Friday, February 26, 2016

TGP Prospects Night Open Thread featuring Marcus Thames

What's better than seeing a Yankees prospect come through the system, make an impact at the big league level and have a long career in the show? Coming back to the organization as a coach or manager, being re-introduced in a Meet a Prospect thread as a part of TGP's Prospects Month and then telling your own story from your MLB debut in the Prospects Night Open Thread on the same blog. Boy, the Yankees assistant hitting coach Marcus Thames has been busy. 

This is a video of Thames describing in his own words what happened and what was going through his mind when he made his MLB debut for the Yankees. Spoiler alert, he hit a home run off lefty Randy Johnson in his first MLB at bat. Enjoy it from his mouth, not mine.

Yankees Cleaned House on Farm Before 2016

The New York Yankees have absolutely cleaned house this winter in lieu of the 2016 MLB and minor league seasons. I never knew the Yankees released or traded away this many prospects (and players in Brendan Ryan and Adam Warren) this winter until I put it all on one single list and looked at it. If the only constant in this world is change then the New York Yankees are a constant because their minor league system and affiliates will look a whole lot different in 2016.


3B Glen Arias
C Isaias Tejada
2B Angelo Gumbs
SS Bryan Cuevas
OF Jordan Barnes
OF Griff Gordon
OF Jose Infante
OF Teodoro Martinez
RHP Gean Batista
RHP Francis Joseph
RHP Matt Borens
RHP Lee Casas
RHP Taylor Garrison
RHP Corey Holmes
C Rainiero Coa
1B Kyle Roller
SS Gregorio Petit (elected free agency)
RHP Kyle Davies (elected free agency)


RHP Rookie Davis
RHP Caleb Cotham
RHP Adam Warren
INF Brendan Ryan
3B Eric Jagielo
3B Rob Segedin
2B Tony Renda
LHP Evan Rutckyj (Rule 5)
OF Jake Cave (Rule 5)
RHP Yoel Espinol (Rule 5)
RHP Luis Niebla (Rule 5)
C Eduardo de Oleo (Rule 5)
OF Danny Oh (Rule 5)
2B Jose Pirela


OF Lane Adams
INF Ronald Torreyes
OF Jared Mitchell
RHP Tyler Cord
C Carlos Corporan
3B Deibinson Romero
RHP Wandy Soto
RHP Anthony Swarzak
LHP Tyler Olson
RHP Tyler Jones
2B Donovan Solano
SS Jonathan Diaz
RHP Vinnie Pestano
LHP Richard Bleier
C Sebastian Valle
SS Jose Rosario (re-signed)
RHP Domingo German (re-signed)
OF Cesar Puello
OF Juan Silva
RHP Diego Moreno (re-signed)
SS Pete Kozma
RHP Luis Cessa
RHP Chad Green
RHP Daniel Marten
RHP Spencer Mahoney
C Kyle Higashioka (re-signed)
RHP Johny Brito
C Francisco Diaz
RHP Ronald Herrera
C Eddy Rodriguez (re-signed)
OF Jhon Moronta

Quick Hit: The Venezuelan Summer League Has Officially Shut Down

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I am just that this week, especially if you are a fan of prospects and summer league baseball, specifically the Venezuelan Summer League. While much of the focus is on the Dominican Summer League there have been successes in the VSL until it began to die down over recent years. The VSL will no longer open its doors in 2016 after the league fell to just four teams in 2015.

The four teams that were left in the VSL when the announcement was made were the Cubs, Phillies, Rays and Tigers. The Cubs announced their decision to pull out of the Venezuelan Summer League leading the league to completely shut down. Whether the ultimate decision to close down the VSL came down to the safety of their players and the league or if it came down to political reasons (like the potential of a Cuban Summer League for example) we will probably never know but while the country is stocked full of MLB caliber talent it is also a country that is currently in turmoil.

The VSL was the beginning of the road for more than a few Major League players including Avisail Garcia, Eugenio Suarez, Dixon Machado, Bruce Rondon, Jose Ortega and Jose Altuve most notably. At this point ten seasons ago a whopping 11 organizations had a team in the VSL so it's not out of the realm of possibilities of MLB returning to the country but presumably a lot will have to change both politically and socially in the country before it does.

