We’re five games into Spring Training, and after winning the first game, the Yankees lost four in a row, including today’s debacle in which the Yankees have five errors on the day. Now, we’re going to recap this game like one gigantic sandwich (thank you Family Guy for the idea). We’re going to start off with something good, say what the Yankees did wrong and end with something good.
Brett Gardner: It’s only been five games of Spring Training but Brett Gardner looked in top shape. As a matter of fact, he’s one of the best hitters in Spring Training up to this point. Gardner went 1-for-2 with a walk, but the hit he had was a big one at the time. The Yankees were down 7-1 in the second. The bases were loaded, there were two out and Gardner came to the plate. Yankees fans were expecting a RISP fail, but Gardner delivered a three-run triple, giving the Yankees some life, and closing the gap at that point in the game. I don’t know what Gardner did differently during the offseason, but he better keep it up.
Robinson Cano: Robbie Cano has looked absolutely, positively lost. After hitting a HR in his first game of the Spring, Cano seems to be swinging at almost anything. Cano was 0-for-3, bringing his average down to .167. Now, we all know that Spring Training means nothing, but Robbie looked just as lost during the playoffs last season. So technically since October 3 of last season, he’s looked lost. We’re not going to worry just yet, but this is beginning to look frightening.
Yanks had five errors: Yes, this game was absolutely horrendous with the five errors in the game today. Now, we know it’s a Spring Training game, but that was just really, really bad. Let’s hope we never see something like that again. And I can almost bet you, this game won’t be a Yankees Classic.
Nik Turley: Nik Turley might of had nerves, which might of explained how he let eight of the nine batters in the lineup step to the plate in the first inning, allowing five runs before recording the first out of the game–who happened to be the eighth batter in the lineup. The Yankees had seen enough, took Turley out of the game and called in Cody Eppley who did a decent job, although he allowed two runs the inning after.
Mark Montgomery: The pitcher who could possibly be dubbed the “next David Robertson” certainly impressed after pitching a scoreless inning for the team. His breaking ball was pretty nasty and although he gave up a walk (he’s human), he was able to easily get out of the walk. It was simply, magical.
The Yankees play a Split Squad tomorrow, where most of the starters will stay at GMS Field and a handful of players will go on a road-trip The Yankees play both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Houston Astros and both games will be televised The Yankees/Blue Jays game will be on YES Network and the Houston Astros/Yankees game will be on Astro’s television. Both games will be at 1:o5 p.m.
Earlier this week, it was looking as if Hiroki Kuroda‘s chances of coming back to the Yankees were slim. The LA Dodgers were in the race as well as the LA Angels. Well, on Tuesday evening, a source claimed that the Dodgers were no longer in the mix for Kuroda. The Angels soon followed the Dodgers lead and weren’t interested in Kuroda. Now Kuroda has one of two choices–the Yankees or Japan. If Kuroda wants to pitch in the states, he could choose the Yankees. If he wants to go to Japan, he can sign there. This is relatively good news for the Yankees–and bad news for the Dodgers and the Angels. Now all Brian Cashman has to do is make Kuroda an offer he can’t refuse.
BREAKING NEWS: The New York Yankees have signed Hiroki Kuroda to a 1 year, $15 Million contract for the 2013 season. The Yankees prevented one of their worst fears from happening. Now, Yankees need Pettitte.
In Other News:
— The New York Yankees claimed RHP Mickey Storey off waivers from the Houston Astros.
— RHP Dave Herndon elected for free agency instead of being outrighted to Triple-A Scranton thus making the 40-man roster a 39-man roster.
— There’s still no word about if Andy Pettitte will return next year. Although Pettitte could most likely return, it’s not guaranteed.
