Sunday, February 21, 2016

TGP Prospects Night Open Thread featuring Donny Sands

The New York Yankees are known for making dreams come true. I gather to think that more amateurs and children want to be Yankees than any other team. The Yankees have arguably the biggest following in all of Major League Baseball and one of the biggest in the world so when kids like Donny Sands gets drafted by the organization you always hear these feel good stories shortly after. The Yankees made Sands dream come true in the 8th round of the 2015 MLB First Year Players Draft and in this video Sands, formerly of Salpointe Catholic,  surprises his mother Alma at work. 

Need something to make you smile and feel good before watching the horror that is the Walking Dead? This is it ladies and gentleman, check it out and feel good. Enjoy and good night!

Rob Refsnyder the Third Baseman?

Hey guys, remember like two or three days after the New York Yankees acquired Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs to be their everyday second baseman and I, Daniel Burch, suggested that Robert Refsnyder either learn the third base position or be traded? Well that was initially scoffed at and immediately dismissed due to defensive “concerns” for the kid who was drafted as an outfielder and still learning the second base position and the infield as a whole. Well until Joel Sherman of the New York Post says it, then it’s a brilliant idea.

Some will say that the Yankees aren’t high on Refsnyder or that they don’t trust his defense but those same people are ignoring the fact that the team called him up not once, but twice last season. The second call-up also resulted in him starting at second base in the AL Wild Card Playoff Round against the Houston Astros, an eventual 3-0 loss to Dallas Keuchel. The bat looked like it could stick, albeit in a short sample size, as he batted .355 in September and .302 overall in both call-ups while his defense looked to be adequate. Refsnyder got to the balls he was supposed to and he made the plays he was supposed to, anyone who doesn’t think that’s sufficient at 25-years old and with just two years of experience at second base professionally should just turn in their Derek Jeter jersey’s now.

The possibility of Refsnyder learning and playing the third base position is still up in the air. Brian Cashman seems adamant that the team will keep him at second base only while Refsnyder is said to be open to the idea. Then again Refsnyder is “up for anything” as long as it means he is sticking with the MLB squad. We already know that Starlin will be playing some third base this spring but keep your eyes out for Refsnyder, if he starts playing third base some then you know the plan is in motion. The plan I originally set forward and the plan Joel Sherman will once again get all the credit for. And that’s okay. 

2016 the New 1996 for the New York Yankees?

As we inch closer towards the 2016 season and Opening Day optimism is running high on most every Major League team right now. That’s the greatest part of it being a whole new season, nobody knows what to expect and not many teams and their fan bases are down right now. This is especially true for the New York Yankees specifically because with all the new faces in the Bronx, whether acquired elsewhere or coming up through the farm system, and the question marks surrounding the starting rotation no one really knows what to expect. We have mentioned this a few times last season and already once or twice this season but the comparisons and parallels are just too much to ignore. If the Yankees stay healthy and if the Yankees can gel together like they presumably did in 2015 could this team defy the odds and shock the world in 2016 much like they did in 1996? 

Both teams were not expected to make the postseason in both 2015 and 1995 and both teams won the Wild Card before losing in the Wild Card Round. Things were a little different back then obviously as the Yankees lost technically in the ALDS to the Seattle Mariners in an epic five-game series while the Yankees lost a one-game playoff to the Houston Astros last season but the basic premises are the same. That’s just the beginning though, keep reading. 

In the early to mid-90’s the Toronto Blue Jays were at the top of the division and the top of the American League as their fans watched Joe Carter walk off a World Series like most of us have only dreamed about as a child and once again the Yankees seem to be looking up at the Blue Jays once again. In fact the last time the Blue Jays made the postseason before last season was during this dominant time with Carter in the middle of that lineup. To counteract the Blue Jays then the team acquired a National League player who had struggled and fallen out of favor with the team that drafted him, that NL player’s name was Paul O’Neill. This may be a stretch and I am in no way comparing the two but does this not sound a lot like the Starlin Castro acquisition for 2016? 

The 1995 Yankees had a staple of a first baseman entering presumably his last season with the club in Don Mattingly and had a struggling veteran with a ton of question marks in Mike Stanley also looking to hang on while this season boasts possibly the final years for Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran. The Core Four was just beginning to make some noise with short cameos from Andy Pettite (Luis Severino in 2016) and eventually Derek Jeter (Jorge Mateo, Didi Gregorius… take your pick), Jorge Posada (hello Gary Sanchez), Mariano Rivera (Dellin Betances and/or Jacob Lindgren) while Bernie Williams (Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Ben Gamel) was just beginning to establish himself. 

The team was young at the core and filled in where it needed to offensively while shutting down teams with a strong bullpen late. Sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it? I just hope the statistics and the end results are the same.

