Tuesday, February 23, 2016

TGP Prospects Night Open Thread featuring Didi Gregorius

Didi Gregorius has been through a lot in his very short MLB career. Gregorius was originally signed as an international free agent by the Cincinnati Reds before the Arizona Diamondbacks traded their top pitching prospect to the Reds for Gregorius. Gregorius went on to hit his first Major League home run inside Yankee Stadium as a member of the Diamondbacks against the Yankees and Phil Hughes in what was a strong rookie campaign. The Yankees had a front row seat at what Gregorius can do with that home run and they acquired his services in the winter before the 2015 season in the deal that basically saw New York give up Shane Greene. 

You can learn all this and more in the video above that showcases Didi's rise as a rookie in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. It even has an interview with Didi, Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta Braves (at the time) and Didi's coaches and managers. It's worth the watch so check it out. 

The Future of the Yankees System - The Second Baseman

Earlier today we looked at the state of the Yankees farm system and specifically the state of the Yankees organization as it relates to the shortstop position. This post will also focus on the Yankees shortstop position but with a little bit of a twist. In this post we will once again focus and showcase the Yankees prospects but the prospects that I don't believe will stick at the shortstop position, these shortstops will likely move to second base when all the dust settles. And not because these shortstops are necessarily bad or lacking in any facet of their game, no, but more so about just how stacked the Yankees system is at the position right now.

Abi Avelino has a ton of talent and is seemingly wasting it away in the Yankees system. That sounds harsh but it sounds worse than it really is. The Yankees have an absolute ton of talent at the shortstop position and were forced to move some of their talent to the second base position. Avelino was one of those shortstops that drew the short straw playing in 61 games at second base and 10 games at third base in 2016. That may be his future, especially the longer he sticks in the Yankees system.

Tyler Wade, a Top 10 Prospect to some and a bonafide top prospect in the Yankees system regardless of his ranking, also played 24 games at second base in 2015. Wade also played all over the infield during his brief stay with the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. His bat may not be strong enough to justify keeping him at the shortstop position and he may be forced to the second base position eventually anyway.

Another Yankees shortstop and another prospect that played a ton of games out of position in 2015. Vince Conde played a whopping 51 games at second base last season and even played another 16 games at third base out of necessity.

Angel Aguilar is the final Yankees shortstop prospect that may find a future at a position other than the shortstop position. That's not because Aguilar cannot handle the shortstop position, because he can, but because the Yankees simply don't have enough affiliates and enough shortstop positions to play all of their talented shortstops. Aguilar played 26 games at second base and 13 games at third base in 2015 behind the liked of Jorge Mateo, Wilkerman Garcia and Thairo Estrada.

The final prospect, and I am on the bench about this I assure you, is one of the Yankees first round picks from the 2015 MLB Draft Kyle Holder. Sure his defense is said to be elite and his defense is said to be MLB ready at this point but his bat leaves much to be desired. Can the Yankees truly get by with a future shortstop that hits .220 but plays a strong defense? Maybe on the bench, see Brendan Ryan, but as a starter they probably can't.

That's an absolute ton of talent. A trade is definitely coming.

The Future of the Yankees System - The Shortstops

The New York Yankees have spent the last few seasons not only trying to compete at the Major League level year in and year out the team has also been working towards, maybe even hard towards, building a true and legitimate farm system. The system and the men running this system are presumably new at building a farm system from the ground up so there were obviously some hiccups along the way but the team seems to have finally got it. Not only is the team finding spots for their emerging talents on the MLB roster but they are also finding ways to prop up their prospects for trades to fill out the rest of the roster. The Yankees were once stacked at the catcher position, the outfield position and the right-handed reliever position and the Yankees latest area of focus has seemingly been the middle infield. The Yankees have stockpiled a stable of shortstops and second baseman that will either have a future with the big league Yankees or have a future as trade bait that bring players back to New York.

We all know the list of impressive shortstops the Yankees have in their minor league system but how many will stick at the position and how many may have to switch positions is something that many may not know going forward. New York has seemingly found the replacement to Derek Jeter in Didi Gregorius but who may be the next Derek Jeter?

We'll start with the man who wants to be the next Derek Jeter, Jorge Mateo. Mateo is arguably the Yankees best prospect in the entire system and is coming off a strong season where he stole 82 bases across various minor league systems. Mateo is the obvious choice to be a future MLB shortstop, whether that be with the Yankees or with another MLB club. He has the speed, the bat and the defense to stick long term.

Thairo Estrada was held back to continue his development in short-season ball not because he wasn't ready for a full season but because the Yankees system is that stacked at the position. Estrada showed a great bat with doubles power and an even better batting eye taking almost as many walks as he recorded strikeouts in 2015. This all happened while Estrada was still the youngest player in the New York/Penn League.

Hoy-Jun Park benefited from the Yankees adding another affiliate in Pulaski and he tore up the Appalachian League. Park stole bases, hit for power and hit for extra base hits while giving the organization zero doubts about his ability to play professional baseball despite still being a teenager.

