Wednesday, February 17, 2016

TGP Prospects Night featuring Robert Refsnyder

Robert Refsnyder had an up and down 2015 season between Triple-A and two separate cameos in the Major Leagues. Refsnyder presumably thought he had a shot at the starting second base job for much of the winter until the team signed Stephen Drew for the job. Refsnyder presumably thought he had made enough of an impression before the All-Star break to stick around only to find himself back in Scranton when Carlos Beltran was activated off the disabled list. Refsnyder came back in September and rotted on the bench for much of the month until manager Joe Girardi gave him a shot. What did Girardi get? What Refsnyder always gives, 100% and a player that impressed enough to be added to the Wild Card Playoffs roster against the Houston Astros. This video covers all that and more much better than I have or could so check it out!

Yankees Draft & International Spending Caps Set for 2016/2017

With the new collective bargaining agreement and new rules set by Major League Baseball teams are now limited in how much they can spend both on the international market and in the draft. Rules like these were obviously set to hurt teams like the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, the heavy spenders of the league, and set to help the smaller market teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays. With this current collective bargaining agreement set to expire after this season the final set of draft spending caps and international spending caps were set for the New York Yankees.

This season the Yankees will have $5,768,400 to spend on their first 10 rounds of picks in the MLB Draft and the team will also have $2,177,100 for the 2016/2017 IFA signing period. As a reminder the IFA signing period begins on July 2nd of every year so the Yankees can use their $2 million and change as early as July 2nd, 2016. This may be a moot point since the Yankees cannot give any IFA more than $300,000 in any single deal but still, the allocation of funds is there. Also as a quick reminder the Yankees have the 19th overall pick in the draft this season, 18th if the Orioles finalize their deal with Yovani Gallardo, and it is also worth mentioning that any deal after the 10th round worth more than $100,000 also counts against the team's draft pool.

The Yankees have a whopping$7,945,500 to spend on amateur players this upcoming season, the fifth lowest total in all of Major League Baseball.

2015 Prospects: What Went Right & What Didn't

The New York Yankees system as a whole had a great season in 2015 and this was no more evident than when the likes of Greg Bird and Luis Severino came up and made huge impacts with the club last season. Bird and Severino were talked about a ton in 2015 but there was a lot that went right with the system as a whole last year that wasn't talked about. Also, admittedly, there was some that went wrong as well last season which we will also showcase here. 

So it's a "do you want the good news or the bad news?" type question and usually everyone goes with the bad news first so we will too. What went wrong?

  • Miguel Andujar was expected to have a breakout season like Jorge Mateo did last year and he didn't. Andujar continued to strikeout far too much in High-A with the  Tampa Yankees and the 20-year old once again seems plagued by the slow start. See Mark Teixeira for much of his tenure with the Yankees. 

  • Gosuke Katoh was expected to make big strides in 2015 as well and he just fell short of that last season unfortunately. Katoh did well at Pulaski but I believe he was too advanced in his development there. Unfortunately he proved that when he reached Charleston with the Riverdogs. 

  • The final disappointment last season was Drew Bridges who could have made a push for out Top 29 Prospects List if he had played another position. Bridges had some great production in 2015 and started out well in the short-season leagues but he struggled once he hit Staten Island. As a third baseman hitting just .211 at third base for the Staten Island Yankees is not going to cut it. Not now and not next season either. 

Alright the bad news wasn't THAT bad, so what's the good news?

  • Jorge Mateo went from the outside of many Top 50 and Top 100 prospects lists and is now a staple on all of them. Mateo stole 82 bases last season between two A-Ball levels and may have stolen 100 if he was not injured at the end of the season. His defense is strong and his offense is coming around. 

  • Speaking of top Yankees shortstops what about Wilkerman Garcia at age 17? Not many knew the name Wilkerman Garcia last season but this season I have seen him place on many Top Prospects lists and has even been named the next big thing in the Yankees system. Some even think that Garcia is and will be better than Mateo and that's quite the compliment. 

  • The final thing that went right was Domingo Acevedo who took the biggest strides in 2015. Acevedo won the New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Year Award and was sent to the Arizona Fall League  where he showcased his 100+ MPH fastball in both levels. He could see two or even three levels in 2016 as he looks to be on the fast track to the Major Leagues. 

Fantasy Baseball: Who are the Toronto Blue Jays?

