at the plate but his poor August had him finish at .250/.323/.337. Cito is going to take a while to develop both offensively & defensively as he must cut down on his 17 errors. One area he is advanced in is his base running, as he shows good instincts and above average speed which he used to steal 10 of 10 bases.
3B – Tyler Austin, 20 – 6’2″ 200
Austin was a 13th round pick in 2010’s draft who started the season in the Gulf Coast Lg where he mashed the ball to a .390/.438/.622 clip in 20 games before he was promoted to Staten Island. He kept on hitting after the promotion in 27 games to finish a combined .354/.418/.579 for a .997 OPS. Tyler was also a perfect 18 of 18 in Stolen Base attempts.
Leading up to the draft Austin was considered a high ceiling H.S. player with big time power and solid speed & arm strength. But many thought he was a project but he has come out mashing. Tyler overcame testicular cancer as a teenager and battled back from a broken had last yr. He also has a reputation as a “gamer”, a hard-nosed type of player. He sounds a lot like Bichette to me and it seems the Yanks are looking for guys like this based on their recent draft picks. With his MLB power, solid speed & attitude, Austin is one of my favorite prospects and I will be following him closely as he develops.
RHP – Bryan Mitchell – 20, 6’2″ 175
Mitchell is a tantalizing prospect with a high ceiling but is still very raw. He has plus stuff but his questionable mechanics and inconsistent arm angle make him a project. The couple of videos I saw of him look like 2 different pitchers. Mitchell had a mediocre season but finished with 4 strong starts at the end of the season during which he gave up 3 ER in 21 IP. Overall, he went 1-3 with a 4.09 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 & impressive 2.19 GO/AO ratio. The high strikeout & ground ball rates are very encouraging as he is likely to improve his command/control as he refines his mechanics.
LHP – Evan DeLuca – 20, 6’1″ 195
DeLuca is a New Jersey kid who played his HS ball at Immaculata in Somerville where he was picked in the 44th rd of the 2009 draft by the Yankees. Like Mitchell, he has taunted with his amazing stuff and wild bouts of inconsistency. I read scouting reports on him in the beginning of the season where he was sitting at 91-93 and topping at 94-95 and was getting excellent results at 3-1 2.19 ERA through July 22. But later reports had him at 87-89 which led to him getting ripped in his last 4 starts and eventually finish the yr on the DL.
LHP – Matt Tracy – 22, 6’3″ 212
Tracy was a 24th rd pick out of U of Mississippi this yr who had a solid season splitting time as a starter and reliever. He was 1-2 with a 3.04 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 9.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 2.26 ground out to Air out ratio. He was the team’s best starter in the post-season going 2-0 including 6 shutout innings of 3-hit ball in the clincher.
RHP – William Oliver – 24, 6’2″ 185
Oliver had a strong season going 5-2 with a 3.45 ERA, 7.5 k/9, 3.7 bb/9 & 1.83 GO/AO rate. The 35th rd pick in 2010 out of Palomar College is a lot older than most of the players in this league so will need to prove himself at a higher level to show he’s a prospect.
RHP – Branden Pinder – 22, 6’3″ 210
Pinder was a 16th rd pick out of Cal State Long Beach this year and quickly got himself comfortable as Staten Island’s closer. He used his 94-95 MPH fastball with excellent command to finish 2-2 with 14 saves and a minute 1.16 ERA. He held hitters to a .152 BA and had a 11.0 k/9 & 1.5 bb/9 in 31 ip. He really has no quality secondary offerings but with command of a mid 90s heater he need only develop one other pitch to advance as a MLB reliever.
2011 Yankee Minor League HITTING LEADERS
The Yankees have wrapped up their signings from their 2011 Draft class and it seems they had a clear goal going into this Draft/Signing period. On the pitching side, they continued their recent trend of going with high upside HS arms while also adding experienced college power bullpen arms. They appeared to focus on adding some good young High School hitting prospects, kids with good size & power upside but athletic ability that will limit them to corner IF/OF types. This is what many believe to be a weakness within the organization so guys like Dante Bichette, Jake Cave & Greg Bird are welcome additions.
Last year there was a clear focus on athletic, up the middle type position players in the Draft and many of those players are off to good starts in their professional careers. Now that the 2011 Draft class is complete, this is a good time to take a look at how some of the prospects added since last year’s Draft are progressing.
