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2013 Top 40 Prospects

Austin jumped all the way to AA Trenton (flickr photo by slgckgc used through (Commons license)

Austin improved his stock more than any other player and isn’t far from N.Y. now in AA Trenton (flickr photo by slgckgc used through (Commons license)

The Yankees Minor league system had an up and down year in 2012.   Several of their older and upper-tier prospects had injuries (Banuelos, Romine, Campos) or setbacks (Betances).  Add to that the trade of #1 prospect Jesus Montero and it left the upper levels of the system without much impact talent ready to help in the Bronx.  However,  it wasn’t all bad news as  the organization saw the continued positive development from a wave of strong young players who began the year at the A-ball level.  What the system loses in not having much in the way of near MLB-ready talent, it makes up for with a deep well of quality players in the lower rungs.  These players, led by M.Williams, Sanchez, Austin & Heathcott, will start in High A or AA this year and could make this a Top 5 system by next year.  Most of the main Prospect Writers have the Yankee system rated in the #10-14 range right now.

As we have seen this offseason, Yankees ownership is serious about cutting payroll to get below the Competitive Balance Tax Threshold in 2014 and beyond.  The only way the team can remain a playoff contender is to start getting major contributions from their Farm System.  Unfortunately, the high-end talent likely won’t be ready to make a major impact until 2015-2016 but some of these guys may get an opportunity to play in the majors sooner rather than later.  And for the first time in years, the team may start to give legitimate opportunities  to their prospects in New York.

Following is a breakdown of the organizations Top 40 prospects as chosen by myself (Jamie or Fish) and fellow-writer Rob (jimmytoucan).  We tried to talk to some minor-lg coaches and writers to get their input on certain players and have included some quotes from those we have spoken to personally.

1) Mason Williams – CF, 21 – AA, 2015

Mason has literally grown into the team’s best prospect.  No one questioned his amazing defense in CF, plus speed or quality hitting & bunting skills but many wondered if he’d ever be more than a slap-hitting singles hitter.  He responded by adding 30 pounds last offseason and delivering 11 HRs with a .474 SLG% in 359 ABs before  shoulder surgery cut his season short in July.

Fish: I ranked him 1st because I think he’ll continue to gain strength and become a solid 2-way CF.  I see his floor as no worse than a Brett Gardner-type player in the majors. He doesn’t walk as much as Gardner but he has great contact skills and could very well develop into a much stronger offensive player.

Rob: Toolsy CF’er with tremendous contact ability. Hits for average with room to add some power. Potential plus defender and 30 SB capability. I had him ranked #2 on my list simply because I value the catcher position a bit more in a system with three outfielders in the top 4.

2) Gary Sanchez – C, 20 – HiA, 2015

Sanchez earned a reputation as an immature kid with questionable work ethic in 2011 and his ability to remain a Catcher was in question as he had 26 Passed Balls in just 60 games. But he was a new man in 2012, showcasing much improved defensive skills and the leadership required to guide a pitching staff.  His ability to crush a baseball was never in question and his plus power to all fields makes him one of the top Catching prospects in the game.

Fish:  2011 was his first full season in the U.S. so I give him a pass for his struggles as an 18 year old kid. I love Sanchez’ bat and I think it will be MLB-ready well before his ability to catch is.  With the Yanks’ preference for defense at the Catcher spot, I wonder if Sanchez will want to make the sacrifices needed to become a Catcher, but worse case scenario I think he’ll hit enough to support a switch to 1B down the road.

Rob: My number one overall pick, due to playing a more difficult position. Defense was in question rolling into 2012 but from various accounts has taken steps forward. Rated best power hitter in the system, plus arm and hit tool. Ranked the #3 catching prospect in baseball.

Kiley McDaniel:  We asked him if Sanchez has the ability to catch for the Yankees with their emphasis on defense, “Could. Will take lots of work, up to him.”

Slade may be the most talented player in the system

Slade may be the most talented player in the system

3) Slade Heathcott – CF 22 – AA, 2014

Slade has the most ability in the entire system and is the closest thing they have to a 5-tool player.  His short career has been filled with shoulder injuries and some character questions but he was finally healthy and put it all together last year. Hit .307/.378/.470 in Tampa and then hit .388 with 10 XBH’s in 18 games in the Arizona Fall Lg where he was ranked as the #6 prospect.