Empire State Yankees W 6-5
PTF Romine (DL)
Colin Curtis – 1BB, .228
Jayson Nix – 2R, 2H (2 Doubles), 1BB, 1K, .500
Dewayne Wise – 1R, 2H (Double), 1RBI, .439
Steve Pearce – 1R, 2H (2 Doubles), 1RBI, 2BB, 1K, .361
Jack Cust – 1R, 2H (Double, Solo Homer), 3RBI, 1BB, 1K, .322
Brandon Laird – 1H, 1BB, .218
Kevin Russo – 1BB, 1K, .260
Craig Tatum – 1K, .158
Nelson Figueroa – 2.2IP, 2H, 2BB 0.00era
Chase Whitely (W, 2-1) – 1.0IP, 0H, 2BB, 3.52era
Kevin Whelan (S,4) – 1.0IP, 1H, 1K, 2.25era
Tampa Yankees W 6-4
PTF J.R. Murphy (DNP)
Eduardo Sosa – 2H, 1RBI, 1K, .258
Kelvin Castro – 1R, 1H, 2BB, .241
Ramon Flores – oH, .196
Rob Segedin – 2R, 1H (2 Run Homer), 2RBI, 1BB, .295
Kyle Roller – 1R, 1H (Solo Homer), 2RBI, 2BB, 1K, .213
Shane Brown – 1BB, .250
Jose Mojica – oH, 1RBI, .298
Hector Rabago – 1K, .118
Jose Toussen – 2R, 1H (triple), 1BB, .208
PTF Nik Turley (W, 2-0) – 5.1IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 4BB, 7K, 1.93era
Joel De La Cruz – 1.2IP, 1H, 2K, 0.00era
Mark Montgomery (S, 3) – 3H, 1R, 1Er, 1BB, 2K, 3.24era
Charleston River Dogs W 4-3
PTF Dante Bichette Jr. – oH, .294
Anderson Feliz – 1H, 1BB, 1K, .289
Benjamin Gamel – 1H, 1RBI, 2K, .233
Tyler Austin – 1R, 1H (solo homer), 1RBI, 1K, .393
Gary Sanchez – 1R, 1H, 1BB, .356
Casey Stevenson – 1R, 2H (Double), 1BB, .529
Cito Culver – 1R, 1H, .175
Kelvin De Leon – 1H, 2K, .194
Francisco Arcia – 1H, 2RBI, .286
PTF Bryan Mitchell (DNP)
Jose Campos 6.0IP, 8H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 5K, 1.23era
Daniel Mahoney – 1.0IP, 2H, 1R, oER, 1BB, 3K, 4.91era
Fred Lewis – 1.oIP, 1H, 1K, 8.10era
Mariel Checo – 1.0IP, 1BB, 1K, 2.84era
Empire State Yankees L 3-0
Not a good start for the team with a new name. Only one hit for the team by Raymond Kruml who hit a double. Pena had an error on a throw.
|Manny Delcarmen (L, 0-1)||1.2||1||3||1||4||2||0||5.40|
Trenton Thunder L 5-3
Doubles: Mustelier (1, Hutchison), Almonte, A (1, Hutchison). Rbi’s: Mustelier (1), Mesa 2 (2). Zolio Almonte had 4 Strikeouts. Ouch!
|Shaeffer Hall (L, 0-1)||4.0||7||4||3||2||3||0||6.75|
Tampa Yankees L 8-5
Kelvin Castro had 2 hits in the game. Players to have RBI’s were Castro, K (1), Mojica (1), Murphy, JR (1), Roller (1).
|Vidal Nuno (L, 0-1)||2.0||4||2||2||0||2||0||9.00|
Charleston River Dogs was suspended because of rain
Mason Williams did lead off with a triple though. Oh well.
My weekly series of highlighting a prospect continues with pitcher Nik Turley.
Drafted by the Yankees in the 50th round of 2008 Draft.
* Our very own fishjam ranked him number 20 in his top 40 Yankee prospects. Here is what he had to say about him, “6’7″ lefty reminds me a little of Andy Pettitte. Took a step forward with 2.51 ERA and 8.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 82 IP in Charleston til a broken hand ended his season after being promoted to Tampa.
* Seedlings 2 Stars recently said this about Turley who didn’t rank on the top 100 prospects for them. “I should emphasize something here–just because I considered a guy for the top 100 doesn’t mean he necessarily would rank above everyone I didn’t consider. Just because Turley is one of four Yankees I considered for the top 100 but snubbed doesn’t mean I’d call him a top-eight prospect in the system. In any case, though, the idea of a 6’7″ lefty with plus command and a solid three-pitch mix made me consider him for a few seconds. He put up a 2.51 ERA while striking out a batter per inning in Low-A as a 21-year-old, and I’ve always loved him as a sleeper, but he still has more to prove”.
