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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Minor League Year in Review: Low-A

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Nov 01, 2012 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

No Yankees affiliate opened the season with as much buzz as Low-A Charleston. It’s Opening Day lineup was loaded with legitimate prospects, it’s rotation included the organization’s newest elite young pitcher, and there were massive expectations for a team rich on talent and low on experience.

The results were … mixed.

The Yankees true breakout prospect came out of Charleston, but so did some of their most glaring disappointments. The RiverDogs went 73-63 but missed the playoffs. After many of the top players moved on, Charleston played below .500 in the second half. Overall, its pitching and offense were basically middle-of-the-pack in the South Atlantic League.

Player of the Year
RF Tyler Austin
Despite spending only three months in Charleston, Austin led the team in home runs and runs scored. He was third in RBI, third in doubles and second in total bases. Ben Gamel had a very nice year, and Gamel was with Charleston all year, but it’s impossible to ignore Austin’s impact. No Yankees prospect had a breakout year quite like Austin, who combined to hit .322/.400/.559 while playing climbing from Low-A to High-A and finally to Double-A at the very end of the season. Austin was a 13th-round pick in 2010, and he proved he could hit in 2011, but this season was his arrival as one of the five best prospects in the organization. His move from third base to right field went well, and he could be a year away from the big leagues.

Pitcher of the Year
RHP Pedro Guerra
Jose Campos couldn’t stay healthy, Bryan Mitchell couldn’t maintain his first-half pace, and Scottie Allen was only good in the second half. The best pitcher in Charleston was ultimately their 22-year-old closer, a former Twins prospect, who had 61 strikeouts, 16 walks and a .178 opponents batting average through 56 innings. If he were younger, his season would get more attention, but Guerra was older and more experienced than a lot of the guys he was facing. He had a very good year, no question, but it’s hard to make too much of it. The more interesting seasons in terms of future impact probably belonged to Mitchell (3.75 ERA, .224 opponents’ average in the first half) and Allen (3.07 ERA, .226 opponents’ average in the second half), but neither put together a truly complete season.

Breakout performance
OF Ben Gamel
Most of Charleston’s top performers were expected to perform that way. Expectations were sky high for Mason Williams and Gary Sanchez and (to a lesser extent) Tyler Austin. Certainly Austin wasn’t expected to be this good, but he was expected to be good. Gamel was much more of an unknown heading into the season, but he was Charleston’s best player at the end of the year. He hit .306/.342/.394 for the year, but it was his .320/.347/.419 second half that really stood out as he shifted from left field to center field after Williams was promoted to Tampa. Casey Stevenson, Ali Castillo and — for a while anyway — Francisco Arcia had nice seasons as part-time players, but Gamel truly outperformed some of the top prospects in the organization.

Disappointment
3B Dante Bichette Jr.
At this point, offensive expectations for Cito Culver aren’t very high to begin with, so it’s hard to be overly disappointed by his .215 average as a defense-first shortstop. But there were high hopes for Bichette, who put himself on the map in a big way with his terrific rookie-ball season in 2011. He opened this season as Charleston’s No. 3 hitter for a reason, but Bichette’s bat never got going. He hit just three home runs all year, and despite being a regular in the middle of the order for 122 games, he had fewer RBI than he had in 54 games last season. No one gives up on high school kid just because he struggles in Low-A during his first full year out of high school — it was an aggressive assignment to begin with — but certainly there’s less reason to be excited than there was at this time last year.

Prospect watch
C Gary Sanchez
Forced to return to Low-A after an uneven 2011, Sanchez got himself back on track by hitting .297/.353/.517 through 68 games with Charleston. That performance prompted a mid-season promotion to High-A Tampa, where Sanchez continued to hit, especially in the month of August (.319/.354/.479). There was plenty of prospect watching to be done on this Charleston roster. Williams and Austin pushed their careers forward, Culver and Bichette seemed to stall, Angelo Gumbs and Jose Campos had promising seasons cut short by injuries. Sanchez stands out because he’s different in good ways: He’s not part of that long list of outfielders, he plays a position that’s not blocked by any long-term fixture in New York, and he’s a potential replacement for the lost promise of Jesus Montero. Sanchez could be a real difference maker for the Yankees. This season got him one step closer.