Fish: Slade jumps out at you when you watch a game.  His immense talent is obvious and he plays the game with a fervor and intensity that is a joy to watch.  Because of that zeal and aggressiveness, he may be more prone to injuries but if he can stay healthy, he could be a star and fan favorite in NY. He’ll need to turn it down a notch to withstand the rigors of a 162-game season.

Rob: Had people buzzing after his performance in the AFL this year. Potential five tool player in spite of his second shoulder surgery. Brings a level of intensity to the field that could actually be his downfall. Huge ceiling with a pretty low floor.

Former Charleston Hitting Coach & current Boston Red Sox Hitting Coach Greg Colbrunn : “He has ability to adjust his swing, we call it “Adjustability” with his swing – he can be fooled and still get the bat head to the ball. He definitely has the power, has the bat speed, can run, put the ball in play, get on base… he has all the things you look for in a Major League player”

Taken from…..Keith Law: “I do think he has star potential if he stays healthy, which is a huge if. He plays like his hair’s on fire (and) that’s not a great thing for a player who’s injury-prone … the star potential is from the athleticism – plus runner, really good swing, strong hands. Just needs to dial it down one notch.”

4) Tyler Austin – RF, 21 – AA, 2014

No Yankee prospect was more productive in 2012.  He has hit at every level and his .322/.400/.559/.960 season vaulted him from a #13th round pick in 2010 to a Top 100 prospect who was chosen to play in the Futures Game. He changed positions with ease from 3B to RF and shows ability to be an above-average OF.

Fish:  I’ve always admired Austin’s baseball instincts and smarts. He’s solid in all aspects and despite being an average runner, he has stolen 41 of 43 bases the last 2 years by picking the right pitches and situations. He’s a gamer and will rise quickly – don’t be surprised to see him in the Bronx next year.

Rob: Solid defender that whose bat should play well in RF. High baseball IQ, high floor. Solid bet to be a slightly above average everyday player with room for a bit more.

5) Manny Banuelos – LHP, 22, AAA/INJ – 2014

The elbow injury essentially sets Manny back 2 years in his development but it is not a death sentence by any means. He’ll still be only 23 in 2014 and recovered from TJS. He was the #13 prospect in all of MLB this time last year and showed command improvements in May before he was shutdown.  He has great makeup & pitchability to go along with a plus Changeup, plus low to mid-90s FB and average or better Curve.

Fish: I really like Banuelos for his poise and confidence on the mound.  That mound presence from a lefty with 3 plus piches make him an attractive starter.  The big question with him will be his durability.

Rob: Manny is still my top pitching prospect due to him being a left hander that can get into the mid 90’s, the best changeup in the system and two more secondary offerings that give him #2 potential. His size is the biggest knock against him but he has an easy delivery that does not require max effort every pitch.

6) Jose Campos – RHP, 20, HiA – 2015

Was extremley impressive in his first 4 starts at Charleston but missed almost the entire year with elbow problems. It didn’t require surgery and he’s healthy and throwing now. Campos is 6’4″ with long arms and has front of the rotation potential. Could be a very fast mover up the ladder if 100% as he has both the stuff and the pitchability to succeed.

Rob: Tremendous polish for a pitcher his age, he throws in the mid 90’s with solid command. Secondary stuff needs work but he has plenty of time to get it under wraps.  Great projectable frame with upper rotation potential. For me he was a real coup in “The Trade” and could swing it handily in the Yankees’ favor.

Fish:  I agree with Rob, Campos is the guy who could salvage the Montero trade but it will take a few years to see. When I spoke to his pitching coach in Charleston, Danny Borrell,  he raved about him.

Danny Borrell, Charleston RiverDogs Pitching Coach:   “Kid really knows how to pitch and to back it up he has plus stuff across the board. His intangibles are very impressive. He pitches in well, the pace of the game in which he pitches makes hitters uncomfortable, he can pitch his way through a lineup.  For someone his age to know how to do that is impressive.”

“He was 90-95, a Curveball he can throw for a strike in any count and a Change up that is developing – but something that will be a very good pitch for him as he gets older.  He’s been throwing and by all accounts he’s healthy now.”

