Thursday, February 4, 2016

Yankees Prospects Night Open Thread featuring Kyle Holder

This is truly an awesome video to watch for any Yankees fans and especially for fans of the prospects that play for the team. This is a bit of a season in review for one of the Yankees first round picks in the 2015 MLB First Year Players Draft Kyle Holder. Holder, who is considered an elite defensive shortstop, is being covered and showcased by the people who know him best, his teammates. 

Things to Watch Before Pitchers & Catchers Report Day

The New York Yankees will watch as their pitchers and catchers report to George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on February 18th which a few new faces in the fold. The Yankees did nothing to change or improve their starting rotation, whether they needed to or not is still up for debate, but the bullpen will have a new look with former Yankees prospect Adam Warren and former Pittsburgh Pirates lefty Justin Wilson gone from last year’s team. In their places are about 15-20 Yankees prospects and a man named Aroldis Chapman which is just one of the many story lines facing this team as Spring Training workouts and such officially begin in about two weeks. 

Masahiro Tanaka enters spring training camp with question marks about his elbow, again, after having bone spurs removed from it in a surgery this winter. Tanaka’s surgery was as routine as they come and he should be fine but that will not stop the masses from harping on every single pitch he throws, every walk he surrenders and every earned run, as few and far between as they are, he gives up. A good friend once told me this, and you should keep this in mind if you are one of these people, doubters are not doctors and doctors told Tanaka he didn’t need Tommy John surgery back in 2014. They also told him he didn’t need Tommy John surgery in 2015. Leave him alone in 2016, please? 

Probably overshadowing Tanaka and his elbow though will be Aroldis Chapman who may face a suspension from a domestic violence incident last October. After coming over from the Cincinnati Reds this winter the Yankees new closer may face a suspension that will have a great bearing not only on the 2015 season but the 2016 season as well. Remember, if Chapman is suspended for more than 45 days (not games) he will be ineligible for free agency after the 2016 season. 

I don’t consider Nathan Eovaldi to be a question mark heading into this season but some do so I felt compelled to at least mention him here in this post. Eovaldi was going to be added to the postseason roster for the ALDS if the Yankees had beaten the Houston Astros this past season. The Yankees baby their pitchers and if he wasn’t healthy the Yankees wouldn’t have made the move or announced that the move was coming. He was ready in October so I have no reason to believe that he won’t be ready in February, March or April of 2016. 

One Yankees pitcher I do feel will be a question mark all season long though is CC Sabathia. How is the knee, how is pitching with the knee brace and how is sobriety treating you? All questions we will see answered in the coming months. Stay tuned. 

TBT: Greedy Pinstripes Exclusive Interview w/ Tyler Austin

We're going big on Tyler Austin today but I have a gut feeling about him and his 2016 season. With the Greg Bird injury down at Scranton I can see Austin being slid into the everyday role at first base as long as he's healthy giving the former 40 man roster prospect a second chance much like Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott got in 2015. So with that in mind, and mixed with the fact that it's Thursday, I decided to go into the TGP archives and bring you an interview back from 2013 that I personally did with Mr. Austin. It's a bit outdated but enjoy it anyway, it's Throwback Thursday.

The Greedy Pinstripes: Was your dream as a child always to be a baseball player? If not then what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tyler Austin : Yes sir I've always wanted to be a pro ball player.

TGP: What team did you root for growing up as a kid?
TA: Yankees
TGP: Favorite player(s) growing up?
TA: Derek Jeter and Andrew Jones

TGP: Your biggest inspiration when it came to baseball?
TA: I was inspired from people telling me I couldn't do it my whole life. And I don't take no for answer so when people would say that it drove me even more to make my dreams come true.

TGP: Did you have a preference to what team you wanted to sign with?
TA: No sir I didn't really care where I went. But it made it even sweeter cause it was with the Yankees who have always been my favorite team.

TGP: What a lot of people did not know, including myself , was that you were a center fielder as a young player. Did you always want to be an outfielder for the Yankees?
TA: I didn't really care where they put me. No matter where it is I'm gonna go out each and every day and give it everything I have.

TGP: Whose idea/call was it to make you a corner infielder rather then an outfielder?
TA: I'm not sure whose idea it was.

TGP: How hard is it being away from your significant other while on the road and such?
TA: It's really hard being away from my family and girlfriend. But I talk to them every night and I'm just thankful I have them in my life and supporting me through my good times and bad.

TGP: Favorite moment as a Yankees prospect?
TA: Winning the New York Penn league championship

TGP: Who was the best prospect in the Yankees system that you ever played with?
TA: Mason Williams

TGP: Do you keep in touch with any other current or former Yankees prospects or coaches?
TA: Yes sir I do

TGP: Hardest part of being a prospect?
TA: Nothing is really hard about it. I still have to go out there and play each and every game the right way no matter if I am a prospect or I'm not.

 TGP: A lot of people don't know you battled cancer, so first off congrats on beating that, how was that whole experience?
TA: Thank you!! It was tough going through that I was only 18 years old and didn't really know how to handle something like that at such a young age. But I just kept faith in the lord and new everything would be okay if I kept the faith in him.