The final prospect that looks likely to stick at the shortstop position is Wilkerman Garcia. While Jorge Mateo is ranked as the best Yankees prospect overall and the best shortstop in the system to some but to others Garcia will be the better of the two when all the dust is settled. You don't take a talent like Garcia and move him off the shortstop position unless you absolutely have to, and you shouldn't have to if you're the Yankees.

The Most Important Man In The Bullpen

The great thing about having a three-headed monster in the bullpen is that if one of those three relievers gets injured, then the Yankees are still in pretty good shape thanks to having the other two guys still around.

There is no music that will tame our three-headed monster.
And if you get that reference, then welcome to the Nerd Club

Just look at Yankees teams from the past 19 years...

You had great duos like Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano, Dellin Betances and David Robertson, and last year we had Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

But for 2016 the Yankees will either have Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, or Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, or Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, or Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Because face it... it's unlikely that two of those three pitchers will be injured at the same time.

Not a bad situation, huh?

However, if you were to ask me which of those three pitchers are more important to the bullpen in 2016, my answer may surprise you.

Dellin Betances is the most important guy in the Yankees' bullpen.

Let's start by looking at the role Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller will fill.

Aroldis Chapman has been announced as the team's closer, so 99% of the time he's going to enter games to begin the 9th inning, meaning there are no runners on base. On top of that, chances are he won't be facing the opposing team's heart of the order. Sure, closers will sometimes enter games with an out or two still needed in the 8th, and against the better hitters in the lineup, but the second part of this three-headed monster makes that a lot less likely...

Even though it hasn't been verified, based on the fact he was the Yankees' closer last season, Andrew Miller will likely be the team's 8th inning reliever. Like Chapman, that means that the vast majority of the time Miller will enter the game with nobody on base, and the chances of facing the bottom of the order are just as good as facing the other team's 3-4-5 hitters. Again, like I just said earlier with Chapman, the 8th inning reliever may need to get an out or two in the 7th inning and against the best hitters in the opposing lineup, but the final part of the three-headed monster makes that a lot less likely...

That would be Dellin Betances.

Unlike with Aroldis and Andrew, there's a very good chance that when Betances enters the game there could already be men on base. For instance, the starter is eventually going to start wear down during the game, and if that trouble comes in the 5th or 6th inning, Girardi may very well call on Dellin to come clean things up.

Yes, Girardi is going to try and avoid using Betances for than one inning, so a non-big three reliever will be brought into the game. But as we saw plenty of times last season, that reliever could very well get into a bit of a pickle, and Girardi will give the ball to Mr. Betances... again with men on base.

To sum things up, Dellin Betances is going to throw more innings, and he's going to throw many of them in higher pressure situations. Sure, Joe Girardi has said that he's going to try and avoid using at least one member of his three-headed monster each game, but does anybody out there believe he'll give the ball to anybody else if the game outcome is still in question?

Yeah... I didn't think so.

TGP Prospects Month Top 29 Prospect List - #7 Dustin Fowler

I will be completely honest, I didn't really know who Dustin Fowler was before the Arizona Fall League. Sure I saw his name when the team drafted him in the 18th round of the 2013 MLB First Year Players Draft and sure I saw him on weekly or nightly recaps around the Yankees Prospects universe but I never truly paid attention to him, unfortunately, until his admittance to this season's AFL. Fowler was sent down to the Surprise Saguaros to be a rarely used player, a fill-in or a bench player, and he made the best of the opportunity down there while simultaneously putting his name on the map as far as prospects go.

Fowler has spent time with the Gulf Coast Yankees, Charleston Riverdogs and Tampa Yankees but his true success came as a member of the Surprise Saguaros. Fowler played a great center field, he hit for both average and power and he showed off his speed and strengths in all facets of the game. Not every Yankees outfielder will wear Yankees pinstripes but Fowler has a better shot than most. The talent is there and while he is a far way off right now all signs point to him now being on the fast track to the Bronx and Yankee Stadium.

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

Five Things To Watch for at Spring Training

The Yankees position players report on the 25th, and then the real fun begins. With Spring weather already in New York let's take a look at five things to watch when the entire roster is in camp.

Tanaka in the outfield

1) Pitching Health - So far all eyes have been on Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia, who are recovering from injuries. Tanaka has been pessimistic about it chances to start opening day though it is still early. Sabathia has been positive about his sobriety and knee woes. Nathan Eovaldi, who is also recovering from injury, has already hit 100 on radar gun, so his arm doesn't seem to be any issue at this point.

2) Veterans - A lot of the Yankees 2016 sucess will depend on the health and success of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Beltran. Seeing how the older Vets hold up will help give fans an idea of what to expect from them and the season

3) Young Guns - The Yankees youth movement has been fun to watch and has produced results so far. Luis Severino will be gearing up to start his first full season, the backup catcher job is for Gary Sanchez to lose, James Kaprelian has drawn rave reviews so far, and Judge (who reported early) is mashing dingers and Carlos Beltran under his wing. Getting a glimpse of the future and present, getting hyped is always fun to watch.