The Toronto Blue Jays have easily the best offense in the American League East and may have the best offense in all of Major League Baseball, we all know they did in 2015 anyway, and we also know they have one of the best young starting pitchers on the planet in Marcus Stroman but will it be enough to capture the AL East Division crown once again in 2016? That remains to be seen but the way they will do that is the same way they did it last season, they will use their farm system to bring in the pieces they need via trade and they will use their core of young guys to fill in the gaps. The Blue Jays have plenty of reinforcements up inside Rogers Centre but in the spirit of Prospects Month here on the blog do they have enough reinforcements down on the farm to get by if needed?

Toronto will get a bit of pass here because during Prospects Month we’ve not only covered prospects but we’ve also covered the young guns on the team as well and showcased how they can help you win your fantasy baseball drafts and leagues this season. Most of the Blue Jays offense will be gone by at least the second round but I’m not sure if people know what to do about Marcus Stroman. Sure he went 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in September last year after recovering from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury but surely he can’t keep up that torrid pace… can he? I’m honestly on the fence about him because part of me feels like he is a true ace in the making and is a 20-game win threat even without the Toronto offense behind him. With it, who knows how many he can win.

Roberto Osuna is another that I’m on the fence about because I’m not quite sure of his position with the club. You have to think the Blue jays acquired Drew Storen from the Washington Nationals to have him as their closer but the young right-hander did struggle after his former team acquired Jonathan Papelbon. Was that because he felt slighted and needed a change of scenery or is the proof simply in the pudding and we’re too busy making excuses for him to see it? That answer won’t only affect Storen himself but it will affect Osuna as well. Osuna isn’t as valuable in fantasy as a set-up man as he is as a closer so keep him on your watch list this spring training and during your draft. If he falls far enough he may be worth it anyway.

Finally you have the combination of Devon Travis and Ryan Goins. Goins will start the season at second base while Travis recovers from a shoulder surgery that derailed his rookie season in 2015. Travis is expected to be ready around the April/May timeframe so if you have the room on the roster he may be worth grabbing and hold onto for a while. If you can’t afford to wait then Goins might be a suitable replacement, but honestly I doubt it. Someone will likely grab up Travis, especially in the deeper leagues, and sit on him and wait so why not make that person you, you know?

TGP Top 30 Prospects List - #13 Drew Finley

Drew Finley is the 2015 version of what Ian Clarkin was when he was drafted in 2013. Finley was a High-School pitcher with the sky as his ceiling when the Yankees drafted him this past season in the third round and he began his professional career with the Pulaski Yankees. Finley only threw 32.0 innings in 2015 in just 12 games, all starts, but he was just getting his feet wet professionally. Finley's stats were not important, not at 18-years old, as the fact that he made it through his first professional season healthy. You cannot put a price tag on how important it is for a young pitcher to get his feet wet as soon as he can after being drafted.

Finley sports an 88-91 MPH fastball out of High School but he has plenty of time to grow into his big 6'3" frame and add not only velocity but muscle as well. While in High School Finley struck out 20 batters in a single game thanks to that fastball and an ever-growing changeup and plus-strikeout pitch, his 12-to-6 curve. Keith Law had Finley ranked as the 24th best prospect in the draft last year giving the Yankees an absolute steal, albeit a steal that comes attached with a project.

Finley is far from a finished product but the talent is definitely there. This time next season he could easily be a Top 10 prospect with a strong season or he could fall to the 15-20 range if he struggles whatsoever. You can teach mechanics, you can add or tweak pitches but you can't teach talent. Finley needs work but Finley has talent and that's a great sign for the Yankees.

13. Drew Finley
14. Mason Williams
15. Slade Heathcott
16. Abi Avelino
17. Hoy-Jun Park
18. Luis Torrens
19. Cale Coshow
20. Chance Adams
21. Miguel Andujar
22. Jonathan Holder
23. Tyler Wade
24. Nick Rumbelow
25.Jordan Montgomery
26.Trey Amburgey
27. Ben Gamel
28. Austin DeCarr
29. Thairo Estrada
30. James Pazos

Meet a Prospect: Tyler Jones

The New York Yankees, like they do every season, have been adding a ton of depth to their minor league system from outside the organization. The team has been adding high upside players who have struggled in recent seasons, Vinnie Pestano, players who fill a specific role, Donovan Solano and Jonathan Diaz, and players who could merely fill in depth spots at Triple-A just in case. The latter belongs to the newest member of the organization and a former member of the Minnesota Twins organization, Tyler Jones.

This is Meet a Prospect: The Tyler Jones Edition. Tyler Jones is a right-handed starting pitcher that was born in September of 1989. The Minnesota Twins drafted Jones out of LSU in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB First Year Players Draft as a starting pitcher before switching him to the relief role full time in 2013.

