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Yankees organizational all-star team

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While I was watching the NLCS last night, I was digging through some Yankees minor league numbers, doing a little bit of early research for some position-by-position stuff I’m planning for the days ahead. I was trying to get a better big picture sense of what happened in the system this year.

At some point I started making mental notes of the best performances at each position. Eventually, I just wrote those choices down and thought I’d blog them as a sort of Yankees minor league all-star team. These aren’t the best prospects at each position, just the best 2013 performances at each position. And frankly, a lot of these are subject to plenty of debate (if you really feel like debating this sort of thing).

A few things that stood out:

1. When I do things like this, I usually separate the short-season and rookie-ball performances, but there were three lowest-level shortstops who had better years than any full-season shortstop in the system. Cito Culver showed a little bit of life (finally) and Addison Maruszak had a solid year as a Triple-A utility man, but I just couldn’t pick one of those guys over the GCL and Staten Island guys.

2. A lot of outfielders had good-but-not-great seasons, and a lot of them had uneven seasons. Yeicok Calderon was great in Staten Island and hit for good power, but his overall numbers were only so-so after struggling in Charleston. Ramon Flores got on base fairly well, but didn’t do much else. Melky Mesa hit for power, but his bat was too inconsistent. Ben Gamel stole some bases and was perfectly solid across the board, but again, nothing outstanding.

3. Even after trading Jesus Montero and graduating Austin Romine to the big leagues, catcher is still a position of obvious strength in this system. The Yankees top catching prospect had a perfectly good year, and I still wound up squeezing two other catchers onto this list ahead of him. Could easily make the case that he should be on here instead of the guy I picked at catcher.

4. I decided to pick two starting pitchers and a reliever. There were a lot of starting pitching performances that hadn’t caught my attention during the year — didn’t realize Nik Turley had that many strikeouts, didn’t realize Scottie Allen had a 3.21 ERA — but I ultimately settled on the two starters whose seasons stood out to me. As for a reliever, I took only bullpen performances into account and picked a guy who wouldn’t have come close to being a choice for one of the rotation spots.

Murphy [3]C J.R. Murphy
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Similar season for Gary Sanchez. Both made defensive progress and bumped up a level. Murphy had maybe a slightly better offensive season.

1B Greg Bird
Low-A Charleston
Within the Yankees system, Cave finished top three in batting average, home runs and RBI among players in full-season leagues. Strong first full season.

2B Rob Refsnyder
High-A Tampa

Took just 13 games in Charleston to prove too advanced for the league. Had more walks (84) than strikeouts (82). Positive reviews of his adjustment from the outfield.

O'Brien [4]3B Peter O’Brien
High-A Tampa
.291 .350 .544
Split the season pretty evenly between Low-A and High-A. Opened as a full-time catcher before getting most of his time at third in the second half.

SS Abiatal Avelino
Short-season Staten Island
Played his first game on July 4, still lead the system with 28 steals. Could also make a case for Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada out of the GCL.

OF Taylor Dugas
High-A Tampa
Far more walks (64) than strikeouts (39) for the 2012 draftee. Numbers jumped to .321/.426/.373 after a mid-season promotion to High-A.

Cave [5]OF Jake Cave
Low-A Charleston
Just a good, solid, all-around season for a guy who missed last season because of knee surgery. Had a .372 OBP and 15 stolen bases in the second half.

OF Slade Heathcott
Double-A Trenton
Given all the uneven outfield performances, I’ll take Heathcott and his .279/.339/.514 surge after the break. Not as bad of a year as it’s sometimes labeled.

DePaula [6]SP Rafael De Paula
High-A Tampa
7-5, 4.29 ERA, 146 K, 113.1 IP
Not nearly as good after promotion to High-A, but dominated Low-A and led the system in strikeouts. Bit inconsistent, but the highs were tremendous.

SP Shane Greene
Double-A Trenton
12-10, 3.38 ERA, 137 K,. 154.1 IP
By cutting down on his walks — 63 last year, 30 this year — Greene had his best pro season and might have earned a spot on the 40-man roster.

RP Dellin Betances
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
5 saves, 1.35 ERA, 83 K, 60 IP (as a reliever)
After the move to the bullpen, Betances became a legitimately dominant reliever. Dismiss the rotation numbers. He was the system’s best relief pitcher.

Associated Press photo