TGP Prospects Month Top 29 Prospect List - #9 Ian Clarkin

We’ve already introduced you to Ian Clarkin this morning so this post should be a breeze. We told you everything there is to know about him and what he and his left arm bring to the mound. His fastball, his changeup, his curveball, his makeup and his comparisons to great pitchers like Jose Quintana and Clayton Kershaw. Clarkin has all the makings of being a great MLB pitcher, he just has to stay healthy and he just has to do it. It sounds simple enough but some players have been making a career out of making it look hard so who knows.

The talent is there and the will to be the best seems to be there as well. Clarkin’s tenure with the Yankees did not start out on the right foot after he put said foot in his mouth with his pre-draft interviews but it's al’ water under the bridge now. The olive branch has been extended and at the end of it is a long and glorious MLB career for our #9 prospect, Mr. Ian Clarkin.

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: Ian Clarkin

The New York Yankees farm system is beginning to look like one of the better farm systems in all of Major League Baseball. Once the team finally realized that building a team from within either through the draft and through the international market worked out better than drafting and signing IFA’s just to trade for overpriced veteran talent wasn’t working the system took off. The team started hanging onto their draft picks and started actually relying on their farm system at the Major League level and in trades when the trade made sense. Loads of talent has been added to the Yankees system either out of college, out of High School or from around the globe and one of those I am personally most excited about is Ian Clarkin. This is Meet a Prospect: The Ian Clarkin Edition.

Clarkin was drafted out of High School by the Yankees in the 2013 MLB First Year Players Draft and reached as high as Low-A Charleston with the Riverdogs before missing the entire 2015 regular season with an elbow injury. Clarkin did not require Tommy John surgery and even got a few innings on his arm in the Arizona Fall League and is looking to come back in a big way in 2016. Clarkin will look to use him fastball, curveball and changeup repertoire to get it done

Clarkin throws a four-seam fastball that sits anywhere from 90-93 MPH although the pitch is said to be flat, little to no movement. Clarkin gets by with his command of the pitch and can generally put it anywhere he wants almost every single time. Clarkin’s curve clocks in at 72-74 MPH and it is a big 12-to-6 type curve that he can throw to both right-handed and left-handed bats. The curve is developing but it’s not one of those devastating curve’s that is going to make minor league hitters look ridiculously silly just yet. Finally his changeup sits in the 81-83 MPH area and it looks to be his best off-speed pitch at his disposal, even as it stands today. Clarkin can throw it for strikes and make hitters swing and miss out of the zone with it and he is not afraid to use it at any point in the count either. The changeup is becoming a true weapon for Clarkin.

Some early comparisons I have read for Clarkin are anywhere from a Jose Quintana, a very solid #2 starter or at worst a middle-of-the-rotation type starter, all the way to a Clayton Kershaw. Truth be told I’d take Quintana but if the Yankees found a gem that can pitch like Kershaw, best case scenario obviously, then the team got an absolute steal with that pick. Even if he didn’t want to pitch for the club before the draft. As Clarkin enters his 20’s and beyond it will be interesting to watch how he grows and how me matures not only physically but as he matures as a pitcher, and as a Yankee. 

Quick Hit: Likely Incomplete List of Spring Guest Instructors

Pitchers and catchers have reported to Yankees spring training camp and so have a few of the position players but who is going to manage and instruct these guys? Well we all know the Joe Girardi’s, Larry Rothschild’s and Marcus Thames’s of the world will be there but half the fun of spring training is seeing those former Yankees greats and legends that come back as guest instructors every single year. Will Derek Jeter stop by for more than just dinner? Will Mariano Rivera teach Dellin Betances his cutter? Will Andy Pettitte give up another long ball or three to Aaron Judge? Will Mike Mussina ever grace the likes of Luis Severino with his presence? This we don’t know but as camp opens we do have an undoubtedly incomplete list of spring guest instructors to bring to you today.

Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez is in Yankees camp along with Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Hideki Matsui, Goose Gossage, Willie Randolph, Stump Merrill and Lee Mazzilli. That’s pretty much your annual group of legends and former players and coaches, no surprises. Not yet anyway. If there are any we will be sure to bring those to you as well so stay tuned and have fun, it’s spring training time!

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/21: So About This Weather

Unfortunately this is the second day in a row without any notable major league history or specifically Yankees-related history to report. Maybe this day in Yankees history 2017 will be better? If so, something needs to happen today. Anyway, about this weather. I know I live in the south and Georgia weather is specifically and especially crazy but I don't know what'd going on right now.

We had an ice storm on Monday, rain Tuesday and Wednesday and by Saturday and Sunday it's almost 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. What? Make up your mind before everyone gets pneumonia. Please.