* The Yankee Analysts all picked sleeper candidates for this year and writer Brad Vietrogoski had Turley as his sleeper here is what he said, “In a farm system flush with high-ceiling talent at all levels right now, it’s easy for someone like Nik Turley to get lost in the shuffle. Drafted in 2008 in the 50th round, Turley spent his 2009 and 2010 campaigns in the short-season leagues before finally making his full-season debut in 2011 for Low-A Charleston. In 82.1 innings pitched over 15 starts for Charleston, Turley posted a 2.51 ERA/3.53 FIP slash with 8.96 K/9 and 2.30 BB/9, earning himself a promotion to High-A Tampa. He made just two starts there before suffering a season-ending broken pitching hand, but Turley did enough to get himself noticed after two years of up-and-down performances in the SS leagues and will be looking to build off of that momentum when he opens 2012 back in Tampa. As a lefty in a very righty-heavy farm system right now, Turley has a chance to make a big jump up everybody’s prospect lists for next season.
The interesting thing about Turley, and the thing that excites me the most about him, is the fact that he’s almost the exact opposite of most other big-time pitching prospects. Where most come in with an above-average or better fastball and offspeed stuff that needs work, Turley’s fastball is actually his weakest pitch, sitting in the high 80s most of the time. He makes up for that by having very good command of the pitch and by having a very good curveball and an effective changeup. Turley is a huge dude at 6’6″, and he can create a lot of problems for hitters with his size and arm angle, especially if he can tighten up his mechanics and consistently sit low-90s with the heater. An improved fastball combined with a curveball and change that he’ll continue to refine would make Turley a left hander with three above-average pitches and plus command, and that combination can wreak havoc on hitters at the lower levels. He’s flown a little under the radar so far, but I expect the pitching coaches at Tampa to make Turley a pet project of theirs this season and for him to force himself into the discussion for next year’s top 15-20 with another good year this year.”
* Mike Axisa from River Ave Blues ranked Turley at 22nd on his top 30 prospects for 2012. Here is what he had to say about him, “The 1,502nd of 1,504 players drafted in 2008, Turley finally escaped the short season leagues in 2011 and was in the middle of a breakout season when a line drive broke his pitching hand in early-July. His strikeout (8.73 K/9 and 23.1 K%) and walk (2.2 BB/9 and 5.8 BB%) rates made significant progress in 17 starts for Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, though his fastball is his worst pitch. Turley — who is listed at 6-foot-6 and 230 lbs. — will sit in the high-80s and touch 92 on occasion, instead relying on downward plane and his the ability to dot the corners. His big breaking curveball is his best offering, and his fastball plays up because his changeup is so effective. He could add some velocity if he tightens up his delivery, which tends to fall out of whack from time to time. Turley will return to Tampa to open the season and could be in line for a midseason promotion. He will be Rule 5 Draft eligible next winter, so a big season will force the Yankees to think long and hard about adding him to the 40-man roster.”
This article is being syndicated from Seedlings 2 Stars…..
Earlier this week, I concluded the writeups for our pre-2012 top 100 prospects. I hope you enjoyed the unveiling of the list over the past three months.
Of course, I’m sure some of you wished I would have changed some things around, and that’s fine–nobody gets it all right, and I already regret some of my decisions. It was tough to omit a number of players, and depending on how you see certain guys and what you’re emphasizing, you could justifiably do things very differently than I did.
In any case, I wanted to take some time to discuss the other players considered for the list but ultimately placed on the outside looking in. I’m going to do this by division, so today I’ll be covering the AL East “snubs.”
New York Yankees
OF Mason Williams–One trend that really jumps out on my list is that very few short-season players get there. Williams had a very impressive season in the NYPL (.349/.395/.468 with 28 steals), but he didn’t overwhelm quite enough to push himself onto the top 100. He probably would’ve snuck into the back end of a top 125, though, which is great for a short-season guy given the way I ranked everyone this year. A definite top 100 candidate if he hits well in the SAL this year.
3B Dante Bichette, Jr.--Bichette was the 51st overall pick in the 2011 draft, and he hit .342/.446/.505 in the GCL as an 18-year-old while looking much better at third base than advertised. It does seem awfully quick to rush the 51st player in the draft into the top 100 prospects overall, though, and Bichette hit just four homers in 54 games, so that’s got to come up if he’s going to be an elite third base prospect. Like Williams, he could well be in with a big 2012 in Charleston.