TGP Prospects Month Top 29 Prospects List - #4 James Kaprielian

What can you say about the Yankees first pick, 16th overall, in the 2015 MLB First year Players Draft that hasn't already been said? James Kaprielian was taken 16th overall out of UCLA in last years draft and was deemed MLB ready out of the draft. New York needed a fast riser and they got one in Kaprielian who could reach the Major Leagues as soon as the 2016 season. Kaprielian did nothing last year to keep any of the Yankees brass up at night after spending time in the Gulf Coast League and in the New York/Penn League with the Staten Island Yankees.

Kaprielian was considered to be a middle-of-the-rotation type starter as his ceiling with a fastball that sat around 92 MPH but somehow Kaprielian has found a couple ticks in his velocity getting up to 94-95 MPH consistently. If Kaprielian can keep this velocity and cut down on the 7.7 BB/9 ratio he had with the GCL Yankees, and he did in Staten Island in a larger sample size, he could easily be a #2 starter if he reaches his ceiling.

By the way, because I've heard about every pronunciation of his name possible thus far, the Yankees 4th best prospect on our Top Prospects List is pronounced as if it was spelled Kaprilian.

4. James Kaprielian
5. Robert Refsnyder
6. Domingo Acevedo
7. Dustin Fowler
8. Wilkerman Garcia
9. Ian Clarkin
10. Brady Lail
11. Jacob Lindgren
12. Bryan Mitchell
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: Marcus Thames

The New York Yankees went their separate ways with hitting coach Jeff Pentland after what was deemed a successful 2015 campaign by many and decided to promote Pentland’s assistant hitting coach Alan Cockrell to fill the void. The Yankees needed someone to fill the vacancy left behind by Cockrell and that man was former Triple-A hitting coach Marcus Thames. Marcus Markley Thames, born March 6, 1977, played with four different teams including the New York Yankees three separate times during his playing career from 2002 to 2011 and has since spent his time in the minor leagues with the club as a coach. During the 2013 season Thames was the hitting coach for the High-A Tampa Yankees and was promoted to the Trenton Thunder in the same position for the 2014 season drawing rave reviews from one of the Yankees top prospects Robert Refsnyder. So without further delay, and with a bit of irony, I bring you this Meet a Prospect: The Marcus Thames edition.

Thames was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the 30th round of the 1996 MLB Draft but did not make a true impact in the minor leagues until 2001. Thames was with the Double-A Norwich Navigators that season and he batted .321 with 31 home runs and 97 RBI where he was named to Baseball America’s minor league All-Star team and where he put himself on the map for the Yankees. New York was so impressed with Thames that they called him up before a June 10 game in 2002 and Thames responded immediately. Thames, facing the Arizona Diamondbacks big left-hander Randy Johnson, hit the first home run of his career on his first at bat becoming just the 80th player in MLB history to do so. Thames earned his first curtain call from the Bronx faithful, what a moment if you were fortunate enough to see it live.

Thames’ tenure with the Yankees ended on June 6, 2003 when he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Ruben Sierra. Thames went on to hit a home run in his first at bat with the Rangers as well before moving on to the Detroit Tigers for the 2006 season. For the 2006 and 2007 seasons Thames spent time with Detroit and their Triple-A affiliate the Toledo Mud Hens due to the plethora of talent in the Detroit outfield. After injuries to Dmitri Young, Craig Monroe and others Thames worked his way into the rotation of outfielders and set career highs in every offensive category including a .256 average, 26 home runs and 60 RBI in just 348 at bats along the way. The Tigers tried to find at bats for Thames anyway they could in 2007 and had the lifetime outfielder learn first base in spring training and the team was rewarded in 2007 and in 2008 when Thames continued to impress with his power. Thames hit eight home runs in seven consecutive games from June 11 to June 17, 2008 becoming the first member of the Detroit Tigers to achieve the feat.