7) Angelo Gumbs – 2B, 20 – HiA – 2015

Tremendous athlete with incredible bat speed.  Stole 26 bases and hit 7 HRs in just 67 games before his season ended with a triceps injury. He plays hard and has had complements on his work ethic.  Reviews are mixed on his defense but he has a strong arm and great athleticism so could move to the OF down the road if needed.

Rob: Incredible bat speed out of Gumbs, he’ll be a bat first second baseman. While Cano has us fans spoiled a guy like Gumbs could make losing Robbie to FA sting a bit less, although he’s a couple of years away yet. His defense isn’t quite as flashy as our current 2B, but it’s plenty good that his bat could bridge some of that gap. Overall he’s got above average potential that’s 3 years away.

Fish: Reminds me a little of Austin Jackson. They were both drafted for their incredible athletic ability knowing it would take them a while to develop their baseball skills. It worked with Jackson and Gumbs is coming along nicely. He gets overshadowed by mason Williams but Gumbs was drafted 2 rounds before him and he is every bit as talented as Mason.

8) Brett Marshall – RHP – 23, AAA –  2014

Marshall doesn’t have the upside of the guys in front of him but falls in the Top 10 because he’s looks like a lock to be a back-end of the rotation MLB starter.  Showed potential in Yankee  Spring Training then went 13-7 with a 3.52 ERA in AA so he’s on the doorstep of NY.  He’s got a big time Changeup and features a hard sinking Fastball that sits 91-93 MPH.  His Slider was more of a show-me pitch last year until something clicked in the 2nd Half and he began unleashing a nasty one. His K per 9 went from 6.0 in the 1st half to 9.0 with the improved Slider.

Fish: Marshall reminds me of David Phelps with his poise and the way he attacks hitters. His Change is a weapon vs LH hitters and if his Slider is for real he now has an equal weapon vs RH hitters. Eats innings because he keeps his pitch counts low by challenging hitters and getting easy outs with his Sinker.

Rob: Steady Eddie. Mentioning his name might not raise too many eyebrows, but he continues to move along at a steady pace and chew up innings. He’s got a heavy sinker/slider combo that may not miss a ton of bats but he induces enough weak contact to make up for it. I like any guy that can keep the ball down, especially pitching in YS3.

Marshall is doorstep to the Bronx (flickr photo by paul.hadsall used through Creative Commons license)

Marshall is doorstep to the Bronx (flickr photo by paul.hadsall used through Creative Commons license)

9) Ramon Flores – OF, 21 HiA/AA –  2015

Flores is overshadowed by the big 3 OF’s in the system but he is a quality prospect in his own right. Has perhaps the sweetest, most natural swing in the system and his strikezone awarness his excellent. Hit .303/.370/.425 in Tampa and homered in his one game in AA. He’s solid defensively and has average speed, the only question mark is will he hit for power. He’s getting stronger each year and many think his power will develop later similar to Cano.

Rob: I had him slightly lower on my list, and I’ll admit it has something to do with the positional plethora in the OF, and his slightly lower ceiling than those that outranked him. He makes great contact, has hit everywhere he goes and can hold his own in the field. Amongst a group filled with the likes of Williams, Heathcott and Austin he looks more like the odd man out/4th outfielder

Fish: His swing is a hitting coach’s dream and has been compared to Cano when he was in the minors. His stroke and great patience/strikezone recognition remind me  more of fellow Venezuelan Bobby Abreu. Flores hits breaking balls well and may be a guy who hits better against stronger pitching at higher levels.

Former Charleston Hitting Coach & current Boston Red Sox Hitting Coach Greg Colbrunn:  “He picks up pitches as well as anyone I’ve seen come through here. He picks up pitches right out of the pitcher’s hands and has real good strike zone discipline and pitch recognition – and he recognizes it real early. The biggest thing with him was getting him to be more aggressive in counts where he could take advantage of it and let some of his natural ability take off more.  He has one of the most natural swings we’ve had come through here. And he does have some power. The difference between 2 years ago when I first saw him and last year when his body filled out and the strength he had was big.”

10) Ty Hensley – RHP, 19 LoA – 2017

2012’s 1st round pick is a big (6’5 215 pounds) kid with a power repertoire and huge ceiling.  He’s been sitting at 92-95 with a knee-buckling 12-6 Curve.  has makings of a good Change too but only has 12 pro innings so far so he has a lon way to go.  MRI after Draft found a shoulder “abnormality” but he continues to pitch without pain or limitations.