LHP Nik Turley–I should emphasize something here–just because I considered a guy for the top 100 doesn’t mean he necessarily would rank above everyone I didn’t consider. Just because Turley is one of four Yankees I considered for the top 100 but snubbed doesn’t mean I’d call him a top-eight prospect in the system. In any case, though, the idea of a 6’7″ lefty with plus command and a solid three-pitch mix made me consider him for a few seconds. He put up a 2.51 ERA while striking out a batter per inning in Low-A as a 21-year-old, and I’ve always loved him as a sleeper, but he still has more to prove.
3B/1B Tyler Austin–Austin was the third guy to make a ton of noise in the short-season leagues, hitting .354/.418/.579 and also stealing 18 bases without getting caught. He’s not a very good third baseman, though, and he showed neither huge power (6 HR in 47 games) or a great approach (39/15 K/BB). I do think he’s underrated as short-season prospects go, and don’t see a huge gap between Austin, Williams, and Bichette.
To read the rest of snubs for the other AL East Teams CLICK HERE.
Based on their recent actions and remarks, it seems the Yankees are serious about sticking to a smaller payroll now and at least through the 2014 season in an attempt to get under the $189 Million Luxury Tax threshold. In order to do so, the club will need to look to fill important positions from within and develop both impact and role players.
The Yankees system became known in recent years as being deep in Pitchers and Catchers but lacking in strong position prospects. This was definitely a weakness identified by Mark Newman & Damon Oppenheimer and they addressed it by adding several solid up the middle athletes and corner players who can rake in the last 2 years. Now, the system is more well-rounded although there is definitely a lack of upper-echelon hitters in the higher levels of the organization.
The system is still strong in upper level pitching. Even with Nova & Noesi graduating to NY, they still have 5 potential MLB starters in AAA (Banuelos, Betances, Warren, Phelps, DJ Mitchell). The next level of pitching is led by Brett Marshall and several guys that need to take a step forward in 2012. Oppenheimer has a history of drafting good college relievers and there are many strong-armed righties in the pipeline who could advance quickly.
Today, I will list the Top 40 with a quick blurb, then will follow-up with more in-depth on the Top 20 or so players in the coming weeks. Each player has their position, Opening Day 2012 Age & expected level to start season.
1) Jesus Montero – C/DH, 22 – MLB
Has an elite bat that will make him a middle of the order MLB hitter for the next decade+. Rare blend of natural power to all fields with ability to make adjustments and take what pitcher gives him. Only question is whether he will be anything more than a DH but a .300 hitter with 30 HR power will always find a spot even if he’s eventually a full-time DH.
2) Manny Banuelos– LHSP, 21 – AAA
Had control issues in AA/AAA but most believe it’s just a matter of trying to be too fine as he has solid mechanics and repeats his delivery well. Threw a career-high 130 innings so will be in line for 150-160 this year and could be ready to pitch for NY in 2nd half.
3) Gary Sanchez – C, 19 – HiA
Has big-time raw power and still growing into his 6’2″ frame. His defense has been poor but I think he has the athleticism to convert to corner OF or 1B down the line and his bat is definitely strong enough to support such a switch.
4) Dellin Betances – RHSP, 24 – AAA
This is a big year for Betances. At 24, he needs to have a good year in AAA to prove he can pitch in a MLB rotation. Has plus, swing-and-miss stuff but most improve his control to cut down his pitch counts.
5) Mason Williams – CF, 20 – LoA
Dynamic player with plus-plus MLB speed and defense already. He put on a show in rookie ball and if he shows his offensive skills are for real this year in full-season ball, he may vault to #1 on this list next year.
6) Dante Bichette, Jr. – 3B, 19 – LoA
Drafted for his plus power, he’s shown better defense than was thought. He’s really impressed the organization with his intangibles & makeup – namely his work ethic, advanced approach, knowledge of the game & leadership. Baseball America named him top prospect in Gulf Coast League and VP of baseball operations Mark Newman calls him “a special player and person.”
7) Austin Romine– C, 23 – AAA
His defense behind the plate is MLB-ready now. His bat isn’t special but will be good enough for him to have a long career as a starting catcher in the bigs.
8) David Phelps – RHSP, 25 – AAA
Phelps is a winner who knows how to pitch. He’s 38-15 with a 2.61 ERA in his 4 years in the organization. He’s maintained the same solid numbers at every level including a 7.4 K/9 & 2.0 BB/9. Reminds me a little of Ian Kennedy. Missed time with shoulder issue but came back strong in August and was solid in AFL also.