Odds and ends
There’s a good chance Mason Williams will be considered the Yankees best overall prospect this winter. He hit .304/.359/.489 through 69 games in Charleston, and he was getting hot in Tampa when a shoulder injury ended his season in late July. Williams is still poised to move fairly quickly, and will likely return to Tampa to start next season. … Second baseman Angelo Gumbs was limited to just 67 games, but he hit .272/.320/.432 and at this point has to be more highly touted than shortstop Culver, who was drafted ahead of Gumbs in 2010. … As a backup catcher in the first half, Francisco Arcia hit .326/.406/.535. When Sanchez was promoted and Arcia became the regular guy in the second half, he hit .196/.261/.290. … Second baseman Anderson Feliz hit .315/.398/.466 in 22 games with Charleston, but a series of injuries really derailed his season. Not a huge name, but a guy worth knowing. … Pitching was not a strength of this team, but Allen and Mitchell showed some good things for a extended stretches, and Caleb Cotham was finally healthy enough to pitch his way out of Charleston after eight strong starts.

Big picture

There’s a reason I don’t start paying too much attention to prospects until they reach Double-A. Lower-level prospects have a long way to go, and they’re too young and inexperienced to know much of anything for certain.

The Yankees say they still believe in Culver, especially defensively. Campos still has significant potential despite his elbow problems. Bichette is going to keep getting chances despite his rough season. On the flip side, Williams, Sanchez and even Austin still have a lot to prove before they reach the big leagues. This Low-A season did two things: Showed why some of these guys have generated so much hype, and showed that hype doesn’t always lead to results.

Prospects are suspects. That’s the way Brian Cashman often phrases it, and it’s true. There’s a lot of young talent in the Yankees system, and that means a lot of excitement and disappointment along the way.

Associated Press photo of Williams

 
 

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33 Responses to “Minor League Year in Review: Low-A”

  1. Irreverent Discourse November 1st, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    What is your source for these player expectations and reviews?

  2. Against All Odds November 1st, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    will depend on who is at the other corner.

    —————–

    It will probably be Ichiro

  3. austinmac November 1st, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I saw that Newman on fangraphs has Gumbs the second best 2B prospect. He is someone to watch. Let’s hope he is healthy.

  4. Frozen Rope II November 1st, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    in short Culver and Bichette, 2 of the more hyped recent picks both stink. and Campos has elbow problems. great job on player development by Cashman as usual. we get stuck with junk while he trades off gems like Jackson and Montero.

  5. Against All Odds November 1st, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I think it’s too early label Bichette a bust.

  6. Frozen Rope II November 1st, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    btw whatever happened to Andrew Brackman? and didn’t the Yankees draft Garrit Cole? stellar job as usual by our GM

  7. blake November 1st, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Newman had Dante as the 7th best 3b prospect he saw last year……I think it’s too early to label him as well … He’s still really young

  8. blake November 1st, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Frozen Rope II says:
    November 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm
    btw whatever happened to Andrew Brackman? and didn’t the Yankees draft Garrit Cole? stellar job as usual by our GM

    He’s with the reds I think… Might be out of baseball all together.

    The yanks did draft cole and took a gamble they could sign him…. Didn’t pay off

  9. austinmac November 1st, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I would like to read this headline ” The Yankees are Considering Someone under 35.” Hunter has been a good player, but is it necessary to hope everyone obtained has one more good season in them?

  10. blake November 1st, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    “I would like to read this headline ” The Yankees are Considering Someone under 35.” Hunter has been a good player, but is it necessary to hope everyone obtained has one more good season in them?”