Fish:  Difficult to rank a kid just drafted who I’ve never seen but he makes but he has the pedigree, size and arm you look for in the 1st round.

Rob: Like many pitchers his age he’s got work to do on his secondary stuff, but he’s got upper rotation potential and seems very driven to get to the BX as soon as possible.

Ty Hensley in interview with Fish in July: “The picture (MRI) has nothing to do with ability and until something hurts or there are symptoms or until there is instability there is no reason to be concerned.  I’m healthy, I’m gonna be healthy and will keep working to stay healthy.” Read the rest of this entry

YFU Exclusive Interview with 1st Round Draft Pick Ty Hensley

Ty Hensley meets the press at the Stadium

I had a great opportunity to interview Yankees #1 Draft Pick Ty Hensley who recently signed a $1.2 Million contract with the team on July 12th.  Hensley is a 6’5″ 215 pound RHP from Santa Fe High School in Oklahoma who was committed to attend college at Ole Miss before the Draft.  It seemed he would definitely sign with the Yanks but after a routine MRI turned up “abnormalities” in his right shoulder, the negotiations went right down to the wire before Hensley signed right before the deadline.  He was kind enough to offer some insight into the process as well as talk about his  baseball bloodlines and offer an in-depth self-scouting report.  Here is the interview in its entirety with my questions in BLUE.(Great job by Matt to set up this interview)

I know your father (Mike Hensley) was drafted by the Cardinals (53rd overall pick in 1988 Draft) and was a college coach at Oral Roberts & Kansas State.  What was it like to have a Pitching Coach as a Father your whole life?

I was really blessed and fortunate to have that opportunity.  I took every single advantage of that growing up.  He’s so knowledgable about the game and has been through all of the stuff I’m going through – pro ball, the draft.  He was really instrumental in helping me make my decisions as far as college and later professionally.  He’s always been there for me as a father and a coach – and has always known when it’s time to be a Dad and when it’s time to be a coach.  I was really fortunate to have that situation growing up and I can’t say enough good things about him.

Reading some of your interviews and talking to you now, it’s obvious you have a vast knowledge of the game for a young man.  Do you think that helps you on the field?

Growing up around the game and with my father coaching I lived at the baseball field and was always around baseball guys because my Dad had so many connections and he knew so many people.  Growing up around that it just introduced me to the world I’m apart of now. I think it definitely helps me on the field because you get the insight of what other people are thinking and the more you know what others are thinking the better the advantage you have against them.

As a student of the game, give us a Scouting report on yourself and your repertoire.

I throw a 4 seam and 2 seam fastball, sit in the 92-95 range, touching 97-98.  I maintain my velocity well throughout the game and feel like I have good life on my fastball.  My best pitch is my 12 to 6 Curveball, I throw about 78 to 81 mph.  I’m really pleased with how my Changeup is coming along and its gonna be a big pitch for me moving forward…I throw in the 84 to 86 range.

Are you comfortable with your 2-seamer and how do you decide when to throw the 4-seam or 2-seam fastball?

I’m comfortable with both of them.  It’s more of a feel thing – if before I throw a pitch I feel I need a little extra movement I’ll throw the 2-seam, but I definitely throw my 4-seam a lot more often  than the 2-seamer. Read the rest of this entry

Guess the Yankee Prospect….

vs Left .318 22 2 7 3 0 1 4 1 2 0 0 .333 .591 .924
vs Right .311 45 6 14 2 0 2 5 1 6 2 0 .354 .489 .843
Home Games .282 10 39 3 11 2 0 1 4 1 5 2 0 .317 .410 .727
Away Games .357 7 28 5 10 3 0 2 5 1 3 0 0 .387 .679 1.066
Day Games .273 6 22 1 6 1 0 1 4 2 3 1 0 .320 .455 .775
Night Games .333 11 45 7 15 4 0 2 5 0 5 1 0 .362 .556 .917
On Grass .313 17 67 8 21 5 0 3 9 2 8 2 0 .347 .522 .870
May .313 17 67 8 21 5 0 3 9 2 8 2 0 .347 .522 .870
Pre All-Star .313 17 67 8 21 5 0 3 9 2 8 2 0 .347 .522 .870
Ahead in Count .348 23 3 8 1 0 1 3 2 0 1 0 .400 .522 .922
Behind in Count .235 17 1 4 1 0 0 2 0 6 1 0 .316 .294 .610
Bases Empty .267 30 1 8 3 0 1 1 1 2 0 0 .290 .467 .757
Runners On .351 37 7 13 2 0 2 8 1 6 2 0 .390 .568 .958
Scoring Position .318 22 6 7 0 0 2 8 1 5 1 0 .333 .591 .924
Season Totals .313 17 67 8 21 5 0 3 9 2 8 2 0 .347 .522 .870