9) Ravel Santana – OF, 19 – LoA
Tremendous physical skill set with power & speed. BA rated the wiry 6’2″ 160 pounder right behind Bichette as best in the Gulf Coast League after he put up a .425 wOBA. Will have to overcome the broken ankle & torn ligaments he suffered last season so will likely start in extended ST this year.
10) Tyler Austin– 3B, 20 – LoA
I seem to be in the minority but I really like this guy. He made his debut in the Gulf Coast and smashed to a .517 wOBA in 20 games, then followed up with .448 wOBA in Staten Island. Has power to all fields and an advanced approach that helps him drive off-speed pitches. How many 20-year olds can you say that about? BA ranked him 8th best prospect in NY Penn League. Only question mark is his defense at 3B but he’s athletic enough to play the OF if need be. He even stole 18 of 18 bases in just 47 games which tells me he has good instincts and a feel for the game.
11) J.R. Murphy – C/3B, 20 – HiA
Improved his game offensively & defensively before ending season early with leg injury. Rips line drives to all fields and scouts now believe he has the ability to remain as a catcher while also showing the athleticism to play 3B and OF. Could become a very versatile asset in the Majors.
12) Slade Heathcott – CF, 21 – HiA
He’s Gardner-like in the OF right now and has more offensive potential. However, I’m a little concerned with his constant injuries and questionable makeup. To have his speed and get thrown out stealing 17 times in 38 attempts is baffling. But, if he matures and stays healthy, he could be special.
13) Brett Marshall– RHSP, 22 – AA
Now fully recovered from his 2009 Tommy John Surgery, he threw career high 140 IP with 3.24 FIP. Has good low 90s sinker and makings of a plus slider. Has flashed mid 90s velocity at times and will be interesting how he does in AA this year.
14) Adam Warren– RHSP, 24 – AAA
Warren is next in a succession of Yankee right handers, behind Nova and Noesi, ready to advance to the majors. He threw 152 IP in AAA with a 3.60 ERA and on a lesser team without depth, he’d have a great chance to make the rotation.
15) Corban Joseph – 2B, 23 – AAA
Has patient approach and nice lefty stroke that generates hard line drives but there are concerns about his defense at 2B and 3B. He had .346 wOBA in Trenton with 38 doubles and 8 triples but doesn’t get the lift and backspin to hit HRs.
16) Zoilo Almonte – OF, 22 – AA
Solid all-around skills. Good defense, speed and power that has improved the last 2 years. Yanks added the switch-hitter to their 40-man to protect him from Rule 5 draft and he could be a candidate to make the team in 2013.
17) Graham Stoneburner – RHSP, 24 – AA
Season was marred by a neck injury that kept him out 2 months and he was never quite effective as excellent debut in 2010. But he still has a great sinking fastball that gets tons of grounders.
18) David Adams – 2B, 24 – AA
The ankle injury he suffered in 2010 lingered all season and the Yankees were very careful with Adams. He played sparingly in only 29 games. If he’s finally healthy this season he could progress quickly as he has an excellent bat that rips line drives to all fields.
19) Angelo Gumbs– 2B, 19 – LoA
Great up the middle athlete shows lightning quick bat speed and raw power to go with strong arm and nice speed. BA rated him 14th best prospect in NY Penn League where he had .341 wOBA, 4 triples & 11 SB in 220 PAs.
20) Nik Turley – LHSP. 22 – HiA
6’7″ lefty reminds me a litle of Andy Pettitte. Took a step forward with 2.51 ERA and 8.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 82 IP in Charleston til a broken hand ended his season after being promoted to Tampa.
21) DJ Mitchell – RHSP, 24 – AAA
Similar to David Phelps, Mitchell is someone who just keeps pitching well and winning. Sinker/slider pitcher with solid change-up could be another back end starter/long-relief candidate.
22) Mark Montgomery – RHRP, 21 – HiA
Overwhelmed hitters with low-mid 90s Fastball and an unhittable slider leading to a 16.4 K/9 and 1.91 ERA as closer in Charleston. His slider is just unfair to young hitters and he needs to be tested against more advanced hitters to see how quick he can advance.
23) Brandon Laird – 3B, 24 – AAA
Strong defensive 3B with good power but he doesn’t take many walks or hit for much average. Has also played some 1B & LF so could be a backup candidate in NY.
