Ten years ago, Robinson Cano hit .230/.330/.365 as an 18-year-old second baseman in the Gulf Coast League. The team’s 18-year-old shortstop was Bronson Sardinha, who hit .303/.398/.473.
Point being: Low-level minor league numbers can be misleading. Those are kids playing in short-season ball — and even Class-A ball — and putting too much stock in those numbers can create the wrong expectation. Getting too high on the good numbers and too low on the bad numbers makes little sense.
That being said…
Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams have been outstanding in Charleston and Staten Island. Today, Sanchez was named the Player of the Week in the South Atlantic League, and Williams got the same award in the New York-Penn League.
They’re two of the more exciting young players in the low-levels of the Yankees minor league system, two teenagers a long way from the big leagues, but doing big things on their way through the system.
Sanchez has struggled through large chunks of this season, but he’s also an 18-year-old playing catcher against a lot of players older than him. It’s been a year of adjustment for him. In the past week, he hit .500 with five home runs and nine RBI in six games. He homered in three straight games, building on a little bit of an offensive burst near the end of July.
Williams was the Yankees fourth-round pick last year, and he gets rave reviews for his athleticism. Playing center field for Staten Island, he’s hit .369/.412/.503 for the season, and he just wrapped up a week during which he hit .577/.633/.769 with 15 hits in 14 games. The guy had three three-hit games last week.
• The Yankees have released veteran left-hander J.C. Romero. He held lefties to a .174 batting average with six strikeouts and one walk during his brief stint with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
• Mark Prior got back in a game on Friday, pitching one inning in the Gulf Coast League. A few days ago I asked Mark Newman about four injured minor leaguers: Prior, David Phelps, Slade Heathcott and Tim Norton. I was told that Phelps is the only one certain to come back completely this season. Newman said there are “questions” about the others getting back to 100 percent this year.
• Through his first two Triple-A starts, Manny Banuelos has a 2.45 ERA with 13 strikeouts and three walks in 11 innings. He’s given up 14 hits, good for a .311 opponents batting average. Tiny sample, though.
• George Kontos is still one guy standing out on the Triple-A pitching staff. He’s generally been a long reliever this season, but this was his line in a spot start one week ago: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. He has a 2.70 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 73.1 innings this season. Adam Warren, D.J. Mitchell and Lance Pendleton are also still putting up good numbers for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Plenty of multi-inning options just waiting for a door to open in New York.
• Since August 1, Brandon Laird is slugging .560, Jesus Montero is slugging .571 and Jorge Vazquez is slugging .667 in Triple-A. Vazquez is up to 27 homers and 82 RBI. He missed time this season and still leads the International League in both categories. And keep in mind, that’s a pitchers’ league.
• The power hasn’t come yet, but Zoilo Almonte is hitting a solid .281/.366/.382 since his mid-July call-up to Double-A. He’s one of the fringy guys who’s started to put himself more on the prospect map this year.
• Speaking of on the prospect map, Pat Venditte keeps putting up numbers. The switch-pitcher has a 2.83 ERA while being used primarily as a multi-inning reliever in Trenton. He has 73 strikeouts in 76.1 innings, lefties are hitting .202 against him, and he’s been especially good since late June.
• Graham Stoneburner’s first two starts back from the Double-A disabled list: 13 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K… Dellin Betances has gone the other way with a 6.75 ERA in his past five starts… Finally healthy and pitching again, member of the 40-man roster Ryan Pope is holding hitters to a .184 batting average in Double-A. He probably should be in Triple-A, but pitching depth has him back in Trenton.
• Tonight Jeff Marquez is making his third rehab appearance with High-A Tampa. The numbers aren’t especially inspiring so far with a 7.20 ERA and .353 opponents batting average through his first five innings with Tampa.
• Much better numbers for Tampa second baseman David Adams, a prospect who’s been MIA most of the season but finally seems healthy. He’s hitting .320 since being added to the Tampa roster on July 24. He’s another guy who should be at a higher level, but he’s playing down there after basically a season of rehab work.
• This year’s 16th-round draft pick, Brandon Pinder’s numbers in Staten Island: 18 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 23 K, 10 saves.
• Last year’s first-round pick, Cito Culver, hit .327/.405/.464 for Staten Island in the month of July… This year’s first-round pick, Dante Bichette Jr., hit .418/.518/.659 in the GCL last month.
Head shots of Sanchez, Williams, Romero, Vazquez and Marquez