4) Aroldis Chapman Suspension - As Spring rapidly approaches Rob Manfred is going to have to make rulings on the punishments of those involved in domestic violence incident's, including Aroldis Chapman. There has been no precedent for domestic violence suspensions, and Manfred is likely to make a statement based on how poorly the NFL handled their cases. Rumors have swirled the Chapman could be barred from Spring Training and today Joel Sherman stated a serious penalty such as 30-40 games could be in the cards as Manfred deals with this. The length of Chapman's suspension will impact how the bullpen is put together.

5) Reinforcements - Big name free agents are still out there but barring major injuries the Yankees aren't likely to sign a Dexter Fowler or Ian Desmond type. Instead, they'll be looking for incremental depth upgrades primarily in the minors. The Yankees always seem to make a pick up that unexpectedly contributes in the majors, so this is something to keep an eye on.

Meet A Prospect: Hank Steinbrenner

Henry George "Hank" Steinbrenner III was born April, 2 1957 in Culver, Indiana to parents George and Elizabeth Steinbrenner. Hank is the older son of former Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner and is currently involved in the day to day operations as owner of the Yankees today. Steinbrenner's little brother Hal is the other half of the Steinbrenner duo that inherited the team when The Boss passed away in 2010 and Hank also has two sisters in Jessica Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindall. Henry, or Hank, was named after his grandfather, Henry George Steinbrenner II, who made the family fortune in the shipping business.

From 2007 to the present George Steinbrenner stepped down from the day to day operations of the New York Yankees and the job was left to both Hank and Hal Steinbrenner. It would take until November, 8 of the 2008 season before Major League Baseball owners approved the shift of power to the Steinbrenner Brothers. Hank is more like his father in the fact that he is the more outspoken Steinbrenner brother and is considered to be a bit of a hot head. He also likes to talk without speaking a lot as seen below in this quote from Hank in a 2008 interview:
"Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of bullshit that is...That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans...Go anywhere in America and you won't see Red Sox hats and jackets, you'll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We're going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order."
Hank would receive a Red Sox nation membership card a few days later from Red Sox owner John Henry and also received team newsletters, bumper stickers, pins, Green Monster seats, and a Boston Red Sox hat autographed by none other than David Ortiz. I have to say that is a pretty awesome gesture by the Red Sox and even generated a laugh from a Yankees fan, good work.

Hank has disappeared from the front of the stage in recent years while his brother Hal has taken full control over the team and the organization. Hank was last seen on a gold course smoking cigarettes and about 50 lbs. lighter, no exaggeration. I'm not quite sure what's going on with Hank but I truly wish he's okay both mentally and physically. He's still a Steinbrenner and he's still a Yankee.

MLB.com 2016 Top Amateur Prospects Watch

Jason Groome

The New York Yankees avoided signing a single Major League free agent this winter thus avoiding one of the strongest free agent markets in recent memory. While the Yankees still added to the team via trade the team did not sign any high-priced free agents and maybe more importantly they did not sacrifice a draft pick in doing so. With a few notable free agents left on the board that have rejected qualifying offers left on the board the Yankees may pick 18th or below in the 2016 draft. With this in mind I wanted to look at the Top 30 amateur free agents ready to hit the draft this July according to MLB.com. Click Here for the original post. 

1. LHP Jason Groome
2. LHP AJ Puk
3. RHP Alex Hansen
4. RHP Riley Pint
5. OF Corey Ray
6. OF Buddy Reed
7. OF Blake Rutherford
8. OF Kyle Lewis
9. OF Bryan Reynolds
10. SS Delvin Perez
11. RHP Connor Jones
12. RHP Jordan Sheffield
13. OF Mickey Moniak
14. 3B Nick Senzel
15. 3B Bobby Dalbec
16. OF Nick Banks
17. 3B/RHP Josh Lowe
18. OF William Benson
19. 3B Drew Mendoza
20. RHP Cal Quantrill (former Yankees draft pick)
21. LHP Matt Krook
22. RHP Kevin Gowdy
23. RHP Kyle Funkhouser (my pick for the team's 16th pick in 2015 instead of James Kaprielian)
24. RHP Daulton Jeffries
25. RHP Zack Brown
26. RHP Robert Tyler
27. RHP Logan Shore
28. RHP Ian Anderson
29. 3B Nolan Jones
30. RHP Ian Hamilton

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/23: Nothing So...

Once again we are faced with another day in February without any notable and Yankees-related news or history so I wanted to go in a little bit of a different direction this time. I wanted to bring back an old video but one that is still relevant with the whole Prospects Month theme that we have going on over here. This video showcases John Manuel speaking about Yankees prospects on MLB Network. In the piece Manuel specifically talks about Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge. Enjoy.