Williams is a wiry athlete with plus speed, a plus arm and a smooth left-handed stroke. He was a 4th-rd pick in 2010 but got the team’s highest signing bonus ($1.45M) and he is paying immediate dividends with a whopping .425 wOBA! Mason’s ripping up the NY-Penn Lg, leading the league in BA (.369), hits (75), Total Bases (105), Triples (6) and is in the top 5 in SB’s (20), OBP% (.414), SLG%(.517) & OPS(.932). Be prepared to see Williams in everybody’s Yankee Top 10 prospect lists this year and with his skill set he could rocket through the system. He’s shown the ability to make hard contact so it will be interesting to see how much power he can generate as he starts to add more strength and weight to his 6’0″ 150 lb frame.
Gumbs is another athletic, up the middle defender taken by the Yanks in the 2010 Draft. He got a $750,000 bonus as the 2nd -rd pick and has flashed all of the tools the team paid for. He has great bat speed which he’s used to post a solid .368 wOBA, .442 SLG% & .800 OPS. With 11 SBs & 4 triples he’s demonstrated his wheels
Bichette was the top pick for NY in the 2011 draft. He’s a strong 6’1 215 pound corner IF who is currently playing 3B but profiles as a probable corner OF down the road. This was another criticized pick but Dante signed quick and reported to the GCL immediately to try to prove the pundits wrong. Unfortunately he got off to a terrible 3 for 26 start but since July 1st he has hit everything that moves. He’s got a .446w OBA & 175 rc+.He’s shown a very advanced feel for the strike zone (14.5% walk rate) which is a great skill to have for a young power hitter and contributes to his gaudy .344-.458-.519-.976 line. I’m excited to see how he fares against more advanced pitching as he gets more strikes to hit.
Santana spent the last 3 years in the Dominican Lg and made his U.S. debut in the Gulf Coast Lg this summer with a bang. He’s a 6’2″ 160 athlete with speed and power. He showed both these tools with a .273 ISO, .425 wOBA and 9 HRs and 10 sbs in just 40 games. Unfortunately, his awesome season was cut short 2 days ago as he broke his ankle and tore ligaments sliding into 2nd base. Hopefully he will be 100% by next spring because he has that rare power/speed combo that is coveted in young players.
Culver got a lot of boos when the Yanks took him with their 1st pick in 2010. He wasn’t a sexy pick but he’s been exactly what we thought so far He’s exhibited a solid approach at the plate with solid walk (10.7%) and strikeout rates (17.4%) hitting .283 with a .358 OBP with glimpses of power potential when he gets stronger. Cito’s a raw switch-hitter with solid all-around ability but must cut down on his 14 errors.
I’m starting a new series that I will do either once a month or every three weeks. I’m going to spotlights 4 guys in the minors (this time suggest by our very own Dan) and give you as much information as I can find about them. Hope you enjoy this piece.
1. Zachary Slade Heathcott (OF)
Bats: Left, Throws: Left
Height: 6′ 1″, Weight:190 lb.
Born: September 28, 1990 in Texarkana, Arkansas, US (Age 20)
Heathcott attended Texas High School. In high school, he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, suffered a knee injury playing for the football team, got kicked off the baseball team for academic reasons
2. John R. (JR) Murphy (C)
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 0″, Weight:190 lb.
Born: May 13, 1991 in Bradenton, Florida, US (Age 20)
3. Mason Williams (OF)
Bats: Left, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 0″, Weight:150 lb.
Born: August 21, 1991 in Winter Garden, Florida, US (Age 19)
4. Christopher “Cito” S. Culver (SS)
Bats: Both, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 0″, Weight:185 lb.
Born: August 26, 1992 in Rochester, New York, US (Age 18)
While he had already committed to play baseball for the University of Maryland, he has passed on his commitment and instead signed a contract reportedly worth $954K with the Yankees. Culver stands 6 feet tall and weighs 172 lbs. He is a switch-hitter who can also play in the outfield. Culver is just the second high school shortstop drafted by the Yankees (also C. J. Henry in 2005) in the first round since the club selected Derek Jeter with the sixth overall pick in the 1992 First-Year Player Draft.