24) Cito Culver– SS, 19 – LoA
Showed strong arm with smoothness in the field and compact swing from both sides of the plate. BA rated him 6th best prospect in NYPenn League where he hit .250/.323/.337. He’s a project that will take time to develop his offensive game.
25) Ramon Flores – OF, 20 – HiA
Sweet lefty stroke and patient approach at plate, had .350 wOBA in Charleston. Good OF with strong arm and solid all-around tools. Only 5’10” 160 so should get stronger and develop some pop.
26) George Kontos – RHRP, 26 – MLB
Standard FB/Slider reliever, held RH hitters to a .182 BAA in AAA. Averages about a strikeout per inning but is a fly-ball pitcher who is prone to HRs.
27) Claudio Custodio – 2B, 21 – LoA
Talented 2B/SS with very good speed. Hit ball well in GCL and showed willingness to take a walk. Hit .325 with .433 OBP and 26 SB in 28 attempts.
28) Tommy Kahnle – RHRP, 22 – HiA
Power reliever had 2.45 FIP in 81 IP with 12.4 K/9 but also 5.4 BB/9. Sits around 93-95 and can dial it up to 96-97 with a developing slider. Needs to improve his command and secondary pitches.
29) Isias Tejada – C, 20 – LoA
Next in line of promising Yankee catcher prospects, Tejada showed his ability to make good, hard contact with a .971 OPS in the GCL with only a 12% strike out rate.
30) Brandon Pinder – RHRP, 23 – LoA
Dominated mostly younger hitters as closer in Staten Island with 11.0 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 1.16 ERA. Has great command of 94-95 mph Fastball but has no quality secondary pitch yet.
31) Bryan Mitchell – RHSP, 20 – LoA
Plus stuff but still very raw. Put things together by end of year and shows strikeout (8.6 K/9) and ground-ball stuff (2.19 GO/AO rate)
32) Jose Rosario– SS/2B, 20 – LoA
Hit just as well as teammate Bichette with .331 average and .529 SLG%. He’s a hacker with a 3.2% Walk rate but he’s caught the attention of the organization and earned a late season promotion to Charleston. Mark Newman stated, “He can run (11 SB in 43 games) and throw. He hit 6 HRs, so he has some ability to impact the ball. By diligence, he’s turning himself into a quality prospect.”
33) Taylor Morton – RHSP, 20 – LoA
Made impressive debut in GCL. The 6’3″ righty should get stronger and he already possesses a plus change, low 90’s FB and good command.
34) Rob Segedin – 3B, 23 – HiA
Big 3B/OF with strong hitting skills. Earned promotion with .395wOBA at Charleston but struggled some in Tampa. Yanks put him in AFL this Fall where he went .250/.367/.407.
35) Daniel Lopez – CF, 20 – LoA
Another emerging all-around athlete with good speed. Showed power potential this year hitting .327/.413/.490 with 27 SB in 61 games across 3 levels.
36) Jose Ramirez – RHSP, 22 – HiA
Promising arm took a step back this year but still notched strong K rates so stuff is still there.
37) Evan Rutckyj– LHSP, 20 – LoA
Big strong 6’5″ lefty got stronger as the season progressed and generates a lot of ground-balls.
38) Cesar Cabral – LHRP, 23 – MLB
Rule 5 pick from Red Sox system, he’ll have chance to make team in ST as second lefty in pen. Gets a lot of Ks with good Fastball and plus Changeup.
39) Pat Venditte SWRP, 26 – AAA
Doesn’t have dominating stuff but continues to post good overall numbers and solid K rates at every level. Biggest drawback is he’s a heavy flyball pitcher.
40) Abe Almonte – OF, 22 – AA
Plus defender and baserunner but wildly inconsistent at the plate. Switch-hitter had huge 2nd half, riding a 30-game hitting streak and showing off good extra base hit power. Needs to prove 2nd half surge was real at AA this year.
Other Notables: Walter Ibarra, Kyle Roller, Zach Nuding, Dan Burawa, Chase Whitley, Ronnie Mustlier, Yeicock Calderon, Robert Lyerly, Melky Mesa, Dan Brewer, Brad Suttle, Jorge Vazquez, Ben Gamel, Gabe Encinas, Matt Tracy, Zach Wilson, Evan DeLuca, Mikey O’Brien
The Class A Charleston Riverdogs went through a season of constant flux. They started the season with an extremely talented starting lineup consisting of 5 of the organizations top 15 position players. Expectations were high, however due to promotions and injuries, the team that finished the season looked entirely different. the team had little continuity and that led to a disappointing 55-85 record.
