Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Meet A Prospect : Daniel Lopez

This was written by our good friend Gregory over at Evil Empire Prospects , who also posts with us at Daily Sports Pages (our favorite Yankees forum). He explains why he thinks Daniel Lopez will be the Yankees sleeper prospect in 2012. It was a great read, as all of his posts are, so I figured I would share. Enjoy!

My Yankees Super Sleeper Prospect
Super Sleeper of 2012. Image thanks to BeGreen90 on flickr

This time of year it seems as though the en vogue thing to do is to pick a prospect that few expect to have a good season and predict that they will do just that, placing themselves right on the prospect radar. Yes, it is time to pick a sleeper pick. Admittedly I am a bit late on this one, as everyone and their mother has already chosen Matt Tracy as their this year top 20 next year top 10 prospect. Ten days ago, before all of the ruckus about him, he probably would have been my choice as well. At this point, however, I would not label him a sleeper because so many people know about him, and most are expecting a big season from him. His sleeper status has taken a hit by what he has gained in notoriety. Others, such as Ben Gamel, Nik Turley, Tim Norton, Ramon Flores and Slade Heathcott have also gotten a lot of press.
For my pick, I am going to try to think even further outside the box for what I call my yankees super sleeper prospect. This kid wasn't even on my radar by the end of the season, as is evidenced by his absence on my Top 50 Prospects, but the more I read about him this offseason, the more I regretted that choice. He's already moved up to my top 30-35 (a rough estimate). Another season with improvement like last year and this guy will be on everyone's map, likely a top 20 selection. This pick will surprise even the most knowledgeable of prospect gurus, but then again that is what makes this guy a sleeper. My super sleeper of 2012 is...
Drum roll....  Daniel Lopez!
Now here's what you need to know about Daniel Lopez. Daniel just turned 20 this January, and he'll likely be starting off next season in Staten Island, unless something goes horribly wrong with one of the golden boy prospects that will start the season at Charleston. Then again he played 3 games at the end of 2011 in Charleston, and performed well, so it will be interesting to see what management decides to do with him. He's 6'2, weighing in at 175 lbs according to He's from Santiago, Dominican Republic, and he throws and hits right handed.
The main tool that Lopez carries with him is his speed. This is why the Yankees signed him back in 2009. He sported a 60 yard dash of 6.2, and his game will continue to be built around that lightning speed. Since being drafted, Lopez has worked tirelessly to increase his strength and has seen his power numbers increase each season as a result. Thus far, the increase in strength and power has not effected his speed, if anything the opposite if you go by stolen bases. Let's make one thing clear though, Lopez will never be accused of being a power hitter.
His stats won't necessarily jump out at you, but the trends are important to consider. As a 17 year old in the Dominican Summer League, he hit .259/.394/.370 in 18 games. He had 2 triples, no homeruns, and 2 stolen bases in 54 at bats. Limited sample size, but the patience is what jumps out at me in his first professional season. In 2010, he improved upon his average and slugging with a .293/.382/.385 triple slash in 70 games. This time he hit 10 doubles, 6 triples, and 1 homerun, stealing 17 bases and being caught stealing 10 times. Not the best rate, but at least he was more aggressive, and his power numbers were better, even if slightly. Lopez's true breakout season, at least thus far in his career, was in 2011 at the age of 19. He started again in the DSL, but only lasted 11 games as he tore through the pitching to the tune of a .424 average. At this point he was promoted to the GCL Yankees, where he continued his torrid play. At the end of the season he got to play 3 games in Charleston. He played extremely well in those 3 games, but alas small sample sizes prevent me from drawing any conclusions from that data. All in all, 2011 saw him hit for a triple slash of .327/.413/.490 over 61 games across three levels. He increased his power numbers with 11 doubles, 7 triples, and 3 homeruns. He stole 27 bases and was caught just 3 times. His OPS was .904.
Reports would indicate he is a strong defender with an average arm and excellent speed and route taking.
Better yet, as gaudy as these numbers may seem, he flew almost completely under the radar in 2011 because of a star studded class of players in the GCL. Reports indicate that Lopez is an extremely hard worker, and spends countless hours lifting and in the cages. So far, this hard work has payed real dividends, and given his athleticism I will not be among those in the blogosphere who ignore this kid.
As far as his projection goes, his speed, patience, and still young age will allow him to have a high floor. I believe he will be on a 25 man roster at some point in his career, and barring injury I am relatively confident about that. His ceiling is that of a 15 HR, 50 SB center fielder, although the 15 homeruns seems pretty generous at this point. Remember though, he has a projectable frame at 6'2 and still has lots of room to fill out at just 175 lbs. We are talking about ceiling here, which means that maximum potential he could ever reach, so I'm allowed to be lofty. He's gotten progressively better every season in every way, getting more powerful, hitting for a higher average, becoming more patient, and reading pitchers better. I see no reason why this trend will not continue as long as he continues to put the work in during the offseason. I understand that getting excited over GCL numbers presents a ton of problems, however this is why he is a sleeper.
 Thus, Daniel Lopez is my super sleeper pick for 2012.

