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The system’s best after two months

Posted By Chad Jennings On May 31, 2012 @ 5:12 pm In Misc | 94 Comments

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It hasn’t been quite two months, but the last day of May seems to be a pretty solid time to look at the best of the best in the Yankees minor league system. From an organizational pool ranging from Low-A to Triple-A, here’s an organizational all-star team at this point in the season.

[2]Catcher
Gary Sanchez, Charleston
A surprisingly easy choice considering the Yankees are supposed to be loaded at the position. With Jesus Montero gone, Austin Romine hurt and J.R. Murphy struggling, Sanchez is the easy standout. He’s hitting .287/.339/.461 with the third-most RBI in the organization. Special credit goes to Sanchez’s backup, Francisco Arcia, who’s hit .410 with 22 RBI as a part-time player.

First base
Steve Pearce, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Signed just before the Yankees broke camp, Pearce has been the best all-around hitter in the Yankees system other than Tyler Austin (and hit batting average and on-base percentage are both better than Austin). Pearce can play a little bit of third base and the outfield corners, but he’s getting the vast majority of his time at first base where he’s leading the organization in average while hitting 11 home runs and 14 doubles as Scranton’s No. 3 hitter.

[3]Second base
Angelo Gumbs, Charleston
There’s really no other choice here. Scranton and Trenton have been rotating players at second base — Kevin Russo and Kevin Mahoney have been very good but have spent most of their time playing elsewhere — and Tampa’s second baseman is Kelvin Castro who’s barely hitting .200 with 14 errors. That leaves Gumbs, who might have been a terrible choice in April, but his month of May has been an impressive combination of power, speed and batting average. He leads the system in stolen bases.

Third base
Rob Segedin, Tampa
I’m cheating a little bit on this one. Most of Segedin’s time has come in right field this season, but he was drafted as a third baseman and has 16 starts there this year (including his past two games). Wherever he’s played, Segedin has hit. He’s batting .294/.357/.461 and leads the organization in doubles (he leads Tampa in just about everything). The Yankees like the idea of a four-corners utility man, which makes Segedin worth watching.

Shortstop
Jose Mojica, Tampa
Honestly, there’s no good choice here. Mojica gets the nod for playing 44 games at the position and making just four errors, but he’s hitting just .256 with a sub-.300 on base percentage and only one home run. Down in Charleston, Cito Culver has one more RBI than Mojica, but he’s also hit for less power while making nearly three times as many errors. Unless Culver emerges — the Yankees seem to think that will happen eventually — or Claudio Custodio impresses in short-season ball, shortstop is a clear a weak spot in the organization.

[4]Left field
Ronnier Mustelier, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Primarily an outfielder now that he’s moved up to Triple-A, Mustelier got most of his time at third base when he was in Trenton to start the year. For this exercise, his best fit is in left. Emerging as an intriguing hitter, the Cuban utility man has a powerful bat and enough defensive flexibility to play second, third and all over the outfield. He has the second-highest batting average and the second-most RBI in the organization.

Center field
Mason Williams, Charleston
His first month was better than his second month, but Williams is still an easy choice here. He’s hitting .286/.344/.434 as a 20-year-old in Low-A, and he’s the system’s top center fielder without serious competition while Ravel Santana and Slade Heathcott are stuck in extended spring. Melky Mesa and Abraham Almonte have had spurts of success in Trenton, but Williams is clearly the choice here.

[5]Right field
Tyler Austin, Charleston
The early pick for organizational Player of the Year, Austin is a converted corner infielder who’s getting his first extended look in right field. Early reviews of his defense have been positive, but it’s his bat that makes him special. He easily leads the system in RBI and slugging percentage, and just when he seemed to be having a slow month of May, he’s come through with 14 hits in his past six games. His .323/.397/.661 slash line is impossible to ignore.

Designated hitter
Cody Johnson, Trenton
Really, you can take your pick between Johnson and Scranton’s Jack Cust. Both are home run hitters who strike out a lot. Cust has managed to keep his on-base percentage above .400, but Johnson has more home runs, more RBI and a .581 slugging percentage that’s only one point lower than Pearce’s .582. Johnson has played a little bit of outfield this year, but is really just a bat.

[6]Starting pitcher
Bryan Mitchell, Charleston
Brett Marshall, Trenton
Caleb Cotham, Tampa
Seemed silly to pick just one starting pitcher. Why pick three? I honestly don’t know, just seemed like a good number. If you want to choose just one, Mitchell is probably your guy. He leads the organization with 52 strikeouts, and those come with a 2.40 ERA and a .182 opponents batting average. Higher in the system, Marshall is emerging. While much of the Triple-A rotation has been either hurt, underperforming or pitching out of the big league bullpen, Marshall is making a case for promotion with his 2.69 ERA for the season (1.69 in his past five starts). Cotham has already been promoted, moving up from Charleston after a 2.31 ERA, 32 strikeouts and seven walks through eight starts.

Relief pitcher
Mark Montgomery, Tampa
With apologies to Ryan Flannery, Phillip Wetherell and Kevin Whelan, Montgomery is the top reliever in the system right now. On Tuesday he allowed a run for only the second time since his season debut. He has eight saves, a 1.46 ERA and opponents are hitting .167 against him. But what stands out about Montgomery are the strikeouts. He has 39 of them in 24.2 innings. He’s walked eight batters. He’s in Tampa for now, but it seems only a matter of time before he’s moved up to Trenton.

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