The team’s top two hitters were promoted to Tampa in June. 3B Rob Segedin & 1B Kyle Roller finished the season in the Florida State League so I will go into more detail on them in the Tampa season review. Segedin was hitting .323/.396/.482 and Roller was at .305/.379/.545 at the time of their promotions, so their bats were sorely missed.
Overall the team finished in the middle of the pack or worse in most offensive categories in the 14 team South Atlantic Lg. They were 10th in runs, 8th in HRS, batting avg (.259) & OBP (.330).
Slade Heathcott – CF, 20, 6’1″ 190
Slade is anything but boring. The 2009 1st round pick (#29) got off to a blazing start hitting .370/.457/.630 through the teams first 20 games in April. However on May 13th, he was hit by a pitch leading off a game and ignited a brawl by attacking the catcher. Slade’s numbers declined after that amazing April but he was promoted to Tampa on June 29th. He celebrated by going 3 for 5 with a HR in his 1st game. Unfortunately, this was his only game as he missed the remainder of the season with a left shoulder injury.
Heathcott finished with a .279/.347/.437/.784 line in 53 games. He showed some increased power at the plate this year as he continues to get stronger. He already is a plus-plus defender in CF and was voted the best defensive outfielder in Class A by Baseball America. Slade is also as fast as anyone in the minors although this has not turned into success in stealing bases yet. He was an unacceptable 6 of 13 in SBs this yr after going 15 for 25 in 2010. This player has all the tools needed to be a starter in MLB but there are questions about his character, attitude & durability that will ned to be answered in the years to come.
JR Murphy – C/3B, 20, 6’0″ 190
Murphy was a 2009 2nd rd pick who raised his stock by having improving in almost every category this year. He hit .297/.343/.457 with 6 hrs and 23 doubles in 277 PAs with Charleston. He showed ability to rip line drives all over the field which led to an improved ISO from .121 in 2010 to .160 in 2011. JR also cut down his strikeouts whiffing only 13.7% of the time. Murphy also erased a lot of concerns about his ability to catch as he drew rave reviews from several scouts for the improvement in his receiving & throwing skills. His play earned him a promotion to Tampa but he only played 23 games before being lost for the season on July 21 with a foot injury. He hit only .259/.270/.365 in 85 abs.
Gary Sanchez – C, 18, 6’2″ 220
Sanchez got a huge $3 Million Bonus to sign in 2009 and was in everyone’s Top 5 Yankee prospects entering this yr. MLB.com had him #32 in all of baseball. However, he got off to a poor start this yr offensively and defensively. Through July 31st he was a disappointing .236 with 10 hrs but something clicked in August as he hit .433 with 7 hrs in the first 9 games. But his season full of slumps, streaks, suspensions & injuries came to a halt due to a hand injury just as he was catching fire.
For the yr Sanchez finished .256/.335/.485 with 17 hrs in 301 abs which is respectable when you remember he is only 18 yrs old and playing his first yr of full-season pro ball. He must cut down on his huge 27.1 K% at the plate and improve on his defense behind the plate. Scouts criticized his defense this yr mostly for his lack of focus and poor form. He has the tools to remain at Catcher but he’ll have to prove he has the work ethic and concentration. He was sent back to Extended Spring training in May for a poor attitude after a few incidents. Hopefully, he learned from this and it can be written off as an 18 yr old dealing with struggling for the first time in his career.
Ramon Flores – OF/1B, 19, 5’10” 150
Flores is one of the few players to play a full season for Charleston. The strong armed OF has a sweet left handed stroke and hit .265/.353./.400 with 11 hrs & 13 sbs. He has a good idea of the strike zone and had a solid 11.4% Walk rate. Flores does a lot of things well and it will be interesting to see how he develops as a hitter as he gets bigger and stronger.
Shane Brown – OF, 23, 5’11” 197
Brown was considered nothing more than an organizational player coming into the season. As a 23rd round pick, he hit just .234 in Staten Island last yr so he repeated the level this yr. However, in 22 games he tore up the NY Penn Lg hitting .446/.544/.635 to earn the promotion. In 35 games in Charleston, he hit .321 for a combined .366/.465/.473 line in 205 abs with 11% Walk rate and 7.8% K rate. He doesn’t have speed or power but he has shown great ability to get on base.