    But we don’t wanna get younger only better!…..(as if those are 2 sepetate things in 2012)

  11. ron November 1st, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Ichiro,gardner,granderson is a questionable outfield,but the giants keep winning despite their lack of offense on paper.
    This is why i think the yankees should not be affraid to shake things up by seeing if we can sign melky for 2 years/14 million,and hamilton for 4/96,then see if nova,nunez,and maybe someone else can get headley,then trade cano,plus granderson for a few top,almost ready prospects,maybe an elite,young pitcher,and an olt/profar type of player who is not in a ball,and can easily be evaluated.

    Cano is going to cost a ton of money,and years,and swisher will cost us a lot,or we will lose him while his value decreases.
    Why not replace the lost offense,and get some top prospects at the same time,instead of signing every player to max value?
    I’d also extend hughes to a favorable deal,if we can’t,i’d trade him.

  12. trisha - true pinstriped blue November 1st, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    “The Yankees are likely to make qualifying offers of $13.3 million by Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline to closer Rafael Soriano and outfielder Nick Swisher. ”

    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/.....z2B0dZbYML

    THRILLED that Sori will be given an offer.

    Still pretty distracted by the destruction of Sandy, NY and environs included.

  13. Against All Odds November 1st, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    ,and get some top prospects at the same time

    ————————-

    Because this is the Yankees and they don’t do that.

  14. ron November 1st, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Cano is going to cost a ton of money,and years,and swisher will cost us a lot,or we will lose him while his value decreases.

    Replace granderson for swisher is what i meant.

  15. Chad Jennings November 1st, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Irreverent Discourse November 1st, 2012 at 5:08 pm e
    What is your source for these player expectations and reviews?

    Not sure what you mean. I have a lot of conversations about these guys throughout the year. I look at a ton of overall stats, and splits, and game-by-game results. I have a pretty solid understanding of the way minor league baseball works from having covered it for seven years.

    There are no attempts here to break down a player’s swing or mechanics. These posts are simply meant to give people a basic idea of what happened with the Yankees four full-season affiliates, especially for those who don’t want to put in the time and effort to follow the system very closely throughout the year.

  16. ron November 1st, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Giving them offers is a no brainer.
    Swisher was going to cost us that or more anyways,and an outfielder with swishers numbers will cost more than the minimum qo.
    No way the yankees are giving those draft picks up for fair,or below market offers.

  17. Irreverent Discourse November 1st, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Chad – Cool, was just curious. Obviously you aren’t watching Low-A ball all season so I was wondering if there was a main place you went to gather this information. Word of mouth works just fine. :)

  18. ron November 1st, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Meant soriano was going to cost us as much as or more than the minimum qo anyways,and an outfielder with swishers numbers will cost more than the minimum qo.

  19. jr1212 November 1st, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Nardi Contreras reassigned as the minor league pitching coordinator. Gil Patterson to take over. Patterson has been filling this position with the Oakland As since 2008

  20. blake November 1st, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Wasn’t Gil Parterson Randy’s boy?

  21. blake November 1st, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    The As have certainly developed some pitching…..lets hope Patterson for the same with the Yanks

  22. RadioKev November 1st, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Thanks for these reviews Chad

  23. Tyler November 1st, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    These are always great posts. Definitely some positives and negatives there…. a lot of riding on the development of these guys if the Yanks are going to alter their philosophy. They might not be such a luxury as in the past.

  24. Against All Odds November 1st, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    jr1212 November 1st, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Nardi Contreras reassigned as the minor league pitching coordinator.

    ———————-

    Hopefully with this move as well as Connors it’s the start of something different.

  25. MTU November 1st, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Now go and steal a few of those Tampa guys.

    :)

  26. MTU November 1st, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Gil Patterson’s background :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gil_Patterson

    I think he had phenomenal stuff but blew out his arm very early in his ML career.

    This is what lead him into coaching.