Spanning the Yankee Blogs: Hughes, Pineda, Hayden Sharp, Joba, Cabral

Good afternoon all.  I spanned the Yankee Blogs and report back with an article from each.  Enjoy them.

* An A-blog for A-Rod has a great article about Phil Hughes and the perils of pitching well during a surplus.

* Bleeding Yankee Blue asks who your favorite Yankee pitcher of all time is.

* Bomber Boulevard recaps the roller coaster of the past week.

* Bronx Baseball Daily has the video of Bernie Williams playing with the Allman Brothers Band that I tweeted about last week.

* It’s about the Money Stupid mentions that Michael Pineda is not Phil Hughes.

* Lady Loves Pinstripes has the preview of the 2012 Twins.

* New York Baseball Digest writes why taking Cabral on the roster makes the most sense.

* Pinstripe Alley asks who are your favorite 2012 Yankee prospects.

* River Ave Blues has the 2012 season preview of the closer.

* Road to Yankee Stadium is looking under the radar at Branden Pinder.

* Sliding into Home asks you to not underestimate the value of a relief prospect.

* The Captain’s Blog wonders if Joba can bounce back from the latest injury.

* The Greedy Pinstripes has a twitterview with Yankee prospect Hayden Sharp

* The Yankee Analysts ponders Michael Pineda starting the year in AAA.

* Yanks Go Yard has an article about the the irreplaceable David Robertson.

* Zell’s Pinstriped Blog wonders if the Ibanez deal was a mistake.

Spanning the Yankee Blogs: Soriano, Prospects, Postseason, Pineda

Good afternoon all.  Here is our weekly article where we span the blogs and bring you the very best articles on the Yankees. Give them all a read.  Enjoy!

* An A-blog for A-Rod has thoughts on what they don’t like about the new postseason format.

* Bleeding Yankee Blue ponders if Soriano is next in line after Mariano retires.

* Bronx Baseball Daily profiles prospect Brandon Laird.

* It’s about the Money Stupid is projecting the Yankee starting rotation.

* Lady Loves Pinstripes is doing a series of previewing each team.  Up now are the Cardinals.

* New York Baseball Digest is impressed with Phelps.

* NYY Universe is previewing the AL East.

* Pinstripe Alley has some love for Robinson Cano.

* River Ave Blues looks into regression risks for the 2012 season.

* Sliding into Home is ranking some of the Yankee prospects.

* The Captain’s Blog asks if Pineda is a lock for the rotation.

* The Greedy Pinstripes profiles prospect Adam Warren.

* The Yankee Analysts are against early extension, generally.

* Yanks Go Yard is predicting a big year for A-Rod.

Interview with LHP Matt Tracy

Matt Tracy led Staten Island to a Championship (photo from Mike Ashmore's Thunder Thoughts)

I had the privilege to speak with Yankee left-handed pitching prospect Matt Tracy who is down in Minor-League Training Camp in Tampa.  Tracy was a 24th-rd selection by the Yankees in the 2011 draft out of the University of Mississippi. The 6’3” 212 pound southpaw pitched out of the bullpen for the Staten island Yankees and was extremely effective allowing just 1 earned run in 22.3 IP and holding hitters to a puny .108 Batting Average.

His effectiveness out of the pen led Manager Tom Slater to stretch him out to see what he could do as a starter. It took Tracy a few weeks to build up innings and he made 6 starts to finish the regular season.  In the post-season, Tracy really stepped up, throwing a pair of 6-inning shutouts to lead Staten Island to the NY Penn League Championship. Overall, Tracy finished the year going 3-2 with a 2.43 ERA/1.06 WHIP , 56 Ks & 17 BBs in 59.3 IP. He held hitters to a .211 BA with just 1 HR and an impressive 2.26 Ground Out to Air Out Ratio.