Shane Greene – RHP, 22, 6’4″ 210
Greene has a good pitcher’s frame and some promising stuff so was a lot of people’s pick this ST to take a leap forward. He did show some signs but was still too inconsistent. He finished 5-14, 4.37 era but had a 3.89 fip, 8.4 K/9 and 1.53 Ground Out ratio. So he shows ability to get strikeouts and ground balls but must improve on his .265 opposing BA and 4.4 bb/9.
Nik Turley – LHP, 22, 6’7″ 230
Turley was one of the systems breakout pitchers this season. He doesn’t light up the radar gun (sits around 90) but has a nice slurve and makings of a solid change, all of which he throws for strikes. Nik posted a 2.81 era with 87 Ks in 89ip and only 22 walks. Turley was a project taken in the 50th round of the 2008 draft who has grown 3 inches & 30 lbs since and finally busted out this yr.Looking at some of the pictures and video, this kid has mechanics and mannerisms like Andy Pettitte. Nik earned a promotion to Hi-A Tampa but his season was cut short after just 2 appearances with a broken hand. This big lefty will be someone to watch closely in 2012.
Zachary Nuding – RHP, 21, 6’4″ 250
I got a chance to see Nuding pitch in May and he threw 6 shutout innings. He’s a big strong guy who sits around 89-91 but gets it up to 93-94 at times. He steps to the 3rd base side with his front foot and throws across his body kind of like Jered Weaver does. Zach finished 7-6, 4.48 era/4.36 fip, 7.5 k/9, 4.0 bb/9, 0.64 GO/AO, 1.0 HR/9. He had a good .232 opposing BA but he needs to improve his command, generate more ground balls & refine his off-speed pitches so he can strike out more batters.
Jose Ramirez – RHP, 21, 6’1″ 155
Ramirez began the season in Tampa with high expectations but got smacked around with a 8.14 ERA in 6 starts leading to a demotion to Charleston. He pitched better in CHS finishing with a 4.78 ERA / 4.17 FiP. His 21.0% K rate and 9.2% walk rate were almost identical to his successful 2010 season. The difference was his GO to AirOut ratio fell from 1.16 to 0.82 which lead to a big increase in Batting Avg Against (.239 to .292) and HR/9 (from 0.23 to 1.06). Ramirez gets good low to mid 90s velocity from his wiry frame and has the makings of a nice change-up. His breaking ball isn’t good at this point but he has time to develop it.
Vidal Nuno – LHP, 24, 5’11” 195
The Yankees purchased Nuno from an independent league and he started the season in Staten Island. Pitching out of the pen he was 5-0 0.72 era with 29 ks in 25 ip. He was promoted to Charleston and started 7 games where he was just as dominant with a 37 to 2 SO to walk ratio in 40 ip! Overall for the season, he was 7-1 with a 1.38 era and 66 Ks & just 5 walks in 65ip. At 24, he’s older than many in the league but a 66 to 5 SO to walk rate cannot be ignored.
Thomas Kahnle – RHP, 22, 6’1″ 220
Kahnle was a 5th rd pick in 2010 who was used as a 1-3 ip reliever in CHS this yr. He had an impressive 12.4 K/9 and .223 opposition BA but a far too high 5.4 BB/9. His 4.22 ERA wasn’t indicative of how well he pitched since he had a 2.45 FIP and miniscule 0.11 HR/9 rate. He sits in the 93-94 range and can pump it up to the 96 with a slider that shows potential. Kahnle definitely has a future as a reliever, how well depends on how his command and secondary pitches progress
Mark Montgomery – RHP, 21, 5’11” 205
Montgomery signed as an 11th rd pick in June and after a 4 game cameo in Staten Island came to CHS. He wasted no time making an impression by breaking a professional record by striking out 5 batters in 1 inning in his first game! Mark dominated hitters with a low-mid 90s fastball and a nasty slider that he uses to rack up strikeouts. Overall, he had an amazing 16.4 K/9 with 51Ks and 13 BB in 28.1 ip. He saved 15 games with a 1.91 ERA. He has the moxie to be a closer and I’m anxious to see how his slider plays against more advanced hitters.