  27. CompassRosy November 1st, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    :::::::
    The Angels and right fielder Torii Hunter have made little progress in contract talks, and the chances of the team extending a $13.3-million “qualifying offer” to the right fielder by Friday’s deadline appear slim, according to a person familiar with negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly about them.

    “It’s kind of disappointing, but what are you going to do?” Hunter said by phone from his home in Texas. “If they don’t make an offer by Friday, I guess I’m out of there.”

    That’s not necessarily true. The Angels can still sign Hunter if they don’t make a qualifying offer, but they would not have exclusive negotiating rights to the 37-year-old, who hit .313 with 16 home runs and 92 runs batted in last season and carried the team for much of September.

    If recent negotiations are any indication, Hunter, whose five-year, $90-million contract has expired but said he’d be willing to take a significant pay cut to remain in Anaheim, isn’t holding out much hope for an offer.

    “I haven’t talked to them in a couple of weeks,” said Hunter, considered by teammates and fans as the heart and soul of the Angels for several years. “I don’t know where we stand.”

    Hunter, who has never played in a World Series, said in July that if he doesn’t return to the Angels, he would consider playing for only three other teams, the Yankees, Rangers or Dodgers. Otherwise, he would retire.

    But after a superb second half that should attract plenty of suitors on the free-agent market, Hunter has expanded his list of potential destinations.

    “Once Saturday hits, it’s open season, I’m open to anybody,” Hunter said. “I’ll be my own scout. I’ll see what moves are made and try to get to the team that has the best chance of winning.”
    :::::::::

    http://tinyurl.com/afw3gfz

  28. austinmac November 1st, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Mason Williams is from the town where I grew up. Surprisingly, I have not heard his play compared to mine. Some would suggest that is a good thing. :)

  29. blake November 1st, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    The Yankees are considering a defensive change for next season, shifting Curtis Granderson to left field and Brett Gardner to center, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. Granderson’s defense has declined in recent years, as he has posted negative UZR/150 ratings in four of the last five years, including a -18.2 UZR/150 in 2012. Gardner, on the other hand, has a career 30.6 UZR/150, ranking him amongst the best defensive outfielders in the game.

    Here’s the latest from both the Yankees and Mets…

    Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn’t plan to offer Rafael Soriano a deal similar to the one he signed after the 2010 season that established Soriano as Mariano Rivera’s set-up man and understudy at closer, reports ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews. “I don’t think Soriano would sign here if he’s not going to be the closer,” Cashman said. “And I don’t think we would do again what we did before. He’s going to want closer money and I doubt he would want to come back here as a set-up man.” Soriano is a free agent after opting out of the last year of his deal, and agent Scott Boras said Soriano is looking for a four-year contract to close. Soriano could still return to the Bronx, of course, if Rivera retires and the Bombers suddenly have a hole at the back of their bullpen.
    Also from Matthews, he reports that the Yankees will make qualifying offers to Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda. Swisher will almost surely turn this offer down but Kuroda “might accept it.” The Yankees have interest in bringing back Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez on short-term contracts, while the club also would like to re-sign Andy Pettitte and Russell Martin.

    Read more at http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....DMRpeXp.99

  30. roidger November 1st, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    ……………

  31. mick November 1st, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Soriano could still return to the Bronx, of course, if Rivera retires and the Bombers suddenly have a hole at the back
    ================================
    So if Mo takes his time, we could lose Soriano.
    Mo will just wait till Soriano signs then get what he wants.

  32. PhiltheThrill November 1st, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I hope Nardi is just the beginning of the minor league player development shakeup.

  33. Bo knows November 2nd, 2012 at 12:26 am

    I hope Nardi is just the beginning of the minor league player development shakeup.

    ———————
    Amen. The Yankees need to take a good hard look at both pitcher development and offense, defense, including basics. Watching Mesa at the plate last year was painful. All the talent in the world and just horrible mechanics.


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