Tracy was overlooked by a lot of prospect evaluators (myself included) because he was an older college grad in the NYPL who pitched most of the season out of the pen. He’s a very promising lefty with 3 quality offerings who can induce grounders and be effective vs. LH & RH hitters. 2012 will be an opportunity for Tracy to pitch as a full-time pitcher for the first time right out of ST and could move up through the system very quickly. My questions are in BLUE.

You were drafted by the Marlins after your Junior year in college but elected not to sign and returned to Ole Miss. What went in to that decision?

I felt like I still wanted to finish up my degree so I had that out of the way, and I felt there was still stuff for me to do at Ole Miss. I wanted to see how the team could do my Senior yr and I just wasn’t ready for pro ball yet.

You were a 2-way player in college at Ole Miss as an OF and Pitcher – Do you think that may have hurt your development as a pitcher?

Its definitely a challenge when you are doing both because you don’t get to spend your full time and energy on one specific thing. But it also helped me in ways too because I learned how to be a hitter and how I don’t like to be pitched and stuff like that so I had the hitters perspective.

You pitched in a big-time baseball conference in college at Ole Miss – how did the competition in the New York Penn League compare to the SEC?

The NYPL has a lot of talented players. That’s the way it will be in pro ball – these guys are here for a reason. In the SEC I faced a lot of talented guys as well. It’s the toughest college baseball conference in the country so I think it prepared me very well for this type of setting.

After they drafted you, did the Yankees discuss whether they viewed you as a Starter or Reliever?

Not much was discussed, I went to Staten Island to see where I fit in. They used me in the pen and then about half way through the season they had me starting.

What was it like to make the transition from relieving to starting in the middle of the season?

There’s a little bit of a difference but starting is something I did my whole career. I did it growing up, in high school and I did it in college. I’m used to it so it wasn’t a huge difference to make the transition.

What does your arsenal consist of?

Fastball – 2-seamer & 4-seamer, Curveball & Change Up.  The Fastball was between 90-94 mph this summer

What is your best pitch?

I like my Fastball. I think its one of the most important pitches for a pitcher. Having good command of the Fastball and being able to attack hitters with that. My best off-speed pitch is my changeup

On video your changeup looks very effective pitch against RH hitters – Is that why you had success vs. Righties? ( RH hitters hit .221 vs. Tracy while LH hitters hit .270)

My out-pitch depends on the hitter but I generally feel real comfortable against RH hitters because I have a good feel for my Changeup.

Have you noticed a change in your stuff or velocity once you started pitching full-time with Staten Island?

Yes, I definitely saw an up tick in velocity this summer. I started throwing a little harder this summer because I was surrounded by a couple of great coaches. First we had Danny Borrell, pitching coach for Staten Island, he helped me out tremendously with my mechanics and cleaning everything up. Then Rosie (coach Jose Rosado) came up when Danny got hurt and he also helped me out. Definitely, mechanic-wise, because of the good coaches, I feel more comfortable and the ball seems to be coming out a little better. There were small things we saw while looking at tape, some stuff with my leg kick and some stuff with my front side.

You only got 6 starts under your belt as a starter before the post-season started. What clicked for you in the Playoffs that made you so successful?

I just got back to the same old stuff that makes a good pitcher – making quality pitches, getting ahead of guys, attacking hitters and making good quality pitches down in the zone. As the season progressed, my Curveball got a little better and more consistent. That helped me out, having that 3rd pitch that I could throw for a strike that maybe wasn’t there for me in the middle of the summer.

What is your approach out there on the mound?

My approach on the mound is to attack the hitters and make quality pitches. Its really as simple as that – just trying to execute. I attack different hitters differently – I throw more changeups to righties and more Curveballs to lefties.

After the season ended in late September, did you pitch in the Fall and what were you trying to improve upon?

I went to the Instructional League here in Tampa for 2 weeks. I enjoyed that. Working on my delivery in front of a lot of different coaches. I worked on my Curveball a lot down in Instructs – that was my main focus. I think I improved that and played in some games. I got some stuff done and got a little better.

How about the Winter – where did you workout?