Thames spent the 2009 season in Detroit as well without any notable achievements but was back in the New York groove in 2010 when he signed a minor league deal with the club. Thames made the Opening Day roster and was set to be a platoon partner with Brett Gardner in left field before his defense forced him to accept a bench role. Thames was delegated to the bench behind Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Austin Kearns who was traded for before the trade deadline and ended up playing in just 82 games that season. In half of a season Kearns hit .288 with 12 home runs, mainly against left-handed pitching.

Thames elected free agency in November of 2010 but was right back with the team on July 22, 2011 after New York signed him to another minor league deal. Thames never played a game for the Yankees at any level that season and would retire from the game a member of the New York Yankees before pursuing his career in coaching with the ball club. Thames has continuously defied the odds and has defied the odds once again with his promotion to assistant hitting coach with the club. Congratulations to him and his family. You have to think that Thames is on the short list for hitting coach after Cockrell’s contract expires, no?

Quick Hit: Is Jose Bautista Kind of Being a D-Bag?

A little quick hit, primer and nugget for you this morning to start your day with and it’s not necessarily Yankees related directly. Jose Bautista told reporters this week that he has met with the Toronto Blue Jays management and organization over a potential contract extension this winter and has basically, in not so many words, said that this is the contract he will sign and there will be zero negotiation about it. Now I understand doing what you have to do to take care of you and your own but this almost seems like it has the potential to burn a bridge and it look like it’s the organization’s fault when truly Bautista is kind of coming off as an arrogant d-bag. IN MY OPINION.

The term “d-bag” may be incorrectly used here and may be used more for emphasis, again I get that he is trying to future proof not only his life but his family’s life and I can respect that, as I use the term loosely but the fact remains that he is kind of being a jerk. AGAIN IN MY OPINION. When I read quotes like the below I don’t exactly think “class.” What do you think? Leave your comments below in the comments section or tweet us @GreedyStripes.

"I don't think there should be any negotiations. I think I've proved myself, and the question has been asked — what will it take — and I've given them an answer," Bautista said. "I'm not going to sit here and try to bargain for a couple dollars."

Fair enough. No real comments out of line here. Keep reading though, it gets better.

"I think they know and realize the things that I say and agree with me. It's just a matter of, are they willing to go there?" Bautista said. "And it's not just necessarily Ross and Mark. I can't say that, I don't know. Some of that decision making, of a contract the size that I presented, has to come from ownership."

So if they have to go to ownership he’s going to want at least a nine-digit contract. That’s the way I personally read it, I by no means have a crystal ball, ESP or an inside source. He wants $150 million on a five-year deal is what's being circulated though.

"In a publicly traded company [Rogers Communication who owns the Blue Jays], everybody can track their performance fairly easy. It's not a secret. It's out in the public," Bautista said. "Stock prices are monitored very closely by the whole financial world, and I think there is a direct correlation with the success of their earnings-per-share after we start experiencing success. Are they going to put it out in the media and say because of the Jays, we made all this money? No. But everybody can read between the lines."

Pretty sure they were successful before your success but hey, you make the money you deserve some of it back. I feel like he is a bit out of line even mentioning it but hey, I’m a bias Yankees fan who hates all things Toronto according to some so what do I know.

"That doesn't exist. Not in my world," Bautista said. "In my eyes, I've given this organization a five-year hometown discount already."

Yes he has… but still…. You don’t HAVE to say everything that comes to your mind. Keep it to yourself, especially this early on in the year. This will linger in the clubhouse all season long not only with reporters but with teammates as well.

"I didn't want to waste their time or their effort, so they can start planning ahead, and if it's not going to happen, they have plenty of time to do so," Bautista said. "They asked me about two weeks ago, and I told them, and that's it. There's no negotiation. I told them what I wanted. They either meet it, or it is what it is."

No negotiation. Toronto vs. Everybody? Nope, Jose Bautista vs. Toronto. Check back and see who wins!

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/26: Yankees Release Babe Ruth

On this day in 1935 the Yankees granted Babe Ruth his unconditional release from the club to pursue a contract with another club. The aging superstar would go to play for the Braves after the 39 year old hit 659 home runs and batted .349 in his 15 seasons in New York.