TGP: Most famous person in your cell phone?
TA: Justin Maxwell

TGP: Most embarrassing song/artist in your iPod?
TA: Baby by Justin Bebier haha

TGP Prospects Month Top 29 Prospect List - #26

The New York Yankees had two first round picks in the 2015 MLB First Year Players Draft including James Kaprielian and Kyle Holder but it may be the team's 13th round pick that gives them the most value going forward. The Yankees took a relative unknown in Trey Amburgey in the 13th round out of St. Petersburg College and he responded by making his way all the way to Staten Island in his first professional season with one of the best batting lines in the organization.

The reason Amburgey is not higher is because there is no possible way he can sustain a batting average over .400 and there is no way he can get a base hit in an average of 20 games a month. If he keeps up at half the pace he did last season though I can see him moving up this list quite a bit in the 2017 version of Prospects Month on the blog.

26. Trey Amburgey
27. Ben Gamel
28. Austin DeCarr
29. Thairo Estrada
30. James Pazos

2015 20 2 Teams 58 238 46 74 11 5 30 21 16 33 .346 .399 .523 .923
2015 20 Yankees 1 37 151 28 45 5 0 12 14 12 20 .333 .404 .430 .834
2015 20 Staten Island 21 87 18 29 6 5 18 7 4 13 .367 .391 .684 1.074

Meet a Prospect: Tyler Austin

As recently as the beginning of the 2015 season Tyler Austin was graded by scouts as a B-, which anyone with a High School diploma, a GED, or an equivalent diploma can tell you... that is pretty darn good. He is a 3B by trade but also can play first base, where he'll likely start this season with the RailRiders, and the outfield while also being a potential DH type as well down the road. As a 19 yr. old he had one of the more polished bats in all of the New York Penn League (NYPL), the same NYPL that Mason Williams tore up in Staten Island. This is probably an anomaly but he was 18 for 18 in base stealing opportunities that season as well.

Drafted in the 13th round of the 2010 draft he broke his wrist in his 2nd pro game and missed basically the entire season. In his first season in extended spring training, the Gulf Coast League (GCL), and the NYPL in Staten Island Austin had a triple slash of .354/ .418/ .579 in 47 combined games including 26 extra base hits.

At 6'2" and 200 pounds his frame is athletic and speedy for a guy his size. He has shown that he can spray the ball to all fields although he needs to develop more power. He has nothing left to prove at the "lower" levels of the minor league systems and looks to bring his tools with him to the Bronx as he is knocking on the door as soon as 2016 after the injury to Greg Bird. The biggest concern with Austin is going to be what position will he play and can he find some consistency with his bat. The scouts are wondering whether he can be adequate enough to stay at the 3B position, although his lack of power thus far scares most away from having him be a 1B. Does Austin have the speed, the range and the arm to play right field? Honestly I think he can play any position he so chooses to, the guy is that talented. My biggest concern is the bat, can he find the consistency? He is very hit-or-miss and he's either on or off and unfortunately it's been more off than on in recent seasons.

Keith Law, insider required or I would link, even placed him on his "sleeper" prospects for the 2012 season saying “Third baseman Tyler Austin has turned himself into a pretty good defender over there, defying earlier predictions he’d have to move to first,” said KLaw of his sleeper pick for the Yankees. “[He] has a whole-field approach to hitting with pull power right now, and runs well for his size with a perfect stolen-base record in the pros.”

Austin will likely start the season in Scranton with the RailRiders in 2016 but may not be long for the minor leagues. Austin is ready defensively and will try to make strides with the bat next season. If Austin's wrist injuries are behind him, which I truly believe that they are, there is nothing stopping this young man from making it all the way to the Show. I've always been one of the biggest Austin fans around and I continue to be until he proves me wrong, and he hasn't yet.

Three Yankees in MLB Top 100 Pipeline has released their Top 100 prospects list just in time for Prospects Month, how very thoughtful of them right? The New York Yankees boasted three players on the Top 100 list, which can be seen here, and I'm sure you already know the names. Jorge Mateo, the Yankees top shortstop prospect, Aaron Judge, the Yankees top outfield prospect, and Gary Sanchez who is the Yankees top catching prospect.

Jorge Mateo was the top Yankees prospect on the list coming in as the 30th best prospect in all of Major League Baseball. Mateo was ranked 87th overall on's midseason list in 2015. Mateo stole 82 bases in 99 attempts in 2015 while posting a .278/.345/.392 triple slash.

Aaron Judge came in right behind Mateo at the 31st prospect position after reaching Triple-A in 2015. Judge actually took a step back from the 2015 midseason list that showcased Judge at the #17 ranking in all of MLB. Judge hit just .255 last season but he hit 20 home runs and knocked in 72 RBI in 124 games last season.

Finally on the list we have Gary Sanchez who ranked 59th after a strong campaign and Arizona Fall League showing last season. Sanchez took a large jump on the list after not showing up on the midseason ranking in 2015 and a .274 average with 18 home runs and 62 RBI in 93 games will do that for a guy.

That's the list. It's exciting to think that all three of these young men could help the team in the next season or two. The future is bright.

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/4: Toby Harrah

On this day in 1984 the New York Yankees obtained third basemen Toby Harrah and minor leaguer Rick Brown from the Indians for Dan Boitano, rookie outfielder Otis Nixon, and minor leaguer Guy Elston. Harrah will only play one season for the Yankees and hit just .217 while Nixon, as we all know, had a very good 17 year career with a few teams including the Atlanta Braves. Nixon finished his career with a .270 career average after he retired in 1999 and Harrah was never heard from again.