Working out down at Ole Miss with 6 or 7 other pro guys from Ole Miss. Working out and throwing. Good to be surrounded by other guys with the same goals to push each other. Worked on full-body stuff, Core, legs & upper body.

What was it like wining a championship at Staten Island in your first year of pro ball?

NY Penn Lg Championship Cup (photo from Mjtracy17 twitter's page)

It was definitely cool. We had a great group of guys and some good team chemistry. I really like all those guys and we clicked really well. Winning is fun. Any time you’re in a postseason atmosphere when the games mean a little more, it’s a really great feeling to win.

Your SI team was filled with talent -which of your teammates really impressed you?

We really did have a lot talented guys. Game to game someone else stood out.  Mason Williams in CF was terrific all yr. What was impressive was a lot of those guys were so young to be able to perform at that level. We had a lot of HS guys, it’s a different dynamic and I thought we meshed really well – the college kids and the HS kids.

What do you feel you need to improve and what are your goals for 2012?

Continue in my progression as a pitcher. Getting more consistent with my Curveball is definitely going to be up there – getting more consistent all around that’s what makes you a good pitcher. Being able to attack the zone and throw quality strikes to make things tough on hitters

What pitchers in the majors do you try to emulate or who would you compare yourself to?

I’m a huge baseball fan and there’s stuff I pick up from a bunch of guys. I like watching all the great pitchers to try and pick something up whether its Chris Carpenter or Roy Halladay they’re both so great I love watching them pitch.

I know you grew up as a Cardinals fan in St.Louis – What was it like being drafted by the Yankees?

Been a great opportunity to be part of this organization and they do things right so its definitely a blessing.

Seedlings 2 Stars (Staten Island Alumni)

This article was featured on Seedlings 2 Stars about the alumni from Staten Island.  It’s a pretty good read for those that like to know about prospects and where they are today.  I will provide some of the article than click the link to read the rest.  Enjoy.

Major League Alumni: Staten Island Yankees

Team: Staten Island Yankees
League: New York-Penn League
Class Level: Short-Season A
Major League Affiliate: New York Yankees
City: Staten Island, New York
Population: 468, 730
Ballpark: Richmond County Bank Ballpark

The Staten Island Yankees began play in 1999 after the Watertown Indians franchise was relocated from Watertown, New York. Staten Island has been affiliated with the New York Yankees since their inaugural season. The Yankees have won seven division titles (2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2011) and six league championships (2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2011) over their thirteen year existence.

Some notable alumni that played for the Yankees before making it to the major leagues include:

Andy Phillips (1B): In 1999, Phillips hit .322 with 7 HR and 48 RBI in 64 games with Staten Island in his first professional season. Phillips was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 7th round of the 1999 MLB amateur draft out of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Alabama). Phillips played in 259 career regular season MLB games over 5 seasons, as a member of the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Cincinnati Reds. He last played professionally in 2009 and 2010, when he was a member of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. He currently is an assistant coach at Alabama, serving as the hitting coach since 2011.

Brandon Claussen (LHP): In 1999, Claussen posted a 6-4 record with a 3.38 ERA in 12 starts with Staten Island during his first professional season. Claussen was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 34th round of the 1998 MLB amateur draft out of Howard College (Big Spring, Texas). Claussen made 58 career MLB starts over four seasons (2003-2006), as a member of the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds. He is now retired from baseball and is the owner of Forrest Tire in Lubbock, Texas.

Wily Mo Pena (OF): In 2000, Pena hit .301 with 10 RBI in 20 games with Staten Island in his second professional season. Pena was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1999 out of the Dominican Republic. Pena has spent eight seasons in the majors and played in 599 career MLB games. He has been a member of Cincinnati, Boston, Washington, Arizona, and Seattle. In November 2011, Pena signed a contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League.

Jason Anderson (RHP): In 2000 & 2001, Anderson posted an 11-6 record with a 3.16 ERA in 22 starts with Staten Island during his first and second professional seasons. Anderson was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 10th round of the 2000 MLB amateur draft out of Illinois (Champaign, Illinois). Anderson appeared in 32 career MLB games over three seasons, as a member of the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Cleveland Indians. In 2011, he pitched in 23 games in Independent Ball with the Somerset Patriots (Atlantic League) before retiring from professional baseball on July 19th.  Anderson had his number 19 retired by Staten Island in 2003.

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