MLB to expand playoffs to 10 teams in 2012

Being borrowed from our friends over at Bronx Baseball Daily 

Major League Baseball will announce this week that they are expanding the playoffs from eight teams to 10, including a pair of new wild-card teams, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
The new system will include three division winners from each league and then the two teams with the best record in each league will play a one game playoff to determine who moves on to the LDS. It is a way to both expand the playoffs, more money for baseball, and punish wild-card winners who previously had no punishment compared to division winners.
This obviously puts a huge importance on winning the division because winning the wild-card means that an entire season can be taken down in one game. This is much different than in recent years where winning the wild-card was essentially the same as winning the division and it will avoid situations like we saw in 2010 where the Yankees tanked the division in order to face a weaker opponent in the ALDS.
It’s going to hit home right away as the both the Red Sox and the Yankees will not have a clear path to the playoffs. It’ll mean that when both teams are on their way to 95-100 win seasons September baseball will mean something again. We won’t have to wait until October to watch meaningful baseball.
It extends beyond that of course. The Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays will all now have a better chance of actually beating the Yankees and Red Sox. And in every division, not just the AL East, it will increase competitiveness as that extra wild-card spot will guarantee nothing for good teams and will give a chance of hope to a team right on the boarderline of winning.

Spring Training Day 11

Hello Yankees fans and welcome to March! Leap Day!

Nothing much happening in Yankees camp today to report on unfortunately on this last full team workout before the games start. Mariano Rivera threw 34 pitches in a bullpen session today and reportedly felt and looked great, as usual. Joe Girardi is not decided on when Mo's first outing will be but he thinks it will be around the middle of March.

Russell Branyan, a long shot to make the team as a left handed DH, has to miss some time with what is being described as a "sore back". Branyan did not stand much of a chance to make the team, as we said, with the additions of Ibanez and Chavez but he still would have been interesting to watch this spring. He has a nice defensive glove at first base, not gold glove caliber by any means but more then adequate, and has some nice pop and home runs numbers. Maybe he will use this minor set back as more incentive to sign a minor league deal and go split some time with Jorge Vazquez down in Scranton.

Joe Girardi did not know how many of his regulars were set to play in tomorrows exhibition game and did not know how many at bats and such they would get so I guess we will all have to tune in tomorrow to watch as baseball finally returns!

The Greedy Pinstripes Top 20 Prospect List

Everyone is doing these prospects lists, especially in the quiet and boring months of January and February, and the Greedy Pinstripes are no exception. Over on our favorite Yankees forum, Daily Sports Pages, we have been compiling, debating, and voting on our favorite Yankees prospects and along the while ranking them and compiling a list... here is the list.

1. Manny Banuelos 
2. Dellin Betances 
3. Gary Sanchez 
4. Austin Romine 
5. Mason Williams
6. Ravel Santana
7. Jose Campos
8. JR Murphy
9. Dante Bichette Jr
10. Adam Warren
11. David Phelps
12. Tyler Austin
13. Slade Heathcott
14. DJ Mitchell
15. Zoilo Almonte
16. Cito Culver
17. Jose Ramirez
18. Angelo Gumbs
19. Ramon Flores
20. Matt Tracy

There is the list. Anyone too high? Too low? Totally omitted? Should have been omitted? What say you?

Fantasy Baseball - Yankees vs. Red Sox

No, I'm talking about a different fantasy baseball.

I've been gearing up for fantasy baseball, as I'm sure a lot of you have. The draft is always my favorite thing to do for fantasy baseball, and I'll go as far as to create a spreadsheet that has every position along with goals I'm trying to hit for each category. That way I can make sure I'm drafting the best possible team, instead of getting a bunch of guys that rack of home runs and runs batted in, but do little in terms of runs, stolen bases, and batting average.

Anyway, while putting that together I was curious as to what the Yankees would do against the team that won the championship in my league last year (my team actually shared the title, as a tie occurred in the championship game). Unfortunately, since we use 5 outfield positions, as well as a middle infielder and corner infielder, it would have been impossible to fairly compare the Yankees to my fantasy team.

That's when I decided to use the same scoring system that my league uses (R, HR, RBI, SB, and Batting Averge) in order to compare the Yankees with the Red Sox.
Oh, and I decided to stick with offense. Maybe I'll do it for pitching as well if enough people are interested.

As for the numbers I used Bill James predictions for each player. Not only does Bill know what he's talking about, but his projections are easy to find as they are on Fangraphs, and I use Fangraphs all the time. So I plugged them into a spreadsheet with the projected lineups for both teams.

*I boosted the numbers for Saltalamacchia and Punto to equal 125 games, as Bill James only predicted that Jarrod would be in for 95 games, while Nick would be in for 99.

The Yankees just destroyed the Red Sox here, taking 4 of the 5 categories quite handily. Heck, even though the Yanks lost in batting average, it was only by .005 points.

So does this mean the Yankee offense is going to be that much better in 2012? LOL, no. Honestly I'd guess the answer would be "yes", but this was just a fun little game to play.