The big league Yankees are finished, but some of the minor league guys are still playing ball out in the Arizona Fall League. At least one of them could make an impact as early as next season, and the rest are certainly worth keeping in the back of your mind.
Winter leagues haven’t started just yet, but the Yankees will have a few more recognizable names playing in places like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic once those leagues get going.
For now, these are the Yankees currently playing down in Arizona.
RHP David Phelps
This year: Had a 3.19 ERA as a Triple-A starter.
Next year: Should be in that mix to be the Yankees sixth starter/long reliever.
Of the seven Yankees in the Fall League, Phelps is probably the closest to the big leagues. His season was cut short by injury, so he’s getting a few more innings down in Arizona (a notorious hitters’ league). His first two starts lasted just three innings, but this is more about getting work than getting results.
RHP Dan Burawa
This year: Had a 3.64 ERA between Low-A and High-A.
Next year: This was only his first full pro season, so a return to High-A might be out of the question.
The thing that stands out to me is the 2.24 groundout-to-flyout ratio this season. He was a 2010 12th-round pick out of St. Johns, and he’s one of several college pitchers from that draft moving quickly through the Yankees system. He’s been a multi-inning guy for the Yankees, and half of his first four Arizona appearances have been more than an inning. Opponents are hitting .346 off him, though.
RHP Preston Claiborne
This year: Had a 3.11 ERA and a .248 opponents batting average out of the Tampa bullpen.
Next year: Having skipped Low-A Charleston completely, he could push for a Double-A job.
His walk totals rose as he got deeper into the season, but overall, the results were encouraging for Claiborne’s first full season as a pro. He’s another of those college relievers moving quickly since the 2010 draft. He didn’t allow a home run in his last 11 regular season appearances — averaging well over an inning per appearance — but he coughed one up in his first Fall League outing.
RHP Chase Whitley
This year: Had a 2.47 ERA with 77 strikeouts and 29 walks between High-A and Double-A.
Next year: The Yankees have been aggressive with Whitley, but a return to Double-A seems entirely possible. It will be only his second full season as a pro.
Hard to ignore this guy because the Yankees have been so aggressive with him. Yet another college reliever from the 2010 draft, Whitley skipped Charleston, opened this season in Tampa and got to Trenton before the end of June. High-A hitters managed just a .233 average against him, but Double-A batters hit .280. He regularly pitched two-plus innings at a time this season, and through his first 4.1 scoreless innings in Arizona, he’s allowed only a .188 batting average.
INF Corban Joseph
This year: A typical Joseph-type season in Double-A where he hit .277 with 38 doubles.
Next year: In line for a promotion to Triple-A and the possibility of serving a big league utility role in the near future.
Reminds me of Kevin Russo, maybe with a little more pop. Joseph can play second and third, he could probably handle the outfield if necessary, and my guess is he could play a passable shortstop in an emergency. He’s never put up overwhelming numbers, but he’s a steady hitter with a career .284/.363/.418 slash line (Russo hit .287/.348/.382 in the minors). Joseph might not be a star, but he could hit enough to play a role, kind of like Russo did for a little while in 2010. He’s started hitting again after a fairly slow start in Arizona.
UT Ronnier Mustelier
This year: Playing second, third and all three outfield spots while hitting .333/.378/.524 in High-A Tampa.
Next year: He’s already 27, so the Yankees could get aggressive and push Mustelier to Double-A after just 31 High-A games.
A Cuban defector, Mustelier primarily played the outfield corners, but he showed plenty of defensive flexibility and an intriguing bat. It’s easy to see why the Yankees sent him to Arizona. He’s really something of a wild card in the organization. Kind of like when Juan Miranda came over, Mustelier hasn’t played much the past two years.
3B/OF Rob Segedin
This year: In his first full season, hit .287 with seven home runs and 55 RBI between Low-A and High-A.
Next year: His slow second half suggests a return to Tampa at least to start the year.
Primarily a third baseman, Segedin has started to see time at the outfield corners to increase his versatility. He raked in Low-A Charleston, but hit just .245/.311/.309 after a midseason promotion to High-A Tampa. He’s gotten off to a similarly slow start in Arizona (.227/.346/.273 through his first six games, five of which were spent in the outfield). He was a third-round pick in 2010, so he’s still fairly new to pro ball, and obviously still fairly highly touted. He just hit his first Arizona home run on Friday.