Jones was a mediocre starting pitcher at best and posted a 4.67 ERA in his first professional season in 2012. After Jones switched to the relief role in 2013 he struck out 66 batters in just 52 innings while holding opposing batters to just a .196 batting average. Jones was promoted to High-A Ball before the 2013 season and he repeated that stop in 2014 where he continued to strike out players at a high rate. The biggest issue with Jones though, and this began to show its head once again in 2014, was the lack of control and command for Jones.

Jones brings a mid-90's MPH fastball to the Yankees and a sharp slider that is devastating to right-handed hitters. Left-handed hitters have done well against Jones in his professional career and that may be his fast-track to the Major Leagues. Jones cannot walk nearly four batters per nine innings if he wants to make the major leagues with the Yankees and he will have to continue to strike out batters more like the 11.4 K/9 ratio he had in 2013 and not the 9.4 K/9 he had in 2014.

Jones is the underdog here and I always root for the underdog. I'm rooting for you Tyler, make us proud and welcome to the family.

Underrated Prospects in the Yankees Farm System

Although this is up for debate and will be debated for many years to come it is my opinion that the New York Yankees have a strong farm system. While the Yankees aren't producing players like Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor that come in and win Rookie of the Year Awards and make huge impacts seen across the leagues the Yankees would rather do it their own way. The Yankee way. The way that leaves the team better than it was before whether they get the national media attention or not. We saw this last season with Luis Severino, Greg Bird and all the members of the Scranton Shuttle in the bullpen and we're likely to see it again this season from Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and likely James Kaprielian. These names you know but here are a few of the underrated guys I feel that are in the Yankees system today.

Abiatal Avelino has already been showcased once on our Top 29 Prospects list but he deserves another mention this morning after a very solid 2015 campaign. Avelino played in both Charleston and Tampa last season and stole 54 bases combined, all at just 20-years old. Avelino is a ground ball hitter currently but hes just beginning to grow into his body and the power began to show its face in 2015. Whether his power ever translates into the majors is up for debate but the fact that his defense is awesome and his contact rates are even better make his future look bright regardless.

Kendall Coleman is a friend of mine and has been very gracious and friendly to us here at the blog since the day he was drafted. That may make me a little bias although I don't believe so and I'm here to tell you why. Coleman is also just 20-years old and has battled injuries in his first three seasons with the club but his power is starting to show its face as well as his plate discipline and defense. Coleman is still growing into his 6'4" frame and is still packing on power and his ceiling is unlimited, all he has to do is stay healthy.

Thairo Estrada made the cut for our Top 29 Prospects list after another strong season with the organization. Estrada played in Staten Island in the New York-Penn League and finished the season with a .267 average at just 19-years old. While being the youngest player in the league he still led the team in doubles while making contact almost every single at bat. He has speed, he has defense and he reminds me a lot of Derek Jeter in the way he plays in the field. His future may be at second base but that's not a knock on his ability to stay at shortstop it is more of a praise on his speed, athleticism and the state of the Yankees system currently.

The final underrated player for me is Estevan Florial and that's only because of where he is in the Yankees system. Coleman needs to stay healthy and Avelino and Estrada need to put on some bulk and grow into their bodies but the only thing Florial has going against him was that he did it in the Dominican Summer League. Florial hit .313 with 15 stolen bases in 2015 but he wasn't one of those signing deals worth $1 million or more, Florial did that making a fraction of that. Florial has plus power and plus arm strength in the outfield and his future may be as a center fielder. His ceiling is the sky and that is a great bit of news for the New York Yankees.

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/17: LOL Carl Pavano

On this day in 2007 in a poll conducted by his hometown newspaper more than half of the poll takers though Carl Pavano would not bounce back with the Yankees in 2007. The poll revealed that 54.5% believe the Yankees pitcher would continue to struggle for the Yankees.

Also on this day in 2006 White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen issued an apology to Yankees star Alex Rodriguez after criticizing him about his decision on which team to play for in the World Baseball Classic. Alex was born in the United States but could also play for Team Dominican Republic since his parents were from there and could play for either team and ended up playing for Team USA.

Also on this day in 1987 Don Mattingly wins his arbitration case for $1.975 million breaking the record for the largest amount ever awarded to a player, set by Jack Morris just four days prior.

Also on this day in 1943 Joe DiMaggio enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces without notifying the team. Joe will not play for the Yankees again until the 1946 season. DiMaggio asked for no special treatment in the war but spent most of his time out of harm's way.

Finally on this day in 1937 the New York Yankees purchased Red Sox first basemen Babe Dahlgren to replace the retiring Lou Gehrig. Dahlgren would spend four seasons with the Yankees and post a .248 batting average before being bought by the Braves for the 1941 season.